Plus-Size Shopping: How Do You Save When Everything’s Pricier?
Staying within your budget when shopping for clothes is never easy, but it’s way harder when you fall in the plus-size range.
Let me just say this – I love my body. Albeit short and still (relatively) young, this body has managed to run half-marathons, create a baby, and get down at dance classes with the best of them.
But there is one thing I hate about my body: having to go plus-size shopping.
Going shopping for plus-size clothing
Unlike “regular”-size clothing, being plus-size comes with some unique and frustrating challenges. It’s enough to make people like me – who usually love shopping – hoard old clothes until they’re way past their prime.
For one, there just isn’t much of it. Take a look at your department store. If you’re under size 12, you could spend hours browsing racks and trying on loads of options. Once you’re above a size 12, your selection of clothing becomes perhaps a tenth of what’s out there. And stores don’t make it exactly appealing to walk in these sections. They’re usually segregated to the back or in select sections, away from “regular” sizes.
Then there’s the quality of plus-size shopping. While not scientific or proven, my professional plus-size shopping opinion is that designers think that all plus size guys and girls want clothes that act and look like their grandmother’s window drapes – thick, oversized, and in ridiculous color combinations or patterns. Want high fashion? Think again.
Even celebrities like Leslie Jones have had a hard time finding runway-worthy outfits for red carpet premieres.
But what really sets me off is how much it costs to be in the plus-size range. While the practice is becoming less common, some stores still charge an add-on fee when your size goes over a certain number.
Spending more with plus-size clothes
Tony Posnanski of the Huffington Post, demonstrated how popular stores like Target add $2 to $4 more on some shirts once the sizes go up to XXL. In 2014, a petition to Gap Inc. and its affiliate stores to stop charging for women’s plus-size clothing garnered over 95,000 signatures.
So what can you do when you’re plus-size, fabulous, and on a budget?
Ways to cheat the plus-size system
For one, become loyal. For plus-size shoppers, the reality is that the industry isn’t changing anytime soon, so embrace the stores that work with your body. Don’t be afraid to go plus-size shopping in new places, but become fast friends with the ones that fit you and suit your personal style best. Then hoard all the coupons, discount days, and member rewards offered so that you can save money.
Loyalty doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cheat, either. Online plus-size consignment shops are popping up everywhere, making it easier to find used-but-excellent-condition plus-size clothing from name-brand designers. And with apps and browser extensions like Honey, you can save even more by comparison searching for clothing, shoes, and accessories.
Jeni Elizabeth, network and celebrity stylist, advises fashion-forward men and women to be brave with their shopping choices. “If you are out and about and you find a dress that is a 14, and you are just about a 16, don’t be afraid to buy it! Snap it up and head to your amazing seamstress. Have them add some fabric on the sides to match and make it a tad larger.”
“You should never give up hope or get sad because something just isn’t your size,” Elizabeth continues.
“Think about how you can play with that skirt or the dress to make it bigger! At one point, everything was just fabric on a shelf, so add to it and make it better than ever before!”
Both Elizabeth and Carolyn Thompson, founders of online plus-size consignment store ResellXL, are big believers in capstone wardrobes. Capstone wardrobes are made up of essential pieces that can be mixed and matched.
The trick, they say, is finding a “uniform” that fits your life, work, and style. Invest in pieces that will have longevity. “Don’t be too trendy. Adding a shoe or an accessory or two that are ‘of the moment’ will save money and time later if you keep your main wardrobe filled with basics that never go out of style.”
Let’s be honest – plus-size shopping isn’t exactly easy. In fact, it can be a discouraging and frustrating experience for even the savviest shopper. However, by focusing on building a basic wardrobe of classic pieces, investing in personalization, and staying loyal to the brands that work for you, you can create a wardrobe that works for your wallet and your body.