Vol.1, No.10

Plus size wardrobe essentials for teens

How a plus size teen girl can be fashionable or trendy and still feel good about the way she looks.

Two teens chatting
Photo Credit: Joshua Blake
Wearing a plus size as a teen adds a whole extra dimension to the fun and self-esteem peril of being a girl in American society.

All teen girls have some flaw, real or imagined, that becomes a fashion challenge. The color of your hair, its texture, the size of certain parts of your body…the list is a long one.

Being a plus size is a challenge that can be conquered with a plan and an attitude. Size is really just a number, don't let it define you as a whole. Don't become a slave to the current trends, looks and styles; instead use them as tools to present yourself in the best light.

Any female would benefit from knowing the types of clothing that flatter her shape and complexion. Just like a very pale complexion might look paler and maybe even sick in certain colors of yellow, a plus size teen might draw attention to the parts that she'd rather not emphasize by choosing wrong styles.

Some current fashions are plus sized girl's worst enemies because they point neon, flashing arrows at things that girls would rather keep hidden.

I am going to suggest types of clothes to pick and avoid and tell you why I'm suggesting them.

Jeans, skirts, properly fitting bottoms in neutral colors need to be the wardrobe foundation. It is really hard to find bottoms that aren't cut low. This can be a real problem. I don't know if you really like that look, but it's not attractive on many body types. Stick girls even end up looking like they have tummy bulge and little hip chunks.

A lot of girls develop stretch marks during rapid body changes during puberty. That tummy/hip band that is revealed by short cut jeans ends up looking like a banner that screams "check this out."

I suggest that you try different types of jeans beyond what is the hottest, skimpiest pair on the racks. Take some really good friends (mom, aunts etc) to give you honest feed back. Should you wear jeans with huge buttons across the pockets if you have a generous back side? Or should you draw attention to your top section that could maybe use a little more visual heft to balance you out? Hipster pants are the least flattering if you don't have a natural waist. If you find jeans that are perfect, you might want to buy two pairs or more, if they are a good price.

Pants fall under the same style/fit wise guidelines. I suggest colors that go with lots of different styles of shirts and colors, like black, gray, khaki. Navy is hard to match. Black can be too, if you need to match other blacks.

Skirts can be the fun or flair addition to your wardrobe. You can do patterns that would never work with pants. Keep in mind what parts need the neon arrows and try to make your clothes be those arrows. If you have a small chest and large behind, up and down or diagonal stripes would be great. A solid color with a wild top would work well also. If you have a small behind and large chest/upper arm area, even it out with sideways stripes, diagonal, or big prints. If you have no natural waist, belts, scarves/ties wrapped around where your waist would be should do the visual trick. With skirts, you have a little more freedom to be faddy. Try the color/pattern fads rather than fit fads if in doubt.

Tops are another current fashion problem. Many are too short or are made out of material that glues itself to your body, like paint on each curve. There is a tendency for females who are plus size to dress baggy because they think it covers up bumps here and there, or dress like size zero model wannabes. Don't fall into either trap. You can have part of the look, if you are willing to be creative. Use color to play up your face, hair and personality. What color do you wear that gets the most complements? Look for colors in that neighborhood. Ask the clerk if you don't have buddies with you.

If you love the look of belly shirts, find a long tank in the same, contrasting or complementing color and wear it underneath. If you like the thin fabrics, layer two or even three together, or throw a button up shirt over a thin tee. If you must wear a belly shirt, at least wear a skirt or pants that aren't "how low can you go" hipsters. Keep in mind that when you sit, lean, stretch or live life, you may be exposing more flesh than you realize. Again, it might not want to be the flesh that you want to draw attention too.

Have your shopping buddies look at you from all angles as you move around. Button up shirts make cute "jackets" tossed over tiny or thin tees. Sweaters, jackets, scarves - use them as accessories to enhance your outfit. Don't become a cookie cutter dresser. Outfits with a flair, a statement of who you are, sharing a piece of your personality are going to be far more interesting than anything on a mannequin, even is she's a living, breathing mannequin.

Shoes are free-for-all fun. Go crazy with them, unless they make you walk like Frankenstein. Colors, styles, fun or funk, they are accessories that can make or break an outfit.

Underwear, it's called foundation, for a reason. A bra that doesn't fit well, does not present you well. Take time to find out what bra fits and why. There are fitters in lots of major department stores who will measure you and explain to you why you should wear a certain style of bra. These ladies fit hundreds of women, it's their job and they won't fatally traumatize you. I have never heard of a women dying after an encounter with a bra fitter. But I have seen some that look better.

Lower undergarments don't have to be granny panties to shape you, but a plus size teen really needs to decide how trendy she wants to be. Once again, the cute thong peek-a-boo look is attractive on very few shape and sizes. Find underwear that smoothes, shapes or at least doesn't dissect your behind. They really do sell it.

Cut out or dog ear your favorite looks. What do you love? Why? What can you take that you love, and work it to your best advantage? Can you be creative, feel good about the way you look, and manage to look great? Yes, you can.