Shopping for Plus-Sized Halloween Costumes: Not for the Faint of Heart

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 23rd Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/q4jsve3k/
Posted in Wikinut>Money>Shopping

A month ago, I found a great deal and ordered my Halloween costume online. But then...

A Great Deal on a 2X Halloween Costume

It goes without saying that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Christmas has become too commercially focused. New Year's brings too much pressure to change. Valentine's Day -- who needs it? Other people can have their own favorite holidays, but Halloween is mine.

In saying that, I'm not fond of haunted houses and scary movies. I don't eat the candy obtained from Trick-or-Treating. I like the decorations -- especially the home-grown ones.

Mostly -- I like the costumes.

I love seeing all the neat Halloween costumes. I love seeing people's personalities and likes expressed by the costumes. I know some parents have spent hours and hours on just the right things for themselves or for their kids. My mom made or found our costumes, and they often won costume contests. I'm much better with words than fabric.

Thank Halloween for eBay.

The Problem with Ordering Online

Ordering clothes online can be difficult. How many times have you purchased something "one size fits all" -- that clearly did not live up to the advertising? I'd much prefer to find my costume in a thrift store or department store where I can see it, feel it, and hold it up against myself (Some place around here will let you try on, but not very many. Not for seasonal merchandise.)

But in the online version of a department store (where I buy most of my clothes), a few weeks ago, I found not only a classy medieval style dress, advertised to be in my size, but with a coupon. I didn't hesitate. Three clicks later, I bought the dress. It was a little more expensive than I'd normally like, but if it looked as good on as it did on the model, I could wear it again at the Renaissance Festival (another great place for costumes and creativity). I placed the order, and then resumed life while I waited.

Sadly, my waiting was for naught. I was sent a size smaller than I ordered, and could not even get the dress on. I took it to the brick-and-mortar store, since it was now very close to the holiday and I didn't know what the seasonal item return policy would be. I didn't want my money back -- I wanted the dress. In the size I ordered. In time for Halloween. I wanted what I ordered.

Customer Service

The customer service representative that helped me in the store was very nice. She allowed me to look in her store to see if there was anything in my size for which I could exchange the costume (not even close). She invited me to call the main helpline, and put a note in my return for me to be allowed to keep the sale price if I was able to reorder. I wonder if I would have been treated so nicely by a skinny clerk who had never had an issue with clothes being too small. (This idea is "small" of me, but it pervaded my thoughts, all the same.)

Back at home, I emailed the company's help line and explained the situation. I even wrote that if my size was sold out, the next larger size could be substituted. (The next larger size was the largest size they advertised.)

Two days later, I got an e-mail back. Costumes my size or larger were "out of stock," but I was free to order any costume I liked, and a coupon was attached for my pains. They just couldn't sell me a costume in my size. And they didn't really seem to have a problem with that. The e-mail continued that sometimes they got more stock in and I could request to be emailed when they got more stock in. They did know Halloween was 10 days away, and they didn't rush-deliver -- they knew those things, right?

More Stores

Infuriated, I went back to eBay. I found the dress there, in the size I ordered, for $20 more than I could get it in the store -- if the store actually carried what it advertised. And of course, I wouldn't be able to use my coupon(s). I went and checked out the costume reviews to see if other customers found the costume to be true to size. But 8/10 customers felt the costume ran small. Given the costume I tried to try on, I'd agree with their findings. So chances were that even if I'd gotten the 2X I ordered, it would have run too small.

I looked for other dresses in my size. Costumes, Renaissance wear, dresses -- I didn't want to look ugly for Halloween. I especially didn't want to look like a dime store hooker while taking a group of 10 year old boys Trick or Treating. But every time, IF I found a costume in my size, it was well over $50 (and usually over $100), or clicking on the purchase link would lead to a "sorry, not available" message.

Two different party and Halloween specialty stores have been running ads on TV for the past month:

"Costumes in all sizes!"

"Largest Selection anywhere!"

In any size up to 16W -- that's what they intended to say or should have said. And I know that because I went to their online sites and looked. And looked. And looked. Because I wear a size 24. And even two 16s will not cover that.

I'm just so surprised that I've seen costumes on larger women than me -- surely they weren't all handmade? And surely some business has seen the need to fit larger people? The money they can make? Surely?

Epidemic

Theses stores are aware that there is an obesity epidemic in America -- right? And they are in business to sell costumes -- right? And MOST people who love Halloween love Halloween candy, which would make them a little thick in the middle, and needing a large costume -- right? So why are there NO choices for the plus-sized woman -- even though there are PLUS-SIZED sections of the online stores? I'm not even asking for every store to carry a respectable plus-sized section. But I should be able to go online and find a decent costume in my size.

At the Renaissance Faire 90 minutes away, I can rent a dress for the day for $40. They personally work with me to find things in my size, draw my laces, and everything. There was not a shortage of items in my size -- and many different styles to choose from. The customer service is excellent, and they appear to have a great business model. So why can't online costume stores manage anything similar?

Solution

After a few tears, some tersely written complaints to sellers about false advertising, and many many many deep breaths, I came up with a solution that will serve my purpose this Halloween. I am going to wear my PJs, a bathrobe, and a shower cap. My costume? "Embarrassing Mom." Perfect? I think so. Happy Halloween!

Yes -- it's not the pretty costume I had in mind. But it was very comfortable for the 90 minutes of Trick-or-Treating we did. You can see the whole outfit in the top picture.

Pictures courtesy of a selfie, my husband, and morgueFile.

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Tags

Costumes, Halloween, Online Stores, Plus Sizes

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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Comments

author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Nov 2013 (#)

Thanks, johnnydod!

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
1st Nov 2013 (#)

you crack me up Phyl...you are the best....

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Nov 2013 (#)

Thank you, ma'am! I do try.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
1st Nov 2013 (#)

Phyl, I always enjoy your sense of humor. It looks like you had a fun Halloween, and I'm glad. Sorry about your costume problems.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
1st Nov 2013 (#)

Ditto Carolina and Connie.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Nov 2013 (#)

Thanks, Connie and Jerry. **it happens. Not about to ruin my holiday. And as it turned out, I saw another woman wearing the dress I had ordered on our route. NO ONE had anything close to my get-up. Always a plus. ;)

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
3rd Nov 2013 (#)

Hilarious and may I say self-deprecating too, Phil. There is obviously a niche market here unless all become practical like you to adapt to the situation! Quite an inventive mind you have, but a hard act to follow! - siva

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Nov 2013 (#)

Thanks, Siva!

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author avatar Natashalou
6th Nov 2013 (#)

Its crazy this size thing. I am a UK size 10 to 12. Yet I often have to order a size XL

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
6th Nov 2013 (#)

It IS crazy. I wonder who the profiteer is. Thanks for commenting!

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author avatar Rose*
24th Nov 2013 (#)

This is the greatest problem with buying online - you can't try on the item first.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
24th Nov 2013 (#)

So true !

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