For a long time the, "If the clothes don't fit, change your body," mantra has prevailed. But designer Mallorie Carrington of SmartGlamour is trying to change things around. Instead of feeling pressured to mold and conform your body so that it "fits into the clothes of your dreams," why not make the clothes of your dreams fit to your body?
It seems to be a simple solution, doesn't it? Except that, realistically, we can't all afford to get our clothing tailor made. Fear not, though, because not only does SmartGlamour offer customizable, tailor-made options for all of its garments that won't cost you more than $20 atop the original price, the brand also offers ready-made size XXS to 6XL garments anyway. It's rare for even a plus speciality retailer to carry anything above a 4XL so to see an indie designer embrace literally every size is nothing short of swoon-able.
More often than not, brands that decide to expand their size ranges to cater to plus-size women opt for making larger versions of straight-size items, not taking into account the differences in shape that occur when you're a fuller-figured human. The sad truth is that it's just easier to do it that way. But this means that, more often than not, plus clothes aren't made to fit your actual curves. They don't hug your visible belly outline as they should; they don't support any extra roll-y bits. And ultimately, they just don't help you embrace your body as it deserves to be embraced. Thus the importance of brands like SmartGlamour.
As it reads on the retailer's About Page, SmartGlamour's top three goals since launching in 2007 have been "to empower women through clothing and help them on a road to body acceptance, to make good quality clothing that is sold at affordable prices, and to cut away at women on women hate that stems from insecurity and the belief that beauty and brains can not go hand in hand." And it succeeds in all of this. But more importantly, SmartGlamour is proof. Proof that even if a brand is small and not yet equipped with the profits of a high street global retailer, inclusivity is possible. And when you're inclusive in sizes, well, you'll bring in more customers. And, you know, loyalty and respect.
There's this belief that certain designers and corporations seem to have that spending the money to make a wider size range won't be profitable in the end. But the simple truth? More sizes = more customers = more money. Seriously, designers, if you make the clothes, we'll buy them. Especially if they're even remotely comparable to the brand you're seeing here.
As something of a cliche Colombian woman, I carry most of my weight in my bottom half. Although my tummy is big and round, my hips and booty are even rounder. I also have a relatively small waist in comparison to the rest of me, with broad shoulders (here's looking at you, dad) but pretty average-sized boobs. Know what this all means? Well, I'm rarely the same size in tops and bottoms. But more than that, I'm rarely the same size in shoulder width than at my breasts and waist. So... shirts are hard, too. And I'm sure plenty of people can relate to the struggle.
Now that you have a slight 4-1-1 on the dynamics of my shape, it shouldn't be difficult to grasp that finding halter tops would be quite the task. Whenever I've tried one on, it's usually run epically tight at the shoulders and epically loose at the waist. Cue SmartGlamour, because duh.
For my first soiree into custom-made clothing, I opted to try the Rosie Criss Cross Halter. Although, like all SmartGlamour apparel, this top was available in a standard XXS through 6XL, Mallorie made it to my measurements. And, there are few words here other than ta-da:
Like many of Mallorie's garments, this shirt evokes a certain kind of nostalgia for decades I didn't even live through, and that makes me love it all the more. But the most special thing? Knowing it was made for me — that I didn't have to change my body to fit the clothes. That my body is worthy enough of getting clothes to fit it.
Although not plus-size herself, Mallorie has said that the inspiration for her work sparked after "many discussions about women’s body image issues and the lack of accurate representation of women in the media." The reality is that body image issues are not unique to plus women — they're a symptom of growing up in a culture that adheres to very strict and problematic visions of "beauty," "perfection," and "desirability." And this is what SmartGlamour is fighting against. It's a place you can walk into (or visit online) and always find your size. Unconditionally. In every garment — no conditions.
It's no wonder, then, that Mallorie's work has attracted the likes of another vastly influential body positivity advocate, Tess Holliday, who shared some beautiful photos of herself wearing the Amelia Satin Bomber Jacket emblazoned with the term "FEMINIST" on the backside:
Sighs. Think Mallorie and SmartGlamour can't get any better? Well, Mallorie is also (obviously) hugely conscientious of having a relationship with her customers, as well as those involved with conversations on body positivity, size inclusivity, and size acceptance on the World Wide Web. And what better, more Millennial-appropriate way to start a discussion than a hashtag?
Last year, Mallorie spearheaded the #MeasureMeBeautiful campaign, which encouraged women to learn their measurements, understand their bodies, and cater to those bodies accordingly. This year, she's back at it again with #FashionForAll and #AllBodiesAreGoodBodies. Like everything she does, these campaigns are meant to put a simple, but sadly under-serviced notion into the world: Everyone is beautiful. Everyone is worthy. And everyone deserves to feel rad wearing a hot pink bomber jacket that reads "FEMINIST." (Or "FATTY," which is what I'm about to buy for mah-self.)
For those of you in New York City, SmartGlamour currently has a shop in which you can purchase ready-made items in XXS through 6XL at 436 East 9th St.), as well as get your measurements taken for customizable options. Come June, Mallorie will be running a series of pop up shops. You can follow SG on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for more updates on locations and events!
Images: Marie Southard Ospina/Paddy McClave; Tess Holliday