Let’s talk about Plus Size and those on the smaller side of Plus

You and your girls decide to make a day of shopping and hanging out. Fabulous. You are a size 16, another a size 12, and the third a size 10. The three of you divas fashionably sashay into one of the coolest department stores, ready to burn some well-earned cash.

As a self-professed fashionista, you naturally traipse over to the contemporary section, swooning over the latest designs by DVF, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Free People, Rebecca Taylor, and Cynthia Steffe. As the three of you start diving into these beautiful fashions, you realize, there are few, if any, sizes above a size 10/12.

Concerned, frustrated, and confused, you head over to the nearest sales associate asking about the size ranges in your favorite designers. To your dismay, the sales associate gives you a once over and “empathetically” shares that their sizes stop at a 12 and that you would have to either go to the “Missy” section, usually on another floor, or try the plus size section.

Determined to find the coolest of cool for your curves, the three of you optimistically head down to this “Missy” section that you were referred to and find yourself immensely disappointed. Every item here is either extremely dated, lackluster in style, or just plain ugly. So, for the last ditch effort, you scour over their plus size section.

Interestingly enough, you find that there are some promising pieces by designers you are not aware of, noticing that their sizes start at a 14! Really? See, you have always bordered on this “Too small for straight sizes, and not so quite plus size” range. Nevertheless, you find that there are more and more designers who cater to this grey area of sizing.

What you will find now, is that as the straight sizes are stopping their ranges at a 12/14 or buyers are limiting the size ranges for their store, many more plus designers are extending their ranges to go as small as a size 10/12 to cater to this forgotten woman.

So what does this mean for plus size? What determines plus size?

Many women swear plus size starts at an 18, modeling agencies throwing size 8’s at us, while designers define its start at a 16. With all this confusion and inconsistency, there is much to be interpreted in the lovely burgeoning world of plus size fashion- especially as fashion becomes more infused into plus size.

As plus size fashion evolves, so will its standards, but in the meantime, how do we, as plus size women learn to adjust to the multitude of definitions and non-defined standards.

We accept them.

But we do not stop there.

  • We must improve upon the amalgamation of definitions and interpretations of what this is.
  • We cannot size out the diva who is a 14, just because she is smaller, nor do we exclude fashion for the size 28.
  • We must understand that what we know of plus size is no longer exact. As more and more fashion choices are becoming available, as buyers refuse to buy size 14’s and designers retire the size 14 pattern, then we must accept that plus size, due to multiple circumstances, can start at as low as a 12/14.
  • We must support the designers who bring to the table high fashion, innovative designs, impeccable taste, and flair to ensure they continue to push the envelope for plus size fashion.
  • We must educate ourselves with this newfound plethora of fashion available, and not be afraid to dress out of the box.
  • While it is so much easier to gripe about what we do not have in plus size fashion, we must celebrate and embrace those who are making moves now. We are not in the same position as we were ten years ago!

Through feedback, collaborations, and an open mind, plus size fashion has the potential to evolve into a more standardized, consistent, and clearly defined industry. While it will not happen overnight, understand designer choices ARE available, sizing WILL vary, prices MAY be higher as the quality IS improving.

Keeping you Curvy.Confident.Chic.!

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  • Jennifer

    Thank you! Sometimes I feel that those on the smaller side of plus are given a bit of a reverse disdain, not from those skinnier than us but from those fatter than us. How many times must I hear, “Well, you aren’t REALLY plus size…” When 14 and 16 ARE plus! It sucks because we still have the same problems as everyone else.

  • Gina

    Size 14/16 is an interesting place to live. I end up having to sort of glean what I can from the odds and ends of women’s, misses, plus, and junior plus. At department, discount stores and some chains like Old Navy, there’s more selection than there used to be, but there are quite a few shops that are plain off-limits to me because of their limited size ranges either larger or smaller. I figure that if they don’t want my business, that’s their problem, but it’s a bad feeling to go into those stores with my other-sized friends and feel like I’m not welcome. The other weird thing is that since I’m apple-shaped, a lot of the clothes I do find in my size don’t fit anyway. It’s frustrating.

  • Cassie

    Thank you for posting this! This has been an issue for me for years, and I get frustrated shopping at stores like Forever21 or Charlotte Russe for budget “trendy” wear, and get the same frustration at ‘Torrid’ when I seem to be too large for teen sizes and too small for most plus sizes. I have had some minimal luck finding “Juniors Plus” items, but those are few are far between (No boundaries, JcPenney) I am a size 14/16 and hope that more designers realize we are normal size women, and are more the majority than the minority.

  • Racine

    Omg. . . I TOTALLY understand. I have always been a 22/24/26. . . and I have TOLD myself that I truly think that being an ‘inbetweenie’ is much harder. you are ‘too big’ for normal sizes, and ‘too small’ for plus sizes. at least at my size, I know where I ‘belong’. lol. I have a friend that is about a size 12. . . the name brands are too small and torrid/lane bryant/etc are too big.

  • http://plussizebeauties.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=3_23 Strapless Bras

    Plus size is interpreted by different people at different levels. For some 14 is a plus, for others plus starts from 16. If shopping is done online, there would not be any issues on selecting the different sizes at one place.

  • Tutu1978

    I 100% feel this piece i have recently lost weight and went from a 26 to a 14 so Im always having a difficult time find clothes that not only fit me right but look good and thats fresh and n fashion. It may have alot to do with the town I live n there r alot of plus size women but most r not up on being fashionable. So with a lack of demand 4 a better selection of plus size clothes I have to travel to some of the larger major cities near by. Anyways I am glad this was brought up.

  • Constance Smith

    I just wanted to ask where did you find the picture for this colum? I would really love to get a print of it?

  • http://styleontheedge.wordpress.com/ Karen

    This is my world! My problem, which I’m sure many of you share, is that it isn’t just that plus sizes are too big, but that they’re just cut wrong for us. I can’t fit a 14W say, but a straight 18 or 20 fits me beautifully.

    On the up side, I have been finding more and more larger straight sizes which fit me – whether the shops are cutting larger, or adding 18s and 20s. It does take a lot of digging, and many are only online. I try to look at the positive, as I’m a clearance shopper, so I’m already digging – so I dig the whole store (Misses, Women’s, Junior’s, some Men’s).

    I’ve just launched my own blog dedicated to our size Style on the Edge. It’s the very early days, so please bear with me as I design it all and launch it properly, but my size sisters here are welcome to enjoy all the shop links I’ve been adding.

  • http://www.mariedenee.com Marie Denee

    What is the name of your blog? I would love to link to it! Thank you so much for stying encouraged and motivated to make it work! Get it girl!