“I don’t want fast-fashion pieces that fall apart after one wear. I don’t wear expensive basics that cost double or triple the price they are worth. I don’t want another body-con dress, nor do I want a muumuu. I want items actually made to fit my body.”
“We are told that brands can’t afford to produce garments with the same margin for us as our smaller counterparts because the cost of the fabric it would take to cover our bodies is too high.”
“As an adult, I’ve always struggled to find knee, or right under-the-knee, high boots that fit my calves — at this point, I’ve essentially resigned myself to not wearing any ever again.”
These are just a few of the dozens of responses I received after asking plus-size women what frustrated them about shopping, both before and during the pandemic. And while the details naturally varied person to person, one overarching theme rang true throughout each and every conversation: The fashion industry doesn’t much care about dressing plus-size women, and it shows in the options it provides for them.
In July, plus-size influencer and fashion designer Gabi Gregg — or, as most of her 814k Instagram followers know her, Gabi Fresh — called out Topshop on Twitter for advertising a blazer as “oversized” on a thin model despite not offering sizes above a 14. Her tweet read: “When brands say it’s too expensive to add plus sizes because of the amount of fabric it takes, but then make shit like this lol.” On Instagram, she added: “If you can make a size 22 blazer for a size 6 girl to wear, you can make a size 22 blazer for a size 22 girl to wear.” More than 78k people liked the post. The 1.4k comments are filled with complaints from real women about how the plus-size retail space has failed them.
It’s important to note that plus-size women do not want brands to simply throw some extra fabric on a design made for straight sizes, label it as plus-size, and pat themselves on the back. Under Gregg’s tweet, a user named Elena replied with: “Don’t give them ideas, they’re going to sew in an XXL size tag and leave the tiny arm holes,” proving just how little faith the plus-size community has in terms of the quality and design of garments that do come in their size. “I want care put into designs and structures so that garments fit my body,” says Universal Standard shopper Audrey Sopata.
The case of “oversized” clothing trends is only one of the many disappointing aspects of shopping as a plus-size woman. The sheer lack of options was one of the most common frustrations expressed to me. “If I had to pick one thing, I would just want to see MORE plus-size options,” Chaloff says. “I want to see more shops and brands carrying and creating plus styles. I want to see more plus models used in campaigns. I want to see more labels coming onto the market that cater to plus size. More more more!” Chaloff goes on to reiterate the importance of preserving the design of garments as the size is graded up from a straight size. Plus-size women still want clothes that fit, which really isn’t asking a lot. “Oftentimes, the integrity of the design of a piece will get distorted as it gets graded to a larger size, either because proportions aren’t carefully considered or because extra seams or panels are added to accommodate a larger body. Some of these changes are necessary to maintain proper fit, but it is a shame when the original design of a garment is compromised.”