The Rise of Plus Sizes Thrift Flippers

Creative shoppers changing fashion to fit their bodies


From catwalks to bargain bins, fashion doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to size-inclusivity. But a growing number of shoppers are taking matters into their own hands while at the same time saving the planet- and some serious dime.  
It’s called thrift flipping. It’s resourceful, it’s creative- and it’s and it’s all over TikTok. Basically, thrift flipping involves taking tired items from a thrift shop (or your own closet), repurposing them into entirely new styles, and flipping them. Just like you would a house; only with significantly more bedazzling.


here’s an easy tutorial for those new to thrift flipping! #sewing #diy #thriftflip #upcycle #reworked #fashion #style #fyp #foryou

♬ Steven Universe - L.Dre

Thrift flipping devotees consider the trend a win-win, as it allows them to indulge in their love of fashion without contributing to the momentous problem of textile landfill (it takes over 200 years for these discarded garments to decompose, and in the process they release huge amounts of greenhouse gas methane).    
But due to the distinct challenges faced by many plus sized shoppers at mainstream stores, thrift flipping has even more significance for the plus sized fashion community. 

Put simply; mainstream fashion is made for small bodies. Despite a whole lot of self-congratulations for the inclusion of different sizes on catwalks, Fashion Month 2021 had a measly 1.16% of castings going to plus sized models. Hardly representative, considering 70% of US women wear plus sizes!  

It’s not just an issue of representation; this discrimination/exclusion trickles down the fashion supply chain with plus sized customers treated as an afterthought by designers and retailers. In an example of seriously backward economics, many US stores do not stock sizes above a 14- despite the majority of consumers being this size. This case of reverse supply and demand goes to show just how entrenched sizeism is in the fashion industry- and something that plus sized shoppers face every time they enter a store. 

In another example of fashion’s fat-phobia, those few clothes that are made in larger sizes are too often bland, unflattering, and shapeless. 

What’s a plus sized fashionista to do? Well, a growing number of creative, resourceful women are taking matters into their own hands and are transforming these uninspired wares into flattering, unique, and sexy styles that celebrate rather than conceal their curves.  

For many plus sized thrift flippers such as Nina Pelanosa (Wear Your Voice Magazine), and Kay Vandette (The Curvy Fashionista blog), flipping is more than just a hobby. Cropping, tailoring, and even bedazzling fashion’s trash into a seconds market celebrating diversity is a form of empowerment- and a subtle fuck you to an industry that treats their bodies as less-than.  

Though challenging at times (the availability of quality items to work with can be very hit-and-miss in thrift stores), flip thrifting is one of the best ways to cheaply and sustainably shop in 2021. So whatever your shape and size, make like Macklemore and head down to the thrift shop for some flipping of your own. 

Because styles should change to fit our bodies; not the other way around.