There is a reason the plus-size industry struggles to be taken seriously in spite of the demand. It would appear that many designers for this market segment just tend to size up trendy styles rather than to create pieces that will complement women with curves. All silhouettes were not created equal. If you were to line up 10 women who were a size 16, some would be smaller than others. I have seen women of this size with a flat tummy and a small bust and others with ample busts and slim legs. Let's face it, from the pear shaped to slim figures, women need garments which will mask imperfections or minimize trouble areas if any, while emphasizing their best attributes. This is especially true for women size 16+. Now, let's tackle some of the key reasons these lines fall flat.
#1 FOCUS ON HITTING TRENDS RATHER THAN SETTING THEM
Not all styles and color choices will work so, it's time to stop with bare midriffs, micro-mini dresses and designs in neon hues. Whether your client is a size 2 or a 22, you must consider proportions and body type, this is Designing 101. A designer has a responsibility to develop collections that will have the industry buzzing about plus-size, in a good way! Take a lesson from Christian Siriano on this one!
POOR FABRIC CHOICES
I want to make it clear that Spandex is NOT everyone's friend. However, there are fabrics which have a 2% to 3% stretch that can be used to design looks that are more "forgiving" with a bit of wiggle room. While we are on the subject, let's talk about prints as well. Finding the appropriate print pattern is crucial here, some can make women look larger, therefore, this is an important factor to consider.
It's time to "get out of your feelings". The reality is, every style created for size 14 and under will not work for more voluptuous women. You can't design for a plus-size woman with the body of a size 2 in mind. For example, the first plus-size designer to win on Project Runway, was recently taken to task by Tim Gunn. Her designs are exactly what designers should avoid. One must study what will work with a generous frame. In just about every case, a small woman CAN & WILL get away with low rise jeans and an itty bitty crop top while in most, a larger woman will not. You never want to create anything where it appears a woman is trying too hard or showing too much. Remember sexy doesn't mean naked. She should look classy and elegant regardless of size.
Overall, it seems that when these things are said, people view it as a bias towards plus-size women. On the other hand, it is a sobering truth regarding the direction these collections need to go in order to get the respect that they deserve.
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