Amy Schumer is browsing at a boutique when a size 2-ish saleswoman gives her the once-over and perkily explains that "her size" clothing is only found on the store’s website.
That’s straight from the new comedy “I Feel Pretty,” in which Schumer plays Renee, an insecure, body-shamed young woman. For plus size shoppers, that boutique scene might feel familiar.
Finding plus size options (anything over a size 12) in stores “is certainly a challenge,” says Atlantic Beach stylist and social-media influencer Meaghan O’Connor. “Actually, if I'm being honest, it’s a disappointment.”
The majority of her followers — more than 17,000 on Instagram at @littlelimedress — have expressed frustration with the lack of in-store, plus size options, and “the way options, if there are any, are presented,” she says.
It’s an age-old lament for consumers with curves, but there’s reason to believe that the retail landscape — and the culture in general — is changing.
NEW OFFERINGS APLENTY
In the past year, a slew of new plus size labels launched online, from the sophisticated See Rose Go, to street-vibey Plus Bklyn, to luxe-loving 11 Honoré (chock-full of designer gear from, among others, Christian Siriano -- a long-time advocate for inclusive sizing -- as well as Marchesa). Victoria Beckham’s collaboration with Target now goes to size 24. Prominent retailers including Macy’s and Lane Bryant debuted new lines for long-underserved petite-plus customers. And in February Loft expanded its smart work-to-weekend fashion through size 26.
“We’ve been thrilled at the enthusiastic response,” says Loft senior vice president and chief marketing officer Laura Jacobs. “Pieces that Loft is known for — the color, print and fashion -- are really resonating with this client.”
Granted, the road to inclusive sizing (and a “body-positive” outlook — such the buzzy term these days) is still a bumpy one.
Just ask Urban Outfitters, which stumbled last year by using a plus size model in a campaign who actually wears a size not available at UO stores. “We do offer XL products in select styles, and we are in the process of increasing our offering,” the company said in a statement.
Many “straight-size” brands that expand into plus keep the merchandise segregated online. Loft’s new plus category is online-only — for now -- but the company says it’s committed to doing this rollout right, and after a few months of collecting customer feedback will add extended sizing to stores in September.
Still, O’Connor finds reasons to be optimistic. Some stores have polished up their act. She cites the impressive selection at Bloomingdale’s in Roosevelt Field, for example. More and more designers are expanding their size ranges. And a rousing number of actresses with bodies outside the Hollywood norm are increasingly serving as stylish role models -- think “The Mindy Project’s” Mindy Kaling, “SNL’s” Aidy Bryant, Chrissy Metz on “This Is Us” or Britney Young on “Glow.” And then there’s Schumer, who’s made a name for herself flipping off Hollywood’s emaciated notions of beauty.
“It feels like the collective efforts of everyone aiming for a more inclusive, accepting, kinder fashion space is actually beginning to move the needle,” O’Connor says. “And that's something worth celebrating.” So are the plus-size looks for spring, which are on-trend -- and in most stores across Long Island.
Finding stylish plus-size clothing is tough — but petite-plus is even more challenging. Three good places to look: industry leader Lane Bryant (this Skinny Crop Jean with ruffle hem, $69.95, at select Lane Bryant stores and lanebryant.com), Talbots (yes, the haven for classics has carried plus options for decades, and offers a petite-plus stretch-cotton pink gingham denim jacket; $109 at most Talbots shops and talbots.com); and Lands’ End (which has offered “plus size petite” options since 2003, like this vivid cropped trench coat; $109 at select Lands’ End stores and landsend.com).