I mentioned in an earlier post that sizes 6 to 10 are the most purchased sizes in America. The interesting thing is that the most common size is a 14, but relatively few women purchase clothes in a size 14. How can this be?

Last year an article on Cleveland.com quoted the fashion industry newspaper WWD on this fact (I haven’t been able to locate the original piece) and offered some theories to explain it: Perhaps women who recently gained weight to reach a size 14 are reluctant to shop. They’d rather wait until they are back to a size 10 and in the meantime just make do with what they have. Or they might purchase smaller sizes hoping that they will fit into them later. Women sizes 20 and up, on the other hand, may have accepted their size and are happier to shop their size.

The author did her own informal study by observing people in a downtown area and concluded…

“yes, it was those “average American women,” the size 14s, who seemed to ignore style the most often, at least in my informal survey. In the past, I assumed this was because the majority of people simply aren’t all that interested in fashion. But could it be that this reluctance to shop for their current size 14 is what keeps so many women on the sidelines, and not a lack of interest?”

I can’t say that my own experience supports this explanation. I haven’t noticed a general trend for women in the most common size range to be less stylish than larger or smaller  women. Still, the fact is that size 14s are under-purchased and therefore under-stocked.

The deemphasis on size 14 at retail obviously has a negative ripple effect on size 14 women who enjoy shopping at that size. Retailers stock fab items in sizes that sell out the fastest, not sizes that sell slowly. In turn, manufacturers are reluctant to design for sizes that sell slowly. This leaves a huge gap in the marketplace — no killer stuff for size 14’s.

Could it be a catch 22, that the lack of retail variety is another reason why size 14’s don’t shop nearly as much than other sizes. If it’s not available, it can’t be purchased.

The irony is that there should be much more variety for size 14s because they are represented in both regular and plus sized retail assortments. Granted, a regular size 14 fits a little differently than a plus size 14, but still, the retail market covers the size twice.

There must be more to this than meets the eye and I’d love to hear your thoughts? Have you had trouble shopping for size 14? Do you have a theory as to why the most common size in America is one of the least popular sizes at retail?