About two weeks ago a designer, Alysse Dalessandro released her first holiday collection for her fashion brand, Ready to Stare. Until this particular day I had not heard much about this designer but I wish I had under different circumstances. Why? Well, it all started with a dress, specifically this dress:
The picture/dress that launched a 1000+ comments, all linked to this debate about flattering the plus size body. I showed this picture to a total of ten people and out of the ten only one responded with something positive, that being the choice in color. Of course the views of ten people don’t equal those of the public yet it is very telling when it does mimic what has been circulating on social media regarding this issue. Of those that I surveyed all of them said that the look did “nothing for the model,” but only one brought up the “F” word, “flattering” and it was only after I offered up the word when he had trouble articulating his view. All of these participants stated that the piece would make any plus size woman “look big” as the cut was “hiding the shape of her figure.” Some even questioned the notion of having a skirt double as a dress and vice-versa.
I actually love the versatility of this piece (A dress and a maxi skirt for one price? That’s brilliant!), however, I would probably never wear it. Not because it “isn’t flattering,” but because I wouldn’t be comfortable. I cannot be without a bra which nixes all open shoulder tops and dresses for me. That said, if YOU don’t like this dress then don’t wear it! Move along so that those who want to can enjoy it. Fashion is for everyone so it is best to be open-minded, because what doesn’t work for you may for someone else. And while I am skeptical about wearing this dress, I wouldn’t turn down the idea of at least trying it on, after all fashion (nevermind “plus size fashion”) is meant to be expressive and creative. I strongly believe that you should be able to dress the way that is comfortable for you and conveys what you want to express.
At its core, fashion is a visual, cultural, political and social discussion so it stands to reason that its purpose is NOT to be solely “flattering” and while you can dislike what is put out there you should at least consider the value it could have in the long-run. We are in this body/size acceptance struggle together and, we want the same things: the complete change of beauty standards, increased (diverse) media visibility/representation of the plus size figure and better ( I would add affordable and readily available) fashion.
Take a second and scroll back up to the first picture. What exactly is it that makes us uncomfortable? What do you think this dress does for plus size fashion?
It is unapologetic, intentional and purposeful; it challenges what has been deemed acceptable for the plus size figure by simply playing with a design. This cut is very refreshing as most plus size special occasion/party dresses are fit and flare or body-con. Shift, drop-waist and especially empire waist dresses are so far and in-between to the point that their rarity makes them a must-have item when the do appear on store racks. These cuts are all considered to be “unflattering” which is the reason why they are intentionally kept out of plus size fashion. And let’s not forget color, Alysse used bold, textured Christmassy-red fabric. Clearly this is a dress for one to be seen in and not missed.
The reality is that society is not comfortable with us feeling/looking good or just existing, whether it be in “flattering” or “unflattering” clothes. Even with the rise of the body positive movement, this idea of the acceptable fat figure and fat fashion is so ingrained in our society and individual thinking that even with our body love and self acceptance sensibilities we cringe at those things that which strongly deviates from the norm. I find this to be a positive as it demonstrates that there is a great need to push for a change and for that reason I think we should definitely celebrate the fact that a plus size designer went out of her way to break the standard with such an unapologetic flair with this dress.
So what do you think? Does the convertible cupcake dress have a silhouette that is best left to straight sizes?
About this series: “My Two Cents” is a personal opinion series dealing with observed industry practices as well as society’s accepted concepts on body/self love and standards of beauty. It is meant to spark discussion on issues which I have deemed in need of addressing. Any ideas for discussion are welcomed and may be made in the comments or via the contact page.
Thanks for reading!
4 thoughts on “My Two Cents: Plus Size Fashion MUST “Flatter the Figure”?”
Great post. My take on the “flattering” word is, clothing is flattering if you feel flattering in it. Other people’s opinions mean nothing. If you like it wear it. I am with you though. I may hate bras but my chest doesn’t allow me to go without. I am uncomfortable in strapless, they hold up nothing, so outfits like this don’t work for me.
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Thanks. “Flattering” is one of those words that has so many meanings that its hard to know what exactly people mean when they use it in certain contexts like compliments. I’m with you, it SHOULD mean that you feel good in it but for most part it means “enhancing one’s appearance to hide problem areas in favor of those considered to be more favorable or attractive.” This is why when people say,”Oh that dress is so flattering on you,” I’m always questioning whether or not they are complimenting me or just saying that I’m hiding enough of myself that makes them comfortable. Its annoying really. As for the bra thing, until someone can show me that a strapless bra can actually support my bust the same way as a regular bra does I am not going to even try to make those kinds of outfits work.
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