Gearing Up – Plus Size Workout Clothes

Plus Size PleaseI am currently in the first round of gear acquisition for my IRONMAN training.

The first thing to know about Plus Size workout clothes is that there are very few choices of clothing that come in my size. It’s hard to find even basic workout gear in my sizes – sports bras, yoga pants, t-shirts etc. – so it’s not a surprise that finding technical gear in a 26/28 is not that easy.

As a side note, I think it’s possible that the people who direct photo shoots for plus size exercise gear have never exercised, or seen it done, and may actually be confused about the concept.

I don’t know about you, but this is exactly how I look on my long runs.

And if the fact that most athletic wear companies don’t make clothes in my size wasn’t enough of a message, there’s this:

New balance cover pic

New Balance’s website front page wants me to know that “Fabulous comes in many shapes and sizes.”  A couple clicks later I learn that mine is not one of them.

But points to New Balance for not saying they cater to “All shapes and sizes” when they don’t even come close (I’m looking at you Fabletics) or do the Old Navy thing of selling plus sized clothes but only online with the rule that you aren’t allowed to return them to the store (which says to me “We’ll take your money but we don’t want to see your fat ass in our stores.”) Also, New Balance has the only shoes that fit me but that’s a subject for a whole other post.

Danskin has some basic stuff in my size that I like. They get points for putting all the clothes together (instead of that annoying thing where you choose from Tops, Bottoms, Bras, Socks, Shoes, Plus as if they have to keep our clothes separate lest the other clothes catch fat.)  Some of their stuff goes up to 4x, but some only goes up to XL so it’s a crapshoot for the larger sizes.

Enell makes super badass sports bras in a lot fo sizes.

Junonia has great plus size workout clothes up to 6x, and they actually sell clothing made out of performance wicking fabrics rather than just cotton (which soaks up water, including rain and sweat, and becomes gross, heavy, and chafe-inducing.)

I just ordered padded bike shorts from Aero Tech Designs (because, at least for me, spin bikes and lady bits seem to be a match made in hell.) They have technical gear in plus sizes sometimes up to 5x and they don’t seem to have a big upcharge for larger sizes so that’s cool.

It looks like my wetsuit will have to be custom made, and that I’ll have to get some upgrades to my bike and and I’m sure there will be other clothes and gear that I need that are hard to find, and  I’ll learn all about that soon enough. For now I’m excited about getting my first round of clothes to try out.

Just as I’m irritated by a world that (inappropriately) insists that I should exercise because I’m fat, but then suggests that I should be horrified if people see me doing it (or tries to get this message across by throwing eggs at me,)  I’m also irritated that a world that (inappropriately) insists that I exercise because I’m fat makes it difficult and expensive at best, and impossible at worst, to have appropriate clothing to engage in the kind of exercise I want to do. I’m not going to let 140.6 miles stop me, I’m certainly not going to let trouble finding clothes stop me.

More Cool Stuff:

If you have questions about my IRONMAN journey  the FAQ might help!

If you’re looking for a place to talk about fitness from a weight neutral perspective, check out the Fit Fatties Forum. and the Fit Fatties Facebook page.

If you’re looking for motivation you can check out my IM Motivation Pinterest.

If you just can’t get enough of my blogging, you can check out my main blog at www.danceswithfat.org

About danceswithfat

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be IRONMAN, Activist, Fat Person.
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15 Responses to Gearing Up – Plus Size Workout Clothes

  1. I’ve been on the find a bathing suit that will be supportive and comfortable mission and ugh, I feel so much of what you’ve said… it really infuriates me to no end.

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  2. Jennifer says:

    You might try swimoutlet.com for suits and even wetsuits. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at their options of size.

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    • expendableenergy says:

      WOW! thanks so much for posting. it looks as though the sizes run small (from the size chart) but they do have a variety of sizes. thanks!

      Like

  3. I have been reading a lot of your posts and I have huge trouble finding clothes that are my size… I live in Austria and over here, it is very, very rare to be as fat as I am. I am the fattest person I know (265 lbs). So because, I think there is no demand, there is no supply. I cannot shop anywhere, because my size is just not supported. It is even hard for me to find things on Amazon. I know of plus size shops but the sizes there are either too small or I just cannot afford them or they only cater to men… I mean I also find it stupid that they make a distinction between “male” and “female” clothes…but that is a different story. I am a student, so I cannot afford to buy clothes that cost over 100 Euros… which is half of what I have available per month to eat. I wonder if you could maybe do an article on where to get clothes that aren’t too expensive and available internationally. I am sorry, I didn’t want to spam you or anything. If you think it’s spam, it is your right to remove it. Love your articles! A non-apologetic fattie.

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  4. Sarah says:

    I’ve been doing triathlon at your size for almost 10 years. I’m so happy to finally see others out there my size!

    With regard to the lack of clothing options in our size, that’s because so few folks our size buy technical clothes that the manufacturers lose money. However, there are a few manufacturers that are finally serving the big community beyond Danskin and Junonia (I hated their clothes – the cut was awful and the seams were even worse.)

    I second Swim Outlet for training swim suits. Ocean makes a crossback competition suit – I wear a 24L. The lycra is the best. You might need to wear a sport bra underneath, but lots of women wear sport bras under their suits. Your wetsuit is very likely going to need to be a custom job (but first check out F2R and look at the men’s shortie), but if you can handle temperature, you might try without. I’ve never used a wettie and consistently am in the middle or front of the pack in the swim (on land, a whole ‘nother story.) Also, Terry Bicycles has great cycling shorts and tights in a 26-28 (if you’re doing Ironman, plan on outdoor winter bike training. Terry has some of the best made clothes out there.) Terry used to have cycling jerseys in 4X, but they have since discontinued that size. There might still be a few on clearance – if you can, get them because they last forever. Also check out Team Estrogen’s plus section. Brands that often have the 4X are Canari and Sport Hill. If you are willing to invest in a tri kit, Champion Systems makes them in up to 4X. Buy the men’s cut and avoid anything that is described as a euro or a fit cut. This is what I wear when racing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for all of this, super duper helpful!!!

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    • Marcy says:

      I agree with Sarah: check out Terry Cycling http://www.terrybicycles.com/Plus I have been extremely happy with their cycling clothes.

      Also, check with teamestrogen.com They sell plus-size gear from various manufacturers. One brand I like is SheBeast.

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    • I’m with you about not liking Junonia’s stuff. I’m glad it works for other people, but I just have never found anything other than their Pear pant that works on me.

      I’ve only done sprint distance triathlons, but did them in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I would honestly go without the wetsuit if the temps make it possible. They do help make people float and can make people faster, but a lot of folks lose the time gained by fussing with a wet suit. Just something to think about 🙂

      I liked Canari’s cycling shorts and capris when I was racing. I used Danskin’s triathlon wear (which was really generous in sizing…I was an 18 when I raced, and the XL tri shorts had room to spare, plus (I think) they went up to a 3XL (I’m not sure if they still do though). Other than the swim suit, going for men’s cuts can be really helpful as they don’t do that ridiculous “girlie” sizing thing (some brands consider XL to be a size 12, which is utterly ridiculous).

      What I would love to see are plus size tri suits (the unitard things that you wear for the whole race). I was able to squeeze in to a Tyr tri suit (it was a tight fit…I think the size chart for that company puts XL at 16), but I didn’t have to fuss with my top rolling up or my shorts scooting down (I’ll dig up a race photo later if someone wants to see)

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  5. Pingback: Sunday links, 9/28/14 | Tutus And Tiny Hats

  6. Kim_n21 says:

    I did an indoor tri last year and Aero Tech was where I got my bike shorts, and they were great (I’m a little smaller than you but still solidly in the plus size, can’t find tech gear easily category). I also recommend Swim Outlet for reasonably priced plus size suits (although I can’t vouch for wetsuits). You might try Kohl’s website for running clothes. They mostly only go up to 3X in their Tek Gear line and the Fila clothes, but the leggings I bought were very generously sized- I bought 2X and could have easily sized down to a 1X. The shirts aren’t quite as generously sized- I sized up because I hate tight shirts that ride up, and I’d say they’re probably a true 3X. Also, Smartwool makes socks in a variety of sizes (their women’s sizes go up to size 12.5 shoes, and they have men’s sizing that goes larger than that) and their running socks are the most comfortable pair I own.

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  7. Leila B. says:

    I don’t know exactly how sizing works (I should, but I seem to spend my life confused…) but if you can wear the about a size 18 (?) on top, check out http://www.tonikcycling.com/ . They’re women-owned and their jerseys are great quality. I have an XL and it fits better than the Terry XXL.

    Cycling clothes are hard because they size tiny. And often don’t go up to plus sizes to boot. Also, for some reason, the powers-that-be seem to have decreed that all shorts must be shorty-shorts, and tiny inseams are the only kind available. Me, I want coverage down to my knee: anything covered by shorts does not have to be covered by sunscreen.

    Best of luck with the training!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Alex D. :) says:

    PERFECT! I’ve just started working out, mostly walking, & haven’t been able to find a plus size, & busty sports bra! I think I just did! HOORAY! As always, you hit the nail right on the head!

    It is so odd! We get the message–“Hey Fattie! You must loose weight (according to today’s society) & work out but good luck finding clothing to do so in!! If you do find something, don’t worry, we will make sure it is in no way cute or flattering! It is just completely bizarre!!

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  9. Manda says:

    Big Girls Don’t Cry anymore for lingerie and swimwear – I’ve been buying swimmers and sports bras there for years (expensive but good) and I’ve recently purchased some workout gear from Female for Life. Both Australian but both with an online store. I’m a size 20 with an F cup. Absolutely impossible to buy in boutique or department stores.

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  10. Maggie says:

    I happened to read this discussion and the recent post from your other blog about being contacted by an activewear company on the very same day I was shopping for some workout wear for myself. I wear a size that is always sold in stores, but out of curiosity and prompted by your idea to do activism by shopping from places that sell larger sizes as well, I looked to see if the website (JC Penney) where I was ordering my activewear also sold larger sizes. I had recently bought some things from their “Xersion” line, and found them to be comfortable, cute, and very affordable. When I checked into it, their plus range carries up to a 3X and their “plus extended” range carries up to a 5X, although there were only a very few items available at the top of the size range (I think two short sleeved tops, one tank top, and a pair of capris). I had a bit of a mixed response. One was that at least they carry larger sizes for people who wear them, which is more than a lot of stores do. However, I also thought that specifying “plus extended” seemed unnecessary or perhaps insulting. Or maybe it’s just how they differentiate between the styles that are available up to a 3X and those available up to a 5X? As Ragen said, they’re just sizes! I was thinking about writing them a note saying that I am a customer that wears smaller sizes, but letting them know how much I appreciate them offering a wide range of sizes and that I will continue to shop there because I like to support companies that are more inclusive of body size and shape diversity. All that aside, they do seem to have a much wider range of sizes than some other places and the clothes are cute, well made, and affordable if that’s helpful to anyone looking for activewear in larger sizes!

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