(This article was originally written by me, and appeared on Refinery29. You can read the original here.)
We know how tough shopping can be when you’re plus-size. Some stores think that just because you’re bigger, you’re shaped like a box and want to spend your life frumping around in a big black sack. Thankfully, more and more companies are wising up, so — good news — there’s been an increase of plus-size-specific stores (both brick & mortar and online) and an expansion of sizes within existing brands (like GAP, ModCloth, etc.).
But now that there are even more options for full figure fashion than ever before, plus-size women are finding themselves with a new challenge: how to wear those styles that they never even had the option of before! But before you get flustered, take a moment and heed our body-positive style advice. Soon enough, you might even find yourself in a crop top!
Make A Point To Show Off Your Best Assets
Everyone has a part of their body they like to show off. If you worship your waist, bring in the focus by cinching your middle with a beautiful belt. If you love your legs, show them off with patterned or colorful shorts and skirts. Adore your arms? Stick with sleeveless shirts that let them take focus.
Head Online To Expand Your Range
While many “straight-size” brands keep their stock below a size 14 in stores, their size range can be more expansive online. Gap offers up to a size 20, Old Navy goes up to size 30, and department stores like Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and Macy’s offer up to a size 24W online. Also, U.K.-based stores like ASOS Curve, Evans, and Dorothy Perkins offer shipping perks if you spend above a certain amount of money, so you don’t have to deal with pesky international charges.
Build Your Foundation The Smart Way
If you want to let it all hang out, that’s your prerogative, but if you’re looking for a smooth silhouette, you should invest in the right shapewear. From high-waist thigh trimmers to stomach-slimming tank tops, there’s a plethora of plus-size shapewear styles available both online and in store.
Additionally, more than 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size, and the more of a fuller figure or fuller bust you have, the more obvious it is when you’re stuffed in the wrong size. Take a trip to a specialty bra store or to the lingerie department of a major department store and get a proper bra fitting. Can’t make it into a store? Websites like Bare Necessities can help fit you over the phone (and their bras go up to a 56 band & N cup)!
We also have to talk about Chub Rub. It isn’t fun; it can ruin summer outfits, and if your thighs touch — regardless of your size — you’ve had to deal with this problem especially in hot weather. Whether you’d prefer to slip on some lightweight SPANX, pull on an anti-chafing thigh band, or use an anti-chafe gel, there’s no reason you have to suffer.
Doesn’t Fit Quite Right? Tailor It So It Does
So, you find a hot dress that fits your hips but is too baggy in the waist…get thee to a tailor, ASAP! It’s challenging to find a perfect fit, but a tailor can make an off-the-rack item look custom-made for your curves (which is also a great tip to making a dirt-cheap item look expensive).
Don’t Be Scurred, It’s Only Patterns!
With more trendy styles in stores than ever before, there is no excuse to hide your curves in another black wrap dress. Embrace colors and patterns — yes, you can wear stripes (in any direction), polka dots, floral and more! Loud prints can bring emphasis to the area you wear them, so pay attention to where you’re wearing your prints. If you’ve got a great ass, there’s nothing sexier than a high-waisted printed pencil skirt. If you want to direct attention to your décolletage, try out a printed blouse or tank.
Find Inspiration From Other Plus-Size Pros
The internet is filled with amazing plus-size bloggers (ahem, like yours truly) who not only have amazing personal style but are more likely to resemble your body type than the average plus-size model. Whether you’re a size 14 or a size 30, apple-shaped or hourglass, ultra-girly or super-edgy, there’s a style blog that can speak to you! Find a blog that speaks to you and mine them for visual inspiration (don’t forget to check out the comments suggestions for even more info!).
Dare To Wear…Everything!
Forget all those antiquated rules that say only specific body types can wear certain types of clothing; from crop tops and jumpsuits to bikinis and body-con dresses, plus-size women can pull off any trend! It’s all about finding the right size, cut and style that fits and flatters your curves. Again, plus-size bloggers can help you with specific styling dilemmas, but there’s really nothing like just trying things on. In order to rock the ish out of a certain trend, you need to give yourself the opportunity to try it out first.