I adore talking with the founders of small fashion businesses; no one knows more than they do about the construction and design of their clothing! So when Kristen Allen, founder of Exclusively Kristen, reached out to me last week, I asked her for an interview.
Exclusively Kristen is a small, made-in-America company that specializes in bust-friendly button-ups and tank tops, mostly made of natural fabrics. (They also offer some dresses.) Their sizes range from 6 to 20. I wasn’t able to try anything personally yet, but I’ve got some useful information for you about fit, sizing, and what changes are coming in the future.
- Her shirts fit optimally if you’re between an F and an H cup. She does have some customers who are a DD cup who fit into her shirts well, so don’t let that discourage you if you want to give her stuff a try.
- She’s phasing out the Peter Pan collars in her dress shirts. Currently, all of her long-sleeved shirts have point collars, and the short-sleeved shirts have point collars in sizes 16 to 20. She’s also working on a pattern for a mandarin collar shirt, which I am super excited about as a sucker for that particular design element.
- If you’re curvy on both top and bottom, these shirts will fit you too. Kristen is constantly iterating based on customer feedback. One piece of feedback she got on earlier shirts was that customers were having bulging around the buttons on the hip, so cut side slits to improve the the shirt’s fit for those customers.
- Plus-sized women are not an afterthought. Kristen knows that just grading a pattern up isn’t enough to get a truly good fit for plus-sized women. She’s fit-tested her shirts on a variety of women at her pop-up events, and her utilitarian approach to design means she’s constantly improving her designs based on customer feedback. She’s currently saving money to invest in serving women up to size 28.
- Her shirts are mostly sturdy natural fabrics, manufactured in the United States, and cost less than $80. I want to make special note of that. If you buy a lot of specifically bust-friendly clothing, that might seem like a normal-to-high price for a shirt, but that’s because most bust-friendly clothing lines are essentially run by seamstresses who do their own sewing and cut out the expense of manufacturing. It’s really hard to get something structured made in the United States that sells for less than $100, let alone something made of good fabrics.
- Sizes 12 and 16 sell out fastest. If you’re one of those sizes and you see a thing you like, pounce on it.
If you want to know why her spaghetti-strap tank tops are cool, Hourglassy explains that well. [edit 2/1/2018: Click that link with caution, Hourglassy has been having some trouble with malware.] In general, if you want to keep up with what she’s doing, sign up for her newsletter.
(This post is not sponsored in any way: I just want to support clothing manufacturers who are doing the right things.)