In our fashion-focused world, plus-size women have often faced a lack of styles, colors, and options to choose from — despite 67% of American women wearing above a size 14. However, thanks to an expanding base of brands that aim to provide consumers of all shapes and sizes with a wide range of fashionable options, that’s less of a problem today.
Axios reported the plus-size market grew to $34.3 billion in 2021 — a 21.2% increase from 2020. By 2023, expect this figure to increase by another 7.6%.
Plus-size clothing is not a trend or an option — it’s a must-have for today’s clothing retailers to appeal to most women. Unfortunately, many boutiques may not know how to incorporate a broader range of sizes at their store.
Here’s your need-to-know guide to offering plus-size dresses and clothing at your boutique.
Understanding Plus-Size Clothing Sizes
It’s no secret that vanity sizing has made it difficult for women of all shapes to shop for clothes. Across different sizing categories — including Petites, misses/straight, and plus-size.
With variation from brand to brand, a size 10 at one store may be equivalent to a size 14 at another. This divergence can be even more confusing to understand when expanding into larger sizes.
A study found that plus-size typically range from 12 to 38W and 0X to 6X. However, plus-size may use different numbers and letters to distinguish sizes. Generally, sizes like “2X” and “14W” are often tailored for those with a fuller figure.
Understanding how the different sizing works to sell plus-size clothing at your store successfully is crucial.
What the “X” Means in Plus-Size
There may be some confusion regarding “XXL” and “2X.” While it may seem that there’s no difference, the “XXL” is the exact fit as the misses/straight sizes, whereas the 2X and upward sizes typically fit a fuller figure.
What the “W” Means in Plus-Size
Clothing with a “W” after a size number has specific tailoring for those with fuller figures, typically beginning at a brand’s plus-size — whether 12, 14, 18, or another. So a brand’s plus-size may be 12W, 14W upward, etc.
However, plus sizing can vary from brand to brand, so it’s always imperative to pay attention to size charts for specifics.
Either way, when stocking plus-size clothing at your store, both “X” and “W” sizes are good options for your shoppers.
Offer a Range of Colors, Sizes, and Styles at Your Boutique
One of the biggest complaints about plus-size clothing in the fashion industry is that there are not nearly enough color, size, and style varieties available — especially regarding quality clothing.
Many complain about being stuck with outdated, frumpy styles in a small selection of colors or styles.
The best thing your clothing boutique can do is offer a wide range of colors, styles, and sizes for your customers. And if you see a greater demand for specific sizes and styles, order more inventory to meet it!
Especially when faced with financial struggles, many clothing retailers cut plus-size offerings to save on costs. Unfortunately, this causes many frustrations for women and plus-sized folks with limited and often sold-out sizing options.
To meet clothing demand, offer a large variety of plus-size dresses and other garments. If you need to start with a smaller stock as you build your customer base and gauge demand for each size, do so. However, be prepared to ramp up your inventory for each size as you scale your clothing boutique. In addition, ensure to work with a wholesaler who can meet that demand.
Do what you can to help eliminate size confusion (and limit exchanges and returns). When listing sizes, some wholesalers will provide size charts for direct upload on your site or in-store to help customers choose the best size every time.
Plus-size women represent a majority of American shoppers.
Despite a growing market, many shoppers complain of minimal options that don’t fit their fashion. In addition, they often feel failed by the fashion industry and the clothing choices available to them — whether it’s because of poor quality, shapeless garments, unlikable patterns, dull colors, or something else.
Plus-size consumers want the same fashionable options in straight sizes — with trend-forward colors, flattering styles, and variety.
Clothing retailers like yours should give shoppers those fashion-forward dresses, colors, and designs they want and deserve.
In addition to limited size and style options, many plus-size shoppers struggle to search for a mix of color options. For example, while a straight-size dress may be available in ten different colors, the same style in plus-size may only come in one or two options.
Offer a range of color options to meet the needs of all your fashion-forward shoppers across different sizes.
Offering Variety Doesn’t Mean Excess
Giving shoppers variety doesn’t mean you need to stock 50 styles of dresses in 100 colors. Instead, start by offering a few different blank styles in a mix of colors, graphics, and embroidery. Therefore, offer variety without having to have many styles while you figure out what your target shoppers want.
Choose the Best Wholesaler for Your Plus-Size Clothing Boutique
Amid supply chain struggles, many retailers have had challenges carrying fashion-forward styles for plus-size consumers. However, a simple solution: working with a blank clothing wholesaler.
Wholesale companies like Bella + Canvas offer blank styles you can customize with whatever embroidery or print you want — giving your boutique a near-limitless opportunity to give plus-size shoppers those trendy, fashion-forward designs they want.
Plus, retailers have no minimum quantity or value required on domestic orders. As a result, empowering boutiques like yours to order the exact amount, size, and color variety needed.
Small businesses can also take advantage of our qualified full-service screen printers and embroiderers, who can bring blank garments to life with your custom branding, graphics, and other designs to sell in your store.