Help my sister not be a frump
January 31, 2010 4:52 PM   Subscribe

Chic, eco-sustainable potato sack?

My sister is a size 18, 45 years old, with a 5-year old and a 10-year old. She homeschools (non religious). Every time I talk to her, she bemoans her complete lack of style and general frumpiness. My suggestions are usually met with her exclamations of how uncomfortable they sound. I directed her to Fashion for Nerds, which she said was too fussy.

Honestly, she really does need help. I have never told her this, but she keeps asking. So do you all have any ideas?

no skirts
natural fabrics
preferably not from a large chain (no Walmart, Target, etc.)
not clingy or form fitting

My suggestion of largish tops or short dresses with tights and leggings was not met with enthusiasm. I suggested yoga wear, which she said looks uncomfortable (mentioning something about spandex). I told her that she could get linen yoga wear, and she said she hates linen!! She purchased from Dharmatrading, but thought the clothes were cheaply made.

She is thinking of dancewear (especially wrap tops) or making her own tee shirts (?!).

She frequents a lot of museums and galleries, concerts, and other cultural events. She has a BFA in photography and a MS in engineering, so she is somewhat sophisticated.
posted by fifilaru to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Pretty scarves? I almost always wear just jeans and a solid-color t-shirt, but when I throw on a nice, brightly-colored scarf, I feel classy.
Whether or not it looks classy is not my problem.
posted by phunniemee at 5:04 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Could she rock Indian-style clothing, which you can buy made-to-measure from Indian vendors on eBay? This post at Making Light is a little dated vendor-wise now, but the fundamental principles are sound. If she's not comfortable wearing the full salwar + tunic at once, either can be paired with something more Western.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:17 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

(Plus, almost all of those outfits come with dupatta-- matching long shawl/ scarves.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:17 PM on January 31, 2010

I am a 44-year-old homeschooling mom, bigger than your sister (more like a size 24) who used to take time to dress funky and cute in cotton skirts and what-not. Until the kids, and the being home all the time, and the getting on and off the floor...

Many of my favorite clothes are from Junonia. High-quality t-shirts, both long and short sleeve, in good colors. Comfy capris and other pull-on pants, but good quality that holds its shape. Much available in cotton, though I have one of their travel skirts that is such a perfect drapey fabric that I wish it came in other colors.

Does not meet her cheap-ish criterion, although I make a habit of checking their clearance area several times a year and have gotten some amazing deals. Also, their t-shirts last me 3-4 times as long as a t-shirt that costs 1/4 to 1/3 as much, which is good math.

The other place I like to shop is Making It Big. Again, pricier but high quality; I've had MIB clothes last me 8 or 10 years. And, again, the clearance section is your friend.
posted by not that girl at 5:35 PM on January 31, 2010

I really like the things from Deva Lifewear, but I don't know if you'd call them fashionable or not. She might also like Holy Clothing.
posted by The otter lady at 5:47 PM on January 31, 2010

The following suggestions are all based on comfortable, not form fitting, and mostly natural fabrics.

Coldwater Creek
Zaftique. This stuff is more expensive, and less in the natural fabrics arena, but if she ever did need a dress, she could probably find one there that she liked.
Ulla Popken. I find the clothes run big here.

I agree with not that girl that Junonia's stuff is well made.
posted by cabingirl at 6:22 PM on January 31, 2010

I run a plus size fashion blog (check my profile) with a search engine that might help her find some stuff. My go-to for nice-ish is Silhouettes. Considering your sister's age/size, she might want to bend a little on the "no large chains" rule a little. If she can tolerate it, I also like Old Navy.
posted by medea42 at 8:34 PM on January 31, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, this is helpful!
posted by fifilaru at 9:35 PM on January 31, 2010

Best answer: I bless the day I finally twigged on wide-leg pants. Not only to they nicely balance the rack, in darkwash jeans they look classic. Tell her to work out the silhouettes she likes, then fabrics/fits and then start looking at where to buy. I'm with your sister on the shirt/dress _ leggings - it feels like the fatgirl uniform to me. I tried it out but it really just feels frumpy and shapeless. And leggings aren't pants (although they're invaluable under skirts to prevent chafing AND give me a certain amount of confidence).

As far as what I wear, as a fatgirl with a baby and a frumpy past? Wide leg jeans, mostly dark wash. A bunch of similarly cut t-shirts for casual wear, slinkier ones for the more upmarket outings, an a-line dress (black, heavy jersey) for going out and a couple of straight/pencil skirts. She needs to start from the bottom layer out though - make sure the underwear is good. I'd been frumping around in ill-fitting knickers for four months, wondering why I always felt slightly blah. When I bought new and proper-fitting knickers, my blah went away.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:06 AM on February 1, 2010

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