What you learn shopping as a plus size lady

When you are a plus size woman, the journey towards buying attractive clothes that fit you well can be strewn with awkward pitfalls. At times, it can feel like certain retailers – particularly on the high street – don’t even realise that larger ladies exist, judging from what clothes are in stock.

Before you go out shopping for some plus size attire, heed the following warnings. In doing so, you could save yourself much time and anguish – and get your hands on the best clothes for you.

What you learn shopping as a plus size lady

Not everyone knows what “plus size” actually is

What exactly constitutes “plus size”? You might think you know, but one survey reported by the Mirror suggests that it isn’t easy to pin down a precise definition. While a third of UK women reckon plus size starts at size 18, some UK retailers include size 14 clothes in their “bigger” ranges.

Meanwhile, 27% of women put the starting point at size 16. It’s seemingly a matter of perspective, as women between dress sizes six and 12 are the likeliest to put size 16 in the plus size category.

Slim ladies overestimate the availability of plus size clothes

According to the same survey, 57% of ladies believe that high street stores meet plus size needs. However, the views of 64% of size 20 and 67% of size 22 respondents did not align with this.

Due to this large discrepancy in perceptions of plus size clothing availability, it probably wouldn’t be the best idea for you to ask your slim friends for advice on buying such attire.

Many high street stores don’t stock any plus size clothes

Jonatha Kottler has reported this in a piece for The Guardian. As a woman whose UK size is 24, she recalled when, at a John Lewis store in Edinburgh, her friend Felicity “asks a woman briskly folding things where to find plus sizes. She says there aren’t any sizes that big in the shop at all.”

Felicity resorted to taking Jonatha to the haberdashery department and pledging to make her a dress instead. If this kind of thing happens to you, this remedy could be just a “make-do” situation.

Learning your exact size can be tricky

One especially big problem with the scarcity of plus size clothing on the high street is that it prevents you even being able to try anything on and so accurately judge your dress size.

Jonatha has described how, when in a Marks & Spencer shop, she chose size 18 jeans – the largest she could find – and tried them on to estimate, from how high she could pull them up her legs, which size of clothing to order. Still, it isn’t just in a high street shop that you can order clothing…

Online, the plus size clothes available are reassuringly varied. If you aren’t sure where to start with your online search, head to Ashleigh Plus Size, a site which lets you easily narrow down your search to particular categories of clothing and specific retailers.