Professional Insider: Fashion
Jewels En Plus
The plus-size woman has stopped apologizing
and started buying. Do you know what she's looking for in jewelry?
by Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg
The young woman is pretty, fashion-conscious and plus-sized. She's also
an up-and-coming socialite in your town, and you eagerly offer her a king's
ransom in jewels to wear to a special benefit she chairs.
At the event, you lay before her your treasures. She seems oddly nonplussed,
but puts on some jewelry. Later her friend confides the socialite is mortified
because the necklace you brought is too tight and she feels like a fool
wearing it. Not the feeling you hoped she would have wearing your merchandise.
What Plus-Size Women Want
The plus-sized, defined by clothing manufacturers as size 12 and up,
comprise 62% of American women. They don't want your sympathy; they don't
want lectures about losing weight. They want high-style jewelry that fits
and if you don't provide it, someone else will capture this marketing
- Mode Magazine showcases couture fashion for plus-sizes in a
Vogue-style layout and has just gone monthly, encouraged by a 50% readership
increase in its first year.
- More boutiques and department stores are dedicating space to plus-size
designer clothing and jewelry.
- More jewelry designers offer collections geared to this customer, with
deeper haute fashion assortments, embracing a wider range of sizes.
"We see scant differences between what larger and regular-size customers
demand," says Roger E. Eulau, president and CEO of The Forgotten Woman,
a chain of specialty boutiques catering to larger women.
Advice for Jewelers
With tony department stores cashing in on the trend, jewelers should
hop on the bandwagon too.
"Retailers should talk much more with their vendors and work more
closely with designers when addressing the larger customer," says Cindy
Edelstein, president of the Jewelers Resource Bureau, a New York City marketing
company. "Why can't a designer offer capsule sample collections of
items especially sized for the larger customer to be shown on the sales
Smart merchandising to this consumer means having the appropriate jewelry
in the right size at the right time, she says, and there should be a better
choice of delicate and bold pieces. Designers should change the scale of
their pieces, not necessarily the size. "A chain should be longer,
for example, but if there is an accompanying small or large pendant, that
piece should be left alone," she says.
Form is important, says Patricia Daunis, president of the jewelry design
firm bearing her name. "Since larger women tend to have oval faces,
I'll do a longer earring and necklace to elongate this area," she says.
"Earrings usually have to be scaled to cover larger earlobes. Rings
are bolder because I don't think a diminutive ring looks right for this
woman." Huge cuffs with lots of mass are key for this designer, as
are substantial link bracelets to wear alone or layered around wrists.
New York City designer Maija Neimanis is a larger woman who wears small
and large pieces and offers the same options to her customers. "There
are so many different-sized, individually fashion-minded, plus-size women
who wear my pieces that I don't follow any hard and fast rules for my collections,"
Neimanis offers variously sized bee pins, earrings, pendants and brooches
in her signature 22k gold ancient-inspired motifs. "I feel there are
only advantages in designing fabulous jewelry for the larger customer, as
she can carry off bold, magnificent pieces that would overpower small women,"
Daunis' "Edgecomb Swirls" double as a pendant
and pearl enhancer. The designer loves the look for the plus-size woman
when it's worn on a chain or length of pearls equal to or somewhat longer
than the length of her face.
Daunis, Portland, ME;
(207) 773-6011, fax (207) 773-3603.
Sandy Baker's "Gable" earrings are rendered in
14k gold with a diamond-cut surface and lengths from 1" to 21/2".
Sandy Baker, New York, NY; (888) 663-6854 or (212) 629-0066,
fax (212) 967-5868.
Daunis' "Harmony Waves" earrings can be worn
with or without their detachable hoops.
Daunis, Portland, ME; (207) 773-6011, fax (207) 773-3603.
Maija Neimanis features emeralds in this 22k pin/pendant
that makes the kind of important statement appropriate for a larger woman.
Maija Neimanis, New York, NY; (212) 249-6236, fax (212)
This necklace is one of 19 styles designed with a double-end
extender that links to the clasp, allowing up to an additional inch of length.
The extenders are included in the price of the piece and match the motif
of the necklace.
Swarovski Jewelers Collection, New York, NY; (212) 213-9001.
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.