The Average American woman (and it’s about the same for the British) wears a size 14 or 16, the range where plus size begins. Now I know a few of us girls can fit into a size 8 or 10, but you are the lucky ones. Just look at the pics on any of our social sites and yes, most crossdressers will join the ranks of the plus-size ladies. So unless you regularly shop for clothing, you may not realize how fucking hard it is to find plus-size clothing in stores
As women who wear plus sizes know, if you want something to wear, you’ve got to shop online. The Huffington Post reports that online retailer ModCloth conducted a survey — polling over 5,000 women — and found that there were more “wearing a size 16 dress than those who wear a size 2 and size 0 combined.” And yet! Some of the most popular stores in the country — Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, H&M, J.Crew, American Apparel, Abercrombie & Fitch — do not carry sizes above 12 or 14 in stores. As seen in the chart here, even though some retailers make sizes above 12 or 16, they don’t stock them in stores; shoppers have to order them online. This is hardly unique to the clothing stores either because shoes in the larger sizes (11 and above) are hard to find. Major outlets like Payless and DSW routinely have a far greater selection online than in their stores.
Laura Beck wrote a couple of weeks ago, “If size 14 is really the average size of the American woman, it makes an insane amount of sense from a business point of view to dive into the fat end of the swimming pool.” So why don’t they?
“There’s a [judgment placed on] plus sized from the straight sized market saying, ‘We’re not going to give you the square footage on our sales floor because we don’t want you in our store,’” says Eden Miller, who designs her own plus-size line called Cabiria.
“They’re saying it doesn’t sell when in actuality there’s not enough diversity in the offerings and it’s shoved in a back room,” she explains further, referencing department stores who place their plus-sized clothes between their home goods and children’s departments. Most of us wouldn’t even think to look there.
It spills over into the design world too. Miller continues “I have these wonderful designers, but they’re all boot-strapping themselves. They can only make a handful of one size, so maybe you’ll have three size 18s–the production amount is so small because they’re all doing it themselves and financing it themselves or through Kickstarter.”
Fashion magazines can’t–or won’t–devote the editorial space to plus lines either. Nicolette Mason, who writes Marie Claire‘s “Big Girl in a Skinny World” piece each month, has perhaps the best perspective on this particular challenge. “It’s really hard for plus-sized brands to get print media placement,” she says. “If you count Marie Claire, People, StyleWatch, InStyle, Redbook and Glamour, they all have one dedicated page to plus sizes.”
Bottom line is that if the magazines won’t show us how our clothes look on a larger body, and the big department stores won’t cater to our needs, we need to take our dollars to stores that do love us. That’s where Sister House comes in. We have searched the market for retailers that not only have clothes that fit our bodies, but are fashionable and trendy enough to suit our tastes. With over 80 stores catering to your needs for lingerie, fashionable skirts, blouses, and dresses, accessories including shoes, handbags and jewelry, and so on.
It’s a complicated issue, and the plus-sized fashion market has got a ways to go. But thanks to outspoken bloggers, mass-retailers who are launching stylish plus lines, indie designers who are beginning to make their mark and magazines like Plus Model Magazine, we are now getting clothes that make us look and feel like the stars we are.
Some of the more recent stores that have either expanded their plus-size lines or brought in new designers to eliminate the frump are ASOS. ModCloth and Lane Bryant, although my old favorites like Jessica London, Avenue, Ashley Stewart, Dress Barn, eShakti, and Sonsi offer clothes that you will love.