Thrifting while fat: finds and frustrations

Becky wrote a great guest post at Already Pretty about how thrifting while fat allowed her to experiment and develop her personal style.

I wish my thrifting experiences were as good as hers. For me, thrifting has been at best a chance to score some cheap basics, and at worst an exercise in frustration.

One of my thrift store finds: cute and comfortable, but not particularly me.

In my area, thrift stores tend to have a decent plus size selection–and some straight-sized items that are stretchy enough to fit fat people–but they very rarely include anything interesting, funky, or wild. I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked into a thrift store and seen gorgeous, unusual, sparkly, riotously-patterned, tulle-adorned, vintage, or punky clothes in straight sizes, while the plus sizes consist of jeans and solid-colored tops.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought, “I would dress so much more outrageously if this stuff came in my size.”

I can’t even read straight size thrifting blogs, because it just hurts to see someone finding so easily, so cheaply, the kind of clothing I have to search hard and/or pay lots of money for.

I’ve been lucky, though, to experience a taste of cheap plus size variety at Re/Dress NYC when it existed, and at the Big Thrifty here in Boston. And despite my limited options, I’ve always found ways to experiment with style–from my high school days of green lipstick, dog collars as chokers, chunky Mary Janes, and safety-pin bedecked skirts to the tutus and tiny hats I wear today.

I am heartened by events like the Big Thrifty and New York’s Big Fat Flea. I am heartened by the explosion of fatshion blogs and indie plus size designers.  I hope that the events spread beyond large urban centers, and that the clothes spread beyond small, expensive indie brands.

I hope that someday, I can walk into a thrift stop and be surrounded by Domino Dollhouse, SWAK, Torrid, ASOS Curve, Igigi, and Kiyonna. I want to see a world where fashion experimentation is an option for everyone who wants it.


7 thoughts on “Thrifting while fat: finds and frustrations

  1. Ooh, I loooooove that blue dress.

    It causes me physical pain to look at the straight-sized clothing section in any store. They have so many options, so many colors, so many style, just racks and racks and racks. My personal style basically distills down to jeans and a T-shirt, and I’m sure that developed at least in part because creative style is just so damn HARD when nothing fits your body.

    • Thanks!

      Yes! I know that feeling so well, and I hate it. It’s one of the reasons I do most of my shopping online (in addition to, well, the shitty plus size selection in most brick-and-mortar stores). It’s just so fucking unfair and it makes me want to smash things.

  2. The problem I have with the whole “thrifting while fat” thing is that there is literally NEVER anything in my size. I have never, ever found anything in a size 26AU or it’s equivalent. Not once. I have only ever found something that fits me maybe two or three times. So I just don’t bother. I shop only in places that I KNOW I will find clothes in my size (very limited!) and I try to avoid places that have acres and acres of gorgeous straight sizes and then a tiny corner of boring black/grey/burgundy plus-sizes.

    For as far as we have come in plus-size clothing options, we still have a long, long way to go.

  3. You look gorgeous in that dress, but I know what you mean. I wouldn’t want it because I hate dark blue; many of my thrift finds are in colors I don’t like.

    In my area, the only thrift store that carries plus sizes is Goodwill, and they are SO disorganized. Straight sizes get separated by s/m/l and color. Plus sizes are all lumped together and there are so many size 10s mistakenly filed with them. Most of the clothes are what I call old-lady style, extremely unfashionable.

    • Thanks! Funnily enough, at my Goodwill, the plus sizes are actually easier to look through than the straight sizes. In both the plus and straight size sections, clothes are separated only by color–but the plus section is smaller, so looking for a particular size/style is less needle-in-a-haystack-like (although the clothes are mostly pretty plain and/or ugly, so it doesn’t really matter anyway).

  4. I get lucky at the Goodwill by me most days. I found the most awesome leopard faux fur Lane Bryant coat the other day! And I’ve found Forever21+ skirts and dresses, Torrid and Pure Energy tops, etc. I even found a Torrid skirt that I already owned but was in better shape…it seriously looked like it had never been worn.

    I do agree that its harder to find nice stuff, but its not impossible! I check out my Goodwills (that’s right…there’s like 3 I hit up on the regular) pretty much every week, just in case.

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