Another Fashion Industry Open Letter

Dear Fashion Designers for Women’s Clothing,

Would you quit with the empire waists already?

No love,

A woman who isn’t stick-shaped.

Really, this was overdue to be said. As I’ve stated before, most designers have a very skewed impression of what women are actually shaped like, and design around the idea that a woman generally has no ass, no boobs, and comes in over five feet ten inches tall as a course of fact. The fact that women usually have extra padding in the form of curves or – gasp!! – a little fat in some places, is something horrendous and should be ignored and/or pushed aside.

As it is, fashion for women over a certain size gets worse as the sizes and shapes vary. I remember clearly, when I was shopping for business clothing, the rage is to have the big girls – by which I mean any size above a 12, and back then I was bigger than I am now – dress in loose, “flowing” shirts with patterns on them.

In other words, circus tents? Nice. Thanks but no thanks, I like my pinup curves, thank you.

So fast-forward to right now. It’s some years later, I shrank in size because my body got healthier, and am helping my friend shop Torrid.com, which is an awesome plus-size clothing shop. I don’t even have to ask her shape; I can surmise a guess. But I had to grit teeth when I saw that everything was an empire waist.

For the male readers here, and for those not going by the fashion industry, an empire waist is such a waistline that is, effectively, a seam or a fabric cinch right under the bust, or better put, above the abdomen. It’s well above a woman’s natural waist. And it could work for a look or two, or three, but there’s one major drawback: because of its situation, it emphasizes the stomach, and any minute layer of fat on it.

See above about how women are usually shaped. They have boobs. They have hips. They have a behind. They may have some fat here and there.

This also means that an empire waist would make a woman who isn’t shaped like a stick look pregnant.

Now, if someone wants to be pregnant, great, power to them. But if someone wants to wear something fun, kicky, and comfortable, and at the same time minimize a little belly pudge, then they’re out of luck. Seriously, since when is looking like one is pregnant when they’re not the next best thing? I, for one, don’t like looking pregnant when I’m not, and I’m sure that there are ladies skinnier than I, built differently than I, whom this look doesn’t flatter either. The problem is, it’s everywhere, and thusly, finding a flattering top that accommodates the top, sits well on the middle, and doesn’t interfere with the bottom is a challenge that can, and does, get costly.

I’m not made of money, honey. I don’t shop often, and when I do, I would like to pick something up that doesn’t leave me gnashing teeth. Believe me, it’s part of the reason why I quit reading fashion magazines when I was about 20. There’s absolutely nothing about them that would even remotely boost a woman’s self-confidence, far as fashion suggestions go if you’re not conventionally sized or shaped.

But, you know, it could all be avoided if people didn’t see being a little bigger than skinny as a bad thing. Honestly, I’m happier and healthier at a size 12 than I’ve ever been as a size 8. Trust me, when I was an 8, yeah, I could fit into anything,  but I was not healthy. Funny thing about tradeoffs: you never know what you can gain.

K.G.

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