August 29, 2016
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The average woman in the United States is size 14. I'm not sure where that study comes from but it seems to be universally quoted. I guess this makes me "above average." I got a B+ in body size! (Actually I'm quite a bit above average.)
Up until recently there has been very little for a plus-sized woman to wear that was cute and fashionable. It was mostly boxy, mostly plain, and mostly expensive. Sure you have to use a little more material but the inconsistency in price is annoying and sometimes it can be a significant amount of difference. Do the size 0 and 2 ladies pay less because they use less material? If they did, surely the 4-12 size women would start an uproar.
At a famous retail giant, the typical womens' clothing is divided into 21 categories; the plus size only warrants 5 divisions. At a retail giant aimed at a younger demographic, you can click on womens' clothing and "under $10" or "extra small" or "pink" and get filtered results. Click on "plus size" and you cannot filter by price, size, or color.
They are making inroads but still treating the majority of women as an afterthought. But give credit where credit is due. At least they have plus sizes! In fact, lots of stores have plus sizes now but it wasn't always so. Even designers who make custom gowns for awards shows have dissed the curvy girls. One favorite, famous, curvy girl Melissa McCarthy told Redbook about her Oscar dressing experience, "I couldn’t find anybody to do a dress for me...they all said no" so she created her own fashion line, Seven7.
"I couldn’t find anybody to do a dress for me...they all said no"
So where can you get chic, modern styles if you are plus size? Here are my personal top choices. Included in this list are stores that are strictly plus size or stores that have so much plus size (like we're actually a valuable asset to their business) that browsing is fun again.
Best Websites for Plus Size Fashion
Ashley Stewart carries clothing up to size 32 and says it's "dedicated to women who love their curves". There are only 89 stores across the US but their website offers an extensive collection from which to choose. The site is well organized and has categories that are very specific like Night Out, Church Flow, Dare to Bare, and 9 to 5 Simplified.
Source: sometimesglam.com (these ladies are all wearing something from Lane Bryant/Catherines!)
Catherines is a go-to spot for plus sized women because it's been in the game since your Grandma has been around, and with more than 400 locations nationwide it's pretty easy to find in most malls. Where there isn't a Catherines, chances are there is a Lane Bryant. They are closely related through their parent company. So close are they in fashion and price that I can't tell my husband at the end of the day if I was shopping at Catherines or Lane Bryant without looking at the bag I came home with. And this is why they are grouped. They're both good and strictly for plus sizes but they sort of blend together.
Click here to go to Catherines coupons and sales page.
Charlotte Russe offers trendy clothing in sizes up to 26/4X. Of their 539 stores in the US, 63% have a dedicated plus size department. They have four convenient distinct shopping categories for when it's time to dress up. Try their Save the Date section where they have occasion- specific bridesmaids, wedding guest, bachelorette, and brunch date categories.
Only around since 2004, Fashion to Figure has a good pedigree. The two brothers who started FTF are the Great Grandsons of Lena Bryant as in Lane Bryant. Part of their philosophy is that "fashion is a state of mind, not a size range." Great attitude! FTF though is much more trendy, stylish, and definitely geared towards a younger demo then Grandma's store. You can see that in their models. There are great sales at FTF but plan to buy online unless you live near one of their (only) 25 stores.
Don't want to miss a sale? Sign up for Fashion to Figure notifications. Click here.
ModCloth does something special on their website. Although they have both typical sizes and plus sizes, they don't separate them on their website. As a plus sized person, I appreciate that. I can look at what I like and see if it's in my size, and because it's in with all their other clothes I can also see what others are wearing. ModCloth describes itself as "vintage-style." Besides all the most trendy styles, they do have outfits like you see on the shows your Mom used to watch so there is something for everyone as long as you are size is 4X/30 or smaller.
Like ModCloth, Rainbow doesn't just carry plus sizes but for their 1400 pieces in typical sizes they also have 1000 in plus sizes. That's (oddly enough) sizable! They carry clothes from baby size to 4X so while I may buy from their website, you most likely won't find me in their stores. I believe finding what makes you feel beautiful requires a little peace of mind which I don't think I can personally find when small children are about. Most plus size stores have bigger dressing rooms with sturdy benches, but do not have a steady dialog about Doc McStuffins, or little eyes peeking under the dressing room door.
Torrid is to me a fun place to browse even when I'm not pulling out the credit card. Their philosophy includes their idea to "encourage a woman to feel sultry and downright irresistible." Well Thank You! I think I will. It's all plus size clothing up to size 30 and their 400 stores are found in 36 states. If you think it looks like a Hot Topic in the store, it does, but they aim to offer styles distinct from Hot Topic (which they once were a part of).
Lots of sales going on at Torrid. Take a look by clicking here.
Ulla Popken is the only one of the group to offer clothing to size 38. Based out of Germany, and with all therir stores in Europe, if you want to shop you'll have to do it on their website or through their bi-monthly magazine. Best tip of the day: have your significant other read the glossary of fashion terms. A-line to Yoke, there are hundreds of terms for him to learn so he or she can contribute intelligently to the question "Honey, what do you think?"
- And my personal favorite...
Rue21 was the store to teach me that curves, weight, shape, size, and even age don't matter so much anymore. Rue21 offers both typical sizes and plus sizes up to 3X. The web site is lush with luscious fashions and their 1215 stores can be found in 48 states where you can make any necessary returns. Their plus size clothing is shown on plus size models. They have so many sales that it's hard NOT to buy your clothes at a discounted price. BOGO 50% off, BOGO $1.00, BOGO $5.00, and several more may run concurrently. The only way I keep up with all the sales is with my Rue21 alerts from DealsPlus.
There's always a sale at Rue 21. See today's discounts by clicking here. And while you're there, subscribe to Rue 21 coupons. We'll send you updates on really great sales.
It's easy to always wear stretch pants and tunic type tops but it's not the only choice for plus size women. From lingerie to accessories, some store in this group has you covered.
These retailers recognize the buying power and beauty of the plus size woman. If you have a favorite plus size location please share it in the comments section.