Plus-Size Shopping Guide

A marginalized group people often don’t immediately think of when we’re discussing DEIA topics is one that I myself belong to: plus-sized folks. My personal identity has been shaped by my experience as a plus-size woman and, at times, my size has even directed my life in one way or another.

As a member of this community, one of the questions I see out in the world is: where can I shop that will cater to me, where I won’t need to beg to be seen? And while I may work as a software consultant and DEIA advocate now, in a past life, I was a fashion fangirl and plus-size retail manager of many years. So instead of consistently repeating comments on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok posts, I present to you: My End-All Plus-Size Shopping Guide.

In the guide below, I have provided a list of stores that offer size options above a size 14 (commonly used as the delineation between “straight sizing” and “plus sizing”–we’ll save the commentary on why those terms suck for another day). Please feel free to use the “Contact Me” section of the website or comments below for any comments, feedback, or additions you’d like to see!

!!* This List is under construction! Keep checking back as I add more detail! *!!

Shops A-Z

A Beautiful Soul (by Altar’d State)

Shop Type: Brick-and-Mortar, Online
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$
Allie’s Rating: 4/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes: Altar’d State is a Christian-/faith-based company, so you will find cutesy faith-based products aplenty in their “home” section, but shopping there (as an agnostic/atheist myself), I have never felt pressured.

Anthropologie

Shop Type: Online (plus usually not in stores)
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$$
Allie’s Rating: 3/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes: Anthropologie has come under fire in recent years for two things: racist behavior from store employees, and for stealing designs. While the brand apologized for stealing a specific design in 2018, they have not issued a public statement about design theft accusations in 2021. For claims of racist store practices, Anthropologie issued a 2020 statement denying any policies that encourage racist behavior, and claiming no knowledge of store-level behaviors.

ASOS

Shop Type: Online
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$
Allie’s Rating: 4/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Athleta

Shop Type: Brick-and-Mortar, Online
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$
Allie’s Rating: 4/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes: Athleta is a certified B Corp, which is a level of certification for businesses that mean specific social and environmental standards. Note that when shopping online, your package will not come with a packing slip–the outside of the bag is your receipt.

Cake Plus-Size Resale

Shop Type: Small Business, Brick-and-Mortar, Online, Instagram
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $
Allie’s Rating: 5/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes: Cake works to be intentionally mindful, at all times, of inclusion, environmental practices, ethical business practices, and access for all. They’re my only 5/5 for a reason.

Eloquii

Shop Type: Brick-and-Mortar, Online
Largest Size Offered: US 28 (61-55-64)
Price Range: $$$
Allie’s Rating: 4/5
General Comments: Eloquii is a good, solid choice for clothing from the just-above-casual to the formal. While store locations are few and far between, Eloquii has really built up their online/dropship model, and in recent years, they’ve lowered their core price points. And when you can shop during a big sale, you can really score.
Design and Quality: Eloquii designs for us. They design for plus bodies specifically, and they do so in a fashion-forward way. Every item of clothing I’ve ever gotten from Eloquii has been so, so quality, which in many ways has justified the prices for me, since some things are definitely out of my price range. I’m impressed that Eloquii has hung around this long, because so many brands try but then abandon the plus-size ship because it can be tough to get going. I’m happy Eloquii has stayed the course, and can provide you with truly fashionable options on the more formal end of the spectrum.
Inclusion: As usual, we always wish a brand would go above a 28. Since Lane Bryant set that standard as the “high end” of plus size retail over a decade ago, many shops will limit themselves. BUT, Eloquii does hire diverse models (and actually features them), and while on their website, we don’t see too many bodies above a size 18, they do regularly feature a wide variety of body shapes and sizes on social media. As with many shops, why do we see no disabled models? Eloquii is a plus-forward brand (designed for plus), meaning you don’t need to go to a specific section of the website to shop.
Ethical Shopping Notes: None at the moment.

Fabletics

Shop Type: Brick-and-Mortar, Online, Subscription
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$
Allie’s Rating: 2/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes: 2021 has heralded many claims of factory worker abuse at Fabletics, and the brand is currently investigating after halting production at the factory in question.

Fashion2Figure

Shop Type: Online
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$$
Allie’s Rating: 3/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Hey Mavens

Shop Type: Small Business, Online
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$
Allie’s Rating: 5/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

J. Crew

Shop Type: Brick-and-Mortar, Online
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$$
Allie’s Rating: 3/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Lane Bryant

Shop Type: Brick-and-Mortar, Online
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$
Allie’s Rating: 2/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Loud Bodies

Shop Type: Small Business, Online
Largest Size Offered: 10X+ (they will custom-create any size needed at no extra cost)
Price Range: $$$$
Allie’s Rating: 4/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes: Loud Bodies is especially focused on sustainability in fashion, so your garments are made as sustainably as possible (read the info on their website!), and they adhere to ethical labor standards.

Lululemon

Shop Type: Online (plus not in most stores)
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$$
Allie’s Rating: 1/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Madewell

Shop Type: Online (plus usually not in stores)
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$$
Allie’s Rating: 4/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Modcloth

Shop Type: Online
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$
Allie’s Rating: 4/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Nerecina Couture:

Shop Type: Small Business, Online
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$$$$
Allie’s Rating: 4/5
General Comments: First off, the *only* reason this get’s a 4/5 is because it can be cost-prohibitive to some folks. Everything else, knocked outta the park.
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Old Navy

Shop Type: Online (plus not in most stores)
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $
Allie’s Rating: 3/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Shein

Shop Type: Online
Largest Size Offered: 4X (52-56-60) – This Varies WILDLY
Price Range: $
Allie’s Rating: 1/5
General Comments: The first time you discover Shein, it seems like a dream come true. Low, low prices combined with style that folks who are a size 2 have always had access to–finally, we have an opportunity to be sexy, too! But for me, the drawbacks of Shein (see quality and ethical shopping notes) are not worth the purchase. I will also note that returning items to them can be nightmarish, and the experience you receive can be very hit-or-miss, as consistency seems to be one of the brand’s weaknesses.
Design and Quality: Generally, the style you have access to on Shein is exactly what a young, confident plus-size woman wants to find–sexy styles, just what you would see in a straight-size store, that haven’t been altered for a plus-size version to cover up more. However, in my experiences, the design isn’t there. While most of the size ranges do have items up to a 4X, most of them will still fit very snug, and you can tell that the items were designed for straight sizes, and simply scaled up. The quality is another consistency issue. I’ve received items from Shein which were exactly what I’d ordered, great quality for the price, but I’ve also received items from Shein that were a Wish-style nightmare: cheap materials, falling apart, and not even the color shown. Sizing will be very different depending on the manufacturer–so check those size charts. Shein is what I would label a purchase-at-your-own-risk enterprise.
Inclusion: I give Shein a big fat goose egg for Inclusion. When models are pictured on the website, while we do have a teeny amount of diversity, it’s what I would call “palatable diversity,” meaning, for example, that Shein chose models who are not technically white, but all of their models still have the same look. Their Instagram only shows diversity when they are posting the images from one of their collabs (so I give credit to the partner designer), and all body types are the same. Additionally, you do need to go to the separate “Curve & Plus” tab on the website to shop.
Ethical Shopping Notes: Shein has been accused time and time again for stealing the designs of small businesses, and particularly those of non-white designers. If you have the means to do so, I recommend shopping other, smaller brands. One very important thing to note about Shein is that it makes fashion that would be otherwise unattainable for folks very cost-accessible. So if Shein is what’s in your budget, I don’t blame you! We all deserve to find fashion and style at the same level as others.

Target Brand: Auden

Shop Type: Brick-and-Mortar, Online
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $
Allie’s Rating: 4/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Target Brand: Ava & Viv

Shop Type: Brick-and-Mortar, Online
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $
Allie’s Rating: 2/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Target Brand: Who What Wear/Other

Shop Type: Online (plus usually not in stores)
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $$
Allie’s Rating: 3/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Target Brand: Wild Fable

Shop Type: Online (plus usually not in stores)
Largest Size Offered:
Price Range: $
Allie’s Rating: 3/5
General Comments:
Design and Quality:
Inclusion:
Ethical Shopping Notes:

Torrid

Shop Type: Brick-and-Mortar, Online
Largest Size Offered: 6X (70-64-76)
Price Range: $$
Allie’s Rating: 2/5
General Comments: I have so much to say about Torrid. For the folks who see the looming block of text and are already exhausted, I’ll just say bluntly: I don’t shop at Torrid anymore, because their same-thing-over-and-over-again style is kind of insulting. I’ve watched other brands successfully evolve as the plus-size market has, but Torrid for some reason is stuck in the same rut as when I worked there in 2015. I *might* buy some of their basic denim, or underwear, but I have better places to buy both. The “sexy” tops always have a seam up the center of the front because god forbid a plus-size femme show their actual body, Torrid simply cannot stop using the same patterns over and over and over again (give me anything but floral or skulls–or both–I beg of you), and the quality is okay. Whatever I buy, I’ll need a new one within two years max. I used to love Torrid, and then I started discovering the wide world of plus-size shops who are really on the cutting edge, and realized Torrid was the intro version of a plus-size store, and I’ve outgrown it.
Design and Quality: I feel like most of my design notes are above, but Torrid’s design has had a major shift exactly once–between when they were basically “larger hot topic” and what we have now. Other than that change back in the 2010-ish time frame, everything has been the same since. We get colors like “Miami Dolphins Teal” every year, will always have something in the store that’s gray with a big floral pattern in pink and purple, and most v-necks will all be at the exact same rise. Repeat customers will be able to pick out items that they saw last year and the year before that just in slightly different patterns. And the “design details.” Not every t-shirt needs to have a bow on the back. Or cold shoulders. Or grommets. Or a tulip-back. Just give us plain, high-quality t-shirts, yeah? Torrid’s quality is fairly in line with their pricing. Items will last you a fair amount of time (bras are, on the whole, designed to last you 6-12 months), but eventually, denim and leggings will wear through the thighs, and hems will come unraveled on shirts.
Inclusion: Torrid does get points for being one of the few brands who venture above a size 28. They began including sizes 5X and 6X in early 2015, and also expanded down to a “00X” (about a size 10) to provide a more inclusive experience. While marketing campaigns here and there have actually included people who wear above an 18, Torrid’s standard models are always under their 2X. As with most other brands on this list, I have yet to see a paid disabled model represented. But, since Torrid is a plus-forward brand, you don’t need a special section of the website or store to shop.
Ethical Shopping Notes: In recent years, Torrid’s public opinion has taken a hit as other brands have risen up to provide similar sizes, but radically more fashion-forward style. Some in the plus-size community (myself included) have contended that by designing plus-size clothing that is advertised as edgy/trendy for the young confident woman, but in reality falls victim to many of the plus-size design fallacies, Torrid’s caught in the clutches of their own internalized fatphobia a bit.

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