Inclusive-Size Lines: A Concept Whose Time Has Come (Yet Again)

A tiny blurb in the May 2017 issue of InStyle magazine announced: “Teresa Maccapani Missoni brings her family’s luxe Italian glamour to Eloquii for an inclusive-size line of feminine dresses and separates in a resort-ready palette of white and azure.” Eloquii.com is a fashion site for sizes 14 to 28, and Missoni is its first-ever designer collaboration.

0617 March Vogue Prabal Gurung for Lane Bryant Ashley Graham REV

Designer Prabal Gurung is also receiving a good amount of press for his new collection for Lane Bryant in sizes 14 to 28. The April 2017 issue of Glamour reports that Gurung collaborated with Lane Bryant after he had “no luck getting luxury department stores to sell his line as plus-sizes.” The March 2017 issue of Vogue also spotlighted the collection.

At the same time, in a feature in the April 2017 issue of Glamour, “Hey Stores: Where’s My Size?” writer Lauren Chan and four full-figure fashion bloggers shopped clothing stores in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and New York, and found no plus-size clothing whatsoever at 41 of the 69 stores.

For many full-figured women, Salon Z at Saks Fifth Avenue (remember the campaign “Saks First”) truly was their go-to choice for professional wardrobe and special-event dressing. Now Salon Z exists on-line only.  Nordstrom’s plus-size focused Encore department at its spanking new store in the large mall near my home had only a pitiful couple of racks of dated sale merchandise in plus sizes when I visited. Despite the increase in demand for plus-size fashion, the demographic is being served more by specialty retailers and boutiques.

0617 June Glamour Nicolette Mason I Am Not an Hourglass REV

There’s an issue aside from sizes, too — full-figured women, like women of all sizes, come in a variety of shapes. “I Am Not a Hourglass” writes Nicolette Mason in the June 2017 issue of Glamour. Mason writes:

“It feel like every day there’s another body-positive headline in fashion–airbrush-free swimsuit campaigns, designer collaborations, New York Fashion Week’s record number of plus-size models–and while those stories represent major strides in size inclusion, there’s one thing that still bothers me:  Almost every time we see a woman above a size 14 in magazines, in advertisements, or on the runway, she’s a perfect hourglass shape.

“Think about the most famous plus-size models:  They have big busts and full hips, with snatched waists and thin arms and legs. Gorgeous–but also, newsflash! That is not how most plus-size women look. Hell, all you need to do is look around on the street to know that many of us are rounder in the ‘wrong’ places, with full faces and thicker limbs.  . . . How progressive is body positivity if we’re affirming only one plus-size body type?”

Mason explains that, despite fluctuations in her size between 12 and 16, she is larger on top with large breasts and smaller hips. She cites Eloquii, Universal Standard, and Los Angeles-based Zelie for She as lines that design for various types.

This is not new, by any means. For instance, plus-size model and image consultant Catherine Schuller introduced a line on one of the home shopping channels some years ago, with styles identified as being appropriate for various body shapes. With few exceptions, plus-size clothing lines do not provide guidance to consumers as to what pieces will flatter which shapes.

0617 July MC model Denise Bidot Big Girl in a Skinny World REV

Look at the regular column “Big Girl in a Skinny World” in Marie Claire magazine. In the July 2017 issue, which features plus-size model Denise Bidot, the column spotlights for her a Vivienne Westwood skirt with a horizontal print (up to size 14), a Stella McCartney dress (up to size 14), and, a choker from Eddie Borgo. The choker has an interior diameter of 4.25 inches. None of these items will fit the majority of “big girls.”

0617 Christian Siriano in People REV

One option, for those who can afford it, is to go custom. Designer Christian Siriano is quoted in the July 3, 2017 issue of People: “My goal is to hopefully change people’s perceptions of what’s beautiful and what women should wear. I include a diverse range of sizes, races and ages on the runway. An then, there’s the red carpet. I don’t go after the young, new It Girl. They’re fabulous, but what’s exciting to me is seeing someone different on the carpet looking amazing, like Danielle Brooks. . .  Honestly I just love that I get to help change people’s perceptions, and I’m proud of what we’re doing. But it took me 10 years to get here, and it will take another 50 years to have my position become a little bit more of the norm. That would be really exciting.”

I’m thrilled to see that some designers and retailers are once again attempting to serve the 67% of American women who wear a size 14 or above. Stay tuned.

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The Sad Sack

The fall season presents an opportunity for an otherwise stylish woman to take on the appearance of a little girl dressed up in her mother’s clothes. The issue: designers and editors pushing oversized apparel that it too large or too long and swamps the figure of the woman wearing it.

0714 sad sack lapels on coat REV

This coat pictured in the July 2014 issue of Elle magazine creates the look in part because of the enormous lapels on the coat. Image consultants will tell you that details such as the size of lapels, buttons and trims should be proportionate to the size of the wearer’s features. The delicate features of the model are not flattered by the huge collar. The chunky shoes do nothing to elevate her look. The coat is from COS.

0714 sad sack Kors trousers dragging on floor w suspenders REV

The March 2014 issue of Elle styles a model in a silk tie-neck blouse and suspenders with trousers that pool on the floor. The blouse and trousers are from Michael Kors; the suspenders, from Star Struck Vintage Clothing. The bear in the photo wears a Chanel hat.

0714 sad sack Kim Kardashian poorly fitting dress REV

Particularly inexplicable is a celebrity with virtually unlimited financial resources wearing a dress that is ill-fitting. The July 28, 2014 issue of People pictures Kim Kardashian  walking in the rain in Paris en route to attend the Valentino Haute Couture show in July. She wears a dress with a plunging necklace meant to show off her figure, but many inches of fabric are unattractively bunched around her waist. There is far too much dress for her petite figure and small waist.

The fix for almost of these sad sack woes is the assistance of a talented tailor, who can make alterations so that the garment flatters the wearer.

Lovely Long Necks

There’s something glamorous and lovely about a long, graceful neck – a neck long enough to accommodate a choker-style necklace that encircles the throat.

long neck Charlize Theron Dior ad REV

CharlizeTheron has been wowing us with the extraordinary ensemble she wears in the Dior media ads.

Sometimes, however, a long neck can visually appear to be too long, out of proportion to a woman’s body. Recent magazine visuals show how an extra-long neck can be made to look more proportionate to an overall silhouette.

long neck Dillards vee neck REV

A two-page ad from Dillard’s that appeared in the November 2013 issue of Real Simple demonstrates the point. In the above image, the model wears a sumptuous vee-neck sweater from Alex Marie Cashmere. She is long and lean, and her neck is almost startlingly long while her head is relatively small for her length.

long neck Dillards turtleneck REV

The vee-neck sweater emphasizes her extra-long neck, and visually she looks out of proportion. But put the same model in a turtleneck sweater, and the sense of skewed proportions is eliminated. The turtleneck sweater is far more flattering on the model.

long neck June July 2013 HB Chloe shirt stacked necklaces REV

From the June/July 2013 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, here’s a great example of an ensemble created to work with a model’s extra-long neck. The model wears a turtleneck top under a collared shirt. Beneath the collar, she wears stacked pendant necklaces. The long neck can accommodate the layered garments and jewelry.

Most women do not have extra-long necks. If you have a short neck, you will find the vee-neck top much more flattering, and possibly also more comfortable to wear, than a turtleneck. Opening up space under the chin with the vee shape gives the appearance of a longer neck.

If you have an average-length neck, you may be lucky enough to be flattered by either the vee-neck or the turtleneck style. Lucky the woman with perfect proportions!

Proportions and the Visually Saggy Bustline

One of the best ways to assess how a particular style may work for you is to see it on someone with similar proportions. My post today concerns the portion of your body from the top of your head to your waist.

Classic proportions are based upon the length, top to bottom, of your head. From the bottom of your head to your waist should measure two head-lengths for perfect classic proportions. If that length is shorter, you are “high-waisted” or “short-waisted”; if that length is longer, you are “long-waisted.”

The lovely model pictured in these photographs from the February 2013 issue of Lucky magazine is younger than my typical reader, to be sure, but she is a great example of a long-waisted figure. It appears that she is about two and one-half head lengths from the bottom of her chin to her waist. She looks great in printed pants with a scoop neck top and a jeans jacket, as she is tall and her entire frame is elongated. The long proportions of her legs balance her long-waisted figure.

But put the model in a strapless bustier, and she looks as though her breasts are sagging, much too low and close to her waist. Moreover, it appears the bustier is about to create a wardrobe malfunction of the most embarrassing kind. What further detracts from the look is that the bustier has a bit of a peplum which in this case extends the visual length of the model’s waist down even lower than it is. The look is thoroughly unflattering.

Here’s the same model wearing a garment designed with what is a high waist relative to her long-waisted figure, balancing out her proportions for an eye-pleasing effect. The multiple sheer layers of her ensemble provide horizontal lines that visually cut across the portions of her body that are proportionately long, making the entire ensemble harmonious.

If you are long-waisted, choose garments that do not visually lengthen your torso, and be mindful that a low-cut or strapless garment may make your bosom appear low on your body. Add interesting detail above your bustline to break up that proportionately long space. A statement necklace or double-wrapped scarf is a great accessory for you. It goes without saying that a good bra is essential. A saggy bustline is never a flattering look.