I recently read a NYTimes article about the comeback of curvy body shapes among the Y- generation. It seems that an increasing number of women in their 20s and 30s are finding the “calendar girl” silhouette appealing. Along with a curvaceous silhouette, the look includes Betty Page style bangs, swing skirts, and bright red lips.
The classic 50s and 60s pin-ups were before my time. By the time the 70’s arrived, the style of the day had evolved. Pin-ups looked different – beach blondes, tiny waistlines and overly-styled looks were on trend. These were the images that surrounded me when I first began to think about my own definition of beauty and develop my own sense of style. I was an awkward teenager. Growing up with limited resources in our small community, my sense of beauty and style was dictated by Seventeen Magazine. And I don’t remember anyone in my little world that looked like me. I remember my mother—who was a teacher at my school—telling me that none of the little kids looked like me. I had black hair, black eyes, a “foreign” look. In fact, years later a friend of the family looked at my cousin and said “Pam, you have just grown up to be the most beautiful young woman.” Then, as her eyes descended upon me, she exclaimed, “And, Natalie, you are so, so, so EXOTIC.” For a shy and somewhat delicate girl, that felt like the kiss of ugly.
The trend appears to be coming full circle from six decades past, as new-age pin-up style embraces femininity and curves. Wearers dress in cinched-waist dresses to accentuate their hips. How often do you hear someone wish their hips bigger? Yes! Considered glamorous and classy (and not overtly sexual), pin-up style is ultra-feminine and confident. It is how I want to always feel, no matter what I wear.
It struck a chord: it is ok to be curvy. In fact, it is BEAUTIFUL. After bouts of poor body image over the course of my lifetime, I am finally learning to love my body. With understanding and patience, I know I will have those feelings again from time to time but, I stop writing this to tell myself: “Big hips, I love you.”
I always strive to design clothing to fit every body type and to embrace the wearer. Literally. Because of the physics of cotton fiber, our cotton jersey molds to fit each body type that wears it. There are no limitations. I won’t design anything that I don’t feel good in. Often we are asked questions about the age or body type that our clothes are meant for; they are meant for every woman. We have made clothes for women of all shapes, sizes, and age, without bias. These clothes have a timeless and ageless style brought to life by the wearer.
It’s nice to see other companies also support such a philosophy. Starting in 2004, Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty has demonstrated that beauty is an unlimited, uncontained, unclassified quality. Embrace your body, your beauty, your style. I hope to see more and more companies celebrate all women (and all men, for that matter) for their own unique beauty.
What is your definition of beauty without limitations? With the changing face of body types, how does your style embrace your body and curves?
P.S.: Images are of Bunny Yeager’s Pin-up Girls of the 1950s by Bunny Yeager.
i am so happy to read this, i have finally made piece with my curvy body too! you, natalie, are a beauty!
Read the poem “Homage to My Hips” by Lucille Clifton, which starts out: “These hips are big hips” and goes on to glorify a body part most women despair of.
Natalie, you are so beautiful on the outside because you are beautiful on the inside. Because you have inner beauty, your looks will never fade. Besides the American Craft’s most breath taking cover was you! xo – jonn
I hope that there is a lasting resurgence in this trend! I have dieted, excercised and nearly starved myself in order to try and fit into society’s limited views of what shape is acceptable. Now that I have two children I am learning to accept myself as perfectly acceptable. I am petite and I have large breasts it is not a problem with me that clothing doesn’t fit it is that U.S. clothing and bra manufacturers only offer limited sizes, that I am somehow defective because I do not fit into these parameters is riduculous. I have spent the last few years trying to understand the methods in which clothing patterns are made and how to alter things to improve fit, I was shocked to learn that most patterns bust line is based on a b cup and that the average us size is now a c cup. As you have stated your designs are meant for all women and I have found that to be completely true, the clothing I have made based on your patterns and with your jersey fit like no other. I honor and applaud you for creating the patterns shared in your books and for recogninzing that we all deserve to feel good and live beautifully in beautiful clothing.
If this is really how you feel, Natalie, I’d love to see some bustier models in your clothing lines. I’d like to know how the fitted dress looks on someone with a D-cup, for example.
That said, I’m a huge fan of your designs and my tank dress is my favorite article of clothing and the bolero makes it a year-rounder!
Like you I had limited resources growing up in rural Winfield, Alabama. I was so skinny I couldn’t even make a shadow and we were so poor I’d never seen a copy of Seventeen magazine . During my teen years it was popular to be ” stacked ” as they called a full-figured girl. Now that I’m in my late sixties and have some curves its popular to be thin so I guess I’ve never been in vogue. As an artist I have a sense of style and design but I won’t wear anything that’s not comfortable or doesn’t reflect my personality. I love your designs and the material -cotton which I spent many a hot sunny day picking in my youth. My top weight picked in cotton was a hundred pounds a day, which was considered high for a young’un.
Thank you for writing this post. I have had a really hard time with my post baby body, mainly my belly. When I see my two beautiful children, I am grateful for my belly because it gave me them (not technically but you know what I mean ;). It is important not to compare ourselves although extremely difficult to do. I love that your clothes are made for every woman. We all deserve to feel beautiful. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do. I think you are a BEAUTIFUL woman Natalie. I hope to meet you one day. You are truly an inspiration. xoxo