You may or may not know that American Eagle only recently extended their sizing. Before July 2019, they carried up to a 16 in-store and up to a 20 online. Now, they carry up to a 24 online. Shout out to my high school friend, Rachel, who works at American Eagle and told me which sizes are carried in-store.
That’s the simple part of this post.
The more complicated part comes when I state that this was my first time truly shopping at American Eagle. Let me tell you why.
I was a tween and teen in the 2000s, which was the height of popularity for stores like Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale, Victoria’s Secret PINK, Charlotte Russe and American Eagle. I only had a couple of items from each of these stores for two reasons:
- My family couldn’t afford to shop at these stores. We spent our dollars at Kohl’s and Old Navy, mostly.
- Most of the time, it was hard for me to find my size in these stores.
I want to say first off, that I am not ashamed of not being able to afford these stores. My parents worked (and still work) hard to support me and my brother. I wanted to shop at these stores because everyone else my age was. I wanted to fit in, simple as that.
But, even if we had an unlimited budget, would I have been able to find my size?
When those stores opened up or became popular, they were notorious for having really small sizing. I remember an anecdote going around my school that a girl that typically wore a size 7, had to wear a size 11 at Hollister. (That translates to an 8 and a 12. Junior sizing is odd numbers for some reason.)
So, I wrote off those stores. I had a couple of pieces from each of them, including some from the men’s section at Hollister. (The Jake cologne still smells good, fight me.) Those stores weren’t for me and as my size rose up into the higher plus sizes, I knew those stores were getting farther from my reach even if I could afford them. And I was okay with that, except for when my friends wanted to go shopping. That’s just a sucky situation. Bless those friends of mine who wanted to go to shoe stores, Kohl’s and Old Navy. Or better yet, thrift stores.
I didn’t give these stores a second thought until I heard from plus size influencers that I follow that these stores, specifically American Eagle and Aerie (formerly Aeropostale), extended their sizing. I thought here is my chance to try the American Eagle jeans that have a reputation across age groups to be the best. I know I could have ordered online, but there is something special and important about being able to walk into a store and try on clothes and then walk out with new purchases. I also was interested in trying a brand that is my style and is accessible to most people.
Side note, I did try Aerie underwear and I can confirm that they are good and can fit higher plus sizes, maybe even up to a 24. But, ya know, I’m not going to show you my booty on the internet so you won’t get a review of those items. (If you want to know which styles I liked, DM me on Facebook or Instagram.)
Before I get into the clothes I tried on, I want to say something in full disclosure. I don’t typically wear tight jeans or pants of any kind for that matter. I would rather them be oversized because I think they are more comfortable and I like the look of a looser jean. I can wear from a size 18 to a size 22, depending on the brand, and that translates to an XL up to a 3X.
And lastly, everything you just read wasn’t easy for me to write. I’ve spent a long time deciding to love myself no matter what the scale says or what size my pants are. I wanted to tell you a little bit about how it felt growing up and living as a plus size woman. Brands are just now making it easy for me to shop. (Don’t get me started on active wear or sustainable clothing.)
My point is everyone deserves to feel and look beautiful. It’s about damn time that brands stepped up and stopped making plus size people feel less than others because of their size.
I had to wait until Virginia went into Phase 3 of Reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic because the dressing rooms at American Eagle were not open yet. No big deal. I went to the American Eagle at the Apple Blossom Mall in Winchester, Virginia on July 1. All the employees were very, very kind and were practicing social distancing and wearing masks.
Because of the pandemic, the store seemed bare and the clothes were more spread out then usual, which I didn’t mind. I chose six items, two tops, one dress, one pair of shorts and two pairs of jeans. I steered clear of many items in the store, sadly because they only went up to an XL and were not a stretchy or forgiving fabric. However, I could see that some of the items were oversized to go with the American Eagle aesthetic and, as you will see, I tried two of those items on.
There were not many XL’s in store and there were not many size 18’s and 20’s in the jeans section, which is what I was expecting. Sorry not sorry.
Item #1: AE Soft & Sexy V-Neck T-Shirt
My size – XL
I had heard about the Soft & Sexy range before and wanted to try that out for myself. I mean, they are supposed to be super soft. I’m sold.
I tried on a v-neck t-shirt in the color sea foam in an XL. It was super soft and fit me okay. It was longer in the front and the back and scooped up on the sides. It also had longer short sleeves, which I liked. I would have tucked it in like I did in the photo on the right. This tee didn’t fit me exactly how I would have wanted. I would have wanted it a little more oversized, so I passed.
Item #2: AE Printed Tunic Babydoll Top
My size – XL
I found this tunic top on the clearance rack in a white floral print with a black background. What sold me was the oversized fit and plunging back. (Excuse my face while I try to show you the back.) I ended up going back to the clearance rack and finding it in a lavender color, which I bought. I liked the floral print, but am looking for more purple in my wardrobe, so this fit the ticket.
You can tell in the fit that it is made for someone with a smaller chest than me because there is a seam that goes across my bust. I pulled it down a bit and it didn’t look so odd. (Check my Instagram in the next few days for how I wore the purple top IRL!)
Item #3: AE Oversized Fleece Babydoll Dress
My size – XL
I tried on this dress, which felt like a sweatshirt, in a size XL. It was comfortable, fit my aesthetic and was cute. The only thing I didn’t like about it was where the drop waist hit on me. I would have liked it lower or higher. The length on the sleeves and the skirt were perfect.
It was one of the only dresses in the store that was a stretchy fabric that, on first glance, looked liked something that would fit me.
When shopping online, the word “oversized” can be a good indicator that an item has some extra room in it.
Item #4: AE High-Waisted Ruffled Tulip Runner Short
My size – XL
These floral shorts, which I also tried on in a size XL, were a risky choice. They were made out of no-stretch polyester and did not fit me well. They clung to my legs and belly and I actually ended up not liking the ruffle. It kind of flared up, when I wanted it to lay down. This was a bummer because I like shorts like these.
Item #5: AE Stretch Curvy Mom Jean
My size – 20
I gravitated towards mom jeans because they are supposed to be looser in the leg, which is my vibe. These jeans, which I tried on in the biggest size they had, a 20, were very soft and comfortable in the leg. I thought the ripping was excessive, but the wash was nice. The waist, however, was so tight I probably wouldn’t have been very comfortable. I really liked how they fit in the leg, which makes me think that sizing up would mean that they would fit nicely at the waist and be too oversized on the leg.
Item #6: AE Ne(x)t Level Curvy High-Waisted Jegging
My size – 20
There weren’t many options at my location with minimal distressing, but these seemed to be more my style. I tried them on once again in the biggest size, a 20. However, they were tight in the leg and would not button at the waist. Also, the distressing on the ankle was hard to get on. I stepped into the jeans and the distressing got all kinds of stuck on my foot. And there’s my underwear and stretch marks.
My final thoughts are that American Eagle needs to continue stepping it up. I would shop there more often if there were more sizes available in-store. I think the quality is good and I get why people like their jeans. I would be willing to try on more items, but I would more than likely have to order them online or lose weight, which I shouldn’t be forced to do either.
If I was writing this as a younger version of me, I would have gone home crying and hating my body. Writing now, I am just thinking about all of the young girls who feel discouraged when trying on jeans at American Eagle and other stores because they have to size up, they can’t afford those jeans, they can’t find their size at all, they don’t look like the models and they don’t look like their friends. Clothes should never make someone feel bad about themselves. Period.
So, my message to those girls and to my younger self is the following:
You are amazing and beautiful. You are smart, funny, kind, loved and worthy. Your jean size should be the absolute least of your worries. People that judge you should not matter. Find some good friends and go to the thrift store. Embrace your own style and, for goodness sake, love yourself. And while you’re at it, say thanks to your parents. They are trying their best.
Let me know how your experiences with American Eagle have been and other stores like it in the comments. And also, let me know what other brands I should try out.
thank you so much for doing this, I too am a plus size girl in the 18-22 range in pants, and it so hard for me to find stylish jeans that fit and make me feel good. I’ve been considering American eagle, but I wasn’t sure about how they would fit me, and if i should size up. This blog really helped me get a feel for how AE jeans might fit me. Thank you <3
I’m so glad it was helpful! Thanks for reading. 🥰
First of all, you’re amazing and beautiful. Myself being plus size, it’s so nice seeing a plus size guide with Info AND pictures!
For along time I didn’t think I could fit American eagle until honestly the last year haha!
I tried on mom jeans and fell In love I was surprised! I usually wear a size 16-18 , but in curvy/stretchy styles I am a 14 here . In non stretchier styles I am a 16. On the mom jeans after wearing them for a few months I would consider going down another size because they do stretch out some these being the looser leg fit I think I could pull it off, for regular skinny jean style I would stay with 14, due to my hips and legs being larger.
I do really appreciate their variations for curvy/reg because they give you an extra 13” hip vs. waist difference rather than a normal 10” hip vs. waist which =no more gap at the waist! I also do agree that I wish they’d carry more 20-24 sizes in store. Hopefully one day they will! Thank you again for this post! I’m taking my sister who is also plus size and didn’t think she could fit them in tomorrow to try and find a pair!
This is also very good info! Thank you for sharing. I firmly believe that different styles may be more or less true to size than others. And different sizes in different styles may be more or less true to size. Glad you are wearing AE and sharing the love! 😍
What a wonderful and honest review of life in the 18/20 range. I have been pondering some new jeans after gaining some weight recently. Your review and your openness were so helpful. Thank you. I also think the ripping is excessive. lol.
I’m so glad it was helpful! I would say trying on American Eagle jeans or any jeans is key to your success.
Colleen thanks so much for taking the time to do this and including pictures!! Very helpful and promising. I hope more brands get on the plus sized bandwagon. It’s been long enough!
I wish there were more sizes in that location so I could try on more. And you are absolutely right, it’s been too long.
Thank you so much for sharing this, I cant even thank you enough!!!!!!!
It was my pleasure!