More? Bras get bigger reveal boom in busts
Bra size: 34B Height: 5ft 2ins Weigh: 9st 10lbs Waist size: 28ins Shoe size: 3 Dress size: 12 Bra size: 36DD Height: 5ft 5ins Weigh: 11st Waist size: 34ins Shoe size: 6 Dress size: 16
This landmark ad from 1963 was hailed by industry experts as a watershed in how women were sold their underwear. Running first in the pages of Life magazine, The image of a glamorous woman casually shooting pool in her bra was created by Manhattan copywriter Kitty D’alessio, who would later become president of Chanel and was one of a series of adverts in Maidenform’s “I Dreamed” campaign. The campaign – showing women in their Maidenform bra, breaking sexual stereotypes – was so successful it ran for 20 years. Industry expert Bob Hoffman said: “It was a silly concept – silly and mildly scandalous. The silliness was forgiven by the ‘dream’ contrivance. The scandalousness was a little more subtle. It wasn’t the first time America saw a model in a bra – but it may have been the first time we saw a model in a bra in a social situation. What made the campaign so powerful was exactly this juxtaposition of incongruities.” curvier, too. The average woman in the UK now wears a size 16 in clothing and has a 34-inch waist – six decades ago, she wore a size 12 and measured just 28 inches.
Icons of the 1950s, such as Marilyn Monroe, who were considered beautiful for their curves, now represent a more accurate size and shape for women, and the fashion industry has seen demand grow for more inclusive clothing as we have become bigger.
A 2017 report from PWC found the UK’S plus-size market is now worth an estimated £6.6 billion, and is outperforming the overall womenswear and menswear clothing market.
In the next five years, it is also predicted to grow by a further 5% to 6%.
While brands and designers still have a long way to go, Dr Sue Thomas, assistant professor in fashion at Heriot-watt University, believes the industry is changing.
She said: “When you look back at people like Marilyn Monroe, she was very much considered a sexy woman.
“But in titles like Vogue, you would still see models like Twiggy. So, fashion and reality haven’t always necessarily overlapped – there has always been the idolised version.
“Now people are designing with a better social comprehension. Within the industry there has been several moves about making sizing more accurate and more realistic – whether or not it’s been nationwide or even universal is another matter.”
Social media has played a large part in encouraging designers to change their sizing. On Instagram #Bodypositive appears on 7.5 million posts and #Plussizefashion has been used
4.8 million times.
Dr Thomas said: “There’s now a growing sensitivity to creating standardised sizes, and social media has definitely played a part in this, especially through body positivism. There are a lot of influencers who are all about the body positive message as opposed to naming and shaming.
“How quickly and well organised the industry is at recognising this varies.”
She added: “People want to wear fashionable clothing no matter their size or age – they want the red carpet look. If they see a striking dress on their personal icon, they want to look like them.
“And so there is a market for making ‘event and occasion’ clothing in all sizes. If someone wants to wear it, that should be an option.”
Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s and presenter Kelly Brook in 2016
Iconic Maidenform ads from 1963, left, and 1961, above