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Two conversations this weekend led me to the same conclusion – most clothing made for women over a size 14 is CRAP. Why do plus-size designers believe that anyone who wears their clothes are the size of a typical size 8, just stretched in every direction? Not all size 18 women are 6’ tall with shoulders like a linebacker. Not every size 20 woman has size F breasts, and just because someone wears a larger size in jeans does not mean she also has a higher rise. The average size of an American woman’s dress may be growing, but that does not mean the height of an American woman is growing at the same speed. More often than not, that plus sized shopper has the same bone structure as her size 8 counterpart, just more curves and padding over those bones.
And another thing, why is it that the only choices for a plus sized woman is to look like a tramp, a dowager or blob? No matter our size, we should be able to easily express ourselves – our sophisticated, creative, feminine, chic self.
Walking through the mall, a woman over a size 12 has minimal options. Good old Lane Bryant may have some great pieces, but they are stuffed on overcrowded racks and rounders with utterly hideous polyester confections, gaudy prints and muumuu-like frocks. Avenue and Ashley Stewart rarely have the quality and current style of say, Bebe or Ann Taylor and I don’t even want to mention the majority of crap on the racks of Fashion Bug and Deb. Hit J. Jill, Coldwater Creek and Eileen Fisher, and if you are under 40 (or over 40) you may feel as though everything is wrong wrong wrong for your lifestyle and personality. The local department store may have a Women’s section, but it’s often small, limited and usually the worst maintained section of the whole store.
Why do we allow this? Why are we accepting this crap for our beautiful bodies? Just because we aren’t a size 6 doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve style, quality and proper service. We are professionals, fashionistas, women with just as much money (and money equals power) as our slimmer counterparts.
As I said in my Target article, vote with your pocketbooks! Write letters and emails and fill out comment cards at shops. Tell retailers when they get it right, and when they get it deathly wrong. If a company sees something sells, they will make more of the same. If it doesn’t sell, they will discontinue it. If you feel that the basic tees and tanks in a retailer are of sub par quality, let them know. If you feel that the sizing is all off (hello Lane Bryant and your new jeans sizing!) SAY SOMETHING! Get on message boards, write to plus-size magazines and forums.
The problem is that many plus-sized designers are not plus-sized, and are often not women. They don’t understand how weight is distributed, that we don’t want to hide under a swath of paisley chiffon, don’t always want to wear high-waist jeans and ponchos, that we may actually find our body beautiful and ourselves worthy of great style. They make great shoes in larger sizes, they make fabulous jeans in long lengths, women with curves deserve and should demand the same luxury.
Retailers see the success of Lane Bryant and make carbon copies of it, hoping to jump on the plus-sized fashion bandwagon. If Lane Bryant does it for you – style and figure-wise then I am happy for you. However if you are like most women I know who are in double-digit dress sizes, you wish there was more Torrid and IGIGI and Marina Rinaldi in the world, and less of this discount crap that is unflattering and unworthy our hard-earned cash.
As I always say, do not settle. You are better off with the same black pants worn over and over for now, than to buy crap and encourage these designers to purchase more crap. No matter your dress size, you should be a discerning shopper, hitting the fitting rooms and the internet to find the right fit, the right quality, the right style, the right price. High-end department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nieman Marcus are getting progressively more diverse departments for sizes over 14 and the lower-end market is being saturated with plus-size crapola shops. What about the middle? We need more mall shops that are the same caliber as J. Crew, as Banana Republic, as The Limited.
Let your opinion be heard. Women often stay mute for seeming bitchy, pushy or rude. We feel we maybe don’t deserve it because of our shape. I say NONSENSE, every person on this planet is special and beautiful. Beauty is in all shapes and colors and maybe it’s the crap we are forced to purchase that makes us feel less than utterly gorgeous.
So to my sisters who are in the double digits, I will share with you a few beauts I have found online… to show you what you deserve for your fabulous body. If you want to see more of this… then you know what you need to do… (and tell them you want to see plus size women model those fashions too!)
Charcoal Shirt Dress from IGIGI – Shirt dresses are a stylish way to be dressed for work OR play. I love this one because it nips in the waist and has all the current details seen on other brands.
Purple Wrap Dress from IGIGI – Purple is a hot season for fall, and IGIGI seems to know how to make a wrap dress that works on many shapes without showing off too much in front.
Hot Orange Dress from IGIGI – Don't hide behind drab colors; this dress will light up a room and your face!
White Tailored Shirt from Nexx – The tie detail and the French cuffs are elegant, not cheesy.
Denim Trousers from Kiyonna – I swear by my denim trousers – they work for business casual, dress up a simple top to make it work for a night out on the town, and the dark color is current and flattering.
Embossed Leather Jacket by Berek – How fun and daring is this jacket? with a white tank and jeans, or even with a shell and trousers for a night out or to work!
Mandeville Canyon Jeans from Paige Premium Denim – Paige cuts all their jeans for a real woman's shape, and the quality is awesome. Plus, it's always fun to sport some sassy designer jeans!
Freestyle Revolution Skinny Jeans in Smoke – the skinny jeans are still hot this fall, and this smoke color is fun and will look great with the fall's brights as well as the darker colors of the season.
Giraffe Print Dress from Kiyonna – Utterly gorgeous and elegant, and a cut to flatter, not fight against your curves.
Dana Buchman Silk Charmeuse Wrap Top – Gorgeous color, gorgeous fabric – wear with denim trousers for a night out, with crepe trousers or a skirt for a party, and even with suiting pieces for work.
Royal Blue Jersey Cocktail dress by Tadashi – Gorgeous color, elegant draping, and perfect for all your seasonal holiday parties!
Sing it. One of the reasons I’m losing weight right now is in an effort to get out of the plus sizes. I hit an 18/20 and was utterly disheartened at the dearth of well made and stylish clothes. When the clothing is good-looking, it’s poorly made, which I find as offensive as ugly clothing.
I can’t wait for the day I can wear a size 14 in trousers.
Yaaaaayyyy Allie! Yet again you speaketh the truth! We settle because we feel we don’t deserve better. Like we should be punished for being fat. We buy ugly clothes, we stay silent, we accept this fate. No more! We may not be built like a mannequin (nor ever want to) but that doesn’t mean we are not strong, loud, powerful. We deserve just as many options – for we ARE the majority of this country yet we hold the least amount of real estate in a shopping mall (and usually our stores are in the seedy sections near the dollar tree and the bathrooms). I am up for this fight!!!
I so totally agree. I used to be a larger girl, and I had alot of trouble finding pretty clothes. Now I’m size zero, and I’m short still, and they think, you are skinny so you must be long. Or, you are plus, so you must be long too… Hell to the nah!
I have actually seen more insanely beautiful woman in plus sizes, sadly having to resort to dowdy clothes. I mean, alot like you dilly dilly, perfectly shaped lips, eyes and perfect skin. Most of the skinny woman got nothing on them.
I agree to the woman before me, some designers have fabulous sizing, but for most of us thats a years clothing budget… This is a shout out to you mid-market designers, design for the tall curvy woman, the short skinny woman, the short plus sized woman. We are real, and you will lose lots of business on this track…
Thank you so much for addressing this issue! Shopping is a horror for me and your advice not to ever “settle” really struck a cord. I’m not going to run around looking for something ok anymore; I’m going to wear what I love and only buy when I need something.
I can add one type, which is kind of useful, if you’re rich, which I’m not…some designers do go up to 14 or 16. They don’t always get a lot of those sizes in, but they do exist. Once when I was really down about clothing, my husband bought me a beautiful Etro jacket in a size 50/16. It’s classic and looks great and I know I’ll wear it forever. Of course, that jacket was my clothing budget for the year but it was worth it. Now, if they’d only have clothes for my size 24 sister!
Eddie Bauer has great pants for a business casual environment – I have them in every color. Not dowdy at all!
Yes, Eddie Bauer, Lands End and Talbots all provide plus sized options, but dowdy, dowdy, dowdy.
If Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, J.Crew made plus sized lines I’d be in absolute heaven!!!
I’ve found that Eddie Bauer does a great job for clothing in a size 20 – nice business casual pants, XXL tailored shirts and dresses.
I am SICK of what is coming out for us “REAL WOMEN”. More and more, but more crap. There is plus size super models and magazines but they still dres us like old ladies and social rejects. I am writing a few emails today, maybe we will finally be heard. Amazing how the largest person in the room can be so easily ignored!
So so true. But so many of these retailers images are aspirational rather than realistic. We don’t care to fit our clothes to you, we want you to fit our clothes.
At nearly 40, it’s almost impossible to find stylish, work appropriate, well made clothing for my size 20.
Thanks for providing some resources for all us girls though!!
I’m so over everything plus sized being doused in sequins. Two other options are the Apt. 9 and Daisy Fuentes line at Kohls.
1. I had no clue Paige Premium Denim came in anything bigger than a 10 so that is very nice!
2. I fully agree. Too many times I settle because shopping is exhausting and upsetting. It’s stupid because then I hate everything in my closet. Good point. I will start letting my opinions b e heard.
Agreed – there should be a lot more, and better options when it comes to plus size fashion. However, I can tell you that the pickings are equally slim for the nearly 6 foot tall women with size F breasts. While I’m not plus size any more, I did have to wear plus sizes before my breast reduction (I was wearing a size 40F bra and it still wasn’t enough despite being skinny elsewhere). And oddly enough, I am nearly 6 feet tall (well, 5’10). I pretty much gave up and wore baggy t-shirts until my breast reduction.
I still have a lot of plus size friends and family members, and I hate that they have such problems finding clothes that fit at all. As it is, I have problems because I’m not a stick, so I can imagine that it must be awful to have even fewer options.
That said, Torrid rocks. I wish we had had one locally before my reduction.