Posted by on Apr 10, 2017 in Case Studies |

Evolution of Plus Size Fashion

The plus size fashion community has come a long way. Gone are the days when you either had to search far and wide for representation of curvier bodies or grew frustrated at not seeing plus-size women of color being represented on a broad scale.

If you are in the market for plus size for women clothing, you are in luck. Today, there are more attractive and comfortable options than even before when it comes to plus size clothing for women. This is due in part to the fact that attitudes towards more curvaceous body types have changed in recent years. If you are curious about the evolution of women’s fashion over the last several decades, read on to find out more.

Changes Over Time

The trends of women’s fashion sure have evolved a great deal over the years. There seems to have been a swing back and forth between favoring more thin models, to honoring and accentuating women of all shapes and sizes. Throughout the 1950’s, the hourglass figure was “in”, with Marilyn Monroe being at the forefront of the fashion icons. Softness and voluptuous curves were valued at that time.

Between the 1960’s and the 1980’s, there was a pressure to be thin, or at least dress to hide curves. High heels became more popular to give the impression of being taller, and to show off legs. Recently, there is a movement that stresses “love yourself the way you are” and “show off
your figure”. It truly is amazing how much the times have fashion

Lack of Measurements and Precise Sizes

Prior to the 1940’s, there were no actual sizing standards in place. Sizes were based on ages and on bust size only. A female child’s clothing would be based on her age (so a size 16 for a 16-year old girl), and for a woman it would be based on chest measurement. This assumed that every girl of the same age, and woman with the same bust size would fit into clothing in the same way. Of course, this simply is not the case. Luckily, manufacturers realized the errors of their ways, and did some research.

In the late 1940’s, the Mail-Order Association of America determined a system of sizing using data collected from women who had served in the Air Force, and who were some of the most fit women around. There were then sizes that ranged from 8 to 38, and height indications of short, regular, and tall. Also, plus or minus signs were used in relation to girth. Egos were taken into consideration when the industry decided to lower the size numbers, and in 1983 the Department of Commerce did away with their commercial women’s clothing size standard completely.

Today, what is labeled as a size 8 is easily 5 to 6 inches greater in the areas of bust, waist, and hip girth measurements than it was in 1958. This means that it
is the equivalent of what would have been a size 14 or even 16 in those days. It truly goes to show that ideals for women have change in general.

With the ending of the commercial size standards for women, it can be awfully confusing for someone who is shopping for women’s clothes, especially plus size party dresses and the like. Every clothing company or store can base size off of their own preferences today. If someone knows their own size measurements and can navigate asking what the sizes mean in a store or through an online vendor, it is possible to have great success.

Interesting Style Trends for Plus Sized Women

In the 1950’s, the hourglass look often was achieved through various means. One of the most popular ways was to use a belt to cinch in the waist. Women wore skirts that had long pleats running down the front to provide a slimming effect. They mainly stuck to darker colors for the same reason, including forest green, navy, and black.

The skirts and dresses of the era usually were tea-length and had cap sleeves, short sleeves, or they were full-length or tank style. The necklines were playful and included buttons, scalloped edges, or bows. Anything that was form-fitting, including plus size gowns, were often worn along with Merry Widows, stiff corsets made out of iron that made it difficult to move, breathe, and eat. Padded and pointed bras also were seen as a must-have item.

Over the last two decades or so, women have been told to wear certain colors and patterns (or to avoid specific ones) in order to appear thinner. The media has repeated over and over again to avoid wearing bright colors, not wear vertical stripes, and those clothing items that have big prints on them. Naturally, some women did jump on this bandwagon, though for the most part, ladies are avoiding the advice to do such things. For instance, one popular online store stated that the most popular selling dress right now for all sizes is the rainbow chevron dress. Women will wear what they think is beautiful, and what they believe will make them look great and feel more confident.

Sections to Separate

For a long time, it was the norm to have separate sections for plus size clothes. A big part of this is that the styles were incredibly different, for the reason stated in the above paragraph. As views on calling certain styles “acceptable” for plus-sized women go through a transformation, this is just not happening as often. The clothing is more integrated into the same aisles and racks.

The Beauty of the Internet

The Internet has played a role in shaping views on plus size fashion and broadening the concept of what to wear and how to wear it. Instagram has been especially instrumental for this movement, with campaigns such as #RockTheCrop response to some O Magazine advice about crop tops.

Average Sizes

For the most part, size 16 and up is considered to be plus size. In some ways, this language can have a negative slant to it. Plus size and plus-sized are words that can marginalize women who actually fit into the average size in the United States. This can be disheartening, but there certainly is hope for the fashion industry and cultural views. There does not need to be a stigma attached to wearing what is deemed to be plus size tops for women.

It is completely possible, and even fun, to find amazing plus sized clothing for women that you are sure to love and be confident wearing. Do your research, and trust in a top-notch retailer who has your best interests in mind.

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