Behind The Seams: Decoding Fashion Terms

Behind The Seams: Decoding Fashion Terms

If you have ever wondered “what is considered plus size?” read this!

Christine Yarde

Fashion is evolving and it’s so exciting to see more brands finally realizing that not all bodies are made the same. On the flip side, it’s made things infinitely more confusing for shoppers. Plus-size, mid-size, extended sizing, inclusive sizing—it’s enough to make your head spin. It’s time to finally make sense of all these fashion terms and find clothes that actually fit! Because in the end, that’s all we really want.

So we’re breaking down key fashion terminology related to fit and size with some insider knowledge that will help you get the most out of your shopping experience.

Plus Size

 “Plus size” continues to be the most widely used term in the retail industry to reference clothing in sizes 14 and above. Despite it being a staple industry term, many are arguing that “inclusive-sizing” is creating a world where “plus-size” will no longer be the go-to. The most important thing to keep in mind as a shopper is that when retailers use the term “plus-size” they can typically be expected to carry sizes 14 through 28 or 32.

M.M. LaFleur for Dia & Co

Straight Size

Also known as “standard sizing,” straight sizes are associated with clothing sizes 00 through 12. And within that range sample sizes for retail clothes and runway fashion are usually sizes 6 or 8. “Straight-sizes” are typically constructed to accommodate smaller bodies which means there is less room and ease in the garment resulting in a more restrictive fit for someone who is curvier or has a larger bust.


In-between plus sizes and straight sizes is what has more recently started to be referred to as “mid-size”. Typically referring to clothing sizes 10 through 14 (in some cases 8 through 14), the unique challenges of this size range have recently come front and center in the retail world. Straight sizes are typically cut smaller with less ease while plus sizes tend to be cut larger for more ease to accommodate the different ways that weight can be distributed on larger bodies. However; in the mid-size range, one might find plus sizes to be too generously cut and straight sizes not generous enough.

Extended Sizing

Retailers and fashion brands who have traditionally only served “straight” or “standard” sizes typically use this term when they expand their offering into larger sizes. Many popular brands such as, M.M. LaFleur and Andie Swim have expanded into sizes 24 and 32 and are currently available on the Dia & Co Shop. In our research to bring extended sized brands to our community, we rigorously check the fit. With some retailers, we’ve found that extended sizes doesn’t necessarily mean “plus” sizes. The items might not necessarily be fitted for a larger body, rather they are just graded up versions of their standard sizes. This can prove problematic when looking for a comfortable fit. Trial and error is the name of the game when it comes to extended sizing.

Andie Swim

Inclusive Sizing

 Inclusive sizing however; is typically more than just producing extended ranges in size. Inclusive means that brands are running the full size range (typically, 00 through 32) with measurements and cuts that actually accommodate for how weight distribution differs as people move up and down the size chart. But beware of brands that claim size inclusivity and do not go beyond a size 24, that they are in fact just extending sizes. It doesn’t mean the clothes won’t fit but you may have to size up.

Petite Sizes

When it comes to fashion, “petite” does not equal small. It refers to a set of measurements that accommodate a shorter stature with shorter inseams and sleeve lengths. So, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to wear a size 16 or 18 and be petite. However, for petite shoppers who wear sizes 16+ these sizes tend to have a restrictive fit. Inclusive petite sizes can be difficult to find so tailoring will become your best friend. If you really love the fit of a piece with the exception of it being too long in the sleeves or elsewhere, consider having it tailored. Tailoring can make a huge difference in how you feel in your clothing.


 Curve is often used interchangeably with “plus-size” when retailers want to communicate their offerings for sizes 14 and up. However; “curvy” is also a descriptor of a body type. For example: curvy jeans are not necessarily interchangeable with  “plus-size” jeans and are typically cut for a figure where the waist and hips have a measurement difference of at least 10. So if you’re heart shaped, diamond shaped or rectangle “curvy” styles might not offer you the great fit you are looking for. 

Check out for fashion in sizes 14-32 with our wide range of cuts and styles, there’s something for everyone.

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