NYC-Filter - Please help an mid-30's 'in-betweenie' find cute, attractive and stylish clothes for her unusual body!
August 29, 2011 5:12 PM   Subscribe

I am a 12-16, but I often find that I cannot fit into the highest 'straight size' at a mainstream retailer. This said, I cannot shop in a plus-size store as their smallest size hangs on me. I find this very frustrating!

In addition, I am 5'11" and have a fairly large chest. Most of my height is in my torso and I find that when skirts and dresses do fit, they tend to be very short, or their darts and seams are all in the wrong place for my body.

I am looking to find places in NYC where I can find good quality dresses, skirts, and blouses. (Though if you do know of a place that has great jeans, please tell me!)

I've spent some money getting pieces tailored that I love, but I find it increasingly difficult to even shop for clothes in the city. I do find that Brooklyn Industries sometimes will fit me - they seem to be generous in their sizing. I also have had some luck with The Gap for basics. Places like Topshop and H&M are out completely.

I only tend toward mainstream retailers because of my extreme difficulty in clothes shopping - my preference is to shop smaller shops, and more interesting designers. And while I have spent a lot of time looking, there hasn't been a designer that made clothes that fit me.

I tend to do a lot of online shopping, but it would be nice to have a few places that I could actually have a better than 50% chance of going in and making a purchase. Sometimes I need to buy something at the last minute, and it has created more anxiety than a simple shopping trip should!

I'm not concerned so much with price, as I am quality and fit.

I live in Brooklyn, but have no problem traveling in the boroughs. I've been to re/dress for their wonderful vintage, but would love to find a store where I can buy modern and stylish pieces.

Any help or suggestions are appreciated.
posted by carmenghia to Shopping (21 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I have a similar problem (I seem to be on the cusp of plus/non-plus AND petite/non-petite) and I've been tempted by Rebecca & Drew. They sell shirts and dresses by bra size and height. They have basic shirts and shirtwaist dresses, but I think they'd be great (if a bit pricey) basics. I know you requested shops, but it looks like they have free shipping and returns, so you could order a range and find what fits. I seem to recall they have a showroom in NYC, so you could see what they could do for you.
posted by annaramma at 6:17 PM on August 29, 2011

Could you give us a little more info on your specific shape?
Do you have a waist?
Is your chest the largest area for you? Your hips?

I find that Tahari jackets and dresses seem to be long-waisted, but 12 might be the largest size...

In general, can you give us some examples of the tailoring that needed to be done...
"I bought size 14 pants from ABC and always have to bring in the hips..."

Have you ever seen someone on "What Not to Wear" that had your shape? that might help you identify what kinds of clothes to look for.
posted by calgirl at 6:18 PM on August 29, 2011

In the past, I've had good luck with stores that offer both regular and extended sizes - for instance Talbots/Talbots Woman or Ann Taylor Loft. This way, if you're in between sizes, you can move back and forth from the plus section to the straight section or vice versa. Generally, I shop in more mainstream/conservative stores for basics and shop for accessories at smaller stores.
posted by GraceCathedral at 6:30 PM on August 29, 2011

Response by poster: For calgirl -

I am a 37-34 1/2-39 - My waist is my largest and most difficult part of my body and knocks me out of most regular sized clothes. My hips and legs are small, I have a large ribcage and wide shoulders and fairly large breasts (36DD, depending on the bra.)

Brooklyn Industries size 14 *sometimes* will fit me relatively well - meaning it's long enough, it doesn't cut my boobs with a seam in half, it 'sits' well on my body. I'd say I've got about a 25% success rate there, and that's pretty high for me.

The clothes I've mostly had tailored come from - I'll size up, and then get the dresses tailored to fit me. Almost all pants must be tailored to fit no matter where they come from. I have to size up to a 16 or so, and then have them take in the hips and legs, and just about everything else. This cannot always be done.

I've never quite seen someone my shape on 'What Not To Wear' - I've seen smaller girls, larger girls, shorter girls - but no one with my proportions in the places they are. I've even had tailors tell me that I have a 'difficult' shape - just in terms of proportions. I'm not really bothered by it, but it has made finding stylish and young-looking clothes very hard.
posted by carmenghia at 6:47 PM on August 29, 2011

Try places like Filene's Basement and Nordstrom Rack. I find that they often have "nonstandard"-sized (low-price, designer) clothing.
posted by phunniemee at 6:50 PM on August 29, 2011

Best answer: Have you tried Lafayette 148? They have a store in NYC and seem to carry well-made clothes in a large range of sizes. There is also a company (online, I think) that specializes in shirts for large-busted women called Carissa Rose. I have not bought from either one, so don't have any experience with them yet, but they look promising.

Having been somewhat too generously endowed by heredity and hormones, I've pretty much become resigned to buying up a size and having things tailored to fit. Especially after reading this.
posted by tully_monster at 7:11 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding Talbot's, Filene's and Nordstrom Rack for basics. I also tend to have decent luck at Macy's (sounds like we're built somewhat similarly, though you're a bit taller than I am) because I've found that Calvin Klein, Jones New York, Tahari, and Charter Club work reasonably well for me for basics. Maybe J.Jill? They carry tall sizes. Maybe the smaller sizes at Torrid? I find Lafayette 148 is cut a bit narrow for me, but that might work for you.

In terms of more interesting clothes, I often go straight to company websites and look for retailers for clothes from Two Star Dog, Color Me Cotton, Nomadic Traders, and Joan Vass. It's not entirely reliable, but sometimes stores carrying these lines have other clothes that suit me.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:22 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like Target. Seriously. They carry most of their stuff in sizes XS-XXL (and the XXL equals 18-20, supposedly). I've had really good luck with many things from their Merona line, and I share the big waist/small hips-and-legs shape. In terms of quality, I find it lasts a good while, though obviously not years and years.

You've already mentioned Gap, which I also like. Other than that I'd suggest Loft and Talbot's, which both carry your size. For many other things, go to Nordstrom (I guess in NJ? I know they aren't in NYC yet). Get a bra fitting first, which will honestly change your life, then make good use of their in-house alteration shop (reasonably priced), and maybe seek a meeting with a personal shopper.
posted by redfishbluefish at 7:32 PM on August 29, 2011

Response by poster: redfishbluefish - I totally agree with you about the Merona line. I like their dresses a lot - they actually seem to give me a bit of a shape by how they are cut. I've got three of their dresses, which I've put to good use. I just recently went in to get new bras at my favorite shop and had them take a look at me just to make sure I was still the same size. (I've been in the hospital, so I've lost a little weight.)

Thank you to everyone who has responded so far - I think I must have disregarded Anne Taylor in the past because I thought their clothes were really conservative, but they have a good number of dresses in styles I like! All of your suggestions have been really great, and I appreciate you taking the time to provide links to sites!
posted by carmenghia at 7:56 PM on August 29, 2011

I am also an in-between size. I've found that Women's size 16 works the best for me, but that size is difficult to find. Most large department stores (such as Macy's and Dillards in the south where I live) do carry that size but I have trouble finding it at Target and smaller stores. Sometimes I can find them at Kohl's, but the stars must be aligned.
posted by raisingsand at 8:17 PM on August 29, 2011

At you height check out Tall Girl/Long Tall Sally they have your size!
posted by saradarlin at 8:20 PM on August 29, 2011

If price really isn't an issue, I'd try Marina Rinaldi on the UES. They have stuff from 12-24, and it's all really nicely done, though some of the styles can skew a bit older. There's also Re/Dress in Brooklyn for secondhand items (though they skew to the plus range). Lord and Taylor in Manhattan has a surprisingly extensive size range, and they have the same brands in regular and plus sizes, like Michael Kors, Eileen Fisher, and even Calvin Klein, so you can try the same styles in regular and plus if you're in between. And really, a good tailor is an in-between lady's best friend.
posted by bedhead at 8:49 PM on August 29, 2011

I don't know anything about brands/stores, but wanted to recommend a shopping process: have you considered a personal shopper? You can hire one yourself or get one at a good-sized department store (they work on commission). Once they know you and your style (and your specific shape), they keep a look-out for new inventory that meets your needs. My mom used one at Nordstroms for years...
posted by whatzit at 3:04 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I hovered at the straight size/plus size line for ages, and have similar proportions, and it is a challenge. A lot of places I've had luck at have already been mentioned - Gap, Talbots, Ann Taylor/Ann Taylor Loft, Target (Fit #2 for the win!), Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. A lot of it has also been figuring out what styles are more likely to fit me - e.g. I wear skirts a lot of the time since it's relatively easy to find ones that fit me off the rack, and they're more forgiving if you gain or lose a little weight. (Wrap skirts are especially good, and I like A-lines.) Pants less so.

Another possibility: consider juniors' stores that carry extended sizes, like Delia's and Forever 21. Their clothes are often cut for a straighter figure. You'll generally have to do a bit of digging to find something that isn't cheap-looking or teenagery, but every now and then you'll find something great.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:23 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

One way out of the in-between dilemma is to look for brands that vanity size like crazy, as this means they will have bigger stuff at the top end, though they'll call it a smaller size. J. Crew has apparently rejiggered its sizing recently-- I was just there and found myself mysteriously a size 6, when I'm normally an 8-10, so their 12s should fit 14s now. Ann Taylor Loft also commits vanity sizing, if I recall correctly.
posted by nonasuch at 7:30 AM on August 30, 2011

Have you thought about trying on men's jeans to see how they fit? Your waist-to-hip ratio would probably work better in men's sizes than women's, and stores always have way better selections of jeans (I'm looking at you, Levi's!) for men than women. I try them on sometimes but they never work for me, but a 34" waist jean in men's jeans (see this size chart for Lee Jeans) looks like it's sized for 41" hips/seat. I think Lee Jeans are also cut a little looser than others... a slim men's jean might look awesome on you!
posted by jabes at 9:29 AM on August 30, 2011

Have you ever been to Lee Lee's Valise in Brooklyn? She has some really gorgeous clothes, sizes 10 to 28 according to her website.
posted by crankylex at 5:19 PM on August 30, 2011

It might be a little too big, but you might try some of the smallest sizes in the Macy's Woman's section. Every once in a while I find Size 0X I think mostly in the Jones and Amalfi clothing lines.
And I found this website that describes quite a number of different body shapes [beyond apple and pear...]
Are you an H?
posted by calgirl at 9:04 PM on August 30, 2011

When I was in the same boat, I turned into a huge Chicos devotee. The sizing is pretty flexible, the clothes are flattering, extremely comfortable, and funkier than what I saw elsewhere. The jackets tend to be a bit boxier than they look in the catalog, but that can usually be adjusted with a tailor.
posted by mimi at 5:53 AM on August 31, 2011

(And it makes you feel any better, now that I'm back to 10-12, finding clothes is still ridiculous. I don't know why most manufacturers seem to use a 6-foot, 100lb., a-cup as their fit model, but they do. Grr.)
posted by mimi at 5:57 AM on August 31, 2011

You might shoot me for this suggestion, but have you given Old Navy a fair shake? I have a massive chest that is tough to dress, and an obnoxiously "in-between" body too, and the clothes at Old Navy are aaaalmost right -- my torso is actually too short for some of their stuff, so for OP, it could be just right.

They have a range of sizes online, but I suspect you could spend a day in-store and leave with a massive wardrobe (I recently did).
posted by jennanemone at 3:53 PM on August 31, 2011

« Older The pen is not mightier than a two year old.   |   Sore legs for 2 weeks...(follow-up to previous... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.