A few weeks ago, I found myself in a fashion dilemma.
I wanted to update my wardrobe with two basic on trend items: a classy black faux leather dress and a colorful faux leather moto style jacket to wear over everything in case autumn weather ever actually hits New Orleans. Since I mostly wear vintage inspired brands, I ruled out all of my regular clothing sources quickly.
Despite being a size 12 through 16 most of my adult life, I’d never actually shopped at plus size stores. I tried the usual route of the mall (horrible and awkward) and some online stores that went up to size 12 or so. Having run out of options, I tried something that I had never done before: I started looking at dedicated plus size stores and online retailers.
Plus size retailers used to have an appalling selection and only deal with larger sizes. Now they offer much broader size ranges and designer collections that rival core size brands. After seeing the drool-worthy options in the new Christian Siriano for Lane Bryant lookbook, I was determined to see if plus size retailers were the answer to my faux leather dress and coat quest.
Most plus size stores now start at a size 12 and occasionally go as low as size 10. The difference is that these sizes are cut curvier than core sizes would be, to accommodate more variance between plus size figures. If you’re curvy or full-busted, this means you may have more luck in the equivalent size at a plus size store than at a core size store. My quest ended with not just a coat and dress, but also a few lingerie sets that I wouldn’t have found anywhere else!
If you’ve never checked out plus-size retailers, here are three simple reasons you might want to give them a try.
1. “Curve” Collection Options Now As Fashionable As “Core” Collection Options
A friend of mine went on a road trip to Texas recently and posted some great pictures. However, the one that caught everyone’s eye seemed to be the one that featured a showstopper of an embroidered dress. I assumed it was something designer, but it turns out it was ASOS Curve! If she hadn’t told me, I honestly would have guessed some expensive designer.
Plus size retailers have worked hard to create fashion collections that rival their core size counterparts, both with outside designers and through internal development. If you’re looking for a trendy item but need a piece of clothing cut for a curvier figure, there’s probably a plus size equivalent that will work for you.Cold Shoulder Midi Sweater Dress Sizes 14/16 to 26/28 via Lane Bryant Lace Circle Skirt by Christian Siriano Sizes 10-28 via Lane Bryant
2. A Whole New World of Lingerie Options
We all know I have mixed feelings about bralettes. But this hasn’t stopped me from searching for one with which I can fall in love. What I hadn’t thought about was exploring the offerings from plus-size brands. It turns out that stores like Torrid are a lingerie paradise in my size range, at least when it comes to wirefree options. I’ve heard great reviews about their bras from other ladies on Twitter, which encouraged me to take the plunge and buy two sets to try out.
I’ve also heard great things about plus size bralettes for women who are smaller than I am but curvier than what's in the regular lingerie store. The range for the plus size bralettes is pretty extensive, which means at a place like Torrid a size 0 could fit someone with a 32 band. That opens up a huge range of possibilities for wirefree lingerie for women in that weird in-between size range who are also full-busted. Plus size retailers now carry a huge variety of styles, from punk to 90’s inspired to traditional lace.Velvet & Lace Racerback Bralette Available in Sizes 0-5 via Torrid Lace Strappy Halter Bralette Available in Sizes 1-4 via Lovesick
3. An Abundance of Non-Vintage Inspired Options
While I pretty much live in vintage inspired dresses, even I occasionally want a trendy piece that works with everything. If you’re full-busted, plus size stores may offer the same options in a more curve-friendly cut---without you feeling like you stepped out of the 1950’s on a daily basis. Along with the big brands (Torrid, Lane Bryant, etc.), lots of indie brands have stepped up and created quirky offerings with a ton of personality.Diet Industry Dropout Cropped Tee Available in Sizes S-5X via Chubby Cartwheels Red Convertible Cupcake Dress Made to Order Available in Sizes S-5X via Ready to Stare The "Raspberry Haze" Bralette Available in Sizes 1X to 3X via Zelie for She
In the end, I did find both the perfect dress and coat, all tucked away in the plus-size offerings of Torrid. Both fit great, accommodated my curves well and didn’t put a giant hole in my bank account. Next time I need something trendy, I’ll happily skip the potentially humiliating mall experience and check out a dedicated plus size retailer first.
What do you think of my fashion finds? Do you shop at plus size stores for lingerie or clothing? Are there any retailers you would recommend?