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 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 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 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!