Going from a size 26 to a size 16 has meant that I've had to buy clothes in so many sizes in a short space of time and it has really highlighted the flaws in plus size clothing design. Even now as a size 16 in most things - I've not quite made it into jeans in this size and I'm okay with that - I've found that I've really struggled to find styles that are flattering, fit well and work with my idea of what my body should look like.
As part of the Design Blogger Competition organised by CGTrader, I started considering what designing for plus size people really means, where it needs to go and why more fashion brands should put extra effort into this section of their market. So here's where I think the future of plus size design needs to go:
Start relying on that body
Funny enough, plus size people want to be able to show off their curves too and don't just want clothes that are going to make them look two sizes bigger than they actually are. Brands that offer plus size clothes need to look at celebrating all forms, no matter their size or shape and this means bodycon dresses that go up to sizes in the 30s.
For me, it seems that the reason so few brands do offer plus size clothing that is tighter is not because they don't think people don't want it - you only have to do a quick search on Instagram to see that isn't the case - it's because they think those who aren't plus size don't want to see it. Fashion is still being designed and created with those up to a certain size in mind and the persona of plus size isn't really being considered.
In order to really design stunning clothes for all sizes, brands need to look at what each demographic really wants - I can assure you it isn't a T-shirt with a funny slogan that removes any and all shape from a person's body - and not just assume that larger people are ashamed of their bodies and want to hide them. All bodies are beautiful and fashion needs to really begin embracing that rather than just pretending with a poorly thought out plus-sized range hidden in the corner of a store.
Bigger doesn't mean bigger all over
Brands that are not plus size-focused are the worst offenders when it comes to designing clothes in a larger size. They tend to make clothing bigger everywhere, not taking into account that being a larger size doesn't automatically mean you're seven foot tall. Inches get added to the width and height of all garments, meaning maxi dresses and skirts trip us up and try to kill us every time we wear them, and jeans and trousers make us look like kids playing dress up.
Men's fashion seems to deal with this better when it comes to trousers, as you can choose the waist and leg measurements. In comparison, women only get the choice of strict sizes, which don't take into consideration the fact that someone larger may not have the long legs of a supermodel.
Some brands seem to have tried to deal with this issue by keeping legs on trousers, as well as skirts and dresses, the same length as the sizes go up. This may be great for those of us who are 'average' height, but some plus size people are actually tall so this method totally disregards them and their needs.
Plus size doesn't just mean someone is larger all over, as there are so many different body types. However, this isn't just a fault with plus size fashion design, as it seems to be an issue across fashion as a whole. While I know it isn't possible to design clothing for every single different body type, there at least needs to be a consideration that not all size 10s are straight up and down and not all size 26s have massive boobs. Fashion needs to break out of the box it has put itself in and start designing for real people rather than the 'ideal'.
What happened to cute underwear?
Linking back to my first point, larger ladies can - and should - dig their bodies, feel sexy and be able to show them off in underwear that is cute and/or hot as hell. Unfortunately, too many brands stop their sexy ranges at a certain point and seem to think that larger breasts or bums should only be clothed in sad looking cotton. This is why I absolutely hate bra shopping.
Designs for larger women seem just to be focused on function when it comes to bras. I'm not going to deny that having good boob support is important, but I also want great shape, lift and a bit of cleavage. Being stuck only being able to choose from full-cup bras that seem to minimise what I've got is not my idea of sexy.
Bra sizes have increased over the years and more women are representing big boobs - whether naturally or through enhancements - and yet buying cute bras in line with this trend is really difficult. Design needs to recognise that everyone has a right to feel themselves when they are in their underwear.
While some brands are firing back at the misconception that everyone with breasts over a certain size must also be over a certain age, this comes at a premium price. Why is it that a big girl has to pay £40+ for even a simple bra while those with 'average-sized' knockers can pick them up for £10? It definitely feels like a tax on size.
Bigger should be better
Plus size fashion design needs to really look at its demographic, what people want and the way that different bodies look, not to mention what different shapes need. Bigger clothing should be so much better than it is. Some brands are getting close to hitting the nail on the head with their collections, but these are still few and far between.
This area of design should do more than preach body positivity and inclusivity, it should be seeking to change people's negative opinions of what it is to be plus size and truly show that big is also beautiful.