Help overweight tween girl find clothes that fit
March 7, 2012 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find stylish, attractive clothes that fit well for a tween girl who is somewhat overweight and not particularly tall-especially jeans, other kinds of pants, bathing suits, and other such items where expected weight/height ratio really matters and can't be fudged in the way that dresses and skirts can. They should be relatively reasonably priced, but I'm willing to splurge if that's the only way this is fixable.

Details: She is a bright, intelligent, amazing girl who is 9 years old and extremely fashion conscious. We used to love going shopping together, but now it breaks my heart to see her go into the dressing room carrying a heapful of interesting clothes, and walking out again sadly holding perhaps one item that only fits poorly and trying to see the best side of it. She is not obese by any stretch of the imagination-but she unfortunately carries most of her weight in her stomach. This means pants that she can manage to button or zip are too long. This would be fixable with hemming, but also they seem to not go up far enough to the waist, thus occasionally leaving her with "plumber" situation that is intensely embarrassing for her.

Help! I'm enough at my wits end that I'm considering having at least a few clothes tailored for her, but I've never had this done for a child, and have no idea where to go, how expensive it would be, or if it would even be possible to get "Everyday" clothing done. I have found some places online that offer "plus" sizes, but I haven't been able to find a place that explains just what sort of waist size fits what plus size. I would prefer in-person stores, but only if they offer enough of a selection likely to fit to make it worthwhile, and not leaving her feeling worse about herself. I realize the situation may not sound desperate, but there are complicating factors, including self-esteem issues on her part that make it somewhat dire.
posted by corb to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
:big hugs:

Go to a Nordstroms. They do tailoring on clothes, and the person working in that section of the store will really understand what's cute/fun for a tween.

You might also try JCPenney's plus sized kids' section, which you can normally try in person at their outlets. Forever21 and Debs also have plus sized sections.

Finally, look at Etsy. You can contact a seller there and have them work with you on her fitting.
posted by spunweb at 12:47 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

What size is she wearing? That will impact the stores that we can recommend (kids sizes, juniors, etc.)
posted by k8t at 12:49 PM on March 7, 2012

Oh, this is tough, because Sears and JC Penney and the ilk do have plus sized children's clothes, but they're rarely the most fashionable or best-tailored.

If you're willing to splurge, is a possibility. has fun things, and offers jeggings in various lengths. I imagine the 26" inseam is still going to be too long for her, but it might be easiest to start there and then she can shorten them or roll them up.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:01 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

In addition to taking these suggestions of where to find stylish pants that fit, I would also encourage you to really talk to her about the importance of finding a style that looks good on her, rather than trying to make something trendy work. I know that at age 9, she just wants to wear what all the other girls are wearing and a certain amount of this will just go right past her, but if she hears this consistently over the years, it might not be so difficult for her to accept it when she is older. So if skirts and dresses fit her better and make her look good and feel confident, find ways to make that work for her. A lot of grown women, never mind tween girls, feel that skirts/dresses can't be worn in a casual manner or as everyday outfits, but they really can!

I guess what I'm saying is that while you help her blend in, also let her know that a lot of being fashionable is about doing what is right for yourself and standing out from the crowd.

I know this can be a very touchy subject at any age, especially at hers, so I really commend you for being willing to work with her and keep shopping fun. Good luck!
posted by cessair at 1:02 PM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

There's also Torrid, which has online stores and real ones, and is very teenybopper.
posted by spunweb at 1:02 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you're thinking of tailoring as a last resort. It shouldn't be. It should be your first choice, because it lets you buy her cute clothes and then have them made to fit her. It's not just for rich people. You can either hit up a Nordstrom, which has tailoring in-house, or find someone local. Check for reviews. In my city, there are places that will hem pants for $6.

They key to buying clothes that you intend to tailor is to buy them to fit your biggest part. So in her case, buy clothes that fit in the waist, even if they are too big elsewhere. Then enjoy as the tailor takes them in!

Now would be the ideal time to share that sizes are worthless numbers that don't correlate to anything except ease of merchandising, and that most women are one size on top and another on the bottom.
posted by juniperesque at 1:02 PM on March 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

Oh and for where to go get things tailored: Most dry cleaning stores that aren't chains will do tailoring. It's a little scary the first time you go, because a stranger will be measuring your body, but you should only have to do that once or twice,
posted by spunweb at 1:04 PM on March 7, 2012

It's probably worth it to size up in jeans and get them tailored- one or two pairs. She can also try jeggings, which are a cross between stretch leggings and non-stretch jeans.

Other than that, I'd say stick with stretchy-fabric clothes like leggings and tunics, or leggings and long tank tops and hoodies or tees.

You can use fashion tricks that many people use to draw attention away from body parts they don't wan't showcased, like bright or patterned accessories around the neck or bright earrings or fun things that won't focus on her tummy.

As for bathing suits, tankinis with open backs are a young-feeling alternative to one pieces (cover the whole stomach but don't feel too buttoned up) especially with details like ruffles or bright colors anywhere but her stomach area. For bikini bottoms, she may be more comfortable with something with side-ties as opposed to an underwear-like bottom. I even prefer them as an adult, so as not to create 'muffin top' or spillage since I have wide hips.
posted by rachaelfaith at 1:14 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

The "half" sizes at Justice are cut for a chunkier girl, and they have been a godsend for my 11-year-old daughter who is probably technically "overweight" but just has really thick thighs and a bit of a booty. They are a bit expensive, but not outrageously so. You really have to have her try them on, though, because they don't really correspond to the regular sizes (for example, their 12 1/2 isn't just a plus version of the 12).
posted by Rock Steady at 1:17 PM on March 7, 2012

Have you tried petite adult clothing or petite jrs clothing?

When I was 10 I wore a size 10 petite jeans and they were the first jeans I had ever had that fit right, I still wear a ten, but that is besides the point.
posted by stormygrey at 1:20 PM on March 7, 2012

If she's already shopping in the Junior's section, I would suggest looking for things marked curvy fit, relaxed fit, and mid-rise. Even thin teens have problems with plummer butt from the "super low rise" jeans in the juniors section.
posted by asphericalcow at 1:28 PM on March 7, 2012

Old Navy and Children's Place both carry plus sizes, and they have some cute clothes at not bank-breaking prices. You can order online and return in the store at both places, I believe.
posted by Addlepated at 1:38 PM on March 7, 2012

I know you said you'd prefer an in-person store, but I wanted to suggest Lands' End. First off, they carry plus-sizes and the phone reps can give you every possible measurement of every garment, and they're really nice and patient. They offer jeans, leggings, dresses, bathing suits, really everything you can think of. And the nice thing is that you can browse together either online or in the catalog and then order lots of items in different sizes and styles and let her try them on at home, which might be less stressful for her. And whatever doesn't work can be returned at your nearest Sears store if you don't want to pay the return shipping cost! (And/or I think return shipping is free if you're re-ordering.)
posted by wisekaren at 1:42 PM on March 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

This answer may be slightly nuts - but is the option of learning to sew worth considering? My mom started teaching me at about age 8, and I was "making" (okay, she corrected mistakes while I was asleep) some of my own clothes at a very young age.

It is a great life-long skill - I don't know if anyone at any age really "fits" in ready to wear - there is always something you have to compromise on. But if you sew, you can adapt patterns to fit your particular shape.
posted by hilaryjade at 1:52 PM on March 7, 2012

Forever 21 should have a ton of things that fit and are stylish.
posted by kinetic at 1:59 PM on March 7, 2012

I like the Forever21 recommendation, as well as the tailoring/hemming thing (I can't believe I'm thirty and just discovered tailoring. D'oh!).

One other, possibly askew, suggestion: I still get their catalogs but think most of their clothing is "too much" for me. BUT - it's cheap, trendy (or so I'm told by my niece) and has a LARGE selection of plus-size and extended inseam sizes. And by that I don't mean a "normal size" section and then a "plus size" section, but that nearly all of their clothing is available from XS to XXL.

Last note: as for the plumber thing ... I get that too, and I'm thin. I'm thinking about starting an Anti-Low-Rise Petition. Bring back the high-waisteds! Plus it's better tummy-control!
posted by athena2255 at 3:33 PM on March 7, 2012

For clarity: hard to say, on sizes. She's been still mostly shopping in children's sizes, waist often roughly around a children's 14, for length around a children's 10, but some of the dresses that have fit her best and been the most beautiful have been tiny adult clothes in the small numbers. As another poster said, sizes are really hard to measure here. My experience is that there's actually less variance in children's clothing than women's, which is itself not the greatest.
posted by corb at 3:50 PM on March 7, 2012

I've been shaped like that for my entire life. I'm sorry to say that dressing isn't any easier as an adult. It is nearly impossible to find pants that fit me in the waist and in the butt/leg. Levi's recently came out with their Curve ID line, and one of the options is "slight curve" and it comes in mid-rise, the smallest size looks like size 2 short. Apparently they have a larger waist and smaller legs, I just purchased a pair in a plus size for myself. Also, I second athena2255's rec. I find that a lot of junior's stuff is cut straight through the hip, so you might have good luck there, you just have to mind the rise. You can always have the pants hemmed, less than ten bucks a pair around here.
posted by crankylex at 5:06 PM on March 7, 2012

Definitely introduce her to the amazing world of tailoring. Clothes are typically made to fit specific proportions (that, imo, very few people actually meet). I didn't realize you were supposed to tailor your clothes until my early 20s, after years of feeling like a weirdly-proportioned misfit (literally). Show her the glories of tailoring, explain that clothes usually are designed with the intention that they will be tailored (and it's not just some weird thing only she needs to do), and maybe even buy her a sewing machine so she can learn how to do it herself, if she shows interest. It will give her a huge leg up in terms of teenage and twenty-dom self esteem.
posted by melissasaurus at 6:20 PM on March 7, 2012

I have the same body type, and nothing ever fit properly until I discovered the magical, magical maternity department.

A lot of stores now have first-trimester maternity pants that don't look like maternity pants at all... they have normal, non-elastic waists, but are cut for a bit of belly and available down to a women's size zero. If she'd be horrified at the thought of wearing maternity pants, maybe you could get a pair to try and cut the label out?
posted by Gianna at 6:37 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Definitely check out any of the children's retailers that carry half or plus sizes! These solve exactly the problem you're describing! A kid's plus or half size will typically have the same waist measurement as a regular pair 2 sizes up, but retains the length of the same-number regular size.

So: a 10+ or 10 1/2 will have roughly the same waist measurement as a 14 regular, but the length of a 10 regular. The leg/thigh will have different proportions than a regular size, as well, so if her legs are small you may run into bagginess here.

I worked for Gap Kids for years and loved fitting girls and boys who had these types of fit troubles, so I'm biased when I recommend you check them out, along with Old Navy. Gap & ON also have an adjustable waist in most of their pants, which can help. I would also second recommendations for Land's End and Delia's (which has a fantastic size selection for tough-to-fit juniors, as well).
posted by marmago at 7:32 PM on March 7, 2012

I know from experience that it's so hard to be an atypical size! My heart goes out to you both.

If you're going to try the maternity clothes options, buy them at the store without trying them in and take them home to try on. Returning what doesn't fit the next day or within the return period is totally reasonable IMHO.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 8:04 PM on March 7, 2012

I think tailoring is a great option, especially if she's not growing out of things super fast right now - hemming is really inexpensive, and you can't tell a well-hemmed pair of jeans from an non-hemmed pair of jeans.

Try the jeggings at Gap or Forever 21; jeggings are incredibly forgiving of different body types. I'm only familiar with Gap's adult lines, but I bet their smaller adult sizes would fit her, and Gap kids might have something. F21's smaller sizes should definitely fit her as well. You might need to hem (though Gap has an ankle length that might work for her).

For bathing suits, I'd go to a department store and look at tankini separates - a department store will have the most options (though I've had surprising luck at target, actually). Separates are really key though to get a good fit.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:10 PM on March 7, 2012

explain that clothes usually are designed with the intention that they will be tailored

And celebrities definitely have their clothes tailored. That's a lot of why their clothes always look like they fit just right - they do, because they were tailored just to that person.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:12 PM on March 7, 2012

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