Plus-Sized Online Shopping is Not a Good Fit

Writer Marisa Panella laments the problems of online shopping.

With the weather getting warmer, I’ve seen so many fashion trends on social media I’m dying to try. 

I’m a self-proclaimed shopaholic who adores all things fashion-related. However, my style has been limited due to the gnarly beast known as online shopping. 

Online shopping and I have a love-hate relationship, but it has been the shopping option I’ve been chained to due to my size. I wear a 2X in most clothing pieces — a size that’s unfortunately not sold in most brick-and-mortar stores. Although more stores are releasing plus-size ranges through their online shops, the transition into stores has been slow. 

Clothing companies say that it’s hard for them to make and stock larger sizes because it requires more fabric, more patterns and more money, according to Time Magazine. The lack of in-store options makes shopping an endless challenge. 

While I do love online sales and the comfort of shopping from my couch, online shopping certainly has its faults. For one, it’s difficult to determine the fit of an outfit because I don’t have the same body type as a model. 

People come in all shapes and sizes and the majority of us don’t have the exact body type of online models. This makes it extremely difficult to determine how an outfit will fit.

This difficulty is compounded by the fact that women’s sizing is inconsistent, at best. In my closet, for example, you can find clothes in a large, extra large, 2X, 16, 18, 20, 22 and 24 — all of which fit like a glove. I’m sure this isn’t an issue exclusive to just plus-size clothing. When scouring the internet, I have to weigh out all my options. Is it stretchy? Will it shrink? 

My fitting room is my bedroom and when an item doesn’t fit, I roll my eyes, dig around my room for the package it came in and use Google Maps to find the nearest post office. 

Sometimes it’s easy. My ASOS return was free. I didn’t even have to print a label, the package was resealable and I was able to drop it off at the UPS store near campus. My Fashion Nova return cost me $7.99 and a train ride to the post office near Argyle — and that was after I had to buy packing tape and find a printer. 

Overconsumption and fast fashion weigh on my mind often. I’m envious of the people I see on social media who find gorgeous pieces from thrift stores as I struggle to ever find clothes that fit right. 

While I try to be cognizant of the places I shop and aware of what already exists in my closet, there are times when a new outfit is required. Most recently, I had to buy a blazer and slacks for a job interview. I spent days scouring different websites not only looking for something that fit but something that I could afford. 

Plus-size clothing should be sold in all stores, sizing should be consistent and online returns should be free. I can’t tell you the last time I went shopping with a friend or bought an item off the rack, and it isn’t fair that sizing is a limit to not just me but many others who don’t have bodies that fit a certain mold. 

These issues may seem trivial, but when online shopping is your only option, they get increasingly frustrating whenever you search for a new item. Frankly, it shouldn’t be that hard to shop online. Even my friends who wear “straight-size” clothing struggle with the absurd sizing discrepancies. Straight size defines clothing in women’s sizes small through large which are the most popular sizes produced due to their ability to sell, according to the clothing brand Miik.

A huge appeal of online shopping is convenience, but how is it convenient to wear an 18 in one pair of jeans and a 22 in another at the same store?

My blazer comes tomorrow and my interview is scheduled for just two days after it’s supposed to arrive. No guarantees it will fit.

Feature image by Aidan Cahill / The Phoenix

Marisa Panella

Marisa Panella