Overlooked Fashion Niches

We have a lot of overlooked fashion niches don’t we?

Plus-sized fashion is a big one.

The average weight and size of a woman is 5’4″ and 163 pounds, up from 157 pounds the year before. (Source: Wonderquest)

I’m 5’4″, and I’m 130 – 135 pounds but I look like I’m around 115 – 120 pounds sometimes.

(Don’t ask me how that is because either I’m secretly muscle-y and my muscles are just hiding from me when they need to be worked, or the weight spreads really evenly across my body. I’m leaning towards the latter.)

And even I, at that weight, have a hard time finding clothes to fit correctly.

My top 5 gripes

  • Waist is too tight but it fits everywhere else
  • Shoulders are too narrow (who are we using as fit models? birds?)
  • Bust coverage is too low (bra always ends up showing)
  • Pants don’t fit because they’re too long (Fit models are 5’7″, but I assume they want us to hem)
  • Armholes are too tight

But I can imagine another overlooked fashion niche are women shorter than 5’4″ (I thought I had problems!).

Because things just look too long and big on them, or the petite sizes meant for shorter than 5’4″, are petite in overall size, not allowing for different body types or shapes in shorter women.

Until the retail industry catches up with the rest of our varying body shapes, we need to basically suck it up and figure out how to dress for what we’ve got.

With all that being said, it’s the reason why I stick to the following shapes/styles..

What I stick to:

  • Wrap dresses and tops — you can adjust the waist in these most of the time
  • Jersey, or fabrics with a bit of stretch
  • Mid-rise pants and jeans
  • V-neck clothing that stops a couple of inches below the middle of my collarbone
  • Nothing strapless

I do think that retailers are leaving a big chunk of cash on the table. What I would like to see, is a store that can design real, cute clothing for ALL sizes. From 00 to 6 to 24.

And it shouldn’t be that difficult if retailers looked at it from a different perspective.

The trick is that we do NOT want to look TOO different to really stand out for the wrong reasons, like being called a fashion victim behind or backs.

Let’s face it, most of us are pretty average in our choices of clothing (or is that just me?)

I for one, am in the category of 90% of women who wouldn’t dare wear a pair of harem MC hammer pants with a saggy diaper-like bottom.

I am also a woman who would never consider wearing crochet or other see-through or sheer tops as actual clothing with nothing else on.

Or thong bikinis. You get the idea.

We’re pretty vanilla in our fashion choices

Most women en masse, are pretty vanilla.

Not all of us, but most of us.

I like stuff from Anthropologie, Jacob, J. Crew, Banana Republic, Target, Independent Designers… and so on. I consider myself to enjoy fashion quite a bit, but REAL fashion. Real individual style. All the clothes I wear are literally a canvas for the rest of my accessories, which is where (for me), true individuality emerges.

Instead of just wearing a charcoal grey suit with a pinstriped top, wearing a bold chunky necklace with it, and cute heels with an interesting piece of metal jewelery on your finger, can say a lot more about you than a boring pair of stud earrings.

If we’re all wearing the same stuff, the only thing that differentiates us, is our accessories and our attitudes.

Retailers don’t understand that they can make the same suit, but in a wide range of fabrics with little details here and there, and make a killing.

They do not need to go overboard!

Retailers use unflattering fabrics as well

One major problem is that retailers don’t pay attention to the fabrics being used (stretchy, breathable, not shiny).

Things that are too shiny, can only look decent on a couple of sizes. They aren’t wearable at any size.

Things that are too tight in terms of fabric, means you have to use MORE fabric instead of less, because there isn’t any give.

And it has a higher chance of NOT fitting someone by the nature of the fabric.

They shouldn’t stop making the classics!

There are always classic things that look good on everyone at any size and if a retailer would just focus on those same shapes and styles, and just change MINOR details like a collar, the buttons, the pleating, the pockets, and the colours or patterns… they could probably make a killing.

Tailored jackets for one, and doing them in a softer, more forgiving fabric would allow more stretch without compromising quality. And adding a cute wrap detail, or something different in the buttons or collars is enough for most women.

Another style of dress that seems to work on ALL shapes are wrap dresses because I’m a slender person but this looks good on me, AND my curvier friends. You can adjust the waist band, you feel like a woman, and it fits even when you go up or down a size.

Vests are another good bet. And so are A-line skirts.

What I’m trying to point out, is that retailers have an option.

They can sit back and try and predict what the next hot pair of harem pants are, or they can just stick to the basics in a modern woman’s fashion and make it wearable at any size, for a decent price, and with little changes here and there.

Like an added frill. Or ruffle. Or a set of buttons up the sleeve. Or a zippered skirt.

This is why I enjoy Target so much — they have all the sizes, and the fabrics are pretty much the same across all sizes, as well as the styles. They really understand the everyday woman, and it’s why it’s one of my favourite places to shop.

What would you like to tell these mass merchandise retailers?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.