Shopping on the INTERNET?! Surely you jest!

Okay, so it’s been pretty well established that I have nice clothes, and tend to wear pretty fun and awesome outfits.  I get compliments on my clothing relatively frequently.  Most recently, I bought a coat from Asos, a really cute beige, tulip-skirted mac.  And the compliments rolled in, and often ended in the question, “Where did you find that?”[img_assist|nid=74|title=Asos coat|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=300|height=400]

And when I reply that I purchased it online, from an international retailer, most (not all) people seem genuinely shocked that it’s possible to purchase clothing online. I will often get responses along the lines of, “But how do you know it will fit?”

For a lot of people, knowing exactly what the measurements of one’s body are can be a highly daunting thing.  Tags on clothes might lie, but the measuring tape doesn’t.  I suspect a lot of women my age haven’t even thought that one’s bust, waist and hip measurements actually are supposed to correspond to the arbitrary numbers on size tags.  Actually knowing what size you are, and matching it up to size chart online might be frightening, particularly if one is not keen on having to size up for things to fit.  I’ve known people who have insisted they are a size __, no matter what, and if they need to size up for something to fit, they won’t buy it.

Funnily enough, they don’t seem to have a problem with going down a size if the garment is too big.

The most infuriating comments, though, are these:

Me: “Oh yeah, I bought this from [online store], I really like it!”

Them: “That’s pretty cool, but I don’t really get why you shop online?  Isn’t just easier to go into a real shop and buy something?”

Me: “… it would be if I could find anything to fit, that wasn’t ugly as hell and that every single other fat girl isn’t wearing.”

This is what we in Australia particularly, but that fat people the world over have to deal with.  Our choices are so ridiculously limited that if you want to dress in a fashion-forward way, we are relegated to online shopping.  Sure, it’s great to have unique stuff, but what if I just need a pair of, let’s say, black trousers.  A staple of most women’s wardrobes.  If you go into Target’s straight size section, you will find at least ten styles, all available in Short, Average and Tall.

In the plus sections?  Two or three styles, and all stupidly long or ridiculous cropped shit.  And this is just one low to mid-range department store.  Women who can wear straight sizes have a myriad of choices for their clothing, at various price points.  For fatties, we have a choice of paying $35 at Big W, or $250 at Myer.  Where’s the middle ground?  Autograph?  No way; just say no to mounds of printed polyester garbage.

I am so sick of having to pay at least $20 extra in shipping costs for the privilege of purchasing well fitting, comfortable, fashion-forward clothing.  When I hear people joking about or discussing “fat taxes”, I feel like screaming that I already pay a fucking fat tax – it’s called International Shipping.  Some stores are more reasonable than others (Torrid, I’m looking at you and your extortionate shipping costs), but ultimately, I pay more than smaller people for my clothes. 

I’m not asking for much.  I would love to see more brick-and-mortar stores stocking plus size clothing.  Places like Dogstar, an Australian brand that I would seriously buy so much stuff from, if they just extended their size range.  Or if the few Australian fatshion places could open up more stores, like Towanda, or DreamDiva.  Or if Autograph could start producing more tailored, on-trend pieces.

It is not that hard.  Fat people are here, with Fat Dollars to spend.  We want the same options as our straight-size counterparts, across all styles and all price points. 

I want to be able to walk into Target and find a pair of black, short length, wide-legged, mid-rise, natural-fibre trousers.

And now I am off to wear an outfit that will no doubt consist of a significant amount of clothing purchased online.

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  • Frances

    My problem with internet shopping is that I can never be sure my measurements will be correct, if that makes sense.

    I'll explain. From experience with clothing in Australia, I am an AUS/UK size 16 to 18. However, according to various online size charts I'm anywhere from an 18 to 22. I'm also quite pear-shaped, so my measurements can have me at a size 16 on top and a size 22 on the bottom. This makes shopping for, say, a coat or a dress very difficult – do I risk it being too tight around the waist and hips or too baggy around the bust?

    That usually scares me off a lot of internet shopping.

  • abbyvines

    I, on the other hand, want everything made by laika on the dogstar page. Jesus those are pretty layers!

  • Kath

    I have LOTS of fat dollars to spend. I work hard, get a good wage. I would LOVE to spend my money on clothes.

    But so few cater to me. And of several of those that do, they seem to loathe me walking through their doors. When I was in the US and shopped at Lane Bryant and Torrid stores (among many others), I was treated as a valued and respected customer, regardless of how fat my arse is.

    When someone in Australia provides that kind of product AND service I will use them.

  • Zoe

    I know how you feel – it took me a long time to take the plunge into online shopping, but I've never looked back.

    One thing I should have mentioned: make friends with a tailor. Things rarely, if ever, fit perfectly off the rack.

    I'm apple-shaped, so I'm not familiar with your specific dilemma, but some general recs for online shopping:

    - Start with purchases in a stretch fabric, such as jersey, or with a reasonable spandex or elastane content. This will mean that garment has more give and will be more forgiving in fit.

    - Research! Google around for reviews to see if the charts are accurate, what garments run small or large, etc. The Vogue Australia Forums have a dedicated thread to plus-size fashion with a lot of reviews of various stores.

    - Factor in the cost of return shipping into your budget. If you don't want to eBay or resell garments that don't fit, make sure your budget allows for returns and exchanges.

    - Try an Australian online store first, like City Chic, so that return or exhanged postage costs will be cheaper, and sizes easier to gauge.

    - Share shipping costs with a friend! It'll be fun to browse together, and save money too.

    - If at first you don't succeed, try again. My first online shopping experience was a horrific pair of too-small beige work pants from a Japanese site. I got better at it!

  • Zoe

    Inorite? Dogstar and Laika = <333333 MAKE ME SOME FATTY CLOTHES PLZKTHX.

  • Zoe

    Oh man, I can't wait to visit the US one day actually have sales assistants NOT look down their nose at me.

    Okay, I don't get it that often, but it's mostly because I am impervious to sneers, and superfabulous. :D

  • Mulberry

    I can certainly commiserate with you, even though I live in the US in an area with a selection of large-size shops. I looked at the Asos website and their stuff is a bit too small for me anyway, even if I wanted to pay their prices. I would probably take a UK 26 or so.
    I also find nicer things on average when I shop online. The prices are also somewhat lower than they'd be in retail stores, so I don't mind the shipping so much. Although there has been much improvement around here in the past few years, I can remember when I weighed much much less than I do now and couldn't find a damned thing that wasn't polyester and garish or depressing.

  • Zoe

    Oh, is pretty hit and miss for me – I can just wear a size 20, even though my waist is about three inches larger than the size chart. I took a real risk on that coat; generally I wear a size 22 in UK stuff.

    I find nicer stuff on average too, generally, when I shop online. What I want is the option to be able to find decent stuff – not gorgeous or unique or spectacular – just decent, in stores.

    Being in the US, it's probably hard to imagine just how atrocious plus size offerings are here. I can name four or five mid to large-scale chain plus-size stores in the US, that sell only plus-size clothes, off the top of my head (Lane Bryant, Avenue, Catherines, Torrid). In Australia, I can think of two: Autograph and City Chic.

    I usually end up spending more in online shopping than I would in a retail store because of the exchange rate, although not by much as clothing is quite expensive here.

    It's kind of hard to articulate just how shit things are in a country that's purported to be (OMG!) one of the fattest in the world. I dream of even having half the options a lot of USA fats have.

    (I don't mean to come across as bitter or snarky; rather that scarcity is more of an issue for non-US based fats generally).

  • amydoll

    Definately agree with what you are saying! All my clothes shopping is done online now, because my local town closed down the one real plus size store and relegated it to a small selection in a department store. Even online, i don't have much choice UK wise. I have never ordered from abroad, I am always too scared of getting the sizing wrong and shipping usually costs a bomb. At least with places like and simply be, they offer free returns, so if something doesn't fit I am not out of pocket. I also never order just one thing for this reason, because if you order 2 or 3 items +, you are more likely to find something that fits, and you don't end up forking out shipping for nothing. I really envy the people that don't have to even think about all this stuff, and can just “go shopping”

  • Kath

    It's not even that they're actively rude, they're more… cold. They just ignore fat customers.

    In the US, it's so friendly and encouraging, and they WANT to help!

  • wrap

    Hi. Just wanted to let you know about Work Rest And Play Plus Sized Clothing:

    We are an Australian plus size clothing company for funky, fashionable women sized 12-36 and offer free express post on all orders over $50 Australia-wide.

    If you are not happy with your clothing for any reason (so if it doesn't fit correctly or if you don't like it for any reason) then you can just send it back to us and swap it.

    We have a size chart on our website and carefully size all our clothing accordingly and have very very few returns due to the care we take.

    We hope you find something you like in our online store.


    WRAP Plus Sized Clothing

  • Liz P.

    Me: “… it would be if I could find anything to fit, that wasn't ugly as hell and that every single other fat girl isn't wearing.”

    Seriously. ;D Too too true.

  • Mahal

    I get that looking-down-nose reaction at shoe stores. It really irritates me – sure, I'm overweight, but dude, I still fit shoes, you know?

  • jamiefat

    hey zoe,
    i finally made it to your site. i must say, this post is probably your best. ITS HILARIOUS!

    Anyway, despite your belief that i am ridiculously shallow (which i clearly deny), i actually like your site and i think it would be in your best interest to make me an honorary member.

    you should keep them similar to this format. the others are a bit dull

  • definatalie

    You can subscribe to Zoe's posts only by going to her profile and following the RSS feed there if our other valued contributors are too dull for you.

    We've had some great feedback though, so it's in our best interests stick to the same formula for a while.

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