Allistyle: A Win for Body Image But Still Lacks ‘Style’

The first all plus-size line to show on the runway at World MasterCard Fashion Week was Allistyle, who presented the Spring/Summer 2013 collection on October 26.  While this was definitely a very innovative move and major change at any Fashion Week, sadly, the collection was rather plain and something that anyone specialty sized (whether plus size or petite (short) like me) probably is already fairly familiar with.  While the collection looked very comfortable and colourful, it was more or less a rehash of what’s already out there and in many ways, a bit repetitive.  In fact, one can find much more “stylish” clothes at stores like Addition Elle or Laura, though Allistyle’s quality is much better and of course, sold at a higher price point.  I was really hoping that Allistyle would be Canada’s answer to Marina Rinaldi, Max Mara’s plus size line, offering looks that were classic, stylish and sophisticated, rather than plain basics.  Guess I was wrong.

Allistyle, which was established several years ago, by Pam Shainhouse and her late daughter, Alli Shapiro, could have done so much more.  There could have been more pattern, more shape and definitely more looks that could go from day to night.  The philosophy of the collection is about “simplicity, comfort, sophistication, travel friendly and classic.”  And as I said, there’s definitely comfort, I don’t see much “classic” or “sophistication” about Allistyle without lots of accessorizing.  Pieces that are supposedly sophisticated and classic should be able to hold out on its own.

The thing is, I don’t really understand why so-called “non-standard sizing” has to be boring.  I’ve complained about this issue myself, albeit about petite sizing (clothes for women 5’4″ or shorter, regardless of size), which for the most part, still has a more “mature” ring to it or is very career-focused.  In both cases, things are changing, but designers have to be brave enough to come out with exclusive lines in order to do so and think outside of the box – beyond typical office wear.  Shorter women and women who are size 12 or larger have the same needs as average heighted and tall women who are between size 0 and 12, after all.  Marketers and media shouldn’t have to fear bad reaction from the public, because we the public want to see more of that.  And looks really should be more than simple, comfortable pieces as that can be found just about anywhere, and beyond casual wear, business attire and perhaps, denim. Clothes can be simple.  Fashion and style have to be more than that.  Perhaps that’s why some major publications didn’t bother to come, despite the milestone that this show was.

Though many of the pieces were, as noted, quite plain, I have to admit that they definitely fit well.  And if I were of a larger size, I’d probably like to have some of the pieces as basics in my closet.  However, as I noted earlier, the specialty size industry has to go beyond that. Still, there is promise.  Maybe we’ll see more “style” next time around.


Photos by Deborah Lawrence Photography

About Cynthia Cheng Mintz

Cynthia Cheng Mintz is the founder and webitor-in-chief of this site and the petite-focused site, Shorty Stories. She has also written for other publications including the Toronto Star and has blogged for The Huffington Post. Her first novel, Aspirations, was published in 2007. Outside of writing, Cynthia researches and advises philanthropic ideas for family funds and foundations and also volunteers.

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  • I'm going to disagree with you. At the point in my life where I was in plus sizes, one of the most difficult things to do was find pieces that were classy, comfortable AND versatile. Unfortunately, much plus size fashion is not fashionable at all (although, yes, Addition Elle has made leaps and bounds in recent years). No woman wants to be relegated to wearing a sack because she happens to be a few sizes (or many sizes) off from standard sizing.

    This collection looks to be all of those things. What sets plus size fashion apart from run of the mill plus sized pieces (or any pieces, really) is perfect tailoring. Not everything needs to be a standout piece. Not everything needs to be trendy. What matters is impeccable tailoring and beautiful execution; things Allistyle seems to have accomplished with this collection.

    I think your mistake here is equating plus size with petites. They're entirely different situations and should be treated as such.

    • But the thing is, Allistyle pieces look very similar and are all for very similar situations. Nothing there is exclusively work or exclusively evening (save for the long black dress that the red headed model of a certain age wore – maybe). Most seemed like things mothers might wear to pick up their children from an after school event before having to hurry off to a dinner (i.e. dressy casual). I really was hoping for something more "fashion-y," similar to the European plus size lines. Clothes that look like Allistyle can be found just about anywhere and for a bit less than the $150 or so they charge for dresses. Besides, the first exclusively plus size collection at Fashion Week should not be reinforcing the stereotype that specialty size = basics.

      Plus and petite issues are not that different, really. Both are not represented well and when you're petite and small framed, you aren't even allowed to discuss your issues (I'm not going to get into this right now, because it is not the point of this post).

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