I got fat really fast. I'm short. Where to find clothes that fit, stat?
November 12, 2012 8:20 PM   Subscribe

Best stores for short and plus sized gals? Comfortable yet young professional clothes, especially. Snowflakey details inside.

I've recently gained A LOT of weight (thanks to medication I think) and I really need new clothes, but I don't know how to shop for this new shape. I don't want to spend a lot of money, but want to look good for work and going out with friends, and be comfortable as well (I hate itchy, tight, scratchy stuff. Most tights for instance drive me crazy.) My biggest problem is my stomach area, where I feel like I've expanded the most. It's really weird -- that's never been a 'problem spot'. Pants can be SO uncomfortable due to the waistband digging in, or other weird midsection constriction issues. I don't know if this weight gain is temporary or not, or if it's still going up, so while I don't want to really invest in a new wardrobe, the lack of appropriate clothing is stressing me out now. i prefer petite length so i dont have to hem pants and such.

I am 5'3", early 30s, and probably hovering around 200 lbs at this point :( I used to be ~ a size 12/14 before the new med, and my recent pants purchase at talbots, 18W petite, is too uncomfortable due to the waistband issue.

thoughts on where to go? Talbots is good, but expensive, so i'd like to hear of other places. I'm out of the retail league I'm used to!

Thank you in advance.
posted by ArgyleMarionette to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Alfred Dunner brand. Unfortunately most of the design trends more to the older crowd but the pants at least are comfortable. Elastic waistbands are your friend. Places like Penneys and Belk will carry them. And they are pretty budget friendly. They do come in petites.

At the very least the pants can maybe tide you over paired with trendier tops from other brands.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:26 PM on November 12, 2012

Most of the plus-sized fashion bloggers I follow do most of their shopping online. Gabi gets a lot of things from Asos Curve and eloquii, for instance. SimplyBe.com seems to be a favorite with younger plus-sized fashion bloggers.

Old Navy goes up to size 20 in stores, so that may work for you with casual wear. Target also goes up to size 20.

Coldwater Creek is a little older-market, but they're a good source for basic flowy skirts (which might be a better choice than pants or more tailored skirts if your weight is fluctuating). They have a lot of physical stores now as well as catalogue/online shopping.

Do be in touch with your doctor about the specifics of your weight gain. A sudden increase in waistline can be a reflection of endocrinological issues that your doc should be kept up to date on. Gaining weight suddenly in the midsection is more concerning than overall weight gain.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:33 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Okay, I'm going to have to say NOOOO to elastic waistbands. Not in your early thirties. No. I have friends who are plus-sized and bigger than you and these ladies always look put together. But they don't get there by wearing elastic waist bands. That just says I've given up.
posted by bananafish at 8:45 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am a plus-sized woman and I shop a ton at Lane Bryant (late twenties). I think their stuff is pretty cute and fashionable but it also feels like it's actually made for me, not just small stuff blown-up big that doesn't really fit or flatter my shape. They have plus-size petite stuff (can't vouch for that) and some different cuts of pants that can really help with the waistband thing; if possible I'd recommend going in to get sized for that since it can really help. Maybe a little more expensive than you want but if you get a few basic pieces (jeans, a skirt or two and some tops you can mix and match) it'll probably be okay.

Also, they have many cute undies! It can be VERY hard to find fun/cute plus-size bras and underwear. A lot of the time I can only find black and beige so it's unbelievably exciting to find polka-dot bras and stuff in my size. I know I sound kind of like an ad but the bottom line is I usually cry when I go shopping and when I shop at Lane Bryant it doesn't happen nearly as much and I feel pretty good about the stuff even after I get out of the store. That's a big deal for me.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:56 PM on November 12, 2012

I can't recommend stores, but I wanted to recommend you something else: Skirts!

I'm a plus-sized gal, and I haven't worn pants for over twenty years. I hate the way the waistband digs in, and I hate the way everything feels tight and constricted, and I hate having fabric between my thighs. A lot of my larger friends live in jeans and it amazes me, because I find those even more uncomfortable than pants.

Look for skirts that have a fitted waist and some volume to the bottom. Bais-cut and A-line skirts look best on me, but experiment and see what suits your body type. Straight skirts probably won't, though -- they tend to be boxy on larger women. Top your skirt with a t-shirt and a cardi when it gets cooler, and you'll be as cute as you are comfy. Dresses are also good, as long as they have enough fabric around the hips that they don't ride up when you sit down.

Short women like you and me can look overwhelmed in maxi-skirts and maxi-dresses. A hem length between the bottom of your knees and the middle of your calves will probably be the most flattering.

Cardis are great. I own a dozen black cardis in various fabrics, weights and sleeve lengths, so I always have something toss on or throw into my bag. You might also consider leggings. They're much more comfortable than tights and great under winter skirts.

The other nice thing about skirts is that you can show off your cute shoes with them. I'm a big fan of maryjanes, and they're very comfortable to wear.
posted by Georgina at 9:03 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Seconding Georgina's suggestion. I am plus-size and haven't worn pants in years. I basically have a uniform which is a casual dress, leggings, a cardigan, scarf, and cute boots or Mary Janes. I get my leggings online from Old Navy but they only come in gray or black. I get a lot of casual dresses online at Lands' End; not the most hip but I like their basic dresses and you can dress them up with accessories. They have petite and plus sizes.
posted by Sal and Richard at 9:16 PM on November 12, 2012

SockDreams.com is beloved for tights and leggings by many super-stylish plus fashion bloggers and ladies of my acquaintance, if you go to a dress and skirt default.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:20 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've come to recommend Wardrobe Oxygen (again. I always recommend this blog for professional clothes that aren't blah). Alison, the blogger, "has been size 4 and size 18" and always looks professional, put together, and trendy.

Also, she is very very active on twitter, as well as active in answering questions on her blog. If she's not your style, she would probably know someone who is.
posted by xmts at 4:16 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Where are you located? There are an increasing number of small boutiques catering to people of our dimensions and age.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 5:07 AM on November 13, 2012

I wanted to third Georgina's suggestion of skirts and throw in a vote for dresses. I don't really work in business casual setting (I'm a farmhand so it's pants for me) but when I'm not working, I default to dresses. I have 6 or 7 dresses of various styles and weights that I have found are more comfortable than even the best pants. When it's cold, I just throw on some tights, an long sleeved shirt and maybe a cardigan/sweater.

For dresses, check out eshakti; their stuff is cute and they do custom sizing. However, I have heard they can be hit or miss with their clothes and customer service. I've never had an issue ordering from them but I know others who have.
posted by godshomemovies at 6:03 AM on November 13, 2012

If you're hesitant about skirts/dresses because you hate tights, definitely check out leggings. Really cheapo leggings in a bigger size than you think you need. Thin stretchy fabric is comfortable on the waist and prevents thigh rub. It is not tight and annoying like hose or tights.

If you find leggings you like, you can throw basically any cheap skirt over it and you are good to go. Leggings are very popular now so you'll find them in places like Kmart, Target, Walmart, Belk, Kohls, etc.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:38 AM on November 13, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions so far! I will definitely check them all out! To clarify, I'm in the DC area (so possibly gearing up for cold weather... who can tell these days though) and especially interested in places that sell plus-size clothes in short/petite lengths. Thanks again!
posted by ArgyleMarionette at 7:42 AM on November 13, 2012

eloquii actually has a location in DC, so you can go try their stuff. Online, try Evans. It's a UK brand that's kind of like TopShop for plus sizes. They have cute leggings in TONS of colors, and do designer collaborations too!

If you have a Lord & Taylor department store near you, try their plus-size section, especially when they are having a sale. They carry a good selection of plus-size brands, the most modern/young of which are Michael Kors and Vince Camuto, but there are also some good basics and work clothes there. They also often have coupons online for an extra 15-25% off. You can end up getting some really nice brands for not much money.
posted by bedhead at 8:03 AM on November 13, 2012

Don't immediately turn away from a store where the styles aren't your thing at all. You might be able to find one or two basics.

Tank tops can be great if you like to layer your tops or if you want to leave your overshirt open to create a V or a vertical line. I've had great luck with the tanks at Ulla Popken. I doubt you'd go for their other clothes, because they're mostly dowdy and also quite long. Chico's also has good tanks -- you'd probably wear size 4 in their sizing. Chico's is another place where you'd have to look diligently to find something appropriate, but it might be worthwhile.

I've found some good things on line at Eloquii. Their sizing is very inconsistent, though.

I haven't bought anything from Fashion to Figure, but it looks promising. Styles are young but not silly (for the most part.)

Macy's has stuff marked down all the time, plus you can find good coupon codes. Nordstrom also has some excellent sales.
posted by wryly at 9:45 AM on November 13, 2012

Two words for comfortable, very inexpensive yet *surprisingly* presentable pants and leggings: Family Dollar. You will probably have to hem the pants, but it's worth it. And if the leggings are too long, just fold them under at the bottom and they will stay, because they're leggings!

I would never recommend Alfred Dunner. Their pants have TIGHT ELASTIC at the waist, and only fit people who have a smaller waist than their hips!!!

Also, some malls now have a booth (called Me-Ality) where you go in, for free, and stand there while while lasers or something rotate around you and measure your dimensions, and then tell you what jeans in the mall will fit you the best. They will eventually expand this to pants. Look it up online and find a location near you.

Stretch miniskirts can look awesome on short people.

With skirts, as they have no crotch, you can wear them as high as you want (rather than hemming them), or simply fold the waistband under to make it shorter, and if the skirt is the right shape to do this and the top isn't clingy, no one will know.
posted by serena15221 at 10:14 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Avenue is my go-to shop. They have a ton of stuff that will work for business casual, in sizes between 14/16 - 32.

Fair warning, though, I only go there for very very basic stuff. Pants, tanks, cardigans. If you stick to those, it's fairly cheap, which is good if your weight is changing a lot. They do have pants/slacks in petite, and at 5'3 they're just right for me.

I wouldn't go there looking for anything fancy, though. They often land at "horrible" when they're aiming for "chubby chic". And when they try to do design-y stuff, it can be a nightmare. Especially don't go there looking for shoes or jewelry (UGH.)
posted by kythuen at 10:53 AM on November 13, 2012

I experienced rapid weight gain, mainly around belly, due to meds and health issues.

I'm not sure if this has been suggested yet but maternity shops have very cute clothing which worked for me. (I'm 5'2" with very short legs.)
posted by cat_link at 11:10 AM on November 13, 2012

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