I AM A MEDIUM SIZED WOMAN.
The main reason I began fashion blogging was to show women they can always look fabulous -- no matter what size or body type they are. That being said I think the fashion industry still has a long way to go in terms of celebrating and even catering to the medium-sized woman.
Ever since I was in middle school when I got my first Teen Vogue magazine, I have been obsessed with fashion. I loved looking at pictures of the gorgeous designer clothing on the runway, especially the designs of Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, and Chloe. But my love for fashion was blind because it began before I even knew what a body type was. I was so entranced by the incredible beauty of their designs that I never paid any attention to what the model looked like or considered whether or not it would fit me.
Once in high-school, when I really started noticing how curvy my body was compared to my classmates and the models in the magazines. The part of my body that made me the most self conscious was my thighs and my behind. For track practice I dreaded wearing shorts because my thighs weren’t thin like my friends, instead they jiggled back and forth as I ran. The love I felt for designer fashion began to feel like an ironic joke being played on me. At a mere 5 feet and 2 inches with a pear-shaped figure, it was not exactly easy for me to fit into the latest trends I saw in my beloved Teen Vogue magazine.
My mom will tell you that there were many shopping trips that ended in frustration and tears, and me wishing for a stick-thin boyish figure so I could wear Abercrombie jeans like the rest of the girls at school. She would try to brush off the importance of fashion and told me that “clothes are just made for skinny, tall people.”
As frustrating as clothes can be from a fit perspective, I can never surrender my love for fashion because it is my source of self-expression and inspiration. Even though the fashion industry doesn’t cater to my body type, I’m not going to sit this one. My mission is to make it an inclusive space that gives women confidence.
Even though I want to participate in fashion there are still barriers that exist. When people hear the word petite, they generally imagine someone short & tiny. There is nothing that makes me cringe more. The word petite refers to your height not your body type or weight.
So what does that mean from a shopping perspective? It means there are times when I’m struggling to squeeze into clothes. I enjoy shopping at Zara and H&M because you can get fashionable clothes for a cheap price. However I find their garment sizing to run a little small, which is a common theme I’ve noticed across European retailers (Topshop, ASOS, etc.). For reference, I am petite, medium-sized woman who generally wears a size 6 or 8. Recently I bought a pair of high-waisted linen shorts at Zara and had to get a Large because the Medium was so tight on me. Similarly, I bought a printed romper at H&M and needed to buy a size 10 so it would actually zip up in the back. When buying these items and nearly sized out, all I could think was what about the rest of American women? The average American woman today wears a 12-14 dress size. These retailers are missing sales by not catering to the average size of the American woman. They should spend more time evaluating how their garments actually fit customers and consider offering more generously cut sizes if they want to continue to grow in the US.
The number one problem in the fashion industry today is lack of awareness of how their garments actually fit customers. It’s time for the fashion industry to wake up and realize that medium sized women want to participate in fashion, but often feel that they can’t due to sizing. In the future, fashion companies will need to invest more resources into collecting data to understand how the garments they produce fit their customers. They will also need to devote time to analyzing that information and deriving actionable insights to improve their sizing for customers. The way that clothes fit is the one aspect of fashion that solicits the strongest emotional response from a customer. Companies that excel at delivering impeccable fit to customers will gain a loyal following.
Sources of Information:
The Ode to the Medium by Isabel Foxen Duke - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/isabel-foxen-duke/ode-to-the-medium-sized-woman_b_4136768.html
Just What is and Average Woman's Size Anymore? - http://blogs.webmd.com/pamela-peeke-md/2010/01/just-what-is-an-average-womans-size-anymore.html