Girl And Cat In My Darkest Hour I Reached For A Hand And Found A Paw Window poster, canvas
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Q: I love the minimalist look, but am frustrated designers and even less-expensive labels don’t make the kind of beautiful, simple, monochromatic pieces in plus sizes I’m looking for. Are there any good options for me?—Sondra, Willowdale
Dear Sondra: You have identified one of the great mysteries of the fashion universe. Most North American women — a majority at 68 per cent of the population — are a size 14 and above. Yet designer fashion in plus-size ranges comprises 0.1 per cent of the luxury market. There are literally billions of dollars to be made selling size-inclusive clothing! But what we get instead is a disjointed marketplace that offers curvy women distracting colours and prints and baggy constructs instead of the classic colours and sharp-cut garments you crave.
There are incremental signs of improvement, as the push for inclusivity has encouraged lines to expand their size ranges in recent years. Influencers, such as Canadian former Real Housewife Roxy Earle and her #MySizeRox body confidence movement, are using their voices to inspire. British actress Jameela Jamil and her IWeigh radical inclusivity movement addresses weight perception, the role of the patriarchy and the oppressive effects of both on our mental health. And in a good news note, just last week, Canadian Indigenous designer Lesley Hampton had a career-making endorsement when Lizzo wore her label’s workout gear on Instagram.
But first let’s go over what minimalism means, as there are a number of hidden biases built into the concept. Minimalism first came into fashion in the 1930s, when Coco Chanel championed early androgyny with trousers and jackets, an act of emancipation building on the boxy silhouettes of the Roaring Twenties. During WWII, women worked, often in factories, and needed more practical clothing. The postwar ’50s snapped back with the reflexive hyperfemininity epitomized by Dior’s wasp-waisted New Look.