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.
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.