I’m a plus-size lady and if I want to leave my apartment without getting arrested, I need to wear clothes. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong! While the fashion industry has made strides towards creating better options for us big girls, there is still a lot that needs to change. Some people might argue that by offering plus-size women more fashionable clothing, they’ll be encouraged to keep up an unhealthy lifestyle. I’m going to go ahead and say those people are assholes. Plus-size does not automatically equal unhealthy and whether it’s a temporary state or a permanent situation, we all deserve cute clothes, no matter our size. Here are some things that I would like to see change:
1. Availability: A few months ago I went to a clothing sale where regular folks were invited to comb the racks of their favourite plus-size fashion bloggers. While I was there I saw so many incredible outfits. Since I’m usually a bit behind in trends, I asked the ladies where they got their gorgeous garb. I was sure that they would tell me about some fab little boutique that I hadn’t heard of. Instead I was disappointed to find out that these women do almost all of their shopping online. We commiserated that while plus-size fashion bloggers are getting more attention and there is clearly a demand for larger stylish clothing, the fashion industry has yet to respond to our call. We larger ladies are still forced into the online shopping world where we have to pay for shipping and duty fees (since most of these retailers aren’t based in Canada) and have to forgo the important step of trying on an outfit before buying it. What’s even more rage-inducing is when mainstream stores boast about their new plus-size selections only to reveal that the clothes will be available solely online. Sure, they want your money. They just don’t want you to actually be seen in their stores.
2. Price: This is a big gripe in the plus-size community. Shoppers routinely see clothes that are given one price in straight sizes but are more expensive in the plus sizes. And I’m not buying the argument that more fabric = higher price because if that were the case, a size 12 wouldn’t cost the same as a size 0. High prices are just another reality in the plus-size world. For me this means that I have to carefully curate my closet. I can’t just run out and buy a $30 party dress from H&M, so I need to make sure that my closet is full of clothing that can suit whatever occasion life throws at me. Thankfully I’m starting to expand my wardrobe. Last year I nabbed a 60s inspired LBD from Gussied Up that can be worn almost anywhere.
3. Fugliness: This is probably the worst part of plus-size fashion. While the entire fashion industry tends to make questionable decisions (I’m looking at you, harem pants and gladiator sandals) the plus-size fashion industry is known for having clothes that are straight-up fugly. It’s as if the designers can’t quite decide what they want to do so they throw in a little of everything. Airbrushed colours! Sparkles! Inexplicable cutouts! At least one kind of animal print! That’s another thing: somewhere along the line someone decided that “sassy” was synonymous with plus sized, and sassy means putting leopard print on EVERYTHING. It’s getting better, but there is a lot of fug to wade through before you can find a decent outfit. Thankfully, I have found a few reliable resources. For Toronto dwellers, the above-mentioned Gussied Up and Your Big Sister’s Closet are my go-to places for clothes that run the gamut from non-boring office wear to all out party dresses.
Being from a border city, Torrid is my favourite U.S. retailer. They carry some questionable goods (Twilight t-shirts, really?) but also have a lot of cute dresses and tops, and coincidentally some of their best outfits are only available online. I’ve also met a number of fashionable ladies who swear by Asos Curve and eShakti. Modcloth has made a strong effort to offer up cute plus-size outfits. Although there can be a bit of wtfuckery (some of their plus-sizes run quite small), I have found their clothing to be good quality and stylish. As with any online shopping experience the best thing you can do is pay attention to the details. Look at fabric quality. Read reviews. Check the sizing chart. Finally, tights and pantyhose can be a nightmare for the plus size lady. But never fear, welovecolors.com is here to help! These guys have restored my faith in online retailers. They offer tights in over 50 colours and, get this: they actually run true to size. It’s a tough world out there but I am convinced that with a little research and a little patience, we can all have great style at any size.