It has long troubled me that women’s clothing designers have decided that everyone is small, waif-like, and perfectly proportioned. I know about the impact of models on our psychological development and well-being. That is a rant I could easily devote many screens to. However, that is not my purpose here.
I am baffled by the continuation of this trend over time, particularly since we as a society have become somewhat more enlightened. People are more aware of the reality that most of us live every day. We have begun to recognize that not all women are tiny. The reality TV show, “How to Look Good Naked,” is an example of movement toward realistic thinking and acceptance. The fact that the show lasted less than a year indicates that progress is often faltering and slow.
Unfortunately, globalization and outsourcing have intensified the small clothing size problem. Now that many of our garments are being shipped to us from manufacturing plants in India, China, Indonesia, and other parts of the Eastern world, the already small sizes have gotten smaller. Now, the assumption appears to be that we are all petite Asian girls/women. It is growing increasingly difficult to find clothes in realistic sizes.
I was very happy to find that at many music concerts there are now more fitted “girly” tees and tanks alongside the usual “Adult” (read male) tees. Women like to show off their curves and more tailored styles are flattering. However, the manufacturers must assume that we were all buying size Small and Medium before. The women’s tees are not cut to fit actual women with real curves.
Even the manufacturers who are producing their products in the United States are failing us on this point. American Apparel is an excellent example. This is a company that I would like to support. They take a strong stand on immigration and have a project called “Legalize LA.” I admire some of the things that they have tried to do. Their clothes are made in downtown LA using vertically integrated manufacturing. These are all things that I can support. However, when I start looking at their size charts, I start running into problems. For example, model #2102ORG. This is an Organic Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T and in 2008 was marked as “Sustainable Edition.” Sounds great. I would like to wear that. I look at the size chart. The largest size available is a XXL. Sounds big, right? Well, it’s not, not really. The chest measurement on that is only designed to accommodate a bust that is 44″-46″ at fullest point.
pure t is a company that specializes in maternity tees. Given the fact that most women gain weight when they are pregnant and that much of that weight is often in their breasts, I would expect maternity and nursing tees to be amply sized. When I click on their size chart, I discover that the bust on a Large is only expected to fit someone with a 38″-39″ bust line. That is also the largest size listed in the chart. Some tees may be ordered in an XL, but no details are given about that size. Another incongruity is that the Large is marked as being equivalent to sizes 10-12 instead of the industry standard of 12-14.
It is depressing to realize that clothes made for real women with curves are difficult find. I haven’t even discussed the problem of being amply endowed in the bust but not being correspondingly tall. It is difficult to find long sleeved tops that will accommodate a large bust without expecting the woman to have incredibly long arms to match. Shopping in the petites section doesn’t help on that front because if you’re “petite” you’re not supposed to be buxom.
I live in the in-between. I find it difficult to shop in the regular sized racks because the busts are cut too small and the sleeves are cut too long. I find it difficult to shop in the plus sized racks and stores like Lane Bryant because I am not far enough into the plus category for their clothes to fit me. They also assume that the larger the bust line, the larger the waist line and hips. This is not always the case, even for those of us without breast implants. To get something to fit my bust, it ends up roomy in the waist and down right huge in the hips. What are those of us without the budget for personal tailors to do???