Dear fashion industry: show us diverse bodies

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We’re joining Modcloth in the call for truth in fashion.

Letter to the Fashion Industry
Plus size tights modelled by plus size ladies from ModCloth. Let’s get even better about representing more diverse plus sizes in advertising.

Dear fashion industry,

I know you’re shocked to receive a letter from me. According to you, plus size people like me don’t even exist!

Or maybe you know we exist, but think we’re happy wearing shapeless, boring clothing every day of our lives?

Or maybe you know we exist and you even (perhaps reluctantly?) cater to plus sizes… but you don’t want to acknowledge us in your ads?

Bodies are all sorts of different shapes. Plus size bodies are all sorts of different shapes, too. And it’s time for you to accept that your customers are frustrated.

The demand for fashionable plus size clothing is undeniable. But what’s more, I think, is the demand for positive, varied representation of fat bodies in fashion advertisements. Recently, more and more mainstream retailers have begun to offer plus size lines. But there remains a disconnect between the sizes offered, and the sizes shown. ModCloth has rounded up some stats about plus size women and their relationship to the fashion industry:

  • 69% of plus size women think most fashion trends do not work for their body type
  • When asked “How often do you see women who look like you reflected in fashion advertising?” 78% of plus size Women said they “never” or “rarely” see women like them reflected in fashion
  • When asked how often they would usually use the following phrases to describe their reactions to fashion advertising, 51% of plus size women said “It makes me feel excluded” and 52% of plus size women said “I can’t relate to this”
  • When asked their biggest challenge/struggle when shopping for clothing, 88% of plus size women said “finding items that fit me well and flatter my body”
  • 85% of plus size women said it is hard (very or somewhat) to find garments that fit them well
  • Only 21% of plus size women say they usually find clothing that makes them feel like the best version of themselves

Often, the plus size models fall within a narrow range of smaller plus sizes, despite the brand offering up to size 28 or beyond. Rarely do we see round tummies, folds, cellulite, small breasts, or large waists. Positive representation of fat bodies beyond size 18 and of varied proportion is important. My point isn’t to shame anyone of any size, but to encourage brands in the fashion industry who make clothing up to size 28+ to show off how great size 28+ people look in that clothing.

That stores exist and offer fashionable clothing for bigger sizes is great! Now let’s make it so that their models accurately display the range of available sizes, too.

Comments on Dear fashion industry: show us diverse bodies

  1. hear hear!

    pinupgirlclothing does a great job of showing actually plus sized models in their clothing as well. I’ve gotten a couple of fancy dresses from them and have not been disappointed. It’s nice to see how absolutely awesome folks look in the clothes and be like “that could be me!” versus “super cute, but I wonder how it would look on me”

  2. Indeed!

    I’m a follower of the Addition-Elle page in Canada and you regularly see people asking in the comments for more diverse shapes in the models. Their typical models are size 10 to 14…and the store sizes start at 14. It has been argued many times that the clothes that flatter these models do not look the same at all in size 24, which is never represented in the ads. They’ve included a size 20 model lately, but I’ve only seen a couple of her photos. Here’s to hoping!

  3. I’m definitely one of those 88% who struggle with finding clothes that fit and “flatter”.
    For me, wanting diversity in fashion models is a completely practical concern. I have rolls around my waist and in my tummy area. If I’m not certain clothes will look okay on me in those areas… I don’t buy ’em. I’ve passed up hunnnnndreds of dollars worth of clothing because the model is a perfect hourglass shape, meaning I have absolutely no guess about how the pieces will fall on my body.
    Oh and jeans! Wasp-waisted jeans don’t fit me. Since models are always hourglass-shape with the jeans clamped to fit them perfectly, every pair appears to be nipped in significantly at the waist. So I don’t buy ’em.

    • “I’ve passed up hunnnnndreds of dollars worth of clothing because the model is a perfect hourglass shape, meaning I have absolutely no guess about how the pieces will fall on my body.”

      Hm, that gives me an idea – what if there was a way to “follow” certain models? Like, they put up a picture of them in their underwear or what have you so you know their body looks like your body, then every time something new goes up on the site with them wearing it, you get a notification of some sort (email, twitter). The number of follows would also help the companies know that there is demand out there for more clothes that fit that shape.

      Or is there maybe something out there like this already that I’ve missed seeing?

      • It’s not quite the same, but you can do this with some fashion-blogging type sites. Chictopia, if I recall, has a feature where you can input your body type (and hair/eye/skin colors, if you want) and it will show you members who are similar looking to you. You can’t always buy exactly what they’re wearing, but sometimes you can (and at least you can get any idea if a certain style looks good on your body type.)

    • Urgh, you mentioned the clamping. It drives me nuts! I’m a standard size with decent-sized boobs, small waist, and a glorious big butt and many things (mostly pants) don’t really fit me either (even if the model herself is all hourglassy!). Not only are models chosen from a very select pool of tall-and-waif-like people and then photoshopped like crazy, but even before the pictures are taken, the clothes are poked and prodded and clipped and taped into something no one is actually going to achieve, except maybe with a good tailor. I’m noticing more and more that most long sleeves are pushed up on the model, to hide that they’re too short, and that’s just what’s easy for me to see. It’s nice that some online companies have started listing the model’s measurements and what size they’re wearing, but it’s meaningless for people who even are that size, and laughably so for anyone who is beyond it.

      Didn’t mean to derail, but basically, yeah, I want accurate pictures of how something will look on a range of bodies. Tall, short, thin, fat, straight, plus, with big and small boobs, waist, and butt. And show how someone might actually wear it, since I’m not planning to roll up the sleeves of my jacket and binder clip a waist into existence.

      • In fairness, “too short sleeves” on someone who’s 5’9″ and wears a small is almost inevitable. (Or on people like me with long monkey arms ๐Ÿ™ ) I guess rolling it up is a way not to draw attention to it, though it doesn’t give you any dang information about how long the sleeves actually are.

        • That sounds like a pain in the ass! But yeah, showing them would help you too. I’ve heard people complain about seeing they have similar measurements to the model, ordering the size it says she’s wearing, and it doesn’t fit at all–sleeves are too short, torso is the wrong shape (usually too wide, because of course all people get wider as they get taller and vice-versa), just everything is off.

          I think the only way to have something fit really well is to get very lucky with off the rack (unlikely, since clothes are designed to fit okay but not great on as many people as possible, excluding plus size), find and keep on retention an excellent tailor ($$), or get something custom-made ($$$). Most companies aren’t going to move past the about-six-sizes-fit-all model until it’ll be profitable for them, though, which sucks but I’m not sure what can be done about it yet.

  4. Yes! This is especially important as online shopping continues to grow and I need model pictures to assess whether an item would look good. I have a fairly average body and can usually find nice and flattering clothes in brick and mortar shops just fine, because I can try them on and see what works for me. But when I only have a petite size 0 model to check that, it gets very hard to picture the outfit on my 5’11”, size 10 body. I can only imagine how tough it gets for bigger bodies!

  5. Also More fabric DOES NOT EQUAL plus size fashion. Too often I see the exact same shirt in 2x that is in a small but the cut is so absolutely wrong my for my body! I used to work at Torrid (shameless plug) and we had mannequins that we affectionately called Betties. They were plus size Mannequins! What an idea! Plus size dress forms to CREATE plus size fashion. Instead of just blowing up a size small to a 2x let’s start at the 2x size. I can’t shop at Wal-Mart unless it’s the men’s section….I can’t shop at Target unless it’s the maternity. Those clothes are MADE for those body types…..where as the plus size sections are just larger versions of the smaller stuff. It doesn’t make any sense. RAWR! If the average woman is a size 14 (or something like that) then why isn’t that the size that women’s clothes are made/designed. Take project runway for example. I used to watch it religiously! I loved watching the designers come up with new patterns and shapes! But then they’d have a plus size model (like a mom, or in one case a teen) and it was the end of the world trying to design something that flatters that body type! I just cannot be on this soap box enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! /end rant

    • Ah, yes, it’s soooo hard designing for a plus-size body type it seems. I know designers in my city who only make small an medium clothes. How does that fit in any kind of business model? I always wonder. I like to encourage local fashion, but local fashion doesn’t give a rat’s ass about my fat ass (and my money, it would seem).

      • Well, strictly speaking, it IS a lot harder designing for a body that has a lot of curves vs one that’s more straight-up-and-down, especially if that’s all you learned on in school. Larger bodies also have more variation- “mostly flat & straight” is “mostly flat & straight”, but “curvy” can mean hips and/or boobs and/or stomachs, etc and what looks good on one size 14 body may not look good on another. Designers work to a set of standard sizes and measurements, but of course not everyone fits those standards, so while a size 14 gal who happens to have “ideal” measurements may look good in the “standard” items in that size, everyone else won’t and will have a harder time finding things that flatter them. I write knitwear patterns and I’ve been gun-shy about doing garments for years just because designing for different body types is darn tough (especially when I’ve got no boobs to test it on), and even if the math works out it’s hard to know for sure that it’s going to be flattering on everyone (I mean, really nothing is flattering on *everyone*, but still, you want to come as close to it as possible.)

        But given the size of the market for plus size garments you’d think that they’d start devoting more time to it in fashion schools. It’s obviously a group with enormous spending power and you’d think designers would be keen to tap it. I’ve read that part of the issue is that companies don’t think it will pan out financially to cater to the plus size market – so definitely vote with your dollars and support the folks you see doing it right (yay modcloth!), and that’ll help push the rest of the industry towards doing the same. I’d love to see more companies incorporate body SHAPE as well as size into their sizing, like Levi’s did with the different butt-shape jeans.

    • My favorite designer, is, in part, my favorite because she does just that. She designs on an 18-20 body. I go to her shop every time I’m in Vancouver, BC. (I get not kickback, just love supporting an independent designer. She also uses sustainably and ethically manufactured fabrics.)

      • Thanks for the designer info, I live on Vancouver Island and shopping for plus sizes is limited to a few chain stores that carry larger sizes, they are all owned by the same company. Addition Elle, Penningtons, Reitmans… all the same company.

    • I completely agree. I also find that Iif I can find something in the plus size section, it looks old and frumpy. I may have a big ass and fat belly, but that doesn’t mean I am 80 aandhave no fashion sense. I would love to find a place that sells plus size variety t-shirts with saying and characters on them.

  6. It’s not just the plus sizes that have problems with fashion. I come from a family of impossibly small people and it is impossible to buy clothes in adult stores. Most shops go down to a size 2-4 and that’s it unless you want to shop in stores for preteens and wear clothes that have Justin Beiber printed all over them. I needed new dress pants for a job interview and after a whole day of everything I put on falling off again I gave up and sewed some. I see lots of people asking designers for more plus sized clothes and I agree that we need more clothes for real women but don’t forget the ladies at the tiny end of the spectrum!

    • Werd to this. I am very short but more medium framed. I find that petite sizes often have the same scaling problem someone stated above for plus sizes. A cut may look great on someone who is average height and a size 6 but shortening all of the proportions doesn’t mean that it looks good on a petite size 6 body. Petite sizes are not widely available either and I can only imagine the difficulty someone would have if they were short but plus sized because designers somehow think those are mutually exclusive.

      I think woman need to have the options that men have in terms of buying by measurements rather than general sizes (ex. buying pants with a 30 inch inseam and a 35 inch waist).

      • Also, models are always tall. Even plus size models are tall. Designers think that clothes look better on tall people so models tend to be 5’9″ or above. The problem here us that the average woman I believe is 5’5″ to 5’6″.

        For those of us below average, it is impossible to tell whether clothes will be flattering or look ridiculous. A particular style can look awesome on models (hi-lo dresses, maxi dresses, cropped pants) and make a short woman look like a child wearing her mom’s clothes.

        Many famous actresses are very short so I am more likely to look to someone like Hayden Panittiere, who is short to see what styles might look good on me.

        • Huh, funny you mention the height thing. I’m 5’11” and actually often have a hard time envisioning what something would like on me because the models are shorter (around 5’6″).

          I wonder if that’s a Europe/Netherlands vs USA thing. Though that wouldn’t make any sense as the Dutch are taller on average, so why are our models shorter?

      • Yessss I cannot understand why we don’t buy our jeans by measurement instead of with random numbers and “Long/Short/Regular” designations. I have seen more and more waist measurements on jeans, but even those don’t seem to be standardized… you’d think if you wear a size 27″ waist, that waist would fit in you in every pair of jeans, right?? Because it’s an objective number?? NOPE. NOT EVEN A LITTLE. (I also don’t really understand how that works, because I usually wear a 26 or 27 even though my hips are more like 34-35 and my actual waist is nowhere near where the jeans fall.)

        My biggest challenge is dresses- anything that fits my bottom half will almost definitely have tons of extra space in the boobs ๐Ÿ™ I pretty much just buy stretchy-everything now and call it a day.

      • I am also short with a medium frame. I actually look at the plus size model to get a better idea of how the proportions of something will look on my body. I don’t know why but it works, which probably also why it doesn’t work for a lot of other people.

        I would love it if more clothing was designed with fit in mind- there are some clothes that have stretchy panels in certain areas where there is a lot of variation in body types- like around the hips and on the size of the rib cage. A button up shirt with stretchy side panels will actually lay flatter on your boobs without having to go sizes up. And my one coworker, who hasn’t been pregnant in years, says she still shops in the maternity section sometimes because things FIT better from there. She can get shirts that don’t ride up, pants that don’t gap at the waist, etc. She doesn’t mind going into the maternity section for clothing, but it isn’t right that that is the only option for some people to find clothing that fits.

        • I look at the plus size model too, despite being close to underweight. Regardless of my weight and size, my shape is always broad and athletic/muscular, not slender, and very few styles that work on standard models work on me. My large ribcage seems to be a big part of that, for some reason, perhaps because of the placement of the waist or something. I think shape may be more relevant than size for most people.

  7. One of my favorite things about shopping at modcloth is the reviews section that includes photos of the reviewers in the clothes. Its a great way to see what an outfit looks like on a variety of shapes and sizes. It would be great to see online shops offer customers incentives to send in photos of themselves in the clothes (gift cards, discount codes) as well as diversifying models.

    • Yes, this! The lingerie and sex toy company Lovehoney offers a prize draw for a substantial amount of cash to spend on more of their stuff (I think it’s ยฃ100 (~US$160)) for people who send in pictures of themselves wearing the underwear to show how it fits, and if people are prepared to do that with kinky knickers they’d do it with other clothes too, I’m sure.

      That feature on Modcloth has actually taught me things about how clothes fit my body type on top of its use for shopping decisions

  8. So, not even for fashion models, but aren’t there people who are “fit” models? Not fit as in fitness, but fit as in they try on the prototypes of the clothing. They have to maintain a constant weight because they are essentially living mannequins, so why can’t there be fit models in all sizes?

    • Fit models come in all sizes though I think it’s up to the brand how many they use (they may just use a size 8 and size up and down from there, for example, or they might bring in a size 4, an 8, a 12, etc.) There are plus-size fit models (usually size 14), but I have no idea if every brand who makes plus clothing actually uses them. And still, you’re dealing with an idealized set of numbers that the fit model has to conform to- if you’re not similar to those “ideal” measurements, the fact that it looks great on the fit model doesn’t mean anything.

      • True, if the model has to fit the mold to begin with, I guess using the model doesn’t help!

        The fashion industry should stop listening to Plato and his damn ideal “forms.”

        • Yah, the whole concept of ready-to-wear is just so tricky when you take into account the fact that nobody is really the same shape as each other. They have to have *some* kind of size standard to design to or they wouldn’t have any idea what to do, but of course it’s not going to fit everyone, or even most people, in that size range. I mean think about trying on jeans in “your” size and what percentage of them actually fit well. It’s maaaaybe like…. 20% for me, tops. Blah.

  9. I think part of the problem with bringing about change is that women are so used to seeing skinny model frames for clothes, that when we see actual plus-sized models, theres a chance we might like the clothes less. My body sits on the borderline, anywhere between a medium to a 2XL depending, but what clothes look like on traditional models is never what it looks like on me. Nonetheless, when I see the same garment on a traditional model and a plus-sized model, even if the garment has actually been properly scaled up and looks amazing on the plus-sized model, I find that I am less drawn to the garment – it evokes less of the “oooo I wants” feeling. Which is of course something I know is silly, since if I only had the traditional model to look at, I’m actually far less likely to buy it since I’ll have absolutely no idea at all how it would look on me. I can, however, see the industry avoiding change for those kinds of reasons.

    • I absolutely think it’s undeniable that people are just more drawn to the appeal of a thin model. Garments are designed to look best on thin models and they’re perfectly tailored (with clamps and duct tape) on the model to make everything look flawless. And in the meta, we’re trained to sort of associate the model with ourselves and our impression of the garmentโ€“she looks thin in this, this is slimming; he looks tall in this; this makes the wearer look long.
      I think the first step is just OFFERING plus size models. Lemmie call out my friends at ModCloth for a moment: there’s nothing worse as a plus size shopper than a piece of clothing that’s offered in straight and plus sizes, but which can only be seen on a straight size model. Why is having a garment modeled by more than one person so inconceivable for so many websites? Default view to whichever model wears it best, then show me a couple alternatives.

      • Huh, I thought that Modcloth did different listings entirely for plus-size garments, with the different models.

        Unfortunately I think this:

        “Why is having a garment modeled by more than one person so inconceivable for so many websites? ”

        Comes down to money a lot of times. Two models means paying for twice as many models AND twice as much time for the photographer, neither of which come cheap. One would hope that you’d make up for this by selling more items, but it’s a bit of a leap of faith that a brand has to take- you’re not going to attract the plus size audience until you’ve got the photos and built up a rep for being a good place for them to shop. Hopefully the positive response to sites like Modcloth bringing in more models will give other sites the reassurance they need that it’s worth it to show things on more bodies. (Honestly even a plus size dress form would be better than nothing, though! And I hear those dress forms work cheap.)

  10. I worked at a women’s clothing store for a year, and came to the conclusion that pretty much nobody has an easy time finding clothes that fit. Everyone has some quirk about their body that makes it difficult, regardless of size, because human bodies come in such a stunning array of shapes! Everyone has parts that tend to be too big or too small for certain clothing items.

    All the time, I’d get customers “accuse” me of having an easy time finding clothes that fit because I’m skinny. I’ll admit, most shirts fit me well enough (as long as they aren’t too generously cut in the chest), but finding skirts, pants, and dresses that fit me properly is a nightmare. I usually need a petite short size. Yes, both. As was mentioned above, it’s really hard finding a nice-fitting suit for an interview when you’re the size of a 12 year old. Pretty much all the pants in the store I worked at were way too long for me.

    It’s extra hard for my mom. She’s a petite short like me, but on that edge where she fits more comfortably in a plus sized 14-16 than a misses or petite of the same size. Why aren’t there petite plus sizes? Do they assume that as soon as you’re bigger than a 16 you automatically grow eight inches taller? I know a LOT of plus sized ladies around my height; these clothing stores are missing out on a lot of business!

    I would love to see more measurement based clothing. It would probably be complicated at first, but it would take so much guesswork out of clothes shopping, for everyone! I’d love to go shopping and look for clothes labeled as small chest, small waist, wide hips, medium torso length, or pants labeled as wide hips, extra short legs! Obviously you couldn’t make all the sizes for all the articles of clothing (that would be prohibitively expensive), but there could at least be labels for the body shapes and sizes that fit well into each garment.

  11. Absolutely!
    There is so little thought in most plus size clothing.
    Fabrics that stretch and hug in all the wrong ways, or summer clothes that don’t breathe. Shirts that shrink after the first wash, and don’t even get me started on cap sleeves!
    I’m sick to death of low waisted, skinny jeans,Long torso dresses and ankle length capris! Shorts need to cover my a$$, tops need to cover my boobs and sleeves need to cover my sausage roll arms! I’m tired of shrugs and asymmetrical anything. I don’t want my body used as label AD space…I’m no billboard thank you very much!
    I just want the opportunity to dress my body appropriately, gracefully and on a budget.
    I want to be comfortable on every level and I believe that to be a reasonable request.

  12. We agree with your post. We would also like to add though that some plus size companies think they are plus size because they make something in an XL. Take the images you used of the thigh highs and stockings. The women are plus size but the stocking do not fit them properly. Companies send out images and then people think that’s the proper fit. The bra industry and Victoria secrets have convinced everyone that breast tissue spilling out of the top of bra is considered sexy. But it’s not.

    • Yeah… Tim… I checked out your site (the “we” in your comment made it look pretty spammy already), and sorry, but your company is doing the exact same thing the article complains about. You show a few plus sized models (only three, from what I see, and only one who is featured a lot), yet these plus sized women are on the low end of the plus size spectrum. And what’s with your plus sized stockings section showing no such thing?

      Furthermore, you are missing out on SUCH a great opportunity to feature larger women IN YOUR CORSET SECTION! All those women in your corset section are slim and not particularly busty. Every time I’m at renaissance faire, I secretly envy the larger, more curvaceous women and how fabulous their bodies look in corsets!

      This article is meant for YOU. It could easily read “Dear Tim”. Change how you represent your products- don’t just show up and comment to get more clicks to your site.

  13. If there’s one term in the fashion industry I hate, it’s ‘plus-sized’. Why can’t women just be women?? Why can’t manufacturer’s cater to everyone, including the larger cross section of the market. I don’t like seeing skinny models and mannequins all the time. Not just because it isn’t an accurate representation of the majority of the market, but as a skinny person myself, I know it’s not always healthy for every body to be than thin and shouldn’t be impressed upon young girls as ‘the norm’. I just don’t get this obsession with stereotyping one body type, the minority body type, as the female ideal. It’s imposing guilt on everyone and such a negative vibe against appearance, which should be a positive expression of your self.

    Rant over.

    • I once tried to find a cat condo for my 17 pound feline (may she rest in peace). Apparently she was “tomcat sized” and I had to find a condo to fit her!! The euphemisms extend to even fat-shaming the feline world!

    • For a while the clothes that fit me best were “Petite Extra Large” (i.e. short and fat). My dad was super confused by the terminology. ๐Ÿ˜€ At least “plus sized” isn’t so confusing. I have to say, I also prefer it to “Women” because at least it’s unambiguous. Why should “misses” be smaller than “women”? Along that scheme there’s a lot of marketing in the direction of being “real women” or something which I also find somewhat offensive because it somehow tries to imply that I’m a certain type of person just because I wear bigger sizes. ๐Ÿ˜› I totally agree that it would be cool if they just made clothes in the whole range of sizes and mixed them together (also in the portrayals).

  14. So, as a designer (sort of, more like an embellisher)… I want to add a few things. I buy my blanks mostly from American Apparel, because I want to keep things as local and US-made as possible. However, their sizing simply doesn’t go high enough for a lot of plus sizes. Also, it seems like they subscribe to the “more fabric=plus” thing that someone mentioned above. Other US-based companies I’ve looked at have OUTRAGEOUS prices for plus-sized blanks (we’re talking like $50 for a pair of yoga pants WHOLESALE), and that prices me out of the market. Either that, or I’d have to charge 5-7x the price for plus sized items, which isn’t fair and would make it look like I don’t want to sell to the plus market!

    When I’ve bought plus items from overseas, they’re still too small, and I’ve gotten complaints about things like the fact that the butt and waist may fit, but the ankles are too tight still, etc. I don’t want to sell crappy stuff or keep getting returns, so I’ve had to unfortunately limit my offerings to about a size 16 or XL (which isn’t really plus size at all). The only things I can do larger than that are t-shirts, which very rarely sell for me anyway.

    So it may be easy to point fingers at the designers/sellers, but without manufacturers who understand the plus market and can make things cost-effectively for the designers, we’re SOL too! It’s a frustration, because people have asked me over and over again to sell larger sizes, and I’ve done testing with lots of different suppliers, but just haven’t found anything that works, fits well, feels nice, and is even remotely affordable for me.

    I think it needs to be more than “Dear fashion industry, please show us plus size”, and needs to include “please allow access to quality, affordable, sustainable plus size clothes sources”. I think they’ll have to grow together hand in hand. The more large models we see, the more we’ll want those clothes, and the more designers will cater specifically to that market with nice clothes, which will allow for more items to photograph… pleasantly non-vicious circle.

    • Years ago, I ran into this same problem when I wanted to start screenprinting tees. I couldn’t find a flattering shirt on which to print my own designs so that I could wear them. And what fun is that?!

      I am starting a business to manufacture the plus size tees I wished were available when I needed them. It’s been a long road and there are so many difficulties when it comes to attempting to manufacture clothing that isn’t straight sized but I am moving forward and hope to be in business by next year.

    • Just saying: the designers I was talking about make everything from scratch. They buy fabric, not blanks, which makes a big difference in what the could actually do as they don’t depend on suppliers only offering certain sizes.

      I know designing for plus-size is not as easy as designing for filiform people, and it’s not taught in design school so much. But you’d think some would try their hand at it if only for the large market opportunity.

  15. As a size 16-18 woman with 38HH boobies that is 5′ tall I would like to second the vote for measurement pants like the men are lucky enough to have, because I’m too short for short length pants by at least 6 inches and it’s ridiculous to have to pay for ill-fitting clothes then have them tailored. As a previous poster mentioned, being petite in length but “plus size” in width is a real crapper for finding clothes, and definitely a missed area of opportunity for retailers. Also, it’s interesting how men’s plus size equivalent is framed more positively as “big and tall” which sounds more flattering to my ears than “women’s plus”. Like I am a normal woman plus some extra? Well, obviously yes, you could wear one of my bras as a football helmet or a mask for harvesting honey from a beehive, but there’s no need to be so cut and dry with it. Women come in all shapes and sizes and should be able to find quality clothes and representation throughout the fashion industry without feeling like a company is doing us a favor by offering clothes in extended sizes.

    • Kind of piggy backing on this thought, I also wish that plus size clothing wasn’t just a wider version of the misses sizing. It’s so frustrating to go up a size to try and get coverage only to discover the XL is the exact same length as the L and is just wider…So even tailoring won’t fix the problem.

      I have a long torso, I just want to buy cute dresses that aren’t leaving my butt hanging out!

      • That said, I often wish they WOULD offer more of the cute Misses clothes in plus sizes! I want that 50’s style summer dress (in the appropriate width AND length, of course) and not a knit potato sack dress (since apparently that’s flattering when you’re already a bit wider than most people). Seems they ARE getting better about this, though…

  16. Okay, I didn’t read all the comments this time so maybe someone has already said some of this stuff; I just wanted to offer my two cents on the topic.

    While I appreciate the sentiment of the post and am often frustrated by clothing selection and portrayal of plus sizes, in my opinion, things have improved tremendously in the last 5 years or so (at least in the US department stores like Kohl’s, JC Penny’s and Macy’s).

    I live in Germany and I basically ONLY shop for clothes when I’m visiting my family in the US. Since I’m “observing” from afar (every half a year or so), I’ve really noticed how much more selection in the “woman’s” departments there is in the last few years and especially how many more listings of “plus size” clothes there are in the weekly ads – with picture of plus-sized models! They tend to offer a lot more of the same clothing pieces/models as in the misses and a wider variety of styling. It’s certainly not what it could be and has lots of room for improvement (especially in selection of more special or seasonal clothing like fitness stuff or coats), but I wanted to voice this because I’ve just been amazed at what I’ve been able to find in more recent years. However, the contrast for me is Germany where as far as I can tell plus sizes REALLY only exist in super expensive specialty stores that tend toward “potato sack styles” or online in fairly poor quality (oh yeah, and the mini line of clothes from H&M).

    As for the actual diversity of body types, I think this could be said for all sizes. At least in the misses sizes, there is a small selection of “petite” and “tall” clothes, but in general the portrayal is that everyone has basically the same exact body type. However, I also think that there are clear reasons for this as well – in ads or even in the store, retailers want the clothing to be comparable. I also think that we as consumers tend to find clothes more attractive the way they are currently portrayed. Even though I wear plus sizes, I often find the dress much cuter in the picture on the absurdly tiny model (sad as that may be, etc. etc.). Regarding the cuts themselves, I think there is some degree of variance (in all size ranges), but unfortunately it’s practically impossible to recognize without trying the different clothes on. That’s when you notice, “okay – this one was for someone with wide hips and a small waist, not me with my big waist and small hips.” However, I totally agree that certain combinations are definitely under-represented!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    So all in all, yes – of course I’m all for improvements in this area, but I feel like considering all the psychology of advertising, the strides made in the last few years are actually pretty impressive.

  17. Amen! It’s so hard to shop for plus sized clothing and so frustrating. Most stores don’t carry larger sizes so you are forced to shop online but the models wearing the clothes are normal size so you can’t tell how it will work. Not only that but the plus size options are not-cute and SOOO limited.

    I sent a customer service note to Old Navy once to complain about how the small girls gets 40+ colors and patterns of pants and plus size has black/grey/blue/khaki. To their credit, they sent a reply thanking me for my message but gave some cookie cutter response as to why cute things can only come in small sizes. Not only do they have limited options but none of the plus size clothes are modeled by people whereas all of the smaller sizes have actual girls wearing the clothes.

  18. I think you ladies would enjoy SmartGlamour ( The founder is based in NY and makes her own line of clothes. They’re based on the idea that women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful, and they feature models that really are all shapes and sizes. Their size options are really extensive and are super customizable. They can even make your clothes to your exact measurements for only an extra $20. They’re more expensive than your average mall store but really not by much-the shirt I’ve had my eye on for a while is $40. I have yet to order from them but I think the concept is amazing.

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