Health at YOUR size

Fit Fatty Fashion

photo courtesy of the Yale Rudd Center

If I had a dime for every time someone told me, “I’d go to the gym/pool/park, but I have nothing to wear!” I’d be a rich woman. Believe me, I fully understand and identify with that hesitation. It’s bad enough that there are jerks out there who stare, make remarks, or harass us just because we happen to be living our big fat lives in their general vicinity. Add to that the fact that when you’re exercising you’re going to be sweating, huffing, puffing, and maybe even jiggling, and you have a recipe for a crisis of self-consciousness that may seem insurmountable.

I’m here to help you get over that mountain in comfort and style, with some simple do’s and don’ts:

DO wear workout clothes in your size.
DON’T wear baggy or oversized clothes to the gym; they can catch on things and send you flying.  (And who wants to have to use the words “ass over teakettle” when describing their workout?)

DO wear a sports bra.
DON’T wear anything with underwires. Trust me on this one.

DO invest in good quality, appropriate footwear that fits.
To prevent injury, DON’T continue working out in shoes that show visible wear on the soles.

DO wear a one-piece suit for swimming and water aerobics.
DON’T wear swimsuits with long, flippy skirts or tops that will ride up and distract you from your workout.

DO wear shorts and tank tops for heavy workouts.
DON’T be uncomfortable and overheated in an attempt to hide your beautiful, hard-working body!

Here are a few great sources of fit fatty fashions:


Junonia is a specialty retailer of activewear just for plus-size women. Size range goes from 1X (14-16) to 6X (38-40).  Some prices may seem high, but the clothing is of very good quality so it is still a good value. If you’re on a limited budget, watch for items on clearance.

Favorite items from Junonia:

ANTI. CHAFE. SHORTS.  Yeah. They are as mind-blowingly fabulous as they sound.

Snow pants to size 6x!  How freakin’ cool is that? No need to stay in when the temperature drops, no matter what your size!

Swimwear.  I’ve tried many of their styles and have never been disappointed with fit or durability. Built-in bras keep The Girls under control in the bounciest of water aerobics classes.


L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean is the undisputed granddaddy of all outdoor sporting goods stores, and they have a large selection of activewear, including gym clothes, outerwear and swimsuits up to Women’s Size 26, as well as an excellent footwear selection in both regular and wide sizes. Unlike most of their competitors, Bean’s also has free shipping on all orders, no matter how small.

Not all of Bean’s women’s clothing comes in plus sizes, however their straight-size clothing generally goes up to an 18. For sizes above 18, you can shop by size from the front page, by hovering over the “women’s” tab, then clicking on Women’s Plus Sizes (link outlined in red):

Favorite Items from L.L. Bean:

Wind Challenger Fleece outerwear.  Unbeatable for blustery early spring workout days.

REAL waterproof rain and cold-weather gear.  I have never found another retailer that carries honest-to-goodness waterproof stuff in plus sizes.

Footwear in a wide array of sizes and widths, some of which is also waterproof. I’m especially partial to their Snow Sneakers as they enabled me to be active outside this winter even when the weather didn’t cooperate. (If snow and ice are frequent obstacles where you live, you might also want to consider getting a pair of Stabilicers, which are my new all-time favorite thing from Bean’s.)

(In the interest of full disclosure here, I am a former L.L. Bean employee, but I am not being compensated for raving about their products.  They just really are that good.)


Decent Exposures

Decent Exposures makes beautiful, functional and durable clothing up to size 30. While their main focus is on 100% cotton items, they also make one- and two-piece swimsuits and a wide variety of bras and underwear. Bras and swimwear are made to order, so delivery takes longer than a typical retailer; however prices are significantly lower than other retailers offering similar quality items. Made-to-order also means that they are willing to customize your garments as needed (details at their website).

Favorite Items from Decent Exposures: their wonderful, comfy bras.


Just My Size

Just My Size specializes in clothing sized 14 to 40, and includes a wide selection of workout gear including bras to size 58J.  They also have swimsuits to size 32 (in selected brands).   I’ve ordered from them in the past, though not extensively.  I’ve found their products to be reasonably affordable and of good quality.


Woman Within (aka Lane Bryant)

Egad, I detest the name of this store. “Woman Within” just conjures up images of that old “there’s-a-sexy-thin-girl-inside-every-fat-girl-that-is-just-waiting-to-get-out.” Whatever. The fact that remains that they do have a huge selection of gym- and pool-appropriate stuff from size 12 to 44 and they are affordable. Watch out for specials which include free shipping, as their shipping charges can be quite high.  I would rate the quality of their products, on a scale of Horrible to Fabulous, a solid “Meh. ”


Swimsuits For All carries sizes up to 38 (in select brands, but most sizes stop at 24 or 26).


Swimsuits Just For Us carries sizes up to 34 (in select brands, but most sizes stop at 24 or 26).


Do you have suggestions for this list? Please let me know in the Comments.  Thanks!

photo courtesy of the Yale Rudd Center

Comments on: "Fit Fatty Fashion" (8)

  1. Jessica Deschaines said:

    As I said in your FB post (reposting here for the heck of it)

    Love it! Only one thing I disagree with, though – the bra thing.

    As a fellow big-boobed fatty, my personal experience is that traditional , un-wired sports bras FAIL MISERABLY. It took getting professionally fitted by a dedicated undergarment store (not a Victoria’s or Macy’s or anything like that) to find a great sports bra, with underwire, that gives me the support the girls need. Yes, if you’re wearing a crappily fitting wired bra, it will hurt (regardless of what activity you are doing). However, once I got the right bra, it was like the STARS aligned 🙂

    I completely recommend the Elomi Energise sports bra and encourage all my beautiful sisters to GET SIZED by a professional (*note* expect to go down in band size and up in cup size). It is ridiculous how much of a difference it makes, ESPECIALLY for your workouts (I never realized how much MOVEMENT my boobs had until I got them wrangled in the right bra)


  2. Jessica Deschaines said:

    Oh, I forgot to add couple of store recommendations –

    I picked up some amazing workout/yoga pants from Land’s End.

    and – I’ve picked up a few things from them over the years and have always been happy with them. I recommend reading the reviews for whatever product you are interested in, some of the stuff they offer (esp. Danskin) runs on the small side.

    • Thank you so much for the great information, Jess!

      You have me re-thinking my position on underwires … I did not even try an underwire bra on until I was 42. Once I got used to them, I liked them a lot (and they do make The Girls look perky and cute!) BUT in the gym I found that the wires poked me if I did anything that involved bending over or twisting, or if I slouched at all.

      Perhaps a new fitting is in order for me.


  3. I ordered a swimsuit from Junonia and it not only fits everywhere, it also supports my 52H rack of doom with no problems at all. That is the first time ever that I’ve found a swimsuit that not only fit my body but also fit my boobs without having them fall out or bulge all over the place. It cost more than I really wanted to pay ($106) but I’ve been wearing it for 3 years now and it still looks like new, fits like new, so it was well worth the money and I’d buy another one from them any time.
    Haven’t had any luck finding bras to fit ever since Goddess quit making the one I liked (I’m still wearing the ones I bought 5 years ago and they’re about shot). Goddess changed their pattern and their sizing for that particular bra and trying to find the right band size/cup size combination gets expensive when you have to order one, try it one, send it back, order another size combination, try it on, send it back, etc. What really complicates matters is that their fit changes from color to color within a size – a black bra might fit perfectly while a white one is slightly smaller and a beige one is slightly bigger than the black. Makes it difficult to know what size to order, let alone what color. I may have to check out that Decent Exposures and see what they have, thanks for the heads up about them. 🙂

  4. Team Estrogen sells a reasonable range of plus size cycling gear, and Aerotech have a few plus sized items as well.

    I would love to know, however, if there are any places making plus size wool technical wear. Even the men’s items, which can sometimes be appropriated, usually stop at a 42″ chest. The lycra/poly technical fabrics are nice, but I prefer natural fabrics and would love to buy some smartwool/merino etc tops and leggings.

  5. Making It Big ( has workout clothes and swimsuits, going up to about an 8X. Not cheap but the quality is good. I recommend reading the reviews before ordering a specific item.

    I wear their Halter Swim Suit and like the support and style – it really is sexy looking. Even though they don’t recommend using it in a chlorinated pool, I ignore that and use it three times a week.

    I also use Suit Saver ( to remove the chlorine from my suit every time I use it. Works great and extends the life of your swim suit.

  6. Annd … here’s one more from a friend. This retailer has bicycling apparel up to Size 28.

  7. Lisa Meyer said:

    I have struggled with finding plus size fitness wear for years. Recommendations: swimwear, Lands End. Much improved over last 2-3 years. Moving Comfort makes some decent sport bras for women over 38 band size. Terry Bicycling has the best jerseys for cycling, up to 4x, made with loose bottom so you don’t have to worry about elastic wrapped around your waist and the shirt riding up. They also have good plus size cycling shorts. New Balance has some nice exercise tanks. I am preparing to do tri #3 this year, and I will only wear what is comfortable and works for me.

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