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[caption id="attachment_4184" align="aligncenter" width="461"]Plus Size Dresses
Sadie and Millie help us get the right fit for our Curvy Customers.
[/caption]   It's about time!  Retail stores are giving the one-size-fits-all mannequin a long over due and desperately needed makeover. The trend is making news.
    • Reporter Anne  D'Innocenzio spotlights the madness for plus size mannequins in a story she wrote this week for AP.
 
    • The Today show aired a segment featuring David's Bridal plan to create custom mannequins with thicker waists, breasts that sag and rolls of fat on the back -all in an attempt to create a shape that better mimics the full figure of a real bride.  (Also in the AP story!)
 
  • One of the UK's largest stores, Debenhams, recently switched to a size 16 (U.S. size 14) mannequin at its Oxford Street store in London with plans to roll out the larger size to all its 170 stores in Great Britain.
Sydney's Closet Gets It! Apparently, the apparel industry is finally getting the message that consumers want to see what clothes will look like on the real bodies,  not a Barbie-like form with an anatomically incorrect figure. At Sydney's Closet we got that important message almost a decade ago. As the Founder of this specialty apparel company,  I insisted from day one on using a Size 18 fit model for our plus size special occasion dress designs.  How else can customers get the idea of how a dress will look on her plus size body? It's so pointless to design on a Size 8 and then grade it up to fit a large woman.  Besides, it doesn't work. As the body gets larger you must accommodate for the changes all over.  You can't just make a Size 8 bigger and bigger until you reach a Size 32. If you do, the dress won't fit in critical spots like the waist, rib cage or upper hip and it will be shapeless. Meet Millie We gave our fit mannequin (basically a tailor's dummy form) the name "Millie".   Millie's measurements match exactly Sydney's Closet Size Chart for our size 18.  Over the years, we've perfected a size chart with body measurement designed to cater to the curves of plus size women and teens.  Millie has fuller hips, wider waist, thicker back and a smaller difference in inches between her bust and waist. She doesn't mind when we stick her with pins, roll her around the workroom until she is dizzy and try samples on her hour- after -hour and day- after- day. We like Millie. She never gets tired or is late to work or calls in sick. Millie keeps opinions to herself and doesn't blink when the Design Team concludes a dress looks awful on her.
[caption id="attachment_4183" align="aligncenter" width="360"]Plus Size Mannequins
Sadie and Millie our Plus Size Mannequins
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  Meet Sadie This year Millie welcomed a baby sister named "Sadie". Sadie is slightly smaller than Millie at a Size 16. Best of all, she has arms and legs so we can fit on her dresses with sleeves or jackets. So far, there's no sibling rivalry.  Neither Millie nor Sadie gets jealous!  In fact, they share the same workroom. It's easy for you to tell Millie and Sadie are "related".  For example, both dummies have a tummy that bulges rather than a flat belly. The weight of their breasts is in the lower part of the bra cup rather the upper part.   The result of investing in Millie and Sadie? We design and fit on a figure that isn't perfectly proportioned - just like real women and teens that buy our special occasion dresses for Prom, Weddings, Formal and Cocktail parties! Our plus size mannequins work.  How do we know? Happy Customers tell us again and again they can count on our fit to be flattering and consistent.  Beyond Designing:  Display We do more than design on plus size dummies.  We also display our collections on plus size dress forms or true plus size models.  For photo shoots we only book top models who wear at true size  Size 16 or Size 18.  In the fashion industry, a size 8, 10 or even 12 model passes as plus!  (How crazy is that?) At our showroom at Americas Mart in Atlanta, Georgia wholesale buyers from around the world see our dresses displayed on a Size 18 form.  Our showroom model appears on the runway in that same size. Bottom Line In the end, I understand what's critical for the customer.  She wants to be inspired by models and mannequins that look more like what she sees when she looks in the mirror. How else can she ever imagine what the clothing will look like on her full figure? The AP story points to money as the factor holding back retailers from buying larger more realistic mannequins for display in their windows and on the sales floor.  Turns out it's tons cheaper to buy the standard headless, arm less mannequin torso in white for several hundred dollars than spend triple that for one that looks real. For my two cents, that's just another avoidable insult to plus size women and the endless spending power in their wallets. If you really want plus size women to buy your clothing, money talks. It's really very simple. Spend the dollars for a plus size mannequin. Make the commitment and show you care: design and display plus size apparel on dress forms and mannequins that closely mimic the curves of real women.    

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