Why Are Today’s Fashion Icons Obsessed with Going Big?

Fashion is all about bigger. Blazers are now giant, hulking shapes with supersized shoulders and bigger lapels. The bags are so big that you can fit everything inside. The same goes for wardrobe staples such as T-shirts and dresses, but also belts. It’s easy to see it on the Fall 2024 runways. Vaquera’s colossal trapper hat is bigger than the model wearing it. Alexander McQueen had turtleneck sweater collars the size of tires. Moschino’s collection for Fall 2024 was based on making the basics mammoth.

It becomes extraordinary by simply expanding the ordinary

Spring 2024 saw the arrival of mega-forms, including oversized blazers from Marni, Proenza, and Issey, as well as Giambattista Valli’s couture show, Comme des Garcons, and Giambattista Valli’s show. These are not clothes for the weak-hearted, nor do they aim to flatter the body traditionally. Welcoming the new age of oversize. Fashion lovers have embraced oversize clothing in a big way. The goal is to take up as much space as possible, with a focus on comfort and boldness.

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Oversized shapes are popular right now because of their sheer drama. In a world where millions of images are posted every day on social media, and even in the real world, it’s hard to stand out. It’s amazing what you can do by simply increasing the size of something. Some of the best looks on the Oscars Red Carpet were oversized: Carey Mulligan’s black Balenciaga dress, with its fan-like spray of white tulle at the hem. Ariana Grande looks like cotton candy in a cloud of pink Giambattista Vali Couture. Da’Vine Joy Randolph wearing a baby-blue Louis Vuitton gown with chunky feathers. Sandra Huller, in a Schiaparelli black look with sleeves that were so large and off-the-shoulder they looked like wings.

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The rising designer Marie Adam Leenaerdt, who worked with Demna at Balenciaga and was the master of big silhouettes–opened the Fall 2024 Paris Fashion Week by presenting a collection of round-shouldered coats that were so large, models could have fit in them. She doesn’t just use oversize shapes to make a statement; she also uses them to add versatility to her clothes. Under all the bulk, there are belts, ties and slits that can be added to transform the garment into something that is more flattering. Adam-Leenaerdt likes the versatility of XXL blazers. “You can customize them by changing the buttons that close them,” she says. On her oversize skirts there is buttoning on both the inside and outside. This allows you to wear it as a skirt that rests at the waist or as a gown, thanks to the side slits which act as arm openings. “I like that it breaks up typologies. The codes, the waistband and the material are all signs that it is a skirt. You can’t tell if the skirt is a dress or a skirt depending on how it’s worn.

The usual wardrobe staples become magical. It demands attention.

But it’s not only on the runway that everything is getting bigger. For the last few years, baggy jeans have been the most popular. This has been the case for so long, that it’s only been recently that there have been whispers about the trend cycle returning to the mid 2000s and the tight little skinny jeans being brought back in fashion by the early adopters. Oversize shapes have also become popular, with high-volume gowns by Simone Rocha and Cecilie Bahnsen or opulent tulle dresses by Molly Goddard and Selezza.

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New Yorkers are known for their oversize clothing. Even if you ignore the red carpets and runways, you can’t walk down a New York city block without seeing someone in oversized clothing. Fashion’s biggest followers and fans are going a step beyond, using historical layering devices such as panniers and swags to make clothes appear even larger.

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@fomenkojulli / instagram

Yulia, a fashion collector, has built an audience for wearing large pieces that subvert form. She told me that she recently wore an outfit with a 15-foot train “for no reason at all.” At the Easter Parade in New York City, she wore a pink tulle skort which was so wide she had to turn to pass through narrow doors. She says, “I love the power that big pieces give you.” Fomenko’s everyday outfits are enlarged by using her many hoop skirts and accessories, including bustles and lobster tails. She also uses her panniers and bustles to make them look bigger.

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Fomenko says, “I love to play with the idea that dressing rules are not important.” “I have always loved big, voluminous clothes, but I felt I had to attend an event, like a wedding or gala, to wear them. Then I asked myself, “Why?” Why can’t I wear it just because I feel like wearing it and want to? This was my moment of clarity when the banality clicked in my mind. “I don’t need a good reason to be big, to wear volume, and to live out my fantasy. I don’t need to ask permission from the society.

Why wouldn’t people also want comfort? During the pandemic, there was a shift away from high heels and stiff, tight jeans. Maybe that’s why jeans, T-shirts, polos, and hoodies have been given the massive treatment. It makes these everyday items magical. It demands attention.

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@giselakas / instagram

The everyday-to-the-extreme pipeline is a concept well-loved by another fashion collector, Gisela Castillo, who is often seen doing regular things like shopping sample sales in voluminous Molly Goddard confections, or taking neighborhood walks in baggy ripped jeans paired with huge blazers. Castillo says that she loves wearing oversized clothing because it fits in with her ‘comfort first’ philosophy. She also likes the fact that the pieces can be both functional and stylish. A Balenciaga Spring 202 oversized black tuxedo jacket with a raw hem is one of Castillo’s favorite pieces. I still have some grail pieces that the brothers created together at Vetements. They are responsible for me discovering the oversized trend in 2015. She wears Vaquera babydoll dresses as well as Comme des Garcons Tulle. After decades of wearing constricting underwear, girdles, and body shapers I am now able to move around my day without them and still look fashionable.

Oversized pieces can be about more than just presence. Jack Miner, Interior says that oversized silhouettes give off an air of power and gravitas. They also enable garments to be designed that hide and reveal equally. For example, our Bruno sweater has a luxurious amount of heavy cashmere throughout the body and then a delightfully plunged neckline. Why choose a regular pair of jeans when there are so many other options?

Kristen Bateman works as a contributing editor for Harper’s Bazaar. In her junior year in high school, Kristen Bateman’s first fashion piece was published in Vogue Italia. She has worked as an intern and contributed articles to WWD Glamour Lucky, i-D Marie Claire, i-D, and i-D. She writes and created the #ChicEats columns and covers fashion and cultural issues for Bazaar. She practices her Italian to get 90% off Prada in the Tuscan outlets. She enjoys vintage shopping, cats, and dessert.

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