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Chewing the fat about fat fashion

August 22, 2012

Fat Heffalump posted a great topic this week about the extreme lack of fat fashion at her local Target in Australia. She took comparison pictures which showed that straight size women get tons of color and bold styles, while fatties get the usual muted colors and prints straight out of a stereotypical grandmother’s closet.

One of the major reasons that plus-size clothing seems to be stuck in a never-ending rut is that it is two years behind “mainstream” fashion, so trends that were previously popular are still being considered as “what to wear now” for women who wear bigger sizes.

That’s why we’re still seeing stuff like this:

Shark Hem Tunic

Shark hem tunic

Rhinestone denim skirt


Graphic tee

Graphic tees (although it is paired with a current trend of colored jeans)

Ruffled tee

Ruffles, ruffles, ruffles

Now, some of this isn’t bad and I would wear one or two of the items shown. And there are a lot of women who do like these styles, so I’m certainly not going to judge anyone for their fashion choices.  But it would be nice to see some equal treatment given to fat customers, not only in terms of variety of clothing, but how it’s presented.

The majority of plus-size clothing areas in non-exclusive plus-size stores is treated like an afterthought. It’s usually in the back of the store, or if it’s located inside a multi-level store, on the second floor also in the back. There’s not much effort to make it look enticing or attractive to shoppers. You don’t see big, colorful signs with witty slogans hanging from the ceiling to advertise what’s being sold.

Sometimes the clothes racks are shoved together so tightly that when you walk by the hangers get caught on you and the clothing falls to the floor, or else gets unhooked and drags on the ground.  The areas are also a lot smaller too. While straight size sections can take up the size of three master bedrooms, plus-size sections can be just a tiny corner. It’s as if the store is saying “Look, we haven’t forgotten you fatties, but we don’t want anyone to notice we actually sell big sizes, so try not to be too conspicuous.”

Then there is Old Navy, who will only sell plus-sizes online, and don’t offer the same variety. If you compare this misses’ page to this womens’ page, you’ll see what I mean. In order to get to see some of the colored jeans they offer in bigger sizes, you have to click on the “Trends We Love” link, and you’ll find that they only offer a few colors for about $20 more. So not only do you get less options, you have to pay a lot more for them too.

With fall around the corner, it’s going to be interesting to see what, if any, new styles plus-size fashion will offer. What would you like to see? What are tired of seeing and wish would go away? What changes would you make to plus-size fashion if you could? These questions are for all genders… I’d love to hear your responses!

38 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2012 10:23 am

    It’s also interesting that on Old Navy, the straight sizes are modelled by actual women, while the plus sizes are either on a mannequin or laid flat on some surface.

    My wish is to see the exact same colours and styles offered for all sizes. And clothes made for different kinds of plus sized bodies. Someone with a large belly has different clothing needs than someone with a large behind.

  2. Ada Mangoes permalink
    August 22, 2012 10:48 am

    I absolutely adore bold, bright colors, textures, and non-floral, not traditionally feminine prints/patterns. I had to start making my own clothing way back in like 6th grade or something like that because the kinds of things I LOVE to wear and adorn myself with just were not (and, really, still aren’t) available in sizes that fit me. Even in junior high I was forced to wear clothing (sometimes even bought off the rack at very nice department stores mind you) that was 2+ decades past fashionable; either that or it was sweats and t-shirts because tough shit trying to find jeans, fattie.

    I don’t have nearly enough time now as an adult to make my own clothing and the last few years I have had to buy what’s available off the rack and it just… is. not. me. The only place I have been able to find clothing that is even sort of on-trend or fits my style has been, surprisingly, Kmart. I really hate, as a young-and-hip-feeling 30-something, having to wear clothing covered in ruffles and frills and crap that looks like it’s from my grandmother’s or, in a lot of instances, my great-grandmother’s closets. And I really, *really* want to be able to walk into a store and purchase nice winter-weight tights, maybe with some pretty patterning or textures, that I don’t have to cut the top off of and turn into stockings.

  3. Ada Mangoes permalink
    August 22, 2012 10:56 am

    I should also note that my hubby, who is also large, frequently bemoans the fact that while there are plus size sections in stores for women and that even though the clothing there is not my style and I really hate 99.9% of it, at least the plus size section for women ACTUALLY EXISTS. Usually the largest size available off the rack is around a 40 or 42 in pants and maybe a size 3x t-shirt of you’re *SUPER-DUPER* lucky, even at places like Wal-Mart. My size 52 pants wearing hubby has to go to specific, expensive, extremely limited variety of styles and colors available, big-and-tall stores located invariably in some of the most hard to get to places in every city we’ve ever lived. And he isn’t even the kind of person who’s the least bit concerned about dressing on-trend; he just wants underwear, jeans, dress slacks, and button-down shirts that coordinate well and fit his body. Underwear for heaven’s sake. The man cannot even find underwear unless he specifically goes to a big-and-tall store.

    • August 23, 2012 5:39 pm

      I agree that men’s big and tall is just atrocious. Try The Foundry, it’s kind of a new big and tall, I think the parent company is JC Penney, we’ve found the clothes to have a better price point than other b&t stores; though I haven’t priced their underwear.

  4. vesta44 permalink
    August 22, 2012 1:35 pm

    I just want to see the tops that they make for women my size made out of the same fabrics that they use for the tops they make for smaller women. The fabric is there, why aren’t they using it for everyone instead of just a select few? I mean, it’s not like there’s going to be a shortage of fabric – the fabric manufacturers can always make more of a specific fabric in any print a garment manufacturer wants, all they have to do is ask.

  5. August 22, 2012 5:04 pm

    How about prints that are flattering and don’t make me look like a fucking couch? I wear basically a uniform of solid top and black pants to work every day because I have not seen a cute print in years. They’re all animal print or huge flowers or things that do not suit me, as a young professional. Right now I have to choose between dull and hideous.

    • January 5, 2013 5:15 am

      Exactly!! I freaking HATE the prints they put on just about everything for fat women. I do not want to look like a couch or wear something that looks like curtains or a tablecloth. And I HATE having to wear dulled down drab colors, however, I don’t want to wear neon pink, or fuscia or teal, either! And ,a lot of times the color combinations they use in a decent prints are so hideous you want to cry. Why can’t we get the primary colors? I want the ruffled, extra crap taken OFF the clothes! Even when you find something that is nice, why is it always made with crap materials that fall apart, or have to be specially washed, and always with the stretch POLYESTER or RAYON? Can I get something that won’t bake me alive and make me sweat?

  6. August 22, 2012 11:33 pm

    One thing I’d like to see: More plus size clothing in general. In my city now, I can go into a store that carries plus size clothing — and see 10-12 total items and/or zero items in the plus section that are actually in my size.

    Another thing I’d like to see: Plus size clothing that doesn’t stop at size 22-26.

    One thing I’d like to see less: Tunics as the “standard” plus size top. As in, in the few times I’ve shopped at stores that carried both straight and plus sizes, I’d see shirts that were designed to be more or less tailored and to fall more or less to the upper hip in straight sizes — and see shirts of the same fabric in plus sizes that were flowy, fabricy tunics. I’m not opposed to tunics, but I’d like the option of other shirt types as well.

  7. August 23, 2012 8:55 am

    To be frank, I find most plus sized clothing disgusting. A lot of it is ugly and unusable for someone in my size category. It is like they are all stuck in the 1980s and make the clothes styles for young teens. They all end at size 26. The styles are all tailored and unforgiving and unflowing. If it wasn’t for this company, I do not know what I would do.

    I wear mostly dresses and have no interest in wearing the “jeans” uniform or otherwise ugly fashions they want to unload on us.

    I wrote about the companies I like here:

    “I have realized I hate a lot of what they are trying to sell me for fat clothes. I don’t want to wear skulls emblazoned on my jacket and I thought the swing revival died in the 90s. Save me from the tunic and leggings! Get rid of those baby-doll dresses that promote fat infantilization. I’d sooner shred some leggings and burn them before wearing them. Hey I weigh 500lbs I don’t want to be dressed like I am 8 years old and Mom is ready to break out the Garanimals. Sometimes I find fat fashion interesting. The focus on bright colors, bows and short skirts floors me”

    “Most of these places make the mistake of just making the thin women’s styles “bigger” which doesn’t mean on a fat women they will be flattering. Wide waist bands on pants? Come on! , these pants if anything will make a woman look far fatter. Culottes? Do not get me started. One thing I’d love to tell the plus sized moguls, do not design dresses with top to bottom buttons for fat women! Why are most of these dresses so short?!

    Modern fashion has lost a lot of zing, and gotten uglier and uglier, where it seems we have gone to a place of everything look like it’s from the 80s but shorter and tighter. OK, so maybe I dress like it’s 1890 but at least I can move around and bend over without everything being put on display. What is it with those tops that are cinched in right under the bust, that make everyone overweight look pregnant?

    Also someone needs to tell women over size 18, jeans are not flattering! Actually I do not think they are flattering to anyone! If anything has become the new Maoist uniform for American it is blue jeans! I’m bored even seeing them on everyone! Adding high heels to the picture, doesn’t help either, it just looks tacky.”

    I left the mainstream companies LONG AGO. Everytime I got a bigger dress from Catherines, it would fall apart within months and usually only the thinnest fabrics fit. So I am really a person in the outline of fashion. I advertise SANCTUARIE every chance I get because I DO NOT WANT THEM going out of business. This company assures that I can dress decently, so I RECOMMEND them very highly.

    • lordhellebore permalink
      August 23, 2012 2:37 pm

      While I agree with you that a lot of plus size clothing is not to my taste, I find your opinions on what other people should/shouldn’t wear somewhat inappropriate and judgemental, especially this: “Also someone needs to tell women over size 18, jeans are not flattering!” I don’t think you need to like jeans, on yourself or anybody else, be they fat or not, but the “Somebody needs to tell women over size 18 . . . ” rubs me entirely the wrong way. Can’t we just not tell people of any size what to wear?

    • lifeonfats permalink
      August 23, 2012 5:02 pm

      Jeans not flattering to women over size 18? Apparently your eyesight needs to be checked! I live in jeans, I’m a size 28, and quite frankly, I look pretty damn good in them. Also, there are a lot of women out there, many who blog about fashion, who adore the cutesy dresses and they look great. If you don’t like it, that’s fine, but don’t tell others what they should wear. It’s their money, they get to spend it how they want.

      • fatology101 permalink
        August 23, 2012 5:12 pm

        Love your reply. Didnt you know fat people are suposed to dress like nuns. LOL

      • August 23, 2012 6:29 pm

        Sure you all can choose what you want to wear. But aren’t any of you SICK of the jeans. Come on, has anyone noticed, that there has been no changed fashion trends since the 1990?. The clothes have stayed the SAME. I guess I am too old and remember when fashion was fun and at least had a bit of variety. I hate jeans, because I was told to wear nothing but as a teen, and they were hot and uncomfortable. I think a lot of people wear them just out of habit or it’s because what everyone else is wearing. Jeans are unforgiving of a plus sized figure too, gain 10 lbs and they do not fit right.

        • August 29, 2012 1:44 am

          I live in jeans. Seriously. I love them, I wear them all the time, I dress them up, I dress them down. I wear them with flats, boots, sweaters, tank tops. I find the right pair of jeans can look fantastic and be very versatile. And I’m a US Size 26. Now dresses, OTOH, look very frumpy on me and I don’t wear them unless I’m forced to. I take that back, this summer, I found a couple of maxi dresses that I liked that were cool and casual.

          See how that works? I shared my opinion about what YOU prefer to wear without being offensive and off-putting. But, hey, if you’re cool laying down arbitrary rules for other people, you do your thing.

          • August 29, 2012 12:41 pm

            I wore a size 26 once upon a time,

            I never found jeans comfortable. I wore them probably as loose as I could find them too.

            You sure, you really love them?

            or do you LOVE them because you are “told” to love them?

            I think about some of our fashion choices, even high heels, women wear those and destroy their feet in extreme cases, and they are SO UNCOMFORTABLE.

            As for dresses, SHORTER dresses will appear frumpier on fat women, longer ones even mid calf can elongate the body a bit more. Glad you found those Maxi dresses.

            • Pange permalink
              August 30, 2012 12:19 am

              Nope, I really do love them. I hate high heels. And I hate 99% of dresses, long or short. *shrugs*

  8. August 23, 2012 5:26 pm

    The plusses of plus sized retailers…,, almost trendy fashions and lots of variety.

    The negatives – animal prints…or prints of any kind….frumpy grandma clothes, bras for boobs the size of your head but very little for us B cup girls, bras that are also industrial strength – again, my boobs are not that big and don’t need THAT much support, ugly colours, inappropriate styles – no I don’t just want a micro mini that was designed for a boy’s body made in a bigger size or a halter top that will show my back fat, I want pretty things too, t shirts that are four inches too short or boot cut jeans in everything, strapless anything – again back fat or fat jiggly wiggly arms….seriously?. Oh, and my favourite, putting the plus sized store next to a Woman’s Only gym…really? That actually offends me…it seems to happen all the time.

    • violetyoshi permalink
      August 24, 2012 10:55 am

      I’ve noticed that they manage to make fashionable plus size clothing in the UK, but in America really all there is, is Torrid. Guess American clothing companies don’t realize they’re behind the times. People aren’t starving themselves anymore to look fashionable, being healthy is what the trend is now!

  9. lordhellebore permalink
    August 24, 2012 9:32 am

    ‘It’s as if the store is saying “Look, we haven’t forgotten you fatties, but we don’t want anyone to notice we actually sell big sizes, so try not to be too conspicuous.”’

    Exactly. It almost feels to me as if they’re trying to show that, “Hey, we don’t condone being fat, don’t get the wrong message here! We’re not one of THOSE shops that make their money primarily on people being fat and sick and ugly.” Now, this might just be over-interpretation on my part, but it’s the rather hurtful feeling I get from too many shops with tiny plus size sections, and calling your plus size label “Big is Beautiful” or anything along those lines does nothing to help as long as clothes my size (if they exist) are stuffed into a cupboard-like freak section people should rather not see too much of.

    • August 29, 2012 12:43 pm

      Yeah the size prejudice is so ingrained, they don’t want to sell decent looking nice clothes. I always feel like we are an afterthought, and when I was midsized, the clothes were hidden away in the corner.

  10. The Real Cie permalink
    August 25, 2012 1:32 am

    Agree with all the comments about fabrics and fit. I’m not saying that no plus size woman should wear low rise pants, but THIS plus size woman hates them. Many women my size have a bit of a “kangaroo pouch,” especially after having kids. I have a c-section scar, and even after nearly 23 years, it’s still uncomfortable to have something pressing against it, which means the waist band of low rise pants just sucks rocks. Not to mention the fact that I’m afraid of hanging a moon any time I bend over wearing those stupid things. Of course I had this same fear when I was 13 years old and much smaller than I am now.
    I like natural fabric (cotton) or at least a good blend. I end up wearing a lot of colorful t shirts. One thing that drives me nuts too is the little “girly” sleeves on many women’s t shirts these days. I like an actual SLEEVE. This especially drives me crazy when looking for scrub tops, which I have to buy a size up so it doesn’t look like I’m wearing a tank top and to avoid binding at the armpit. Grrrr….

    • August 25, 2012 11:23 am

      I hear you on the low rise pants thing. In addition to being plus size, I’m taller with a longer torso — and I carry a lot of my relative volume in my hips and butt. All this makes low rise pants even lower rise on me. I’ve not yet met the pair that covers my butt crack.

    • fatology101 permalink
      August 25, 2012 7:31 pm

      I agree, I hate low rise pants. I am top heavy and they fall down all the time. I need one hand free just to keep them up. I have been able to find more at the natural waist lately. Im happy for that. And to be honest, I dont like seeing butt cracks on others, yes I look away, but I dont like it in the first place. Man or Woman. LOL

      • lifeonfats permalink
        August 26, 2012 10:45 am

        I’m taller with a long torso as well and low-rise is uncomfortable for me as well. I prefer natural waistlines because they’re higher and hold my stomach in. I’m glad higher waists are coming back, because for the longest time all you would see is low rise, even in work pants, and I don’t really think it’s professional to have butt crack show on the job, unless it calls for it. 😉

    • thegoddessishtar permalink
      August 26, 2012 12:55 pm

      I’m a long torso with a bigger belly and smaller breasts…so short tops, low rise pants and anything that isn’t loosely made so I can buy a smaller size to fit my top is out of the question. And Low rise…dear lord…I don’t want to be a fashion nazi but I’m sick of seeing people’s underwear when they just walk down the street and don’t get me started on the ones who don’t wear any undies…not a thong, no undies…seriously…put on some underwear at least….sheesh!

  11. August 29, 2012 1:44 pm

    You know…you would think their logic would be to give us more lusher built women nicer clothes to wear…that way we could cover up better…seriously…do they really want to see us naked? *LOL*…sorry, my bad attempt at humour……

    • fatology101 permalink
      August 29, 2012 5:52 pm

      Janet, funny, your attempt at humor is good. I must have the same sense of humor as you. Since 1960’s it has been said thirty three percent of people are fat, above size 14. Now there is an epidemic that 33% of people are size 14 or larger. Wow, look out. So, that is a lot of clothes and profit. Watch out, obesity may go up to 33% soon. My attempt at humor.

  12. Sparkkeh permalink
    September 19, 2012 1:38 pm

    I love my (size 32T) jeans! I practically live in them. And let me tell you, my summer clothes (flowy skirts and tank tops) didn’t get worn this year because trying to keep up with a toddler while wearing a skirt? Yeah NO. I’m out there in my jeans and t-shirts rolling around in the grass, climbing on the playground equipment, mocking his tantrums by throwing myself flat into the grass next to him…. and I can’t have my skirt flying up to show my pretty panties to the whole neighborhood. Jeans are sturdy and match every kind of shirt, and can be dressed a little up or down, flip flops or heeled booties. So you don’t like my body in jeans? DON’T LOOK. I promise, I won’t notice.

  13. Kora Zinger permalink
    June 17, 2013 7:01 pm

    I dunno. I see these threads are over a year old, and I STILL absolutely love, adore, and can’t get enough of bright colors, prints, tons and tons of ruffles, sequins and other things like that. This year, after discovering all these wonderful online sites that sell really cool graphic tees (like Threadless, Woot, etc), I came back to graphic tees with a vengeance; I also finally embraced tunics – and you know what, as a short fat woman, I think I look better in a tunic or short dress with slim pants than I do in other things. I do not think I am particularly untrendy – even though I am a bit older than some women who posted here a year ago. The only thing I really do not do is jeans. My stomach is so huge (and legs short), it is hard to find something that fits; more importantly, I got way too spoiled by all the stretchy knit fabrics (now the absolute core of my wardrobe) that are so nice and comfortable.

    Believe it or not, most clothes I own, I actually buy at HSN (and suits and blazers at Talbot’s). But if you don’t like ruffles, bright prints, sequins, tunics and stretchy poly fabrics, you probably would not like HSN… Still, do check out Carolyn Strauss and Slinky Brands on there.


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