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What Brands Can Do to Make Plus-Size Shoppers Happy

from left to right: dress with cape, $70.36, asos curve, my.luckymag.com; lace cocktail dress, $488, david meister, my.luckymag.com; pencil skirt in baroque chain, $21.66, asos curve, my.luckymag.com; shawl-collar tuxedo blazer, $74, INC International Concepts, macys.com

In recent years, there have been tremendous strides in plus size apparel. We have more options and variety to choose from, and clothing is more readily available, at least on the internet. However, manufacturers still have a long way to go. If you’re a retailer looking to jump into the plus size market, take note. Here are just a few of the things that drive me crazy, and what you should do to make plus size shoppers happy.

First, recognize how your choices affect the plus size consumer. Do you refuse to carry larger sizes in-store? Or if you do carry larger sizes, do you hide them in the back of the store? Why? This says to the consumer that our bodies are embarrassing to you, even though you’re willing to take our money. This can’t possibly be an effective way to win customers. Understand that plus size bodies can be much more difficult to fit than our slimmer sisters because of our lumps and bumps. We HAVE to try clothes on. If you make larger sizes, PLEASE carry them in store. If you show us some love, we’ll show it right back with our wallets.

However, if you make those larger sizes simply by adding fabric to your smaller sizes, please don’t expect us to be grateful and buy your clothing in droves. Similarly, don’t just take your shorts and T-shirts and make them capris and ¾ sleeve-length T-shirts. Covering up more skin and refusing to adjust the cut of clothing for our differently-shaped bodies smacks of fat-shaming, and I won’t have it. Take the time to become familiar with ACTUAL plus-size bodies and learn what we need in our clothes, like wider straps, different cuts to accommodate our bumps, and sturdier fabrics, and again, we’ll be there, with credit cards in hand!

If you insist on selling your clothes online only, then please put the clothes on women who look like me so I can see what the clothes will look like when I get them home. Get your customers to model the clothes! Embrace your clientele!

That’s a sort of vicious cycle in which many plus-size women get caught. We buy the clothes available to us in stores, even though they’re unflattering and unattractive, because they’re the only ones we can find. Manufacturers see that we buy those clothes, so they keep making them, so we keep buying them, and so on. When will retailers step forward and break the cycle of ugly clothes? Stop with the draping, flowy fabrics. The bedazzling so bright it blinds the eye in an attempt to disguise what’s underneath. The dark, monotone colors that even funeral directors would reject. The constant efforts to HIDE plus-size women’s bodies from themselves and from the world. Your problem with my body is just that. YOUR problem. Keep it to yourself. I’ve got clothes to buy and money to spend. Though not at your store as long as you’re part of the problem.

When you decide to be a part of the solution, let me know. I’ll bring my wallet.

Follow Becca at @tigerpantss.

 

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