Fashion: Does Size Really Matter?

Thought on Abercrombie & Fitch's latest PR debacle



This week Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO Mike Jefferies was quoted in the press with some truly idiotic statements about his company’s sizing parameters for women.  Couple that news with the June issue of Vogue (which just dropped) featuring the voluptuous Kate Upton on the cover and I decided to write this post about how the real American woman feels about her size.

I have worked in retail, wholesale, and as a fashion buyer – and have always encouraged the companies I have worked for to purchase on a higher sizing arc due to the fact that 80% of the population of woman are above a size 8 – with an average at a size 14.

I have met thousands of very extremely fashionable woman in my life of all shapes and sizes, and unless health is an issue I would never conceive of criticizing any of them.  So with that being said I asked a few of my good friends and family members to chime-in on Jefferies’s statements, and to tell me about the retailers who they feel support the average sized woman.



All of the woman I spoke with range from a size 10 thru an 18, and are extremely well put together as well as very fashionable.  My questions were simply ‘How do you feel about Mike Jefferies statements in the press this week?’ and ‘Who are your go-to retailers and why?’  Here’s what the ladies had to say;


Donna Costa-Marino of West Palm Beach, Florida.  Housewife, Mother and Entrepreneur;

“I feel that we as a nation should be trying to build the self esteem of our young people, not knock it down.  This is a discriminatory move, and I hope that American parents and their teens join together in choosing other retailers, and avoid shopping at Abercrombie.

I like to do most of my clothes shopping at Bloomingdales because they offer a wide range of designer choices.  I tend to purchase Calvin Klein, DKNY, Michael Kors and INC.  Jackets are a little tricky for me since I am a larger size, but Chico’s always has a great selection for the full figured woman.”


Lee Atkins of Nashua NH.  Owner of Medlines, Medical Transcriptionist;

“If I only focus on the fact that A&F is a “specialty” store, I don’t get too irritated.  It’s no different than having American Eagle targeting the 15-30 crowd who are hip and “in”; Victoria’s Secret targeting the young, college hot bodies; and Ann Taylor targeting the up and coming, thin, professional woman.  However, when Jefferies starts to discriminate against employees and attack people of different sizes and shapes personally as a whole in the real world, I get offended.  In that respect, he’s hateful and pretty ignorant if you ask me.

I have always gravitated towards clothes that are well-made, good quality, simple lines, and are not too trendy.  I know what looks best on my body and what I can’t pull off.  I think clothes should be an extension of your attitude, personality and most importantly, your confidence.  Love your body no matter what size or shape and it doesn’t matter what size you wear – your confidence will show and that’s what really rocks an outfit.

I love Michael Kors, DKNY, Vince, Buffalo, and many others.   Off 5th(Saks outlet), Barneys outlets, and Nordstrom Rack where you can find quality items at reasonable prices.  Macy’s is a great go to for whatever you may need in a pinch.  I think because I tend to love shopping for classic lines and few trendy looks, I never have problems finding the things I like in my size at the stores I shop in.”


Grace Marino of Forrest Hills, NY.  Grace Hair Spa and;

“I feel nothing toward that stupid man because I have become used to people like him, and I trust karma will get him.  I am done getting frustrated by insipid insensitive jerks.

I like Burberry if I’m lucky enough to find a large or extra large.  Or small boutique that uses independent designers because large/plus size retailers sell frumpy clothes.  In retrospect it is a failing chain reaction from buyers and designers who are missing the mark.  They are forgetting half the population – us big gals.”


Kelli Alexander of Nashua NH.  Sales Executive Bernie & Phyl’s;

“I felt embarrassed when I read what Jefferies had said about his marketing ideas.  So derogatory and condescending about the company he represents.  This is a stupid, lazy act of ignorance.

I completely LOVE JC Penney.  The Worthington brand carries size 4-14 and they also carry Plus sizes.  The clothes are very flattering for people with a little bulge here and there.  The Career line is my favorite!  I also like Dress Barn for their styles and sizing options 4 up to Plus sizes.”


Leah Young Rayburn of Freeland, Maryland.  Theraputic Horse Trainer;

I think that he is a shallow person who made a very discriminatory statement.  A person’s “coolness” or true character is not determined by their body shape or size.  

I struggle with clothes buying because I have very little fashion sense and rarely find something that looks halfway as good on me as it does on the hanger.   That said I tend to shop at Kohls or Macy’s.”


Dolores Costa-Pina of Manhasset, NY.  Real Estate;

“So much has been written about our young people today, and how their body image has suffered because of too much emphasis being put on being thin and the pressure to conform with what is considered to be an acceptable “look” by society.   It’s unacceptable that a person such as Mike Jeffries, who has the ability to influence our young people in such a positive way, has chosen to take this position and feed into this very unhealthy perception of what beauty is.  We need to teach our children to love themselves just the way they are.  Our kids need positive role models, not ones like Mike Jeffries.  I hope that parents and their kids stop shopping at A&F.  I, for one, will never step foot in one of his stores again.

I shop at Ann Taylor.  I think their clothing is designed to fit a woman’s body.  They are nicely tailored and have a fuller cut.  I like Banana Republic’s pants.  They have a variety of styles that suit just about any body shape.  I like Tahari pants – nicely tailored, good fit.  Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren clothing is also designed to fit a woman’s body.”


I hope this post will empower women, boost their confidence, and be helpful for them in finding the correct retailers, and designers to shop.  I would like to thank my 2 beautiful cousins Donna and Dolores for helping me with this story, and my great friends Kelli, Leah, Lee, and Grace.

And finally, as a past employee of Saks Fifth Avenue I know that they support the plus size woman, and carry probably one of the most beautiful selections of clothing for my bigger gal pals.  Here’s the link to their plus sized department.


Written by Anthony Costa