Bill Radke talks to Washington State University professor Deborah A. Christel about a recent study she co-authored on plus-sized women and athletic clothing. In the study, she found that a majority of plus-sized women, or women who wear the size 16 and over, had to shop in the mens' clothing section to find athletic clothing that fit them. 

Cargo shorts are a staple of men's summer wardrobes.

But the actor Matthew McConaughey, always one for existential questions, had this to ask: "Are they long short pants or short long pants?"

Craig Ferguson, talking to McConaughey in a 2014 episode of The Late Late Show, piled on.

Who dressed you this morning?

Aug 1, 2016
Natalie Newcomb and Surya Hendry contemplate fashion in Seattle's University District
KUOW Photo/Amy Styer

Did you dress yourself this morning, or did an entire industry?

Today, RadioActive's Surya Hendry and Natalie Newcomb phone fashion professors, scroll through statistics, and get an inside view on the future of fashion, trying to answer one big question: Do teenagers control trends, or does the fashion industry control what teenagers wear?

You may have heard some of the fashion industry horror stories.

Models eating tissues or cotton balls to stave off hunger. Models collapsing from malnutrition-induced heart attacks just seconds after they step off the runway. Even models growing a layer of downy fuzz as their bodies try to keep warm.

As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Tim Gunn is famous for his catchphrase — "Make it work!" — his snazzy outfits and his calm, can-do attitude. As a mentor to designers on Project Runway, his unflappable demeanor soothes many a stressed-out contestant.

But Gunn wasn't always so self-possessed.

"Welfare," by Billy Shire. This denim jacket has metal studs, crystal beads and a call bell on the back. The jacket won the 1974 Levis Denim Art contest. In the background, a photo by Sam Haskins.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Tie-dye. Macrame. Fringes and beads.

If you came of age in the 1960s, you’ll recognize these in the signature look of the era.

Maybe you turned your old jeans into a skirt, or embroidered colorful mandalas onto the back of a faded work shirt. In the 1960s and '70s, clothing was as much about personal expression as it was protection against the elements. But did you know you were creating art?

An armpit dye model. Roxie Hunt of Vain salon in downtown Seattle started dying friend's armpits in bright Kool-Aid colors. That little experiment garnered international attention.
Courtesy Roxie Hunt, How To Hair Girl

Roxie Hunt didn't set out to be a spokesperson for armpit hair and feminism.

But one day Hunt stopped shaving under her armpits, a decision that sparked conversations about body hair and fashion choices at Vain, the downtown salon where she works.

And then she got another idea: What if they dyed their armpit hair in electric Kool-Aid colors? Hunt, who runs the popular How To Hair Girl blog, dyed her friend’s armpits a bright teal blue to match her hair. And then she blogged about it in a post that got shared 30,000 times.

Remember power suits? At the same time women were entering the corporate workplace in large numbers, the power suit began to pop up. It was usually a long jacket with the kind of big, padded shoulders Joan Crawford made famous, a straight skirt and, often, a floppy silk bow tie that Little Lord Fauntleroy would have been at home in. The 1980s power suit was designed to ignore a woman's shape so it didn't hinder her mobility as she worked her way up the corporate ladder.

Mary Sue Rich finally had enough.

The council member from Ocala, Fla., was tired of seeing the young people in her town wearing their pants low and sagging, and successfully pushed to prohibit the style on city-owned property. It became law in July. Violators face a $500 fine or up to six months in jail.

Fashion And Music And Treats, Oh My!

Jul 30, 2014
KUOW Photo/Lila Kitaeff

Black on black, instrumental music, and bubble tea: What do they all have in common? They're currently trending. Join Nia Price-Nascimento and Noah Phillips Reardon on an exploration of what will be big in the coming year.

Two years back, we noted that Miss USA's costume at the Miss Universe National Costume Show was a mashup of tradition and vulgarity: "like crossing the Delaware to go to Hooters."

If you find yourself sauntering down the runway wearing 40 pounds of chocolate, don't sweat it. Seriously — you might find yourself dripping on the audience.

So warns Fiona Bitmead, one of 10 models who showed off edible chocolate creations Friday night at the Salon du Chocolat in London. Five handlers helped her get dressed.

"[I] had to worry about a dress melting on me!" she says. "I can't say I've ever wanted to eat the dresses I've worn down the catwalk before."

Girls Gone Mild, Surfing, And Fantasy Fiction

Aug 19, 2013
Flickr Photo/daisydoubleoh

Girls Gone Mild: Demands For Modest Fashion

In 2004, an 11-year-old girl in Redmond wrote a letter to Nordstrom complaining that the choice of clothing available to her was too revealing; midriff shirts, low-riding pants. Today many still worry about the revealing clothing options for young girls. KUOW’s Steve Scher talked with Dr. Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology at the University of Washington, and Laura Portolese Dias, an instructor of business administration now at Central Washington University, about where these trends come from and where to find modest clothing for children.

Surfing: Pacific Northwest Style

Frankie Avalon surfed in every beach party movie he made while Annette Funicello looked on lovingly. The movie "Blue Crush" profiled a bunch of girls who surfed competitively. Even Elvis surfed in one of his movies. But none of them surfed in the Pacific Northwest, which has the best swells in the world according to a study by legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau. The Pacific Northwest also has notoriously cold water, but that's not the worst of a surfer's worries compared to the strong currents and undertows. Marcie Sillman talked with Bobby Arzadon, owner and founder of the Perfect Wave Shop in Kirkland, and Eric Fleming, then middle school art teacher and longboard surfer, about surfin’ in the PNW.

The Allure Of Fantasy

Authors Terry Brooks and Greg Keyes have sold millions of copies of books. Both writers have legions of fans around the nation and the world, and both are part of a parallel universe of fantasy and science fiction: "Star Wars," "Star Trek," "The Lord of the Rings;" the list could go on and on. In 2004, Steve Scher talked with Brooks and Keyes about writing, working with George Lucas and the lasting allure of fantasy.

Technology You Can Wear

Apr 3, 2013
Flickr Photo/Scott Beale

There’s been a lot of buzz about wearable technology — computing capabilities you can wear — for at least a decade. Digital wrist bands that monitor physical activity are becoming more common. Products like Google Glass, Apple iWatch and Nike+ FuelBand are in the pipeline. The problem is, in terms of fashion, wearable tech has always been a little too geeky. But that may be changing.

The fashion industry is sometimes criticized for unrealistic portrayals of young women. But if you're a woman older than 60, there are almost no portrayals, realistic or otherwise. Fashion may be something you have to invent more than follow. A blog called Advanced Style focuses on women who've done just that.