Plus Size Shopping for the 10 Image Archetypes

"Will my weight change my Image Archetype?"

This is the question women ask about Personal Image Analysis more often than any other. While I'm not going to go into excessive detail about why here (since it's been covered elsewhere), I will say that any IA can and does contain Plus Size women, and that weight will not change your IA but it might change (a bit) how you wear your IA. Of course, Plus Size is not a body type, and Plus Size women are as diverse in shape as straight size women, so there is no one size fits all recommendation I can offer. However, there are a few specific things that may need to shift that come to mind when I think about dressing a woman who wears a larger size across the different IAs. Below, a link to a plus size catalog of blouses for all IAs, and some thoughts.

1. Scale

Each Image Archetype has a certain scale associated with it, however if the woman is larger as in larger dress size, this may need to shift a bit. In the case of the largest scale types, D, YinD, and YangN, not much will change. For the others, you want to be sure to keep things in proportion to you. That doesn't mean if you are a plus-size YinC, you start wearing basketball sized florals. The print should still not feel oversize for her, since overly exaggerated styles don't suit her. On the other hand, some very dainty prints that would feel normal on her straight sized counterpart might feel too dinky. In prints, the "repeat" refers to the element which is repeated over and over. There are many different repeat structures, but see if you can feel out the element that is the main building block of the print, and see how many times it repeats. If a print needs to repeat a dizzying number of times to get across you, the repeat may be too small. Things like handbags may also be a concern. While a straight size YinG may need to carry a very tiny bag just to not have it look oversized on her, a plus size woman of this type may find that a more medium bag is appropriate in scale next to her body.

Conversely, certain other scale elements of the Plus Size woman's look won't change. One key thing is length. DO NOT I repeat, DO NOT get into the trap of making things longer, especially if you are both plus size and 5'4 and under. because your height has not changed as compared to your straight size counterpart, the length of the things you wear (jackets, skirts, tops, etc) also should not change. Wearing clothing that is too shapeless and too long is the petite plus-size woman's all too well beaten path to dowdiness. Also, while many plus-size retailers seem to pack the shelves with jumbo jewelry, this may not be right for you. Jewelry should be in scale with your facial features, which probably don't shift too much with weight gain or loss. Necklaces and bracelets may potentially scale up a bit, but take care not to exceed the stylistic goals of your IA in doing so.

2. Volume

As I already hinted at above, the Plus Size retailer loves to produce tent-like moomoo garments, I can only sadly assume because Plus Size woman buy them. Only by not buying them and buying something else instead can we teach the garment industry to behave better. Let's play a game. Imagine I gave you a 20 oz bottle of coke, and told you you had to cover it in fabric from midway between the cap and the label to midway between the label and the bottom of the bottle. The caveat is, you have to try to add the LEAST apparent mass possible. How would you do this? The solution is obvious. You use the least fabric possible.

Now you're saying "But Rachel the coke bottle is just smooth and hard and I'm not". Ok, right, I know. But the point of the exercise was to get you to acknowledge what you already know - padding yourself with a ton of fabric will only add mass. And typically the Plus Size woman is the one who least want to add mass, and yet goes about it trying to look less Plus Size by drowning herself in fabric. Straight size women do this too, for particular body parts, the bottom being a common one. The objective then, can only be to add the least fabric possible (and particularly in certain areas) while still giving a little bit of "forgiveness" for lumps and bumps. Don't go overboard with that last part. I suggest you adopt my "people know what you look like" principle. When you are standing before me, if you have a belly, love handles, or padded thighs, or whatever other feature you might like to hide, I know. And not just me, everyone else, too. And that's fine. You are not obligated to anyone to not have those features, and no matter your lifestyle some of them may never go away. And you can't hide them anyway, because we can see you. Clothing "illusions" don't work.

3. Waist Definition

This one really depends on the individual. Basically, I just wanted to note that depending on how adipose tissue distributes on your individual body and how much there is, some women might feel better defining less or more than her straight size counterpart in the same IA. For example, a YangN who becomes quite busty and full through the hips when overweight may want to choose garments that are a little less free flowing around the waist. On the other hand, the YinN who has lost waist definition with weight gain may feel more flattered by garments that don't have a specific waist point. There is a tendency to overemphasize waist definition as the deciding factor on Yin vs Yang typing and the truth is there's more to it. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that any one given guideline is much less important than what you are trying to communicate through your clothes.

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