Why I Won’t Segregate Plus Size Clothes (or women).

ASOS CURVE Exclusive Check Pant. Image from ASOS.com.

Clothes have been on my mind a bit lately. More specifically – how size and fit (and the women who wear them) are described and categorized.

Being challenged by wide shoulders, bigger boobs, and wide shelves for hips, I run into my share of lingerie and clothing fit challenges. But the one I wasn’t prepared for was the plus-size v. regular size wildcard.

As I went in search of clothes to fit my body, I discovered I’m an “inbetweenie” – too big for ‘straight/regular sizes’ and too small for ‘plus sizes’. And with that discovery, I started looking at plus size clothing lines and selections to add to my wardrobe.

In the course of this adventure I turned to Pinterest and began collecting designers, brands, and images of pieces I’d like to research later. And then I got really pissed off.

Weight loss pinners, self-proclaimed exercise gurus and the weight loss inspired started following my Clothes and Styled boards with a passion…because I was pinning images of clothes and women whose descriptions contained the phrases ‘plus size’, ‘full figured’, ‘FATshionista’, and ‘curvy’.

If you can’t see the image, below, click on this link to visit Pinterest.

And here’s the interesting thing – all of my plus sized pins were (and still are) mixed in with images of ‘regular’ sized women and clothes. I do not segregate my plus size clothes pins and I won’t EVER do it, and here’s why.

Because, a great dress or skirt or an excellently styled ensemble isn’t plus, or regular, or petite, or tall, or curvy, or big boobed, or sexy. It is just great.  Segregating plus-sized fashion and styling implies the clothes and women are different. And we aren’t.

If you can’t see the image, below, click on this link to visit Pinterest.

Am I, an Inbetweenie, a different person today as I sit here wearing size 14 Ann Taylor jeans, compared to yesterday when I wore my size 14 ASOS Curve plaid pants?

Well, AM I?

Wait – what if I’m wearing a Midnight Grace top (Midnight Grace is a British clothing line that designs clothes for women with large breasts) with those Ann Taylor jeans? Hang on – move me onto the ‘Big Boob’ board. Or should I crop the top off the image and move it to the ‘Big Boob’ board, and put the jeans on the ‘Clothes’ board (because their tag doesn’t read plus)?

Midnight Grace By Figleaves.com Heather DD+ Gathered Neck Top. Image from Figleaves.com.
Midnight Grace By Figleaves.com Heather DD+ Gathered Neck Top. Image from Figleaves.com.

Sure, I understand how search engines work…and that if you want to locate fashion in larger sizes you search for those clothes called ‘plus’. I get it.

But on the other hand, I don’t.

Why aren’t we just women, and why aren’t the pieces of fabric we wrap around our bodies just clothes? Why do stores segregate plus size clothes to special sections? And WHY are plus-size clothes segregated into special sections in online stores, when size filtering is an option?

Why can’t we just wear clothes, dammit?

Honestly, I’d love to erase the word ‘plus’ from all my pins; however, I know many times women search for pins with the description to find clothes in their size range and images representative of themselves. So I leave it. I despise the word in this connotation, but I leave it.

So, no… I won’t be segregating my Pinterest Clothes pins, or my Pinterest Lingerie pins, or my Pinterest Styled pins by the size of woman they fit…because dammit, women come in unlimited varieties of shapes and sizes and we can’t be categorized. If you want to look at the fashion and style I pin, you’ll have to wade through all of it – the wonderful variety of womanhood.



A special thank you to Karen from Sevenlies, who reminded me that I’m an Inbetweenie and whom I thought of while writing this post.




11 Comment

  1. I think this boils down to so many issues that arise just because we’re switched from ready made clothes instead of having everything be made-to-measurements. In terms of clothing manufacturing there was a great article over on Fashion Incubator on issues that you deal with production costs when you have clothes that stray far from the average: http://fashion-incubator.com/archive/why-larger-sizes-cost-more-or-size-is-nothing-but-a-number/ (specifically when there are not an equal number of smaller sizes needed at the other end).

    Also, I think there’s an argument to be made in terms of body type variation when you get into the plus-sizes as I discussed before: http://www.bralessinbrasil.com/2013/04/deliniating-between-regular-and-plus.html

    That being said. ALL of this is because we no longer turn first to made-to-measurement clothes. Once we decided that women fit some norm, those of us who deviate from that norm start running into a plethora of body image issues (goes for women who are also less curvy than the norm and those who are curvier than the norm too). I’m not sure if you’ve read anything about how Lane Bryant started up but Fashion Incubator also has an interesting post on that too: http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/f_i_fashion_week_vintage_lane_bryant/ Basically, you didn’t pick your size but you simply sent in your measurements and they sent you the most appropriate size. In that way they also got the statistical data on their costumer base and could better tailor their clothes to their costumers.

    Right now I’m an inbetweenie here in Brazil too. I’m in their largest size sold in stores (46 or GG), which translates to about a US 8 or 10 from what I can tell. Here the plus-sized fashions are scary. SO UGLY. I really miss Lane Bryant from when I lived in the states…

    Oh, but I 100% about not separating in terms of pinning and fashion in general. Truthfully, I just wish everything was sold made-to-measurements or I knew how to sew better! I was drooling over sewing machines this weekend…

    1. The topic of sizing and size charts is interesting, and complicated – and deserves a post instead of a comment. In short – sizing between brands varies to the point that it supports the idea that clothes should not be labeled ‘plus’ or ‘regular’.

      I am at the point if trying some made-to-measure clothes. It’s going to be interesting.

      I have a sewing machine I never use…can’t use with any skill. I need to take a class.

      1. I look forward to seeing your post. I keep meaning on writing up one too about the adverse effects of fast fashion. It’s on my to do list. 😉

        I will say that I’m not convinced that made-to-measurement clothes are that much more expensive in the long run, though (at least in terms of every day clothes, obviously a $2000 wedding dress is a lot for one day!). Especially if they are made with higher quality materials (which at least in my limited experience they are). Every time I buy from a brand that at the very least has clothes that are made for curvier figures or are made-to measurement they costs are the same or cheaper than off the rack clothes+alterations. Plus, they last a lot longer than if I’m buying clothes from more department stores (I think there’s something to be said of the clothes made to fit my body and seams not wearing out as quickly? I don’t know).

        Just to give you an example, PZI jeans (so more expensive and made for women with big butts) cost about $40-$70 (so about R$80-150). I bought a pair of pants post-partum for super cheap here (R$40) but they needed alterations, which would have cost another R$30 (has a family friend do it instead but that was just a one time deal). However, then those jeans only lasted 4 months whereas the PZI jeans are still going over a year later (and have a lot more life in them still!). That means I’d need to buy 4×70=R$280 for the cheaper jeans. Even if I made do without alterations I’d need to buy a belt and that would still be R$140+cost of belt, which is the same price or more than PZI.

  2. Karen says: Reply

    As I said to you on Twitter, great post! 🙂 June brought up a great point about the fact that things changed once we decided that bespoke fashion was on its way out. Fast fashion has its ups and downs – the main up is that it is much more financially accessible to the masses. When I was getting married, I kept reading on Offbeat Bride about how having someone make your dress was SO much cheaper. It sounded great, until I checked out that idea and found that I would have to pay upwards of $2000 for a cocktail-length dress made out of simple taffeta and such. I wasn’t even planning on spending that much in a store. Even though I was much heavier than I am now (about a 22/24), I was able to find a great simple gown for $500 at a local bridal shop, and they included the alterations. These days, made-to-wear clothing simply isn’t feasible for everyone unless it is a one-time thing or you have some serious cash to spare. Perhaps that is because we no longer have well-trained tailors on every corner? Who knows.

    I’m squarely in the plus size camp (18/20). I understand that my situation is not the same as yours, or June’s, or anyone else’s but mine. I don’t have a drastic difference in my bust, waist, and hips, so finding clothing off the rack is easier for me.

    I realize my choices are limited due to my size…I pretty much stick to plus size stores and racks. I have been known to rant under my breath in Target about how their plus size section consists of THREE racks crammed in the back among the sale and maternity, and two of those racks are workout clothes. I’m a firm believer that style should be accessible to every woman, no matter what shape she’s in, no matter what size she is, and no matter how old she is. I, like you, wish that the women’s clothing section was for all WOMEN, not sectioned off into petites, plus, straight size, etc.

    I seem to be spilling off into tangents here. Time for some coffee..

    1. WideCurves 1 says: Reply

      I asked my mother where and how she got some of those gorgeously fitted clothes I see in pictures – and her answer was, of course, that my grandmother (and Co.) made them. My aunt did quite a bit of sewing, also. Neither do much or any at all, that I know of, now.

      So, yes – there was quite a bit of sewing and I think an equal amount of altering going on. Now, a majority of women (like me) are totally clueless.

      I’m not far from you in size – especially if I’m shopping for something fitted. When suit shopping I’m not surprised to fit in an 18 U.S. jacket. By size charts I’m an 18 in some Trashy Diva dresses. If you translate some XL’s to numbers some brands call me 16-18.

      Sizing is such a weird thing… They aren’t uniform and many times ‘plus’ is 1-2″ different than ‘regular’ – sometimes on *only* one measurement! It’s insane!!

      I need to do another post. I used to read fiction with story lines. Now I read fictitious (sometimes) size charts.

  3. I want to like this post 100 bazillion times!

    1. WideCurves 1 says: Reply

      I’m glad you liked it!

  4. Nate Bowles says: Reply

    As the proud boyfriend of a gal who fits in the ‘plus size’ range, I have to say that department stores (like walmart) do their sizing very…oddly. My girlfriend has an aweful time finding anything decent in her size, as the fit and of a ‘plus’ pair of jeans will be utterly different than for a ‘regula’ pair. I don’t know where you’re located, but have you looked at Addition Elle’s clothiong range? They’re 14+ for everything, and not badly priced either. My gf’s regular store, and frequently on her gift list.

  5. Lisa R says: Reply

    As a fellow inbetweenie I share much of your concerns. Having spoken over the years with many manufacturers of lingerie and clothing it seems that choices for clothes and lingerie for curvaceous women is severely lacking. I know this may not be industry wide but finding plus size products that are loud floral patterns or a style that seems to have gone out of style decades ago can be a problem. This is while the choices in petite or missy seem to be fairly fashion forward. Clearly some makers just don’t care to have any part of the plus size market. As for sizing it would seem to make sense to standardize sizing but alas that doesn’t seem to be on the horizon. Perhaps the advice I received years ago is best except for one problem. Get to know a good tailor or seamstress. Only problem is buying the product and then getting it tailored can get to be so very expensive.

    1. WideCurves 1 says: Reply

      Yes, I agree, the choices are severely lacking. Standardized size charts would help tremendously – I truly appreciate retailers like Nordstrom that post brand specific size charts. Of course, size charts are only half the battle, since a piece designed for a body shape different from yours will make the piece unwearable. As an hourglass-type Inbetweenie I find this is my biggest challenge when shopping in sizes 14+. I recently tried a Kohl’s brand tee in a 2x that was no wider in the shoulders than their ‘regular’ XL; however, the chest and waist was too large for me. I find myself at a loss when I fit neither the largest ‘straight’ size, and the ‘plus’ sizes are not designed for my shape. I struggle to find pieces that can be altered (making a piece smaller generally doable, making it grow is a magic trick!).

      I wish someone would open a “Wide Woman Store”. I’d be there with bells on!!

  6. I agree that clothes should just come in a wide range of sizes in one place but the fashion industry decides who are preferred people and who are not separate based on that. So I pin clothes for plus sized women and I never include anything in regular sizes or I put those in an ideas-type of folder. If a straight-size designer decides that bigger women don’t exist why should I promote their clothes? Plus-sizes don’t appear on small size boards. The argument that sizes are determined by the population is false and it is proven by the number or actual women who measure above a size 12 and are not represented. Fashions do not reflect the actual measurements of real people in their actual numbers. Plus sized women have had to make due for so long, they no longer shop the same way other women can. The current situation is the cart before the horse. It should be people first, fashion second. And the argument that designers can’t afford the extra fabric blah blah blah is also crap. I notice that all the cashmere ponchos and batwing tops for regular sizes have no trouble being made. These use at least as much fabric as a plus sized garment. If it takes more fabric and its in a size 10 there’s no problem but require the same amount of fabric for a size 18 and it’s a problem? In any case plus-sized shoppers are paying more and getting less.

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