In my youth, there were two main fashion options for plus-size women: the men’s department and muumuus. Today that’s no longer the case. Most major retailers know there is a thriving plus-size market, and have amped up the quantity and quality of their full-figured fashions.
As a chronically fluctuating size 12 to 14, I am ecstatic about department stores that offer selections beyond size 12, and plus-size only boutiques, which offer a wide range of flattering styles for fuller-figured women. I remember the buzz-kill of finding a great look, only to realize it didn't come in my size. Thankfully, those days are over and great fashion can be accessible for nearly all body types.
If you veer towards the voluptuous side, and dread clothes shopping, you aren’t alone. Buying a new outfit doesn’t have to be torturous, and with a few pointers, you can find a look that you will love. Below are my top five tips for conquering the fashion world, no matter what size you wear.
1. Know Your Body
Not all women have hourglass, apple or even pear shapes. It turns out I am a rectangle: boxy, without many curves, and I tend to gain weight evenly throughout my arms, tummy, hips and legs. That means clothes designed for a busty woman with a narrow waist won’t fit me, at all. Know your shape, and then learn how to dress that shape in a way that’s flattering. Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration.
2. Do Research
Find a mix of current fashions and staple pieces to inspire your clothes shopping soiree. This spring, contrasting black with white, as well soft pastel colored outfits are popular looks, while a blazer, perfectly-fitted jeans, or a sexy black dress look great in any season. Use runway themes to inspire your own inner fashionista, but avoid hyper-trendy looks that box your wardrobe into one dated style. A great rule of thumb is that a classic piece of clothing will always look good, where a trendy piece will only look good for awhile.
3. Don’t Settle
If you are like me, you tend to give in and buy whatever outfit looks moderately good, hoping to avoid more awkward trips to the dressing room. Look, I get it, but you are only doing yourself a disservice. What we wear can articulate a strong message about who we are. Wear clothes that aren’t just OK, but fantastic. You should feel vibrant, beautiful, and powerful in your clothes, and if you don’t, you aren’t wearing the right outfit. It’s time to kick our tired, subpar wardrobe to the curb and hold ourselves to a higher standard. Once you see how confident you feel in clothes that truly look great on you, you’ll never go back to “just okay” again.
4. Take Risks
I spent far too long gravitating to the all-black section of the department stores. I felt safe in black, and somehow I translated that into pretty. Not true. It took me reaching my thirties before I realized that I looked great in color. Now, I gravitate towards fuchsias, plums, pinks, and teals, and I love it! Adding a pop of color to your wardrobe makes you stand out, and stand up. A great place to start playing with color is shoes. I love to wear brightly colored flats with a basic pair of pants and a top. The bright burst of color makes me look way more put together than a boring black or brown shoe.
5. Buy the Right Size
I can’t emphasize this enough. Even the best outfits are ruined when they’re too-tight or too-baggy. Remember that not all brands are the same, and size varies by manufacturer. I am a size 12 when it comes to most dresses, but a 14 in most pants, and a large to extra-large when it comes to tops and jackets. I try everything on, always. Another important tip to note is that stretchy jeans should always be bought one size smaller than usual. This is because elastic fabrics tend to relax throughout the day and what starts off as a nice pair of fitted jeans will wind up saggy in the butt and loose around the knees. Not cute.
Fashion can be intimidating, especially when the market seems geared towards our slender sisters. But fear not. Great style belongs to anyone who puts forth the effort. Do you have any must-know style tips? Share them below in the comments section. I can’t wait to read them.