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The Joy of Being Plus-Size

The Joy of Being Plus-Size

Obviously I’m saying this tongue-in-cheek  as for most cross-dressers  trying to fit into womens’ clothing of any size can be a gargantuan task, but even more so if you are a size 14 or larger. Now you are into the plus sizes and it is even harder for us to find flattering clothes with our broad shoulders and lack of a defined waist..  Despite the fact that more than 50% of American women are size 14 or larger, many of the manufacturers still cling to old ideas and some retailers simply ignore us

Tim Gumm, noted fashion designer and the sage behind  “Project Runway”, points to the larger industry-wide problem.  “When I’m working in the real world with real women and we’re shopping, we find that fashion seems to end when you get any larger than a size 12,” Gunn told The Huffington Post. “How ridiculous is that?”  Gunn also tries to open the designers’ minds to the idea of fashion beyond the runway, reminding them that there is a world of women out there who are not a size 2.

Gunn illustrated for us:

“Go to Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue, I think it’s the eighth floor, and it’s just a department called ‘Woman.’ It’s rather devastating. You’ve never seen such hideous clothes in your entire life. I mean, it’s simply appalling. Thank God there are no windows on that floor, because if I were a size 18, I’d throw myself right out the window [after seeing those clothes]. It’s insulting what these designers do to these women.

This is all compounded by the fact that a 40-50-60 year old man wants to dress like a teenager or his vision of a sexy tramp. So the tighter, the better. No wonder corsets are such big sellers.  I love Mexico because the women don’t mind showing their curves, but we hardly have the silhouettes that they have

There are many reasons  and assumptions made by fashion manufacturers:

  • Body shapes vary, but manufacturers assume that your body shape is the same as every other plus size woman (and what world do they live in)
  • Plus size women don’t care about looking fashionable. There are a lot of frumpy styles in the plus market (they don’t listen to the bloggers either)
  • Plus size women either only want to wear black, or really bright colours – there just isn’t the variety of color choices. (at least they would have us believe that)
  • Plus size women are tall, but there are many who are petite or average, yet so many clothes are made proportionally much longer than in the smaller sizes. ( It’s all about proportion ladies and ours are usually wrong. I’m 5-10 and wear a petite if measured from my natural waist)
  • Plus size women just want to hide their body with layers and voluminous clothing. (just like guys!!)
  • Plus size women will buy anything provided they can get it on, whether or not it’s flattering. (that’s why a woman goes into the fitting room with 30 pieces and comes out with one)
  • Bad design – there is much of it about.  Unflattering use of horizontal details in plus size clothing design because much of what is made and sold is based on a design that is made for a small size but just graded up to plus. (if you’ll buy it, they’ll sell it)
  • Speaking of grading – that’s where they take a smaller pattern and add size to it, evenly, all over (yet we don’t put on weight evenly) so many clothes are ill-fitting.

Plus size tips from Imogene

What you can do:

Be more judgemental when you shop, just because you can put it on, doesn’t mean it flatters you.   Make sure the color and style work for you.  It’s better to have fewer pieces that make you feel good, than lots of clothing that you don’t really wear, because it doesn’t make you look or feel good. I highly recommend you take a free online color analysis  and then order the color samples to take with you when shopping.

Understand your shape.  There are almost as many plus sized body shapes as in smaller sizes.  If you have a defined waist, (such as an X shape) then define it.  If you don’t then steer clear of styles that have waist detail or seams at the waist.

Expect to have alterations.  Every woman should expect this, regardless of size.  Mass market manufacturing cuts to pattern blocks that are generic.  You are far from generic.  But if you have your clothing tailored to fit, you will feel and look so much better in them.

Look for fabrics that have fluid drape, they will skim your shape, rather than stiffly add extra volume, or cling unflatteringly.

Add accessories up near your face:

  • If you have a wider neck – look for embellished necklines or add larger scale earrings.
  • If you have a longer neck – choose pendants.
  • Be careful of long pendants that end past your bust, they will draw attention to your stomach.

Be cautious here though because if you have strong masculine features, it’s better to highlight a different part of your body especially if you have great legs. Also your hair style and the right wig go a long way to feminize your face. We’re assuming that you are already adept at makeup.

Make sure hems end at a flattering point.  Hems should end at narrow points, rather than wide ones. This is not usually an issue for cross dressers but you want a dress or skirt  that will fall correctly

  • the narrow points of your arms
  • Not the widest point of your hips
  • The slimmest part of your calf

Create a column of color to elongate your shape.

And dress for your personality.  Express who you are, whatever your size.  If you feel good you will look better and have more confidence.  Don’t hide away in clothes that aims to be invisible.  There is no such thing, but when someone dresses to look invisible it draws attention and points to a lack of self-esteem and confidence.

As usual, I have Imogene Lampart at Insideoutstyle to thank for these excellent recommendations. Please do read her blog.



Countessa from Countessa's Closet says:

Hello. I have been a fashion designer for many years, more than I care to say, and I also have been a petite model for over 20 years.. I do agree with some of the info here but not all of it. I have designed for the TG/TS communities for over 15 years and am also a award winning designer, I tell you this so you are aware of my qualifications.

I have always felt that a necklace for the TG gal should be at least to the bustline, not above it as that will accenturate the width of the shoulder and the neck, and if a tighter and smaller fit, will also accentuate the jaw and width of the jaw and neck.. Two severe give aways to the public regarding Tg/Ts ladies.

The fashion industry is fully aware of the plus size lady and now does try to help and design for them and our company is also doing this and has done this for over 15 years. Walmart seems to still think that plus size gals run around in leggings and t shirts, and that my dear darlin gals is not at all what is in fashion or part of what true fashion designers are feeling… That look is horrible.. and is strictly for the home… So yes, when it comes to those types of stores, they do tend to stay to those over sized styles and also those darn leggins.. Leggings are for skinny gals and those that have super shapely legs and ankles… If a heavy gal wears tight leggings, only tends to exaggerate her width and size…and that is not a good thing..

My many, many latina female friends have expressed to me often that they are almost obligated to try to look sexy as it is often part of the culture. I am not saying that they state they need to look trashy, but there are all types of sexy and alluring styles that are very lovely. Did you know that one of the sexiest dressess a woman can wear is not low on the bustline, but rather up to the neck and even in a cowl neck style with a very low back and long sleeves and a long hemline with just a slit in it to the thigh at the side of the dress in front or in the back of the dress, this is a standard design in every designers clothing line.

You need not show the whole body but instead, tease the eye and as men are visual and women are mental…. to tease a man’s thoughts and his senses is so much more sexy in fashion. showing it all , just tends to push the senses and when the senses are satisfied they tend to move on and elsewhere.. a typical way that men see things and react to them.. I have done much research on this and often.
DON’T be fooled on your height, men adore statuesque women, they will follow them almost anywhere and they love long legs and pretty feet and ankles, so wear those open toe shoes and enjoy yourself. Statuesque women basically rule the fashion world, it is gals like me that are petite that can’ t wear all those long leggy styles and such, it would look sillly on us.. darn it.. We get away with some of them but surely not the styles that the taller more statuesque gals can wear.

Pendants should be at least to the bustline or a tad below it.. this will help to elongate the body and if you are a “tummy is there gal” just as I am abit… well just take the necklace to the bustline or just below and remember looser clothing will also make you look thinner. It will look as if the flowing or slight looseness is the garment and not your body. Blouson is fabulous for any gal with a larger waist it will hide that larger waist and make you look more like you have a smaller waistline.
I have found this to be excellent advise from the writer here, “””Look for fabrics that have fluid drape, they will skim your shape, rather than stiffly add extra volume, or cling unflatteringly.”””””

I also suggest that you wear a light weight jacket, or sweater or light float coat style to hide abit of that extra weight.. I am not skinny,and many tell me that I am not overweight. but I do tend to wear a jacket, or overblouse most all the time with slacks or skirt… This will also add a much more sophisitcated and elegand style to your mode of clothing. and also a much more finished look to your style. We all wish that, its wonderful to have others compliment us on our style and “look” and of course, having a signature style or look is fabulous and worth all the diamonds in the world ! A signature look may be a lovely flower worn in the hair, or pretty barette. a matching set of jewelry is also awesome and will offer a most “finished” look to any outfit. having that special style in hair and makeup is also flattering if done well . Yu may find others will ask you how you did that, and that is one of the most flattering compliments as you will see others trying that look also.. they are trying to look just like you.. Is there any better compliment ????? Never wear a tight belt if you wish to look thinner that is only for those super skinny ladies as it will tend to make you look mis sized or your waist too high or too low or just plain overweight, no way to make that tight belt on a plus size look great.. but then again.. an empire waist is great for the gal that wishes to soften her look..Just remember not too tight in the bustline or the skirt… That is such a lovely feminine and soft style for any gal…if worn in the proper size.

Yes, darlin, you may wear your diamond tennis bracelet with resort wear,bathingsuits, or anywhere you wish , after all , we all adore jewelry… but remember, to have jewelry look real , is to wear less, and not a dozen bracelets on each wrist. Show off that one magnificent jewelry piece and yes, earrings are wonderful also.. Not too small if you are a tall gal but then again, not gargantuous !

Hoops are kewl but now they are moving on to make room for drop earrings and also the larger button earrings. I adore that, as button earrings are my faves. I feel that when I wear large drop earrings, it tends to make me look more like a gyspy , not that being a gyspy is bad, but its just not my look or style.

I adore elegance and superior elegance is simplicity, a necklace or bib style necklace, a bracelet on one hand a ring on each hand and that to me is part of what elegance is. We never wish to look like we put on all our jewlery before we walked out that front door. Wearing many rings on one hand is not something that really elegant, but one ring on each hand and if they are big stones , well darlin, that will make the hand look much smaller and also does make a most outstanding statement in any fashionable event.
Purses are larger today and that is a blessing to a gal like me that usually turns her bag into a briefcase by the end of the day. Haha ha… but a true story. I destory my lovely bags with all that I carry in them and still can’t break that habit.
Keep your touch up makeup in a cosmetic bag in your purse or handbag, also a great tip is to keep a dollar or two and a few quarters in it for the powder room. You may need to tip or even pay for the seats in there.. No joke ! You may also need them for an emergency phone call should you drop or lose your cell phone.

Thre basic rules and guidlines in fashion are simple.. wear clothing that either moves with you or flatters your figure, enjoy your style and your look and when you feel confident about your style and look.. You will also feel wonderful and enchanting and totally feminine at all times.

My Motto is ” Femininity is an art, It is a gentle form of power!

Think about this and you will agree I am sure.

Your new best pal
CEO Designer
Countessa’s Closet
Yu may always contact me if you should have any questions that I may be of help on, with fashion or style. No questions is too small or too large.

TB admin says:

Thank you Countessa. As always, you are spot-on with your advice. It’s true about Latino women. However, I fear that the American influence of sloppiness will spill over to this generally well-dressed culture.

Yes, it’s also true that plus-size fashion is getting more attention but I’m not sure that means the clothes are more stylish. Look for my coming article on this subject. We do have companies like Mod Cloth, Sydney’s Closet and a few others, including of course Countessa’s Closet, that recognize the needs of the larger woman, but Tim Gunn’s comments are still appropriate I think for mainstream fashion.

Loved your comment on leggings and how true. I sat in Chile’s yesterday in Merida and two women were wearing brightly printed leggings. I have to tell you that they were striking and sexy. One was young and the other 40ish, but both women were thin and lithe. Won’t work for us fatties.

For sure simplicity is better. A drapey long dress with a side slit to the thigh is very sexy and you can get them in all styles from casual to dressy. Many cross-dressers have yet to learn about allure……….Tasi

Molly Thomas says:

I was wandering through Macy’s flagship store in Chicago (the old Marshall Fields) yesterday and was amazed how much they have expanded the Women’s and Plus lines. Now a lot of it fits right into the blob styles you were bemoaning but I did see some cute pieces from Jones of NY, Eileen Fisher and a few other designers (with the appropriate price tags attached). Even the house brand showed some promise. I wasn’t dressed so I couldn’t try anything on but the point was there were fashions that were following trends what was being shown on flight down in Misses but scaled for Plus. I had a similar experience at Dress Barn. Now I am not sure that some of the patters should be put on a Plus frame but at least they are trying.

One of my pet peeves with my size (1X) is that the designer assumes I am packing 40Ds. I am a natural (well hormonally enhanced natural) B but to actually get as big as they assume I am requires huge breast forms and massive bras, not something I really enjoy wearing. Not every 1X woman is that big on top. I am quite happy being a C cup which requires minimal enhancement.

Another big pet peeve is why are all skirts for plus women either variations on black or maxi skirts. I have nice legs and would like wear a skirt that isn’t black and doesn’t hang down to my ankles once in a while. Where is the classic pencil skirt for me? I have a terrible time finding trousers that fit (waist and hips are just in the wrong places-jeans are better because of all the stretch).

Then there are jackets. A structured jacket should be a mainstay of every wardrobe, unless you are 6’2″ and wear a men’s 43Long sport coat. I can barely find tops that are marginally long enough, even tunics. Jackets are a joke, even talls. For some reason tall usually means long pants, not long tops or if they are long they are long in the sleeves but not in the torso.

The joy of being a tall transwoman.


Ann Reinten says:

Great feature Tasi!

Claire Stafford says:

Very interesting and, in my experience, a very accurate article Tasi. Even purchasing clothing for larger sizes, including ‘Tall’ can cause difficulty, esp buying on line,as a lot of us do. Often the models shown wearing the items are ‘conventional’ or ‘normal’ sized. (Sorry, I’ll wash my mouth out with soap and water later).
While things are moving slowly in the fashion industry for us larger, ‘generously figured girls’, I do wonder if our salvation will be the emergence of the on line Asian clothing manufacturing businesses? There seems to be many companies based there that advertise a wide range of styles and cuts to cater for body shape variations.
I have purchased a few items which were very serviceable and friends have assured me they purchase on a regular basis and are more than satisfied.
Here in Oztralia two brands in particular specialise very nicely for the generous proportioned, City Chic, and TS. I have a few items of each, City Chic being a personal favourite.



TB admin says:

I agree. City Chic is a good line

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