Our guest post today is from Maureen (Moe) Wood, who has been the Editor of the Large and Lovely site at BellaOnline for eight years and has a plus size shopping blog where she shares My Favorite Things. Moe is one of the most knowledgeable and approachable experts on plus size fashion in cyberspace and beyond. She just celebrated her seventeenth wedding anniversary and is working up the nerve to dye her hair blue. Yikes!!---------------------------------------------------
Many women today still believe there are no clothing options available for plus size women. I think the problem with this belief lies in our old world view of shopping. This last decade and especially in the last five years the internet has played an enormous role in plus size shopping and retailers like Ulla Popken have not ignored its importance, although some companies (and shoppers) have been slow to embrace it.
I would like to say, gone are the days of walking into the store to shop but plus size women really never had that option to begin with (there was a lot of settling) and I do not think that will change. Instead of whining about it I think we all need to embrace it. The opportunity for plus size women to shop at "hundreds" of stores has never been more exciting, all without having to leave the comfort of their sofa.
I think part of the issue is a certain fear of shopping online; especially those with little online experience --sizing issues, being ripped off, etc. With sizing issues, well we complained about those at stores too. Everyone does. If trust is an issue then the safest way to begin online shopping is to start with companies that have been around for a while, read their profiles and definitely read recommendations from other shoppers.
The best thing plus size specialty retailers did for plus size women was to open up an online shop for their businesses. Now we can shop across the United States, Canada, England, Australia, and even Denmark for clothes we could not even think of buying in our home towns.
The best companies are all too willing to answer questions and help online shoppers to make their shopping experience rewarding either through email, online chat or over the phone.
All that being said about how wonderful internet shopping is, unfortunately there are still some sub-groups of the plus size market that are lacking. I think the most under-represented women are those who are plus size and petite. I would really like to see a plus size petite clothing company make a big marketing campaign -- along with fashion show, etc. Until then they will have to search a little harder than the rest of us.
Another sub-group that has suffered are the women in the larger sizes, above 3x. Their clothing options over the last twenty years have been horrific but there are some really nice brands delivering fashion in extended sizes. One of the things I love about Ulla Popken is that they have an offering of clothing that goes up to size 38. I consider Ulla Popken to be the quiet brand. They are not in your face with provocative ads and they offer a classy functional style that is well made -- dare I say reliable. If it were not for the internet I would never have had access to what they have to offer and definitely not have had the opportunity to meet Babe.
For the most part I think we are open to what the future of plus size clothes shopping has to offer but I think we still have one foot in the past and we need to bring it into the here and now if we are to take full benefit. We need to let go of the old ideals of how to shop so we can look good and actually enjoy our shopping experiences on our own terms.