Clothes are not only for body protection and covering, but they also have social and emotional aspects attached to them. For them to be appealing, they need to have a proper fit while remaining fashionable and aesthetically pleasing to the eye (Anderson, Brannon, Ulrich, Presley&Woronka, Grasso&Gray,2000; Yoo, 2003). Swaziland has a large population of plus-size women who are working in different departments and need to dress for the job on a daily basis. Their apparel sizing and fit preferences and problems are not known. This research investigates apparel sizing and fit preferences and problems of the plus-size Swazi working women. It concentrates specifically on the functional, aesthetic and economic fit preferences, as well as on determining size labelling preferences, knowledge and clothing styles preferences and problems. This was a descriptive study using a quantitative approach. Purposive sampling was used. This design was chosen as it focused on studying plus-size working women who were experiencing fit problems with the apparel they bought from local apparel retail shops. A survey using a questionnaire to collect data was done in exploring apparel sizing and fit problems and preferences of plus-size working women of Swaziland. A sample of plus-size Swazi working female teachers (n = 249) between the ages of 25 and 60 years who had indicated that they wore clothes of size 16 to 28+ or size 40 to 52+ participated in the study. A self-administered questionnaire was used to answer set objectives. The results of the study indicated that the plus-size Swazi working women preferred clothes that were functionally comfortable, fitted well and were made in comfortable fabric. They also indicated that they preferred clothes that were well sized, had a fit that was functional, sensually and emotionally pleasing in respect of style, the fabric used and comfort. The study also reflected that plus-size Swazi working women experienced sizing and fit problems in most of the apparel they bought from local retail outlets. A high number of the plus-size women consumers reported experiencing difficulty in finding clothes that were aesthetically pleasing. They could not find clothes that were fashionable in their size nor clothes that could satisfy their emotional and symbolic egos. A high number of respondents also indicated that they experienced a lot of fit problems on several areas of their bodies. The waist, hips, buttocks, abdomen and upper arms seemed to be the most problematic body areas respondents reported to be having fit problems. The lengths were also a challenge as most had problems with sleeve and pants length. Findings in this study also reflected that sizing in clothes was still a major problem for most of the plus-size consumers. Many of the respondents had problems understanding information on the size tags. The sizing systems were most probably confusing for the consumer as some came in varying numbers and letters. This study may contribute to a better understanding of sizing and fit preferences and problems experienced by the plussize Swazi working women with regard to work apparel. Consumers come in different shapes and sizes. The clothing producer has a task of ensuring that clothes are made to fit most of the prevailing figure types, rather than the common ideal figure.
Dissertation (MConsumer Science)--University of Pretoria, 2011.