Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Plus Size Fashion

Tim Gunn recently spoke on the PBS Newshour regarding the fashion industry and plus size design. 

I have been blogging about celebrity red carpet fashions for years, and I have seen way too many unflattering gowns on plus size models. Yes, there have been some lovely and flattering gowns on larger actresses, and there have certainly been some ugly and unflattering looks on smaller-sized actresses, but the ratio of unflattering to flattering gowns is much higher for larger-sized women.

While I applaud Tim Gunn's push for high-end designers to design more and better looks for larger women, and for retailers and "everyday" designers to push for more flattering (and more) designs in their middle-of-the-line plus size collections, there are some great looks out there for plus size (read: ordinary" women.

Below are some of the beautiful and flattering fall looks I found that are available - and tailored for - larger women. Rather than grouping them by type of clothing (sweaters, pants, dresses, etc.), I'm listing several retailers who carry a good selection of plus size clothing.

This faux wrap dress by Love Squared is available in cobalt blue with subtle stripes or solid red. The wide waistband is set slightly higher than the natural waist, which flatters a thicker waist and helps to create a curved silhouette, as does the fabric gathering in to the waistband from above and below. The neckline is higher than many wrap dresses to avoid the problem of showing too much cleavage which is common with fuller-busted women. Even the three-quarter length sleeves help to draw focus to the slimmest part of the silhouette, and the just-above-the-knee hem is flattering for women with larger thighs. Available in 1X, 2X, and 3X, it's currently on sale for $34!!

If you're looking for a fancier party dress, this mock-neck lace dress by Soprano is a cute choice. Again, a slightly higher waistband flatters a larger figure, and a fuller skirt accommodates wider hips without looking too voluminous. The pretty cutout at the neck adds a touch of sexiness, but wide straps allow a standard bra to be worn (often an issue with strapless or narrow-strapped cocktail dresses). The large velvet bow at the back adds a pretty feminine touch. Also available in 1X, 2X, and 3X, it's on sale for $35.

Voluminous, peasant-style tops are very popular, but on larger (especially bustier) women, they often look like muumuus. This crochet-trim top by Eyeshadow adds enough volume to flow away from the body without looking likes it's working too hard to hide something. Available in white or the burgundy red shown here, the top gathers gently into a shoulder yoke and features loose, long sleeves and a wide v-neck trimmed with crochet roses. The slightly more fitted bust helps to create a narrowness at the top of the rib cage and the flare to the hips creates a feminine, figure-skimming curve. The back features an inverted triangle cutout to add visual interest. Available in sizes 1X, 2X, and 3X for only $20.

Jeans can be difficult to fit for any size woman, but it's that much more difficult to fit a larger or curvier figure. These faux leather trim jeans by Melissa McCarthy Seven7 are perfectly proportioned for a larger figure, with a mid-rise waist, a slim but not snug fit in the legs. a barely-flared bootcut hem, and enough Spandex in the blend to allow for comfortable fit and movement. Available in 14W through 24W for $47.

Dress Barn
Appropriate office wear is often a struggle for the larger woman; pants are often designed with an ugly gathered waistband, or unflattering deep pleats to accommodate more generously-proportioned hips. These printed slim leg pants have a pretty texture to add visual interest, a slightly curved waistband for added comfort, and faux pockets to avoid gapping at the hips. Available in sizes 14-24 for $38.

Pair the above pants with this pretty textured floral printed blouse for a professional but still feminine and flattering look. The deep v-neck helps to avoid button gap at the bust, and the curve hem minimizes wide hips. The large print pattern with large unprinted areas is proportioned well for a larger figure without looking overly busy. Available in 1X, 2X, and 3X for $44.
For a dressier occasion, this cold shoulder dress by BEYOND by Ashley Graham is elegant and sexy on larger curves. Open shoulders add sex appeal but a higher neck and wide straps allow for a supportive bra. A hint of ruching and gathering all over smooths out curves and clings without looking tight. Available in "haute red" as shown or "pitch black," this classic dress can be made appropriate for fairly casual to relatively formal occasions, simply by changing accessories, from a shoulder wrap to blingy jewelry. Currently available in size 1X or 3X for $56.

To move to the opposite end of the scale from "dressy," how about this fabulous quilted detail Moto jacket by roz&ALI? With an asymmetrical front zipper and quilted shoulder detailing, it has a classy but cool look, and generously cut arms and just the right amount of curve in the torso is flattering and feminine. Available in sizes 1X, 2X, and 3X for $69.

JC Penney
This flounce pencil skirt by Bisou Bisou is great for the office or going out after work. The angles of the geometric pattern slim where they should slim and flare where they should flare, with the soft flounce at the hem softening the lines. Just a hint of Spandex keeps things comfortable, and sizes from 14W-24W make sure the fit is just right. And it's on sale for $33!

Another great office-to-evening look is this pretty 3/4-sleeve paisley jacket dress by Maya Brooke. The sleeveless sheath-style dress with paisley patterning down the side skims and smooths, and the mustard jacket is cut to the perfect length to set just above the hip, often the most flattering length for a fuller figure. Short, broad lapels and slightly widened sleeves also help to keep the look in proportion, as does the top-of-the-knee hem. Available in sizes 14W-24W for $50.

One of the difficulties of pants for a plus-size figure is a waistband that rolls or won't sit in a comfortable spot. These fit-and-flare trousers by Worthington solve that problem with a curved, fitted, wide waistband. The cut fits close to the body from waist to knee then ends in wide legs, creating a smooth, tailored look, and the large but subtle grey plaid is well-proportioned for a larger woman. The fabric includes polyester, rayon, and Spandex for a comfortable fit, whether sitting or standing. Also available in black, both colors in sizes 14W-24W, at $28, these are a great staple for a work wardrobe.

Like the motorcycle jacket above, plus size outerwear doesn't have to be bulky and voluminous. This plaid ski jacket by Zeroxposur features dropped princess seaming for a flattering silhouette, wide sleeves, and carefully placed accessory pockets. The length hits at the fullest part of the hip, and the collar lining features a pop of grey and teal to draw the eye up. Flattering and cozy, this coat is available in 1X, 2X, and 3X for $135. A little pricy, but worth it to stay warm and look great!

And let me wrap up by touting Eloquii, a design house which ONLY designs for sizes 14-28. Eloquii has designed red carpet fashion for Melissa McCarthy, Rebel Wilson, Gabourey Sidibe, Aidy Bryant, and Adrienne C. Moore. Their clothing is remarkably reasonably priced, so if you want to dress like a celebrity on a non-celebrity budget, check out some of their couture looks.

This floral sequin dress with mesh detail is lined in black, with a beautiful shimmery copper sequined flower print overlay and see-through black yoke and sleeves. Falling just to the top of the knee, the whole silhouette skims and flatters. Available in sizes 14-24 for $140.

This Studio pearl embellished dress features black pearls and iridescent bugle beads creating graceful lines which draw the eye in at the waist and the hem. With its flattering broad round neck, below-the-bust band, and see-through black mesh sleeves and hem detail, this cocktail dress provides coverage but femininity. Available in sizes 14-28 for $160.
For a fabulous designer outfit that's work appropriate, try pairing this lace trumpet sleeve peplum top (available in black or dark blue) with a neoprene pencil skirt (available in a rainbow of 14 colors). The top features flared sleeves with a wide lace inset and a snug dropped waist flaring into a peplum, creating a flattering silhouette which pairs perfectly with the slim pencil skirt. The skirt features a wide waistband which sits at the natural waist, and a slim silhouette ending just below the knee. The top is available in sizes 14-24 and the skirt is available in sizes 14-28, for $65 each.

Now get out there and be gorgeous!

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