Anyone who’s ever tried to buy clothing in plus sizes can tell you about the Copier Issue.
You know what I mean — that thing that happens when “straight size” clothing manufacturers want to bring in some extra money from plus-size women, so they (apparently) take a size 2 piece of clothing and blow it up on the copier until in theory it fits. But our bodies are proportioned differently, in addition to being larger, and the lazy approach results in clothes that hang off us or are too tight in the wrong places (and cost twice as much, to boot).
After almost ten years as a body acceptance advocate, I admit to being more than a little bit jaded about announcements of plus-size additions to straight-size clothing lines. It happens a lot, and only rarely is there anything to get excited about, so I almost deleted the Bombsheller email about their new plus-size fitness leggings line.
This is where I admit to being very glad I didn’t, because these leggings are worth a long look.
When I read about the time and effort that Bombsheller put into developing their plus size line — seriously, y’all, they spent a whole year on it — I was pretty impressed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that kind of dedication from a clothing company that started out in regular sizes.
When I reached out to the company with a quick note of support and was invited to come tour the Bombsheller office and production facility in the Queen Anne area of Seattle, I was even more impressed.
The Bombsheller Office
Dinah, Bombsheller’s Printer, cutting freshly-printed fabric for leggings with some kind of nifty electric scissors. (Clearly I’m not a textiles person.)
Bombsheller is what I think of as a quintessential new-Seattle company: small, inclusive, friendly, high-tech, and intense. Their entire production facility is right in their office in Queen Anne, so everything’s made in the United States except the fabric itself, which is imported from Italy.
Clockwise from left: Finished leggings, waistband elastic, an industrial sewing machine, wide rolls of paper, and scrap fabric.
From left: Bombsheller Director of PhotographyJazzlyn, plus-size leggings, me in a sample pair.
When a photographer gets excited, there’s only one choice: grab a friend and a camera. Modeling the leggings (and her freaking awesome home fitness studio) is Kristy Fassio of Fassio Fitness in Kent, WA. For the record, Kristy is an amazing lady and I’m super stoked to talk about her in more detail, but she’s getting her own post, so you’ll see more of her story soon!
For our shoot, Kristy chose the Nightbloom leggings in 4X. I fell in love with the romantic floral design and ordered the same style in a 3X for myself.
We gave the leggings quite a workout just in the photo shoot. (As Kristy will tell you, exercising verrrrrrry slowly for the camera is harder than it looks!)
I was already pretty invested in Bombsheller’s mission by the time we had our photo shoot, so Kristy served as my impartial tester for the leggings. A few weeks after our shoot, when she’d had time to break them in, I met back up with her and asked some follow-up questions about her experience with these plus-size leggings.
Plus-size fitness leggings: fit, function, and wear
Sweet Amaranth: Now that you’ve had some time with the Bombsheller leggings, how are they working for you?
Kristy Fassio: “I love them, they’re so comfortable. I love the wide waistband, it doesn’t roll and the elastic doesn’t fold over halfway.”
SA: How would you rate these against other pairs of leggings you’ve owned?
Kristy: “They’re more generous in the hips. Other pairs of leggings I have are cut too low in the hips and then they sort of roll or sag down as you wear them. These don’t sag at all. You can tell they’re not mass produced.”
When we ordered Kristy’s 4X leggings for the shoot, I ordered myself a pair of the Nightblooms as well in 3X, so I’ve had about a month with them now as well. My impressions, as a distinctly non-athletic fat lady who’s nonetheless active and appreciative of good-quality workout gear:
These bad boys mean business. The fit is quite snug and supportive; I wouldn’t say I don’t jiggle in them, but the jiggling is noticeably less. They’re very comfortable, but are definitely performance leggings — I wouldn’t wear these to, say, lounge around on a rainy winter day, but every time I put them on I’m inspired to go take a walk or hop on the spin bike or do some yoga.
Speaking of yoga, the fabric itself is a fancy Italian blend that Bombsheller describes as “totally opaque, moisture wicking, fast dry, four-way stretch, soft and breathable.” As the fabric warms to your body, it almost fits itself to your form; when I tried on a sample pair during my tour of the Bombsheller office in Seattle, I could easily have walked right out the door without realizing I was wearing them.
The one noticeable negative for plus-size women with Bombsheller leggings is the little bit of what I’m calling white leakage as the fabric stretches over the thighs. Since these leggings are made from printed fabric, at larger sizes — even when fitted properly — the design stretches just enough to show a bit of the white fabric behind the ink, which for people with pale skin can appear as if the leggings are a tiny bit transparent. No one’s seeing your underwear in these, but for some people even the appearance of transparency can be a turnoff. However, the quality and fit of the leggings was more than enough to outweigh this one small issue for me.
SA: How do you feel about the slight “transparency” effect on the thighs of the leggings?
Kristy: “Honestly, I don’t really care. Because my thighs are bigger I get that with every pair of leggings I wear, and it’s less noticeable here than with others.”
The only other issue is that these leggings are expensive, ranging from $75 to $90 depending on the design. That puts them out of reach for many people, but these pieces are also the “last almost forever” kind, not fast fashion. They’re an investment, like any other piece of high-quality apparel. Everyone involved in producing them also gets paid a living wage, which is a huge plus.
SA: Would you buy another pair of these at retail price?
Kristy: “Yes, I definitely would. These are sort of “special occasion” leggings for me, so I got a pair I knew I could wear both in public with regular outfits and at the gym.”
SA: As someone who’s very familiar with workout gear, how long do you think these will last?
Kristy: “A long time. I’m not wearing them as often because they’re so special, but I’ll be wearing them to fun races and other things like that.”
The Bombsheller plus-size fitness leggings are currently available up to a 4X.
(Notes: I received no compensation for this review. Our model, Kristy, was given the leggings you see in the photos to keep; I purchased my own pair at regular retail price. Hair and makeup by Katie Kerpan. Model: Kristy Fassio of Fassio Fitness.)