I have been pondering the plus size fashion issue for a while. I am a woman who wears plus size clothing and a plus size fashion designer. As a consumer, I have felt like being a plus size woman was an unwanted designation. I never could understand why I had to be referred to as plus size? Plus what? As a designer I understand the designation because a standard formula can be used to grade pattern sizes accurately up to about a size 18. Above a size 18, the standard grading formula is not as reliable. There are so many variables when a woman is larger than a size 18. Where a woman carries her weight will affect the fit of her clothing.
Most of us are familiar with common body types: pear, apple, rectangle, and hourglass (our Dress Right for Your Body Type guide has more details). Those body types apply to all sizes but when applied to plus sizes the variables are incalculable. I think the reason why it’s so difficult for plus size women to find fashion forward clothes is because designers shy away from making patterns for sizes larger than a size 18 because there is no reliable way to accommodate all of the shape variables.
I don’t believe the motivation to exclude plus sizes from high fashion is always as discriminatory as it feels (though sometimes it is), and it’s not because designers don’t recognize the sales potential of satisfying this market demographic. I believe it’s simply not cost effective and to risky to mass produce so many various sizes coupled with a fear of condoning obesity.
So what does a woman who wears plus size clothing find in the stores and boutique in her size? Knit, glorious knit! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Spandex, my entire custom dress collection is made from gorgeous matte jersey (Polyester Spandex blend). I highlight knit to say that it is its forgiving nature that makes it so appealing and suitable for accommodating many various shapes that woven fabric can’t.
I believe the time has come for us as a culture to stop making plus size woman feel like second class citizens. Women who wear plus size clothing are rarely celebrated in the media and when they are questions are raised about their health. We shower praise on women in our culture that are so thin they need to wear heavy shoes to keep from blowing away on a windy day. Is thin, in and of itself, healthy? I say NO! Thin is not well. Fat is not sick. I know overweight people who are healthy and active and I know thin people who are unfit and sedentary.
We as a culture should start celebrating women for who they are not for the circumference of their waist. I am a woman who has been at every point in the size spectrum, I have been a high as a size 28 and as low as a size 6. When I was younger I tried everything under the sun to lose weight and fit into misses sizes. At one point I was successful and I spent many years wearing misses’ sizes and eventually found my way back to wearing plus sizes (more on that later). One thing I know is that my character, work ethic, moral fiber, and my ability to be an great wife and mother was not influenced by my dress size.
As a designer, I design for all sizes but I always consider what body type can wear my designs and I am strongly influenced by the needs of plus size women. I want to do my part, as a designer to contribute to what is available to women who don’t fit misses’ sizes. I use a size 14 mannequin to display my collection because 50% of women in the USA are a size 14.
As a woman who wears plus size clothing, I refuse to allow myself to be defined by my size. I invite all women, no matter what size or shape; to celebrate your curves don’t hide them under ill fitting clothes. I believe that style and fashion come from within and the clothes we choose to wear are a very important part of communicating to the world what we think and feel about our bodies.
I am on a personal mission to do my part to change the way women with curves shop for clothing online. I want to educate women on how to choose the right silhouette to compliment their shape and to remove shame from the equation of wearing a plus size. I encourage women to celebrate the body God gave them, treat it with love and kindness, and break the cycle of self-inflicted criticism.
My custom dress collection is timeless silhouettes that are essential pieces for every woman’s wardrobe. We provide free custom sizing to allow women of all shapes and sizes to have a great fitting dress. Visit our online boutique to see the complete custom dress collection www.ccbcustomdress.com
Please feel free to comment on my blog.