Do We, as Plus Size Women, Want Nice Things?

Woman with Shopping Bags

Yesterday, I shared a picture on my facebook wall, which happened to be a fake. However, this is not what I am writing about today. I am writing about the conversation that ensued behind this picture and the conversation had me thinking…

In response to the picture:

“but realistically a bikini swimsuit is not a practical item for plus. While the model is still small for plus, size 10-12.  Most of my plus sized 14-28 customers don’t even feel comfortable in short shorts.  A tankini or a one piece would have been a little more practical sell” – A reader of the blog

In varied conversations that have spanned over two days, I have been having thoughts about this mindset, so much so that I even shared this convo on my personal page, when I got this:

“as a business owner she is right.  Now if my clients ever asked for them I would supply.  I think while we are trying to fight this stereotype of what the curvy girl would like to see in stores, we also have to push for self esteem.”

Mind you, both of these women own plus size shops and stores, honestly sharing their experiences in regards to plus size fashion and their personal experiences, all which raised a question for me, which I can imagine is somewhat rhetorical:

Do We, as Plus Size women, Really Want Nice Things?

As I said, this is a rhetorical one, as the most obvious question for me is a resounding YES.

HOWEVER, there are strings attached to that yes.  In order for us to want and buy these nice things, a few things must happen (as they already are).

BRANDS, DESIGNERS, RETAILERS, in order to have a successful sell-through you have to get to know this woman.  You cannot base prior failures or future concepts on past data, as the climate for plus size fashion has changed.  The woman has changed.  The demographic has evolved and changed.  The plus size fashion industry has new sectors, in which women in each of these have new levels of expectations.

Plus Size women want Fashion.

Not watered down.  Not covered up.  Not bland tones and hues.  She wants fashion.

She is not ONE woman.  She is many.

Contemporary plus size, high end plus size, fast fashion, discount big box store; there is a different type of woman for each segment here and she wants to be spoken directly to in each segment.  Don’t know who she is?  Do a survey, dig up some research, hire consultants to help you understand what she wants and expects from you.

She loves the thrill of the find, just like every other woman- in store.

Relegating the plus size woman to only an online experience oftentimes severely diminishes her shopping experience and/or discourages her from stepping out of her fashion box.

You, the plus size boutique owner/designer/buyer must do better.

The plus size woman has smartened up and has a voice. You cannot half step in website design, styling,  quality of merchandise, the size of your model, the value of your garments. There are a slew of other reasons why the plus size woman won’t shop at your store.

I for one, love nice things.  I may be more laid back in my own personal style, but what I do rock is still “Nice” in the terms of higher quality fabrics, great fits and cuts, and wear.  I know there are many more given the outcry and explosion of the blogs…

This feat takes a village mentality.

We all play a role in the successes (and failures) of plus size fashion.  We all must put egos aside and take an educated, communicative, supportive role in this.

PLUS SIZE WOMEN- if you like something say it.  If you do not like it, share WHY.  The WHY is what the powers that be need to know to improve upon the next go round. If something is offensive, speak up!  You have a voice and trust me, they are listening and reading!  Educate yourselves about the designers or brands- their fit, cut, aesthetic, as they will vary and expectations are different at each level. Better sometimes also means investing more in yourself…

Okay…

While I could really write a dissertation about this, I want to know:

How you feel about this and I want to know your biggest gripe/ hesitation/frustration/love/happiness/tip you would share to make this better!

 

Marie Denee
I am the owner of the Curvy Fashionista, sharing the latest trends and designers in plus size fashion, beauty, and accessories to keep you Curvy.Confident.Chic.! I am goofy, silly, playful, and a handful... but it is all in the name of fashion!
Marie Denee
Marie Denee

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Comments

  1. Butterbug72 says

    I wholeheartedly agree.  As a plus size woman with healthy self confidence, it hurts me to see the boxes we put ourselves in when it comes to showing our arms, legs, etc.  I enjoy a swimsuit and short dress and will be more than quick to rock one.  The self esteem of my sisters is hurting my choices in the market place and it is something of great concern.

  2. Erin says

    I do believe that I would be a much more active consumer in plus size fashion if i were able to do more in-store shopping. I hate shopping online. I like to look online for clothes but I want to see the garment and feel it in real life. I’ve said once before in a vlog regarding where I buy my clothes, the staples for our community aren’t good enough. One store in particular (Torrid) that get’s a lot of shine in the plus fashion blogosphere has semi-trendy clothes and sub par quality garments. Some look so cheap that it’s tacky. The reason it’s so popular is because it’s one of very few plus size stores that are readily available to almost anyone. The only problem is the quality and style does not match the price point. I feel so sad when I go in a see some of these clothes that bigger girls will buy because they’ve never seen something like it in their size and they end up paying 3 and 4 times the price it would be at a different store in a stragiht size. I’m so happy for blogs like this one that aren’t afraid to speak up and help open the eyes of girls in our community! Nice job! Keep it up!

    • Chelsea says

      Erin, I completely agree with you about the cost of being plus size.  Everything costs more in general, which I can understand to a point (more fabric, tailoring, etc.).  However, if I want to buy something that looks relatively fashionable I should expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars per piece-for example, T-Bags, Rachel Pally, etc.  I don’t understand this huge cost discrepancy between regular and plus size clothing.  If I was a size 6, I could buy myself a whole new wardrobe that was on trend for a few hundred dollars.  Being a size 20-22, I can expect to buy two quality pieces that are fashion forward for that same price.

  3. Chelsea says

    My biggest gripe about plus size fashion is that when a company expands to create a plus size line, their aesthetic seems to change for the worse.  Why can’t they just make the same clothes that they offer in regular sizes in plus?  If they would just change the cut to better flatter the plus size body, but let the rest of it remain the same, I would really appreciate that.  Being plus size doesn’t mean I want loud, obnoxious prints or bland basics in boring colors.  I want to be just as fashion forward as everyone else in a regular size gets the opportunity to be.

  4. Bethamint says

    Yes! This post is amazing, I agree with all of it, I think. My biggest gripe with plus-size fashion I think is that I’ve always felt like I’m being forced to dress far older than I am. With the plan colours and the boring prints that seem to dominate, it’s always felt so hard to express my personality through the way I dress – I like bright colours and fun prints. Things are a lot better than they were when I was a teenager and all the clothes in my size looked more suited to my mum, but I still feel there’s a long way to go.

    • says

      HA! You are so right here, that is why I was referencing the contemporary options! Cause while there are a few designers here in this space, we need more! :) Change is a happening, but yes, a long ways to go! 

      Thanks for stopping by! 

    • Fashion4nini says

      I know the feeling. I am plus sized & like to rock various different looks. My daughter is 13 & very curvy but she doesn’t want various look she wants to look like her peers. She has the hardest time getting clothes to fit because she’s a plus 12. She shouln’t have to deal with drooping or popping out but there aren’t enough options for her.

  5. says

    My biggest gripe right now as a plus size (and now pregnant!) women is the avaibility of clothes in store.  It’s a challenge for me to shop online because sizes are so inconsitent and the cuts cater to one type of plus size woman so I often get the tent effect going on when I try things on.  It’s hard enough to find maternity wear in store but when you do it seems like stores think that pregnant women only wear a size S or M.  I’m curvy enough as it is and then adding a baby on top of that makes shopping even more frustrating!  And oh, more variety of colors too.  I can’t be wearing black all the time during the Spring and summer! ;)

    • says

      Say it! 

      Thank you MJ for sharing and you know, as an auntie and sister to a woman was also plus size and pregnant, it opened my eyes to this, that I did a post about it! 

  6. Yaqueen14 says

    Wonderful, well-written article.  You already captured much of what I feel.  As a woman of a certain age, I want stylish OPTIONS in quality fabrics and accessories to match.  I want skirts that hit me at the knee rather than somewhere midcalf even though it’s supposed to be a day time skirt.  I want work appropriate blouses that FIT, dresses that fit with pockets and casual wear that flatters and is interesting!  One of my pet peeves is that higher end plus clothing is often too boring to wear but the less expensive brands don’t offer the quality I require.  I already commented on the belt situation in the post the other day, so I won’t go into that again.  Things have improved in recent year, but there’s still alot of room for growth and improvement.  On and I totally echo your statement “WE ARE NOT ALL THE SAME!”  So we need variety as well.

  7. Luna Raven says

    My biggest gripe about plus size fashion is that companies seem confused about what should be emphasized. I have large breasts, a belly and big arms. I hate ruching, which does not actually compliment boobs, stretchy fabric calls way too much attention to my arms & belly! When I do find something fantastic, I have to figure out if I can really pay three times as much as my thinner sister for the exact same type of item, which seems outrageous. And often the high end stores have the same granny styles as the rest! It can be painful.

  8. says

    Very thought provoking article.  Have things gotten much better for plus size women in clothing options absolutely but they can be better.  My only concern is not to forget about us plus size women who are over the age of 35.  We 35-50yr old  women like style too but dont want to dress like a teenager.  I understand for years plus size clothing has been matronly and unflattering so the explosion of youth oriented clothing is understandable.  Diversity in the plus size consumer should be celebrated and not just catering to one group over another. 

    • says

      You know why plus size is matronly and unflattering? 55% of plus size women are over 55 and are lower income. The retailers translate this one thing = POOR and unfashionable. (Me and my business plan facts! LOL) This notion has to change!

      • Karenmsmith77 says

        I don’t know where you live, but I find that statistic hard to believe. In the state I live in the latest findings from I believe the Health Department were that 60% of the state are overweight and 35% is obese. I don’t know what portion of the population that translates into women being plus sizes, but when I look around there are a lot of young women who are.And even if it were 55% that were 55 and over thats barely over half , your leaving out half of your customers. Makes no sense on a selling strategy.

  9. says

    As a plus size woman and a footwear designer I can see this from both sides. As a consumer I wish there were more trendy and high end designers that would venture into Plus. On the designer/manufacturer side I know the cost of making shoes go past a 12 isn’t cheap and customers should expect to pay more. But in doing research for my business plan, I’ll have to agree with my research…plus women have to be gently moved toward paying more for quality. We are pretty price resistant after being an ignored consumer bloc for so long. We aren’t really ready to part with our money. I’m currently trying to figure out how to change attitudes at this very moment. :/

    • says

      Thank you sooooo much Jessica from giving a sound and honest opinion from the eyes of a designer/manufacturer. I think even more, you bring up a key point: 
      We are pretty price resistant after being an ignored consumer bloc for so long! YES! DING, DING, DING!

      • says

        I think the first step to changing attitudes in the plus size retail community it to get consumers and brands together that we’d like to see do plus. Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, and DKNY are doing some great things and they have very helpful reps in the stores to assist with selecting items but if you don’t shop at Macy’s you wouldn’t know those brands do Plus. These brands I mention don’t advertise so how would we know. They don’t advertise because we don’t buy… but we don’t buy because we don’t know. It’s a vicious cycle. If we want to see plus in other brands we need to pull them together and tell them and WE HAVE TO BE READY TO PAY!!!  If we want Target or H&M to do a plus collab then we need to tell them.

        They’ll tell us that it’s so much extra to grade the patterns (a great business Idea for someone who wants to develop a new system!!!), fit models, etc. We have to tell them that we don’t care… We’ll pay!

        • BayouBecky says

          But I don’t think it should cost a whole lot more for grading… When I’m grading a pattern by hand, it’s no different for me to go from a 4 to a 10 than it is got me to go from a 14 to a 24 — the same amount of work goes into it. I don’t think it’s really a problem with the software either. To me, it seems more that designers don’t see plus sized women as being worth their time and effort.

        • Karenmsmith77 says

          Personally I do know those designers offer plus sizes. However I currently buy their items from TJ Maxx and Marshalls because I can’t afford them at full price. So to tell them we are ready to pay isn’t so true for all of us. I live on a very limited budget, and I usually can only get a lot of those brands at discount strose when they go on clearance. Not everyone has an unlimited budget, but we still want nice things.

          • WouldBeFashionista says

            Exactly!  I am right there with you.  Women sized 0 to basically 12 can go into any store and find fashion forward, decent quality clothing at ANY price point to fit their budgets.  But, for larger sized women, we basically have only two options; cheaply made, ill fitting, poor quality clothing that IS fashion forward, but won’t last beyond one washing (if even that), OR, better quality, somewhat better fitting, HIGHER PRICED clothing that isn’t so fashion forward (think Lane Bryant or Talbot’s).  There’s no happy medium in my opinion.  I don’t have an executive’s salary or clothing budget, yet I am still expected to come to work looking like one, or expect to be looked down upon.  I’m 35, I don’t want to dress like a teen or twenty-something club hopper, but I don’t want to look like I’m retiring to Shady Pines in six months either.  Why can’t I walk right into Target, or the mall, and find a store that fits my tastes and wallet?  I wear a size 10.5 to 11 shoe; this is considered a larger sized women’s foot.  I can go into DSW any day of the year and find great shoes that don’t cost me upwards of $100. I can even do that at Nordstrom!   Why can’t I do that with clothing?  The original poster said that larger shoe size wearing women need to understand that it takes more time and material to make a larger sized shoe, so women need to expect to have to pay more.  Really!  Then please tell me why I can find great shoes at DSW in almost any size at the exact same price?  I’m not saying that the only way I’ll be happy is if I can get pieces for $10-$15 dollars, but come on!  You’re telling me that just because I am plus sized, I have to accept that if I want great fashion, fit and quality, I have to expect to pay $60-$75 or more per blouse? 

  10. janika3689 says

    So some plus size women want high end name brand clothes.  Most of the fashionable clothing already are expensive, this is also giving companies an excuse to charge ridiculous amounts of money for clothing.  What I want to see is nice things for women, nice and affordable.

    • says

      I think expensive is relative… but I do believe that no matter the cost, the options should be there as the plus size fashion industry grows and evolves. I think that brands and businesses need to realize we are not a one style nor one size fits all group… I think once they realize, then we will be able to have the options we so readily desire :) 

      • Jessica Svoboda says

        I think for the first time in history – it is large enough to segment. For a while, it probably didn’t make financial sense.

  11. MilaXX says

    it  pisses me off that I have feel darn near militant in my quest for nice things. For example, my pocketbook is currently about at Target level. Yet Target plus sizes are “meh” at best. Even more annoying is the fact that in many of the stores the womens plus size is so close to the maternity section that they overlap. Additionally I get tired of having my hopes raised with these designer collabs that NEVER include plus sizes. The worst offender was the Missoni collab that had over 400 items and not one plus size item. Yep, paperclip and plates? No problem, Plus size? Not a chance. The result is at least twice a year I end up writing to corporate.  I wish I could afford to simply boycott. The fact is that the prices Target has for everything else are pretty good.  The Pharmacy provides excellent service.
    I’m on a fixed income and only splurge once or twice a year on  high end things as needed. Otherwise I simply want decent quality but affordable items.
    It’s a bit frustrating to think you have to complain on a regular basis for things my smaller friend take for granted.

    • says

      Girl. I hear you on this! This is why I blog, why I speak up and why I dare to say anything! I feel the more we voice our concerns and wants the more we will affect change! Honestly! 

  12. Rampaging Kat says

    Being a larger woman doesn’t mean I want my clothing made in left over clown material from Halloween or Disney characters on my clothing.  You know you’re drifting from “average sizes” to “plus” when the prints get OBNOXIOUS and you start seeing Pooh on adult clothing.  WHY?? AND…. I’m not sure what the latest fashion trend is that even in small sizes there is a little lip of elastic below the breasts, but there was a time this cut was for maternity clothing ONLY.  Why would I invest in a top that makes me look pregnant?  Ugly colors, horrific cuts? THAT is why I stick to basic looks.  It would seem designing clothing to flatter a larger woman is NO ONE’s priority.

    • says

      I think the more we speak up on this, the more they will listen! I honestly feel change afoot! Honestly and it all starts with healthy dialogues and conversations about this! Thank you for sharing!!! 

  13. Karenmsmith77 says

    I  think everyone no matter what size you are wants nice things. The bikini issue has for a long time been a big issue for me. I have always been comfortable with my body and hated being stuck with only a one piece, as I feel the tankinis don’t fit my body right. Its extremely hard to find bikinis in plus sizes, and when you do find them they are priced at least 4X the price of what it cost for the average misses size bikini. Its like we as plus size women are being fined for wanting to wear a bikini. I am fortunate to have found a couple of bikinis at somewhat reasonable prices. I just wore one on the beach in Florida on my last vaccation, and I actually got complimented a couple of times. Im not a 14/16 either. I’m a size 20, and I am not ashamed of how I look in my bikini. And my boyfriend says I look damn fine in it. LOL We should be able to have options no matter what size we wear without having to pay a penalty price.  

  14. Jill says

    Thank you for sharing this very important information Marie!  To have things change, communication is critical!  It is vital to the success of the growth of the plus size industry to have consumers share their voices and for the design houses listen.  Feedback from customers as well as sell through drives many design decisions for the following seasons.  If you don’t like something, don’t buy it.  Even at 75% off, you’re sending a message of acceptance.  If you love a style, buy it.  It sends a clear message in a universal language….the mighty dollar.

    • Z_Lauren_Z says

      Buying something @ 75% off is NOT sending a message of acceptance. It is feeding the stereotype that plus size women will not pay a lot of money for clothing.

      When department stores sell an item @ 75% off they are losing money unless the manufacturer gives them markdown money and even still they are at best breaking even.

      That is why Saks closed their plus size department because not enough styles sold at or near full retail. The great majority of clothing didn’t sell until it was on clearance.

  15. Jessica Svoboda says

    For the first time in my life and the 9 years I’ve spent designing, i am starting to believe the answer to this question is no. I think the fact that you and I have decided to make this our lives work -means that we are different; I am not sure if it translates to the masses for a number of reasons I don’t have time to go into on her – I have spent a lot of money getting to know the customer, and I continue to end up back where we started.

    • Jessica Svoboda says

      I guess it depends on each persons definition of “nice” too – I am the kind of person who really cares about fabric, construction and fit – I care less about trendy, bling, etc.

      • BayouBecky says

        I think that, as designers, we should pay more attention to fabric and construction and fit because that’s what makes the garments look ”nice” — not whether it’s trendy or not. If the garments can have a timeless appeal to the majority, then that’s an amazing start.

      • Z_Lauren_Z says

        You are 100% correct. Everyone’s definition of nice is different. I’ve seen countless comments where people recommend Avenue or the like as having nice stuff when I find it hideous and cheap looking/feeling.

        I love Johnny Was but Marie did a post about them and someone found Johnny Was to be hideous . . .

  16. minanoel says

    I work for a popular plus size retailer, and i’m amazed how critical women, plus size women specifically , are of the themselves and how close minded many of us can be to trend, colors, patterns… change, period! I like a little of everything and i always tell my customers to at least try it! Certain things may not work for me, but i try and encourage my plus ladies to ignore sizes, and consider proportions. Size 28 bikini won’t look right on every size 28,but could be right for somebodies !

    • WouldBeFashionista says

      My problem with this line of thinking is that it admonishes personal taste preference, and basically tells your shopper to be open to what’s in the store because that’s what’s being offered!  I actually walked out of a store a month ago because the sales girl just wasn’t listening to what I was telling her I liked, and kept telling me what SHE liked, and that I should try this that an the other.  I’m not closed minded to trying new things, as a matter of fact, I actively search for new style options, colors, fits for myself.  But, that doesn’t mean that I am going to buy something I don’t like just because it’s different, or it’s what’s in store.  For example, I really hate this trend of most plus sized blouses and shirt being really low cut in the chest.  I guess because women were complaining about everything being so covered up, designers and retailers decided to go in the complete opposite direction.  I like that they listened, but they listened to the exclusion of everything else!  I really do like my blouses to be feminine (not frilly), sophisticated (not like something my grandmother would wear), in a nice cut and fabric.  No, I don’t want ALL of my tshirts to be but all down on my chest to the point where I have to wear a tank top not to show cleavage.  Torrid is notorious for this in their Spring and Summer wear.  I also don’t want all my jean to be boot cut or flare leg; not all plus sized women look best in boot cut, but that’s what industry is telling us.  I, for one, look best in skinny leg pants, NOT tapered leg pants.  So yes, those flare leg pants may very well be a NEW cut, or NEW  fabric, or have the hottest NEW designs, and you as a sales girl may have purchase multiple pairs in different colors for yourself and look great in them.  My point is, just because they’re in the store, and you like them, doesn’t mean I don’t know what looks good on my, or what I like, and I don’t want you pushing your tastes onto me, thank you very much!

  17. says

    I think that plus-sized women do want nice, beautiful things but the problem comes in most plus-sized women believing that they deserve to wear them. For most, their only options are Lane Bryant and maybe Old Navy that carries some sizes 16+ and unless they want to be fashion forward they’re really not going to know where to look. I’ve squeezed myself into many a smaller, stretchy item because I loved it (and it did fit but I am smart enough to know that it’s not always about the number on the tag) but the point is that I did it because I wanted the item and they just didn’t have it in my size and I didn’t give a shit about how my belly looked. I think what you are paying is going to depend on your taste. I love to no end extremely classy clothing, like Elena Miro or Tadashi, but I know that I could never afford them. I just don’t make that kind of money and neither does anybody I know. I don’t have a place to wear a Tadashi dress either, since I live in the Midwest (Nebraska) and fashion isn’t number one to most people, other than small fashion communities that the larger public probably couldn’t relate with.

    I think that the solution is going to be different for each part of the country since the mindset is different everywhere you go. I think where I live the best way to serve the plus size community and get their attention is to start small, with plus-size consignment shops that offer affordable clothing with a variety of options for lots of people, like Re/Dress NYC was. You can go in and get a legit pair of jeans for $15 and not the $70 you’re going to have to spend at Lane Bryant. Plus, consignment shops appeal to all ages but more importantly, young fat women can come in and feel empowered about their choices. I think the harder opinions to change are older women who have been socialized to hate themselves for a long time and are constantly doing WW (which there is nothing wrong with) because they feel like they just *have* to change in order to be happy.

    A plus-size consignment shop is going to help people dip their toes in the water — to test it out. And if they go in and see plus-sized women looking fashionable, wearing clothes that they never EVER thought a fat woman could/should wear and being happy. Oh man, it would warm the cockles of my heart — seriously. And from there you can advertise fatshion designers, maybe keep some items in your stores. It could be a consignment/boutique sort of thing. It’ll help these ladies to know that there are so many more options out there than granted to them currently. I think this would be the best option for the place that I live. I’m all radical about it and would want to send out monthly fliers regarding self-love and body acceptance that included coupons. I want women to love themselves! I don’t want them to wait until they get that special size to start living their lives or thinking they’re sexy as hell. I want to desensitize them to fat bodies, help them realize we’re all fat honey, 95% of the population is gonna be fat at some point. Why all this sensationalism about it? (Because people are jerks)

    But it all comes down to fat women being afraid of the word fat, being afraid of visibility, and being afraid of the harassment that comes from that visibility. It makes people uncomfortable when fat people are in public view and public spaces, commanding that *this* is the way their body is going to be defined, and be defined solely by themselves. Most women aren’t even familiar with that idea, yet. So, I think that plus-sized women do want nice, beautiful things but they’re still struggling with the idea of visibility and the responsibility that comes along with that — and the fear that they don’t deserve to look beautiful, and that they can only look beautiful a *certain way* so as not to shock or bother anybody else around them.

  18. Chlorisaann says

    My biggest gripe is SPANDEX!!!  I HATE spandex in my pants and skirts!!  It makes the garment cling to EVERY roll, dip and curve!  I have a large stomach and butt and do not want it make it look worse!!   When my pants show every dimple in my butt, or cup under my stomach it just makes me look bigger than I am!  The same garment without all the spandex does not do this, it will fall fairly straight down and not accentuate problem areas like the garments that contain spandex!  and I am not talking about things like leggings and such but things like jeans with just 2-3% spandex in their make up look HORRIBLE on someone my size…I am a 28 BTW…..

    • Jessica Svoboda says

      I don’t think the problem is the spandex.  Spandex is just in there for comfort – the problem is the other fiber paired with the spandex.  When you are looking at a size 28, who wants their pants to come in around $59 (on sale) $89 (retail) – you get crappy fiber.  That is exactly what I am talking about in my post.  For a true plus size brand to us a fabric that drapes properly AND has spandex for comfort – the minimum you’d pay for a pair of pants is $120 (and that is only if the brand is direct (i.e., only sells directly to their own customers) and the item is made overseas.  Other than SVOBODA, I don’t think there exist a brand that services size 28W without just throwing this woman in cheap, cheap fabric.

      • Chlorisaann says

        The thing is I can buy jeans online at say onestopplus, if I pay attention to the fabrics I can get them with out spandex for $40-50 and they look SSOOOO much better than $80 jeans that do have the spandex….  Same goes for twill pants and skirts for that matter…  But they are so very hard to find with out it!

  19. says

    Great article and it’s a very complex topic! In my
    opinion I think that designers should simply do the same clothes in plus size as
    they do in their regular range. For me it’s all about confidence/personal taste
    and not about size. Some women are very thin and yet they won’t ever wear a
    skirt for example, other are curvier and wear nothing but mini skirts. It’s all
    about your state of mind and that’s something retailers don’t understand. If you
    are above a certain size, they still have all those stereotypes of what you
    should and shouldn’t wear.

    In Belgium the plus size situation is pretty dire. There
    are some small boutiques that carry brands like Anna Scholz and other high end
    designers, but in the high street there is barely nothing. The worst is that
    stores like Forever 21, New Look, etc will set up in big cities and yet don’t
    carry the plus size line. I am not sure why. Whenever you ask them it’s always a
    question of size (haha) of the store and they tell you to shop online. H&M
    has a their H&M+ range hidden in a corner here. It’s almost like they think
    the customers are ashamed to shop.

    Like I told you on Twitter, I am really disappointed
    that the H&M ad is a fake because diversity is key. A bikini don’t appeal to
    me but it’s so great to see different body shapes represented. I really believe
    that if magasines started to use women of all sizes in their issues, people
    wouldn’t freak out when they see a curvier woman in a bikini or wearing
    something fashion forward.

  20. Kara says

    I almost get the vibe that designers just don’t want their clothes to be associated with plus sized women, as if that would be something to be ashamed of.  The bias still prevails that we are a lazy bunch of pigs who would like to buy a dress at the same store as we buy our Ho-Ho’s and motor oil.  I’m 45, a manager at a chemical company, and I not only have the money to spend, but I want to LOOK like I belong in my job and not going to the club, a wedding, or to a retirement home.  Stop it already!  I have bought the cutest jewelry, shoes, handbags, etc and can’t wear them regularly because I can’t find clothes in my size that’s fashionable to wear with them.  Heck, I can’t even find good PATTERNS in order to make my own clothes!!  I don’t think designers even want to cash in on the “growing” consumer base (pun intended) of women who are size 16+.  There’s PLENTY of us out here — why not take a chance and make us something decent to wear to work?  You may be surprised at how much money you end up making!

    • says

      what’s truly disheartening is going into stores, with money to spend, and there is nothing  absolutely nothing that catches your eye! I have been plus size since I had my first child and, have since then, been outraged by the lack of everyone in the retail industry to see the exponential possibilities in profit and huge target market.. My dream has always been to be apart of the apparel production process, and my heart has me fighting to finish school in order to offer ” my ladies” knock out fashion for every facet of our lives. I have seen through blogs that there are millions of women screaming for someone, ANYONE, to get it!

      We want to look amazing at any size and I truly believe its so important to make these changes not only for all women , but especially the younger girls who are being affected by not ” fitting in”. I can’t imagine what level of self esteem we can expect young girls to have when they see that hey can’t purchase the clothes they want, they simply can’t find what they are longing for at their local malls.

      I’m saddened to think that most of my wardrobe comes from one store, and its not because they offer the best selection, NO its because they are the only selection offered!  And yes its awful to see that of the retailers that have ventured into the plus size world only offer their clothing online, as if they are too apprehensive to follow their venture all the way through. Im NOT asking they they section off a small corner of their stores for the plus size merchandise, I demand they do the research, organize surveys and focus groups, be eager to learn  and really know  their customer in order to ensure maximum profit. You can’t succeed in any business unless you offer quality products  that your customers desire!!

      I want staple pieces made of beautiful texture filled fabrics, with quality tailoring, and colors as vibrant as my personality!!!!   I can’t to change things up <3
       

  21. says

    I think it is so sad that we even have to ask this question. Of course we want nice things.  We DESERVE nice things.  The plus size industry has come a long way in realizing that women don’t want to be covered up and hidden.  Many of us love our bodies, as is, and would still want to buy and wear the things that our slender sisters are deserving of.  Sure, I want a cut that will flatter my large bust or my ample hips…but what I don’t want is a muu muu, tent looking dress that makes me feel ashamed of this voluptuous, wonderful body of mine.  I still wear bikini’s, even at a size 18 and the ripe old age of 45 because I like the way my hour glass figure looks in one.  Would I wear a string bikini or a thong? Likely no…but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want a great looking retro swimsuit with a halter top and high waisted bottom.  Do I want to wear a mini skirt? Absolutely! why not?  Will I wear a crop top, no…probably not, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to show off my shoulders with an asymmetrical, bias cut trendy top or that I want everything with long sleeves because the world has an idea of what they think my arms should look like.  I work hard. I am a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister, an employee.  I give of my time to others always.  I don’t just write checks to charities…I give them ME…the very best of me. So why can’t I give those things to myself? Why should I be less deserving because society feels that the fat woman is invisible?  To those who love me, I am VERY visible…and I want that visibility to shine, always.   I don’t just feel I deserve it…I feel I am OWED it. 

    Cher T.

  22. Autumn says

    I am someone who is a size 18 and sits at 5’6″.  I love bathing suits that show skin for me.  I have really nice legs and love to show them off.  I also like bathing suits that are separates.  I do not like to wear one pieces or cover ups.  Retailers should not assume that all plus size women are created equal in what they look for.  This summer I am ready for the bright colors and stylish bathing suits!!!

  23. Confessions Of A City Girl says

    I agree with the article and most of the comments. I hate that when I walk into a store with both “regular” and plus sizes, the plus size clothes always seem… ugly (i tried to find a better word). I find a lot of the times, they just throw some cloth together and decided to sell it (over priced btw) because they assume that we have no choice but to buy it.
    Now there are certain things that i feel I PERSONALLY would not wear, but i know many plus sized women who wear it and look great. I honestly think that the mindset of clothing producers are more narrow than that of a plus sized woman.

    ~SherineCheck out my blog, comment, and follow if you like! Confessions Of A City Girl 

  24. Cindy says

    Years ago, I use to shop at a boutique in Miami, when I asked how come there werent better choices for plus sized women the owner told me that plus sized women do not spend money. As I was trying on my clothes I heard another plus size consumer griping about not wanting to wear the style they just gave me because of her arms, then she complained about her legs, then it was her stomach, then her back… I dropped almost 600 dollars on that haul and that stored catered to me ever since,most merchandise was ordered specifically because they knew i was comming. After I left Miami they stopped buying for plus sized women. Mind you I am plus but tight and not much to complain about because I already accepted myself before it was a hype thing to do, my body is well proportioned so I have been getting away with a lot. Then I went to Jamaica for a short stay 2 years ago, found a great chic plus sized boutique I shopped like an animal on a weekly basis while other clients came in looked at the clothes and put them back. complained about their legs and their arms, eventually that store went out of business. I wanted to buy that boutique because I felt that I was an “expert” and I knew what the hell I was doing, to be honest I am. In any event, I researched the market and found a lot of PROS as to why one should cater to the underserved plus retail market. Found a lot of statistics on obesity and the rise in same and that the demand for plus clothing was only growing. The numbers glistened at me from behind the laptop but I ,as a plus shopaholic knew they missed something and found an article that said: ” Plus women do not shop as much as real sized women” The article picked the psyche of the plus shopper apart explaining that women who gain weight always think they will lose the weight, therefore they do not want to make the investment into clothing and women who have always been large have a better time accepting themselves however they are extremely concious of their problem areas and do not make purchases for fashionable and pricey clothing. This one article silenced all of the PROS because I have been around in arena of plus shopping since I could hold a dollar and I know in my gut that this was true. Now as a current online retailer; with meager sales, and looking at my competitors websites I also see them with merchandise that was released from the manufacturer 4 months ago. I did a google search for this article that I mentioned above to see if I just blindly overlooked the obvious and went into this business simply because: “I am an expert  plus sized woman and I know what I am doing” or if there were problems I could avoid and this goolge search lead me to this blog. I concur with the views held here but I felt compelled to respond and also offer some insight to the reality of plus sized retailing and designing so it is understood that we do not make up prices as we go along. 1) Retailers do not make clothing, very few manufacturers actually offer plus size clothing, therefore it requires a tremendous amount of research. Some offer better quality than others but those who do, require a retailer to be factored, this means that the retailer has to surrender his financial information to a third party who will guarantee payment to the manufacturer.. I dont know about you  but one needs to be concerned about who he allows into his bank accounts, mortgage title and vehicle..Yes virginia, that is a part of why you cant get good stuff. Then There are manufacturers who makes GREAT plus size clothing but refuse to make them again because they HURT and LOST money when they made that investment, this is why you will find one thing and never see anything like that again, if you want a list, I made a list of manufacturers who no longer make plus sized clothing because of poor sales…2) Pattern making and sewing, a pattern costs approximately 150-500 dollars to make depending on how complexed a style, plus size clothing usually requires a small amount of lycra to go easy over the curves, these are classified as knit fabric which is cheaper to sew, non lycra mixed fabrics are classified as woven and require diffrent types of machines to sew as well as different skills. So  when a designer gets his fabric, he makes a pattern and then he has to pay for his cutting and sewing. In the past I paid 5,000 just to recreate 1 plus sized dress with woven fabric. I got 300 dresses and it took me 2 years to get rid of them but this is long before FB and twitter or they would be gone in a month because they were just HOT.  What you see in fashion shows are samples, and it costs a designer approximately 1,000 upwards to make that 1 dress depending on how complicated it is. So yes sometimes we have to pay for what we really want. I can go on and on but what should be taken away from this is the fact that plus sized retailers spend their money to bring you what is available on the market and the reality of the situation is that self acceptance does not come from seeing what you like, but liking who you are inside and knowing that you can rock the hell out of a paper bag whether it costs 5.00 dollars or 500 dollars. We may erect our banners,create events and purchase merchandise for the plus woman but until she accepts that those rolls are hers and LOVES them and wants to adorn them in fabulosity no retailer can depend on her to keep them in business.This plus size retail industry is a battle of the mind and nowhere else.
    Thank You
      

  25. Ro says

    Several things that bother me about plus-sized shopping for myself:

    1.  Spandex.  If there’s any single thing I could change with a wave of my wish-fufillment wand, it’d be this:  stop putting spandex in so many plus-sized clothing fabrications!  I hate it with a passion.  As a sewist, I know about fabrics.  I know the advantages of natural fibers.  I hate wearing a blouse that feels like it’s halfway to being a baby’s rubber diaper cover.  It has that slightly rubbery feel that’s gross. Even that 5% spandex alters completely how fabric breathes, how much body oils, sweat, stains, and dirt it holds onto, how it holds or doesn’t hold a crease, how it drapes or how it skims instead over (for naturals) vs accentuating (for man-made blends) curves and rolls on our bodies, how, unlike natural fabrics, spandex blends don’t age gracefully and break in, how less repairable and alterable it is–the list goes on.  They say it’s for us, but I’m guessing it makes things easier and more profitable for the manufacturers in some way.  God, I hate it.

    2.  Fit.  Is it really that hard to spend some bucks up front and hire some enterprising software designer who gets fashion, too, to make up a program that intelligently grades for plus?  I realize that once it gets plus, that sizes become more idiosyncratic in exactly how they plus-out, as it were.  I never can find pants because all my weight is between my knees and waist, not proportional.  But even so, very few of us have the infamous gorilla arms where a shoulder seam is nearly at our elbows, from simply exploding an average pattern in all directions.
     
    Fit doesn’t mean only close-fitting, nor does it mean tents.  It means appropriate to the style and size and fabrication.  If a design needs ease, give us normal ease.  Don’t have spandex substitute for designed-in ease.  Also?  I don’t want tapered pants in all my pants.  This is partly us needing educating.  Threads magazine had an article once that opened my eyes to how the diameter of the bottom of my slacks should be proportional to what was going on up top at the hips and waist.  Not the same as, but proportional.  But myself back then and a lot of larger women don’t get this.  Result?  We look like hot air balloons balancing over little shoe-covered twin gondolas.  Seriously.  It took looking–really looking–at pics of myself at a remove (and not right up against a mirror) to realize this.

    3.  Choice. I want slacks.  And a belt.  Not just elastic-waist pants.  Yes, it takes darts, and tailoring, and zippers, and a thoughtful pattern.  But this idea that I am cheap and won’t pay for it?  It’s hard to be given the chance to pay for what ISN’T ON THE RACK.  In one of my local chain plus-sized stores, the chinos and khakis and the rare instance of classic fabrics and cuts always sold out instantly esp in the largest sizes.  Why?  Because we are desperate for them.  Honestly, if you think we’re that cheap, you need to be along when we’ve got a new job or date to buy clothes for and are weeping at the salesperson because there’s not one single damn classic white dress shirt or blouse to be had that isn’t too sheer, too frou-frou, to fashion-forward, too ill-fitting, or too polyester blend.  I would’ve paid almost anything for a classic white blouse and pair of gray slacks.  Which is what drove me to learn home sewing and tailoring.  Still, it’s hard to have the time, and difficult to fit oneself.  We would happily buy, if it’s there, and worth our money.

    4.  Fabrics.  See spandex grrr, above.  Beyond that, please dial back on the embellishments.  I and my plus-sized friends have often wondered about this.  Is it a holdover from plus equalling less sophsticated tastes in the minds of design professionals?  Let’s put something shiny on it–they’ll buy it every time if it’s tacky?  And the embroidery for embroidery’s sake?  Can for the love of god, even in my casual clothes, you people not embroider motifs on everything?  I wonder if it’s easier (read: cheaper) to add appeal by embellishmment than appeal through better fabrics and fit? I would rather accessorize my ‘plain’ clothes myself than have you permanently attach things to them to tart them up, tyvm.

    5.  Appropriate variety.  Not everything young.  Not all matronly.  And fgs, not everything retro.  I *lived* through the seventies.  They didn’t look that good when I was 17 and skinny.  I despair that they brought them back for when I’m older and plus, both.  Is this a dearth of creativity in fashion in general?  It’s easier (again, more profitable) to glom onto the fashions of the past and churn out a line, than to pay people to be creative and come up with clothes for our time.  Do you know demoralizing it is, to go into a store at age 50 with a ton of disposable income burning a hole in your card wallet and find and nothing but flimsy, print-crazy polyester blouses in a peasant style and cap sleeves staring back at you?  Designer Dudes–at plus sizes we don’t look that good with our rack in empire or peasant styles.  Even maternity hate it.  Sure, have some for the younger crowd at a price point that makes it a nice of-the-moment addition to a wardrobe.  But don’t let it be the whole of one’s wardrobe choices.  Some of us want a modern-yet-classic (perhaps a better word would be fundamental) wardrobe that we freshen up with fashion forward pieces.  But maybe that isn’t enough planned obsolescence for them.  It seems as though there is no middle ground anymore regarding quality–or not for decades.  Even with average sizes one seems to have to choose between the extremes of cheap and poor quality, or nice quality ie very expensive.  And at the very expensive end, where the designers like to live, they don’t seem to care about us.  Chic is not fluffy.  We don’t do clothes justice, so we are passed by, aesthetically.

  26. Ro says

    I forgot to add under my previous comment re fabrics–please may we have more selection with woven fabrics, too, vs so much knit fabric?  There is obviously a place for knit fabrics, but knits are not our friends in everything.  It’s harder to get a decent look in a knit when one is plus.  Of course, what matters most to companies is that we can fit into it just enough that we will buy it and carry it home, vs waiting and shopping another day for a woven sized and designed properly.  So I guess it’s worth it for you guys to make everything stretchy–even articles that would be traditionally made with wovens in natural fabrics–whether it looks good on us or not.  But we buy it, you say.  Why is that?  Because we don’t have another choice unless we like rocking the Lady Godiva look.

  27. BellaReneeBoutique says

    I felt like finding affordable fashion forward plus size apparel was a struggle for me.  I would see a cute blazer or any simplistic fashion piece and not see it in my size.  I have a rather large bust, so trying to find a blazer that would across the bust was hard or jeans that fit all the way around…waiste, rear end, and thigh area…i started my own online boutique (www.bellareneeboutique.com) to show my curvy ladies that you can have a cute club dress or blazer or office dress without spending a fortune but still have a good quality of material.  I really appreciate this blog site because it shows me that I’m not the only facing these fashion issues.

  28. Dresses By Me says

    Hi Guys,

    DressesByMe.com is a website that allows you to design your own dress. You can then order your design in any size!

  29. Reginna says

    I will tell you what I want as a “plus sized” woman. I want the exact same shirt as the not plus sized woman. When I see a shirt/blazer/vest/skirt on a rack that I love, I want to find that same thing in my size. I don’t want to be a separate thing from these other women. I don’t see why everyone has to compartmentalize us into a separate type of woman. I’m still exactly the same mentally as a non-plus sized woman. I like the same styles. I like the same trends. I just happen to be a little bit bigger around the middle. My dress size does not change the fact that I’m still a thinking, feeling woman.

  30. Sheri says

    Personally, I do think women who are plus sized do want fashion. They do want to see clothes that are exactly like what is being offered to their straight sized friends. However, what I’ve also found in my personal experience is that plus size women will complain about high-end designers not making clothes in their size and then when a plus size brand offers something more high-end they do not want to pay the price, which is one reason why many high-end designers do not make clothes for us. Retail is a business and designers are not going to make clothes if no one is willing to pay for them.

    I also agree that plus size retailers and brands often treat plus sized women as one person. They lump us all together as if we all have the same taste. I think that is probably the most frustrating part. It is also frustrating not to have a great in-store experience. I often walk into Macy’s or Nordstrom and become completely disappointed because what both of these stores offer online is not at all comparable to what is available online. As a result, I tend to buy very little in either store. I would love to see a plus size boutique/stores offer quality clothing (nice fabrics, colors, styles) in-store.

    I’m not entirely sure how these types of issues could be resolved. However, I suppose large department stores could begin by offering more of their online selections in-stores.

    Sheri
    http://www.shapelychicsheri.com/

  31. Ann-marie Drinkwater says

    I know as plus sized woman we want to wear the new trends like the non plus size women but we can’t just have their trend in our size. For example the peterpan collar for most of us with large breasts and broad shoulders would make us look like a square. We don’t just need this item of clothing in a larger size but tailored to out shape, keep the style of the collar but lower maybe adjust the sleeves to the flatter the arms. Like the non plus size women we also come in different shapes such as apple and pear and these too need to be thought about when designing a range. If we are truly going to love fashion and feel confident in what we are wearing, then I believe the design of plus size clothing has further yet to develop. It’s not just extra material we want….we want style.

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