Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fat Tuesdays : Plus-size shopping guide

Recently, an IG friend asked me where I shop. She thinks she's about my size and finds that Modcloth's plus size is too expensive, which is a common problem. So, I'm gonna show off a cute outfit with an awesome t-shirt and a skirt I made...and tell you where to shop!!!

I think I've said before that I'm about a size 16. When I'm training for a marathon, I can go down to a size 12. In high school, I was a size 10 or 12 usually and as an adult, I'm usually a size 14 or 16. I'm not going to tell you my weight, not because I'm embarrassed, but because weight really has nothing to do with size. I am 5'1", which might be hard to tell in photos...maybe. I'm pretty fucking short. My waist is smaller than my hips and my chest, so I do have an hour glass figure.

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In some stores, I'm right on the edge of clothes available in the store. But everything really varies. When I first started working at GAP, I couldn't fit in what they sold in stores. Now, I can. When I worked for Torrid, the smallest bottoms made sense but the tops were all too big. When I worked at Old Navy, I could always shop in the store. In these stores, I was right at 14/16. I did drop to a size 12 at Old Navy in the last month of marathon training, when nothing I owned fit. For me, Old Navy is my go-to store. They have a broad range of styles that suit my taste. I also like GAP, but they have a lot of fluctuation in fit and a 16 in one pant might work but another might be WAY TOO SMALL. GAP is a roller coaster ride. I almost NEVER shop at Torrid for two reasons : 1. I don't really like their style. It's all ugly colors and weird cuts. 2. They lie. They try to brag that their jeans have a different fit, but they don't. ALL of their jeans gap at the waste. They have nothing for anyone with thin legs and a larger waist and every single person I met from corporate was a size 8 or smaller. How can they really design for chubby girls with only thin employees? However, for most people, Torrid is the gold standard.

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The hard truth about being plus size is that NONE of it is slow AND affordable. You can find slow fashion plus size, but it'll be super expensive. (And don't buy it. It DOES NOT take a significant amount of extra fabric for larger sizes and it is possible to have patterns made in larger sizes at the same cost as smaller sizes. Extra charge for plus is a racket!) The other hard truth is that you're gonna need a credit card, because you need to shop ONLINE and buy two or three sizes of EVERYTHING. It sucks, but it's true. If you want to shop in store, you can usually find something at a department store like Macy's (Macy's is actually really great.) But most department stores have a separate place for plus size with a smaller selection.

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Now, it is entirely possible to find plus size clothing at Walmart. Walmart often runs from XS-XXL. They have lines from famous retailers like Danskin, but EVERYTHING is made in China and it's really unethical. Wouldn't it be nice if Target stepped up their game? It WOULD be nice, but Target's separate plus size department runs completely different styles and a super small selection. Target's regular size section runs really small, if it even goes up to a larger size. Target is a no-go. Just, don't bother. (Plus, everything at Target is made in China too!)

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Now you might wonder why I haven't mentioned Lane Bryant, a long-standing plus size store. It's because Lane Bryant starts at size 16 or 18 and runs big. It's really hard to find good clothes when you're an in-betweener like me. Lane Bryant's bras start at 38, which is a major bummer, since it's possible to be short and plus size. I'm a 36DDD, and for me, it's Victoria's Secret and Soma all the way. Torrid's bras and panties are extremely cheaply made and cut into the skin and are all the wrong cuts, while the department stores only offer larger sizes in basics that are UGLY.

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My latest secret weapon has been Versona. They are a mall store that sells a lot of items made from stretchy knits or with elastic bands. They go to a size XL, which is usually pretty generous. However, they carry a couple of brands and some brands run small. But I can go into Versona, try on ten things, and have 8 of them fit. It's a really great store for anyone size 10-16. I'm also a fan of New York and Company. They go up to size 16 in the store, and it was there that I found this dress, which fit beautifully. (Until I gained some weight.) As for everywhere else in the mall, I avoid them. Either I get Mean Girl Stares from the employees, or they are totally clueless and not helpful. I don't shop at Kohls, because there isn't one near me. But they might be a good option. Fancier boutiques are hit and miss. Places that carry knits are always going to be better, because of stretch. Even fancy online retailers often stop at a size L, which is a size 10 according to most American pattern makers.

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As for the outfit in this post... The shirt is a unisex size L from So CLE Tees; $20. The skirt is homemade, but it was just a little snug. I'm learning better how to cut the patterns; free from leftover fabric. (Keep in mind that all patterns are designed for an hourglass, so you cut for the largest part of you and then cut down from there.) The tights were my moms and the cowboy boots are Ariat; $150-$200. (I won't tell you the size, because cowboy boots are not sized like other shoes and you should go to a specialty store to buy them.) The hoodie is a thrift find; free from mom's closet!


Recap : Old Navy, Versona, and Walmart are my top three shops. Victoria's Secret and Soma are where I go for lingerie. Torrid, Macy's, and GAP are my second-place runners up. (GAP has an EXCELLENT extended size range online for tall, petite, and plus...with the bonus that you can return in the store!) I rarely shop at Target and I avoid almost everywhere else in the mall.

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