If you're a lover of fashion but happen to be in the plus-size category like I am, it seems that the retail market often ignores us completely or wants us to just cover up in ugly, baggy clothes. Seriously, when will people just accept the fact that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that wanting to look cute is always acceptable?! I know I'm pretty fed up.
However, since I'm constantly buying new clothes (Forever 21 is basically my second home), reading fashion books and magazines and scouring style blogs for the latest trends, I've come to create my own fashion hacks to work past the often disappointing industry. I also wanted to share my knowledge with you in a true body-positive way, since so many people have created posts like this, but with the "hacks" just showcasing ways you can look thinner. I find myself sighing and clicking out of the tab when I see these sorts of articles because newsflash: Not everyone wants to be thin!
So without further ado (or ranting in this case), here are some of my favorite tried-and-true plus-size fashion hacks that will help you get the most out of your fashion finds:
1. Buy A Seam Ripper (Or Just A Pair of Scissors)
Every plus-size girl can relate to this scenario: You're out shopping and find the cutest sweater — but when you try it on, you discover that it's two sizes too small. What's a girl to do?! Normally I'm guessing you probably either buy the item and convince yourself that you can go on a diet and fit into it in a few months (you might even use it as inspiration to lose weight) or you will put it back with regret in your heart. But I'm here to tell you that you don't have to do either — you can DIY the item to make it work for you!
Seam rippers are beautiful little gems that hardly anyone seems to know exist, so I'm here to to tell you all about them.
A seam ripper is a tool that, well, rips seems out of garments. So if you have a piece of clothing that's too small, you can just rip out a seam to make it fit! You can get most seam rippers for under $5 at craft or retail stores, like Walmart or Target. Even if you don't want to buy a seam ripper, it's amazing what a pair of scissors can do. I've made slits in dresses and skirts that were too tight that gave me some breathing room and even cut sleeves off of jackets that were too tight to turn them into one-of-a-kind vests. Never be afraid to DIY — not only can you make garments that are too small fit, but you'll get some really unique pieces out of it!
2. Use Size Guides
We all know that women's clothing sizes don't make any sense. The other day I was wearing a size L shirt, a kimono in an M and size 2X leggings — and that's not an abnormal occurrence! Clothing brands often don't use standard measurements and will design their sizes according to what they think their clientele should be — by vanity — so that you feel thinner than you are. Another hypothesis is that they randomly throw together pieces of fabric and hope for the best. This chart shows you major retailers that tend to size large, average and small so that you can get an idea of what sizes to look for when you're shopping — bookmark them!
The other suggestion I have along with this is to figure out your measurements. Doing this can save you a lot of time and energy. You can also look for stores and brands that size in this way since not all retailers use weird methodology to size their clothing. This neat tool allows you to enter your measurements and shows you what your size is by store!
Doing this can save you a lot of time and energy while shopping, especially if you're like me and hate trying things on.
3. Always Go For Fit
This may not seem like much of a tip, but I can't tell you how many times I've bought something that was too small because I liked it — not because I could realistically wear it. Those pieces always end up collecting dust in my closet, and are never actually worn — meaning I waste my time and money buying them!
Don't buy clothing that doesn't fit you. Even if you're on a diet are/or bargaining with yourself to lose weight, or think you can squeeze into the garment and just not breathe for a few hours, don't buy it (unless you can figure out how to use a seam ripper or DIY it, then go ahead). With the amount of fat shaming and fatphobia in our society, this is actually a pretty normal practice, which is why I'm stressing it! And with the lack of available options for plus-size girls, it also becomes easy to talk yourself into buying something a size too small. But no matter how much you love the piece, put it back. Try to find a comparable item somewhere else and better yet, ask the management if they're planning on getting a wider range of sizes. Advocate for yourself, girl!
4. Learn About Your Body
Since our society is also very puritanical and filled with terrible messaging about sexuality, we're never really encouraged to get to know our bodies in an intimate way. Not only will doing so help to improve your confidence, self esteem and sex life, but it can also help you find clothing that fits you!
I'll use myself as an example to show you what I mean: I know that my stomach is where I carry the most excess fat, but that I have a small waist proportionally to the size of my hips and butt. I also have pretty big boobs and shoulders but smaller arms and legs. In knowing this and being honest with myself, I know that I tend to wear larger sized bottoms and that most pants don't fit me well at all, since my smaller hips cause me to have a big gap in the back of my pants (all hail leggings). I can find most shirts in the straight-size sections of stores, but need to get larger jackets because of my broad shoulders. Such awareness allows me to be able to look at a piece of clothing and with about 80 percent accuracy, predict how it will fit me. Since clothing isn't made with your particular body in mind, you need to know how standard sizes hold up on you. Seriously, doing this makes shopping a lot easier.
Start noticing how your fat falls, what parts of your body are bigger and smaller and how this creates proportion. Notice what clothing items tend to fit you the worst. Also, start looking at yourself naked, feel your jiggle and touch your flesh. It sounds corny but it works.
Being plus-size doesn't mean you're not allowed to enjoy fashion — because fashion isn't size specific! You just may have to do a little extra homework before the fashion industry decides to jump on the body positivity bandwagon.
Images: Universal Pictures; Giphy