Plus Size Fashion 101
I always find the issue of plus size to be a stupid one; the reason being is that modern take on beauty is all about the ultra-thin dimensions which 90% of the population doesn’t fit into. In fact, the model world is so far from reality, as well as being so unhealthy, that plus size clothing is a comfort to watch.
Plus size is not about obesity, it is about the average person, of all ages, essentially plus size is a misuse of words, and an evil fashion statement. Think about it, “plus-size,” what does this project? It projects that the person is fat and overweight, and maybe obese. This is so far from reality, plus size cloth is just clothing for people that are not thin, or anorexic like 00 body types. When we look at the BMI (body mass indicators), we find that weight should ideally be proportionate to height, or in medical terms, the BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight in adults.
Now, according to the BMI, Underweight = <18.5, Normal weight = 18.5–24.9, Overweight = 25–29.9, and Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater. So, now that we have this scientific gauging method, we can estimate what plus size clothing is. So, plus size clothes are for all people that are over 25 BMI and above. You can calculate your BMI with an online calculator, such as the https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi-m.htm
Taking this information in mind, all people that are over 25 BMI are “plus size” as termed by medical professionals, and do you know what percentage of the population this range covers?
66.9% of the population is Plus Size, which means that the vast majority is “plus size,” in this instance, should not the fashion industry rename the clothing types according to the majority in a democratized and liberal fashion sense as they all claim to be?
Well, now you have it. Basically, 67% of the world is plus-size based on the fashion industries terminology, and as such, only 24.2% of the world’s population is “normal or average,” the difference? 8.8% are underweight (under 18.5 BMI), so they are not categorized as being “normal” either, and yet, guess what. It is that 8.8 % that are defining the way we view our bodies and clothes.
OK, so now my rant on how only 8.8% of the world’s population is dominating how we think about ourselves, and that 8.8% is an unhealthy, thin, and not natural body aesthetic, let’s take a dive into the “plus-size” fashion arena.
Take into account that this review is for women that are weight conscious and want to “hide” what they should be proud of.
What woman wouldn’t want a wardrobe of body-flattering clothes—outfits she can slip into confidently, knowing that her assets will be played up and the areas she loves less will be played down? But while there’s plenty of dress-for-your-shape advice to go around, the majority of it either ignores plus-size women or lumps them together, as if their bodies were identical. (Memo to the universe: Not everyone size 14 and up should be wearing an Empire waist.) In this guide, we’ll break out full-figured body types into five categories, and then provide expert tips that key into the specific requirements of each shape.
Body Type: Apple
The apple is when the body weight is distributed around the middle or waist. The image is of an apple on legs, with a stalk (neck and head) on top. Apples usually come with a larger bust size and wider back or rib cage with slime limbs.
Clothing Strategy: Visually distribute the weight by diverting the attention from the middle.
Try to define a longer torso and smaller waist by using scooped or V-necklines. When wearing a jacket go for A-line shapes and use vertical seams (princess) that define the waist. For skirts and dresses, it’s best to wear knee designs with a gradual A shape flow. Pants (trousers) should be boot cut or straight leg with jeans being a preference. If you get a wider bottom leg, it can balance out the difference between the ankle and the midriff difference. In terms of patterns, bold geometric prints, and solid colors should be used to make eye view the whole and not focus on the midsection.
Do not wear tight or oversized shapes, and if you have really sexy legs, don’t wear tight or extremely slim cut pants since these will show the disproportionate upper body to leg shape. Also, don’t put on too many pleats and pockets around the wider areas of the body.
Other no-noes include high cut necklines and pencil skirts, as well as “boxy jackets.” If you wear a belt, remember that it is a horizontal line that splits you in half, if you want to wear one, have it slung low under the hip.
Go for a wrap dress with a platform or wedge shoe, these will both encapsulate you in a way that your weight is less noticeable, and your shoes will outline the features of your legs.
Body Type: Pear
Pears carry their excess weight in the lower body, around the hips, booty, and upper thighs while their upper bodies are slim, giving them that classic pear-shaped figure. In most cases, their bust is also average or small.
Pear strategy: Play up the top and reduce the focus on the lower half.
I am sure there are a lot of booty lovers screaming “no” at this advice, and honestly, I agree with them too, but for body-conscious women, this is the strategy of clothing to create a more propionate figure.
Balance is reached when using structured tops, such as shoulder-padded jackets, or short jackets that are shaped around the waist. Tops should come with wide necklines; these can be ballet style, boat or square style too. For waistline cuts, go for empire waistlines and asymmetric hemlines. Skirts should use an A-line style, and dresses should be fit-and-flare. Pants for pears are best when they are a full leg, or boot cut straight jeans and pants. For colors, you might consider wearing a darker color or shade on top and gradually reducing the color or tone as you go lower on the body.
If you want to show off your booty than do this: wear slim cut and skinny pants, as well as snug fitting skirts. Any clothing that has pockets and other fandangoes around the hips and bum will show off the Pear shape. A big no-no according to a fashion designer (those that cater of the 8.8%) are but length jackets.
If you want to hide the pear, wear a monochromatic jumpsuit. You can add a blazer, and for extra leverage adorn a necklace. OK, that’s what the fashionistas say, I state that if you want to look like a car mechanic on LSD go for it, however, if you want that Mardi Gras sensuality, show it off, stop cowering behind thin billboard manipulations.
Body Type: Straight (Column, Rectangle, Pencil)
Straight body types are basically evenly distributed bodies with no shape or definition; small breasts accompany a thick torso with no hips and bum. Essentially, this body shape craves for curves, and in this instance, you are not wearing clothes to hide your shape, but to extenuate it.
Straight strategy: Create curves.
Personally, if you want to create shape, go to the gym, but what do I know, after a few months of squats you will have that bubble but, and if you do some shoulders exercises, you will have an accentuated top. However, for the more common requirements of most fashion-conscious women, let’s look at how to add some curve to the pencil.
Create a curvaceous image by using a wrap or surplice tops. You can use deep scoop and V-necks, as well as asymmetrical stripes and ruffles, add some extra dimensions. Among the many options, since it is actually easier to shape up then to redistribute shape, you can use fit-and-flare dresses, high-waisted pants and pencil skirts, A-line, trumpet and full long skirts, as well as boot-cut pants and jeans. As you can see, there is a lot you can do. Even padded bras and underwear can add some extra shape.
Do not use straight cur jackets, skirts, and dresses. Also, don’t wear midriff clingy apparel. Belts are a big no-no since they will make you look like a cigar, so either cinch the belt up, or move it lower down, but don’t wear it in the middle.
Consider a gentle fit-and-flare shape; for instance, a peplum insinuates a waist. You can pair this with a pencil skirt and wear an open neckline, with dangling jewelry. These will all create a flowing curvy figure, taking the eye away from the pencil straight reality that lies underneath.
Body Type: Hourglass
All women and men love this figure, the hourglass, that Rubenesque perfection, that comes with a full bust, full but, and generally proportionate body with the waist. The hourglass body can be as sensuous and alluring when overweight as it can be when slimmed down.
Hourglass Strategy: Flaunt it all and throw away your inhibitions.
Since you already have a perfect body, yes, you do. It’s time to show every nook and cranny of it, and I don’t want you to excuse me for any puns, they are all intentional.
What you will wear are peplums, wraps, and shaped jackets. Pencil skirts are amazing, and slim-cut, body-skimming boot-cut or straight-leg style pants, and jeans will work great.
You already have amazing curves so don’t wear oversized cuts since these will hide your curves. Dispense with all ruffles or other frills around the bust; you already have ample cleavage, you don’t need more. Pants are best when cropped or Capri style and wear busy pattern full skirts with a low-slung belt.
According to the experts, an empire-waisted dress that has a ruched cut contouring your shape, will flatter every curve and drive men wild and women jealous.
Body Type: Inverted Triangle
This is a classic sports body, where the shoulders are broad, and the lower half seems slimmer than the upper half. Most swimmers and athletes tend to have this shaped body, as it comes naturally from exercise and weight training.
Inverted Triangle strategy: Create a balance between the top and the bottom.
If you don’t have that amazing bubble but from gym exercising, then you will need to accentuate the waist, and this means you need to wear wrap tops and V-necks as well wide leg pants, fit-and-flare-dresses, and also A-line skirts. Jeans should have a slight taper to the knees, then a gentle flare toward the bottoms. If you like to show off your body, because you are fit, and not just a wide shouldered woman, then you can wear any sports combination you find.
Inverted Triangle Taboos
If you have slim legs, then you don’t want to wear slim-cut or Capri pants, you also want to shy away from crew-neck and wide boatneck collar. Don’t wear oversize collars, lapels, embellishments, ambitiously stay clear of shoulder pads; you don’t need them unless you work as a bouncer.
For creating a proportioned silhouette, you should consider a tunic with a pair of wide-leg pants. Tunics tend to tone down angles and combine this with a pendant necklace which directs the eyes down and creates a balanced look.
Now let’s talk two body sizes that bother most women, and have nothing to do with overall shape, these are, of course, the bust.
Small bust sizes
If you want to increase your bust size without taking drastic plastic surgery, you will need to use padded or molded bras. You can extenuate the effect of these with a high or sweetheart neckline, and you should wear patterned or colored shoulders and sleeves. Remember this, if you are an Apple shape with a small bust then do not wear a high neckline.
Large bust sizes
While this is not so much of a fashion issue, some women suffer from daft caveman syndrome, which is that most men look at the bust line and not the eyes when in conversation. To counter the daft caveman syndrome, you should wear V and U-shaped necklines that elongate your neck. Do not wear boxy cuts or dolmen style sleeves and keep away from ruffles. If you do want to create a daft caveman syndrome, then wear a large necklace that sits comfortably on your breast and hypnotizes all you come in contact with.
Other fashion issues can include wide or thick limbs, now, unless you are a bodybuilder, most women tend to suffer from wide limbs, so they try to hide them. Personally, I am against this, you should be proud of what you have, and remember you only live once, so in my famous words, “F-them, these are my arms, my legs, and you can go shove it if you don’t like me.”
Hmmmm. Quite republican, but so true.
Now, back to the 8.8% of fashion brainwashing, let’s see what can be done about:
If you want to hide thick claves (which I wouldn’t, but that’s your thing not mine). You will need to stay clear away from all clothing that ends mid leg. Don’t wear stiletto shoes or ankle strapped contraptions. If you want to show off your legs, but take away from their thickness then wear stacked heels or wedges and platforms. Boot cut pants are perfect for covering these legs, and remember, when seeking out boots, you need to make sure they can cover your calf width,
If you have full arms and you don’t want to show them off, then you must wear lightly fitting sleeves, then can be ¾ or elbow length, and again, not tight fitting. If you are muscular or toned, they don’t wear sleeves, show off your hard work or God-given glory to all.
Summing Up Shape
OK, we have finished discussing body shapes, now let’s take a look at what every “plus-sized” woman wants in her wardrobe. Personally, anything goes, but since this is a fashion review article that uses the thin approach to fashion, let’s look at what that 8.8% suggests.
Curvy figures look perfect in medium to dark washes, the lighter shades can show off all the irregularities and bumps, while darker tones prove a smoother surface silhouette.
The best solution is a stretch denim, and honestly, forget trends, just wear something that will slightly stretch and form your shape. Keep in mind the locations of all the extras, such as fading, whiskering, creases, and tears. These will highlight the areas around their location.
White Dress Shirt
Nothing beats a clean, bright and crisp white dress shirt. Make sure the material is high quality, it can be any material that doesn’t crease, and a little stretch material is perfect. Flowing silk and soft cotton mixes are also good for business applications.
Special Occasion Dress
You need at least one of these, and they should be designed to show off all your highlights. For plus-sized women, you should prefer a differentiating cocktail dress. This dress should extenuate all your good curves and hide all the bad ones, this way you end up feeling good and can freak out the competition. Make sure the color is a killer and have all the accessories and jewelry to adorn.
Pencil or A-line Skirt
These are both considered to be the best skirt designs for plus sized women, and a simple A-line skirt will cover up any exaggerated bum sizes, make the skirt fall to your mid-calf, this will deliver an hourglass silhouette. If you are an apple shape, then you will prefer a not too snug pencil skirt that starts from your waist and finished at your knee.
Whether you need one for work or not, a two-piece suit is a power item. This can deliver you in a nice neat package, and the design can be anything from “don’t mess with me” to “Hi there cutie.”
Suits can come as a twin set, a structured two-piece suit, or two sperate but complementary items. Essentially a suit is always a jacket with a skirt or pants. For the best solution, you should consider a seasonless color such as black, navy brown or gray and the cut should be classic straight-leg trouser and single-button jacket.
If you want more than just that dry FBI look, then go for color, and add some details, such as buttons, reinforced hems, and other colorful contributions that distribute the design.
Tunic tops are great for providing coverage around hips and creating upper body clear lines. The best V-neck styles will always draw the eyes upwards, and as such you want a properly proportioned top that does not hang below the rear and has a scooped V neck finish. Also, make sure that the fabric is a light stretch, the last thing you want is to pull and tug the top.
Shapewear is a must have in all wardrobes, and they must be different sizes to suit the changes in your body. Shapewear must be comfortable, not too tight, and not loose. They have to hug the body contour’s and smooth out all those lumps and bumps, showing off only smooth curves.
Shapewear comes in many varieties, and they range from sportswear to flimsy summer wear. The designs are varied as too the colors, and there are more costly brands that are made of seamless, lightweight fabrics such as Spandex to the cheaper knock-off versions that come with skin biting seams and are simple polyester mixes.
Shapewear is also great in winter, and acts as an extra layer, but also helps “shape and smooth” the surface before covering it with another layer of clothes, essentially, you could look better in the winter than in the summer.
Summing up the wardrobe section, plus size includes many items, and they cover every aspect of clothing, underwear, and swimsuits. If your budget can afford it, the more, the merrier, after all, when did you ever hear of a sensible woman stand in front of her wardrobe and say “Wow, what a collection!”, never. The statement you will always here from every corner of the globe, from poor to rich will be the world famous “I have nothing to wear,” before diving into the mix trying to make head and tail out of what to wear.
It’s time to destroy some infamous myths or urban legends that are associated with plus-sized clothing let’s take a look at nice such myths that need to be busted.
Myth: You Should Never Wear White
Busted: Color is not the issue, it is the fit. Take for instance a baggy black dress, and a well contoured and contoured white dress. In this example, the black dress will not compliment you, neither will it make you look smaller, and the white dress will definitely make you appear clean, pristine a will not make you look larger if you wear the right combinations and design. Just remember that white on camera is not good, for some reason cameras and white clothes don’t mix well no matter how perfect the white looks unless it’s a wedding dress.
Also, make sure that the white you choose is on fabric that is solid, not flimsy unless you happen to wear a light silken dress, jeans should be snug and not thin.
Myth “Button-Down Shirts Are Unflattering”
Busted: Actually, button-down shirts will accentuate curves and complement certain figures. The design is a key feature with these shirts, and the design details must be able to create shapes, such as ruching, wrapping, and darts. If you want to add more style, wear a jacket or blazer over a button-down shirt, this will make the overall look deliver a slender midsection, and elongates the torso.
Myth: “Bright Colors and Prints Call Attention to Your Shape and Make You Look Bigger”
Busted: Actually, there is no rule or set of rules regarding colors. The only rule perse is in regard to your skin tone and not your shape. You need to match your clothes to your skin tone, and bright, distinct colors can add a lot of appeal to your look, no matter what shape you are. Blazing reds, vibrant yellows, and cool aquamarines can all make your body look extremely attractive. Another set of colors are the pastels, which can blend in together, and when mixed with intelligence can help balance out any body shape look.
Myth: “Dressing in Monochrome Slims”
Busted: Yes, it’s true, monochrome is good for delivering a slim look, but only if its arranged correctly, by wearing any monochrome color scheme you can actually deliver the opposite effect. The best way to adhere to this “myth” is to understand fabrics and designs, being able to pick out the strong fabrics that deliver strong lines, smooth surfaces and complement different body parts. You can also play around with hues and tones, and add a drop of color, a spot in one place to draw the eye away from the whole.
Myth: “Stripes Make You Fat.”
Busted: Not all stripes are bad. Horizontal stripes will make you look wide, so don’t wear horizontal stripes unless you are thin. See, they are good for thin people. Vertical stripes make you look longer, leaner, so you see, tats good too. The clever assortment and arrangement of stripes in a design can make eyes perceive different shapes and silhouettes, and modern designers are incorporating stripe in many of their collections. The only truth of this myth is the thick bold horizontal lines; these are just bad taste, full stop. It’s also wise to play around with different color schemes and changing backgrounds to create different effects.
Myth: “Don’t Follow Trends, Stick to the Basics”
Busted: Trends are not necessarily evil, in fact, some trends become trends because many people are attracted to them. This means that trends are the agreement of many that a particular design is appealing. It doesn’t mean you have to go where all women have boldly gone before. You can pick your own destiny and go with your own design and trend. Just don’t generalize about trends, and remember the most important factor of taste, it’s subjective, and that means everyone loves something that someone else hates. That’s just life. One other little thing you should remember, never say “I don’t like that” until you have tried it on, sometimes, on someone else’s body or on a mannequin it doesn’t attract you, but on you, the design might be magical. Try it on first, discount it after.
Myth: “Empire Waistlines Are Right for Plus Size”
Busted: no single style is designed to be perfect for any one group of people. The style is not limited to one, it is always plural, and as such, even while an empire waistline is excellent for larger women with big booty and little breasts, it is downright death on anything when word by an Apple shape, or if you have a big bust line. If you want to be mistaken for being pregnant when only overweight, then, by all means, wear one of these.
Myth: “Baggy Clothing Hides Everything, Bigger is Better!”
Busted: Unless its winter and you are freezing in a log cabin with no fire, you don’t want to walk around looking like a cross between a lumberjack and a fireman. Big clothes are not good on just about anyone, and unless you need them for work, or jumping out of an airplane, baggy clothing is about as cool as an ice-cream vending machine is in the Antarctic.
Myth: “Fussy Details Draw Unwanted Focus”
Busted: Ruffles, buttons, Ruching, Lace, you name it, they are always great when applied properly and do focus eyes on areas you want rather than on areas you don’t want. In fact, “fussy details” are a perfect designer tool for specific dress types and can be perfect in many situations and applications.
Consider the wonders of a successful ruching, when you need to add support to certain areas without adding volume, or perhaps a curved princess seam to create a more effective waist look. Ruffles, when used wisely can help many different shapes, for instance, ruffles along the bust line are perfect for women with smaller bust sizes, and on sleeves or hems. Again, it’s all in the application, and when applied correctly, produce magical results.
Shopping for Plus Sizes
This is by far not a complete list, but it’s a start, and you need a start when going out shopping for plus-size clothes. I am sure that this list is more than ten times in size when p[ropery populated, but for American women, this is about the best places you will find the largest collections.
A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz: http://www.nordstrom.com
Ashley Stewart: http://www.shleystewart.com
ASOS Curve: http://www.us.asos.com
BB Dakota Plus: http://www.bloomingdales.com
Domino Dollhouse: http://www.dominodollhouse.com
Fashion to Figure: http://www.fashiontofigure.com
James Jeans: http://www.jamesjeans.us
Kay Unger: http://www.saksfifthavenue.com
Lafayette 148: http://www.lafayette148ny.com
Marina Rinaldi: http://www.marinarinaldi.com
Monif C.: http://www.monifc.com
One Stop Plus: http://www.onestopplus.com
Rachel Pally White Label: http://www.rachelpally.com
Simply Be: http://www.simplybe.com
Tadashi Shoji: http://www.tadashishoji.com
Violeta by Mango: http://www.mango.com
Bali Intimates: http://www.onehanesplace.com
Full Beauty: http://www.fullbeauty.com
Hips & Curves: http://www.hipsandcurves.com
Naomi & Nicole: http://www.herroom.com
BECCA ETC by Rebecca Virtue: http://www.beccaetcswim.com
Madison Plus Select: http://www.madisonplusselect.com
Sorella Swim: http://www.sprellaswim.com
Swimsuits for All: http://www.swimsuitsforall.com
David’s Bridal: http://www.davidsbridal.com
Forever 21+: http://www.forever21.com
Lane Bryant: http://www.lanebryant.com
Lord & Taylor: http://www.lordandtaylor.com
Old Navy: http://www.oldnavy.gap.com
Saks Salon Z: http://www.saksfifthavenue.com
There are many proud “plus-size” women that will not hide they pound of flesh, and rightly so. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and your life is your won, you should not live it for anyone else. After all, when you take your last breath, do you want to flash back and see a life lived by the standards set by a few thin people that decided big is not beautiful? Do you really want to hide your body? For every person there are many lovers, and you should be the first lover of your body in that long line.
Now it doesn’t matter how hot or cold the weather is, if you want to show off some thigh, then damn it, do so. Now when it comes to sizes, especially in shops, there are some variations between different brands and makes, so the first thing you need to remember is that a size 24 is not the same in all shops. Also, fabrics are not identical, and you want to make sure that the fabric you wear is comfortable to your skin.
There is one golden rule that seems to cover all larger women, and that is knit stretch fabric is good and woven fabrics are bad. Another golden rule when buying clothing Is the return policy, never buy an item of clothing you cannot return within a few days.
To wrap this all up nicely, my word of advice is this, learn to love your body, if you don’t, then don’t complain, go to a gym, eat food based on a specific diet, and don’t be lazy. If however, you enjoy all the wonders of being plus size, and there are some amazing features of this body type, then by all means, flirt it girl, and let everyone see you love life, you love yourself and most of all, you know how to dress.