By Christine Yarde
What’s The Deal with Plus Sizes versus Extended Sizes?
The plus-size fashion scene has changed rapidly over the last year! Major brands making clothes for curvy women like Catherines and Lane Bryant have closed hundreds of stores across the country. And as the exclusively plus-size options dwindle, more and more brands are offering extended plus-size clothing and embracing inclusive sizing. While fashion is still far from fully representing all body types, I speak for my inner plus-size teenager who longed for fashionable clothes in her size, when I say this is a promising development for anyone who wears a size 12+ in women’s clothes.
But let’s keep it real, what we, the plus-size shoppers, really want to know is, will these chic and curvy extended sizing pieces actually fit correctly? There can be a significant difference in fit between “plus-sizing” and “extended-sizing”—I know this from experience—and the added complexity of each brand having different size ranges. It’s not uncommon to wear a size 14 in one brand and an 18 in another.
At dia.com, our mission has always been to provide the most accurate and inclusive fits for sizes 10-32 and we only work with brands who do the same. But, with all of this to consider, it can be hard to know what to expect when you shop online. So, for all my curvy women navigating this new fashion world—here’s how the cookie crumbles!
The Truth About Size
Get ready for some juicy industry knowledge here—all clothes are made based on a system of body measurements and sometimes the difference between sizes is just a matter of about 1 or 2 inches. Designers start with a sample size, usually an 8 in straight sizes and an 18 in plus. Based on these sample garments all other sizes are created by adding or subtracting a few inches of fabric. This is also known as grading.
This means that grading a size 8 sample up to a 18 leaves tons of room for fit error when it comes to curating curvy fashion. There is no way to account for the difference in weight distribution on fuller figures. In plus sizing however, a curvier body is used to create the sample, achieving a fit that is more accommodating to a curvy figure even as it is graded up or down in size. It’s the reason you might wear an 18 at dia.com and a 22 at another brand that has extended into plus-size. Even a size 10 with a curvier figure will find a better fit when clothes are crafted with their shape in mind. Companies that really want to serve the plus-size customer, like us, will keep this in mind when extending sizing, and brands that don’t are pretty easy to sniff out—nothing will fit well. Been there, done that! Thank you, next!
Know Thyself And That Size Chart
Knowing your measurements is not about judging your body, it’s about accuracy. We all want our clothes to fit and when they don’t, it can feel devastatingly helpless. But we have more power than we think! The more we know about our bodies, the more control we have when buying clothes. You’ve got to know what you are working with to get the right fit—and a fabric tape measure is your best ally. Pro Tip: They are super easy to find in most pharmacies, some of them even come with a mini sewing kit—feel free to discard the needle and thread if sewing is not your jam. When exploring new websites, always give the size chart a once over before hitting “place order”. If you have a 44” bust and typically buy a size 1x, but the size chart says a 1x=40” bust—close the browser window immediately! I’m dramatic, you can also just size up, but don’t cheat yourself—you deserve clothes that are made to fit your body.
- If you find your measurements have you all over the size chart, consider buying the size that matches at least two thirds of your measurements (bottom-heavy figures can focus on hips and waist, while top-heavy figures might focus on bust and waist).
- When in doubt size up, it’s much easier to remove excess fabric than to add fabric that isn’t there. No one will care that you are wearing a size up when you are confident and comfortable strutting your stuff.
- And last but not least, when you find a great fit you can count on, commit! You will know how their pieces fit season after season and that kind of comfort is priceless. That’s why I love Meri Skye jeans, no guessing games—just consistent fit and style.
I Still Can’t Find My Size—Now What?!
Extended sizing is not an exact science, and unless you’re investing in tailoring (highly recommended for your most favorite pieces), there will be a lot of trial and error, and that’s ok! You may have to size up or down depending on the stretchiness of the fabric or you may want to try a few sizes before you buy. And that’s exactly the kind of versatility you will find on dia.com. Clothes are made to fit as many bodies as possible, and though we know that every body is created equitably, they are not created the same. And thank goodness, I mean how boring would that be?
A few pro tips from my personal experience:
Shop dia.com for styles from exclusively plus and extended sizing brands for women that actually fit. Discover new brands or shop the ones you already love in sizes 10-32.