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Francesca Laughs and Wipes a Tear | Manolo for the Big Girl

Francesca Laughs and Wipes a Tear

According to the New York Times, suddenly plus-size fashion is everywhere!

“Up to now it’s been difficult to provide adequate fashion content to a large-sized customer,” said Jeff Van Sinderen, a retail analyst at B. Riley, a research and investment firm. The woman of size, as she is euphemistically known, “still wants to wear the same clothes as her slimmer counterparts,” he added.

Other stores and designers have picked up the message. Forever 21, a purveyor of cheap chic, introduced its plus-size line, Faith 21, this spring. Target recently began offering Pure Energy, exuberantly patterned dresses and tops for young women. Those follow hip niche labels like Karen Kane and Kiyonna, which are sold at boutiques.

Francesca says: hoo hoo, that is funny.

Or, as our internet friend so eloquently put it in an email to us, “five ill-made frocks at Kmart doesn’t feel like much of a step forward.” How true.

Francesca says: this is why she always appreciated Talbots. The clothing, they might be boring, but they are well-made, and when on sale, an excellent value. They are also truly plus size and come in petite versions. And the customer service is excellent.

The new Target line . . . Francesca predicts it will fade in 2 years due to non-actual-large-sizes and inability to draw older (read: over 23) consumers, and then it will be held up as proof that there is no market for the plus-size clothes.


15 Responses to “Francesca Laughs and Wipes a Tear”

  1. Pinky June 18, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    Ha. I just read this and was wondering what y’all would think. I’m also appreciating Talbots these days, although I used to think they were too conservative. I’m not sure whether they’ve changed or I have.

  2. KellyGirl June 18, 2009 at 11:20 am #

    Although I agree with any sarcasm dircted at that article, I disagree about Target. It’s always been one of my staples when it comes to buying larger-sized clothes. Yes, the “Pure Energy” line (which I’ve already purchased a terrific pair of jeans from) may be considered hype and will go the way of the Exhilaration plus line from like a decade ago but so too have non-plus lines come and gone. But they’ve never stopped carrying plus size clothes and trying to have some trendy items among them.

  3. Patrisha June 18, 2009 at 11:58 am #

    What *I* rant about often is the lack of comfortable shoes for the size I wear, which is 11. Is it too much to ask for more choice for those of us with big feet? Back in the days when I was working, if I found a low-heel shoe that I liked and that felt comfortable on me and that at least gave a nod to fashoin, I would buy as many of them as the store had before the word got out and they were snapped up by other women with large feet.

  4. Kai Jones June 18, 2009 at 12:36 pm #

    So ironic that within the previous month the NYT *also* ran articles about the many lines cutting their plus sizes.

  5. Leah June 18, 2009 at 2:19 pm #

    *sigh* So the cycle continues. The amount of thought put into plus size line is less than what goes into planning a boutique’s soundtrack. If you’re lucky, you get sized-up versions of a few of the designs available in the small-size collection–usually the ones least flattering to big girls but easier to size up because they are less fitted, less structured, and have fewer pieces to recalculate, necessary because most people in the fashion world have a very poor understanding of various shapes and proportions in larger women. If you’re not so lucky, you get a thrown-together, poorly made set of big-girl-only designs in a separate line (because big girls couldn’t possibly want or look good in anything small girls might like?) that quickly fails because it is too limited in size and/or garments available, it is poorly fit, it falls apart quickly, and too often, it is ugly. Oh, and they won’t advertise it or will only sell it online because GOD FORBID anyone find out they’re letting *gasp* FAT women wear the same clothes as whatever market demographic they’ve selected as their own. Yet when it fails, it will once again be evidence big girls just won’t put our money where our mouths are (because of course, we are too busy eating, I’m sure) and shop to support plus size lines in decent stores.


  6. theDiva June 18, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    what drives me crazy is the lack of clothing tailored for the big-racked-yet-small-framed among us. Petites-plus don’t even help. GAH.

  7. Omnibus Driver June 18, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    I stopped shopping the women’s department at Target last year when everything was sack-like and in wretched, blah, boring colors. Yuck.

    Igigi has some lovely classic separates, beautifully constructed, and good value when they have their sales. C.J. Banks and Silhouettes have also been places where I’ve found consistently good quality and prices.

  8. gemdiva June 18, 2009 at 8:18 pm #

    Francesca, I am so with you on Talbots. Their sales can be amazing. Their customer service is great, they actually wait on you and make you feel they are so grateful that you chose to spend your hard earned dollars with them. Talbots, nothin’ but love for ya!

  9. Maureen June 18, 2009 at 9:04 pm #

    The Pure Energy line looks okay when compared to the rest of Target’s stuff for the young’uns. It’s just that this year’s crop of stuff for the young’uns *sucks*. Gathered-bust maxi dresses? Why?

  10. Bobbi June 19, 2009 at 12:38 am #

    Virginia Postrel has a recent blog/article on the unfortunate math designers use to make sizing decisions on the Doublex site


    The same fabulous and forthright Postrel talks about the science of body shape (in a slightly older article) here:


    I have little sympathy for designers, and am forever grateful my mother in law is an expert seamstress with her own sewing shop. I suggest all ladies buy garments made in the best fabric they can find and get thee to a tailor.

    Or start planning your wardrobe with military precision and start buying cloth at any of the really great online fabric retailers. With the current financial brouhaha there are so delicious deals available for the shopper with a savvy eye.

    Oh, yes this expensive, time consuming and an exercise in delayed gratification. Start with the recent super-duper post on MftBG about an inspiration board and tell the nitwit designers and retailers where to go (on the other side of your super fantastic uniquely shaped…)

  11. Cara June 19, 2009 at 5:36 am #

    “…inability to draw older (read: over 23) consumers, and then it will be held up as proof that there is no market for the plus-size clothes.”

    Which brings me to something totally different: Is any company even interested in attracting costumers oder 23? As soon as you hit 25 or 30, noone wants to sell you clothes, at least in Europe, everything is marketed for the eternally slim and hip youthful under 25 crowd. At 30, you are supposed to wither and die in khaki and greige in something elegant, yet classic, but good heavens, nothing fashionable.

  12. Mango June 19, 2009 at 7:35 am #

    I’m still looking for the plus-size clothes at Target. Yeah, sure, there’s the big sign hanging from the ceiling that says “Women’s” or “Plus” or whatever they’re currently calling us, but it’s invariably a dumping ground for straight-size sale items, misses sale items, items to be reshelved, maternity clothes and maybe one or two sad, sad racks of plus-size clothes, which may or may not be the useful in any way (ie the tragic day when the only plus clothes in the whole of my Target were a rack of hideous tankinis). I mean, okay, look, if you don’t want to sell me clothes, that’s fine. I get it, I can live with that. I won’t buy your tchotchkes and soap and addictive macadamia caramel corn, but I can deal. No hard feelings. But when there’s a giant sign indicating that you have a section of clothes for me and then I go there and you don’t, I begin to be just the tiniest bit bitter….

  13. Patti June 19, 2009 at 1:55 pm #

    I must step in and say that even though I am way older than 25(by damn near 30 years!!!) it’s really harder for a real mature, but sassy woman to find quality and style all rolled up into one. SO I’ve settled for being classically tailored (read boring)and sometimes not owning a quality piece for years and years. It’s been forever since I saw a line of clothing that met my size needs and didn’t look like a muich younger woman. So I dress far more casually than I would like, or I forgo looking really great because I can’t afford the expense and help raise my children.I would love some midpriced lines, some stylish separates that I was proud to wear and didn’t make me look like I was trying too hard to be young.
    I appreciate you Francesca for weighing in on this problem, and I will try to seek out the best i can afford while streamlining my style and wardrobe rather than settling for less , thanks to your tutelage.

  14. Sarahbyrdd June 19, 2009 at 3:26 pm #

    *chortles with glee* I’ve been quoted in a blog!

    Patti, I agree. It’s very difficult to find mid-priced clothes that look professional but not completely unstylish or old. I’ve been searching fruitlessly for the past several month for a non-shrunken khaki blazer or drapy sweater to make summer outfits a bit more office worthy. Every time I find something close to what I want, it’s all sold out in my size.

  15. Hermione June 19, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    Enroll me in the Talbot’s Fan Club please! I’m 60, short and round, and the WP clothes fit me to perfection, other than pants being a tad long sometimes.