The company has always billed itself as affordable and inclusive, making style accessible for every girl. With an impressive plus-size range and body-diverse models, it's considered by many as a body-positive brand.
Fashion Nova is known for its sexy, size-inclusive club dresses — like this dusty pink zip-up number that we decided to try.
You may know the "You're It" dress from your Instagram feed. It's usually worn by perfect people who Photoshop themselves into oblivion ($30, Fashion Nova).
Right away, we noticed something strange: though Fashion Nova prides itself on having an extensive plus and curve section, as well as using thicker models, this was one of the ONLY dresses that came in both Jess' and my size (3XL and S, respectively).
The first thing I realized was that this dress is transparent. The material is SO thin and cheap, you can literally see every nook and cranny.
Thankfully, the ribbing means that it doesn't show up as much in photos — but rest assured, my entire butt is OUT in this dress. Granted, for $30 you're not going to get a gown of royal quality, but this was practically pornographic.
And it didn't stop there. This dress gave both of us MASSIVE boob issues — or tiny ones, as the case may be.
I have small boobs, and with nothing to hold them up, the dress kept unzipping and flopping down. Jess' dress was HEINOUSLY baggy — you could fit three more boobs in there with her. Disheartening.
I love my boobs, but there's something about not filling out a dress that triggers the anxious teenager in me. The dress made me feel BAD about my breasts — like I wasn't measuring up to Fashion Nova's standards of what my body should look like.
This gets even worse when you take into account what this says to plus-size women. "Even though it came in my size, I can tell it's not cut for my shape," said Jess.
Plus-size women come in multiple shapes — something Fashion Nova needs to recognize if it REALLY wants to make cheap clothes for every girl.
"I'm not an hourglass plus shape; I don't have a big booty, smaller waist, and big boobs. That's who this dress is made for. And it's not me."
Jess and I had to remind ourselves that we were not the problem.
When you try on something that highlights all the things you’ve suspected were “wrong” with your body, it makes you feel like YOU’RE the problem, when the issue is actually the outfit.
We wanted to feel like Amber Rose — sexy, powerful, smart with our $$$. Instead, we felt like a stack of half-deflated tires.
Next, we tried a pair of Fashion Nova's jeans — which come Kylie Jenner-approved.
We picked out the Beach Bum Jeans ($38, Fashion Nova) because we thought they looked really cute. We both like a high waist, and Jess has been at me for a full calendar year to embrace the distressed boyfriend style.
Plus, Kylie Jenner gets paid to wear them, so perhaps these will FINALLY give us the Kardashian ass we've been chasing.
Getting into these jeans was like stuffing a butternut squash into a condom. They are SO. TIGHT.
If you're a Kardashian, you can probably hire a handmaiden to pour you into your pants, but everyone else is out of luck. It took me (wearing a size three) 20 solid minutes of jumping, squeezing, and wriggling to get into mine. Jess (wearing a size 3X) needed TWO DAYS to get hers closed.
And it's not just that the waist was small; even the ankle holes are miniscule. My heels got stuck, and I honestly thought I'd have to poke my feet through the knee holes to get them up my shins.
But once they were on, I was shocked, because they WEREN'T BAD.
Honestly, I think I could have sized up here — though according to the size guide, these should have fit — but apart from these jeans being a SMIDGE too tight, I didn't hate them! Yes, they flattened my ass a little bit, but I expect that from $40 jeans. They hit me at the right place on my waist, the denim is stretchy yet durable, and the pocket placement was 100% correct for my butt.
And though they looked cute on Jess, the emotional toll of having to huff and puff to get her jeans on was way too much.
The fact that Jess had to wear these jeans around the office, unzipped, for TWO DAYS before they'd close was incredibly demoralizing — and highlights a challenge that plus-size clothing brands need to rise to. “I feel like Fashion Nova wants to be this body positive brand that sells cute, affordable clothes at all sizes,” said Jess. “So far, their plus-size stuff makes me feel bad about myself. It’s clear that whatever body these pants are made for, it’s not mine.”
Now let's jump straight into another Kardashian favorite! These low-tide Yeezy knockoff boots are just the ticket!
The Day and Nite boots ($55, Fashion Nova) basically look like Dexter murder chambers for your feet. But hey — If Kim Kardashian, current arbiter of chic (lol) likes them, we may as well give them a try.
And we entered a nightmare world from which we may never emerge.
Second, who are these boots made for? Jess and I both STRUGGLED to cram our hooves into these acrylic torture machines, which made our legs look like chicken stuffed in a plastic bag.
I tell you what, there's nothing like standing around and actually WATCHING the circulation to your toes get cut off. It's truly magical.
Mine zipped, but there was enough space in the thigh for an entire extra leg. That's maddening.
If Fashion Nova wants to make a thigh-high boot that actually fits thicker thighs, that's awesome. But, as Jess said, who the hell was the fit model for these boots? "Who has narrow feet, tiny ankles, thin calves, and then big-ass thighs? Do they think being plus-size only starts above the knee?"
Next on our try-on list: one of Fashion Nova's ~iconic~ skintight jumpsuits.
Fashion Nova has actually gotten pretty famous for its super form-fitting jumpsuits — curvy stars like Dascha Polanco wear them on red carpets.
This is the Frisky Feline jumpsuit in olive ($28, Fashion Nova). It's very Kylie Jenner. So really, how bad could it be?
Oh, my dear, sweet friends. As awful as you're imagining this being, it was actually worse.
Jess loves her body, and celebrates it every way she can. It would take a lot to sabotage her self-confidence. This vomit-green horror show did exactly that.
"First, this took forever to get into," said Jess. "And once I did, I looked like a wrapped tamale. This is so tight, but as a bigger woman, going commando isn't an option for me — but then you could see the lines made by my shorts and my bra. I had to wrap a jacket around my waist to preserve my dignity. I felt like I'd taken an emotional beating when I saw myself in this."
Meanwhile, I was also having a jumpsuit-induced psychological meltdown. Not only is this the worst color in the world, the material is SO thin and SO tight, you can practically see what I had for dinner last night.
Not only can you see my vanishes-under-everything underwear, you can see my entire ass, all of my cellulite, and my labial outline (just for good measure). You can't just see my bra straps underneath this barf-colored circle of hell, you can see the fucking mole on my shoulderblade. I genuinely wanted to cry looking at these photos; this dolmade suit made me feel so bad about myself.
This was the last straw for our self-esteem. “Clothing like this is meant to be about loving and playing up your curves,” Jess said, as we both sat, staring at the wall in silence. “If I tried this on as a younger woman, I’d hate myself. I’d think this was how clothing was meant to fit, and that my body was the problem.”
There is no way to redeem this atrocious leotard. Salt the earth, and never let anything grow there again.
Next on our try-on list: this absolutely BAFFLING red velvet top.
This is the Electric Mood top ($23, Fashion Nova). You'll probably see it online a lot leading up to Valnetine's Day (#spon). If you’re looking at this, like, Is that a red velvet off-the-shoulder long-sleeved top with an attached choker?, the answer is yes.
It is, by far, the weirdest piece of clothing we’ve ever seen — and I routinely wear Self Portrait dresses — but we gamely stuffed ourselves into them anyway.
While mine fit — nominally — it was still really uncomfortable. I couldn’t raise my arms, or bend over — and because the material was so thin, I wouldn’t have been able to wear a strapless bra without it being really obvious.
It was also impossible to take off by myself — and there's no way you can do it sexily. Yet another reason not to wear this for Valentine's Day.
The plus-size version treated Jess even more unkindly. “I hate the way it’s gathering around my neck. This is a 3X that fits like a 2X. ALL the plus stuff fits smaller than it should.”
"I wear choker tops all the time, and I love them," said Jess. "And I don't mind being a bit extra with the velvet. But this top made me look bad, and it made me feel worse. If I don't fit into the biggest size a brand makes, and they're all about sexy clothes for EVERY girl, it's like, where does that leave me?"
But what about summer sandals? Surely THOSE will fit, right?
WRONG. The Rip the Runway heels ($33, Fashion Nova) didn't even buckle around Jess' ankles. "ANOTHER thing running small," said Jess, visibly discouraged.
Finally, we tried one of Fashion Nova's CRIMINALLY underrated T-shirts.
This is the Looking For a Fight tee ($10, Fashion Nova). We tried it because we've seen many ~aspirational~ Instagram stars styling these shirts as dresses, and we have zero shame, so why not.
We quickly realized that unless we wanted the world to see our ladyparts, the shirt-as-dress thing was NOT gonna work out here.
I'm 5'10" and had I worn this as a dress entire, you'd have seen my labia. Too real. Jess was relieved that this shirt, though a little long in the back, didn't cling to her like white on rice. I know... our standards have gotten really low.
The shirt was soft and comfortable; sheer but not see through. We both really liked this — but it came at a price.
"I feel like, even though Fashion Nova advertises with all these Instagram girls who are bigger, or thick, or what have you, they’re still not a really plus-size inclusive brand," said Jess. "Like, the only thing that fit me was a baggy-ass shirt? Come on."
So what did we learn from this experience, other than the fact that we're AMAZING at posing like Instagram babes?
We learned that just because a ~perfect person~ is wearing something on Instagram, it doesn’t mean it’ll be that cute IRL.
We learned that just because a brand advertises itself as body positive, it doesn’t mean that it actually IS.
But mostly, we reminded ourselves that clothing needs to fit OUR BODIES — our bodies don’t have to change to fit clothes.
Maybe Fashion Nova should spend less money paying social media stars to wear their jeans and spend more on making clothes that look good, feel good, and appeal to more than one body type.