Plus-Size Shopping Annoyances
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11 Most Annoying Things About Shopping for Plus-Size Clothing

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Plus-Size Shopping Annoyances
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Plus Aggravation

I have been plus size for about two years. I gained weight while working a stressful job in the food industry and dealing with health issues. I didn’t even realize it was happening until my clothes simply did not fit. I went out to replace them and discovered that plus-size shopping was a whole new world, and not in a good way. Read on for the hardest things about plus-size shopping.

Average Feels Like It’s Out of the Ordinary
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Average Feels Like It’s Out of the Ordinary

In my new body, shopping was much harder than it had been when I was simply a size large or even an extra large. I had to find new places to shop, and it was like being in a foreign country. This is not a unique experience. The average American woman is between size 16 and 18 (in other words, plus-size), even if fashion brands don’t want to acknowledge it.

You Have to Face Your Weight
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You Have to Face Your Weight

I ate more vegetables and had a more active job than ever during my weight gain. The pounds piled on thanks to my underlying health issues — which is the first thing to deal with when it comes to buying plus-size clothing, though before you buy anything: There’s a well-documented culture of fat-bias that stereotypes fat people as lazy or simply not as worthy.

There’s a Stigma
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There’s a Stigma

After you deal with your weight, others get to. “My first impression of having to buy plus size clothes is shame.” says Candice Gutierrez, a media professional in Los Angeles. She recalls walking through the mall and seeing plus-size mannequins in the window for Torrid, realizing she had found a store where clothes could fit her.

Then, two women passed. One asked the other what Torrid was. “It’s a store for fat chicks,” the other woman replied.

You Can’t Count on Your Favorite Stores
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You Can’t Count on Your Favorite Stores

When I went shopping, I discovered some of my favorite stores didn’t carry my size anymore. Others had plus-size clothing — but just online. Many of the brands were matronly or simply not my style. “I spent many years trying to fit in clothes that were not size appropriate or age appropriate,” Gutierrez says.

Plus-Size Clothing Can Be Poorly Fitted
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Plus-Size Clothing Can Be Poorly Fitted

Even when I could find plus-size clothing, it somehow hung on my body differently. I felt like I was going crazy — but I was not. “Most brands tend to just size up using a straight-size model versus using a plus model, so they’re not sizing correctly,” fashion photographer Lydia Hudgens told Well + Good, “because weight shifts as you gain weight.”

It Also Can Be Poor Quality
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It Also Can Be Poor Quality

The first time I took an item of plus-size clothing home, I was happy to finally have something that fit. A week later, it started tearing. I wish this were an isolated incident, but it’s not — a lot of the plus-size clothing out there is simply not made well. Laura Delarato, a creative director and body image advocate, cites the “consistent, almost comical, way that accessible plus-size options fall apart.”

It’s More Money …
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It’s More Money …

If a plus-size woman finds clothes she loves, she will almost certainly pay more. “Add an extra $10 to $15 across the line and make plus-size people only be able to buy online,” which adds a shipping cost, Delarato says. “On top of that,” Delarato adds, “plus-size people make less money because of size bias.” A LinkedIn study showed that fatter people make about $2,512 less per year.

… Especially Rebuying a Wardrobe After Weight Gain
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… Especially Rebuying a Wardrobe After Weight Gain

For the past few years, I have had to rebuild my wardrobe slowly with clothes that fit. I simply couldn’t afford to buy new clothes all at once. “I remember buying my first big haul at a mall plus-size retailer and feeling bittersweet,” Gutierrez says. “I had clothes that fit, some oddly — but I also remember my parents paying $200-plus so I had normal clothes — and that brought its own feeling of guilt.”

A Little Can Change a Lot
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A Little Can Change a Lot

It honestly didn’t occur to me when I first gained a few pounds that I would have to radically change where and how I shopped for clothes. How much could 20 pounds do? A lot, it turns out. While I am plus size, I usually hover around a size 14/16, and if I’m lucky, something at a “regular” store will fit me; sometimes, sustainable brands whose style align with mine, such as Everlane, will have options in my size that I really like. But for those who are larger, it is much harder. Everlane usually stops at around a size 16, and many brands stop at a large or extra-large.

Related: Build a Money-Saving Capsule Wardrobe With 13 Essential Pieces

Even My Favorite Brands Are Different to Shop At
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Even My Favorite Brands Are Different to Shop At

Turns out that brands such as Reformation and Anthropologie do have options for me, but there’s a slight catch: The plus-size options are different than the straight-size. It’s a whole different section! Madewell has only some pieces available in plus sizes. Even though I appreciate having some options, it’s still not the same thing as being a size 6 and being able to shop just about anywhere with the assurance something will fit.

More Than Ever, Sizing Depends on the Brand
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More Than Ever, Sizing Depends on the Brand

Fashion sizing might be confusing from store to store, but there’s the extra gamble if you’re larger. I couldn’t just stop shopping at all my normal spots; I had to go, try on clothes and see if their sizing ran large or small, then either buy new clothes or walk out feeling defeated. Meanwhile, if it’s a new brand to you, it’s hard to know whether you’ll be a size 22 or a size 24, or even a 20 or a 26.

Who is Doing It Right?
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Who is Doing It Right?

Delarato cites Universal Standard as her favorite, a brand that offers clothes from sizes 00-40 with no separate “plus-size” sections. “I love their clothes,” Delarato says, “But recognize that their style vibes with mine — not everyone is going to be into it, because people are different.” Gutierrez recommends ASOS Curve, ModCloth, Unique Vintage, and Target. A few other beloved plus-size brands include Eloquii, Torrid, Draper James, Lane Bryant, and Loft.

Related: 30 Places to Find Inexpensive Plus-Size Clothing Online

A Trick I’ve Learned
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A Trick I’ve Learned

A few years into being plus-size, it’s still a pain to buy clothes. But I’ve learned some tricks. The best, I think, is to follow plus-size people whose style I admire on social media. This includes models such as Maxey Greene, Precious Lee, Ashley Graham, and Tess Holliday, and body activists including Delarato or Katie Sturino. When they tag or link to the brands or pieces that they’ve bought, I follow those links in hopes of finding clothes as well.