Last updated on November 12th, 2023
Featured image: These clothing tips for plus-size solo travellers will help you feel comfortable and fashionable anywhere you go | Photo by megostudio on Envato
Tips for solo women to explore the world with flair and confidence
by Stephanie Dolan, Guest Writer
Adventure knows no bounds, and neither should your sense of style. One lesson that plus-size solo travellers have learned is this: if you’re uncomfortable, your trip – no matter how magnificent – is miserable. Navigating the world as a solo plus-size female traveller can sometimes feel fraught enough without adding uncomfortable clothing to the mix.
To help other plus-size solo travellers prepare for travel, I’ve curated a travel wardrobe that blends fashion with functionality, allowing you to explore the world with flair and confidence. These brands prioritize inclusivity while also celebrating women-owned businesses.
Why the right clothes matter
Travel can be uncomfortable for plus-size solo travellers. First, there are weirdly small seats in coach. That’s not news. It’s a very old story that gets older each time we board a flight. On top of that, I also have to deal with the potential agony of requesting seatbelt extenders when I don’t have the foresight to come already equipped.
I recall a flight home from Orlando a few years ago. Not only was my exercise in subtlety ruined when a flight attendant made sure the entire plane knew I was “not allowed” to use an extender in an emergency exit row (news to me!), but my tight jeans, designed more for cuteness than comfort, did me no favors once I’d been forced to take a seat in a much more confining row. My choice wasn’t so bad when I had the extra legroom, but when I didn’t? I had to endure two and a half hours of aching knees and a strangled waistline that threatened to saw me in half every time we hit turbulence.
While some travellers may not have gotten the memo encouraging inclusivity in the world of travel, the world of travel fashion absolutely is inclusive and is taking center stage. Plus-size solo travellers deserve clothing that combines comfort, style, and confidence, and the journey begins with a wardrobe that empowers.
Embracing Inclusivity: Five Brands that Empower Plus-Size Women
Gone are the days when plus-size travellers had to compromise between style and comfort. Today, a multitude of clothing brands are leading the way in championing inclusivity, offering a wide range of sizes without compromising on style.
These brands are reshaping the landscape of travel fashion and empowering women of all sizes to embark on their journeys with self-assurance. Here are some standout brands that deserve a prominent place in your wanderlust wardrobe:
1. Universal Standard
Positioned as a beacon of size-inclusive fashion, Universal Standard is rewriting the rules. With their extensive size range and chic designs, the brand ensures that every woman feels fabulous. From travel-friendly essentials like versatile dresses to comfortable separates, Universal Standard pieces are perfect companions for any journey, exuding both style and comfort and catering up to a size 28.
My top recommendation: the Halie T-shirt dress. It currently runs US$88 but hear me out. This gem is created from a comfy blend of cotton and spandex and can be easily dressed up for a nice dinner. Ending a long day of sightseeing in Rome with a sumptuous dinner at an elegant rooftop restaurant? Add some earrings and perhaps a nice scarf. This piece will take up minimal space in your carry-on and can truly be utilized for a wide variety of occasions and circumstances.
Celebrated for its trendy and fashionable pieces, ELOQUII is a dedicated space for plus-sized women to discover a world of style. Their collection includes statement blouses and well-fitting jeans that effortlessly transition from day to night during your travels. ELOQUII‘s commitment to empowering plus-size women through fashion is evident in every piece they offer, offering sizes up to 32.
My top recommendation: the Shirred Halter One-Piece Swimsuit. It’s on sale starting at US$17.98. It comes in two colors, but my personal favorite is the black. It’s both stylish and useful. Whether you’re planning on bodysurfing in the Mediterranean or lying on Bondi Beach waiting on a gorgeous someone to bring you a beverage, you can’t go wrong for style, comfort or price!
Catering to a diverse range of styles, from boho to classic, Torrid is committed to enhancing the confidence of plus-size women and is one of my personal favorites. Their extensive offerings, including swimwear and activewear collections, cater to various vacation scenarios. Whether you’re planning an active adventure or a leisurely beach getaway, Torrid has options that help you look and feel your best up to a size 30.
My top recommendation: the Super Soft Slub Crew Neck Long Sleeve Tee. For those of you who, like me, run hot, fear not. The “long” sleeves don’t come all the way to the wrist, and they are loose enough to easily push up. This top is currently on sale for US$23.94 and will allow those of you who, also like me, enjoy displaying your personality through visible clothing slogans. The particular slogan sported on this tee: “Sounds Like a You Problem.” If that particular suggestion isn’t your speed, there are plenty of others to choose from.
Torrid is the place I go on the regular for both funny and flirty pieces that are always conversation starters. Some of my other favorites include: “Disappointed but not Surprised,” “The Book Was Better” and “Maybe Swearing Will Help.” Torrid is absolutely the place to shop if you’re looking for a side of quirk with your comfort!
4. Dia & Co
Simplify your travel wardrobe journey with Dia & Co, a personalized styling service that takes the guesswork out of shopping. By curating clothing items based on your preferences and body type, Dia & Co ensures you receive pieces that not only flatter your figure but also align with your unique style. This service is an excellent choice for building a travel wardrobe that’s both functional and fashionable up to a size 32.
My top recommendation: the Calvin Klein Rib-Trim Jogger Pants. I know, I know. I can HEAR you all rolling your eyes at me. “How am I supposed to afford Calvin Klein AND get an upgrade to business class?!” you might be asking. Because these babies are on sale for only US$22.50. They are crafted from a comfortable and breathable blend that includes rayon and spandex, and they are cropped. So showing off your shoe game won’t be a problem when you’re roaming the back alleys of London in your Nikes or your AllBirds looking for the city’s smallest public square.
5. Proud Mary Fashion
Standing at the intersection of size inclusivity and sustainable practices, Proud Mary Fashion is a women-owned brand with a mission. Beyond offering travel-friendly pieces that empower women on their adventures, the brand places a strong emphasis on ethical and eco-friendly production. By choosing Proud Mary Fashion, you’re not only enhancing your travel wardrobe but also supporting responsible fashion choices up to a size 30.
My top recommendation: the Abundance Linen Shirt Dress. This. Is. Adorable. But also comfortable and practical. Picture it: It’s been a long hot day of marching through the streets of Barcelona or Istanbul, but you’ve kept cool in large part due to the breathability of this linen dress while on your trek. I also suggest pairing the dress with bike shorts underneath to prevent chaffing and keep your sensitive skin protected, so that, should you don a dress for dinner, you won’t be doing that weird monkey walk we’ve all been reduced to when making a poor clothing choice from the waist down.
Curating Your Plus-Size Travel Wardrobe: Five Practical Tips
1. Start with Versatile Basics
When curating your travel wardrobe, start with versatile pieces that form the core of your outfits. Consider a well-fitting pair of jeans, a timeless black dress, and comfortable leggings. These basics can be mixed and matched to create a variety of looks, allowing you to pack light without sacrificing style. Another great brand is Bloomchic. The prices on even their most elegant items are far beyond reasonable, and they make it very easy to mix and match items!
2. Layer Up with Functional Outerwear
Travel often involves encountering various climates and situations. Layering is a practical strategy to adapt to changing conditions. Lightweight cardigans, stylish kimono jackets and denim layers can effortlessly elevate your look while providing functionality. These pieces not only provide warmth but also add style to your travel wardrobe. Roamans or Woman Within offer a myriad of stylish and very affordable selections for outerwear.
3. Comfortable Footwear
Walking and exploring are integral to any journey. Prioritize comfortable and supportive footwear that not only complements your outfits but also ensures your feet remain happy throughout your adventures. Stylish sneakers or cushioned sandals are excellent choices.
My go-to for sneakers of late has been Skechers. Their brand has evolved SO well over the years, and they offer SO many stylish and comfortable choices in wide widths. Also, every pair I own has lasted me years.
Another great, but slightly less affordable brand, would be Vionic. These shoes are extraordinarily comfortable and the soles of each shoe are crafted to align your foot with your body to keep your feet better rested and affording quicker recoveries.
4. Statement Accessories
Accessories are transformative elements that breathe life into your outfits. Pack statement necklaces, scarves, or bold earrings to add a touch of personality and elevate even the simplest ensembles. One of my favorite options here, by far, is Little Rooms! They offer subtle yet eye-catching options for every personality. If you are a fan of Edgar Allen Poe, space, astrology, dinosaurs or horror movies, you need Little Rooms in your life!
5. Multi-Purpose Dresses
Dresses are versatile companions for travel. Opt for wrinkle-resistant fabrics that can be dressed up or down. A maxi dress, for instance, can effortlessly transition from daytime sightseeing to a dinner out, offering both style and convenience. Again I will invoke the brand Bloomchic. Their selection and versatility know no bounds. If you haven’t given them a go yet, you should. Their prices are always low, their selection is always massive and they have SO many dresses suitable for comfortable travel with a few high-class stops along the way.
Confidence is the Ultimate Accessory
The foundation of any stylish ensemble is confidence. Your travel wardrobe should reflect your personality and serve as an extension of your self-assuredness. Remember that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Every curve, every size and every shape is deserving of celebration. As you step out of your comfort zone and explore new horizons, let your wardrobe be a testament to your unshakeable self-confidence.
Gone are the days when plus-size solo travellers were constrained by limited fashion choices. The world of travel fashion is evolving, with brands rising to the occasion and catering to all sizes with style, comfort, and flair.
As you curate your plus-size travel wardrobe, prioritize versatility, comfort, and a touch of personal style. Allow your outfits to not only complement your adventures but also empower you to navigate the world with unwavering confidence. Whether you find yourself hiking through exotic landscapes, sipping coffee in charming cafes, or immersing yourself in local culture, let your wardrobe reflect your adventurous spirit. As you embark on your solo journeys, hold your head high, and let your wanderlust wardrobe lead the way, reminding you that the world is yours to explore with panache and style.
Stephanie Dolan is a freelance writer, author and plus-size lover of solo travel who abhors a lack of comfort in all things, including fashion. She lives and works in Indianapolis, IN, and the top item on her travel bucket list is Vatican City.
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