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Elegant Plus Editor's Picks:  Full-Figured Premium Label Fashion in Size 12 +

Please be advised that all of the "Editor's Picks" featured in this section are hand-selected by Elegant Plus.  Although every effort is made to keep featured products current, retailers can sell out of popular styles before the Editor has had an opportunity to update the page.  All selections are available at time of posting and purchases can be made directly from the retailer on the associated shopping link.  All of the shopping guides include designer selections which are noted with the designer's name in descriptions.

 

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Last Update: June 7, 2016

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Size 2 - 16

Luxury Fashion Report for Size 12 +
[Shopping Resources & More Editor's Picks Below]

 The public is becoming more aware of attitudes within high-end fashion through the plights of popular full-figured celebrities such as Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson who regularly have difficulty finding suitable labels on par with their peers for red carpet and other public appearances. Yet, designer clothing in larger sizes is becoming increasingly available at all levels and price points from lower priced diffusion and capsule collections to better label bridge wear from well known designers.  Some of this is spurred by the celebrities, themselves, although many times the public declaration of designing a plus-size collection to solve the problem never materializes into reality.

The lack of fashion for larger celebrities has, however, provided the opportunity for some size-positive, upscale designers to make names for themselves.  Some of the best examples include Tadashi Shoji dressing Academy Award winning actress Octavia Spencer and, most recently, Theia stepping in to design for Gabourey Sidibe at the 2014 Oscars.  Luxury labels such as Burberry have increased sales through high-profile dressing of the immensely popular, full-figured singer Adele with signature style shoes and accessories the most accessible to fashionistas of all sizes. 

Christina Hendricks also had trouble earlier in her career finding appropriately high level fashion in her size for red carpet events. Now considered a fashion trend-setter in her break-out Mad Men role, she is able to regularly find fashion from top level names such as Alberta Ferretti,  Zac Posen, Carolina Herrera, Dolce & Gabbana, and Badgley Mischka.

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Designer: Madeline Gardner, Silver Lace Gown, Size 18 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Designer: Monique Lhuillier, Bird Print Dress, Size 4 - 16 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Designer: Eskandar, Wide Leg Linen Pants | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Dolce & Gabbana Palm Print Dress | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Madeline Gardner
Lace Gown

Size 18 - 26W

Monique Lhuillier
Bird Print Dress

Size 4 - 16

eskandar
Wide Leg Linen Trousers

Over Sized Fit
Size 6 - 16 +

Dolce & Gabbana
Cotton Palm Print Dress
Italian Size 38 - 48

 It should be noted that many times these celebrities are, in fact, not "plus size" in the sense that they actually don't wear larger than a size 14.   Hollywood, the Music, Media, and Fashion Industries all have a nasty habit of judging women by unrealistic size standards which is then snowballed through media rhetoric, word and image choices to be passed on into wider cultural perceptions.   These celebrities may be larger than their industry norms of sizes 0 to about 4, regardless of height, build, or body type but there are many sizes between 4 and 14 that, unfortunately, get called "fat", "full-figured", and "plus-size" in today's paparazzi driven media culture putting tremendous amounts of pressure on women both inside these high profile industries and the young women who avidly follow their public appearances and careers.  The women most likely to be healthy at even larger sizes are also much taller than the national average of 5' 4". 

These exceptionally tall women are precisely those hired, often young when yet to acquire more womanly curves, as models in the fashion industry where it is not uncommon for women to be 5'10" to over 6 feet tall, and if not considered a "plus size" model, maintain a size 0 to 4 in order fit the standard industry size of product samples. (It should be noted that these sample sizes are also part of what keeps actresses worried about size for big events, as they usually borrow from famous designers rather than purchase red carpet wear.) 
 

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Designer: Lafayette 148, Twist Front Jumpsuit, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Designer: Tadashi Shoji, Sequin Lace Gown, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
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Designer: Rachel Pally, Kimono Sleeve Maxi Dress, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Designer: LAUREN Ralph Lauren, Silk Bomber Jacket, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Lafayette 148
Twist Front Jumpsuit
Size 1X - 3X

Tadashi Shoji
Sequin Lace Gown
Size 16 - 22W

Rachel Pally White Label
Kimono Sleeve Maxi Dress
Size 1X - 3X

LAUREN Ralph Lauren
Silk Bomber Jacket
Size 14 - 22W


In other words plus size modeling begins at size 6 or 8, although those in what the industry calls "in between" sizes don't find much work as plus models until about a size 10 or 12, which is neither overweight for most body types at that height, nor "plus size" in the mainstream understanding of the term.  Some use padding in order to fit the common size 14W or 16W sample sizes used for women's lines, and other styling visual fit tricks are used since hour glass figure types are preferred for models. 

One of the best published studies on the intricacies of size and modeling in the fashion industry was done by a trained sociologist who worked, at a size 10, as a professional model for two years.  Child and body image psychologist Dr. Robyn Silverman also wrote her doctoral dissertation on plus size models in the fashion world, and regularly appears in the media as an expert on these topics in regards to wider public perceptions of health, size, and body image. 

 

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Designer: Marina Rinaldi, White Silk Pant Set, Size 16 - 20W| ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

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Marina Rinaldi
White Silk Pant Set

Size 16 - 20W

Roberto Cavalli
Floral Silk Blouse
Italian Size 38 - 48

Akris Punto
Northern Lights Shift
Size 2 - 16

Teri Jon by Rickie Freeman
Jersey Bodice
Taffeta Shirtdress
Size 2 - 20

Women's or "plus-size" clothing lines most commonly begin at size 14W or 16W and refer to a specific type of cut needing the fewest alterations for what is commonly referred to as as an "apple" body type.  Those with hour glass or pear body shapes often have to get clothing tailored when they need larger sizes as "W' cuts are the most frequently available.  More information about the most common types of clothing cuts and sizing systems can be found: here.  

A vast majority of perfectly healthy women in this country wear somewhere between a size 10 and 16, putting many in fashion's cusp, in between size ranges, and needing size 12 or larger.  Many high end. luxury labels only offer to a misses size 10 or 12, but fortunately there are getting to be more and more that extend upwards to include a majority of women who would like to wear and can afford their labels.  Elegant Plus includes both selections in extended misses size 12 +, and in women's cuts 14W +.  Lifestyle and career labels are the most likely to offer extended sizes, especially those that cater to upscale clientele from less glamour driven industries such as business or politics.  These also have gala events and dinners for which formalwear is required, but more conservative styles are often favored in comparison to those engaged in the high profile entertainment and media industries.

 

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Designer: Beaded Flapper Dress, Size S - 4X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Designer: Marina Rinaldi, Sheer Black Duster Cardigan, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Designer: Marchesa Notte, Floral Embroidered Dress, Size 0 - 16 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

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Beaded Flapper
Great Gatsby Dress
Size S - 4X

Marina Rinaldi
Sheer Embroidered Topper
Size 14 - 22W

Marchesa Notte
Floral Embroidered Dress
Size 0 - 16

Robert Clergerie
Black Lace Platform Sandals
 European Size 35 - 41.5


Dresses and formalwear appropriate for red carpet events and black tie affairs, upscale career wear, and casual resort wear are all available in this category, suiting lifestyles of executives, socialites, and well-heeled celebrities. Natural fibers such as silk, linen, cashmere, and leather along with other fine fabrics  combine with quality craftsmanship and design to provide distinctive fashion that makes a statement. 

Tailoring is generally exceptional. Price points can range in the hundreds to thousands in the category.  For those with more limited budgets, investing in designer shoes, accessories and bags can upgrade a look.

 

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Designer: Gucci, Floral Summer Cashmere Blend Stole| ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
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Designer: Etro, Print Silk Chiffon Poncho| ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Lafayette 148, Linen Shirtdress, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

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Gucci
Summer Weight
Floral Cashmere Blend Stole

83"L x 55"W

Etro
Print Silk Chiffon Poncho

One Size to 16/18

Lafayette 148
Linen Shirtdress
Size 1X - 3X

Stizzoli
Zip Front Cardigan Jacket
Size 16 - 24W

Misses Extended Sizes

A limited number of very high-end, famous designers have also extended sizes beyond 10 or 12 to Misses 14 - 16 - 18 and XXL in premium collections, but these can be extremely difficult to find. Specialty websites that are authorized to offer collections straight off the prestigious global fashion week runways are some of the best resources and, while scarce, the on-line sorting and search functions makes the shopping process easier.  These include high end European designer website Luisa Via Roma. Designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Rick Owens have made size inclusivity a part of their high fashion runway shows, mixing larger models with the more common ultra-skinny.  Gaultier is close personal friends with full-figured celebrities such as Beth Ditto, leading to high fashion collaborations that are more size inclusive.

Luxury retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue,  Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom also regularly offer premium labels in larger, extended styles on-line. Size 14's in recent years have been increasingly difficult to find, but certain designers such as Michael Kors regularly still top out at a fourteen. Labels such as Akris, St. John, Armani, Theia, Lela Rose, Gaultier, Gucci, Acne, and Ralph Lauren consistently offer up to a size 16 which are found racked in the main collections. Harder to find, but still available, are options from names such as Escada, Max Mara, Valentino, and Burberry.  A few size 18 and 20's can be found here and there.

Dillard's has an especially deep collection of dresses in the size 12 to 18 range.  The most upscale labels are available for formal events and include names such as Mac Duggal, Kay Unger, and Terani Couture.

 

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Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Clothes @ Lane Bryant

Designer: Caroline Rose, Brushstroke Waterfall Jacket, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Designer: Mac Duggal, Navy Blue Beaded Halter Gown, Size 14 - 30W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Ming Wing, Aqua Blue Slim Ankle Pants, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

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Caroline Rose
Brushstroke Waterfall Jacket
Size 1X - 3X

Mac Duggal
Beaded Halter Gown
Size 14 - 30W

Ming Wang
Slim Leg Ankle Pants
Size 1X - 3X

Lela Rose
One Piece Swimsuit

Size 18 - 28W

Women's Plus-Sizes

Some of these department stores also have separate plus collections where women's sizing to 22 or 24W is more the norm and both plus-exclusive and mixed sizing designers are available. Particularly deep and unusual premium plus-size collections are available from Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, with more bridge and mid-tier designers mixed in at other on-line shopping destinations such as Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdales, and Nordstrom

Upscale formalwear and cocktail dress designers such as Mac Duggal, Tadashi Shoji, and Terani Couture can be readily found on-line from Dillard's in size 14 to 28W.  Unique Vintage can also carry some of these luxury formalwear labels in sizes as large as 30W from labels such as Mac Duggal.  Meanwhile Kay Unger and Carmen Marc Valvo are often available at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue in size 0 to 24W.

Equally pricy, and custom designed for larger bodies, popular premium plus designer labels include Marina Rinaldi, Anna Scholz, and Lafayette 148 New York in sizes up to 24W.  Department store buyers are also more pro-actively searching out designers who might be willing to design in larger sizes exclusively for them. Some find success, while others struggle with the transition from designing for more stereo-typical fashion bodies and only stay in the plus market for a season or two. 

Along with the lesser priced exclusive designer capsule collections, Lane Bryant has been experimenting with its own in-house 6th & Lane label to bring runway style to plus-sizes.  Some of the pieces hit luxury price tags, such as genuine shearling jackets, available exclusively on-line for size 14 to 28W.

Consult the growing Elegant Plus Designer Database for information on where to shop for specific designers.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Fashion @ Nordstrom

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Let's Shop! Elegant Plus:  Kay Unger @ Saks Fifth Avenue

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus:  Ming Wang @ Dillards

Komarov, Floral Chiffon Dress, Size 1X -3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Designer: Marina Rinaldi, Floral Maxi Skirt, Size 14 - 20W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Kay Unger, Floral Stretch Jersey Dress, Size 2 - 16 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Designer: Ming Wang, Checker Print Cardigan Jacket, Size XS - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Komarov
Floral Chiffon Dress
Size 1X - 3X

Marina Rinaldi
Floral Maxi Skirt

Size 1
4 - 20W

Kay Unger
Floral Stretch Jersey Dress
Size 2 - 16

Ming Wang
Checker Print Cardigan Jacket
Size XS - 3X

Sizing

European sizing is also common.  For reference a European 46 - 48 = US 16.  U.K. and Australian labels run one size smaller than U.S. and Canadian labels.  Italian labels run smaller than other European sizes with the same numbers.

More than almost any other category, sizing can both run small or generous, depending on the label.  Tailoring for the perfect fit is well worth the investment at these price points, and considered the norm.  Fine fabrics, original designs, in addition to quality craftsmanship are the hallmarks of the top tier of ready-to-wear in fashion. While natural fibers are common, synthetics of exceptional hand and quality are also used.

 


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 Elegant plus size designer clothing  for stylish full-figured women size 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, L, XL, 1X, 2X, 3X