Clothes for big and tall women

Written by sarah rigg
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Clothes for big and tall women
Bigger sized woman caricature. (morguefile.com | clarita)

The average American woman is a size 14, and about one-third of American women are size 16 or larger. And yet, until recently, finding stylish plus-sized clothing has been difficult for many big women. Women who are taller than average can face an even bigger challenge when shopping for attractive clothes that fit well. It's time to learn more about clothing and accessories for big and tall women.

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Significance

Even though more than 30 per cent of American women are size 16 or up, they often can't find what they need in national chain stores and must visit speciality shops for plus-sized clothing. Though the market for plus-sized women's clothing has improved, finding well-fitting and attractive clothing for women who are taller than average can still be a challenge. For instance, Lane Bryant and The Avenue have stores for plus-sized women around the country, but there are few brick-and-mortar stores dedicated to tall women. Tall women often find that many manufacturers don't know how to design and style clothing for tall women. The designer may get the inseam right on slacks, for instance, but fail to understand how to size blouse sleeves for tall women's longer arms. The best option for finding speciality clothing for tall women is often through online retailers.

Types

Casual or business attire clothing for plus-sized women can be found at retailers such as Lane Bryant, The Avenue, or in Fashion Bug's Plus size section. The chain Torrid offers younger, hipper fashions for plus-sized teens and twenty-somethings. The website Junonia.com specialises in workout and exercise clothing for women size 14 and up, and igigi.com specialises in sophisticated clothing for size 12 and up. While brick-and-mortar stores such as J.C. Penney's sometimes have clothing labelled as fitting tall women, there are few stores targeted specifically to tall women. A variety of online retailers cater to tall women, however, including tallwomen.com, tallwomensclothes.com, and tallcouture.com.

Accessories

Accessories, too, are often not designed with big and tall women in mind. For instance, plus-sized women can often wear shoes from national retailers but find that boots are cut too tight to fit wider calves. Stockings, trouser socks and tights must also be designed differently for big and tall women. Many fashion-conscious big and tall women find that online retailers are the best resource for these accessories. For instance, welovecolors.com is a retailer of socks, tights, and stockings and has an extensive collection of tights and socks for plus-size legs. Duoboots.com specialises in custom-fit boots and can fit calves up to 535 mm (21 inches) in diameter.

Size

The cut-off for what constitutes speciality clothing for big and tall women can vary from store to store and from one manufacturer to another. Many national retailers consider any woman over 160 cm (5 foot 4 inches) to be a candidate for their "tall" clothing, while online speciality retailers may consider a woman tall only if she has an inseam of 90 cm (36 inches) or more. Plus size clothing cutoffs may be size 12, 14 or 16. Women who are on the larger end of the plus-size spectrum may have trouble finding attractive and well-fitting clothing even in shops and catalogues targeting big women. For instance, many plus-size catalogues cut off at 3X or about size 24. Finding clothing for women in the 4X to 6X range or for size 30 and up can be especially difficult. They often have to look for keyword such as "extended sizes" to find clothing that will fit. One online retailer that has a special section dedicated to extended sizes (up to size 32 or 6X) is swakdesigns.com.

Misconceptions

Clothing for big and tall women has historically had a reputation as being dowdy. However, with the advent of stores like Torrid and online retailers like B&Lu, hip and young-feeling clothing is more widely available. There are online communities and blogs dedicated to plus-size fashion as well. One of the more popular blogs for plus-size fashion is fatshionista.com. For tall women interested in fashion, there is amazona.com, an international blog dedicated to tall women's style.

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