Unlike “regular”-size clothing, plus-size clothes come with unique and frustrating challenges.
For one, there just isn’t much of it. And stores don’t make it exactly appealing to walk into these sections. They’re usually segregated to the back or in select sections, away from “regular” sizes.
And then there is the actual quality of plus-size clothing. I constantly find that the shirts and dresses made for larger people are thick or oversize or come in ridiculous color combinations or patterns. Want high fashion? Think again.
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.
Why is plus-size clothing more expensive?
“In theory, you are paying for the extra product, variable pricing, manufacturing, labor hours, etc. that you are receiving,” says Thalia Butler of ThatShirt, a custom T-shirt company.
“Plus sizes require a professional pattern technician to correctly adapt proportions to fit a larger size," she said. "This is the same principle when comparing petite as well as big and tall sizing."
It hurts to hear, but the “fat tax” seems to be something inherently present in the clothing industry. Though it’s important to note that it’s not just plus sizes. Anything out of the “norm” (read: slender and average height) seems to suffer.
“I spoke to at least 40 manufacturers, many of which would not do nontraditional sizes,” says Elyse Kaye, founder and CEO of Bloom Bra. “They claimed it took different machinery and required more materials. There are so many costs as a small business, especially without the large-volume discounts that the major brands have.”
Tips for plus-size shopping
For one, become a loyal customer. Don’t be afraid to go 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 available so that you can save money.
Jump-start your shopping with this list of spring freebies.
Buy second hand
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.
Depop, Poshmark and thredUP are all great sites for buying and selling previously owned clothing. And with apps like Drop, Ebates and Ibotta, you can save even more by comparison shopping for clothing, shoes and accessories. (Here's a list of apps for selling last season's clothes.)
If you find a style you like, stock up.
“My suggestion to all is to find quality products that work so that they can stay with you for a while,” Kaye says.
“When I find a product I like — especially a bra that fits — I will spend the money and buy several.”
Think outside the box
Fashion-forward women should be brave with their shopping choices, says Jeni Elizabeth, network and celebrity stylist.
“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,” she said. “You should never give up hope or get sad because something just isn’t your size.” (This woman is a great example of someone who turns ill-fitting clothing into chic outfits.)
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.
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This article originally appeared on CentSai.
Image: Hannah Morgan