“I call it tutu torture,” says fashion stylist Meaghan O’Connor, 31, a size 20. “I want chic tailored trousers for work and gorgeous feel-good dresses for date night, but because of my size I end up with dowdy polyester pants and juvenile tutus. It makes me want to scream, ‘Put the grommet gun down, remove the rhinestones, and step away from the tulle!’ ” On a more serious note, she adds, “it’s alarming that plus-size clothing is so limited, given that the majority of American women are plus-size. Why are we ignored at designer shops, shoved into a corner at department stores, and forced online to buy our favorite brands?”
O’Connor’s frustrations are familiar to any woman north of a size 12 (which happens to be the size I wear): When it comes to plus fashion, good options do not abound. Many reasonably priced brands, like Topshop, offer only sizes 12 and below; high-end designer fashion on average comes in sizes up to 14, though those 14s are not always easy to find; and offerings from many plus-size retailers have in the past been disappointing. When I took to Twitter to ask plus-size shoppers their peeves, they named “tacky jeans with sequins and embellishments” and “tops that look like tents.” They also noted that plus-size collections from straight-size brands often aren’t as fashionable as the main lines’. “I wish they’d stop with the flowy tops and the frumpy patterns,” said one. But mostly, the women I heard from just wanted more. “While everyone at my office looks sharp and established, I feel like I’m taken less seriously because of my clothing,” says Jodie Paine, a 26-year-old, size-14 Web designer. “I wish I could find stylish pieces like leather skirts, but a lot of plus size workwear is cheap and dated, with unflattering suits and button-downs.”
Models Precious Lee, left, and Candice Huffine, right, show off two of the season's buzziest trends: pajama dressing and Latin-inspired ruffles.
All of which means something is seriously wrong. More than half the women in this country are a size 14 or above, but they account for only 17 percent of apparel sales, according to a 2014 report by the NPD Group. It’s not that we’re not interested in fashion; 88 percent of us would spend more money on trendy clothing if it were available. No, it’s that fashion, historically, hasn’t been that interested in us. Need a particularly startling example? In the course of reporting this story, I called the New York City flagship of a famous French fashion house to inquire about finding a suit jacket from its spring collection in a size 20. After informing me that the jacket's in-store sizing stops at a six, the salesman paused, then offered a suggestion: that I buy two and sew them together.
Sew two jackets—two expensive jackets—together? How on earth did we get here, and why wouldn’t any sane label want to please a woman with money to spend? “That’s the million-dollar question,” says Sports Illustrated swimsuit-issue cover model Ashley Graham, a size 16, who debuted a clothing collection with Dressbarn this spring. “Brands think that expanding their size range will dilute their image.” Actress Melissa McCarthy, who also recently launched her own line, agrees—and points out that creating larger versions of straight-size designs can be challenging, since doing so requires more than just making everything bigger. “Needing a little more room on your hips and bust does not mean that your wrist is the size of a stop sign!” she told me.
But the good news—and there is good news—is that things are starting to change. Existing plus-size brands are learning that their customers crave fashionable clothing, and some straight-size lines are extending their offerings into plus territory. Consider this your cheat sheet for getting the best out of 12-and-above fashion now.
The author takes seventies style for a spin with a bow-neck blouse layered under a suede dress.
First, Know Which Plus-Size Brands Have the Best Fashion
There are lines that get it. Lane Bryant’s designer collections—created by talent like Lela Rose, Christian Siriano, Sophie Theallet, and Isabel Toledo—are continuously expanding, with Glamour launching its own capsule in the brand’s stores this fall. “The opportunity in fashion is in inclusivity, not exclusivity,” says Lane Bryant CEO Linda Heasley. “The desire to find well-de- signed pieces doesn’t differentiate by size.”
For on-trend collections, also look to:
Simply Be and Carmakoma for cool, of-the-moment pieces;
Eloquii for fast, trendy styles—now up to size 28;lines like Elvi, Persona, and Marina Rinaldi for elevated workwear; emerging American brands including Mei Smith and Universal Standard for chic, refined basics;celeb-helmed brands for personal style. In addition to McCarthy, singer-song-writer Beth Ditto has launched her own collection, and actress Rebel Wilson has an ongoing collaboration with Torrid; sharewear service Gwynnie Bee (think of it as a plus-size Rent the Runway), which lets you lease the latest trends.
Shop the Straight-Size Brands That Carry Larger Sizes
Established designers are expanding their offerings too. Rachel Roy, for example, launched a curvy collection this spring. “I started my brand in 2005 and have been getting requests from plus-size customers ever since,” she says, noting that the new styles will be as fashion-forward as her main line’s. “When I interviewed fit models, I kept hearing that they didn’t want me to shy away from things like off-the-shoulder pieces. So I didn’t.”
Other straight-size brands also make plus sizes, but those 12-and-up garments can be tricky to find. So know this:
Burberry, Max Mara, Oscar de la Renta, and Rosie Assoulin, among others, produce select pieces in sizes up to 16. Find them on their sites or Moda Operandi and Saks.com.
Banana Republic, J.Crew, and Kate Spade also offer sizes up to 16 online. Akris, Loft, Gap, and Lafayette 148 New York go up to 18 online. Ralph Lauren’s Lauren Woman, Michael Michael Kors, Asos, Forever 21, Mango, New Look, Old Navy, and River Island carry full plus-size lines from 1X to 4X and 14 to 30 on their websites. Chanel carries off-the-rack pieces in sizes up to 20; the same goes for Prada, though by special order only. On consignment sites like The RealReal, you can often land designer pieces in sizes as large as 20.
And if you’re between sizes 12 and 16, Graham suggests trying on whichever straight-size brands you love. “Sometimes plus-size girls are afraid to try on clothes in high-end stores because they think they won’t fit and they’ll get judge-y looks,” she says. “But who cares what the store clerks think? The trick is to know which cuts will work for your body. I carry my weight in my low stomach, and I’m thinner up top, so shorter tops and fit-and-flare dresses work for me. My favorite new brand is A.L.C.” It’s also worth noting that many designer pieces have up to two inches in the seam, which a tailor can let out.
Huffine walks Sophie Theallet's runway during Fall 2016 New York Fashion Week.
Update Your Closet With Accessories
Almost any look can be brought into the here and now with stylish shoes, bags, and jewelry. “I can get into a rut of just wearing a plain tee or all-black clothes, so accessories are my savior,” says model Candice Huffine. “With colorful bags and fun hats, even my simple out- fits feel refreshed. This season I can’t wait to break out the bandana scarves!” Some look-changing extras to keep an eye on for spring: shoulder-grazing earrings, chokers, chain bags, and midi heels.
And Toss the Rules Out the Window
Finally, all the women I interviewed had one suggestion in common: Whatever you do, don’t believe the old “shoulds” about what curvy women should wear. “Plus- size women have been told for so long, ‘You can’t wear this; you don’t look good in that; stripes are not for you,’ ” says Graham. “Honestly, it’s a bunch of bull! The more rules you break and the more fun you have with it, the better you’re going to look.” Model Precious Lee agrees: “The printed pajamas I wore for my Glamour shoot are so different from what you’re supposed to wear if you’re plus-size. Don’t be afraid of bold prints because you think they may make you look bigger.” And McCarthy has personal proof that writing your own fashion rules pays off. “People would tell me that the clothes I wanted aren’t made because ‘no plus- size woman wants a patterned pant,’ ” she recalls. “Meanwhile I was making them for myself and constantly being asked where I got them.” So now the comedian has a message for Glamour readers: “Wear the damn cheetah print,” she says. “I beg you.”
The '90s has never really felt like my decade for fashion, although I've always loved the aesthetic. The skintight crop tops and baby tees were just not a trend that I felt flattered my figure. But seeing pics of Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner in their '90s vibes day in day out on Instagram inspired me to rethink my personal ban on the '90s trends that are so right now. First, I took on Kendall on my blog, The 12ish Style, (which focuses on fashion for size-12-to-18 women living in a size-2 world). Next up, I looked to Gigi to find a look that represented the decade but also made me feel confident.
The inspo: Gigi Hadid in full '90s regalia at the Yeezy show in New York in February
My obsession: The outfit Gigiwore to the Yeezy show last month—it drew me in BIG TIME. Styled by Monica Rose, the slip dress and choker combo is so 90’s it hurts… and yet on Gigi, it's just so good.Seeing as I’m ready to burn all my cold weather clothes and pretend it’s spring, Gigi’s outfit couldn’t have hit these winter weary eyes at a better time. I knew from the moment I saw it I had to recreate it.
If that sounds like a weird undertaking, let me pause to explain. It Girls like Gigi are dressed by the best stylists in the biz, resulting in amazing outfit inspiration for the rest of us. Since the pros typically aren’t styling size 12 or 14 girls, I love the challenge of proving these looks can work on anyone.
The first recreation we did on The12ish Style was Kendall Jenner’s chic and easy travel outfit (also the work of Monica Rose), which I loved as a way of showing that travel doesn’t have to look as ugly as it often does. Like Kendall, Gigi is a huge fashion fixture, wearing only the most relevant outfits and possessing the ability to look classic in camel one day and crazy crop-top-cool the next. Of course none of us have Kendall’s or Gigi’s bank accounts or their bods, but I guess that’s my point—you don’t really need to in order to cop their style.
So when I set out to steal Gigi's '90s-tastic look for a night out, I was open to seeing how it would go. Not only was is super easy to pull off and a total success, but two things really surprised me (in a good way).
First, I already knew that for a curvy body, a slip dress isn’t an obvious choice. In fact, it’s a trend I would have skipped over if left to my own devices, but in this below-the-knee Natori version (equipped with plenty of stretch) I actually felt totally at ease and sexy. If you have a chest, don’t overthink the spaghetti straps—just throw on a black bra (skip the strapless, it’s not worth it) and remember you’re wearing a layer on top anyway.
The other huge shock was the choker. It took A LOT for me to will myself to put it on, and I was convinced my neck would be too big, but I actually loved it. Something about it was totally transformative and made me feel hot as hell. And yes, nobody is more surprised by this than me! It’s not worth splurging on, but for $7 at Forever 21 you really can’t go wrong.
To top it off, the perfect silky oversize bomber is obviously key. If Gigi’s $1700 version is just a little out of reach, try this nearly identical Polo version, a steal at under $150. With bombers so in this season (have you heard?), you bet you’ll wear it again and again. Add statement sunnies (to dodge the paparazzi), a small structured bag and minimal jewelry (like this Sarah Chloe lariat) and voila!—turns out it couldn't be easier to steal Gigi’s night-on-the-town style. Plus now you have a cool new go-to outfit to wear to death until summer hits!
Check out the results:
Learn more about me and my blog here!
Shopping website Found on a Wish had a major fail with this listing for plus-size shorts, making the seriously questionable decision to showcase the item not worn as, you know, shorts, but as some sort of strange miniskirt with a side section. Instead of using a curvier model or shooting the piece flat and off a body, someone decided to call in a woman a couple sizes smaller than the item required and have her pull one of the legs up and around her waist. Not only does it look bizarre, it's sending a bad message to potential shoppers and is as unhelpful as possible. How in the world could you judge what the style would look like when being worn as shorts? It's a lose-lose situation.
So, what exactly is Found on a Wish? It's an online emporium for cheap, unbranded items that tend to ship mostly from China. While we love a deal as much as the next person, this lapse in judgement would make us think twice before clicking to buy on the site (P.S. Thanks to Hello Giggles for unearthing the shorts originally.)
Watch how to pull off spring’s trickiest fashion trends with model Iskra Lawrence.
There's no denying that Khloe Kardashian is wonderfully, unabashedly body-proud. She rocks her curves like nobody's business, spreads the real-talk gospel about hitting the gym hard, and considers no subject taboo (camel toe and hair removal included). And while she hasn't expanded her career purview to include modeling—yet—she's got an opinion on some of the curvier beauties who have recently commanded headline space.
"There's this plus-size model Ashley Graham, who's beautiful and has this fantastic shape. I love what she exudes in her confidence, and I think she's incredibly healthy," Khloe told our beauty team in a recent interview, revealing that she hates the way critics have jumped to assert that plus models are, by definition, unhealthy. "There's a difference when someone is eating a bag of Cheetos and a Slurpee saying, 'I'm so fat I don't know why.' Well, maybe don't eat the Slurpee and the Cheetos. You can still be bigger and be healthy."
She also didn't shy away from pointing out that body type and weight aren't correlated with happiness and that whatever a woman decides to do, from working out to getting plastic surgery, should be for her and no one else.
"Who is to say that [being] a size 2 makes you happy? I think whatever size you are is great as long as you're happy," she said. "I don't really care what you do as long as it's for yourself, even if that's working out."
If part of your job involves giving interviews to reporters, it stands to reason you'll be asked the same few questions over and over again. And while it's to be expected (and unavoidable in many cases), certain queries exist that might just get your blood boiling. Such is the case for one of our new favorite beauties, Barbie Ferreira. The gorgeous gal stars in Aerie's spring campaign and talked to us earlier this month about her experiences in the fashion world and how she's loving her role as a body-positive activist. During our interview, we decided to flip the table just a touch, asking Ferreira what she does not like being asked.
"Definitely when anyone asks me what I eat—I think that's the most disrespectful thing. There's no winning with that question," she said, audibly annoyed. "I eat different things every day, [so] I think it's a stupid question. It's only asked to women, it's never asked to a man."
The other topic she's sick and tired of?
"Asking 'How do I feel confident in a bikini?' because I feel like no one would ask that to a Victoria's Secret model. No one would ask that to Kate Upton. I understand 'How to feel confident' [in general], but in a bikini, if you're adding that on...I wear a bikini like every other person in the world wears a bikini or a bathing suit."
There are a lot more girl-power moments where this came from too—read the full interview here.
Last week, Mattel and Barbie made headlines after revealing that the original slim-hipped doll would be joined by a few other body types: petite, tall, and curvy. Oddly enough, it wasn't the first time the name "Barbie" had slipped from our lips recently either: Aerie grabbed attention in January for its smoking-hot spring '16 campaign starring stunning 19-year-old Barbie Ferreira. Coincidence?
Well, yeah, but still. Both are powerful statements about the need to acknowledge and celebrate a wide range of female body types, and the double-dose of unique first names was too much to ignore. When we got Ferreira on the phone, our opening question went straight to the pop culture icon.
"Not everyone relates to being a blond girl with blue eyes and is proportioned so she could barely walk if she was a real person," she explained with a matter-of-fact attitude that typically comes with the self-confidence most of us earn only when we're firmly entrenched in our 30s. "I think it makes girls feel more accepted, and that they're beautiful, too." When it comes to some of the negativity that the release saw (we were privy to some of it on our own Instagram account), she chalked it up to people being afraid of change. "She's been a traditional icon for so many decades that even a small step opens it up for even more progress. Once it's successful [in stores], I think they'll come out with even more varieties."
Before the Aerie campaign, the glossy interviews, and signing with Wilhelmina, Ferreira was just a good-looking girl sharing her life on Instagram. And while that's relatable enough, most of us can't fathom the journey that social media fueled for her.
"Social media opened up basically every opportunity for me because, traditionally, I wouldn't be thought of as a model. Since people organically started following and relating to me, I proved [to brands] that yes, I can be a model even though I might not traditionally be what you guys think is marketable," she said. Her impressive presence—currently clocking at 270,000 followers—helped her land some of her early gigs (including posing for American Apparel and New York City-based artists), but when it came to signing with Wilhelmina, it wasn't simply a case of a major agency inking a deal with an Insta-model. Rather, she went with the standard approach of sending her assembled book of past photo shoots. They must have liked what they saw, impressed that the teen had enough gumption to make a lot of stuff happen for herself even without an agent.
As her platform's grown, she's been called a "body-positive activist", a 21st-century term that's been described as someone working to "overcome conflicts with their bodies so they can lead happier, more productive lives." Neat definition aside, the movement was first brought to her attention via Tumblr.
"I've always struggled a ton with my body image, and I wanted to help other people not feel so ashamed about themselves. It's a completely unnecessary part of everyday life," she told us. "Seeing amazing young women [on Tumblr] who are fearless and don't care if society tells them they're not beautiful enough—they're still showing their imperfections and embracing themselves. That gave me the confidence to be in pictures, something that was out of my comfort zone."
Following the beauty on Instagram, or chatting with her on the phone, leaves you thinking that this is a girl who knows she rocks. But even she admits to still battling down days. She's learned tactics to deal with it and believes that a good defense is the best offense, cutting out gossip magazines, critique-heavy TV shows, and acquaintances who made shady comments about her body. Plus, her own social feeds went through a nice purge at some point.
"I don't follow anyone who I think is trying to sell the dream that everything is perfect. It's not, it's [based on] comparing, and I don't like it. There's so much that subconsciously affects you, and you don't even realize it."
Ferreira posing for Aerie
Of the future of modeling and the fashion industry, Ferreira is infectiously optimistic. She sees beauty ideals being challenged every day and cheers for the way that social media is exposing people to different walks of life they never could have glimpsed a decade ago. The term "plus-size" doesn't specifically bother her, though she's firm in her opinion that something it represents needs to change: "The problem is labeling—we're all just models. What the body-positive movement wants is to stop categorizing people, and to let people of all body types be able to do anything, whether they're slightly bigger than the average model or a lot bigger," she said, casually referencing the way the industry terms a size six as "plus," ignoring the fact that the average size of American women hovers between 12-14.
"'Plus-size model' puts me into a box. It gives me the traditional plus-size jobs, which are amazing, but it's time to open up the doors so that people of all body types are able to be in all lanes of modeling, not just one niche. The body-positive thing has been happening for a long time, but it hasn't been shown to everyone. It hasn't been given a light."
If anyone can do it, it's Barbie (the model).
Watch young girls see the new Barbie dolls for the first time.
Style, of course, is chic at every size. And while, we've known and believed that for years, it was this year that the fashion industry put the maxim into action. From bold ad campaigns to outspoken models in the field, such as Ashley Graham and Georgia Pratt, the annals of fashion history will mark 2015 as the year where plus-size fashion stopped being minimized and pushed to the back seat. Instead, the twelve months we're wrapping up could be the ones where people started paying attention, models began speaking up, and the industry became a force to be reckoned with.
"It's great when we can be included in conversations and questions that go beyond positive body image," Pratt told us about her experience working in fashion. "The conversation needs to start opening up and approaching people such as designers, editors, photographers, and other creative decision makers and influencers of the fashion industry."
Ashley Nell Tipton's winning final collection at Project Runway
The world took notice.
Project Runway made the news when its season 14 winner was a plus-size designer. It wasn't a little fact-about-me tidbit either; Ashley Nell Tipton's major collection for the show's finale was for plus-size women. "It's nice to see how much the mainstream fashion community has been so accepting of it," Tiptop told Skorch magazine. "It's very exciting to see that folks finally want to make plus-size mainstream."
Meanwhile, at Victoria's Secret, a reporter broached the subject of why no plus-size babes have worked for VS with the some Angels, and the responses were promising and girl-power steeped: "We don't know, [but] I really hope so," Elsa Hosk said.
"I think the whole world is more open to plus-size, and I am sure at some point they will be ready for it," Jac Jagaciak added.
Ashley Graham's lingerie collection with Addition Elle
New retailers surfaced.
While shoppers could always find a store dedicated to a wide range of styles, they couldn't necessarily find two. That seriously changed in 2015, with familiar names entering the space, and brands that had previously been chided by the curvy community actually doing something about the critiques. For the former: Melissa McCarthy proved she has serious fashion chops with the debut of Melissa McCarthy Seven7 (it looks amazing on), plus-size model Ashley Graham brought her lingerie range to the U.S., and musician (and fashion favorite) Beth Ditto announced a forthcoming range with a t-shirt collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier.
Lane Bryant's #ImNoAngel campaign
Influential brands responded.
Established brands like Lane Bryant upped the ante too. The mall staple revealed a stunning black-and-white campaign shot by Cass Bird and featuring the field's current stars (think the aforementioned Graham, Marquita Pring, Candice Huffine, and Justine Legault). If the resulting pictures look more high fashion than usual for the brand, it's no wonder: The advertising agency used has previously done work for Tom Ford and Chloé.
Brands listened to shoppers, too. Target's response to a blogger's slam about the lack of plus-sizing from its designer collaborations was twofold. The Lilly Pulitzer collection was available in extended sizing, and a brand-new range was introduced. Ava & Viv is being designed by an in-house team, sells in physical stores, and is set to stay under the $100 mark. Online, ModCloth took strides to make all sizes fit neatly together; rather than broadcasting a dedicated plus section, they re-worked the site to present all sizes together.
A look from Target's Ava & Viv line
Curves were celebrated.
In a Glamour conversation about questions plus-size models are tired of hearing, Gia Genevieve got real.
"Plus-size models should be shown in a glamorous way. I don't see a lot of plus-size models being shown in a very sexy way, and we are very sexy," she said. "[What] I'm pushing for is that there needs to be more glamour in plus-size modeling—and less toned-down, commercial [shots]."
Well, the needle is certainly moving in that direction. The news that Sports Illustrated was including plus-size models in its annual swimsuit edition (via both editorial and advertising) was major enough to rank as one of our top news stories of the year. And for its 2015 edition, the iconic Pirelli calendar included a pretty steamy shot of Candice Huffine.
"I feel like I'm quietly doing something," she said. "It's almost become the new normal."
Candice Huffine, far right, posing with fellow Pirelli bombshells Gigi Hadid and Karen Elson
There's a lot of good stuff that happened this year, but we're not totally at the finish line. What is the industry hoping to accomplish in 2016?
"We've got everyone else working with curvy models. It's the designers that need to take the next step," model Marquita Pring told us earlier this year. "It's a matter of them being receptive of us, changing their traditional mindsets, and making another sample size."
"We're going to make them a billion dollars with our size," model Julie Henderson added. "Their customers are women who will look at me and say, 'I can relate to her and I can wear that dress.' And those dresses would sell out faster than anything."
Another year will bring lots of fresh fashion news to chat about, but now it's time to reflect on 2015. Come see which red-carpet dresses, royal style moments, and more you voted as the most major.
Musician Beth Ditto is entering the plus-size fashion game with a splash, announcing a full collection of clothing that'll be available to shop come February. And to whet the style world's appetite until then, she's also revealed a limited-edition t-shirt collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier. Win-win, guys!
The tee marks the first time Gaultier has made anything commercially available up to a size 30 (Ditto's walked in his runway shows before, and he designed a custom gown for her to wear at her wedding). "Big girls are beautiful, and Beth is super beautiful. Long live the beauty with shapes, boobs, and bottoms," he said in a statement.
"Jean Paul is the most generous, positive person, he truly loves women of all sizes and ages and knows how to make everyone feel gorgeous," Ditto added in the notes accompanying the news. "I love that this shirt is funny and chic at the same time, like all the best people!"
The t-shirt is available online now in a 1x and 2x.
Come February, the full collection will be available and sounds like it'll be worth queuing up for. Notes on her site reveal we can expect silk, embroidery, and prints "inspired by her love of vintage." Like other celebs who have made a recent impact in the plus-size market (think Melissa McCarthy's well-received range and Ashley Graham's stunning lingerie), Ditto's personal experience and "first-hand understanding of fit" will also help instruct what shoppers find.
A quick study of the sartorial choices Ditto makes reveals that customers can expect bold styles created to enhance, not conceal. She's long been known for her edgy (and at times wild!) looks. For a London party in March, the singer looked striking in viviv black and white Alexander McQueen.
Equally important is examining how she does red carpet. When she attended Cannes, there was a major bombshell vibe in the air thanks to an LBD centered around a classic corset (worn on display, not hidden in the construction of a gown).
We think JPG, with his sexy and celebratory aesthetic, is the perfect match for Ditto's unique style. We're hoping for pieces that are just as sassy as the both of them — and we're even more excited to see something new enter the plus market, which at times can be a tad conservative. Take a look at a few more of our favorite Ditto looks below, and go on, get excited to get your hands on the collab in just a few short months!
This year was an important one for plus-size models, including a few castings that made history. Come catch up on the rest of 2015's biggest news stories, and vote on which was the most major.
Project Runway crowned 24-year-old Ashley Nell Tipton as the Season 14 winner on Nov. 5, a designer who effectively made show history by presenting the first finale collection catered to plus-size figures. Her win matters—not just in the context of television and runway fashion, but in terms of what it means for the body positivity movement, which has steadily become one of the causes in 2015 with the greatest popular momentum behind it.
The demand for plus-size representation in the mainstream has had results: In February, Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue debuted a swimwear ad featuring size-16 model Ashley Graham; size-10 model Robyn Lawley became the magazine’s first in-between size model to be featured in the Rookies section.
High fashion designers have made use of plus-size models in recent seasons: Notably Rick Owens, whose diverse spring-summer 2014 collection featuring step team members was warmly received. Marc Jacobs featured musician Beth Ditto in his spring 2016 collection, which didn’t read as a gimmick as much as it did a natural progression for a designer who doesn’t follow rules.
Meanwhile, retailers like Old Navy have had to answer to customers over issues regarding unfair pricing for plus-size clothing or, as was the case with the Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection, the availability of plus-size items.
The movement has faces, too: Ashley Graham, Tess Holliday and even Gigi Hadid have been vocal about the need for greater acceptance and inclusivity with regard to body representation on the runway and in print media.
Tipton’s victory speaks to these changing tides: Plus-size women are not only participating in the conversation, they’re shaping it too. However, there is some tension in the fashion industry now as the new wave of body-positive rhetoric has begun to eclipse old schools of thought. Tipton might have to face harsher criticism from members of the high fashion editorial set who aren’t ready for a diversified catwalk where straight-bodied models don’t rule. Within-show criticism doesn’t help—prior to last week’s finale, longtime Project Runway mentor offered some barbed comments about the contestants participating in Season 14, a cycle that he found to be particularly “lackluster.”
Regardless of the critique coming from within and outside the show, Tipton’s victory is a triumph to be noted. The market demands for creators like her, meaning those who cater to a vast section of the buying population commonly overlooked by the designer elite. Her winning line speaks to the potential that fashion has when its inclusive, and continues to broaden the conversation regarding what we consider to be beautiful both on and off the runway.
Online retailer ModCloth has always been vocal about the importance of stocking a wide range of sizes and has taken things one step further, getting rid of a dedicated plus-size section to allow all sizes to be displayed together. Within a particular product listing, all sizes are available for selection; if a shopper wants to view a larger range only, categories marked as "extended sizes" are available under each main category heading.
"I think there is still an outdated notion that 'plus' should be separate because it's less aspirational, or because that consumer is less fashion-forward, or less willing to spend on herself. But what we're hearing and seeing from our community is that it is simply not true," company founder Susan Gregg Koger wrote in a letter posted to the site's blog under the heading #StyleForAll. Numbers reported by the company suggest that nearly 60% of women indicated they felt embarrassed when forced to navigate to a special section to find sizes that fit.
Late last month the brand made another big step toward sizing equality, introducing an in-house line that goes up to 4X and all rings in under $150. Their offerings are only the tip of the iceberg too: size-26 model Tess Holliday recently revealed plans for her own label, and Eloquii is seeking to make the shoe-shopping experience easier, debuting a super stylish range of shoes that are crafted 30% wider than industry standards and extend to a size 12. Lingerie-wise, bombshell Ashley Graham has a new range of bras and panties that start at 36DD.
From short girls to ladies with big feet, we've got you covered—come check out our special section dedicated to all shapes and sizes.