Having been both a teen and plus sized in the 00’s, I have to start by saying that I know that shopping is an incredibly unfair and at times, depressing activity for girls like us. (Even more difficult for men and those whose bodies don’t fit America’s straight or plus sized women’s measurements.) Online purchases can be a gamble and in-store options are far and few between. My goal with these entries is to ease the burden by suggesting good, plus-size friendly options and teaching you how to identify if something might be worth getting even if it isn’t from a famously diverse brand.
After a lot of thinking, list-making, note deleting, and more thinking- I felt that my first shopping guide (blog? log?) should be something I’m asked about often…
Where do I buy my pleated skirts?
The last time I counted, I had about 30 or so pleated skirts between my every day and cosplay wardrobe. Most of these are upstairs in my daily closet while 4 or so are made of PVC/Faux Leather and aren’t really ‘day clothes’.
Here is a short list of stores and brands that I have personally bought from and recommend to plus sized shoppers interested in good-to-great quality pleated skirts. For reference, I am about 5’3 and usually fit into US 3X or size 22 comfortably with occasional dips into 20 and 24 when things run large or small.
*This list will not include products that I felt were not worth the money, products that came from shops I cannot in good faith suggest to you, or shops that no longer exist as of February 2020.
1. Forever 21
I have a love-hate relationship with F21’s plus size range. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of how they seem to skimp on the plus products when a new collection is released- I still shake my head when I think of the “selection” they offered in the plus portion of the 2020 Barbie collab. But, every now and again they release a good quality pleated skirt. My famous white ‘skirt’- which is actually a skort- is one of these good finds!
Pros: Skirts last a long time, several years if they’re taken care of.
Cons: Not a staple item and no real clues when new ones will drop.
I’m not sure how long they have stocked them but I discovered ICC’s pleated skirts somewhere between December of 2019 and January 2020. I cannot say enough about these skirts. See, unlike most of the skirts I own, these skirts have a soft, chiffon-y feel. They’re well lined, and have a dreamy sort of flow to them. I did find that I had to size up from my usual 3X to a 4X for a more comfortable fit, but it was well worth the trade.
Pros: Soft fabric, well made
Cons: Only available in two colors at the time of this entry, runs just about an inch or two smaller than expected.
My first investment in colorful pleated skirts was from this shop on etsy. They make skirts in a wide range of sizes and various plaid prints! Every skirt is a wrap style skirt, meaning you will need to wrap the garment around yourself and fasten it with the Velcro closure for wear. The purple plaid skirt from my “big tiddy goth gf” photos came from this store!
Pros: Many colors, many sizes, good customer service.
Cons: Almost all of the fabrics used are thin and the skirts come unlined. Because of this, I only wear the lighter/thinner ones for photos and cosplay.
4. Hot Topic
There are multiple styles and brands of pleated skirt sold by Hot Topic. I am only suggesting that you buy from third party brands like Tripp NYC (or other well known brands that are not Hot Topic’s own brand). Tripp’s plus size skirts are cute and have that retro 90s cut but can be really big so be sure to read through the reviews and size down if need be. Unfortunately, I can’t say much for the Hot Topic line of skirts. It’s far too thin, floppy, and fragile to hold its pleated shape and after one or two wears it’s just kind of… sad.
Pros: Tripp NYC, Hellbunny, and other 3rd party brands sell through them.
Cons: Tripp itself can run large, HOT TOPIC BRAND CHEER SKIRTS ARE TRASH. (I hope they change the style soon.)
5. Depop (Namely Shop Alien Bratz)
Shop Alien Bratz is a cool little shop on Depop that carries over one hundred accessories and articles of clothing, including plus size pleated skirts. If you can’t find any while scrolling, DM the owner and she’ll message you with what options there are. (I’ve had listings made for me custom before!)
In addition to SAB, Depop is a great place for 2nd hand plus sized finds!
Pros: Great quality skirts, very cute and versatile.
Cons: Not as many colors available as straight sizes.
The bulk of my skirts are from brands that only sell wholesale to retailers and not directly to buyers like us. I want to take a second to give you some tips on how to identify if a skirt might be perfect for you, even if it’s coming from a store that usually doesn’t cater to bigger sizes.
- Know your measurements! I got used to buying custom clothing years ago and just kept my hip and waist measurements in a note on my phone in case someone needed them. Turns out, it was way more useful for me!
- Understand your body’s shape! Size guides on websites are usually general and not 100% correct. If you’ve got your measurements and know that you may have a lot more thigh than booty, or more tummy than both, or more hip than anything- you’ll be in a better position to guess if you should size up/down or skip an item altogether.
- Learn more about fabrics! Some things have streeeetch and some things are stiff and unforgiving. If you see a list of materials on a product’s listing, google whatever you don’t know and see if it might just work for you!
- Read Reviews! I have become an avid review reader in my journey to be the best shopper there ever was. Photo and Video reviews are twice as good! Watch haul and review videos, scan the brand tag on Instagram, see what other plus size folk have done with the product you’re thinking about buying!