Does Size Impact Your Finances?

In our discussion on the lack of plus size fashions, a reader named Robin made a very interesting observation. She stated that the lack of options has actually saved her money because she can’t find anything to buy. Her poignant comment made me think—is there a difference in the financial health of special size women (petite, plus, tall, etc) versus “average” women and if so,  is it because of the lack of clothing options? Is there in fact a relationship between your size and the amount you spend on clothing? Could the lack of clothing options actually push special size women to spend their money in other areas like technology, investments, real estate, etc? Are special size women cheap?

On another note, here’s a very interesting article from Business Week about the plus size market, $32 billion in sales in 2005…


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  1. Pat says

    It is hard to find tall sizes too.  I am tall 365 days a year, the stores seem to think that making longer sleeves in winter solves that issue.  Other stores think adding length is the solution, but Tall is a proportion issue, just like petite or plus sizes.  I often resort to men’s sizes to get enough length and proportional fitting.

  2. says

    I’m currently working on taking off a few pounds (are’t we all?) but I am the short, curvy daughter of short, curvy females on both sides. My post-puberty low was size 10 in college, and if I get back to that I’ll be more than thrilled. I hate constantly having to re-attach buttons and mend popped seams on my Lane Bryant crap (which at least looks vaguely stylish),i honestly don’t remember having this many problems with my clothes disintegrating when I shopped at freaking Wal-Mart!

    Once my weight stabilizes at something I can maintain while still eating, I’ve just about decided to put my wardrobe in the hands of a very talented (and plus-sized) seamstress friend. I can buy quality supplies, I don’t have to go through the Mall angst, and instead of choosing a couple dozen “okay” pieces I can work with her to help me put together about half as many outfits that look incredible and will actually be durable. Given her prices and a few back of the envelope calculations, I suspect I’ll wind up paying the same (or less) for higher quality with a local businesswoman. :-)

  3. TBF says

    I agree… this issue doesn’t just effect plus size- but all women who have special size issues. Actually plus size fashionistas have a lot more options than petite and tall fashionista

  4. Kimberly says

    I am a curvey petite size and without a doubt I spend more money than any of my ‘normal sized’ friends on clothing and the alterations needed to actually wear them. Especially since Petite Sophisticate went out of business. I can seldom find pants or skirts that fit both in the waist and hemline.
    I am surprised that I haven’t seen anyone else on this site mention having clothing altered to fit or custom made. Granted it can be expensive (unless you are lucky enough to know someone who can sew) but if you can afford it, quality workmanship and excellent fabric can last a lifetime. Also some higher end stores still offer tailoring.

  5. jj says

    I’m a petite (5’0.5”, p6 on top, p2 or normal size 0 on bottom) and I definately think I spend more on some things because of it.  If I find something that fits really well, I don’t wait for it to go on sale, because often it’s snapped up before it hits the sale rack. 

    And then there is the issue of alterations (I often need to shorten hems and sleeves even of petite items), I can do some myself, but there’s others that require a good tailor.  I will sometimes buy full priced items that include free tailoring because if I wait for them to go on sale, I have to add in the cost of tailoring to the cost of the item, often wiping out any savings. 

    The only money saver is that I’ve taken to buying my gym wear in the kids department of the sporting goods store.  But it’s rare that I’m able to find appropriate work or social clothes in the kids racks.  Plus, it’s a little embarassing.

  6. Verena says

    This past year I began to have an interest in designer handbags. As I have been shopping lately, it occurred to me that perhaps part of my wanting designer handbags stems from the fact that designers do not make clothes that will fit me, but their bags fit me just fine. It’s a compromise of sorts.

  7. Sandra says

    No way do you save money being a plus size fashionista. It’s true that there are fewer options, and those that exist are often poorly made, ill-fitting, and unattractive – but my biggest annoyance is that they’re always a little more expensive than the non-plus sizes.

    If anyone needs an example, you can see this at Target really easily – the S-XL tshirts will be, say, $10, while the plus size of the same tshirt is $13. It’s not like they’re putting that extra profit into R&D, since the proportions are often wrong and the garments just don’t “sit” right. (And for those who say the extra price is for more fabric – men’s size XL shirts are physically bigger than mine and use more fabric but usually cost less.)

  8. TBF says

    Hey Kim-

    We talk about tailoring all the time.. Unfortunately, in order to have great tailoring, you need to have a great tailor and most people don’t have access to someone who knows true garment construction. I think it goes to the fact that the art of sewing is leaving us.

    In terms of petite…

    I do think plus size fashionistas have more options- most because it’s such a strong vocal group. I’ve been researching petite and tall fashions for like the past year and there is virtually no stylish options- especially for tall. It’s sad…

  9. Jenni says

    Lane Bryant only makes money because they are the best of the worst. There is nothing out there that doesn’t cost a fortune. I actually spend most of my money at Old Navy now and I still have a crappy waredrobe. I wish SOMEONE would come out with a decent line so we can stop being forced to shop at over-priced, ugly, ill-fitting, and cheaply made Lane Bryant.

  10. Reesy says

    I have to disagree that Lane Bryant is the best of the worst. We have a store here…Ashley Stewart and there clothes are more fashionable.

    I find myself in a unique situation as well. I am 5’11 but between sizes….sometimes I’m a 14…sometimes 16. The tops and bottoms in Lane Bryant are too big for me but the pants are long enough. So I have to get them fixed.

    Ashley Stewart has wonderful suit options….not your everday cuts. I’ve been fortunate because Old Navy does sell tall sizes and since I am small on the top, I can get some fabulous tops and pair with my long pants and have been able to have a pretty significant wardrobe. Using the Budget Fashionista’s tips on the top ten. I get rave reviews all the time from my friends who think I spend a fortune and that my closet is overflowing.  It’s not….mix and match.

    So back to the topic, I haven’t found that being my size and height has caused any major financial issues.

  11. marilyn says

    a valid point

    If I recall the lead character in Sex and the City used to say all her income went into her closet—is that a good role model for anyone?

  12. Kaela says

    Yeah…I’m over six foot and I have long limbs.  I can sometimes fit into junior or misses tops, but for bottoms and jackets I usually have to go to the Tall Girl Shop, which is expensive for the quality and sometimes has downright weird clothes.  Gap carries a limited selection of x-longs, but it’s harder to shop sales.  Shoes are my biggest problem.  I wear a 12W, and shoe stores assume that I am over fifty and have bunions.

  13. Julie says

    We have Ashley Stewart here as well (Chicago) and I find you have to be really careful with the material quality when shopping there. I have found cute styles, but the quality of fabric would be such that I’d leave the item right in the store. 

    The issue I find at Lane Bryant is that most clothes are cut for women with larger busts and more ample tummies than I possess. My problem area is my rear/thighs and I’m not so much wide-hipped as I am bootyfull (lol) and I love wearing pants but often slacks are not necessarily cut for generous booty as they are for the plump tummy or wider hip.  However… thank goodness I’ve found some success with the Chelsea pant!

  14. Julia says

    It’s funny because unlike my friends I have been able to save a lot of money – the main reason being that clothes don’t fit me well because I am larger. I tend to spend my money on DVD’s, magazines, etc rather then clothes because if I can’t have the clothes I want (rock and republic, true religion, chanel etc) why buy clothes at all?

  15. Elyse says

    I have had a very different experience. I wear a smaller size, and it’s often very hard to find pieces that fit well at lower prices, and these sizes are picked over by the time the sales roll around.  A buyer friend of mine tells me that this happens, becasue the sets that stores buy tend to have fewer 00s and 0s.  So I shop full retail and then pay to either have things tailored or buy from higher end brands with more petite cuts.  :(

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