After decades of being underrepresented in fashion, the plus-size apparel market is thriving; according to Statista, it’s worth an estimated $24 billion and growing at a rapid pace. With this explosion of demand comes more options, obviously, which means shopping for plus-size fashion is no longer confined to a handful of speciality stores or limited sections within larger department stores. Instead, everyone from retail giants like Nike to fashion-forward labels like Reformation have embraced more inclusive sizing and released freshly imagined collections that speak to a more diverse audience. The issue now is not so much a lack of options, but finding the very best places to shop for plus-size clothing in what’s become a very crowded market.
While everyone will have a different opinion on where to shop, certain retailers stand out for going beyond the ordinary. They offer extremely well-made pieces, with silhouettes that aren’t merely functional but embrace fashion on another level: think gorgeous fabrics, innovative designs and fits that truly work with a woman’s body. As a plus-size fashion influencer, Katrina Nichole is an expert in finding such brands. “I have been a lover of all things fashion since I was a little girl, and have lived in a bigger body my entire life,” she says. “My number one priority when I am shopping is finding clothes that actually fit my ultra-curvy body well and look stylish.”
Fashion influencer Bonnie Wyrick has a similar point of view. She specializes in the mid-size market (sizes 12 through 16), which she defines as “the space between straight sizes and plus.” It’s category that speaks to “a quickly growing and highly engaging community who, until recently, didn’t feel represented in the fashion or social space.” As she says, “when you are ‘too curvy’ for standard brands yet ‘too small’ for plus-size, it was easy to feel alone in your self and body image.” Thankfully, that’s changing now.
Here, Nichole, Wyrick and professional stylist McKenzie Crouch share their go-to retailers and the fashion labels they like best, so you can shop and bookmark them. Also look for more fashion picks at the end.
Best Plus-Size Jeans
Good American: Flatters All Body Types
Best Mid-Size Jeans
Madewell: Go-To Denim With Inclusive Sizing
Best Plus-Size Dresses
Reformation: On-Trend Dresses
Best Mid-Size Dresses
Showpo: Statement Looks
Best Plus-Size Tops
Eloquii: Gorgeous Styles In Bold Colors
Best Mid-Size Tops
Asos: Affordable And Well-Fitting Pieces
Best Plus-Size And Mid-Size Workout Clothes
Bandier: Modern Options From Many Brands
Best Plus-Size Swimwear
J.Crew: Basic Swimwear With A Twist
Best Mid-Size Swimwear
Summersalt: Comfortable And Flattering Suits
Best Plus-Size Wardrobe Staples
Universal Standard: Endless Styles For Every Look
Best Mid-Size Wardrobe Staples
Athleta: Elevated Basics You Can Wear All Day
What To Consider For The Best Mid- And Plus-Size Clothing
Material: The best advice for any type of garment is to look for high-quality fabrics that will last. Cotton and denim hold up well and come in a variety of weights and weaves for different levels of breathability. If you’d like pieces with a bit more stretch, consider lyrca, a synthetic fabric with elastane. For durability, polyester has incredibly strong fibers and helps create structure to retain the shape of your garments.
Fit: The best way to optimize the fit of your garment is to know your measurements, says professional stylist McKenzie Crouch. “Definitely keep a tape measure around for online purchases,” she says. But, she adds, it’s sometimes more important to focus on the fit of the item. “Many women, regardless of size, get caught up in the numerical size of a garment and won’t even consider a style if it requires them to go up in size,” she says. “I always encourage women to improve the fit regardless of the number.”
Return Policy: Mid- or plus-sizes at one brand can vary greatly among brands. A size 20 in one store may fit you perfectly, but it may be too tight in another one. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to confirm the return policy before you click to buy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mid- And Plus-Size Clothing
What sizes are considered mid-size?
These labels are relatively new, but Crouch categorizes “mid-size” as sizes between 10-16.
What sizes are considered plus-size?
Most brands categorize sizes 18-24 or 1X-6X as plus-size clothing.
What are the hardest items to find in extended sizing?
Crouch has found while working with plus-size clients and listening to their shopping challenges, they tend to struggle the most with having access to stylish clothing. Many plus-size brands offer basics or staples, but trendy options are much more difficult to get your hands on. “In addition, many brands do not keep plus-size options in store for easy try on,” Crouch explains.
More Size-Inclusive Clothing Brands For Women
- Girlfriend Collective: This sustainably-minded brand has sizes that extend up to 6XL and emphasizes recycled materials in their line of basics that include sweatpants, tops and tees, leggings, lingerie and swimsuits.
- Nike: For sports apparel and athleisure in inclusive sizes, Nike is a favorite among fitness and fashion influencers, especially for leggings and sports bras.