Famed designer (and Project Runway mentor) Tim Gunn recently wrote a well-meaning piece for the Washington Post about the current state of Fashion and Plus Size Fashion.
(You can read the entire thing here)
Unfortunately, I’m not sure there was any new information in his piece. I appreciate his frustration, but wonder what he is doing to change the climate of his industry.
Gunn’s piece is full of facts and figures (none of which should surprise any plus size lady who has entered a mall, gone to a store website, or even seen a photo from New York Fashion Week). He also goes on to discuss the shopping process for these women:
Have you shopped retail for size 14-plus clothing? Based on my experience shopping with plus-size women, it’s a horribly insulting and demoralizing experience. Half the items make the body look larger, with features like ruching, box pleats and shoulder pads. Pastels and large-scale prints and crazy pattern-mixing abound, all guaranteed to make you look infantile or like a float in a parade. Adding to this travesty is a major department-store chain that makes you walk under a marquee that reads “WOMAN.” What does that even imply? That a “woman” is anyone larger than a 12, and everyone else is a girl? It’s mind-boggling.
I’m so sorry, Tim, for how demeaning this experience must’ve been for you – a man who he began working at Parsons in 1982 and only now has taken notice. We (the plus size women), we know what it’s like. We know what is available to us in the store. We know where to look online. We know where to find our department.
With his intentions and heart in the right place — he hit a point that is so often missed: a look can’t just be made bigger, “Designs need to be reconceived, not just sized up; it’s a matter of adjusting proportions”. — Gunn still made one common and huge mistake.
When Gunn discusses Ashley Nell Tipton’s winning collection from season 14 of Project Runway he says:
I’ve never seen such hideous clothes in my life: bare midriffs; skirts over crinoline, which give the clothes, and the wearer, more volume;
Again, this man – who, to my knowledge, never has been a plus size woman – makes the assumption that so many do: that We do not want to show our midriff, and that clothing is intended to make our bodies look smaller and thus more appealing by societal standards.Oh, are we not supposed to wear horizontal stripes because they widen us? Are we not allowed to wear open-back tops that reveal our rolls? What if I don’t want to keep up the illusion and just want to show off my body and the size that it actually is?
I’m sick of being told what a plus size body can and cannot wear! If I want to wear a crop-top because I think it looks good, I’m going to wear a damn crop-top, Tim.