If you ask a plus size person their experience walking the aisles of retail stores, they may claim that the shelves won’t have a large range of clothes- forcing larger consumers to turn to expensive plus size specific brands that mark prices up. This is known as the “Plus Size Tax”, the phenomenon where clothes are increasingly much more expensive for sizes XL and above, despite sizes S to L costing generally the same price.
“If you’re not financially stable, your choices are definitely limited. You’re forced to wear either ugly things or just keep rewearing the few nice things you find and you [will] just have a tiny closet.”, stated Eliselda Gonzalez-Devora, the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) administrative coordinator at LMU.
Eliselda Gonzalez-Devora, photo via Loyola Marymount
She stated that she wears size 2XL – 3XL shirts and sizes 18-20 for pants, “Gotta say, [plus sizes clothes are] not always the best quality either,” Gonzalez-Devora said. “It’s not like you’re paying for better quality, you’re just paying for more fabric, but just a little too much more than you normally would.” She also mentioned that she had recently bought seven articles of clothing from the plus size brand, Torrid, which ended up costing $800. “It’s not like you’re going to Macy’s and buying high-end things, they’re just normal [clothes].”
Torrid Ad Campaign, Photo via SEC
“Another thing that ‘my people’ deal with is that we don’t have a thigh gap, so the constant rubbing of the pants wears them down really easily,” Gonzalez-Devora stated. She explained that unless brands change their pricings, there is no solution for plus size people when clothes shopping. “[You] constantly have to be buying new jeans and things like that,” she said. If you buy low quality things to get away with the plus size tax, you just end up paying more for it by constantly replenishing your closet because things keep wearing down too quickly.” She also brought up fast fashion brands such as Shein, and mentioned the moral dilemma of buying clothes from brands that have controversial labor practices, “Do I save money? Or do I not give them my business?”
Gonzalez-Devora also recently got married, explaining how the plus size tax spills over into the wedding industry. “The wedding industry I don’t think caters very well to plus size people, my husband and I really struggled to find things,” she stated. “For example, brides’ dresses, they do run large for the most part, but if you gain weight, which a lot of us are prone to really easily… I ended up needing to do a thousand dollars worth of alterations on the dress.”
Her husband, Francisco Devora, stated that he wears size 4XL for shirts and 48 for pants. “For men, I guess we’re more rectangles, like just straight lines. But the more body fat a man has the more estrogen we have, and that’s why some plus size guys have a very feminine figure,” Devora explained. “In the sense that there are certain curves that are not necessarily associated with a guy.” He explained how some shirts he buys fits in some places and not others, causing hidden costs of tailoring, “If I buy a shirt that is my size, it will close on my stomach and chest, but it won’t close on my neck. But if I buy a shirt that closes on my neck, I’ll have to get it tailored for it to be not so loose around my torso.” When asked about the lack of diversity in the fashion industry, Devora added, “Because clothing has a brand on it like if you wear a shirt on it from a certain designer, sometimes I feel that’s advertising for the company,” he said. “I feel that if you want your company to show that cool, young, fit people wear your clothes, you design clothes to fit, you know- fit people.”
“When I first started dating him, he only had a few shirts in his closet.” Gonzales-Devora stated. “You know, like, he had to rotate them throughout the week, like wear them twice, and that’s a very common thing for guys.”
She provided an example from comedian Gabriel Iglesias, who joked about his limited wardrobe, “If you notice, he’s always wearing Hawaiian shirts and in shows he’s like, ‘Yeah, it’s the only thing they make for plus size guys.”
Gabriel Iglesias via NBC News
Both Gonzalez-Devora and Devora expressed their frustration with the plus size tax that prices a necessity like clothes into a luxury item. She argued, “You see price tags for shirts that are small, medium, large, and they’re the same. You know for a fact that a large takes up more fabric than a small, so it’s like, if it were to be fair, it should be [that] every size up should have a very tiny amount difference [that’s] proportional to your size. Plus size people should be able to afford clothes, even if they are plus size.”