How Do I Know if I'm Plus Size?

How Do I Know If I’m Plus Sized?


Curvy. Tall. Petite. Plus-Size. Full Figured. There are dozens of categories for clothes that can leave you scratching your head. Typically  the term ‘plus-size’ is used in the United States to describe clothing that is a size 14 or above.


It’s easy to think that these terms are used to define a small portion of the population. ‘Petite’ is used for those who are under 5’2, but the average height of a woman in the United States is 5’4. While other terms are used for smaller groups, most women fall within the plus-size category.


Over 75% of women in the US are a size 16 or above. If common sense were the rule of the day plus size would be the basis of the industry. Instead the industry still looks to high fashion not only for inspiration, but for sizing. And to make matters more complicated there are no industry wide sizing standards.   


Our guide to plus-size clothing is full of advice on how to find your correct size and how to shop for plus-size clothing and body with confidence. At Sante Grace, we believe that every body type is beautiful. Our luxury plus-size clothing is designed to help you embrace body confidence and the latest trends.


What is Plus-Size Clothing?

The term ‘plus-size’ isn’t always clearly defined. When you look at the runways and supermodels, you’ll often find slim models with natural curves being defined as ‘plus sized’.


Jill Kortleve’s appearance in 2020 as Chanel’s “first plus-size model in a decade” raised eyebrows. Within luxury fashion, the term ‘plus-size’ is often used to describe models – and even customers – who are a size 8 and above. And in fashion magazines plus models can be as small as a size 8 or 10. That’s because many times these shoots happen as a design house is still putting together its collection. All the sample clothes are made in a single size – this makes what is already a difficult and expensive process much easier. The house/fit/sample model might be a size 2 or 4 and 5’9 or 5’10 with minimal curves. That means less expensive fabric to purchase. Also its easier when the one dimensional pattern can echo the three dimensional model (no curves).


Every fashion brand has its own idea of what counts as plus-size clothing. Some brand starts their plus-size clothing range at a size 12, while most start at a size 16.


Research shows that the average American woman wears a size 16-18, although race and ethnicity can also affect sizing. There have been calls across the fashion industry to standardize sizing and make it more inclusive and better reflect the needs of modern women.


What Size Am I?

Every woman has experienced the annoyance of fluctuating sizing between stores. You might be a 14 in one store, an 18 in the next, and even a 20 in a store down the street. The lack of consistency in sizing means you can find yourself focusing too much on the number on your label.


You’ll find sizing inconsistency primarily with fast fashion brands. High street brands may require you to take a completely different size than you would typically wear. Better brands that specialize in plus-size clothing, such as Sante Grace, will have more consistent and streamlined sizing. You might wear a size 16 at Sante Grace, but a size 20 in a fast fashion brand.


Our advice is to remember that size is only a number. There are no industry standards on sizing, allowing brands to set their own. Sizing within brands themselves can be difficult to understand. You might be a size 16 in one dress and a size 20 in another.


Instead focus on how the garment fits – instead of the number on the label. It’s a good idea to take your own measurements and compare them to that in the sizing chart. Otherwise, take a few sizes to try. Every body type is different, and a garment will look different on each body type.


Try on the garment and decide how it fits. You want it to be comfortable while flattering your natural silhouette. Think about how the garment fits your chest, shoulders, and thighs. It’s always better to go oversized than to have a garment that constricts or binds. I have too many stories about wearing a too small Spanx and cutting off the circulation in my legs or waist cinchers rolling down at inopportune times.


Working with a tailor is a great way to customize your plus-size clothing and make minor alterations for the best fit.


Let me say it again, don’t focus on the size, focus on the fit.


Jumping Between Standard and Plus-Size

More and more women are finding themselves straddling the divide between standard and plus-size sizing. This problem typically arises in fast fashion brands that start their plus size range on the lower end. Mid-size women often find themselves falling into limbo between these two categories.


Ashley Graham is a typical example of this. She’s widely held as the world’s leading plus-size model and reportedly wears a size 14. Ashley is the same size as most American women but will find herself jumping between standard and plus-size.


If you’ve ever looked at a standard and plus-size garment, you may notice a few differences. Mainstream brands often design their garments for a small standard size. They make tweaks and amendments when scaling the design up to plus-size. Issues typically arise in garments that feature patterns and prints. You might start to notice distortions in the pattern and overall design.


Another place brands miss the mark on is grading. Grading refers to the scaling up and down in sizes. Our bodies to “scale” up across the board. I gain weight in stomach or bottom first. Then next in my arms. Ever try on a jacket that fit across your shoulders put didn’t compensate for a plus size fupa or larger bottom? Brands hoping to become more inclusive should use plus size fit models instead of just adding a few more inches of fabric to their plus collection. This was a costly lesson for my first Sante Grace collection. I decided to save money I’d make myself the official Sante Grace fit model. I didn’t take into account that on top I can fit a size 18/20 but on the bottom, well I’m a 24/26 – sometimes larger. Our first collection of faux leather skirts were wildly irregularly large. It’s a beautiful collection that I still have. Customers were confused about what size to order. Our numbers didn’t correlate with their sizing expectations. Today we test each garment on no less than three models all to make sure the fit is accurate.


You might find that a size 14 in the plus-size section fits you better than a 14 in the standard range. That’s because the plus-size range will be designed with a curvier body type in mind.


Embracing Your Natural Body Type

Body confidence starts from within. Social media is changing the way we think and talk about plus-size clothing. We need to remember that for most women, plus-size is standard sizing. You want to remember that the size on the label of your clothes isn’t black and white.


It can be frustrating seeing brands using only standard or slim models. Thankfully, the industry is changing. It’s becoming increasingly more common to see brands showcasing clothes on multiple models, usually with a standard, mid-size, and plus-size model. Also the industry in finally acknowledging that “plus size” represents many different body types. Are you shorter and really curvy? Tall and well endowed? Totally different bodies that need to be accounted for.


Whether or not you’re plus size, you want to embrace your natural body type. Everyone deserves clothes that fit them well and makes them feel confident. At Sante Grace, our luxury plus-size dresses are designed to flatter your curves and help you fall in love with your body.


Wear the size that makes you feel confident and comfortable. It might take a little extra time but trust the process. Brands that specialize in plus-size clothing will design their garments for curvier silhouettes and often offer more consistent sizing.

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We hope you feel at home at Sante Grace. We believe that every body type is beautiful and strive to curate size-inclusive collections. Discover our plus-size womenswear by shopping our latest arrivals here.


We care about you and your shopping experience. Feel free to reach out to us anytime.

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