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Full-Figured Glamour Over Fifty

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By Naakai Addy

Many designers still have a narrow mindset when it comes to creating flattering styles for “plus-size” women. The struggle gets harder as full-figured women get older and are often limited to matronly options when they want to feel chic and glamorous. Designs made for bodies sizes twelve and up and ages fifty and up are often fixated on illusion and obscurity, as though your goal should be to stay under the radar. Fashion should never be about hiding, however, and it should never be apologetic. Everyone who wants to stand out and look fabulous should have the opportunity to do so, and designers should be skilled and savvy enough to create those opportunities. Fortunately, both emerging and established designers are starting to find success in selling garments for women of all sizes. Here are three tips for full-figured fashionistas over fifty to keep in mind when building a forever-chic wardrobe.

Understand Body Shape vs. Body Size

The first step to finding clothes that flatter your figure is understanding what your figure is. Most bodies change somewhat with age. Instead of ignoring or hiding those changes, it’s important to understand and embrace them. Body shape descriptions such as “pear-shaped, hourglass and apple” have become fairly common in magazines and blogs to describe sizes 0-12, but they apply to any size. Trinny and Susannah of the U.K.’s What Not to Wear have a helpful guide to figuring out your body shape if you’re new to the concept:

The problem with a lot of plus size designs is that they fail to acknowledge any particular body shape whatsoever, or they default to the false assumption that every full figured woman is an hourglass. Once you understand how different cuts of clothing work on your own body, you can make more informed decisions about the garments you buy.

Find Designers That Inspire You

There are quite a few designers who now offer beautiful styles for full-figured women. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at The Curvy Fashionista’s list of Plus Size Lifestyle Designers:

The options for mature women who wear plus sizes may be more limited than for other sizes, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit your sense of style or excitement about fashion. The joy of fashion is that it’s an opportunity for expression; invest some time in looking for designers that cater to your sense of style as well as your body type.

If you’ve been craving ultra-feminine styles in your size, Igigi ( a variety of casual, professional and formal options in plus sizes and has a fantastic search option that allows you to filter styles by body shape in addition to size and color. This brand specializes in plus size fashion made in San Francisco. Many of Igigi’s designs have been featured in magazines and on the red carpet.

Online boutiques such as Eloquii and Jill Alexander Designers offer chic everyday options appropriate for mature women, including jumpsuits, dresses, lingerie and separates. This is an important step forward, as full-figured women over fifty can now more easily build a fresh, stylish wardrobe online rather than resigning to the often shapeless, old-fashioned options available in most physical stores around the country.

For high-end formal wear, Adrianna Papell is a classic designer of timeless garments for special events. Her designs are perfect for women in their fifties and up, with tasteful cuts and lovely prints. Carmen Marc Valvo and Kay Unger are other notable designers with classy couture and ready-to-wear fashion in plus sizes.

Assert Your Personal Style

Whether or not you consider yourself a fashionista, style is an automatic and immediate statement. It gives others visual clues about your personality, self-confidence and even your sense of humor. It does so whether you put effort into your wardrobe or not, so using style as a tool to reclaim and project your personal image is a vital asset throughout life. If you don’t have access to a reasonable range of clothes that adequately express your personal style, embrace accessories, or find an inexpensive tailor in your area who can help make mass-produced garments look like they were made just for you.

Though much of the fashion industry has yet to learn that beauty has neither a size nor an age, it’s never too early for any woman to embrace the body she has, regardless of the body she or anyone else wishes she had. As Judy Garland said, ““Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”








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