By Frances Clause
For some women, deciding where to shop for trendy clothes that fit isn’t an issue. But for plus-size women, this can be an obstacle, depending on the store.
Lakeesha Moore, owner of Big Girl Swag Mobile Boutique, aims to make Youngstown a place where women who wear plus-size fashion can feel that the fit and style of clothing is made just for them.
“I’ve always been a plus-size girl, and I’ve always had trouble finding clothes to wear,” she said. “As I got older, I started to find things I liked, and they were always online.”
Moore said if she brought these clothes to the community, people could share her positive experience with fashion. But customers won’t find typical dresses and T-shirts in her boutique.
“You’ll find statement pieces, things that you’d like to wear out or something that you know is going to turn heads. There are dresses [in my boutique], but it will have a nice sleeve or a sheer middle part because we all like something extra,” she said about the style of clothing she carries.
The boutique bus has been rolling around Youngstown since Feb. 1 and includes sizes XL through 6X. A fitting room in the back enables customers to try on pieces before they buy them.
But fashion isn’t the only empowering element inside the boutique. Images of plus-size celebrities, ranging from Lizzo to Missy Elliott, decorate the interior of the bus.
“Just because we’re big and like to dress nice doesn’t mean we promote obesity,” Moore said. “We should still have the same choices a smaller person would have [to wear].”
Moore encourages plus-size women to not be afraid of a “pop of color,” a two-piece outfit or sheer fabric.
“If you put it on and you feel confident in it, then wear it,” she said.
Mykaela Wagner, a graduate student in biology at Youngstown State University, wears her clothing confidently and is always looking for more items to add to her closet. For casual styles, she visits Target, Torrid or Maurices.
One local shop carries most of these brands and aims to make the shopping experience cheaper for its customers.
Love Thy Curves Plus Size Consignment Boutique, located at 6900 Market St., is a store Wagner always leaves satisfied.
“I love coming here because it’s the same type of stores like Torrid, but it’s not going to be at the Torrid prices,” she said. “And the staff is super nice every time I’ve been here.”
Love Thy Curves’ philosophy is to create a warm, inviting place to shop and a comfortable space where people can embrace their curves in a judgement-free zone, according to the store website.
Owner Nicci Bell knows firsthand how struggling to find clothing that fits affects plus-size women.
“It’s a big self-esteem killer,” she said. “When you’re used to not being able to find what you like, you don’t want to go shopping, you don’t want to leave the house, you don’t want to go out with people because you’re looking at yourself like you’re just not worth it.”
However, Bell believes the fashion industry has come a long way in making trendier items for plus-size women.
“Now, we have some crazy prints, good florals. … We don’t necessarily look like we’re wearing draped curtains anymore,” she said.
Wagner believes accepting your body, whether you’re plus size or not, is a struggle that can be conquered.
“I think it’s important to take the time to really just get those negative thoughts out of your head and love yourself for who you are and fitting your idea of beauty, not someone else’s idea of beauty,” she said.
To stay updated on the latest plus-size clothing, visit Big Girl Swag by Keesha and Love Thy Curves on Facebook.