The Plus Size Trend That Needs To End

In the plus size fashion world, it often feels like we are begging for trends to come over into our clothes that straight size brands are all over. We get them late, if we get them at all. Right now I’m hoping to see more pleated midi skirts in plus sizes, because they are adorable and seem readily available in straight sizes! However, there is a trend that plus size babes dread, a trend that needs to end, a trend so bizarre and inexplicable that it has caused me to utter expletives on many an occasion, a trend that has been around for years that seems to be infinite. That trend is… cold shoulders.

cold shoulder

Cold shoulders seem to be almost exclusively a plus size trend. They make odd appearances in straight size fashion more recently, but usually in items it works with, like a dress with harness elements and other cut outs. If you don’t know what cold shoulders are, they are cut outs specifically on the shoulder area of an item. They seem to crop up in everything from dresses to shirts, and even jumpers and polo necks with long sleeves. Go to any plus size retailer and you are bound to be able to spy at least a good handful of cold shoulders. In fact, my Nanny and I play a ‘cold shoulder bingo’ game on certain retailer’s websites… because it’s so hard to find something without them in!

I’m with Michaela, it’s like watching Gretchen Weiner try to make ‘fetch’ happen, and we’re all Regina George telling her no.


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It’s so unusual for a trend to be a plus size specific trend, and to be so totally dominant across every retailer. However, the problem with this trend is that it has gone too far. It seems almost daily that I see plus size bloggers calling for an end to the cold shoulder trend, lamenting the distress at finding yet another cute dress that has weird missing shoulder sections. Spend 5 minutes on twitter following plus size babes and you’ll soon see how very over this trend we are. Yet we keeping getting more and more cold shoulders shoved onto us, and we just don’t get it!

Here at She Might Be we have a theory that somewhere along the way plus size retailers decided that a cold shoulder design was ‘flattering’ and made our shoulders look smaller. By suddenly chopping material out, interrupting patterns and lines in fabric, our shoulders will magically no longer exist and we’ll look thin, finally! Except that’s not how it works. We don’t give a damn about flattering at SMB, and instead we’d rather our shoulders be warm in the depths of winter, not left to shiver away in thick jumpers with cut out shoulders. Upper arms are an area many a plus size folk struggle to embrace, so it seems unusual that so many places want to accentuate them with cut outs. Maybe shoulders are an ‘acceptable’ area of flesh for fat people to flash, it’s not too sexy, it’s not figure hugging, so exposing our shoulders is something society decided is A-OK! Our shoulders can’t really be ‘fat’, so we’re allowed to get them out.

Maybe retailers are worried that we all have really warm shoulders and need to release all of our baffling shoulder heat through the missing sections of fabric as some sort of arm ventilation shaft. Or maybe as SBM fave Murderofgoths suggests, we all have spiky shoulders that need to be freed!

There are so many clothes I’d have bought recently, if only they didn’t have cold shoulders. There are lush dresses just ruined by missing shoulders, I’ve even seen work shirts with oddly shaped cut outs that really don’t fit the shape of the garment! I spent far too long trying to find jumpers and long sleeve t-shirts that didn’t have them so I could stay warm this winter. I don’t want literally cold shoulders, I want them to actually be warm in winter.

There’s a time and a place for shoulder cut outs, it can look lovely! Generally it works better when it’s more of a split, than a random cut out, because the unnatural cut out can make clothes lie funny. Take this LovedRobe dress, the split in the arms is a really lovely touch that doesn’t detract from the overall shape of the dress. It works great here! It just doesn’t need to be in every single thing.

cold shoulder

So plus size retailers please, listen to your customers and calm it with the cold shoulders. It’s only a little bit of material, but we’d like it back please.

Kitty Morris

Kitty Morris

Plus size blogger, fashion photographer, cat lady and wife.
Kitty Morris

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