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Carol Perkins: Designers don't understand ample women

Designers just don't get it she says, but if they did, she says, I can hear Joan Rivers on the runway now, 'So and so is wearing a Carol Perkins design; isn't that a lovely dress- for her size!' - CAROL PERKINS
Next earlier Carol Perkins column: Mama Said

By Carol Perkins

Nothing looks good on a fat woman. Isn't that what designers think? Isn't that why they don't focus on clothing for heavy women? Liz Claiborne had her Elizabeth line, but she produced frumpy flocks. Ralph Lauren has his Lauren woman, but the prices are so high the average working woman can't buy them. A 3x blouse runs around $95. The same blouse for other women would be about $75. Does it take that much more material? Most people don't make that kind of money, so they are not even tempted by those designers.

The choices in the plus size department range from turn of the century grandma styles or those of a pole dancer? ( I am reminded of the pole dancer in the movie "That's My Boy.") Is there a rule in the fashion industry that to look fashionable one must be a size 0? In my algebra class, a zero meant nothing.

I am addicted to "Project Runway." The seamstress part of me studies the pattern making and the construction of items. If I could spend an hour in the fabric store Mood, I would race up and down the aisles as they do, pulling out fabric and dreaming a design. Fashion is subjective, but most of us women are looking for something to make us appear slimmer, trimmer, and more stylish than we feel.

One episode required the designers to create a look for "plus" size women. Just the word "plus" added before the word woman means too much of her. When Heidi told the designers their assignment, many were visibly perplexed. They might as well have been told they were going to dress a whale.

The plus size ladies, who were not models but working women, homemakers, and grandmothers, were introduced on the runway and lined up for the designers to view. First of all, this process was much like PE classes where team captains chose players, one by one, resulting in someone being last. The designers eyeballed their clients and the last designer left in the hat had to take a short, plump woman with no form. That woman could have been me!

As the show progressed, a few of the male designers whined to each other about having to work with these women. "I don't know how to make large sizes!" one complained to Tim Gum who told him to make it work. His model once cried after his attempt to make a belt for her but didn't have enough material and let her know it! What woman wants a belt around a waistline she is trying to hide? His "client" happened to be a high powered lawyer, but even her security in the workplace didn't keep her personal insecurities hidden.

To a plus size woman shopping is a dreadful chore because the prices are higher, the clothes are uglier, and the availability is limited compared to those who are considered "average." If someone could create nice clothes for what is becoming the normal American woman, he/she could make a fortune. Is there a designer for plus size women who produces stylish clothing at affordable prices? Maybe that will be my next project.

I can hear Joan Rivers on the runway now, "So and so is wearing a Carol Perkins design; isn't that a lovely dress- for her size!"

About the writer When she's not writing great columns and grandmothering, Carol Perkins is writing books or conducting her growing business, Main Street ScreenPrinting, 85 S Main Street, Edmonton, KY.

This story was posted on 2013-02-19 05:38:26
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