I love lifting weights and getting strong again but none of my suit jackets fit

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It’s a long standing complaint of mine, finding women’s clothes to fit broad shoulders and muscular arms.

I know that the fitness industry spends a lot of time trying to reassure women that you can get strong and lean and toned (whatever the hell “toned” means) without getting bulky. Yeah, yeah. And while I’m sure that is true for lots of women, it’s never been true for me. When I start doing sprinting drills on the bike, my quads grow. When I start lifting heavy weights in the gym, ditto my arms and shoulders.

There was a blog post that I shared to our Facebook page some years ago (and now can’t find of course) by a personal trainer who always threw on a jacket when meeting with traditionally feminine would-be clients because she’d learned that some women didn’t select her as a trainer because they didn’t want to end up looking like her. But I don’t mind that I have that kind of build. If I were a man, I’d be “brawny” or “burly” or maybe even “husky.” But we don’t have words like that for women. See Where are the muscular, larger women’s bodies? Really what I want though are just clothes that fit.

During the pandemic years I’ve mostly been working out at home and then with knee surgery I’ve been focusing on rehab. The only upside of all the home exercise is that without the big weights at the gym my arms finally fit easily in my suit jackets. Ironically the was the one time I wasn’t wearing them because #wfh and zoom.

All that is finally letting up. I’m back in the gym. I’m bench pressing again once in a while. I’m doing lat pull downs and shoulder presses. I’m very happy to be deadlifting again. I wrote here about loving the landmine exercises. And once again my suit jackets are feeling tight.

SheHulk is okay wearing tank tops but she struggles when she’s got to go from her regular human body to her super hero form. It’s an an issue both on the show for the character and for the people making the show. There’s even a character, Luke Jacobson, who designs clothes for super heroes.

She Hulk

See How to dress for work if you’re a She-Hulk sometimes.

“Buying ready-to-wear clothes is already a bit of a challenge, and the idea that you could buy clothes that would fit the waist, shoulders, and legs of a woman who’s both 5 feet, 4 inches (the height the internet says Maslany is) and 6 feet, 7 inches (She-Hulk’s in-show height, per the creators) tall depending on her mood seems tough to imagine. But She-Hulk director Kat Coiro says while they were certainly aided by some good old-fashioned Marvel CGI, they worked to make sure all of her fashion choices actually had some foundation in reality.

“We absolutely discussed and tested out methods of how you would do that in real life,” Coiro tells Polygon. “6-foot-7 is large, but it’s still very much human scale. And we had a woman on set with us, an actress named Malia [Arrayah] who is our double, and she is 6-foot-7. And what was surprising is that things would actually fit her better than you would think.”

Here Jen is in her super hero suit made by Luke Jacobson.

Probably there’s a fir bit of spandex involved.

And while I’m no She-Hulk I am going to start to look for some formal work clothes that have stretch built in. My sense is that the pandemic and the rise of athleisure wear have made this more possible. Wish me luck shopping once my year of no buying clothes comes to an end in July.

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