If you've been following these blogs, and in fact regularly reading our newsletter (which is now in it's 21st year) you will know that one of our pet peeves is the discrepancies in sizings for the plus sizer.
Now it's all very well for the manufacturers and retailers to tell us that it is impossible to come up with a "standard" scale for sizings, but the differences are becoming too outrageous for us to be expected to continue accepting their arguments that everybody is different so there's not much we can do about it!
Yes, we know that everyone is different! We also know that there are young women who now find similar discrepancies in the sizing charts set by their favourite label. For decades the plus sizer has been faced with this dilemma and now the young, slim, trim and taut are coming across the same frustration.
I'm not in the fashion industry. I'm not an expert on this subject. But I do wear clothes. Even though my shape has changed over the decades, my size has remained almost as a constant. And I know for an actual fact that back in the 1960s and 1970s that I could walk into a clothing shop or department store (i.e. Forges of Footscray, Rockmans - back when it started - and Myer - when it was a true department store) and buy a frock off the rack for both my mother and further into the store one for me, and I knew that the sizes on the labels were just that. Sizes that fitted - if anything needed to be done to alter the frock it would inevitably be - only the hemline. You see there were NO specialised plus size stores back then anyway - you felt as though you were more accepted back then, because every woman went into the same store and found the right frock or outfit just for her.
The only drawback back then was that there weren't enough frocks or variations on offer. And that wasn't the fault of the sizings, it was because the marketplace hadn't realised its huge potential and massive profits that could be made by segregating women's sizes within one store. Then came the specialised stores dealing with plus size clothes only.
There will be many who read this blog and who will laugh at this suggestion that there was more "acceptance" in the marketplace for the plus sizer back then by saying you're exaggerating. But I'm not exaggerating in any way, shape or form. There was a wide range of sizes that didn't go from zero (or double zero) to 50 and above as today. No, there was a much simpler way of sizing. XSSW (Extra small small woman), XSW (extra small woman); SW (small woman, W (woman fitting - believe it or not this was the most popular and common sizing because it fitted a woman who was between size 16 and small 20 as in today's sizings). Then there was XW (extra woman, XXW (extra, extra woman) and so on. OK, there were just as many sizings, but here's where it's interesting.
If you went into two different stores and bought a frock in size W, then you could be quite sure both would fit well. Whereas today you can buy one label at size 20 and in the next store you'll have to buy a size 26. Why?
So back in the 60s and 70s stores carried all these sizes on racks in the same area - there was no special section for petites, or "normal" fittings, or plus-sizers which were usually relegated to some out of the way part of the department store. You felt they really appreciated ALL their customers, whatever age, shape or size, and you didn't have to search for your section out of all the defining sections within that store.
One other interesting aspect of the contradiction and frustration with plus size clothing is this. Most women's garments during those decades were made here in Australia; they were made from mostly Australian fabrics; and they were manufactured and sewn here in Australia. They were not out-sourced or made in other countries where in many cases the sizes, weights and shapes of Australian women are not truly understood. Especially, may I repeat, the more curvaceous.
Now I understand the importance of trade and I understand the ramifactions of having a product that is less expensive to produce or make than it costs here in Australia (because of wages and other working conditions), but to let an industry (the Australian clothing industry) die for the want to being practical and forward thinking smacks of hypocrisy.
You see now we have "Australian" suppliers providing clothes that are inferior in quality and design and sizes. It doesn't matter if a garment costs $50 or $150, do you really get quality for your money? Will that garment last and give you the service that you've paid for?
Perhaps we'll go further into this subject in future posts. Let me know your thoughts.