By: Yolanda Williams, Owner of Just Curves
Picking fitness apparel for a plus size body isn’t that much different than shopping for straight sizes. More plus size active apparel lines are popping up every day, offering stylish and functional workout clothes for bigger bodies, but like any clothing, the fit is not universal. Your size 18 body is different than mine, which is why it’s important to do your due diligence to find clothing that fits YOUR body. Here are five things to keep in mind when shopping for fitness apparel:
Some of the best plus size active apparel are online, but big box stores are starting to recognize that we exist (Finally!) and have stepped up their active wear game. If you find some cute clothes in your size in one of these stores, do not, I repeat, do not leave until you’ve tried them on. For me, the issue wasn’t finding the clothes; it was the fit. Most of these stores do not cut their clothing for bigger bodies, so you’ll find low-rise waistbands and weirdly placed pockets that only make sense on smaller bodies.
Try everything on and if it doesn’t fit, don’t feel bad. There are plenty of Indie Designers like Just Curves that design with your curves in mind.
Choose quality over fashion. I’m not going to name any names here, but fast fashion has confused many people into thinking that the primary goal of active apparel is style. Lies…all lies! The main goal is function. Those super fashionable pants with the sheer panels that cost $29.95 look great in and out of the gym. But after a few washes you’ll notice wearing, tearing, and probably thinning of the fabric. These clothes were not made for working out; they were made for fashion. Find a retailer that takes care of both. My primary goal with Just Curves was to create a functional piece of clothing that allowed women to workout without worrying about mooning the entire gym and still manage to be stylish. Small retailers such as myself have mastered the art of designing functional, fashionable pieces of high-quality that will last as your body changes. They may cost a bit more, but in the end, you’re buying something that will last your for months, if not years, versus, having to buy cheap pants three or four times throughout the year.
Tailor your clothing to your workout. If you’re going to be training for a 5k or starting a walking regimen, look for compression garments with breathability and moisture-wicking properties. If you’re getting your dance on in Zumba, pick clothing that allows you to have some freedom of movement like Harem pants. If you’re a budding yogi, choose apparel with lots of stretch, so they move with you.
Fit is key! Once you find your style, take some time to figure out the fit. Nothing sucks worse than trying to workout while tugging and pulling on your pants. That’s why I designed the ONEder Suit. It allows you to focus on your workout instead of pulling your pants up, no matter your body shape.
If the ONEder Suit isn’t your thing, find pants that have a high waistband, and interlock seams that lay flat, so they’re not rubbing and chafing while you workout. Even if you order online, make sure to try everything on before you workout. Most small retailers won’t let you return worn clothing. Try it on, do a few squats in the mirror to make sure there isn’t any skin showing through. Remember, every size from every retailer is different. You may be a size 18 at one store and a size 22 at another. Forget about the size and focus on the fit. Would you rather squeeze into something that you feel uncomfortable in because it’s smaller or would you rather find something that fits you like a glove and boosts your confidence?
Add your personality! You have a unique style so show that off in your workout clothes. Whether it’s with pops of color, animal print, or funny t-shirts, allow your personality to shine through while you workout. Pick basics like black yoga pants to have as a staple, then find fun shirts, jackets, and accessories to complete the look.
You deserve to feel good about yourself and your clothes no matter your size. Someone once told me that they didn’t want to spend the money on their gym clothes because they were going to lose weight anyway. That’s the same as saying, “this body I have right now, does not deserve high-quality, fashionable active apparel.” That couldn’t be further from the truth.
All of this, from the clothes to the gym membership, is an investment in yourself. It’s a proven fact that feeling confident in your clothes while you work out makes exercising more fun and helps you stick with it longer. When you look in the mirror, you feel something about your clothing, and when other people see you, they feel something about you as well. What story is your gym clothes telling?