7 Body Positive Tips For Shopping Your Shape — Because Fashion Should Never Be Limiting

As someone who considers shopping her favorite hobby (and also my cardio), I've become somewhat of a pro when it comes to the art of shopping. I'm profoundly familiar with the ins-and-outs of the entire experience, and as a plus-size woman, I often get asked, "What are some tips for shopping for your shape and size?"

I want to preface this by saying that I am one of those people who believes that you can wear anything you bloody want to, no matter your size or shape — there are no rules, here. Fat people can (and should) wear crop tops; short people should strut down the street in a maxi dress; and we all know that the only step required to get a "bikini ready body" is to simply put a bikini on your body. Gone are the days when you were given fashion rules based on your body type. Now, say hello to the days when we all say, "Screw that, I'll wear what I want."

When it comes down to it, it doesn't matter if you are plus-size or straight-size, everyone is built differently. And because there is no Universal Size Chart for every single clothing brand to help us gauge properly what "size" we are across the board, shopping for clothing can sometimes be a tad confusing, not to mention frustrating. Even if we're aware that we can (and will) wear whatever we want, there are still some things that prove more challenging than others when it comes to fit. BuzzFeed recently released an article depicting "What Plus-Size Clothes Actually Look Like On Plus-Size Women," for which fuller-figured babes try on actual plus-size clothing and report their opinions about how it looked and fit on their bodies (proving that when it comes to shopping, what you see isn't always what you get). The very same problem can be applied to all bodies: Thin, fat, and in-between. So with this all in mind, let's have a look at seven body positive tips to remember when shopping for your unique body shape and size:

1. Don't Confine Yourself To One Size

Clothes are all made according to different measurements, and aren't universally the same. When I worked in fashion retail, I would often get women trying something on in their "usual size" that would end up fitting a little more snug than they would have liked. When I would suggest going up a size, they would get flustered and almost offended at the suggestion, refusing to "be a bigger size than they were." But it's important to remember that in fashion today, we can be more than one size depending on the cut, fabric, style, and fit of a garment. Don't be afraid to try a size up or down if you need to. What's important is how the clothing looks and makes you feel — not what the label says.

2. Find Your Blogger Body Twin

Fashion blogging has boomed in recent years, and now there are a plethora of fashion bloggers of all shapes and sizes floating around the Internet. So why not take advantage of this and utilize these bloggers' wardrobes for your own use? Find a blogger who has a similar body type and size as you do, and start following them. That way, you'll get a good idea of what the clothing they wear will fit like and look like on your body, too. This is an especially helpful tip to remember when shopping online, where you can't try on clothing for yourself before purchasing it. Your blogger-body-twin can be there to help!

3. Know Your Measurements

Online shopping can leave you lost and guessing sometimes (you know, with that whole "not being able to actually try anything on" thing). Luckily, most brands these days will supply their online shoppers with a size chart or a list of the garment measurements to give the shopper an idea of the fit. Knowing your measurements is key, as it will help you to know what size you require when purchasing online.

4. Get To Know Your Fabrics

Some fabrics stretch, some don't. Some cling, some flow. Knowing your fabrics is an extremely helpful tip when shopping for clothing. For example, I have large arms, so when shopping for shirts or dresses, I need to be aware of the fabric used for the sleeves. I tend to go for fabric that has some stretch to it so that it will stretch and fit around my arms. If the fabric doesn't stretch, then I require sleeves that are made wide and flowy (like a kimono). Some people also sweat in fabrics that don't breathe (like polyester), and thus require cotton-based garments, etc.

5. Recognize Different Cuts

Even though we can wear anything we want, sometimes we come across things we just can't get away with, no matter how much we'd like to. As a bottom-heavy woman, no matter how much I'd love to wear a jumpsuit or a straight-cut dress, I just can't. My problem is that I'm two different sizes, and if a garment is cut to be the same size on top as it is bottom, it doesn't fit my body shape. Something that fits me on the bottom is going to be way too big on top, and vice-versa. Thus, I tend to stick to dresses that are A-line cut, or to separates that I can buy on their own (sigh, damn you, jumpsuits!). Recognizing how a garment is cut will be a major help when considering how it's going to fit on your body type. It's all about knowing what you need.

6. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

We know what we like, and we know what we want. Most of us have a pretty good idea about what our personal styles are, but it's always good to remember to step out of your comfort zone once in a while. Try on that color you don't normally wear, or that dress that's usually "too flashy" for you. If you're conservative, try something a little more bold. And if you're someone who dresses flashy all the time, try on something a little more subtle. You'd be amazed at how stepping out of your fashion comfort zone can open up your style world. A lot of the time, we surprise ourselves, and that item you normally "would never wear" becomes your favorite piece.

7. Love Your Body

Shopping for clothing is all about trial and error. Sometimes we're successful, and other times we're not. Shopping can be a total high, or a real bummer — but no matter what, love and appreciate your body for its unique size, shape, and beauty. The No. 1 person you should be dressing for is yourself, and nothing looks better on someone than confidence.

Images: Instagram/chubbycartwheels; Giphy (7)