I recently had a high school classmate, who happened to be small in high school, say she couldn’t find boots to fit her calves –been there done that! So it dawned on me that some of us plus women who have been plus all our lives know some tricks of the trade, some shopping secrets, or just everyday living tricks someone who recently gained weight may not know. So here are a few insider secrets to being full figured.
Shapers – Whether you’re a size 2 or 28, every woman should wear a shaper. It’s not just about making you look slimmer, it also makes your clothing look smoother and more flattering on your body. There are shapers you can wear daily, which I highly recommend for all plus ladies, and there are shapers plus models should invest in for photo shoots. Example brands are Spanx, Kymaro, Miraclesuit and Body Magic.
Wide Calves in boots – I can’t begin to tell you how many boots I’ve had to return to catalog companies because the “extra wide” really wasn’t. Unfortunately there aren’t many shoe stores that carry size 11 especially in boots. The secret is to buy Torrid or Cloudwalkers, the brand Avenue carries. Both brands carry boots in extra wide. I’ve found that with Torrid you can even go down a size sometimes, because their shoes are made specifically for plus women, so the extended calf is built in.
Speaking of shoes – Did you know that some stores have larger sizes in the back? Down here in Florida, years ago, someone tipped me off that Burdines had a back wall of nothing but 11’s. All you had to do was ask and they’d let you go. I was amazed. So don’t let the department stores fool you. When I go into a new shoe store I immediately ask what the highest size they carry is so I don’t get frustrated or discouraged when every shoe I pick up doesn’t come in my size.
Catalog shopping – I know a lot of people hate catalog shopping because we all like to try our clothes on before making a purchase. However, I recommend catalog shopping. Once you order from a couple of companies you start to learn how their clothes are cut and what you do or don’t like. I tend to just order my tops through catalogs, I’ve had too many issues ordering bottoms. Another reason to do catalog shopping: there are many special offers to “buy now, pay later”. Warning though: don’t forget to mark down when that charge will debit from your account so you don’t mess up your budget.
Wal-mart – I was shocked to find out that people are just discovering Wal-mart’s plus section. I absolutely love their selection. Rarely do I go in and not purchase clothing. From casual to dressy to lingerie, do not sleep on Wal-mart. The prices are affordable, they have layaway if you need it, and it’s stylish too. My first corset with garter belt and stockings came from Wal-mart of all places, so again…don’t sleep on Wal-mart.
Airlines – Do not be shocked if you are asked to pay for 2 seats the next time you fly. Some airlines like Southwest, now use their discretion to decide who has to buy 2 seats. They say it’s for the comfort of the other passengers, but what about your comfort as a human being. Wouldn’t it be better for them to say “Hey, guess what, we’re going to upgrade you to a business class seat.” That way you are not humiliated because they think there will be spillage. I personally haven’t had to go through this, but I know people who have, and trust me there is no nice way to ask someone to purchase 2 seats when they are traveling alone.
People – Lets face the facts, the world isn’t always kind to us so when you go to eat at a fast food restaurant don’t be surprised that people stare at what you’re putting into your mouth. My little brother and I were out at an IHOP and when a heavy set guy had a burger and fries my brother commented how that can’t be healthy. I told him it’s a myth that plus people eat a lot and at all times. I said that may have been his first meal of the day, you don’t know. I also saw a friend on Facebook post a status saying this plus girl coming out of a store knew she should have been carrying an Avenue bag instead. Again, people will assume things so don’t let it bother you. I mean how does she know if this woman bought something for herself or for someone else? Also, depending on the cut, there are many stores where XL will fit a plus size woman. I used to shop at Gap and Eddie Bauer and had no problems wearing their XL comfortably. Don’t get frustrated or discouraged. Keep your head up and let them stay in their ignorance.
Hygiene and Health – Don’t feel that with anything you do, you’re the only one doing it. I know many plus women that carry washcloths in their purses or take multiple showers during the summer, because they sweat. We have extra rolls, extra cushion, and sometimes we need to go the extra mile. There is nothing we go through that you should feel bad about or ashamed of. Yes, your doctor may give you a lecture for gaining weight but if your doctor is more worried about your weight than diagnosing a problem, it may be time to search for a new doctor. Yes, at times weight contributes to health issues, but there are times were a sneeze is a sneeze and a cough is a cough. Years ago I fell running up the wooden steps in our old house coming down hard on both knees. I never went to the doctor for fear of hearing the same thing I heard for 15 years of my life, “lose weight”. I knew the pain I was feeling and the swelling was not due to my weight but I never went. So last year, when I bent down to strike a pose during a photo shoot, I was completely surprised when both knees popped out of place and I couldn’t get back up. Now, because I didn’t seek medical attention years ago, my knees will occasionally pop in and out of place doing the simplest thing like getting off the couch or out of bed. It’s my own fault, I have no one else to blame. I just got so tired of hearing that everything was my weight’s fault. Now I’m paying for a bad decision I made years ago.
Nightlife – Just because you put on a few pounds does not mean you have to stay home. In fact it is just the opposite. I am surprised that many people don’t realize how many plus size organizations, clubs and night spots exist. It’s a beautiful thing to see the plus community out enjoying themselves. Do some research. There are even a few sites online that list BBW events. There are BBW cruises, vacations, and parties going on all across the U.S. They cater specifically to us so go out and enjoy.
Make the look for less – If you’re good with a needle and thread, may I suggest making the look for less. Contrary to store markups on larger sized clothing, it really doesn’t cost much to make a larger size. I know several plus women that go to fabric stores, catch a good sale on fabric, find a pattern and make the outfit themselves. There are a lot of patterns that come in plus sizes. Did you know body forms also come in plus sizes? It’s a little more of an upfront expense, but worth it if you’re going to make outfits regularly. Keep this in mind when you go shopping and see something you really like but not in your size. My grandmother was the queen of altering. Whether she had to take it in or let it out, if she liked it, she bought it.
These suggestions are only the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure many of you ladies have more. So get online, join the community and share your tips. There are many things that might be natural to someone who has always been plus versus someone who gained weight in college or after having kids, so why not share? We can all learn from each other. This is your welcome kit and your membership card is in your curves. As the Venus motto goes “thrive” in them!