Plus Sizes Make No Sense (Plus, I Really Love Gwynnie Bee Now)

If wearing clothes other people have worn doesn't skeeve you, Gwynnie Bee is way more awesome than anticipated. Especially since sizing across brands is ridiculous.
Publish date:
December 26, 2013
FATshion, fat, plus sizes, gwynnie bee

A while back, I found out about Gwynnie Bee. Probably on Facebook or something. I was intrigued, but I wrote it off because I wasn't looking for more work clothes. My work dress code is business casual but it's not super corporate and, well, you get to see a lot of what I wear to work when I post pictures here.

But it kept coming up in conversation -- people were curious about it and I started looking into it a little more curiously. Then a person from Gwynnie Bee got in touch and asked if I'd be interested in trying the service out with an eye toward writing it up -- and the timing was too perfect for me not to jump at the chance.

(I tell you this because, hey, full and honest disclosure. I am always weird about free stuff and I don't want to ever deceive you, even accidentally. When I link to them, I'm using a referrer link.)

Thus began the adventure. Spoiler alert: I kind of dig the hell out of Gwynnie Bee now that I've used it for a couple of months.

Here's how Gwynnie Bee works: You sign up (everyone gets a free month for their first month) and browse the site to find clothes you like. You select your size and then "closet" the item. Your "closet" is the group of clothes you want them to send you -- think of it like when you're fantasy shopping and you load up your cart full of items you don't have hundreds of dollars to pay for.

Or is that just me?

Anyway, it's just like that except then you get the clothes in the mail! Depending on the plan you sign up for, Gwynnie Bee ships you a certain number of items and includes postage paid mail bags for you to return the items when you're done with them. In that sense, this functions EXACTLY like old school Netflix. (Let's not talk about the Netflix DVD I've had for, like, 10 years.)

Plus size shopping online is freaking hard, partly because sizing is so inconsistent. It's taken me a lot of money and years to build a wardrobe; my clothes also represent a significant emotional investment because the process of finding them can sometimes be so hard.

I'm also already so bitter about paying for shipping from places that don't stock plus sizes in stores that I'll rarely risk it if I have any doubt about whether or not something will fit.

As you can imagine, this means I can be slow to adopt new resources -- especially stuff like Evans and ASOS Curve, which originally shipped from overseas. Yeah, it's a catch-22 because I want to try new clothes made for fat people but I'll be damned if I'm going to pay international shipping to return something, y'all. I'm into taking fashion risks and trying new things, but I'm not into being stuck with an item that doesn't even fit my body just because returning it will cost more than the piece of clothing is worth.

Obviously this has happened to me before and it's still a sore spot.

I also hold grudges against brands that haven't worked for me in the past. Which is silly and illogical, I know, I know. And I'm working on it -- I keep ordering things specifically to test the validity of some old grudges and I've been pleasantly surprised in a few cases.

This is why I am so thrilled that Gwynnie Bee is unexpectedly rocking my world. Yeah, there are some conservative business pieces I don't swoon for, but there's also a lot of fun and -- I'll admit it -- trendy pieces I'd never have taken a risk on because of sizing concerns. (And it pains me to be trendy because I am contrary like that.)

I mean, seriously, ASOS Curve? How am I wearing a size 22? This just emphasizes to me that measurements are where it's at in plus size shopping (and I suspect that'd be good to live by in straight sizes, too).

Ultimately, the size of that red animal print dress is meaningless; it fits and it gives me a chance to incorporate something new and different into my wardrobe for a little while. And that's something I'm super into -- because I hate wearing the exact same outfit more than once or twice but I'm not made of money. Even if everything fit, I could never afford to buy everything that catches my momentary fancy.

Sometimes even measurements can be misleading -- that pink floral flared peplum top (man, that's a series of descriptors, right?) should be fitting me a lot better than it is. Instead of ordering and then dealing with the return process, I just chucked the thing in a return envelope and moved on, sans hassle. And if I am moved to experiment with florals again, I know to size down in that style with that brand.

As much as I just admitted that holding brand grudges is a ridiculous thing for me to do and that I'm working on getting over it, when I tried yet another Igigi dress via my first Gwynnie Bee box, I discovered that, no, seriously, they still don't work for me at all. Matronly doesn't even begin to cover it. Igigi is expensive enough that buying something new from them as an experiment would put a crimp in my disposal budget -- and knowing that their cut still doesn't work for my body means I save not only money but also the emotional work of dealing with clothes that look like crap once I put them on.

It's a lot easier to shrug off a dress looking like crap if I haven't spent a hundred of my scarce personal dollars on it. And it's even easier than that if all I have to do is send it back and wait for something new and interesting to arrive in its place!

I'm not sure how to put a value on that experience. And it's something that only being able to try on a garment without the pressure of owning it can tell you. For that alone, Gwynnie Bee is GOLDEN to me.

It's worth mentioning -- if you really love a garment (the way I love that silver Jessica Howard dress I'd literally never have had in my life without Gwynnie Bee), you can buy it from Gwynnie Bee for a discounted rate. So far, I've been tempted but knowing I can re-closet something later has mitigated my scarcity-induced drive to own everything that works on my body.

What do you think of Gwynnie Bee? Is it something you'd try? How ridic is the size range in your closet?