Americans' bodies come in a huge range of shapes and sizes. Yet clothing options represent a tiny fraction of that diversity, as evidenced in part by a recent study published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education that found the majority of women have trouble finding clothes that fit them.
The researchers polled 5,552 women via the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to determine that the average woman wears a "straight" size 16 to 18—the equivalent of a "plus" 20W. Size 14 has generally been recognized as the beginning of plus-size clothing, and most brands run the majority of their apparel options in "straight sizes" 2 to 12, and then stop there. The options for larger women simply don't exist or are too low caliber, say Deborah Christel and Susan Dunn, the co-authors of the study.
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