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What’s the BIG News in Women’s Plus-Size Clothing?

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Tue, Aug 01, 2017 @ 16:08 PM

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Plus-sizes are making BIG news this year, and finally for the right reason. According to many news sources, the fashion world is increasingly counting on plus-size customers, a group that it has long ignored. Research that has found the average American woman now wears a size 16 or 18, equal to a plus size 20w.

According to a report from McKinsey & Co., the number of mentions of "plus size" in the fashion press tripled in 2016 compared with the previous year. The trend shows no signs of slowing. "Fashion brands are rapidly responding to a cultural shift toward body positivity and a growing appreciation of curvy figures, by designing specifically for a larger range of sizes rather than just expanding their size range as an afterthought," the report said.

And with fashion industry reports: “On runways, in stores, even in the pages of this month's Vogue magazine, the plus-size woman is finally getting some fashion respect — not because the industry has decided it's OK to be big, but because it can no longer afford to ignore her.”

I have been a part of that ‘plus-size market’ since my high school days. I was designing and creating for myself, as there wasn’t much in the way of options for a fashion-minded, plus-size teenager. In college, I worked with designing for stick-thin models during my Fashion Design curriculum.

Once I made the leap to entrepreneurship with creating Satin Stitches, I’ve always worked with creating solo and group garments that are flattering for ALL sizes and shapes, and have strived to create the most flattering options for individuals who either request dance costumes or wedding or evening apparel.

Flattering apparel is near and dear to my heart. In street apparel and also specialty costuming, there are designers who understand what is flattering for plus-sizes and those who don’t understand this. There are many options for flattering versus not-so-flattering designs, colors and fabrics. And being aware of your own best features and those features you would like to gloss over and camouflage is a must.

Here are some tips!

Generally speaking, design features or ‘focal points’ that draw the eye to the face or upper bodice area are flattering. Design features that highlight a waistline are perfect for those with a fabulous waistline. All those wide belts that we see on Melania Trump is a wonderful example of this. Design features that draw attention to your fabulous legs work for that purpose – highlighting your legs rather than your waistline.

And with any size range of women, there are four basic types of body shapes:

  1. The top-heavy
  2. The bottom heavy
  3. The perfect hour-glass figure
  4. The straight up and down shape

There are different design features that will flatter one or more of these body silhouette shapes. If you know your type, and have been dressing yourself for decades, you should know what silhouette you have been blessed with.

Don’t accent the body area that you feel least confident about. Accent the area of your body that you like the most. Me? I have no waistline, so no design feature will ever stop at my non-existent waist area. My daughter is top heavy, so she struggles to accommodate her bustline, while calling attention to her long, shapely legs. My mother is short, with a mostly straight up and down shape, so she strives for fashions that give her height.

Everything that we automatically do to show off our shapes to their best, with street apparel, we should also be doing with our personal dance apparel. If you shy away from sleeveless tops, you should also do the same with your dance costume. If you have a fabulous waistline – show it off with design features at your waist. If you have stunningly long legs – feature them in your dance costume. If you would rather not feature your lumpy and bumpy midriff – don’t pour yourself into a dance costume that is tight and telling, in this area.

When considering dance costume designs, be sure and take a look, and consider the view from the side and the back, in addition to what the front of the costume looks like. Especially with dance costumes, you will be seen from every vantage point, unlike a dinner dress where you are mostly seen from the waist up, on the front.

For more tips and information on flattering focal points in costuming, refer to my March 2012 article for Dancing Times.

(Submitted for August 2017 issue of Minnesota Dancer)

© Deborah J. Nelson/Satin Stitches Ltd.

Tags: Costume Design Tips, Costume Budgeting Tips, Minnesota Dancer Magazine

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