Fashion & Style

Plus size clothing on the rise

By Jean Sanders
Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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It's getting easier for plus size men & women to find clothing
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Plus Size clothing industry recognizing the need

Unlike 20 years ago, when most big people were older, many of today's big people are young, and they want something to wear that stands out. Some retailers have stepped up with online fashions in large sizes. This applies, not only to women, but also to men. In previous years, men had a distinct advantage in finding large sizes; however, the latest fashions were often not available. Times are changing and so is the fashion industry.

Many online merchants and catalogers now have extensive collections of plus size clothing for both men and women that feature the latest fashion trends in stylish sportswear, business and dress wear, active wear, outerwear, sleepwear, underwear, and shoes.

Included are famous brands, too... and everything is designed and tailored specifically for those requiring larger sizes. As an added plus, many have discounted prices.

In fact, increasingly, companies are making bigger products for America's bigger people, customizing everything from caskets to seat belts. It used to be that products for overweight people were tucked away into the corner of stores. But now, businesses ranging from clothing retailers to car manufacturers recognize that big people are big business.

The proliferation of products for big people may help reduce shame about being obese, long stigmatized as indicating bad character, laziness and weakness, according to Peter Stearns, author of "Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West."

Stearns, former dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, said he believes the stigma developed as society developed a sense of guilt for consuming more and more. The proliferation of products for big people may help reduce shame about being obese, long stigmatized as indicating bad character, laziness and weakness, according to Peter Stearns, author of "Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West."

However, some might argue that the more we adjust our world to accept our weight, the harder it is to motivate us to do the healthier thing and lose the weight. Let's be realistic, if you require plus size clothing, that doesn't automatically place you in the category of fat and obese. You just require a large size!

As many plus size women know, finding plus size clothing is hard enough, but finding a standardization in the sizing can be even more daunting. After all, missy sizes many times are cut to a 20, and women's plus sizes usually start at a 14W. And let's not forget that UK sizes may look the same as the US, but more times than not run a size smaller.

Here is the rule of thumb when looking at plus size dresses: Women's apparel plus sizes are usually cut more generously than missy sizes, so if you see a W at the end of the size (not to be confused with WP which means women's petite), it is larger.

If you go into a retail establishment looking for a plus size dress or other apparel and can't find what you're looking for and ask why they aren't stocking clothes over size 12/14, they often say that the "market isn't viable or profitable" or that they believe the majority of women wear size 8, don't believe it!

Here are the fashion facts: Plus size sales are growing faster than size 10 and under." Despite our weight- (or waif-) obsessed society, half of American women wear clothing in sizes 14 and larger.

In 2000, women spent more than $17 billion on clothing sizes 16 and up, a 22 percent jump over the previous year according to the New York-based NPD Group, a marketing-research firm. And, that was five years ago!

Once condemned to clothing that was baggy, drab and dull, today's plus-size customer has a much wider variety of choices than ever before. Plus-size apparel is on an upward spiral at many retailers and online merchants. The demand for better products and presentation has been a driving force in not only retail establishments, but particularly online.

Some big-name designers are now also offering plus size lines of their own, available at department stores and are coming online faster than we can blink an eye. Keep your eyes open, continue your online plus size search and don't be surprised when you find what you are looking for, the right plus size.

According to one fashion expert, "The worst thing a woman, especially plus size women, can do is cover up her entire body head to toe. Pick your best asset, which for most women who are plus size, is their curvy bust and shapely body. Don't be afraid to flaunt it in your plus size clothing! So, for all you plus size ladies, be courageous and flaunt it."

Just check the Internet the next time you're in the market for plus size dresses. You will be amazed at the many sites available and the vast selections you have to choose from. Pricing is excellent and so are the return policies.

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