Are the mainstream fashion designers producing skirts and dresses which are way too short? Some of us have left our twenties behind, together with the size 4 figure, if ever we had one. On a recent visit to a New York City boutique, I found rails of skirts measuring a mere 14 inches from waistband to hemline. That is simply way too short for all but a few of us. And besides, how good would a Haute Hippie green sequined mini-skirt look in a size 14?
Time marches on
Baby-boomers, unite. Sally Fields, Cher, and Diane Keaton are 66, Goldie Hawn is 67, Faye Dunaway is 71, Jane Fonda is 74. While celebrities don’t need to shop at department stores, the rest of us certainly do. Must our most age-appropriate choices in the right sizes come mainly from vintage and consignment shops because today’s designers have left us behind?
Average American size
The most recent study undertaken by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta indicates that as of 2002, the mean height for American women aged 20-74 was between 5’3″ and 5’4″, with a mean weight of 163 pounds, giving a Body Mass Index of just over 28. These measurements indicate that a size 14 garment would be the most common requirement, with an above-the-knee length of 21 inches or below-the-knee at 24 inches. So, what’s going on with all these boutiques, and even department stores, carrying so many tiny garments which “wouldn’t fit over even one of my legs,” as my mother used to complain. We can’t ask, “Does my bum look big in this?” if we cannot even get it on.
Why are the fashion labels ignoring the rest of us, dooming us to polyester frumpiness and to the rails of plus-sizes for full-figured gals? We need skirt lengths to balance the silhouette of a mature figure. No wonder Chico’s, with their generous cut and sizing, is enjoying success as the go-to store for the 40-plus crowd. As pointed out by a Los Angeles Times reporter in March 2009, one would think the recession would have seen designers and stores finally begin to cater to the average American in order to sell greater quantities of merchandise. That adjustment is slowly creeping into the market, according to a USA Today article.
Designer and CEO Rikkie Freeman of Teri Jo has a fashion line of special occasion dresses which introduced size 18 in 2010, sold at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and online. Jones New York and Talbots have a special range of suits and casual clothing. Lord & Taylor has Ralph Lauren and Lucky Brand in larger sizes. Macy’s is also worth a look.