Heazure asked, Could you do a post addressing people on the “cusp” between plus sizes and straight sizes? I’m a 14/16 and it’s maddening, and I was happy to share my experiences and insights.
For most of my life it’s felt like no matter WHAT my size, I’ve always straddled the “cusp” between standard sizes and plus sizes. Size 10? Well, that’s still a size 14 and we don’t stock it. Size 20? Well, your arms, legs, bust and hips are too small to fit in everything. Most of my life, I’ve straddled the 14-18 range, and it’s effin’ hard. I stopped wearing oversized everything in high school, so it can feel especially difficult to find a fitted shirt, dress, or skirt when I’m on the cusp. (You’re on the cusp! You’re plus, but not! You must hide your body!)
Many standard clothing stores stop at a size 14 (and some stop at a 12). Many plus-size shops begin at a 14 … and yet there’s this huge difference in the way those two size 14s are designed. Many women find that at the standard shop, you’ll get a little muffin top, the thighs may be too tight, but when you pop into the plus-sized shop, you’re finding that the pants are falling off of you everywhere.
For a comparison: The Limited, Express, and Eloquii are all sister shops, and you can see how their sizes compare:
- At Express, a size 14 has a 40″ bust, 32.5″ waist, and 43.5″ hips.
- At the Limited, a size 14 has a 41.25″ bust, a 34″ waist, and 44″ hips.
- At Eloquii, the size 14 Women’s has a 42″ bust, a 37″ waist, and 45″ hips.
Between the Express and Eloquii size 14s, you have a 4.5″ size difference. And what happens if you’re between that Limited 34″ and Eloquii 37″ waist? A 3″ gap is a pretty big! And yet, when you’re on the cusp of clothing sizes, that’s a pretty frequent occurrence.
Shopping is already a difficult, anxiety-inducing task for many of us. When you’re a size that’s on the cusp (and that could be another cusp — perhaps you’ve got a very petite frame and a 0 or 00 is a bit too big!), it just feels like extra work. You’re too large for one shop, too small for another.
Another factor that contributes to this is grading scale for patterns. In a standard size shops, clothes are usually graded with a 1″ difference between sizes; yet as soon as you hit size 10 or 12, the grading jumps up to an 1.5″. Once you’ve moved into full-on plus-sizes, it’s not uncommon to see a 3″ variation between sizes, which means it can be difficult to find that perfect fit.
It’s Not You.
Sally says this all the time, and it’s true. Straddling the cusp isn’t YOUR fault. Don’t beat yourself up, think your bangin’ bod is odd, or swear off fashion forever.
They’re just clothes.
Each store has their own version of the ideal customer, vanity sizing, and sense of draping. Even if you absolutely love J.Crew, Anthropologie, or Nasty Gal OMG SO MUCH, their styles may not work with your body. But the amazing thing about shopping and the internet? How much easier it becomes EVERY DAY to find the styles you want, a size that fits, and a brand you love (and can afford!).
Know which Shops ARE Designed to Fit You.
It took me a long time to learn that the woman Lane Bryant designs for is not shaped like me. And neither is the girl Urban Outfitter designs for.
I’m sure you’ve found a few places where you’ve bought clothes and felt good. What is it about those items that do work? Is it ample room in the bust? Extra space in the hips? A slim cut thigh? Do you need a junior’s fit, a standard fit or a women’s fit? Once you know what brands work and what it is you want from your clothing, finding that perfect fit becomes a bit easier.
I’ve personally found luck with places like ASOS, City Chic, Modcloth & Ruche’s plus selections. I have luck at places like Macy’s, Kohl’s, Target, or Old Navy, where the standard range may run from 0-20 and they have a variety of junior’s, standard, and women’s fit.
If you’re having a hard time finding brands that work for you, a service like Gwynnie Bee may help. For a monthly fee, you “rent” clothes from a wide variety of brands. Sizes start at 10 and go up. I received a one month free trial from Wardrobe Oxygen, and my quick and honest thoughts are: For a woman going through weight change, starting a new job, or who has a tendency to wear clothes a few times and then buy new items, it’s WELL worth the cost.
Find Inspiration in People Built Like You.
I may have a fashion blog, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have days when I hate fashion. I love looking at women of all shapes and sizes, because a great eye for shape, pattern, and styling is universal.
But finding other bloggers built similarly to me? It’s a huge relief.
It doesn’t matter if they’re a size 2, 12, or 22; I know which bloggers aren’t super busty, who gains weight in their stomach, and those who may have a long torso. For those who fall into a similar size range as me, I check out the places they shop. As a result I’ve found tons of new shops I’d have never known about. They’ve lead me to independent designers who create custom clothes for women of all sizes.
The average American woman is a size 12-14, which means a larger portion of women are likely straddling the cusp than we realize. If you’re in that cusp, I’d love to hear your thoughts — what tips and tricks you’ve learned for shopping or what fabrics or styles you’ve found are great and easy to adapt for your body.
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Call her Ash, Ashe, or Ashley– she doesn’t mind! Already Pretty contributor Ashley began blogging in 2007 about fashion and style to fill a void in her life while living in the wintery tundra of Indiana. Her blog Dramatis Personae focuses on food, life & style. Ashley’s love of fashion began at 10, when she bought her first issue of Seventeen magazine; this also began a life long battle with learning to love her body (she never looked like the girls who graced those pages). As a plus-sized woman, she loves promoting fashion for all women and shops that want to make all ladies feel beautiful. She currently calls New Orleans home and share her little house with a wonderful fiance and two brilliant and playful Maine Coons kitties.