Shopping for clothes has never been my favorite activity. Most retailers don’t offer plus sizes lines, and often those that do only sell them online. Local options are even more limited. There are a few places in the nearby malls to buy clothing, but many of those seem to stock items better suited to
older more mature women. I’m just not ready to start dressing in ugly prints and polyester stretch pants!
Because of the lack of variety, online shopping has always been the way I acquire the majority of my clothes. I’ve been a size 24 for over 10 years, so I’ve gotten a good handle on sizing for the online retailers I frequent. I know I’m a 1x in Full Beauty brands. I know I’m a size 3 at Torrid. I know to size down at Asos, putting me in their size 22. I know which cuts of jeans at Old Navy fit me best. The problem is that I’m no longer a size 24…and clothing shopping has become a nightmare!
Retailers generally offer measurements to guide sizing, but those usually leave me scratching my head. I’m not sure how to handle a guideline that tells me I wear 4 different sizes, especially when some of those sizes are larger than I wore before I starting losing weight. For instance, one retailer says that according to measurements, I should be wearing a size 28 in their jeans, but I have those same jeans in a size 22 (purchased a couple months ago) and they are starting to feel loose. What a confusing mess!
I have had some luck simply sizing down, but even that is a hit and miss option. Doing returns for online stuff can get expensive, as not all retailers offer free returns. It can take several weeks to get a return processed, meaning the money I spent is in limbo during that time. When doing an exchange for a different size, things often sell out and I’m left with nothing. Given all this craziness, I’ve been forced to resort to nearby stores.
It might sound crazy to some, but there are actually really cute things to be found places like Walmart and Kmart. I even sometimes find pretty and cheap things at Family Dollar! Places like this also let me try out a variety of sizes without any hassle. The lady at the Walmart dressing room doesn’t bat an eyelash when I enter a fitting room with the same dress in 3 sizes. The fitting room at Kmart doesn’t even have a worker, so I can try on as many things as I want.
Doing this also tends to give me a better idea on sizing and how styles fit my changing body. I can see that my stomach is shaped a little differently, that my hips are a little smaller, but sometimes it’s hard to visualize what those changes look like in a fitted dress or a pair of jeans. I also like knowing how close I am to dropping another size.
Now at a 22 in bottoms, I’m still wearing a 22/24 in most tops, which is the size I was when I started. I have tried things on that are an 18/20, but those are still too small. The smaller pants size is definitely rewarding, but it would be nice to be down a full size in all things.
A few days ago, I was browsing in the plus section at Walmart. I tried on a few things, including some dresses, but there was nothing I really loved. As I walked past ladies’ wear, I noticed a rack of cute summer dresses. I shuffled through them a bit, thinking I’d maybe be able to wear one before summer was over. That’s when I noticed that the sizing went up to an XXL, a 20. I grabbed a dress from the hanger and headed back to the fitting room.
I was expecting the dress to be too small. I was expecting it to be tight in the hips and stomach. I was expecting it look awful. My expectations were completely wrong.
The dress was a perfect fit. I may have squealed a little, pumped my fist, and felt a ridiculous amount of happiness over a dress that was $9.94.
I haven’t been able to fit into something from the ladies’ section since high school. Even then, most of my clothing came from the junior plus section at JCPenney; fitting into standard sizes was still hit and miss. In my adult life, I’ve never been able to just go to the mall, walk into any store, and find something that fits me. I can’t imagine what that is even going to feel like.
What I do know is that I am going to get to experience that. I’m not there yet, and it might take another 3 months or another 6 months, but I will get there. I refuse to stop. I refuse to let myself down like I have in the past. Until then, you’ll find me in the ladies’ section at Walmart, thrilled to be able to fit into the largest size.