Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Personal Pet Peeves in Plus-Size Clothing

A fluffy filler post today about plus-sized clothing shopping. It began life as a comment on another website, but I decided it deserved some airspace here too.

I'm normally not one to spend a lot of time blogging about clothing. I have more important topics to discuss, and while I enjoy good clothing, I generally place my emphasis on comfort and function over fashion.

But I'm making an exception today to complain about some pet peeves when shopping for plus-sized clothing. These things REALLY make me frustrated when I'm simply trying to find decent clothes in my size.

My personal plus-size clothing complaints:
1. Stock more high-end sizes - While I commend some plus-size stores for stocking larger sizes (26/28 and sometimes larger), PLEASE STOCK MORE THAN A COUPLE OF THE HIGH-END SIZES. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to a plus-sized store, found something cute, and then realized that they had a zillion of that item in a size 16/18, but NONE LEFT in the larger sizes because they only stocked a few high. Know your customer base! Many women who wear in-between sizes (like size 16) shop at regular stores. A plus-sized store clientele is going to have more women in the mid and upper range of sizes, not the lower range. I understand that statistically there are more people in the 16-20 range, but the clientele who is going to come to your store is going to be more in the 22 and above range. Stop ordering mostly the lower size range and just a few in the upper sizes. It alienates the upper-size customers when you cater mostly to the smaller plus-sizes.
2. Make the same range of sizes available in women's sizes as you do in men's sizes - Many online and big-box stores have a wide range of plus sizes available for men (often going to 4x or 5x), but only limited plus-sizes for women (often stopping at XL or 2x). This doesn't reflect demographics; there are plenty of higher-sized women out there. It just reflects the sexist attitude that it's more socially acceptable for men to be big. BOTH genders have folks who run large, and both need clothes that work for them. If you have 4x or 5x in men's clothes, have 4x or 5x in women's clothes too.
3. Design for actual plus-sized people - Don't just take a design made for a smaller-sized person and randomly add 5 inches to every measurement and think that will work for a plus-sized person. It makes the neckline way too wide (meaning that bra straps are constantly showing) and the arm holes are often too large (sometimes halfway to the waist). I can't tell you how many cute things I have wanted to purchase but didn't because my bra straps were going to show, or because the giant arm holes left nothing to the imagination underneath. Gah!
4. Make more non-underwire bra choices available, especially in larger cup sizes -While underwires should be available for those who want them, many large-busted women find underwires to be an exercise in pure torture. They aren't comfortable, and it doesn't take long for those stupid underwires to poke through and stab us. Yet even in specialty stores, non-underwire choices are quite limited. We need more varieties available, and dang it, we want the non-underwire bras to be pretty too.
5. Improve the quality of specialty goods available in plus sizes - I have posted before about the difficulty in finding GOOD plus-sized winter coats, cold-weather gear, and exercise clothing. I'm glad that you now can find specialty stuff in plus sizes (see, but honestly, the quality is not always there. When I look at the gear I buy for my kids or my in-laws from REI and similar companies, I'm amazed at the sheer quality of the goods and how well they work. When I buy a similar product from Junonia, I don't always find a similar quality. (Some of their stuff is good, but some stuff is mediocre.) The material is not as good, the cut is bulky, or the quality of finish is poor. And for cold-weather or sports gear, cheaper materials could harm our health or even result in injury. Retailers, I'm not going to continue to buy from your company if the product is of inferior quality. Use the same high-performance fabrics and standards that are used for smaller sizes!
The thing that probably bugs me the most is that I've been complaining about some of these things to clerks and managers for THIRTY YEARS and never have I seen any changes. I know I'm not the only one complaining, either.

To me, that shows just how incredibly unresponsive and uncaring the management of plus-sized clothing businesses are towards their clientele. Honestly, I think most of them actively disdain plus-sized women and that's why they have such short-sighted and discriminatory business practices towards their own clientele.

Why should I buy from companies who obviously don't value my business and who apparently don't think I deserve quality clothing because I come in a larger size? The answer is....I won't.

What are your top pet peeves when shopping for plus-sized clothing?


Mich said...

When Penington's changed their fits from cities to "descriptive" words, the fit doesn't work anymore. I've worn out all the pants I bought from before, and the stuff they have now is not of the same quality or size. Before I wore a 20-22, now I have to wear a 26-28 but the waist is not done right.

Anonymous said...

Teensy armholes on long-sleeved blouses. I tend to find blouses that fit well everywhere except in the upper arms.

Cuts that assume that I am very large all over except in the chest, so I end up with a hi-lo hemline even though that's not how it hangs on somebody with smaller breasts.

Low-rise jeans. I wear jeans so I can lift boxes, scramble over rocky beaches, etc., not so I can stop every minute or so to pull the stupid things up.

Classic-waist "jeans" that are really flimsy denim-colored slacks. I just want a good pair of hard-wearing black jeans, dang it.

Plus-size opaque hose that last only one wearing. They fit very well, but I can walk holes in them just going to church!

Scratchy, pilly, synthetic blend nightwear with miserably inadequate sleeves, or granny gowns: my only options. I haven't seen a long-sleeved button-front ballet gown in a soft, breathable fabric in my size in years. The two I have left are older than my children.

Bras with boning under the arms. No. Just no!

Jenny Islander

Anonymous said...

JUst the opposite complaint, lol. Clothes for large ladies assuming all big women are D cups. I barly (and sometimes don't) fill a B. I Could carry a baby in the top part of most big clothe.

Hate the low rise jeans on my skinny daughter! Won't even try them on me. Just not going there.

Definitely get rid of those stupid under-wires!

And my (5'2") mom's complaint: All size 22 women are not 5'10" tall. She simply can't buy anything that doesn't have to be shortened from both the top and bottom before she can wear it.

Anonymous said...

If you understand German, you might find "" useful. This is a web-forum for discussions on the size and fit of underwear. There are threads on topics such as "bras for large underbusts" or "the side-problem" (i.e. underwires poking into the armpit).
Regarding brands, have you tried "Elomi" and "Goddess"? Elomi goes up to 110 cm underbust and Goddess up to 125cm. They also use special cuts to allow for a bigger belly.
"Anita" produces soft cup bras (i.e. without underwires) for underbusts of 110cm. I find them very comfortable.
For me it was a big surprise when I found and realized that there are even sports bras and strapless bras for large women -- and that they actually work.

Maitri said...

I have yet to find black winter tights that fit. Also the shoe stores seem to think no one wears above a 10. I went from a 10 to a 10.5 when I had kids, and now I can't shop at my old favorite shoe store.

Mrs. Gamgee said...

I'm so with you on the neckline thing... I mean, come on. Just because I'm a plus sized woman doesn't mean that I've got a pumpkin for a head. And shirts that are shorter than they are wide. Can we get a little sense of proportion here please?

Peggy said...

There's a book called Sewing For Plus Sizes (can't remember the author off the top of my head, but she's a fabulous custom couturier) that explains why nearly all plus-sized clothing sucks.

I've had some success at measuring myself and drawing up simple clothing patterns based on my measurements. It is really, really hard to do worse than what is in the stores! And when I can do better, it is very empowering. More than half of what I am wearing right now I either made or altered.

I mostly sew with used fabrics like thrift store sheets and larger thrifted clothing, and I use just the simplest machine stitches (straight stitch for woven fabrics, zig-zag for knits). Hand sewing also works just fine, it just takes a little longer.

Anonymous said...

what about us short people? we need larger sizes in the petite
section, not every short person is a size 2 to 10. Hey, maybe we
should start designing fashion for real women!


Anonymous said...

My personal pet peeve is for underwear.. the ones with the crotch piece being only 1 inch wide. Really.