Why does the fashion industry ignore large breasts?

When a trend hits the runway, a woman’s first thought shouldn’t be, “How will my breasts ever fit into that?” When models all too often only represent women with small chests, it’s easy for ladies with larger breasts to feel slighted. The average bust size of a North American woman ranges between a C and D cup, yet most clothing is designed to fit a standardized B cup. So if the majority of females can’t comfortably fit into what’s on the racks, why does the fashion industry keep ignoring their busts?

Over the last 25 years, the size of women’s breasts has dramatically changed. In 1983, the average bra size was 34B, whereas in 2013, most American women were wearing a 34DD. While females are embracing their fuller chests, the fashion industry is ironically stuck in the past.

Fashion personality Tim Gunn recently got vocal about the industry’s need to design clothing that fits real women. In an interview with PBS Newshour last month, Gunn declared that he wanted to rid the term “plus-size” and instead see brands create garments based on a woman’s proportions.  The Project Runway mentor explained that designers still work from sizing standards that were created decades ago, and the industry needs to shake its obsession with thinness.

But it’s not just an attitude towards thinness that needs to change; fashion needs to accept breasts. Many women get stuck in sizing limbo when their breasts are too large for “regular” clothing, but their bodies don’t meet “plus-size” standards either.  This all-too-common experience leaves women frustrated in the fitting room and desperately searching for clothing that fits.

Finding tasteful, classy pieces that compliment large breasts isn’t an easy feat. Brands often resort to cleavage-revealing designs to accommodate for a woman’s top, or create garments in stretchy, unflattering materials. While there’s nothing wrong with showing some skin, women shouldn’t be limited to bust-exposing styles just because their breasts are large. They should have options — just like everybody else.

However, there is some progress being made in the industry. Large-breasted models like Lara Stone and Kate Upton prove that boobs and fashion do go together, and indicate a much-needed shift in body ideals. And if there are more models like them on the runway, maybe full-chested women will be able to wear high fashion, rather than admiring from a distance.

Both Sofia Vergara, left, and Laura Stone, right, wear flattering shapes that fit - not flatten - their full chests. REUTERS, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot / Vogue

Both Sofia Vergara, left, and Laura Stone, right, wear flattering shapes that fit - not flatten - their full chests.

REUTERS, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot / Vogue

As an advocate for embracing women's natural shapes, Chelsea Handler speaks proudly about her full bust. Mark Davis / Getty Images

As an advocate for embracing women's natural shapes, Chelsea Handler speaks proudly about her full bust.

Mark Davis / Getty Images

Model Daisy Lowe has carved out a career by becoming the face of bust-friendly fashion lines. Jo Malone London

Model Daisy Lowe has carved out a career by becoming the face of bust-friendly fashion lines.

Jo Malone London