Cutting Remarks

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Lately, I’ve been making a concentrated effort to notice what plus-size women are wearing. Not that I don’t always naturally notice, but I guess what’s catching my eye is that, while they’re wearing clothes that fit, they’re wearing clothes that don’t fit them properly.

That’s not the fault of the woman wearing the garment—it’s the fault of the garment’s creator. Because, while there’s a lot more choice out there for plus- size women, I don’t see manufacturers putting in the effort and expense to actually design, and then cut patterns, for the larger sizes. And that’s what makes all the difference.

When I’m designing clothing, I am thinking about the plus-size woman and what I have to do to make her look good. When I have that design finished, I move on to the smaller sizes. So I start big and get smaller. Most designers do the opposite. They finish a design, and then just extrapolate the measurement upwards. That approach just doesn’t always work.

Designers have to actually think about the larger woman’s body. She has a bigger bust, and a proportionately bigger bicep. Her forearms and wrists are larger. Her calves and thighs are larger. If she’s an apple shape, her stomach will be larger. If she’s a pear shape, her rear end will be bigger.

The larger woman is less likely to tuck in her tops. So she doesn’t need stiff, tight waistbands, and she doesn’t want waists that are too high, or too low. My waistbands fit very smoothly, and they fall at the natural waist.

Necklines are another issue. In larger women, you have to nudge up the necklines a little. It’s wonderful to go out at night with lots of cleavage, but most women don’t want cleavage at work, at school, at the playground or the grocery store.

I thought I’d speak about this issue now, because a lot of mainstream designers are starting to jump on the plus-size ‘bandwagon’. Which is fine—it’s smart business. But if they’re going to do that, they have to think first. You can’t just take one of your size 6 best-sellers and make it a size 18. It might fit that size 18 woman, but it probably won’t fit her properly. So designers need to consider their customers’ figures while they’re still at their drawing boards. Because the idea is to provide all women with comfortable clothes that will make them feel and look great.

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