Yesterday, superfantastic reader ChaChaHeels commented:
I think a lot of dress manufacturers for plus sizes are producing under the delusion that “the big girls want to dress the same way the smaller girls do”. […]
It’s not true that plus size girls “want the same clothes” that “regular” sized women can wear. Plus sized women want clothes that flatter the curves and shapes they alone have, so that they don’t feel uncomfortable or look like their clothing is unsuitable. I think we want the opportunity to look great, like other women can and do, but the clothes have to be designed around our actual bodies, not some one’s idea of what we should look like. There are plenty of ways to cut fabric and create designs that do just that.
First of all, may I once again express my appreciation for my readers, who –unlike commenters on many blogs out there– are erudite, thoughtful and gracefully manage to rise above the “boobies! poop! my dad can beat up your dad!” standard set for internet discourse.
That being said, while I am inclined to agree with La ChaCha for my personal choices, it’s tricky to talk about plus-size women in general as wanting any one thing. Except for licking Nutella off Mario Balotelli’s midsection, and even then, some people might not like Nutella.
Some big girls really do want plus-size fashion that’s the exact same as straight-sized clothes, and I think most of us would at least like to have the option of making the same sartorial blunders as our thinner pals.
It’s not that straight-sized clothes are designed so much better, it’s that there’s so much more OF it.
While a size 6 can walk into virtually any clothing store and find something that fits, be it good, bad or ugly, a size 16 has a harder time of it and a size 26 harder still. Size 36? You might as well bring your own Sherpa and a hip flask: You’re gonna be looking for a while.
That being said: It’s so much better than it used to be.
Maybe the clothes themselves aren’t better –Lane Bryant has been slouching towards Old Navy for at least five years now– but instead of one or two stores we now have…ok, still pretty much those two brick and mortars, but online shopping has exploded.
That’s why I can’t bust too hard on Monif C. or any designer cutting and styling exclusively for the plus size market, even if their clothes don’t ring my bell.
I mean, whatever your opinion on orgiastically fringed teal maillots, when it comes to shopping options it’s difficult to argue this:
is better than this:
The black swimsuit photo also illustrates one of the difficulties of designing tailored clothes for the big girl: These women all wear more or less the same size, but are VASTLY different body shapes. You’ve got your standard –if you can call anything a standard– pear, apple, rectangle, hourglass and ice-cream cone shapes and because they’re plus-sized, the differences are more extreme from a pattern-drafting point of view.
Obviously ChaChaHeels is right: there are plenty of ways to cut and design clothes to flatter plus size bodies, and it’s not even that hard. The problem is, which of those women do you pick as a fit model for clothes “designed around our actual bodies”?
My theory is it’s a numbers game.
The more clothes available, even the tragic messes, the more likely you are to find something that fits both your body and your taste. Forever 21 isn’t my idea of a good time, but once I found a fantastic blue and white striped dress very reminiscent of Lacroix-on-the-Costa-Brava-Circa-1986 in their plus size collection. Plus there will always be women who choose fashion over flattering (and good for them. There are enough safe dressers in the world).
What do you think plus-size women want, and if you were queen of the forest, how would you give it to them?