Classic like Madewell, not classic like Ann Taylor
July 20, 2012 2:57 PM   Subscribe

I like clothes that are simple, clean, classic, but still young. Un-fussy dresses, casual skirts, cute jackets, well-cut t-shirts. My dream wardrobe would come from Madewell and Uniqlo. Unfortunately, I'm a 14-16 US, 18-20 UK, so they're both out of the question.

I manage to cobble together a fairly decent wardrobe from the top size range of Gap, with some of the less-hideous options from ASOS Curve thrown in, but it's not good enough.

I hate: most prints (unless they are particularly beautiful), weird cuts (MULLET SKIRTS, WTF?), anything drapey or baggy, and leggings. That covers most "plus size" lines, sadly. I have a bizarre apple-shaped figure (46 bust, 37 waist, 34 hip) that makes trousers and jeans impossible - seriously, don't even try - but I've managed to come across some stretchy, trousery jeggings that work with hip-length-or-longer tops. For the most part, though, I like full or a-line skirts with cute tuck-in-able tops, and all kinds of dresses. The only absolute no-nos for dresses are skin-tight or dropped waist.

So..where should I shop? Online is great, stores are OK too. I'm in the UK, but I'll be in the states (TN-KY-OH) for two weeks in August.
posted by cilantro to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
I am in your size range and dress a bit more prep than you (more J Crew than Madewell), and I find clothes at Boden, which is a British brand. Not everything there will suit you and they have a lot of printed items (most of which are also available in solids) but you might find something you like there.
posted by immlass at 3:26 PM on July 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

I am a huge fan of Dress Barn. It has (had?) a really dumpy/matronly image but they have some really cute stuff.
posted by radioamy at 3:27 PM on July 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Madewell and Uniqlo are my favorites stores, too. I know you said no Ann Taylor, but have you tried Loft? I've found so many cute things there. Lots of classic cuts, well-made, nothing overly trendy, good colors, CONSTANT sales. AND most of the things I've gotten there seem to run slightly larger.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 3:33 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

In other US mall stores, I think there's considerable overlap between Madewell, Eddie Bauer, and Banana Republic. You have to be a little careful because EB has a dowdy side, and BR can get dressy/office-y. But you can definitely find definitely those "basic, simple, preppy-ish pieces with clean lines" in both. And I'd try Old Navy too. Yeah, some of it is cheap, but I've gotten some decent basics there.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:53 PM on July 20, 2012

Talbots is never going to be exciting, but it is well made and classic clean line cuts. Their "normal" sizes are very vanity sized, and their plus line is good. They take a regular item, re-proportion it for plus, and resist the urge to add sparkles or patterns to it, unlike most other plus size lines. It's like, normal clothing. Shocking.

INC (sold at Macys) can have decent plus clothes. You do have to wade through some leopard sparkles shirts, occasionally. They're much less likely to break the bank too.

Also, I'm not sure if you've got this in the UK, but the Merona line at Target has some pretty basic (and cheap) plus sized clothing.

For all the brands I mentioned I do have to dig through a lot of ugly. The remaining 5% can be pretty good though. With the addition of Gap, and a piece or two of Banana Republic, I've just described the entire contents of my closet. Hope this thread turns up some more options for us both.
posted by fontophilic at 4:00 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, Talbots Outlet, if you can get to one, is not nearly as Talbots-like as Talbots. It's like Talbots-meets-Loft.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 4:02 PM on July 20, 2012

Esprit has sizes up to 18 (UK)/2XL.
posted by iviken at 4:22 PM on July 20, 2012

It's a little more prim than Madewell, but what about Eileen Fisher for basics in silk/linen/cashmere/merino? There are stand alone boutiques in the US, and it's also carried in department stores like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.
posted by peripathetic at 4:41 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Eloquii by The Limited might have some pieces that would work for you. Better quality than many other plus-sized companies in my experience. I adore their skirts and sweaters (so many compliments!) but haven't seen a non-sweater top that I like yet. Haven't tried the dresses yet. They have one of those shape selectors that may or may not be helpful when identifying likely pieces for you.
posted by Neneh at 4:55 PM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm roughly your size, with similar tastes, and I've got a couple of simple dresses that fit fantastically well from Land's End
posted by peppermind at 4:59 PM on July 20, 2012

Have you ever seen LL Bean's Signature line? They have a pretty limited inventory, but the stuff I have from there is super well made and classic.
posted by mjcon at 6:54 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you near a Nordstrom Rack? I'm your size (although not your exact dimensions), and I rarely shop anywhere else - tons of stuff in my size (at both the top end of the "normal" sizes and in the separate "plus" section), extremely well-made, extremely discounted, with a distinct veer towards classics rather than cheap, trendy stuff. I LOVE that place!
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:40 PM on July 20, 2012

Dorothy Perkins! UK company but ships everywhere. I am proportioned like you, size 16 US/20 UK and I have found lots of great dresses/blazers/skirts/tops from there. Sizes up to 18 US/22 UK. Simple, classic, well-made. I think they may have a brick & mortar presence in the UK, but if not, their online shopping experience is smooth sailing. I have nary a complaint after years of buying from them and shipping to the US. Nicer quality than Gap/Target...and not as ugly as Asos Curve. Not by a long shot. Give them a try.
posted by thereemix at 8:58 PM on July 20, 2012

While you're in the US, visit Lane Bryant ( -- they also ship to the UK just in case you don't make it. They may have some basic stuff that you're looking for.

If you don't mind preppy Brooks Brothers (which also ships to the UK) and Lacoste work. CT shirts ( has a limited women's wear range and is a UK store going up to UK20.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 3:17 AM on July 21, 2012

My measurements are very similar to yours (my hips are bigger, and theres a good chance I'm taller) and I've found Eloquii and Talbots, with a dash of Macy's, to be the best bets. Also eShakti might be good for you — it's customized and they have tons of solid dresses.
posted by dame at 8:10 AM on July 21, 2012

You can buy great quality tshirts and other basics at Talbots, LLBean, and Landsend, when they have clearance sales. I stock up when they have great sales with free shipping. Then use the savings to buy really cute clothes at high-end shops.
posted by theora55 at 8:29 AM on July 21, 2012

While you're in the US, visit Lane Bryant

As an aside--

The Lane Bryant store at the "outlet village" 50 miles from me has a much much better selection of clothes than the local mall Lane Bryant. A lot more business clothes and stylish basics. I finally asked the clerk why that is. She said its because the local store is directed to the local shoppers -- who are younger. But the store in the "outlet village" gets all kinds of customers from a wider radius -- so they stock a larger variety of clothes.

I don't even walk onto the mall store anymore.
posted by vitabellosi at 5:48 PM on July 21, 2012

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