When looking to design and produce plus sized clothing I found four main issues in tackling the idea of making things fit.
- Traditionally patterns are scaled from a size 6/8 and a bra size 34B based upon a survey of women’s measurements first taken and not changed since the 1930’s.
Women’s bodies have changed in proportion since the turn of the last century and while modern fashion has increased bust sizes in bra manufacture it hasn’t really looked at the female form in whole. Women are taller, more athletic and don’t wear girdles. Modern shape-wear emphasises parts and proportions that would have been considered immodest when the surveys were first taken. While shape-wear is coming back into popular use (who doesn’t own a pair of Spanx or equivalent?) it’s not sort of article that screams of seduction.
- Scaling patterns from one body type does not address the issues of HOW things should fit in plus size.
Low rise panties look great on a size 6 young model but if you are a size 22-24 and have had children then you know the first thing that happens when you sit down is that the damned things roll down your hips and you are forever having to pull them back up lest they fall off and are found round your knees in public. That is neither sexy nor confidence building. We need to face facts that larger sizes require different designs to work!
- There is no such thing as standard sizing across the high street.
Every clothing company has its own size charts and while they often agree within 2cm on the smaller sizes 0 – 16, once you move into 18+ it becomes clear that a particular size is actually more like a range rather than a set measurement. So finding your size can be hit or miss. Then the measurements on the size chart MAY NOT and usually doesn’t match the size of item that you ACTAULLY WEAR.
I surveyed over 100 women for their measurements and their ASSOCIATED size of clothing (what they actually bought and wore every day). The results showed that women wear clothing often several sizes below what the size charts said should fit. I know that some high street store size charts say I am a size 34, but I wear a size 24. It fits! I have tried on the 34 and just drowned!
Below is a table which shows the waist measurement for sizes 16 – 28 from several high street stores in centimetres. The third column reports the range of difference between the sizes. As you can see there is a standard tailoring difference of 5cm (2 inches) between the sizes until size 22 – 28 when the range begins to expand greatly going from 5cm from one store to 11cm (4.2 inches) in another. So no standard sizes.
83 – 87
78 – 92
88 – 93
89 – 102
5cm left & right
94 – 99
98 – 107
5cm left & right
100 – 105
103 – 112
5cm left; 2cm right
106 – 111
111 – 120
2cm right; 5cm left
112 – 118
116 – 125
117 – 125
*M&S, Evans, Simply Be
But what becomes more interesting and frustrating, is that these sizes do NOT apply to what women wear and says fits anyway! The fifth column – Associated – reports the measurements of women who said they wore that particular size. As you can see the measurements cover a much larger range and overlap between the sizes.
Which brings us to the final issue:
- The 10cm problem.
During the course of the month a woman can lose and then regain on average 10cm due to cycle, exercise, diet… romantic intentions… It happens! Let me tell you the story of one of my first lingerie clients named Jane. Jane requested a set of special occasion lingerie be created for her. The measurements were taken and patterns developed and tested. Everything fit perfectly. Then Jane went on a cycling holiday for 5 days. During that time she lost over 10cm in water weight which meant everything was way too big. Disaster! I went back the pattern cutting stage and redid the pieces. Five days later Jane returned for her final fitting and had gained 5cm back making everything too tight. Extra care during the design process must be taken to address the 10cm problem to ensure a good and constant fit.
So instead of copying industry standard ranges of measurement RavenDreams has gone with what women say they wear. After all it has to fit you not the expectations of some large corporation. The items have been designed to take into account that you are not always the same measurements every day. Comfort and wear-ability are key as well as structure and durability. And all this before we even picked up a pen to begin the design process. We all deserve to feel sexy and confidant!
Check out RavenDreams size chart!
Jun. 5th, 2012