Dress me up with your favorite online clothing stores!
February 5, 2009 7:02 AM   Subscribe

Good online clothing stores for chic professional fashion?

Living in the middle of retail nowhere, I've decided to give up on always waiting for my next trip to a bigger city to get some clothes shopping done. Online shopping has worked for me before, but most of the places I've previously found are for the indie chic look - cool but not what I need right now.

Aged 26 and recently graduated from an M. Sc., I'm wanting to shift my wardrobe into a more classic, feminine, professional look. My size is a curvy 12-14, so that kind of puts me at the upper limit of what most regular stores will carry, but I've never liked the fit of clothes from plus-size stores -- kind of overshooting my size with a tent-like fit. If possible, stores with clothing made from good quality fabrics are preferred. But any suggestions you've got are appreciated!
posted by lizbunny to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Ann Taylor Loft and Banana Republic are two faves and have tons of styles that actually fit real female bodies.
posted by mynameisluka at 7:09 AM on February 5, 2009

Best answer: Nearly everything from J Peterman is unique, well-made and high quality. It's the kind of stuff that's meant to last you forever. Unfortunately it costs great big gobs of money, and their catalogue is always rotating. I'm a 12 on top and own a variation on their 1947 dress in a size 10, it fits me perfectly even though I'm only five feet tall. It is a magical dress. Your best bet is to watch the clearance section like a hawk.

Friends of mine and myself have had good experiences with Von Maur, which has a small collection that changes with the seasons. They always have things in nice colors or patterns but are still classy.

Fair Indigo does the fair trade thing for straightforward, nicely hued basics. Their stuff is obviously a little more expensive but it is all very classic, and if you care about encouraging global trade and all that, it might be up your alley.
posted by Mizu at 7:36 AM on February 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure exactly what kind of style you're looking for, but here's my list.
Spiegel, Chadwick's, and Kohl's. Macy's is also online.
Many of my professional friends shop at Chico's and Coldwater Creek, although they're not my style.
L.L. Bean and Land's End may be a little more traditional than you're looking for.
posted by jlkr at 7:46 AM on February 5, 2009

I have had great luck with Chadwick's. Also, don't forget Ebay.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:04 AM on February 5, 2009

Talbots has a size 12W, and this could be good for you. 12W is a rare size, in my experience.

I think Jones New York has 12W, and they would be on Macys.com. 12W is a great size for those of us who have a 10-12 waist with size 14 hips; tucked-in tops have a better chance of staying in. Talbots has good sales, especially these days, and their outlet is now online. Yay!

I avoid Chadwicks because they tend to sell entire suits, not separate suit pieces, and dresses. I'm not the same size all the way up and down, thus Chadwicks is out for me. YMMV. Their quality is sketchy, and the stuff looks it. They'd be good for cute, inexpensive weekend stuff: shorts, tees, and the like.
posted by jgirl at 8:04 AM on February 5, 2009

Kyonna is a plus size retailer that starts at 12W and has some nice professional clothes.
posted by jennyb at 9:16 AM on February 5, 2009

Seconding Mizu on J. Peterman. Some of their stuff is a little fuddy-duddy or a little more country club than you're looking for, I think, but the quality is generally excellent. In particular, 1947 dress is utterly amazing and wonderfully flattering. Mine always makes me feel like Rita Hayworth. And the blouses! Watch the sale sections. At end-of-season things, staples go for about 30%-40% off regularly.

FWIW, I'm not the biggest fan of Banana Republic. Their clothes aren't, in my experience, built to last and go downhill rapidly with a few wears. Consistent sizing can also be a problem.
posted by joyceanmachine at 9:30 AM on February 5, 2009

You probably already know what brands fit you best from your in-person trips in the past, so when you look into online shopping, my best advice is to always read the shipping and return policies for each site you're consider ordering from.
How much is shipping?
Can you return by mail?
If so, what is the cost to return by mail?
How long do you have to return by mail, and are there limitations regarding how a package goes out?

As an example, I've been ordering clothing from Gap.com lately. Standard shipping is $7 in the US, and returns are free, but returns have to be dropped off with UPS (in drop-off box or at store, depending on package size). I have 90 days to return by mail from purchase date.

As for stores for you, if you're looking for curvy-friendly feminine professional, try some Jones New York stuff (Macy's and other dept. stores), which does tend to be made well for curvy shapes.
Ann Taylor and J.Crew can also work surprisingly well, considering how obscenely thin their mannequins are.
I wouldn't suggest Talbots; I think their stuff will skew old/conservative for your tastes.
There's probably a lot of stuff at anthropologie that would look great on you and be good in a workplace, but their sizes are completely all over the map, and to try to shop them by mail would drive you CRAZY. (I'm a curvy 10, and I have items in S, M, and L from them.)

On the cheaper side, Kohl's has a good variety of brandlines that might work, and you might have some luck with Sears' apostrophe brand. Just be aware that cheaper clothing will wear out faster - washes will affect fit, and knits will pill.

A good bra makes clothing fit better. I've had good online experience with barenecessities.com - they carry a good array of sizes and have a decent return policy.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 9:34 AM on February 5, 2009

Best answer: Shabby Apple has lots of cute dresses, many of which are work appropriate.
posted by MadamM at 10:15 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the J Peterman suggestion, Mizu and joyceanmachine, my jaw dropped a few times while scanning through the selection -- perfect! \(^__^)/
posted by lizbunny at 10:17 AM on February 5, 2009

I'm your size, with a waist that's about 2 sizes smaller than my hips. I also wear a larger size top than bottom. So frustrating. I also vote for Anne Taylor and Jones New York. And check J Jill and Boston Proper

I discovered Ann Taylor's Curvy pants at one of their outlet stores. They are great. Avoid the ones that are lined, though, which tend to fit tighter. I was in Sears recently and was really surprised at the decent selection of career wear. Their Rosa fit pants fit well.

And I totally agree with Sprout the Vulgarian about a proper fitting bra. Get a professional fitting, preferably at a specialty shop, not a department store. A specialty shop will carry a wide range brands and sizes and spend time fitting you. A $75 bra that fits is totally worth it.
posted by socrateaser at 10:43 AM on February 5, 2009

Best answer: I forgot to mention My Shape. You input your measurements and style preferences and they make suggestions based on your body shape and size. I've had pretty good luck shopping with them.

I once ordered a pair of pants and got an email from customer service saying they made a mistake in their sizing of the pants and they probably wouldn't have the fit I wanted and did I want to cancel? And everything I've ordered has come beautifully packaged.
posted by socrateaser at 10:59 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Not primarily career wear, but Garnet Hill and Boden are good for not-fugly, up-to-date separates. Both carry your size, but be sure to check the charts as sizing may be nonstandard.
posted by libraryhead at 3:46 PM on February 5, 2009

LL Bean's clothing is comfortable, classic & very sturdy. If you get an LL Bean credit card, shipping & returns are free, their service is excellent.
posted by easilyamused at 10:24 PM on February 6, 2009

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