I wrote a while back about my struggle to find pants that fit. I shopped hard, for me, in both Buenos Aires and Montevideo with no luck. The problem was not a lack of pants – people generally where them here – but with the correct sizes. I am much, much larger than the average Jose in South America. I never did successfully find pants. What I did is have my wife handoff a couple pairs to a colleague who was coming this way. That worked well.
I’m now in the market for an XXL coat and a new belt. Again, I’m striking out. At Costanera Center, a very large mall at the base of South America’s tallest building, I found two XL coats that could actually be zipped up. However, in both cases, I could zip it up only by wearing the thinnest of shirts and not inhaling too deeply. These coats, too, were quite expensive. Today, I visited Estacion Central. I had even more trouble. The XL coats I found could not be zipped.
My current belt is holding on, as it were, but I’ve cinched it as far as it’ll go and it’s still a little loose. However, I’m a good four inches shy of being able to fit the belts I’ve found in Chile. A nail would fix this problem and will almost certainly be easier to find than a belt that fits.
I am a big man by any standards. I am roughly the same size as Roger Clemens, though I haven’t seen him in retirement. Perhaps he’s gained more weight. But, then, I’ve gained weight since he retired, too. In any case, I’m not ever surprised, even in the United States, to find trouble getting clothes big enough to fit. Fortunately, over the last 25 years, the United States has fattened up nicely and market forces have provided clothes much, much bigger than I need.
But the same market forces in South America conspire against me. Folks here are noticeably shorter. They are also noticeably thinner. They also like clothes that fit tighter than is typical in the United States, certainly tighter than I like. The result is that the clothes on the rack are small. An XL here doesn’t come close to fitting me (I can usually wear an XL shirt in the USA). I bought an XXL t-shirt at Iguazu that, when I tried to put it on in Santiago, tried to strangle me.
I have no real point. Folks in South American are smaller, on average, than Americans. Men my size are very unusual here. There isn’t much to be done. It would make no sense for Chilean shops to carry clothes that can fit me on the off chance that I’ll happen by once every four years.
It would also make sense, if one were planning to go to a really cold desert at altitude, for one to bring a heavy coat in the first place.
But that would just be silly.