If you ever watched the TV show “Dead Like Me,” you might recall an episode that ended with the surprisingly significant line, “Cute top!” In its offbeat way, the show explained the use of clothing in female social communication, aggression, and in making friends. While the right wardrobe is something I HOPE adults do not need as a tool to find healthy friends, I’ve long argued that clothing is a language in addition to what we actually speak. It helps us find other people like ourselves, conveys our mood, our role in a certain event, and even our degree of approachability.
So what does that have to do with plus-size clothing? Everything and nothing. Our bodies are already marginalized, and that means that for those of us who aren’t gifted seamstresses and clothing designers, we are operating with something of a language handicap. There are a few philosophies of approach to this handicap:
1) Ignore it altogether. This is what the vast majority of clothing retailers choose to do, bowing out of a share on a $17 billion dollar market.
2) Offer plus sizes clothing intended for straight-size bodies, which are diverse but not diverse to the degree plus-size bodies are. In some situations, this does work. In others, it really does not.
3 )Offer plus-size clothing intended for plus-size bodies – with some approaches that work, and others that are the equivalent to throwing a tarp on us and declaring us parked.
What you see here – and really, in every clothing roundup – are pieces that I believe work well on plus-size bodies. Not one piece will work well on every person, ever. Some really are just enlarged straight size. Some are uniquely designed for plus-size concerns of comfort and aesthetic. What makes them good choices to me is that for someone with the right body type, it can prompt a “cute top.” Because sometimes, that’s just what you need to hear.