Portmanteau Commentary: A rant about unfair sizing in fashion - We're not all models!

Fashion Foie Gras took it upon herself to state what I'd been thinking for a while now. The last week I've come across at least three articles that stated news of magazines so and so featuring plus size models, always including outraged comments such as "They aren't plus sized, they are normal. That just makes me feel fat." I quite agreed with whoever wrote that post (can't find it anymore! Sorry!) but wondered if the industry was shooting themselves in the foot by calling perfectly healthy, relatively thin women (in a normal, not fashion sense) "plus sized". I wrote a long comment but then decided that it was worth real consideration and a real and thorough reaction.

As Emily from Fashion Foie Gras then unfolded to me and her other readers, it all made sense. Industry standards put the "plus size" down to a ten from a 14, clearly in order to promote themselves for making "plus size garments", but at the same time not actually increasing the range. That's kind of ridiculous, isn't it? I mean, people will actually be trying these on. That's like telling a kid that pickled cabbage tastes like chocolate in caramel. It will get excited, come along and even put a first spoon into their mouths, only to of course spit it out. What were they thinking?!

I can really identify with Emily's frustration although from a completely different angle. As some of you know, I started up my fashion line because I COULDN'T FIND ANY DRESSES THAT FITTED ME! Yes, sure, I could pop down to Primark or some other crappy high street store that works with loose fitting stretchy polyester, and, if I'm lucky, cotton, to get some flimsy, badly finished dress from horrendous ethical conditions, but I didn't want to!



I wanted the perfectly fitting, real material, detailed, perfect length dress. I will never forget that time I had found a gorgeous dress in a store, which I won't name and shame, but was not high street. Everything was great except it was a little too big, so I asked for a smaller size. They got it for me from the petite department. It was the exact same dress, not a similar one, it had the same name etc so I tried it on and it was perfect. However, the dress was a third more expensive than the one size up. I thought it was a mistake and asked them to change it but they simply said that because it was petite, it cost more. I was so outraged that not even the manager would budge that I pretty much told them to F off (but politely) and refused to buy it. I could afford it, but that was not the point. In principle, a petite dress is LESS MATERIAL. It takes a shorter amount of time to sow it. Now why do I have to pay more for that just because I am not a generic 6 foot tall model type person? Talk about discrimination! In fact, so few are aware of this particular issue, they even confuse "petite" with simply meaning small, hence size two for people that are 6 feet tall. See, I'm tiny:



Unlike Emily, the other reason was that I didn't have money to burn in petite stores and it was actually cheaper to make it myself - and more fun. But now comes the other point I want to make:

Normal women are pear shaped. I don't have the patience to look up a study that confirms it because I KNOW that most women are pear shaped. Most designers use generic sizes because they have to "think about everyone" but in fact, this just excludes the majority, pretending that the majority of women aren't pear shaped and in fact have two sizes. By that I mean - bust 8, hips 10 etc, which then means that something doesn't really fit. When will designers realise that they should create designs that acknowledge this? I love wearing dresses, and when I ask my few female friends why they don't, I usually hear that they just don't fit them (same problem I had) because the top would look too loose and the bottoms too tight, so they prefer buying a top and a skirt in the respective sizes and matching it - now why would I want to spend heaps of poundage on something that doesn't fit either way?



The other issue is that I am tiny (5 feet one inch! And I insist on the extra inch). Just trimming the bottom of a dress doesn't do the trick. I have normal proportions, my back is shorter and so are my arms, to match my legs and the rest of my body. On my own, I look normal. Sounds like a given, right? Nope. Only very few even design for petites and the ones that do, for some reason, design mainly for old ladies.

So, in response to Emily and her passionate rant, my rant comes from the opposite spectrum but includes all the same arguments. Models are only a tiny percentage of the population. Are you designing for them or for us? Seriously. What am I meant to do, cut up my legs and infuse some sticks? Heels help, but they don't change my proportions, do they?

For me personally I can at least say that this rant is almost a bit old. It is still offensive, but as I can actually create whatever dress I actually wish to possess, in my own size, I don't really have much to complain about any more. We should all just go back to tailoring, I think. They had it right all along with their individually crafted clothing.

What bugs you about the fashion industry and their sizing system? I've created a poll, what do you choose?