Great new jeans, but what do “Secret Slimmer” panels really think they’re doing?

This weekend was a fantastic whirlwind of classes, shopping with my best friend, and a social outing to view some amazing and very unique Gothic belly dancers perform near Boston.  Whew!

One of the great boons of the weekend was a jeans purchase made from Fashion Bug.  Now I know that FB happens to be linked to Lane Bryant in some way (if you view their website, LB, FB, Caique, Loop 18 and Catherine’s are all one tab away from each other in the same web page frame.)

This connection meant I was confused about FB having some of LB’s proudly marketed “Right Fit” jeans with “odd” (for those pants) sizing (as in, the pants in FB were marked by the more traditional women’s sizing rather than LB’s alternately created but equally arbitrary numbers).

Yet, the stores are different in what they hold.  For one thing, I LOVED that all of the clothing in FB was intermingled.  If I approached a rack of cute sweaters I didn’t have to check to make sure I was in the “right” section of sizes; all sizes from small, petite, “womans”, Plus, Plus-W, etc were all on the same rack.  What. A. Joy!  Seriously.  Have you ever wandered through a straight-sized catering store (which might have a small token “section” of Plus, or Women’s sized pity-items) and been frustrated to have your eye drawn to an item; only to realize that “silly you!”; it was only sized up to something far below what you needed?

FB was a pleasure to browse because if an item I was interested in didn’t have my size; at least it was because it simply was out; not necessarily because it was not an item FB didn’t deem worthy of creating up at that larger size I needed.

I can’t vouch for all FBs; only the one we visited.  So, I don’t know if all such brick and mortar stores are set up this way.  Any other folks with feedback on this?  Though if the website is any indication; I’m inclined to believe this set-up might be a store-wide phenomenon.  I think the shock I felt at knowing I wouldn’t have to search only one small set of shabby racks in the “Fatty Zone” for clothing speaks  volumes towards how usual expectations of stores end up being played out.

So, there is first that pleasure.

Next, I found some NON Right-Fit jeans that are beautiful, comfortable and make me feel great.  My only issue?  They are called “Secret Slimmer” jeans.  They are offered (at least on the website; and seemed to have a similar range at the store) from sizes 4 through 32.

Now, not only do I take issue to the fact that such a jean might be desired by folks down in the size 4 range (though, knowing as I do how many people at EVERY size still think they have “work to do”; it doesn’t REALLY shock me); but also at the way this brand is marketed as some sort of Ninja of Weight Loss Deception.  Like, “oooo!  They SECRETLY will slim my image!  Wow!”

Well, if you’re thinking that little jean-colored ninjas are going to slip out of these pants once purchased and somehow magic away your body bulges; you’re mistaken.  No ninjas or gnomes or other sundry fairyland creatures exist in these items to work on your secret slimming.

The secret?  Is two very flimsy stretches of lycra sewn on each side of the zipper; between the pocket area and the crotch.  Two squares of black fabric about the size of the bottom of one of those square tissue boxes.  THAT is your slim-secret ladies.  Ooooo!

So, even having tried them on; I’m not sure what they think they are slimming.  I’m still fat in the jeans at my size 26W.  My tummy still has the same curves.  Happily (for something called anything regarding “slimming”); there is no unsightly pressure on my body, forcing it into other areas to somehow “Smooth” my bulges into more culturally acceptable lumps and bumps.

Yet, they are really well-cut, sit well on my body and feel nice.  I have a VERY strong feeling that should I snip out this very light bit of lycra the jeans will look EXACTLY the same on my body as WITH said slimming panels.  I don’t feel they are “taming” anything in there; let alone my “wild” tummy.

So I guess my final review is that these jeans were very comfortable on my body and even on my differently shaped/sized friend at a lower size.

These feel even better than my old Right-Fit jeans and will likely be what I go back to order more of if I happen to get some gift cards for my birthday or the holidays.

I’m still a bit miffed about these ubiquitous Secret Slimmer fads; not only because they don’t seem to be anything but lip service to the concept (so if you really WERE looking for something to “Slim” you down; you’re going to be disappointed) but because it just seems the trick-du-jour lately to slap some “It will Make you Look Thinner!” label on clothing in the hopes that us vain, ever-diet-minded women will flock to it or something. *shrug*

So, with that in mind, I give these jeans a happy face, followed by a bemused face.  I’m happy to have found bottoms (jeans, no less!) which are comfortable, well fitted, a good length (as long as this 5’6″ woman chooses the “petites”!), and a nice color.  Bonus: They don’t have the awful vaguely cat-urine-esque smell that the darker LB Right Fit jeans have and I was comfortable spending the sale price on them.  Yet, I remain bemused at this insistence that we must all be “secretly” slimming ourselves with hidden panels of flimsy, do-nothing, panels of lycra/stretchy material.

What do I REALLY think the secret is here?  Secret: Your body is amazing just as is.  It doesn’t need “slimming” to secretly be found acceptable.

Personally, I’d rather that those “Secret slimmer” panels were actually “Secret Pockets” panels and may just take my crafty self on an adventure this weekend to make that happen…


12 thoughts on “Great new jeans, but what do “Secret Slimmer” panels really think they’re doing?

  1. Secret Pocket panels would be AWESOME!

    I now wish I had a Fashion Bug in my area so I could check it out. The idea of a clothing shop where I could look at the same rack as any other sized woman, be she much smaller or considerably larger than I am, is intoxicating. It makes me want to give this store money. And possibly have its virtual baby.

  2. I bought some of the “Secret Slimmer” jeans at Catherine’s and wondered the EXACT SAME THING – do they really think that WE believe the jeans are fooling anyone?!

    But omg, they’re wonderfully comfy, although I really should order them in petites next time, and the “slimmer” part makes no difference whatsoever in how they feel on my body (or in how my body looks, so far as I can tell) so I couldn’t care less, except for it being such a silly name. I like them very much.

  3. Fashion Bug, Catherine’s, Lane Bryant, and Cacique are all owned by Charming Shoppes. Even though the same company owns them all, they each cater to a slightly different demographic, from what I’ve been able to see. Fashion Bug seems to cover the whole range of women’s ages and styles, Catherine’s is seen as the store to go to for older women (but I’ve seen quite a few younger ones shopping there), and Lane Bryant likes to think of itself as the young, hip, trendy, happening place to shop (yeah, I wouldn’t shop there if they were the last place on earth for fat women to buy clothing). Cacique doesn’t carry any lingerie to fit me, so I don’t shop there.
    I’ve shopped all the other stores, online and in brick-and-mortar stores, and of the 3, FB and Catherine’s have the best customer service. FB doesn’t usually have tops to fit me – they stop at a size 3X most of the time and I wear a 4/5X depending on how it’s made. Their pants fit, but the inseams aren’t long enough for me (they say their talls have a 31″ inseam, but it’s more like 29 1/2″, which is too short for me). Catherine’s usually has a lot of tops that fit, at reasonable prices, and they’re going to some younger styles/colors/prints. I have the same problem with their pants as the ones at FB, inseams too short for my long legs.
    Lane Bryant has lousy customer service. Every store I’ve been in, I’ve been ignored by the salespeople unless I asked for help and then it was like they were doing me a huge favor. They also don’t carry tops to fit me. And none of the Right Fit jeans fit me. They’re either too tight in the waist or too loose in the waist if they fit everywhere else. And I absolutely hate jeans that stretch out so much that they fall off after being worn for 30 minutes. I had 2 pair of Right Fits and ended up giving them away for those reasons.
    Granted, I’m 56, but I don’t dress like the stereotypical older woman (I don’t feel like I’m 56, I still feel young at heart and that’s how I dress). So these are just my opinions on the stores, take them for they’re worth 🙂

  4. I totally have a pair of the pants with the secret slimmer! I live really close to a Fashion Bug and I used to work there so sometimes they give me extra discounts. It’s the one place I know I can go find lots of clothes in my size so I go there for all my clothes (I range from a 26 to a 32), even if I wish the quality were better. Last year I bought some new pants that I really liked and they just happened to have that secret slimmer. I thought “Ok, whatever, I just like how they fit and I need plain black pants”.

    I then wore the pants to work and my boss took one look at me and said “You’ve lost a ton of weight haven’t you?”. Ummm. No. I kind of paused, not sure how to respond, but just basically said that I just got new pants that fit right (as opposed to the pants I was wearing before that were baggy and shapeless). It’s ironic that by getting pants that actually conformed more to my large body people thought I lost weight. I really don’t think the “secret slimmer” does anything, and really, for a woman that weighs about 370 pounds (moi) how much is an extra panel of fabric really going to do?

  5. I actually have never tried on any kind of “Secret Slimmer” pants just because the name irked me so much. Perhaps I will have to give them a try! The Lane Bryant “Right Fit” jeans seemed awesome when I tried them on in the store. I bought a pair and have not worn them for any amount of time over an hour since then because they stretch out to seventy-six times their original size and THEY SMELL! I am so glad that I am not the only one who noticed this. I thought I was going crazy. Such a waste of quite a bit of money.

    • I really love the secret slimmer jeans. I carry my weight where the paneling helps because I don’t need the bigger areas for my butt, legs or hips. It is crazy because now that FB is going under I thought I would order from Catherine’s and there is no comparison to FB. The jeans were thinner material and did not fit the same way. They run smaller in the stomach but, huge in the butt and legs. I am hoping one of the “sister” stores carries their line of jeans after they close their doors in the next few days!

      • Fashion Bug is closing? Man I’m so far behind the news curve. I definitely hope that LB will take on some of their merchandise then, at least online, because I love the fit of those jeans!!

  6. As Vesta says above, all those stores are owned by Charming Shoppes Inc. There’s a lot of overlap, but while Lane Bryant tends to be more “hip” and “trendy” and tends to stop at sizes 24-28 (depending on the style, manufacturer, etc), Catherines carries plus size clothes all the way up to 34 and sometimes 36, which is much easier for women like me. Lane Bryant has a teensy fraction of my size in their selection.

    The “secret slimmer” pants are great pants… but I’m also sick of that line about them “secretly pulling the tummy in”. It’s stupid and it doesn’t even do that. I’m getting awfully sick at what these “mainstream” stores think is “plus-size fashion”.

    I really do recommend contacting the FB (or Catherines) bigwigs, they tend to take feedback seriously. I wouldn’t recommend contacting LB, their customer service all-around seems fairly lacking.

  7. Secret Pocket panels would be cool, especially because I notice that many jeans made for women don’t come with big enough pockets to suit my needs.

    As for the fact that the Secret Slimmer jeans come in size four? That’s…really sad-making to me, but as you said, not shocking, either.

  8. I can’t afford to shop those places, I wish I could because maybe I could actually find jeans that fir correctly…. right now I have ones from plain old Walmart.. they fit ‘ok’ but I have lost a bit of weight over the past 2 years (yes it’s been more than that since I bought a new pair of jeans) and they are baggy now…. not complaining, just that they don’t fit very good.
    I did go to LB once and tried on jeans, but they had the sizes marked as 2,3,4 etc… my thought was, are ya kidding me? I wore and 18W at the time and I was kind of offended that they would try to ‘trick’ us into thinking we wore a smaller size, just because they changed it on the tag. BTW, I didn’t buy them.
    I just wish I could find a pair that also truly catered to petite (as in height) because I am only 5 foot tall and even petite are too long, by several inches. I end up cutting the ends off and leaving them raw edges because I hate re-hemmed jeans.,… it brings back bad childhood memories of when my mother would hem them for me and they looked incredibly ridiculous.
    So, I am now on the lookout for jeans that are about a 16W and at a length that fits me correctly… maybe I should take a look at the FB online stores and see what I can find.
    And maybe just maybe I can find tops that come in a 20W-22W instead of 22-24W… since they are too large but 18-20! is too small… but that’s a story for another day.

    • Karen I think jeans shopping is right up there with shoe shopping for me: an activity that I truly can never enjoy!! I can only imagine how long the jeans go on you; I’M wearing the petites and the length is good for my 5’6″ height! Good luck browsing FB. Not sure if it is much better though since the brand new pair I just got are the Petite size and, as I said, just right for me at 5’6….

  9. Thanks April…and I am with you…hate shopping for shoes! I wear a 7 1/2 wide because I can never find anything that truly fits… when my foot was measured I was told I should wear a 6 1/2 extra wide… yeah they don’t make those, at least not that I have found. It’s really fun walking around in shoes that are too long for your foot.

    Oh I figured it out, I am not too fat, I am just too short! LOL

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