Being fat and fashionable aren’t mutually exclusive. Yet there are very few companies taking advantage of this. I’m fat. I like fashion. I want fashionable, quality clothing. Is that too much to ask for? Is my money any different?
I typically wear a 26/28/30 US. I’m not versed at all in high fashion. I never saw the point of investing time in a community that did not include or value my participation, let alone my body. It has definitely been refreshing to see larger than usual bodies modeling clothing and on runways – but is it just a fad or is the fashion industry finally taking baby steps to a more body positive message?
There has been a lot of talk about designers doing plus size clothing. Any dissent I’ve read on social media or blogs against the “THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!” has been blasted with this mantra of, “Be thankful they’re doing SOMETHING.” Or another favorite, “They have to start somewhere!” While I’m one to believe more in positive reinforcement, I find it very hard to be excited about stuff that has already been done.
Marc Jacobs has tried to release “plus sizes” before. Robert Duffy (the guy who tweets) said that they end up getting the stock back because nobody buys it. He posed the question – if they do it again, will people buy it this time around? So is it our fault, as the plus size community, that their attempts to cater to “plus sizes” failed? What is “plus size” to them? A 14/16? Were those clothes made for fat bodies? For boobs, hips and bellies? Were they sized up from the size two? Often you find that when designers decide to pick and choose which pieces will be plus sized – these aren’t necessarily the cute/trendy/fabulous pieces that they are known for.
It is difficult for everybody to find cute, fashionable clothing. Bodies are different. Period. With mass-market clothing, you don’t always get kind of fit you want. Size 2 or size 28.
The reality of plus size fashion is that as the size increases, your options drastically decline. Over a size 24/26, it can be a fashion wasteland. Every year, things seem to get a little better or easier but it can still be tough. There are a handful of companies offering sizing up to a US 28/30, and UK stores like Evans stop at 30/32 UK. Problem is, some of these companies trick you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen something cute at Avenue, in store or online, and oh, wait! It stops at a 26, even though they carry up to a 30/32. I was actually very pleased to notice that Torrid has started carrying 5s or a 30/32. And the amount increases every season. Unfortunately, a lot of their fitted dresses still stop a 26. But it is nice to see some of the trend items in size 5. What about Lane Bryant and their bra sizes. Half of the styles stop a 44 band size. Others at a 46. What?! I was recently shopping for new bras and was told by an associate that I should settle for the bra I was trying on – it was “good enough” because hey, it went around me and held my boobs. Good enough, right? Despite the fact that there were some very noticeable issues that screamed, “this doesn’t fit!” Don’t even get me started on trying to find the 30/32s they supposedly offer.
With stores outside of the US, from the UK to Australia – sizing is different. UK sizing is supposed to be 2 sizes smaller than US. So Evans line goes up to a 30/32, which is a 26/28. New Look at a 26 UK, Next at a 26 UK. Yours Clothing, City Chic, etc. ASOS with their Curve line has become extremely popular with some amazing on trend, structured pieces which have been relatively non-existent in the plus size shopping world, but they also stop at a UK 26 or a US 22.
Under a size 20, you can get away with finding certain straight sized pieces. Or even a lot of retailers have started carrying straight sizes up to 20/XXL. Hell, even I can fit into Old Navy XXL’s occasionally!
Guess I’m naive but I feel like carrying up to a 26/28-30/32 should already be standard for most plus size ranges but it definitely isn’t. I feel like it is a little backward to clap some designers on the back for deciding to offer “plus sizes”, when in truth it is more average sized.
My question is what about people who wear ABOVE the extended sizes offered by chains. I’ve been there, done that. Before a medical condition was discovered in 2008, I wore a 38/40w. The only place I could find clothing was from the Redcats catalogs. Just in the last 4-5 years, the selection has improved a lot but even the catalogs claim they have sizes 12-44w. The “extended” sizing is often in very limited styles. Basic tops, jeans, pants, knits, oh and don’t forget the polyester muumuus! There are always exceptions to the rule, and I’ve seen more “trend” items be offered in larger sizes but it can still be extremely difficult. In the past 10 years, I’ve been sizes 18/20 to a 38/40w and ended up in the middle.
I encourage people to stop saying that something is “good enough”, when it really isn’t. There are so many plus size companies – either large chains or small businesses that offer larger sizing already. Even better to go to Etsy sellers who are willing to make clothing to YOUR size. Which can seem expensive but in the end – a well-made piece of clothing, that is tailored to YOUR body is going to fit and probably last a lot longer than an off-the-rack polyester monstrosity.
Urge these companies to do more to earn your patronage! Provide feedback, ask questions!