We’ve all been there and we all know the struggle; shopping around in our neighborhoods and beyond for clothing that will not only fit us, but won’t look like they belong to our grandmothers. And with Plus Size clothing stores like Simply Fashion and Dots going out of business left and right, our struggle is becoming even more difficult. Although popular brands such as Forever21 and ASOS have recently jumped aboard the plus size fashion train, not everyone can afford the mall price tag and, not to mention, not everything you buy at the mall is as well made as one would believe. You would think that shopping online was the plus size lady’s holy grail, but with no standard guideline for clothing sizes and sizes differing so greatly between brands, shopping online for quality clothing can be a daunting task. With this guide, I hope to give my readers at least some insight into the terrifying adventure of clothes shopping online. Lets get started.
1: The importance of knowing your measurements. Your REAL measurements, not your Walmart pants size.
Knowing your measurements aren’t just for ordering corsets offline in your Goth days anymore. Having your measurements on hand makes it super simple to identify brand size inconsistencies and make sure the clothing you buy is going to fit you the way it should. Some websites don’t offer size charts or measurement information at all, but those who do are usually extremely helpful when you present them with your plight: you want to buy clothes but you’re shaped like a person and not a photoshop monstrosity! Taking your measurements yourself might be a bit of a headache the first time around, but once you have the formula down, you’ll never need help again. When taking measurements, remember the four measurement formula: Bust, Waist, Hips, Length. Measure around the fullest part of your bust, the slimmest part of your waist above your navel but below your ribcage, then measure around the widest part of your hips. For length, pull out your favorite dress, long t-shirt, shorts or whatever clothing item that’s the appropriate length for what you’re trying to buy and measure it from top to bottom. For a dress, measure from the highest point of the back of the dress to the hem. For pants, shorts or skirts, measure from the waistband to the hem. If you can’t take your measurements yourself, head to a tailors shop or even a bridal boutique. If you can, make a ay out of it. Take your girlfriends to a bridal shop, tell them you’re getting married and let the fun ensue. I won’t tell them you’re not actually getting married, and you’ll actually have the time of your life trying on overpriced dresses and high heels. It’s a win-win situation!
2: Shop around! Don’t settle for less, EVER.
A big problem with plus size clothing is the lack of variety. Shopping in your local store and knowing that, other than Walmart, there isn’t a single retailer within fifty miles that sells clothing in your size is heart breaking enough to make you drop your hard earned cash on items that may not fit well, just so you’ll walk away with something. Well, no more, I say! I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent on clothes (even from plus sized specialty stores such as Torrid who are known to run small on items, even though they have up to 6X in sizes) that I talked myself into buying just so I could have something new, only to go home disappointed with my selection. I’ve recently committed to shopping around for clothing in my size. MY actual size. Not what fits when I buy it but turns into a hassle the moment I leave the store. Why waste money on crap you’re going to either throw away, bestow on someone else or heaven forbid, wear even though it doesn’t fit, when you can compare not only sizes and styles, but prices as well! The problem here, in reality, is that there are absolutely no sizing standards for plus size clothing in the US. Brands and clothing makers have a general idea, but plus sized people come in so many different shapes and sizes that it would be all but impossible to have a set measurement for everyone. Not to mention, brands and retailers only seem to see plus size people as the so called plus sized ‘models’ that have made recent headlines. Run a google search for “Plus Sized” and I can guarantee you you’re not going to see people who look like you. And if you do, you’re extremely lucky! Most plus sized women aren’t 5’’11 to six feet tall. Most plus sized women have bumps and rolls and dimples, not thighs and a stomach so smooth and taut you can bounce quarters off of them. And that’s what makes our shopping so difficult.
3: Don’t be afraid to shop from smaller online stores. Seriously, you’ll find some really great stuff at super low prices.
You know that site that sold fatkini’s in your size that you over looked last week because they looked like they were crappy and probably didn’t take US currency? Well…maybe don’t spend a thousand dollars with them, but, once you know your measurements, buying one or two items from them at first can’t hurt. Just be sure they accept Paypal, never pay with western union or any of those other quick cash payment options and always ALWAYS review and adhere to their return policy. Once you’ve paid and it’s shipped to your address, try it on, if it doesn’t fit, never be afraid to send it back and ask for an exchange, if it’s within their policy. And if they don’t have some sort of returns policy, they’re not worth spending your money with. Small commerce companies are the perfect place get great clothes at super low prices. I’ve found so many cute tops and shorts that fit surprisingly well by shopping online and I know, if you adhere to at least a portion of this guide, you will too.