By Brian Scott Lipton
As people begin to, once again, to spend more and more time outside their homes, whether it’s at the office, in a restaurant or club, at the gym, or a theater or cinema, there will remain an inner pressure–especially prevalent in the thoughts of LGBTQ+ folks – to appear stylish wherever one goes.
For many of us, that’s not a huge dilemma (especially if money is not an object), with a wide variety of good-looking and well-fitting clothing at our fingertips. But for women and men whose weight or height require that their wardrobes are beyond “standard” sizing (size 12 for women, XL or more, for men), it hasn’t always been easy to find clothing that is comfortable yet eye-catching. Luckily, that situation is changing, thanks to a wide variety of savvy retailers and designers.
“We are always able to cater to every woman in any size who is looking to update her fall wardrobe,” notes Lyndsey Rinere, a stylist at the Dressing Room, which has stores in Wallingford and Madison. The popular boutiques carry several brands, including Skies Are Blue and Isle Apparel, that offer figure-flattering clothes in larger-than-usual sizes, as well as a varied denim selection with options for plus-size women. “We want to make sure that you’re never struggling to find a pair of jeans that fit you just right,” she adds.
That trend is definitely growing. “Every day, we see new designers expanding their current size offerings or launching their plus-size clothing line into the open space of a now $1 billion industry,” says Jen Wilder, co-owner of the Plus Bus. “Plus-size fashion has often been treated as a monolith of style, but over the past three years, we have seen the plus-size customer diversify in as far as what they are looking for or what they expect from a brand. These women are not playing by the same rules their mothers and grandmothers were. It’s why we encourage people to dress the body they have today and for the life they want today and not wait for ‘five pounds from now’ to invest in their own expression through style!”
A similar sentiment is echoed by designer Renee Cafaro, who specifically creates clothing for larger-sized women. “Design-focused retailers have been catching on like wildfire as plus-size shoppers are finally getting more access to fashion which they can use to express themselves. Everyone wants and deserves unique and trendy pieces.”
Adds Jamie King, professional fashion designer and SVP of Design and Trend with national retailer Maurices, “Under-represented groups of Americans continue to demand (as they should) more representation in every area of life, and having fashion choices is a huge part of that. We are so inspired by our Plus-identified customers, and we truly believe that all women should have access to fashion that makes them feel comfortable, put together, but most of all, confident. This is why we are proud to offer inclusive sizes 0-24: a feel-good fit for everyone!
Bigger men have long had it easier, as many brand-named sportswear designers and retailers, including Ralph Lauren, LL Bean, DXL and Casual Male, have offered items in sizes up to 3XL. But now, more and more fashion companies are thinking outside the box in catering to the larger-sized male customer.
For example, Nicole R. Brown, Chief Creator of accessory brand Ruth Nathan’s, offers two lines, The Port of Spain Jumbo and Port of Los Angeles Jumbo bow ties, each of which are designed to complement taller men due to the broader height of the bow. “These lines ensure the tie frames his face nicely,” she notes.
And perhaps the entire industry will soon follow the example of popular shirt brand UNTUCKit. “Inclusivity is a huge part of UNTUCKit and always has been,” says founder Chris Riccobono. “Everyone is welcome in our stores where you’ll find our “lineup,” which is a visual map of all the different body shapes and sizes we fit with our shirts, pants, and more. And starting in October, we’ll have even more UNTUCKit size and fit offerings through a new partnership with DXL, which will extend our size range significantly. It’s an important next step in allowing everyone to enjoy The Original Untucked Shirt.”
So yes, you can go big—and go home—with clothing that you love!