I’m really glad I wasn’t a teenager or young adult in the 90s. In a world of rail-thin supermodels, super low-rising jeans, and tight-fitting dresses, finding plus-size fashion must have been incredibly difficult.
In my mind, I picture Kate Moss strutting down a New York runway, the bones of her hips protruding behind her dress. As someone who has quite literally never had a “skin and bones” figure, I wonder what it would have been like to be the size 10 to 14 that I was in high school or the 16/18 that I was post-college.
While being plus-size as a teenager and young adult in the early and mid-2010s was certainly no walk in the park, it was a lot easier than it would have been in the 90s. People like Beyonce, Adele, Ashley Graham, Melissa McCarthy, Serena Williams and others showed that you could be sexy, desirable, and confident with curves.
But even then, while the media began celebrating and elevating plus-size women, finding clothes that were flattering, trendy, and fit correctly, was an endeavor.
Thankfully, we’ve evolved as a collective, and as more and more people begin to publicly accept themselves, the style has reflected that.
And although we’ve made great strides, finding the right plus-size styles and brands that work for you can still be a little tricky to navigate. Here’s how to make it easy.
Ask yourself what’s important to you, style-wise
Do you tend to go for styles more casual than professional? Are you more daring, gravitating toward loud patterns and textures, or are you more of a traditionalist, pulled to monochromatic pieces?
Before you even start looking at brands, it really is crucial to ask yourself those questions. Finding your own unique style is a fun and exciting journey, but it’s essential to have a direction before setting out on an uncharted path.
Take stock of your current inventory
If you’re anything like I used to be, you may tend to hang on to items of clothing long after the last time you wore them (or keep a few dreaded purchases that never actually got worn).
What are you holding onto that you no longer wear or even like? Sometimes, we keep dresses, tops, pants, shoes, purses, etc., for a lot longer than is necessary because we’ve tied a significant event or memory to the outfit we were wearing on that occasion. While sometimes, it’s good to keep things like this for sentimental reasons (your wedding dress, prom gown, or some other garb from a particular memory), holding onto an excess amount of clothing, for this reason, can make it hard to find new clothing. This is especially true if the clothes you’re holding onto are from a time when you were thinner, which forces you to subconsciously feel less than because you no longer can fit into things you used to.
Goal clothes are fantastic if you’re looking to lose some weight, but buy something new, not something from the past.
Know your measurements
I don’t think I can stress this point enough. As someone who worked at a bridal and special occasions shop, I can’t emphasize enough how drastically different designers make their sizes. A 16 in one brand could be the same size as another designer’s 12 or another’s 10. It fluctuates so much.
All you need is a seamstress tape measure (which can be found at stores you normally go to). If you haven’t taken your measurements, a quick Google search will show you how to correctly. Or, you can have someone do it for you (which is preferred).
Once you have a vision of what style you’re looking for, made some room in your closet, and written down your measurements, it’s time to shop!
Plus-size clothes can be found at most well-known department and clothing stores, but often, the selection is limited, and it’s clear the styles were an afterthought.
So finding a plus-size-centered store can make all the difference.
With your mind set on the patterns, textures, and pieces you know will work best for you, start browsing through their catalog to see if any pieces stick out.
Never shy away from a sale
Even stores with clothing priced in the midrange to the upper range have outstanding sales, and no matter your income level, you should definitely take advantage of it. I think there’s a misconception that sale and clearance items are strictly for last season or underselling styles. But that’s not the case.
Stores frequently list popular designs in their sale and clearance sections because they manufactured more than they intended or are looking to draw more attention to their brand by discounting a popular item. But fair warning, if you see a trendy, top-selling item on sale, buy it immediately. It won’t be there long.
So yes, sometimes it can be hard to find plus-size clothing, but it doesn’t have to be!