Friday, 16 October 2009

Fashion’s Bad Fatitude

Although fashion has become more accessible thanks to the high street being able to recreate catwalk looks within a short time frame, the same cannot be said when it comes to sizing. Remember the ridiculous furore a few weeks ago when fashion designer, Mark Fast sent size 12-14 models down the catwalk? The reaction was outrageous. Firstly, the models looked fantastic and secondly, do these people not have more important things to be agonising over? Clearly not!

However, both designers and the high street still have a long way to go when it comes to offering more choice for the plus-size woman. I recently went shopping with a client who was a size 24. Previously, this client had told me that they had great difficulty finding clothes in their size and when they did find something, it often resembled a tent rather than something that was flattering and made them feel good about themselves. I immediately thought that I would be able to find suitable clothing without a problem. To my surprise, this was not to be the case.

The majority of stores we visited did not go above a size 18 and in some cases did not offer anything over a 14. Even the shops that did offer larger sizes, were not consistent as they went to size 18 in some brands, size 20 in others, and size 22 in a few, with the occasional size 24 thrown in. And I found that in a lot cases, the clothing that was available in bigger sizes looked like it had been designed as an after-thought which I found disturbing. All women want to look attractive, whether they are a size 8 or 18. Many plus-size women find the whole shopping experience daunting and at times painful because they are made to feel like fashion is not for them. Instead of coming away from a shopping trip feeling exhilarated, they feel deflated and upset, which is unacceptable.

Fortunately, there now appears to be a backlash against the unforgiveable size zero, and a move towards celebrating ‘real’ women. Personally, I have always found this sizing issue disturbing, especially when one considers the kind of message it sends out to young girls and impressionable women, who may have serious self-image issues.

The plus size fashion market has a long way to go, despite some recent improvement. Many British women are still turning to the US and ordering their clothes via the internet as there seems to be much more choice.

Thankfully, there are stores out there that appear to be addressing the problem. One of the best stores around is Evans. Their sizes range from 16-32 and they even sell wide-fitting shoes which shows that they are really thinking about their customers. Elvi is another brand that offers sizes up to 26. Also Tesco’s Florence and Fred range go up to size 26 and are very reasonably priced. There are luxury brands such as Marina Rinaldi, but you have the budget for brands such as this one. Another brand is that offers some great plus-size fashion choices is Simply Be.

On a personal note, I am very fortunate as sizing has never been an issue fro me. I can always go into shops and find something to fit me. Seeing how difficult it is for some women to find clothing that makes them look good and feel attractive has made me appreciate how lucky I am but it has also showed me that the fashion industry has a long way to go before fashion becomes fair for all and looses it bad fatitiude.

By Lisa Maynard-Atem

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