Inclusivity Challenge, Month 1 Update.

Outfit Details:Burberry Trench // Anthropologie Gingham Top // Good American Jeans // Manolo Blahnik Pumps // Pamela Munson Bag // Free People Sunglasses // Rachel Comey Earrings 
top // jeans // heels // bag

happy Friday! This was a good week. I have been feeling a bit underwater with work (jury duty on Wednesday did not help!) but we made it! The biggest piece of news I have for you is that we announced our (mini!) live show tour for the podcast. Becca and I are both SO EXCITED. We truly cannot wait. Ticket sales have been pretty strong in all markets so far so if you want to come, be sure to get your tickets soon. A lot of the venues are on the smaller side. We’ll be announcing guests soon, too!

As for today – it’s been exactly a month ago since I announced my three month inclusivity challenge (As a refresher – I’m only shopping brands that carry at LEAST up to an XXL/16, ideally higher; and I will always offer a plus alternative to anything else that I link – but read the original post for more information on that) so today I wanted to provide a little update with how that’s going and some of the things I’ve learned.

Outfit Details:

Burberry Trench // Anthropologie Gingham Top // Good American Jeans // Manolo Blahnik Pumps // Pamela Munson Bag // Free People Sunglasses (similar) // Rachel Comey Earrings 

Outfit Details: Anthropologie Gingham Top // Good American Jeans// Free People Sunglasses // Rachel Comey Earrings 

How is it going?

First of all, it gave me a lot of empathy for how hard it is to shop if you’re larger than a size twelve.

You might have watched the video Katie and I made when we went shopping. If you haven’t, please do. It’s funny and engaging (Katie is so great at adding levity to a bad situation) but also really highlights how awful it is to shop if you’re above a size large or 32 in denim.

In limiting myself to shopping only brands that offered an extended range of sizes, I felt this frustration. Here’s an example. I saw this really cute satin leopard skirt on another blog and was like “OOH I want that.” Clicked over to the retailer’s website and they only offer up to a size L. Nearly added it to my cart and then remembered the challenge. “Okay fine, I can find one that comes in extended sizes.” Nope. I found ONE option and it was horribly tacky. So no leopard skirt for me. I didn’t actually need the leopard skirt and barely thought about it afterward BUT it made me think a lot about what life would be like if that was how I felt every. single. time. I. shopped.

It’s fine, I don’t need a leopard skirt but it brought to mind something Katie said in the video – that it isn’t about finding something that fits but about finding the thing you want in your size.

Grace Atwood's Outfit Details: Burberry Trench // Anthropologie Gingham Top // Good American Jeans // Manolo Blahnik Pumps // Pamela Munson Bag // Free People Sunglasses // Rachel Comey Earrings 

I learned some industry terms and also that a word I was using is pretty polarizing.

  • Inclusive means a brand truly offers all sizes: 0-40. This is very, very rare.
  • Extended Sizes means a brand carries at least an XXL and at least a 16/18.  Prior to doing this challenge I didn’t realize how many brands stop at just a large or size 10.
  • Straight Size is the industry term for size 0-14.

The big thing/lesson learned was the word FLATTERING is actually pretty polarizing. Before starting the challenge I had calls with a few friends and Lydia made me aware of this. Here’s the thing. When we say that a piece of clothing is flattering *generally* means that we think that item makes you look thinner. Which feeds into that mindset that “thinner is better.”

This was a real eye opener for me and something I had never even thought about or considered. This article articulates it better than I have but it is just something to think about. I’ve been actively trying not to say it. Sometimes I slip up but I’ve reframed the conversation to say “I feel my best in this dress,” or “This blazer makes me feel more confident.” And to be honest, some of the things I feel my best in (still love a sack dress!) definitely don’t make me look thinner/smaller so I’m perfectly happy nixing this word!

Grace Atwood's Outfit Details: Burberry Trench // Anthropologie Gingham Top // Good American Jeans // Pamela Munson Bag // Free People Sunglasses

Brands I’ve started shopping more of…

  • Universal Standard is one of the only brands out there that is TRULY inclusive – offering 0-40. I have and love this trench coat as well as this dress.
  • Veronica Beard and Tanya Taylor – their pieces are more splurgy but LOVE them both. I’ve kinda swapped them out for Rebecca Taylor and Theory (two of my favorite brands that are sadly very limited in their size offering)
  • Reformation – honestly I stopped shopping this brand a while ago because I was having fit problems (they run so tiny) but when they started offering extended sizes I bought this bodysuit and this dress. Love them both. The brand still runs small (I am usually a small/medium and took a medium in the dress and a large int he bodysuit)
  • Anthropologie – their inclusive collection is SO cute! This top is a part of it and I just ordered this dress after seeing it on a girlfriend and being so certain that it had to be vintage.

Grace Atwood's Outfit Details: Anthropologie Gingham Top // Good American Jeans

I’ve def gotten a little shade so far – but that’s going to happen whenever you step outside of your comfort zone / area of expertise.

I got a comment saying that my “pandering” to the plus community was disingenuous, people have said I’m doing it to make more money (I mean honestly that’s not the reason but if I make more money then GREAT?), and had other silly things said. I’ve had readers who were concerned that I would be changing my content for the challenge (I totally get the concern but I hope if that was you, you’ll see – I’m really not changing a thing if you think about it, I’m just being more mindful about where I shop!)

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback that as a straight-size woman I don’t know what is going to look best on a plus body. That isn’t wrong. (But the same could be saying about not knowing what would look good on a lot of other body types or even my own as I have always dressed around my mood not around “flattering” my shape.) I’m not professing to be an expert BUT I want everyone who comes here to be able to shop off of my site if they choose to. My style of blogging has never been to tell you that I am a style expert (I’m NOT) or that you “need” something (you DON’T); I just show you things I love. I realized I was excluding a significant part of the population and am trying to change that!

At the end of the day, I am doing the best I can, and with time I’ve realized that no matter what you do, there will always be criticism.

I’m not perfect, I’ve stepped into an area where I’m definitely not an expert. But I am learning every day and working hard to just DO BETTER. What I want most for this site is for it to be a place where all women can come and find inspiration.

Besides that goal, I do think that the thing that is most impactful (which I’ve said) slash underlying reason that I’m doing this is that I very firmly believe that it cannot be just one group of women yelling at brands to change the system. It can’t be only plus women yelling at say Theory or Rebecca Taylor (and I don’t actually mean yelling, I mean having a rational conversation LOL). It needs to be their existing customer base, too. I really believe we can make some headway IF more people like me say, “Okay, I love Theory, but I’m going to choose to shop at Veronica Beard instead as they are a brand that’s making an effort.” I hope that makes sense.

And in happier news, I did get word from Tuckernuck that they are going to be going up to an XXL in their private label collection this Fall which is amazing! They are one of my favorite stores to shop and I work with them a lot but I haven’t been able to because of my new rules. It’s a small step but a step in the right direction!

inclusivity challenge on the blog inclusivity challenge on the blog Grace Atwood's Outfit Details: Good American Jeans // Manolo Blahnik Pumps // Pamela Munson Bag Pamela Munson Bag

photography by Carter Fish.

Leave a Comment

Comments

  1. I like the new spin you put on the word “flattering”. Never thought of it that way. I really do think you’re doing a great job so far! Thank you for this post, Grace. 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Carrie says 4.26.19

    I’m an independent stylist for Cabi, a trunk show based clothing company and I was so thrilled to find out this week that our Spring ’20 collection will launch our extended sizing (XXL and 18/20 for many pieces in the line) Our sizing is generous and I can often fit clients in some of the XL and size 16 pieces but I’m so happy that we will be able to amplify our service to more clients who love the clothes and have limited options each season. The industry is listening!

  3. Marta says 4.26.19

    That’s a gorgeous outfit! I love that top, it’s so pretty, baby blue is one of my favourite colours for spring.
    The challenge has been going well for me too because truth be told I didn’t buy anything this month haha I do need to get some new spring things but the weather has been horrible so I haven’t been motivated to go shopping. And I never thought of the word “flattering” having that meaning. I’ve said it myself several times and I always meant it in a “this fits me right, it’s not too big nor too small, it’s the right size” type of way but I totally understand how some people could think I meant that they look thinner when talking about them so I’m gonna try to stop saying it, I don’t want to offend anyone.

  4. Margaret says 4.26.19

    Two sort of unrelated comments to this:

    1- as a straight-size woman who runs closer to size 8-10, I am very much on board with all of this. Besides helping plus-size women feel more included, this helps me with shopping tremendously!! Case in point — the Anthropologie models. I am going to get a much better sense of how the gingham top and red dress might actually look on me by seeing it on both models.

    2- I appreciate and admire the way you respond to negative feedback. Even when it hasn’t been delivered in a constructive way, you are able to respectfully find meaning, somehow avoiding being defensive OR a pushover, while also expanding on your position and message.

    • grace at the stripe says 4.26.19

      I so agree on the Anthro models! They informed a lot of my decisions with whether or not to purchase as I look more similar to the plus models than the straight size ones. Though I will say I would like to see larger models – honestly, in scrolling through had I not known it was for a plus collection I would have thought that Anthro had started using models who were a size 8 or 10 (which is very helpful for me but less helpful for someone wearing say a size 18!)

      At the end of the day though they are doing a really good job and I think that the collection is really really cute as are all of the advertising assets!

      (Also thanks, re: criticism!)

  5. Emily says 4.26.19

    This has been such an interesting issue to think about, so thank you for shining a spotlight on it! I’m glad to see that companies like Anthro are not only offering more sizes, but presenting photos of models with a variety of body types (although even they could do better). As a “standard size” woman, I even find scrolling through clothing sites depressing when I’m confronted by image after image of clothes on the same tiny bodies. With a large chest and athletic build, sometimes I feel like even if I brand offers my size, the clothes may not be geared to someone of my shape (and often I’m not wrong, with pieces made for small chests and skinny arms). Even with inclusive sizing, how they advertise items in photographs really matters too.

    • grace at the stripe says 4.26.19

      Thank you Emily!!! I agree with you on the models… I have found the Anthro models to be particularly helpful for me just as it’s good to see how the clothes will look with someone with boobs and a butt.

  6. Clara Artschwager says 4.26.19

    I simply love the conversation you’re bringing to light. I’d never thought about the word “flattering” in that way, but you’re so right. In my mind anything that educates and raises awareness around an important conversation is a win, win. And if you make money from it/ EVEN BETTER.

  7. Abby says 4.26.19

    Grace, I love all of this. It’s refreshing that you’re so open about the learning process. Thank you for doing this!

  8. Nicole says 4.26.19

    Thank you for doing this challenge. There are so many fashion blogs/IG that I no longer follow bc none of the clothes they feature come in my size. It does a number on oneself psychologically to see amazing outfits and not be able to buy them due to my body size. I appreciate your effort to make sure women who get excited by your website can carry through on it and buy the products!

  9. dana mannarino says 4.26.19

    You’re a rockstar, Grace! Love how you’re handling the criticism that comes with this challenge. To me, you’re bringing to light some serious issues in the fashion industry. Just last week, a friend of mine asked why Free People doesn’t make anything over an XL (in select styles, sometimes we only go up to a large)…and I didn’t have an answer which made me feel like crap. I told her I was proud that Anthro (owned by Urban Outfitters too) just came out with extended sizing, and hoping we follow suit at FP!

    Dana | The Champagne Edit

    • grace at the stripe says 4.26.19

      Thanks Dana! I KNOW! Free People is probably the brand I miss shopping the most with the challenge.

  10. Kimberly says 4.26.19

    Grace – I looooooove that you are doing this! I’m right on the plus-size/straight-size border, and even for me at that size, the fashion industry has historically been so disenfranchising. I read something about the term “flattering” a couple years ago similar to what you said here, and it really changed my perspective on what that means when I say it to or about others or even to myself. So many of us need to undo the messaging we’ve been fed for too long!! At all sizes, we deserve to feel great in what we wear. If you haven’t watched Aidy Bryant’s Shrill and read some of the interviews with the costume deisgner about how she developed the wardrobe, I would highly recommend it!

    • grace at the stripe says 4.26.19

      Thank you for commenting 🙂 I LOVED SHRILL and was obsessed with the costumes // I need to read the interviews!

  11. Katherine says 4.26.19

    This whole post just makes me an even bigger fan. Thanks for always being true to yourself as a content creator!

  12. Bailey Carver says 4.26.19

    I think this is such a powerful statement and I love the message you’re sending.

  13. wendy says 4.26.19

    Thank you for this challenge and post! I think it is a great idea! I do believe there is merit to calls for inclusivity coming from consumers of all sizes-it really hammers home to brands that people are paying attention and taking action. To those who say a straight size consumer wouldn’t understand what works for an extended size consumer-there is so many variation in body type anyway- as you said, you are sharing brands and options. If a super thin and tall model wears a certain style- it’s safe to say the same outfit will look different on me, as I am 5’3″.

    I’d also like to thank you for not selling out and jumping on the (fake) Wal Mart bandwagon. You mentioned it on the podcast that you were approached about doing the sponsored post that is currently making the rounds of so many blogs and passed because it was not authentic. As a reader, I greatly appreciate that, and your honesty. All of a sudden, every blogger/influencer is shopping at Wal Mart-not likely and I’m sure the items purchased are already on their way to a charity bin.

  14. Jules says 4.26.19

    Hi there!
    First of all, I wish you and Becca so much success with your tour and kind of selfishly hope everything sells out so a venue or two brings you out to the west coast.

    Secondly, I’ve thought a lot about “plus size” clothing. Growing up I LOVED clothes and was always so jealous of the cute stuff my sister could wear from F21 and the like where I pretty much stuck to hoodies and jeans(which weren’t even the trendy ones back then) and maybe an outfit or two from Old Navy (they were cute, I just wish it had been a choice).

    Fast forward now and I have lost about 100 pounds and I have the privilege to shop anywhere I choose. I see brands I enjoy extending their sizes (J crew, Madewell) and the Gal Meets Glam collection and Blair Eadie’s Halogen collaboration extending sizes too. I wonder what it would have meant for me growing up if the clothes I loved and that my peers wore were available to me. If I could do like you said- see a photo of something I loved and buy it for myself. Would I have had then the confidence I only recently grew into as an adult? Would I have felt less othered? Maybe.

    Nothing is perfect, I’m sure there are some who say we haven’t really gotten to equal access to fashion for all and that might be true, but we’re in much better place and can continue to evolve and improve. I respect that you are making an effort to make your blog a place of inspiration for all 🙂

    • grace at the stripe says 4.28.19

      Wow Jules, thank you for sharing your story.
      I hope we make it to the west coast too! 🙂

  15. Ellen says 4.26.19

    Grace, I love what you’re doing! You’ve very easily became one of my favorite bloggers this year (I sadly didn’t know about you until very late 2018!)

    Anyway, keep doing what you do – I love it! Can’t wait for April book list!!! Almost done with Normal People. 🙂

  16. big blue boo says 4.26.19

    Thank you for this effort! As a plus size woman who loves fashion it is refreshing to be able to shop from your site. Keep up the good work!

  17. Jessica says 4.26.19

    As a plus size woman, I have 0 issues with your challenge. If someone (ANYONE, straight size or not) wants to do the work of finding brands that I can actually patronize, I am happy to follow (and have bought one piece already!). For the most part, I don’t have the time or energy to hunt down new places to shop.

  18. Grace says 4.26.19

    As a size 6/8, I honestly can’t relate to a lot of these struggles (though your posts are making me so much more grateful and aware of that fact). I do want to say though that I’m so proud of you for doing this! Doing *anything* as an internet person these days is going to cause some kind of blowback, but I really appreciate how gracefully and thoughtfully you respond to that criticism. I totally agree that while obviously the people who experience this daily are (rightfully!) speaking up about it, bringing more people on board to speak with their wallets is hopefully going to spark some truly meaningful change.

    Also, for what it’s worth – I follow you on social and read your blog daily for the written content; the cute pictures/inspo and shopping suggestions are just gravy! So thankful for all the heart and substance you pour into your corner of the interwebs!

  19. Shelby says 4.26.19

    So happy to hear that about Tuckernuck! I love them but get so frustrated because a lot of their clothes only go up to a L or 30. Excited to be able to shop them more.
    Also love what you are doing!

  20. Sarah says 4.27.19

    Grace, I don’t know that I’ve ever commented on your blog before but I’m inclined to say THANK YOU for doing this and putting yourself in another’s shoes. I’m both plus (18), tall and athletic, so shopping has always been a crapshoot. I’m glad you are using your platform and relationships to further the conversation. I wish more women would advocate for each other in this way. Frankly, brands only stand to gain from expanding their offerings.

    A note on models since I have some experience in this area: most well-known “plus size” models are size 6 or 8, including the ladies used on Anthropologie’s website. Candice Huffine, who I’ve worked with before, is one of them. (She’s a true gem and has her own inclusive fitness line, Your Day Won, if you’re ever looking for inclusive workout clothes, BTW.) Many others will show up to shoots with padding so they fill out the samples. I’d just say take those images with a grain of salt…

    To be fair, the visual inclusivity issues start with the cost and time restraints of creating duplicate samples that are accurate. At my own job, only some of the more tailored pieces are made in size 8 production samples, the rest are 2s. That said, it just makes it all the more impressive when some of the smaller brands (Veronica Beard, Mara Hoffman, etc.) decide to invest in the extended sizes area knowing the investment required. Good on them (and you) for taking this step forward!

    • grace at the stripe says 4.28.19

      I think it is!!!! Thank you for stopping by Sarah!!!

      All of this is so, so interesting to hear – thank you so much for sharing your expertise. Now following both Candice and Your Day Won (LOVE).

      I agree, it’s so impressive when a smaller company makes the effort to do all this – I learned a lot from the Tanya Taylor PR team when we met; they were explaining that with both production (I will probably butcher this but the plus sizes count as different “styles,” with the same order minimums which is tricky, and then on top of that having to have samples made for both and shoot it with a range of models – it’s so much work so it IS awesome to see the little guys make an effort!!!

      Have you heard of Henning? My friend Becca (from the pod) is doing their marketing and the line looks so so strong.

      I hope to see you soon – it’s been ages though I feel like I see you all the time because of social media.