Women’s bodies do not always conform to accepted standards. Find out how fashion brands are stepping up to the demands of inclusivity.
Inclusive Fits And Designs For Every Women’s Bodies
Women over the years have had to deal with the limited sizing options available in various clothing shops. The current choices are based on the outdated notion that women’s bodies fit a very narrow standard. Clothing sizes around the world make little to no sense and has caused women of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities to feel negatively about their bodies.
Recently, as more women speak out, fashion brands are beginning to see the need for more inclusive clothing. These designs are created to cater to real women’s bodies instead of the idealized ones that have plagued the shelf racks for decades.
Where It All Began
According to scholars, the sizing for men’s clothes was established in the late 1700s during the American Revolutionary War and was in regular use by the US Army during the War of 1812. The sizes were based on a single measurement of the chest, which they then used to calculate the proportion of men’s bodies. In the early 1900s, this became an accepted method of producing ready-made out outfits for men.
Manufacturers hoped to replicate this idea for women’s clothing sizes during the Great Depression. Following the same logic that had worked for men, manufacturers identified the bust measurement as the most critical factor in determining size. Unfortunately, the bust alone is not a reliable indicator of women’s other proportions, which caused problems for manufacturers.
To resolve this problem, the federal government of the United States commissioned two statisticians (Ruth O’Brien and William Shelton) to standardize women’s clothing sizes. This pair conducted a survey involving nearly 15,000 women from whom they took 59 measurements that factored into the female form. The system they came up with continued to rely on the bust size and the assumption that the woman had an hourglass figure. Unfortunately, generating a system proved impossible, and the data was also extremely biased. The measurements were limited to those of white women and women who had served in the army (likely to be more fit than the average citizen). Additionally, the survey paid volunteers who participated, increasing the likelihood of many participants being impoverished and leaning towards the skinnier end of the spectrum.
Nonetheless, the government adopted sizing based on this flawed data. This standard found its way to other parts of the world and was updated a few times over the next few decades before it was discarded altogether in the 1980s. This left the manufacturers to their own devices, which accounts for the ridiculous sizing options for different brands.
Inclusivity Is In Demand
One takeaway from learning about the origins of sizing standards is that women’s bodies refuse to be standardized. A look at the Canadian size chart (the same as the US) tells us that the current sizing still operates under the assumption that the woman is shaped like an hourglass. The table lists a size 4 (S) as a woman with a 34-inch bust, 26.5-inch waist, and 36-inch hips; and a size 10 (M) as having a 40-inch bust, a 32.5-inch waist, and 42-inch hips. However, this idealized hourglass figure makes up only a small part of a vast spectrum of proportions. Clearly, one size does not fit all.
For years, fashion brands have neglected to provide adequately for plus-sized women (sizes 14 and up). This is partially drawn from the misconception that plus-sized women are not interested in fashion. The reception of plus-sized women in various clothing stores has ranged from indifference to downright insulting — a treatment that is, fortunately, slowly coming to an end.
The number of plus-sized individuals is growing. At present, plus-sized women make up approximately 30% of the women in Canada, while in the US, this demographic accounts for 60% of women. This is a large, untapped market and potential revenue source.
In addition to this population trend, the rise of social media and the proactive stance of the Millennial generation have encouraged the body-positive movement and the battle against the continuing fashion alienation. Many have found the voice, courage, and means to express their dissatisfaction with the fashion industry and, little by little, their concerns are being heard. This has changed the game, making it nigh impossible for fashion brands to ignore a growing — and outraged — market.
After decades of being dismissed, the fashion industry is now beginning to see the merits of catering to this community and are now actively courting them. What’s more, this upward trend to inclusivity extends to individuals who are differently-abled and who have physical issues.
Inclusivity, for the members of this demographic, is also not limited solely to more extensive clothing options being sold at fashion establishments. The term, they believe, should include providing quality pieces in the same styles and price range as the more standard items, allowing them to keep up with fashion trends. It should also mean that the community is fairly represented in media. Advertising in whatever platform needs to feature women of various shapes and sizes.
Progress is slow. A select few companies are working on integrating clothing lines for the smaller plus-sizes, but are working their way up. Soon, the frustration of shopping for right-sized clothes and dealing with the condescension of fashion retailers will be a thing of the past. Body positivity will become the norm and women from all walks of life can finally feel confident and flaunt their individuality.
The Perfect Outfit A Blend Of Versatility, Function, And Comfort
ONZE MONTRÉAL understands that each woman is unique, with distinctive proportions and curves. We prioritize inclusivity and are committed to ensuring that women of all ages, shapes, and sizes can find stunning and sophisticated outfits that will fit them to a tee.
Our pieces are made from quality fabric that allows for versatility and functionality while offering comfort. A good portion of our clothes are made with stretch fabric to fit different sizes. For pieces with a non-stretch waistline, we place a 4-inch piece of elastic at the back. Woven styles are given some leeway by including up to 3% of elastane into the weave. Our sizes range from Small to XXL. However, because of our designs and the materials we use, it’s possible for women who wear XL other brands to fit comfortably in a Medium with us.
Whether you’re looking for an outfit for spring or winter, we have just the right piece for you. We offer a wide range of dresses, blouses, and outerwear for whatever occasion — be it shopping with friends at the mall, a job interview, a dinner date, or even a wedding. Visit us at our shop. We would be delighted to have you with us and will help you select outfits to suit your preference and body type.