Too fat for Barneys? Our reporter can’t fit into the largest size at new retailer

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The new Barneys Coop on Atlantic Avenue is the perfect place for well-to-do Brooklyn fashionistas — but you need more than money to shop there.

You need hips like Kate Moss.

Otherwise, you’re too fat for Barneys.

The store opened last Thursday, so I headed right over to browse for something suitably sleek. I quickly found a fantastic No. 6 cocktail dress in black with a watercolor print and ruching on the side. After my initial sticker shock — It’s $315? Well, it is pure silk — I couldn’t help but try it on, if only to dream.

Barneys only offers three sizes of the dress: one, two and three, which, I was told, correspond to small, medium and large. I grabbed dresses in size two and three and headed to the fitting room. I’m a small or medium everywhere I’ve shopped, but I took the large because the dress looked like it ran small.

The medium was too small, but I figured that the large would fit fine — but I couldn’t even get it over my hips! As much as I pulled and tugged, it wouldn’t budge.

Look, I know I’m no 1990s waif look cover girl, but I’ve never not fit into a large of anything — in fact, a large is usually too big.

Then it hit me: As fashionable as I consider myself, am I too fat for Barneys?

We called Barneys and Creative Director Simon Doonan told me that, well, maybe I was. Of course, he didn’t say it like that. He used … euphemisms!

“There are certain designers who are all about the body,” explained Doonan. “Others make an easy fit. You might need to look at other designers that focus less on the body.”

Perhaps, but how many hours of research does a customer have to do before she can go into Barneys and try on clothes? Or perhaps the better question is this: how many hours on the treadmill?

Barneys [194 Atlantic Ave. between Court and Clinton streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 637-2234].

Updated 5:21 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Shopper from Brooklyn says:
Did you try on anything else at Barney's besides that one dress? Are you sure your hips aren't just too wide for that dress, rather than too "fat" to fit into anything at all in the entire store?

It seems like you could have at least taken the effort to try on ten things by ten different designers before writing this story. Rather than just one dress!

I usually fit into a boutique small or medium (not an Old Navy small or medium, which is a boutique extra large). But there are times that my round butt and hips don't fit into even the large of narrow cuts. Sometimes I fit into the small of certain cuts, and the large of others, even by the same designer.

Silk dresses (particularly without lining) aren't usually made for women with big hips because silk is the least forgiving fabric, it shows every little hint of cellulite. Also, silk looks best when it hangs on the body, not when it's bunched up around curves. For all of these reasons, this fabric is usually used in high fashion cuts made for more narrow women.

In closing, I bet Kim Kardashian couldn't fit into the "large" dress that you tried on, but could probably fit into other things in the store.

You just learn what cuts and designers work for you by trying things on.
Oct. 19, 2010, 11:43 pm
Oh Yeah! from Borough Park says:
Donahue, got them nice hips yo!

Can we get a 360?

Oh YeaH!
Oct. 20, 2010, 6:02 am
AB from Crown Heights says:
Simon Doonan says, "You might need to look at other designers that focus less on the body.”

Um...Aren't ALL clothing designers supposed to focus on the body, i.e. the place where you actually wear their clothes? Or do they focus on the hanger instead?

Maybe we should look for the designers that DO focus on the body--the real bodies that real people inhabit, that is.
Oct. 20, 2010, 8:38 am
choooch from everywhere says:
i never fit into the clothes at Big and Tall because, well, im not big and tall.
Oct. 20, 2010, 9:20 am
daniel from clinton hill says:
Clothes that focus less on the body! Haha, talk about letting someone down easy.
Oct. 20, 2010, 10:49 am
Kalahari Dessert from Ft Greene says:
Fulton Mall and Downtown are just a few blocks away. And there's lots of fried and fast food there too if the stores there have sizes too big. After that, you can waddle over to the Brooklyn Hospital and get a cholesterol reading. I tell you, Brooklyn is convenient (unless you are driving around in your phat SUV; but don't worry, Marty Markowitz is on the case)!!!!
Oct. 20, 2010, 11:28 am
nice reporting... from bk heights says:
*Did* you try on more than one dress? I understand your intentions with this article, at least i think i do, but you really can't blame the store for carrying a line that doesn't tailor to your body type.

I don't shop there, mainly because the clothes are outrageously out of my price range (maybe you should've written an article about that?) the fact of the matter is, it isn't TJ Maxx and they don't have a responsibility to measure Courtney Donahue's hips before stocking their merchandise.
Oct. 20, 2010, 1:17 pm
Stacey from Downtown says:
This story sucks. This can be said for many stores.
Oct. 20, 2010, 4:27 pm
erica from park slope says:
Shop somewhere else.
Oct. 21, 2010, 5:16 pm
MJ from Park Slope says:
In the printed paper version of this story I saw yesterday, the sub-headline was "Largest dress too small for thin reporter."

Courtney Donahue, you trash Barneys because ONE DRESS didn't fit you and you say you're "thin." Okay, how thin are you?

Never mind your picture from which we can't really tell anything. Please let us know the following details so we can evaluate your claim:

1. Your dress size.

2. Height and weight.

3. Hip measurement.

I suspect the true facts in perspective will show this criticism to be unfair.

Barneys is not a plus size store. Nothing wrong with that.
Oct. 23, 2010, 12:11 pm
Mopar says:
I thought this was a good article. There should be more expensive, well made contemporary and young designer clothes in 10, 12, and 14. For women over 5'5" with hips, even if they are slim, they need these sizes. Short women can wear 6s and 8s, yet still be overweight. I do shop at Barneys and it can be a challenge to find clothes that fit.
Oct. 24, 2010, 8:32 pm
Bonnie from Bushwick says:
What many miss is that Barney's and other have moved into a neighborhood without doing the research!

It is easy to blame the reporter but as someone who has made six figures tailoring clothing from such store on Teh UPPER EAST SiDE many of the comments are unfounded!

The average woman is a size 10-14 and with an active health regime! In fact many women who fit into those dresses do so with some rather unhealthy practices!

The Brooklyn resident... well actually most residents in NY are much larger than the Barney's "cut" I once ran a womens' dress shop on the upper east side and did exceptionally well re-tailoring the clothing of the wealthy and "letting out" the hips thighs and arms! The fact is many never complained... because of comments such as those made above! Some even bought two of the garments and then had them redone!

Making a six figure income form adjusting clothing someone paid a fortune for should never happen! The other side was that men's clothing adjustment at many of these high end store were done in house and complimentary!
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:13 am
Nicole from Clinton Hill "east" says:
I am sure the sizes 1, 2 & 3 correspond to small, medium and large ... which for some stores a small is really a size 0 or 2 and a large is now an 8. Fuuuuuuun, right?!
Feb. 24, 2011, 5:11 pm

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