The Trouble with Buying Plus Size

Let’s just get this out of the way first – I know I am fat. Nothing is more annoying than people trying to tell you that you aren’t plus size when you know you are. I know that I am currently at an unhealthy weight. And you know what? Shit happens. The end of 2018 saw me trying to recover from a full mental breakdown. All of 2019 has had me injured in a way that I eventually couldn’t walk without debilitating pain, three surgeries on both legs (two on one, one on the other) and a general inability to work out. As I am just starting to find out as I begin finally feeling better, being in pain all of the time has a really negative impact on your mood. So for the last year and a half, I really haven’t been in the mindset or had the opportunity to focus on my physical health and nutrition and all that. The problem with this though is, well, my weight.

So that’s how I got here, talking to you. Pretty much all of my weight gain is above the waist. My belly and my arms drive me insane; I hate how they look. But I’d be willing to argue that most of my weight gain went to my chest. Triple D’s are the most inconvenient and annoying thing in the world, for multiple reasons. 

At first, buying some new clothes wasn’t a big deal. So I gained some weight. Oh well. But – especially when my chest began holding all the weight – nothing, and I mean nothing, would fit. I basically have had to buy an entire new wardrobe which is expensive. And buying plus size is even more expensive. From some points of view, it has been kind of an interesting perspective though because there is nothing easy about this. 

The one thing I did do, which I hope works out the way I’m thinking, is that I put my smaller clothes away for now. Some of them are just barely too small, but for things like button downs (which I love for work), any bit of small shows in a big way. What I’m thinking though is that when I hopefully begin to lose weight, I’ll pull these clothes out and it will be like I have all new clothes. I know it’ll take time and there’s time where my two wardrobes may overlap. 

Here is my first thing. Why do so many stores keep their plus sizes online only or primarily online? I’m looking at you Target and Old Navy. Old Navy does get credit though for keeping some larger sizes in store, like XXL especially for my beloved button downs. Also, Old Navy is the only place I buy my jeans, thank you. But it drives me insane when I’m on the Target app and see something plus size and its either online only or not kept in my store. I have also noticed this at Kohl’s and Macy’s. Macy’s, you kill me. You have some awesome clothes in my size. That I will never find in the store. This is especially poignant for dresses or work clothes. I like to try things on. I have to try things on because something can fit every other part of me, but may be guaranteed not to fit my chest. The big boob struggle is real. 

Yes, I know that I can order online and return it. But even if I can return in store – it just seems inconvenient. Why would I buy online then go to the store to return it to only have to buy it online again and possibly repeat the process? Why can’t I just have it there, not pay shipping, and save myself time? I just don’t understand when you hear about the closing of brick and mortar stores to online shopping that these brick and mortar stores carry a subset of product specifically online. I would buy more stuff from these places if it was in store. I’m always super hesitant buying clothes from Amazon or online-only stores for this reason. I’m weird. But I just want to try the damn thing on before I commit. You test drive a car before you buy right? Except, I actually didn’t test drive my Honda Fit before I got it. 

I went to a JC Penney’s that I normally don’t go to and was very pleasantly surprised to see they had an entire plus size section that my normal Penney’s didn’t have. Definitely made some purchases that day.

And then there are stores where I’m disappointed by their lack of sizes altogether. I love New York & Company. The majority of my work wardrobe was from there. They have great basic pieces. I have multiples of the same dress in different colors because it’s the perfect summer work dress and it has pockets. Their Madison shirts, like this one, also have quite a few spots in my work wardrobe. But as I started to gain weight, I started to realize how their clothes run kind of small. It made sense, whereas in other places I’d wear a small, at NY & Co., I’d wear a medium. But I felt as if I was sized-out altogether from NY & Co., and I’m not that big. I’m a size 14, the biggest I’ve ever been. The average American woman is a size 16 or 18. For the most part, I’m at 1X. And I can’t tell you how many things I’ve tried on that would fit if not just for a little bit more room in the chest. 

Other than cardigans, I’m basically sized out of NY & Co. And let me tell you, if they carried larger sizes that could basically accommodate my chest in those Madison shirts, I probably would have bought at least five. It is definitely a disappointment that I basically can’t shop there right now because of my boobs.

The majority of my plus size wardrobe has come from Torrid. I should probably buy stock in Torrid just to maybe make back some of my money that I’ve spent there. I have spent a lot. To be honest, the price doesn’t thrill me especially when I consider that once I start working out again, these outfits may be very temporary. I have spent a lot of money there, and a good bit is out of necessity because it’s so difficult to find plus size clothes.

However, I have to say, I love the clothes so much that I am definitely considering getting some of them altered to continue to fit me. The clothes are super cute, fit me well, and are often super comfortable. I remember many places that were plus size having very “frumpy” clothes, or geared towards older woman. Torrid is not that place. They are definitely on par with today’s fashion trends and have clothes for every occasion. Everything I have bought from Torrid so far has been mainly for work or going out clothes, and I feel that each item makes me look polished and is flattering. The majority of what I have purchased hides my stomach with a flowing cut, as opposed to outlining the shape of my belly and bringing attention to that. So, thanks Torrid. 

Torrid also has something called “super soft knits,” and they are the most comfortable thing in the world. Hands down. Flattering and comfortable? It doesn’t get much better than that. And also, the sizing definitely takes into consideration those of us with a larger bust and I have never felt like my chest is being compressed. So there’s that. I’ve found dresses for work, going out, wedding showers, and weddings. I can find basically everything I need. Although Torrid, your online-only also drives me insane, although I am fairly comfortable in knowing that something with fit in a certain size for me. But I’d still rather try it on; old habits die hard.

Also, Torrid makes bra shopping much easier. Trying to find my size at a “regular” department store can be a hassle or I am limited on choices. When I do find something, it’s usually a blah design. Torrid not only has an expansive range of sizes, but they’re cute. I don’t understand the lack of design on larger bras. Just because we’re plus size doesn’t mean we don’t like cute things. There’s no correlation between being plus size and not wanting to be cute. It’s probably the opposite.

We can talk about body positivity all day, but I can say I have been trying to make a little bit more effort since gaining weight or trying to hide weight. Hell, I read a thing where this guy was saying that if you’re plus-size, you’re automatically unattractive. No ifs, ands, or buts. Unattractive. Now, I don’t believe that. The same guy would probably tell me I’m ugly because of my pixie cut, and I sure as hell am not getting rid of that. I know that my weight (or haircut) has not lowered my attractiveness to the level of troll. I might not be Gisele, but that isn’t happening at any weight, and I don’t see a problem with that. Gisele can be Gisele, I can be Victoria. But it creates an uncomfortable feeling, to be honest. I won’t lie. That’s not the type of guy I sure as hell want to be with, but I can’t imagine how many women do believe that thought process and have low self esteem and are hard on themselves. Physical attractiveness isn’t everything by any means, but low self esteem due to body image doesn’t just have an impact on the physical self. It’s not good for your mental health either. 

I just thought of this now, but I wonder if the difficulty of finding plus size clothes has a subconscious effect on people? It can be hard to find and expensive, and when you do find it, you often have a smaller selection of choices. I can totally see where that will make someone question their self worth. Why is it like that? Why am I limited by these choices, why don’t I deserve the wide range of “regular” sizes? What makes me less worthy?

Nothing does. 

Don’t we always say that size is just a number? It is. So why are we separating it in such a way? Why are we essentially targeting this group by making them outside the “normal?” Weight is impacted by so many things. I know that right now my weight is unhealthy. I also know that I had health issues that were preventing me from maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise, resulting in weight gain. I also was on a medication for a period that made me gain weight. That’s always fun. I know there are long term effects of being overweight. But I also know of many people at healthy weights that don’t work out and still eat like crap. They’re not living their most healthy life either. 

I always assumed that plus size sections were always there and readily available. That isn’t the case. I also didn’t think that the size of my bust was going to limit me in finding clothes that fit so much. And it can be frustrating as hell. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that shopping for this second wardrobe hasn’t brought me to tears before because why-am-I-fat-why-did-I-let-this-happen because absolutely nothing fits and I’m never going to look cute again. And eventually those moments go away. But it’s not easy, and it does have an impact. Nowadays, Torrid is often my first go-to if I need an outfit for a specific event. I know I’ll find something that fits, even if the stuff I really love is online only (I’m not letting that go). 

It is something I never thought of before because I didn’t have to worry about it before. Being short, I have also had similar problems with finding pants or maxi dresses. I am positive my tall friends can tell me stories of the exact opposite problems because pants are too short. It is just something that has been on my mind lately that I wanted to share.

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