Curves are Back!

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Yesterday, I was reading my Sunday Age newspaper and in the Sunday Life magazine there was an article titled Shape Shifting, which was all about how curves are back in fashion – do you think this is true or not?

Will the Rachel Zoe skinny waif look ever go out of style? Every time that someone like Jessica Simpson puts on a couple of kilograms (about 4.4 pounds in imperial), she gets sledged by the media.
But there has been lots of support for Christina Hendricks of Mad Men fame, and in recent years I’ve noticed a few more ‘normal’ women on TV who are also framed as ‘sexy’ – such as Dr Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) on Grey’s Anatomy.

Why is it that if a formerly slim woman puts on weight such as Jessica Simpson, Eva Longoria or Britany Spears they get lots of negative publicity, yet some women are allowed to be curvier, such as Kate Winslet and the other women named in this post?
Interestingly the article claimed that the return of the curve is to do with the GFC (Global Financial Crisis), Susie Orbach said “that lean times allow a lessinging of the stricutes with which women have so corseted their eating and their bodies … a permission to be less controlled.”
Do you think there is a return of curves (think Marilyn Monroe and those gorgeous women of her generation) for real?    Will high street fashion retailers actually start making clothes for all the average women out there instead of stopping a few sizes too small?

Another interesting article to peruse on the subject

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18 Comments

  • It seems to me it’s only a certain ‘style’ of ‘curvy’ that’s ever considered attractive – the well-padded hourglass a la Marilyn. And let’s face it, most of us would happily put on a few pounds if they deposited themselves in the right places! Whether it’s the wasp-waisted hourglass or the Rachel Zoe lollipop, they’re all unrealistic shapes for most women … If only we could be convinced that a fit, healthy version of ourselves is intrinsically attractive.

  • Tiffany – interesting point – the article only mentions the hourglass shape – never the rectangle or oval shape, and the guidelines it give for dressing curves area all based on having a waisted shape.

  • No, sadly I don’t think curves will make a lasting comeback in the fashion stakes.
    It’s so much easier to design clothing for angular bodies than for curvy bodies. It takes a smidge more fabric too, so production costs increase.
    There will always be a few (very few) designers who have the skills, but they tend to be enticed out of the mass market to niche markets where their skills are better rewarded.
    So, fashion will continue to promote a body shape that maximises their profits.

  • I’ve always wondered about the “Marilyn was a size 12” statement. Given the course of vanity sizing over the years, 1950s size 12 is probably equivalent to a size 8 today. Look at Marilyn’s body — she was slim but soft — not sinewy-muscled — with large breasts.

    Naomi Campbell and Josephine Baker have very similar body measurements. I think there’s still acceptance for slim/normal, but that the skeletal craze is what makes the press.

  • I echo Gina here, Marilyn was not large, and a 50’s 12 is not a modern 12 by any means. I have my mother’s size 12 evening dresses and they fit me when I am/was a size 6/8 borderline. Marilyn was soft, busty and otherwise small. If you look at her actual measurements you will get the point.

    I also agree that it is the hourglass shape that is referred to, not other shapes. Clothes for skeletal models are much easier to fit and cater to fashion marketing geared more to “fashion” and image rather than fit and actual dressmaking skill. The designers who have the skill are rarely the “big” names in terms of fashion-press coverage, although some of them are quite successful in their own markets.

    Is it any wonder many women are frustrated with fashion?

  • I really hate to say it, but I can’t imagine curves becoming the desirable figure in my lifetime. I’m ALWAYS glad to see non-skinny celebs being touted for their beauty and sensuality, but they often seem like token curvies.

  • I don’t think the industry will ever make clothes for curvy hourglasses for mainstream retail. The average woman is not that dramatically curvy. I would assume that most of the women considered curvy have a waist to hip difference of over 10″. That is a pain to fit particularly because of the differences between an X and an 8 and creating a hip curve that is a fair compromise between the two.

    I don’t know if I think that there is a return of curves. I think that there is more of an increase of women accepting their curves. I think that because of that people are getting used to seeing them. Also there is a fashion industry movement to offer personalization of apparel and one of the ways they do this is by increasing their silhouettes so that people of more shapes have more options. They are still confined by costs, but I have been to plenty of meetings where it was acknowledged that every woman wants to be an individual. Some individuals want to show off their curves. I don’t know if the trend for women to want to look different than other women will last though. I never was very good at predicting psycology and sociology of fashion because there are so many variables.

  • Curvy women are more accepted, but with caveats. For instance, try finding articles about Christina Hendricks, America Fererra or Kate Winslet that DON’T mention their weight.

    And Kate is skinny now!

  • This is interesting – I noticed that all the articles I’ve read on the subject always equate curvy with hourglass – and not over a size 14-16 Australian (which is about a 8-12 US based on my recent observations). This is not particularly curvy, just more average really.

    Yes production costs would have to be higher, I’m sure it costs more to use that extra fabric and sew a curvy line over a straight one.

    Women and their weight seems to be an ongoing judgment of worth, no matter what size they are – we get lambasted if we’re super slim or have any padding.

    It will be interesting to see if this trend continues at all, or if it’s just a very temporary blip.

  • Imogen, hetero men respond to the secondary sexual characteristics, most obviously large breasts, but also lush hair, signs of health and fertility. It’s programmed.

    Women above size 12 US are underserved (regardless of breast size) in retail. What is interesting to me is how many curvy women desire small breasts and hips, wanting to conform to the ads.

    I am sad at how much self-loathing is generated by women seeking to conform to a very narrow physiological type.

  • This very question rubs me the wrong way on many levels. First of all, the word “curvy” itself has two definitions. In the real world, it has come to be used as a euphemism for plus size. But in the modeling and celebrity world, “curvy” women are simply those who don’t look like they are starving. They all have one thing in common: Tiny waist and flat tummy. Kate may have hips, Penelope and Selma have their chests, but all of them have sculpted, flat tummies and trim waistlines. Pardon my cynicism, but I have no enthusiasm for this. Any “ideal” body type is going to alienate a lot of women. I would rather we all be judged on our own individual merits…but that will never happen.

  • ITA with Penelope – when "curvy" becomes synonymous with "pot-bellied", call me. ('Cause that's a *real* curve on my body!) 🙂

  • The irony is more retailers are cutting back on carrying size 14 and up. Latest in US is Ann Taylor (no size 16-18 except online).
    Even Target and other mass merchants are gearing the "plus" sizes towards teen customers and not a modern, sophisticated woman. You get teenage throw away stuff or matronly, caftans and horrid prints.
    If retailers would even cut their average sizes to fit a particularly busty girl it would help.
    Why should there be a "standard of perfection" for women in the first place?

  • I'm with Peppermint. I hope that no one body type becomes the "in" shape. Some women really do have naturally flat chests and slim hips and those bodies should be celebrated no more and no less than those with soft tummies, rounded thighs or large upper arms.

  • Hi,

    I really like your article, i think times are indeed changing and that curves are definitely coming back.

    My name is Sophia Jenner, and I am one of the lucky 30 finalists for Star in a Bra 2011.

    Curvy Kate runs the Star in a Bra competition every year to find a new curvy, non-model girl to promote their brand for D plus size bras.

    I would really love it if you could vote for me, as I believe women should be appreciated whatever their age, shape or size. If you think I can help promote curves all over the world, then please help get me through to the final 10 girls.

    You can vote on: http://www.starinabra.com
    And if you're interested, you can hear more about the competition on my blog: http://www.sophiajenner.wordpress.com

    Thanks so much for reading

    Lots of Love

    Sophia xxx

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