Fashionably Plus Size

Fashion, to say the least, is a lifestyle and can be a reflection your personality. With that in mind, there shouldn’t be a reason to hide who you are, or who you aspire to be. However, after working in retail, I've noticed those who shop at retailers such as Forever21, Rue21, H&M,. have often been limited in their selection. In recent years, retailers have launched plus size lines, however, I find that not all merchandisers are purchasing or catering to the in-demand trends, which are indicated in 90% of traditional retail space.  So why is this?

When I shop at places like Torrid, I am fully aware of the backlash I will receive from other shoppers. I’m neither thing or what some might indicate as actually being “plus,” however, I still fit the measurements in the store. When I go to stores like Torrid, my shopping primarily consists of boots (wide calves here!), dresses, tops, and possibly a bra or two. I’ve been able to get away with some jeans (depending on the fit), but I’m usually there for the above mentioned. My reason?

  • I have a wide back
  • I'm well-endowed in the chest area
  • Blouses actually fit (no more gaps in a button up)      .

Now on to the critics.

I’ve once been told I was too “skinny” for Torrid. I looked quite puzzled, my mother and I looked at each other and I’m sure the same though ran through our minds. Can you not see the cleavage I’m attempting to cover up right now? Apparently not. Keep in mind that this was in 2012; in 2010, I actually entered my near 18-year old self for Torrid’s 2010 House of Dreams model search (apparently I was too short (and not 18 yet) to move on to the next round #petiteproblems).

That being said, I highly doubt the event runner at that particular location thought I didn’t fit the mold. Our society feels the need to dictate what is “normal” and what is “plus,” when in reality, being plus-size is just another section in the clothing store. We have petite (I’m 5’3 and I fit this section PERFECTLY), but who’s to say that someone 5’5 isn’t petite as well? It seems to be a matter of perception and upbringing, the thought of what is right vs. wrong. So why am I so interested in fashion if these issues are consistent?

Growing up, I moved around a lot. I hit puberty quickly and went from no chest and cute panty and ‘wannabe bras’ to a glamorous 36C… fifth grade. I went to a DOD school, so uniforms were the norm. But no, my body said “Home girl, you need to chill” each time I picked up a cute khaki jumper of skort (yes, I know) for the school year. I lived in pants and my mom searched the racks for a 14/16 in girls, ultimately having to throw me into a size 18 girls. This was my life in elementary school, and thankfully it ended three years later, because middle school was no joke. But you see, this restriction of freedom and sizes made me appreciate fashion once I got into high school. A little dated, yes, but I ultimately grew into the fashion world when I started working retail my junior year. After that, it was off to college and the 2010 Torrid-sponsored photo shoot.

Fast forward to 2014/2015.

My appreciation for fashion is deeper than what this post indicates. Being busty with a filled-out figure hasn’t been easy, especially when dressing professional. I own one (yes, (1)) button-down that my aunt picked up for me and that’s the only one that fits. Too bad it’s this yellow-green, but it’s quite nice and flattering. Nevertheless, retailers seem to not educate their buyers (I assume) on how to purchase for their plus size consumers. The same for men, but they seem to have the shopping down a tad more solid.  We hold a lot of say in businesses and if you are a trendy retailer, I would hope you want to appeal to a paying clientele, no?

I’m sure this post is much of a ramble, but I hope my point has come across quite clear. Those of us who are technically plus-size are treated as if we’re average, but the clothes don’t fit. The clothes that do fit are not trendy, and retailers are restricting diversity in their merchandising department, making it difficult for those of us who require a size 12 or larger (ok, maybe 14+ because some tend to think 12 is available everywhere, but it’s not), to purchase clothing. So to help with that, I’ve listed my favorite retailers that carry a nice selection of clothes that fit sizes 12+ (with modifications, based on location and demographics).

·      H&M

·      Torrid

·      Rue21

·      Lane Bryant

·      American Eagle

·      JcPenny

Disclaimer: I am NOT endorsed or sponsored by any of these retailers. I USED to be employed by rue21, which is why I’m knowledgeable on their merchandise and fully aware of their quality of clothing and customer service. #IRueDoYou