Plus-size shoppers generally face challenges regarding clothing selection that straight-sized shoppers do not, and that fact is never more evident than it is in the heat of summer! Retailers may assume that plus shoppers want to avoid showing too much skin—which is a personal choice rather than dictum based on size—or specific body parts, or that youthful, pretty styles are less important to our demographic. So if dressing for the heat in plus size clothing has frustrated you in the past, just know that we at Lands’ End are here to help. Not only do we have a great selection of attractive warm-weather clothing, we’re going to give to tips to help you dress for the heat and keep you looking and feeling your confident best!
I spent years wearing at least elbow-length sleeves even when it was 104° out, convinced that my large upper arms, where I do naturally carry weight, were unfit for public viewing. What a goose I was! This is my body, and it deserves kind treatment. Whether or not I particularly like my upper arms, I shouldn’t force myself to dress inappropriately for the weather. Whether or not I particularly like my upper arms, my body does not deserve to be dehydrated from profuse perspiration. Whether or not I particularly like my upper arms, my body does not deserve me driving it into heat stroke. All of these things really happened, and I am so sorry for it now.
If you don’t like some specific area, you may wish to camouflage or cover it, but we encourage you to do so only if it is truly comfortable and safe. Perhaps you feel you “can’t” wear shorts, or “can’t” show your midriff. Well, you can. There is no law against it. Wear a strapless sundress, sleeveless blouse, plus size tank tops , shorts, shorter shorts, a bikini. . . whatever! You have the right to bare arms, legs, shoulders, midriff, whatever you wish. If someone doesn’t like it, they can avert their gaze.
The breathability of your clothing is everything in the heat! If air can’t reach your skin, it can’t cool it. There are certain performance fabrics that wick moisture away and can help keep you comfortable; Lands’ End has a great array of performance fabric pieces including Polo shirts and athleisure wear. Personally, I find natural fiber fabrics best at keeping me cool and comfy in warm weather. Cotton and linen are ideal, but you might also like to try hemp, bamboo, silk or tropical-weight wool. You might consider a fabric that is a natural fiber/synthetic fiber blend, if avoiding wrinkling or stretch is important to you.
Natural fibers are also ecological. They are usually sustainable, fully recyclable and biodegradable, and may even be grown organically. If reducing your carbon footprint or sustainable living are part of your values, choosing natural fibers is a logical extension of your ideals.
Pair a plus size tunics top with capris for an adorable warm-weather look! The built-in bra allows you to skip one layer, avoiding the heat and moisture that can build up under a bra band. The same goes for wearing a bandeau bathing suit topped by a flowy skirt. You might consider wearing a pretty, oversized-blouse style beach coverup over short-shorts and a tank top, so that you can decide in the moment exactly what you wish to cover or reveal. You can tie a traditional pareo into all sorts of tops, skirts and dresses, or you might wear pareo pants with a trim tank. Rethink how you wear beachwear or what you have previously worn as warm-weather base layers to see if you can incorporate them into new, cooler outfits.
We encourage you to branch out and try new pieces, especially if you have previously limited your warm-weather clothing choices due to societal pressures. If you have avoided shorts for a long time, baby-step into crisp Bermuda shorts. Pair them with a tank top for a casual look or create a polished ensemble with a sleeveless blouse. If you have been hiding your arms, consider trying something with very short or cap sleeves. Personally, I find that exposing plenty of skin in a spaghetti-strap top or dress actually helps me feel completely unselfconscious, but you figure out what works for you! If you just plain don’t like the way shorts feel, consider dresses—they are airy and let your legs enjoy the breeze without the bunching and riding up that some people (me, it’s me) experience in shorts.
There are a few little tips that can help keep a plus-sized person a lot more comfortable in the heat, but perhaps you haven’t heard them yet; let me fill you in!
You deserve to have fun at outdoor get togethers, ball games, picnics. . . all the things people do in the summer that require us to be out in the heat. Dressing for the heat as a plus-size person may be a little more challenging than it is for other people, but we encourage you to let go of your inhibitions, try new ideas or styles, and keep yourself as cool and comfortable as possible this summer!