During a first season episode of Hulu's "Shrill," Annie — played brilliantly by Aidy Bryant — laments about the ongoing struggle to find clothing when you're a plus-size customer. "Everything is either like a big Indiana Walmart sack or it's like some cutesy shit covered in Eiffel Tower postage stamps," she says. It's a familiar topic for Bryant, who recently shared her own personal example during an interview on NPR's Fresh Air.
"I got to 'Saturday Night Live' and I thought, 'I made it. I got the dream.' Then I got there and I would do photoshoots with my castmates who are smaller women, and they would have 50 dress options and I would arrive and I would have two, and they both looked like something that the mother of the bride would wear," Bryant shared with host Terry Gross. "I was 25-years-old and I just felt like this isn't fair, and it's not my fault."
Stylist Rebecca Grice, who first met Bryant several years when Grice was working with Bryant's friend and then-"SNL" co-star Vanessa Bayer, keeps experiences like this in the back of her mind when outfitting not just Bryant, but any client. "I take every client, every job, no matter size, very seriously," Grice said in an interview with Fashionista. "So at our first fitting I wanted to make sure Aidy had a bunch of options, which meant doing my due diligence in terms of researching what designers are offering extended sizing." But unlike Annie, when it comes to outfitting Bryant, there's more options than Indiana Walmart sack and cutesy shit.
Feeling good, feeling confident and feeling comfortable were some of the key ingredients for Bryant's looks for her "Shrill" press tour, which have seen her in a number of outfits, including a floral motif long-sleeved Batsheva dress for an appearance on "The Tonight Show," a kelly green lace Tibi cocktail dress for the "Today Show," and a tailored pink Eloquii suit for the New York premiere of the show.
"I think that's been the key to success: tailoring," Grice says. "And that's for any size, regardless if you're a sample or a size 20. Take, for example, the pink suit: We shortened it, we pinched it in the knee, we took it in in the waist, we shortened the sleeves."
Grice mentions the Tibi dress as a particular highlight from the press tour. "We tried it on in a fitting and wanted to save it for a big moment and thought it was a great cheery color for the 'Today Show.' Tibi has been a super supportive brand, which is greatly appreciated," she says, adding that jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher was another heavy-hitter for Bryant during the "Shrill" press tour.
While Grice acknowledges the unfortunate nature of situations like the one Bryant mentioned on "Fresh Air," she stresses that as an anomaly.
"I just don't want this piece to read like she's different from any other client that I have. She's not. For any other client I would speak about silhouettes that they like and events coming up and colors that they prefer." In fact, much of our interview is spent with Grice making a conscious effort to not make plus-size girls feel like there's nothing out there. "I don't want this be about the struggle, because it wasn't a struggle."
From Asos to Zelie For She to Torrid to ModCloth to Premme to Isolated Heroes, there are more plus-size clothing options than ever before. But it's not just plus-size brands. As writer Liz Black noted in her Fashionista piece on size-inclusive brands, 2018 saw Nasty Gal, Madewell, J.Crew, Reformation and Wildfang expand their size ranges, showing undeniable movement in the push to make size inclusive ranges the new norm.
"It's a category that still needs some work, but there's definitely progress that's being made," Grice says with a particular mindfulness in wanting to celebrate the advancements in celebrating plus-size bodies within fashion, while recognizing the limitations that still remain, particularly around accessibility, mentioning designers and websites like ALC, Lela Rose, Tanya Taylor and 11 Honoré as great resources she's found for size-inclusive shopping.
So perhaps the "Shrill" press tour gives hope that Annie's complaint about a lack of options may no longer be the norm one day soon. It also proves a hidden in plain sight fact that ought to be discoursed about more: Aidy Bryant is a national treasure. Now, go watch "Shrill!"