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DEAR BRANDS: What I Want You To Know Before Offering "Extended Sizes"

By: Rochelle Johnson of @iambeauticurve

Growing up, I never heard the word Plus Size. It was fat, thick and big boned. Something that stands out in my mind growing up is that there was no “plus size” section at any store that I could remember. The term extended sizes didn’t even exist. I was constantly trying to fit in to look like my friends and after a certain age and size, I couldn’t anymore. I remember my mom not knowing where to buy my clothes because I had the body of a 21 year old, but was only 13.

Thankfully it’s 2020 and there are “plus size” sections and even whole brands! There is even “junior plus” and husky… all terms which could be revisited but I’m glad they are available. It’s all wonderful and it makes me so happy! We have come a long way, but have we come far enough?

I know you’re wondering, what do you have to complain about... the fashion industry HAS made so many changes. You should be happy there is a plus size section. You could also be thinking, if you lose weight you wouldn’t need plus size clothes, which is fat-phobic by the way! Back to the fashion industry. I am happy that the plus size industry has become such a large part of the economy of the fashion industry. The plus size industry is a 30 billion dollar industry and it’s not going anywhere! That is because plus size people are not going anywhere. We all can’t be tall and thin. Plus size people exist and are worthy of taking up space and are worthy of fashion, good fashion!

By good fashion I mean everything that fashion has to offer. But why doesn’t the fashion industry believe this fully? I’m asking this question but I already know the answer. The Fashion industry is still very culturally prejudice towards the average woman’s body. Let us remember that plus size is considered 10/12 and up! The average woman is a size 14. So most women in this country are “plus size”. We are not only worthy of jeans and a T-shirt, but we are worthy of the latest couture gown from the runway! Honestly, I’m not even asking for a couture gown, I just want to wear the same thing my “thin” or “straight size” friend is wearing. Why does my friend get the cute romantic blouse with a beautiful print, and that same shirt is not available in my size. I have to settle for a T-shirt, or a irregular round cut neckline version of that top. Let me not get started on the rouched bands around the bottom of the blouse or the slit in the sleeve. I guess that’s supposed to make me feel “sexy” without offending anyone with my fat. I guess what I need to ultimately tell the fashion industry is that my fat is not offensive.

I appreciate brands for extending their sizing. I love the effort, but I’m also disappointed. When The offerings have been lacking style. If you ever want to know what the plus size customer wants, I’ll tell you. We want the same thing you offer in straight size. Same cut, same length, same amount of ruffles, same drama. The problem is that I rarely see that. What I see is the watered down version. The straight size dress has 5 layers of ruffles and the plus size version of that same dress has 2. Where are my ruffles. Where is my drama? Where is my fashion. I know that fashionable clothes are for me and for everyone.

When I look at sites like Mara Hoffman, I actually love the plus size offerings. They are a taste of the straight size offerings. I don’t think there are changes to the designs, I think it is truly an extended size offerings. What I don’t love is that there is hardly any variety. There are 14 items and 11 of those are black and white. Honestly, I love black and white and if I never looked at the straight size offerings I wouldn’t know there are 145 items full of bold colors and some fabulous prints. I love bold colors and fab prints! I’m grateful for the black and white offerings please don stop making those, but I want to wear those the fun colors and the bold styles. I want the Catalina Jacket that ties at the waist. Its fabulous, but doesn’t come in my size. I also want the Leila dress with the bold exaggerated sleeves, again not in my size.

Another brand I love is Tanya Taylor who is all about bold colors and prints. Like Mara Hoffman, but only a quarter of the offerings are available in extended sizes, but they are the original design which I can appreciate. I bought a Tanya Taylor dress this spring and it is literally one of my favorite dresses and I can’t wait to buy more, but I only have 20 options out of 100. Honestly when you see all the other options in straight size you start to see all the things you could have fallen in love with, but they simply won’t love you back.

When we get into trend retailers like the Who What Wear collection at Target, another brand I’m all over. They do a good job of having fashionable options in plus sizes but a lot of times I find myself trying to squeeze into the straight size styles. Another sad love story.

A brand I love and is doing exactly what I want and the fashion industry needs to see is Fame and Partners! Every item on their site is available up to a size 22. Not to mention the options are endless and nothing is watered down. If the dress has a plunging neckline, you can order that in a size 22.

It seems more and more like the fashion industry doesn’t want us or all of us, but we are here anyway. They have started to include (not accept) the plus size body because they want the plus size dollar. This is a multi-billion dollar industry that is just being tapped. The list of designers that offer extended sizes is pretty short. (I Hope) this will change as the fashion industry evolves and starts to realize that plus bodies are valuable. I think its important to remember that the designers job is to create beautiful clothes, not to police what I’m wearing on my plus size body.


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