JOURNAL FASHION SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28. 1996 Aft PLUS SIZES Big gals demand latest looks More designers create stylish fashions for plus-size females By BARBARA BRADLEY Scripps Howard News Service MEMPHIS — Lila Williams, 51, went shopping recently for a black jacket at Added Dimensions, a store that specializes in large sizes, and left with more than $700 worth of suits and separates. "As old as I am, I'm not going to wait until I lose weight," says Williams, a real estate agent. "I love fashion. I may as well enjoy Large-sized clothing "used to be horrible polyester things," she adds, "but now it's a lot better." Like a lot of large-size shoppers, Williams has found that being large doesn't mean you have to dress dowdy. More and more designers are making clothes for the plus-size woman. And retailers are giving them more floor space and better display. Sales of large-size women's clothes are growing almost three times as fast as sales of other apparel, according to The NPD Group Inc., a market research company in Port Washington, N.Y. In 1995 retail sales for large sizes were up 6 percent over 1994 to $20 billion. Large-size customer 'vocal' Design companies that have added large-size collections in recent years include Dana Buchman, Ellen Tracy and the Emanuel line from Emanuel Ungaro, which offer suits, dresses, pants and swimsuits in sizes 14 to 24. Gianni Versace makes a line in sizes 10 to 18. "It's so exciting. I don't know why we didn't do it before," says Buchman, the bridge wear designer who grew up in Memphis. Buchman said she was responding to her customers who kept asking for a particular jacket or skirt in a larger size. "The large-size customer is so vocal," she says, adding, "She pays attention to the good you do, and she notices everything she doesn't like, too. She's a much better student of her own body than the missy woman." Making flattering clothes for larger women isn't a snap. "They carry their weight in different places so you have to learn T SEW SIMPLE Photos by Scripps Howard News Service ABOVE: Pam Glacosa finds true glamor in this polyester wrap coat by Gallery Woman. The white shirt Is by queen- sized actress Delta Burke. LEFT: Artina Abraham and other plus-size women like being green In lemon-lime silk jacket, pants and blouse by Memphis designer Dana Buchman. T IN THE HOME Modern touches put new spin on old styles MARY LOU ODLE KSU-Saline Count)' Extension Agent- Family and Consumer Sciences Do you remember snug-fitting pants with flared bottoms and close-fitting knit shirts with long pointed collars? I remember wearing those styles in the '70s. Now, in fall 1996, the bell bottom lace-up- the-back pants are reborn. Fashion turns a fond eye toward decades past, adding modern touches to make the old ideas look new. You'll see beaded evening dresses from the '20s, suits with shaped jackets and long skirts from the '30s, fitted '40s suits and nylon lace dresses from the '50s. Textured textiles in velvet, mohair, corduroy, boucle and chenille join forces with techno textiles featuring plastic coatings and sprayed finishes. Colors run the gamut in coffee, charcoal, mahogany, black, brown, lavender, spice, plum, burgundy with sparks of silver, gold, brass and copper. The overall look is long and lean. The maxi coat is back in narrow shapes and luxury fab- rics such as cashmere, velvet, leather and suede. Pant suits walk the straight and narrow or show up with bootcut or slightly bell-bottomed legs. Jackets are fitted with high-cut armholes and patch pockets with flaps. It reminds you of Mario Thomas in the '70s. Wrapped blazers and military-minded jackets top the fitted pant suits. Jumpsuits reappear in stretch jersey, stretch velvet and stretch wool double crepe. Knitted bodices pair with woven bottoms. Turtlenecks remain a popular item with this fall's style; they appear in a slimmer cut. Look for turtlenecks in plain or patterned knits as tops of slim- line dresses. Shetland sweaters, flame-stitch knits . and pearl-encrusted cardigans from the "50s are all part of fall's knitwear. The evening spotlight shines on velvet. Shaved, tie-dyed, embossed, flocked, panned,beaded and crushed velvet shows up in jackets, pants, dresses and coats. It makes daytime appearances, too, adding lush, plush texture to sportswear separates. Stretch knit velvet combines comfort and luxury in slim pants, clingy dresses, tunics and skirts. about a new set of body types," says Buchman. And "the garments are harder to fit than for missies. They have to be well-balanced, and they have to hang from the shoulders." But Buchman has been rewarded for her efforts. Wholesale sales of the line, introduced in 1993, doubled to about $10 million in 1995. Neither her prices — from $378 for a jacket to $172 for a blouse — nor her more adventurous fashions have daunted the larger customer. In fact, one of her most edgy colors for fall, a muted lemon-lime, is "blowing out the door," she says. Increasingly, full-figured women see themselves as big and beautiful rather than fat and unattractive, and they want the latest looks, including more gently fitted jackets, feminine dresses and sprightly prints and colors. "It used to be you couldn't find anything pretty — just big shifts," says Loraine Baker, 57, of Fisherville, Tenn., who was shopping for vacation clothes at a Memphis department store recently. Now, she adds, "They're making clothes the same way they make smaller sizes — not all just one style — and you feel good about it." While top fashion models seem to be getting ever more emaciated, American women are headed in the opposite direction. About 34 percent of women are overweight — an increase of 26 percent since 1980, says Jeff Lancashire, spokesman for the National Center for Health Statistics. The average woman is 5-foot-3 and weighs 144 pounds, he says. Retailers estimate that more than a third of women are now size 14 or larger. Ellen Jacobson, a vice president of Goddess Bra Co., a maker of plus-sized foundation garments, feels women are coming to accept their weight. »a«i®ws*fs Agenda reader earns gauge EUNICE FARMER King Features Arthritic fingers easily pick up long pins used for quilting projects Winner of the Sim-Flex measuring gauge, for the sewing tip of the week, is Doris Anderson of Agenda, Kan. Her tip: "When fingers become sore and stiff from arthri- * tis, it becomes increasingly difficult to pick up the small common pins. My introduction to quilting also introduced me to the long quilting pins. They are easy to pick up because of the large, round colored heads. I now use them for all my sewing needs!" You, too, could win a Sim-Flex gauge. Send your sewing tips to Eunice Farmer, Box 31729, St. Louis, MO 63131. If she selects your tidbit for publication, you'll receive a Sim-Flex. ' Dear Eunice Farmer: I've had hundreds of inquiries about the heirloom stocking I talked about a few months ago. I'm sorry I didn't include a sketch of it. You may make it with treasured scraps of your favorite fabrics, old laces and holiday fabrics. The stocking is a keepsake not only for Christmas, but also for any special occasion for year- round giving. It makes a great gift for a bride, children or teens. It's perfect for your guest room and for bazaars. Why is it so easy? Because each piece of fabric is fused to your in- Write to Eunice Farmer to order the pattern and Instructions for this heirloom stocking. terfacing or backing. You'll love the creativity it inspires! I usually focus on fashion, but so many asked me to include a fashion-oriented craft item — and this is it. If you wish to order this easy, numbered patchwork pattern with complete instructions, send $6 to Eunice Farmer, Box 31729, St. Louis, MO 63131. Dear Eunice Farmer: On a recent trip, I purchased some wonderful Pendleton wool in hopes of making a tailored blazer. I'm not an accomplished seamstress, so I am looking for a lined blazer pattern suitable for my needs. Can you help? — Gayla J. Dear Gayla: Because you are not an accomplished seamstress, I must tell you I wouldn't even try to make a tailored blazer that requires expertise in tailoring. There is nothing quite as sad as seeing a handmade garment that looks homemade. Instead, select a collarless jacket or a shirt jacket, also popular Pendleton classics. A shirt jacket is really nothing more than a blouse with a hem, and it is casual and timeless enough to wear with skirts and pants. This type of fabric is also perfect for v^sts and scarfs. Perhaps you can share the extra fabric with a friend. I suggest you sew together; it's more fun than sewing alone. Dear Eunice Farmer: I love the long, skinny skirts shown this fall but find the very high slit inappropriate for the office. What do you suggest? — Peg A. Dear Peg: A long slender skirt must have "walking room." A long slit, a flare at the hem or a wrap skirt creates that room. These are your options. Farmer is a nationally recognized authority on sewing. An author, teacher and lecturer, she owns a fa brie boutique and sewing school. 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