If you are a plus sized girl living in a single-digit size world like I am, then you know how difficult it can be to find cute, trendy clothing. I’m not sure who told clothing designers that if your size is in the double-digits, you just want to wear large tarps with flower or animal prints on them, but they have been misinformed. I have to admit that things have improved over the last 5 years or so, but we still have quite a ways to go.
Still, there are some die-hard plus-size clothing stores that have hit the mark (some more than others). Some of them have been with us forever, and others are new to the scene.
Here’s a review of some of the better-known plus size retailers:
1. Ashley Stewart
Price: Medium to High
via: Instagram | Ashley Stewart
Ashley Stewart has been with us since 1991. For a while, they were on the brink of going out of business. After filing for bankruptcy, the company finally put new higher-ups in place to turn the company around, and they have done an excellent job. I stopped shopping at Ashley Stewart for years because they just weren’t keeping up with the times. Their clothing was outdated and more for church ladies than for 20 or even 30-somethings. Within the past year or so, they have definitely won back my business. Ashley Stewart is now keeping up with the times, appealing to a younger demographic, but still keeping its older customer base in mind. Their clothing is much more diverse now than ever before. They have everything you can think of, from little black dresses to jeggings to wide-width shoes. The sizes are fairly accurate and the clothing is super cute. The website is user-friendly and they have a wide selection both online and in stores. The prices can get a little high, but for quality plus size clothing, you’re going to pay no matter where you go. My advice: sign up for their email list and catch one of their many sales.
Price: Medium to High
via: Instagram | Torrid Fashion
Torrid is my spot! I live there for about 50% of my life. Founded by the Hot Topic chain in 2001, Torrid is so youthful and trendy, and definitely geared toward a younger customer base (18-35). If you are lucky enough to have a brick-and-mortar store in your area, you will see that the sales chicks are often tastefully tattooed, pierced, and/or have brightly colored hair. They proudly wear the stores clothing (much of which has pretty, colorful skulls printed on it), which is great because you can see up close and personal what the clothing looks like on a real woman. The shopping experience is awesome. If you don’t have a store near you, they also have a user-friendly website with a wide selection. They even carry Halloween costumes and cosplay dresses. Like Ashley Stewart, pricing can get high, but the clothing is high quality. My advice: sign up online to join their mailing list so you will receive generous coupons and be notified when they have flash sales online.
Although Fashion to Figure has been around since 2002, I just became aware of this plus size clothing chain within the past year when one opened in my local mall. Interestingly enough, the store was co-founded by the great-grandsons of Lena Bryant, founder of Lane Bryant (plus size store aimed at an older demographic). Fashion to Figure’s biggest positive point is that the prices are awesome! Most items are well below $50. But there are some negative points as well. First, jeans are a staple to everyone, not just plus size women, so it is extremely important that a retailer gets jeans right. FTF misses the mark with most of their jeans, as they are not very flattering to the plus size shape (in my opinion). The website (which looks a little bootleg) does not have a large selection, especially when compared to the other plus size retailers. The local store that I have gone to has a weird (not wide, weird) selection of clothing that goes from one extreme to the other. Everything looks like it is either for church ladies or for professional club hoppers - almost nothing in between. On one occasion, I did find a beautiful dark blue skater dress, which they call a flare dress, but that was a rare occasion. Things are just too hit-or-miss at this store for me. Last, call me petty, but their website’s models are not always what I would consider plus size. I prefer to see the clothing on plus size models because it gives me a better idea of what the clothing will look like on me. My advice: maybe avoid this one.
4. Forever 21
via: Instagram | Forever 21 Plus
Although this is not a plus size store, they have a pretty good plus size section, both in stores and online. The prices are almost too good to be true, until you realize that the quality is not as good as you’d like it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I shop here and I like the clothing. Just know that the clothing may not last longer than a few months to a year. I mean, you get what you pay for. But it’s a fun ride while it lasts! The clothing is very cute and trendy, mostly appealing to a younger demographic (20’s and early 30’s). My advice: the clothing is not always true to size (usually runs a little too small), so know that if you decide to shop online, you may have to do an exchange.
Overall, my top pick is Torrid. However, I also frequent Ashley Stewart and Forever 21, depending on my mood. Fashion to Figure has its place in society, just not in my closet. Still, I am so happy that we now live in a world where plus size retail stores even exist and are thriving. Happy shopping!
Cover Image via ShutterStock