Op-Ed: All Quiet on D.C.’s Plus Size Front. What’s Missing From D.C. Fashion Scene
by ATFDC Contributor Dionna Humphrey
Long ago when my office was in Dupont Circle, I used to pass the Betsy Fisher store on Connecticut on my way to and from metro. Then one day, I saw THE most beautiful dress. It was a collage of gorgeous prints & colors, and the back was low cut. To die for! I pined away by a few times before I convinced myself that I needed the dress and had to try it on. To my disappointment, they didn’t have my size. Depressing! But it wasn’t just that dress; there I was surrounded by beautiful garments, and I wouldn’t be able to get into them.
This is a pattern I’ve noticed since then to this day. So I asked myself– where are all the fabulous plus size fashion finds in the District?
The answer is I don’t know. I’ve yet to find a store that carries anything above a 12. Believe me, I’ve tried. Georgetown? Nothing. U Street? Empty. Dupont? Not a chance. I mean zero. This leaves curvy fashiontonians with very few shopping options in the district. There are a few big box retailers that I’ve spoken about before that carry plus size clothes, but for those who seek unique, vintage, or ultra fabulous, you have to go outside D.C. or online to find what you’re looking for.
How can this be? The plus size clothing industry has transformed over the years. Long gone are the days when our only options were stores that sold shapeless frocks severely short on style. There are a number of designers who make lines exclusively for curvy girls, as well as a number of straight size designers who now carry sizes up to 18 or have designed a line of plus size clothing options to attract new customers.
Perhaps it’s the boutiques themselves that are clueless. There is most certainly a demand and a market here in D.C. If local retailers better familiarized themselves with the demographic, they would find it ripe with beautiful curvy fashiontonians chomping at the bit to shop in their stores. With the world of plus size fashion continuing to grow and flourish, shops could find plus size designers that fit their boutique style and welcome new customers at the same time.
Then I asked myself the question that I wasn’t really ready to hear the answer to: is the lack of options in the stores mean plus size customers simply aren’t welcome? Sadly, this is a trend that I am all too familiar with. A lot of big box retailers like Old Navy & The Limited (they recently started a new plus size line, Eloquii, but its available in very few stores) carry their plus size line exclusively online. Which, for women like me, makes it challenging to shop because A, I fit both straight and plus sizes and B, I like to try things on. It seem as though the fashion world wants us to hide away.
But that’s not happening. We are not and should not be ashamed of our curves. We aren’t perfect, but I don’t know what human is. What we are however is fashion-forward beauties with a need and desire to look beautiful—just like any other woman. We’re not hiding, so why are the retailers?
I don’t want to keep passing by drooling over fashion that will never be. So I’m issuing a challenge for D.C.’s fabulous stores and boutiques: Try carrying plus size pieces in your store. You would be surprised at the response. And I will be the FIRST in line to try & buy. It’s long overdue, and money spent in the District is always a good thing.
photo courtesy of Betsy Fisher
Dionna Humphrey is the owner of Body Conscious Beauty, a style consulting company serving the Washington, D.C. area. Body Conscious Beauty styles women of all sizes, including plus size beauties. For more information visit us online at www.bodyconsciousbeauty.com