Friday, July 18, 2014

Pet Peeve: Curvy Does Not Mean Plus Sized!

Maybe it's me, but I get so frustrated when it comes to fit.  I hear something about "Curvy" sewing or curvy crochet, or curvy clothes, or curvy wardrobe planning and get excited to read all about it.  Then deflation hits - it's all about being plus sized.  Those challenges aren't necessarily mine.  I am curvy, but I am not plus-sized!  (Well, after my cruise, I may have to change that statement if I don't make drastic consistent diet changes.)

I'll tell you that Levi's got it right with their  bold curve jeans.  It is almost impossible for me to find jeans that fit - especially fitted jeans.  Skinny jeans (and believe me, I've tried numerous brands) will not fit me.  If I finally get them to go around my thighs or calves, I am actually looking at something like a 16, and then the waist is way too big, the crotch length is wrong, etc.  Levi's bold curve fit me perfectly!  No gapping at the back waist, no tugging on the thighs, and they actually make my butt look good!  Too bad is too hot to wear jeans :-(
But seriously, I'm so happy about finally finding jeans that fit. I was actually looking for skinny jeans, but the guy in the store was really helpful.  When I told him that skinny jeans strangle my calves, he suggested the "slim fit",  These were exactly what I wanted! The first time I bought a pair of bold fit (they were straight leg), I got the 6 regular.  They have changed their sizing now, and I wear a 29, which I think is equivalent to an 8.    The problem is, these jeans are not readily available in many departments stores.  Luckily for me, there is a Levi's outlet not too far away.  They are also available online if you already know your size, but I ALWAYS try on pants.  Uh, that's the model to the right, not me :-)

 Now, back to the issue that brought this up.  I was reading Sham's website, Communing With Fabric, and I saw a link to Curvy Sewing.  This is a new website that targets "curvy" women.  However, when I looked at their tag-line, it said "a plus sized sewing community".  I did sign up to be a member of the site, because it looks like there may be some good information coming through there, but I was disappointed.  Then I found this on the web. Curvy Does Not Mean Plus Sized.  Gotta love Kathleen Fasinella.  Her book has been on my wish-list for years.  One of these days I'll have to give up the cash and get it.  Here's the definition of curvy:   

 The technical definition of curvy refers to a waist-hip differential of .75 . For example, a woman with a 36″ hip is curvy if her waist is 27″ or less. This is a nine inch difference but does not hold true for all dimensions because curvy is relative. It’s math, not opinion. By way of comparison, a hip measure of 46″ is only curvy if her waist is 34.5″ or less, a difference of 11.5″. 

Check this out.  According to the definition above, the girl on the left is curvy, but the girl on the right is not.  Each model was measured at the waist with a green line and that same green line was copied and pasted onto different areas of the body.  You can see the difference!  Of course, the true measurement needs to be all the way around, but the lines are drawn just for a visual.

Lets do the math.  My measurements (as of yesterday) are 36-29-40.  Using the formula above, .75 X40 =30.  Since my waist is only 29, this qualifies me as curvy.  Now, let's look at the bust measurement.  36 X .75 = 27.  Since my waist is over 27", according to the forumula above, I am not curvy.  However, I wonder if there is a caveat.  My upper bust measurement is 31.5 and my underbust is 30.5.  Visually, I am very curvy on the upper part of my body.  There is a 5" difference  (averaging upper and lower bust measurements) which is almost 14%.  I wonder how/ if this factors in.

 So, what I really want is information on how to look best for the true curvy girl, fitting tips, wardrobe ideas, etc.  It's hard enough to decide what is stylish and appropriate to wear when you're 50+  Most fashion magazines, patterns, etc., use very young, very thin models.  I want to be stylish, but not look like I'm trying to look 20.  I also don't want to look like a frump.  My style is changing now that I live in a foothill community, but I still work and want to look well-put together, but be comfortable (shoes are always an issue.  Stylish and comfortable just never seem to be in the same arena - but that's another post.)

So, are you curvy but not plus sized?  How have you met the fashion challenges?  What resources have you found valuable surrounding this issue?


Mame said...

I am curvy from the hip to waist ratio as my hips are 44 and my waist is 32.75. I have gained some weight with some trips lately so I feel more girthy than normal. Usually my hips are 40, my waist is 29 and my bust is 39. I have to say while I love the thought of the curvy sewing collective I do find it to be a bit of a misnomer. These ladies are lovely and have amazing talent to make clothing in plus sizes but rather than shy away from it I would embrace that they are more voluptuous. I think its part and parcel with the thought that if you are plus sized you cant be attractive but if you are curvy its somehow better. When my mom was plus size I would say that she not plus sized she is rubenesque.

Now I find sewing for my curvy figure to be difficult, especially for pants and separates because there is such a big difference in my hip to waist ratio. I don't think that the classic channel style jacket works for me because it just makes me look wide. I am constantly looking for clothes that have the right nip in at the waist but don't make me look like a victim of Victorian clothing. Don't even get me started on jeans, I have basically given up on finding any that is truly flattering and doesn't give me mom butt. Usuualy I just wear skirts and dresses to work and D.jeans on the weekend which are ok.

birdmommy said...

I think there's an article on the collective's site about why they chose 'curvy' as their euphemism. Basically - it's hard to find a term that women can agree on.
I'm not really 'curvy' - my build is similar to Shams'. But I'm looking forward to checking out the collective as a place to see how people who don't fit into a pattern right out of the envelope (for whatever reason) make it work!

Anonymous said...

I am the opposite of you - plus sized but not curvy. I am shaped like a Coke can, not a bottle, a can.

Nancy Winningham said...

Birdmommy - I agree. I think there will be a lot to glean from the site.
Anonymous - you crack me up!
Mame - I checked out your blog. How is the shoe making going? And where did you learn to do that?

Rebecca said...

This is a great blog post. Thanks for bringing this up. It's one of my pet peeves too! I immediately thought of Kathleen Fasanella's blog even before you mentioned it. I am technically curvy on my bottom half, which is weird because I have no hips but a full butt. I also have a larger bust for my size. My body measurement ratio is actually very similar to yours. Finding clothes especially for my chest is very difficult. I haven't been able to find a button down woven shirt in YEARS! I have found 7 Jeans (certain cuts) to fit very well, and surprisingly Target's Denizen brand. They have a curvy fit that's pretty good :)

Nancy K said...

My dd is a curvy size 4 or a Burda size 36 in her upper body and 38 in her hip, but a 34 in the waist. I'll have to tell her about the Levis. She can only wear rtw pants that have a low rise or the waist is way too big.

Mame said...

Hey Nancy,

The shoemaking is going fantastic, although I have had to take a break from it for a while because of a 13 piece costume job that I took(that I only have 15 days to complete ahhhh). I got the information to start from "I Can Make Shoes" and a lady named Sveta Kletina. Honestly I find making a good buttonhole more difficult than shoemaking so I say anyone can do it. My whole goal is to eventually never to have to buy anything RTW.