Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Forgotten Woman Series: Plus Size Shopping Tips for the New Year

Happy New Year my Beautiful sisters! We’re almost a month into a brand new year and it is said that 13 is a lucky number. I say, let’s channel that energy into our shopping and looking fabulous all year round. 

As someone who is a size 26/28, I know that it can be frustrating to shop for fabulous pieces because some retailers, boutiques and designers don’t offer clothing past a size 22/24. Hence the title “Forgotten Woman”, which is the name I thought of when thinking of myself and others who feel excluded from these businesses when it comes to shopping. We feel forgotten and passed over. Just because we are above a size 24 does not mean we don’t want to look fabulous too. Well, all is not lost. Here’s some tips to help make your shopping experience a better one and yes, even at some of those retailers who only go up to a size 22. You’d be surprised.

Tip #1: Know your measurements and carry a tape measure in your purse while shopping.

Torrid Luxe Jeans
Don’t be a slave to the size on the tag. It’s all about measurements and fabric, which I will go into later.  I cannot stress how important it is to know your measurements.  The basics are bust, waist, hips and the inseam of your legs. I also think it is important to know the width of your calves (important when buying boots) and the width of your upper arms (important when buying jackets) .  Many retailers list measurements for their items online and it can help you gauge if the item will fit you regardless of size. 

Sizing is all over the place in the world of plus size fashion. For example, I wear a 28 in jeans. However, in Lane Bryant, I cannot fit into their 28s. At Avenue, I wear a 26. At Old Navy, I wear a 30. I never thought I’d fit into a pair of jeans at Torrid because their denim brand typically runs small and only goes up to a 26 with some jeans going up to 28 (online only). Then one day, the salesgirl convinced me to try on a pair of their Torrid Luxe jeans in a 26. THEY FIT. She explained that the fabric was more than 5% spandex (the norm in jeans) and there was more width in the knee area.

ASOS Pencil Skirt, $31.57
During my personal journey of finding fashionable clothes that fit me well, I learned to not focus on the sizes too much. Because again, it’s all about measurements and the amount of stretch the item has. Here’s another example: ASOS’ Curve line goes up to a size 22. Yet, I have read online in a few reviews that their pencil skirt in Baroque Chain Print will fit someone a size 28 because of the cut and stretch of fabric. I also have heard from many ladies that City Chic and Simply Be run big as well. I think that is attributed to these two being non-US companies (City Chic is in Australia and Simply Be is in the UK) where sizing is different than here in the US. ASOS is based in the UK as well.

Tip #2: Know your fabrics and what works well for your body type. 

When you’re a plus size woman, I believe it’s important to know about fabric. I love to feel fabric and will stand there in the store, stretching it and seeing if it is a workable fabric. Fabrics like jersey, lycra, spandex, and polyester have stretch. Always check to see if an item contains spandex in it because that will increase the stretch factor.

Old Navy 3/4 Sleeve Striped Dress
XXL, on sale for $12.97
For example, Target goes up to a size 4, which is the equivalent of 26/28. However, the fit depends on the fabric. If there is no stretch, the 4 will not fit as well and might not fit at all, depending on how big your upper arms are and your hips. Case in point, Target had these great sweater leggings in junior sizes, up to a XXL. I know someone who is a 26/28 and fit in the XXL because of the stretch of the fabric. They have since sold out to which I am still bummed about because I did not get a pair.

I have heard that some of Old Navy’s clothing in XXL will accommodate someone who is a 22/24 or even a 26/28, depending on the stretch. So it pays to look at fabric content. Don’t dismiss it just because of the size.

Tip #3: Know your body type and what silhouettes look best for your body type. 

Igigi item pg showing body types
Knowing your body type is key. Every plus size woman has a different body. That’s why it is such a challenge for retailers to really get the cut and fit right for plus size clothing. Some of us have a defined waist, which is known as an hourglass shape. Some of us carry more weight on top and some of us carry more weight in our hips and butt. Some of us have long torsos and no defined waists. Some of us have more in the tummy area and some of us have short legs or arms. Knowing your body and where you carry your weight is so important in finding what styles look best on your body. Igigi has a great tool called Shape Stylist, where you can find out your shape by answering a few questions. In all the descriptions of their items online, the body shape the item would look best on is always stated. It’s a great way to know what would look best on your body type.

Tip #4:  Try on clothing, if you can.

I know it’s a pain in the butt to try on clothing and a lot of us don’t even want to go there. But honestly, it’s worth it. Just because something looks good on a hanger does not mean it will look good on you. 

Just make sure you wear clothing and shoes that you can easily slip on and off. If you are going dress shopping, bring your shapewear with you and wear the bra you plan to wear with the dress. Shapewear and the right bra will make a difference in how the dress will look on you in the dressing room.

Tip #5:  Read reviews on websites for items you like.

To me, one of the greatest things created in the retail world (or any website for that matter) are customer reviews. You can find out a lot of information on fit and how an item holds up by reading the reviews. My favorite ones are on Old Navy. Those customers really let you know how fit are and don’t hold back. I also rely a lot on word of mouth as well. If you visit retailer’s Facebook pages, you can see comments posted by customers. I also joined a few plus size shopping related groups on Facebook where women share their opinions on clothing they have bought.

Tip: #6:  Invest in some must-have pieces to keep in your closet.

Bow Stretch Belt
Lane Bryant Outlet
I love to create outfits reusing pieces in different ways. One of the ways to help with that is to have a few must-haves in my closet such as a wide belt, a skinny belt, some blazers and leggings. Many times I will see a dress I love but it will be too short for my liking. Does that mean I have to pass on it? Certainly not! I just wear leggings or skinny jeans under it with some pretty flats or peep-toes.  I have gotten some great belts at Torrid (up to a size 4). I hear Cato and Lane Bryant Outlet are other great places to find some nice belts. As for leggings, Walmart, Sealed With A Kiss Designs and Avenue all carry great leggings up to a 4X/30/32. 

I hope these tips will inspire you to get out there and explore your style. You should never let your size hold you back from expressing yourself through fashion. We all want to look fabulous in our own way. And when you look good, you feel good too. It's a new year so let's have a new shopping attitude. Happy shopping!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a detailed and informative post