Do You Look to Straight Sized Women to Inspire Your Plus Size Aesthetic?

Alexa Chung for AG

Fat Alexa Chung

How many times have you been excited to see that your favorite celebrity or designer is doing a line for Target or H&M and then come to the crushing realization that they don’t include plus sizes? (I’m looking at you, Beyoncé) Admittedly, the plus size market is significantly better than it was five years ago. In high school, my options were Old Navy or…more Old Navy.

My first few years of college it was near impossible to find a Forever21plus section. And Asos?  I ordered my first dress from Asos my sophomore year using my brand new debit card, with the money I made from my first real job working as a marketing assistant at my school’s publishing house. It cost $50, was ugly as sin, and I felt every penny of it. But it was the first time I found something in my size that was fashion forward and youthful looking, and I couldn’t help but lay out my hard earned cash.

There is a lot of discussion online about Fatshion, body acceptance, Fuck Your Beauty Standards..etc. I think the most amazing thing is that this has now become the normal jargon in internet communities. The past six years have been an incredibly weird and wonderful time where the words ‘fat’ and ‘activism’ were previously never found in a sentence together.

Image_1439214882932 In fact, I dare you to google plus size fashion throughout history. Just try “plus size fashion 1970’s.” The only things that will come up are Halloween costumes, which could trick a person into believing that there weren’t any plus size women before the 00’s.

The truth is that the world has become significantly better for the heavier girl in the past five years- or should I say, the heavier girl’s dollar is at last starting to be recognized. I want cat print crop tops! Consumers shouted. And retailers like Target, Asos, Forever21, and H&M answered.

Sometimes the rub isn’t the lack of outlets for plus size clothing, but rather that an opportunity to be inclusive was ignored. Now, I’m not going to pretend that the new Alexa Chung line for AG jeans was trying to be inclusive. A t-shirt costs $98.00. But my feeling is that if you are going to take the time to do a special line (to make money) you might as well make the most money possible. Perhaps the people at AG understood that the audience for a hundred-dollar t-shirt was already too narrow to be worth going into production for larger sizes. But for retailers of fast fashion (i.e. H&M and Target), it is disappointing to see that a small collection of plus size clothing could not be at least cobbled together out of the scraps for straight sizes.

There also seems to be only a handful of styles that plus size women have to chose from; preppy, pin-up, and now a growing emergence of hipster/feminist punk. But what if you want to dress like Ally McGraw, or Ashley Olsen, or Jane Birkin? Or wear menswear like Diane Keaton in Annie Hall? Can fat women have thin fashion icons? Or do the limitations of plus size clothing cause a certain homogeneity in fat girl aesthetic?

I can’t answer those questions completely because I’m still trying to figure it out for myself. In my own style I have been able to pull pieces that replicate the style of the Olsen twins or Alexa Chung, but there have been moments where I’ve acquiesced to whatever was available in my size. These were the outfits that I hated, but wore because I didn’t have the money to shop at Asos (which can be expensive) or because I knew it would allow me to blend in.  Asos has many times come through for me with flying colors (see the button up denim skirt above), but can again be expensive and the quality is not consistent.

Who are your straight sized fashion icons that you try to emulate in your plus size clothing? Katy Perry? Angelina Jolie? Cher? Do you find it hard to find pieces to match your ideal aesthetic?

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