XSmall but not "petite" dress shirts for women? Is this impossible?
June 5, 2013 12:23 AM   Subscribe

So, I need suggestions for local (not online) places to find X-Small women's dress shirts. The problem is that I have a few normal ish requirements, and most women's "small" shirts don't fit! Help!

I have a very small collection of dress shirts. They are pretty boring. I have grey, light blue, dark blue with flowers, red with flowers and black or grey dress pants. SO BORING! I would like some feminine, simple shirts that actually fit me.

Just today I was finally able to find a shirt at Nordstrom Rack after going to Forever 21, JC Penny, and Macy's without luck. (X Small, Halogen brand, in purple. Hooray!)

1) I have pretty much discovered I am a women's X Small in dress shirts. If it's not an X Small and it's women's sizes, I drown in it. (Or a 0/2 if we're doing numbers. For example the Worthington brand dress shirt at JC Penny only goes down to a 4 and it looks like I'm playing dress up in mommy's clothes.)

2) Junior's sizes fit much better, but are much less formal and often have that weird stretch cotton on the sides. (Not interview/job worthy.) However, I do often look at junior's just in case there is a quality one.

3) I am not a petite as far as I know. I am fairly sure a petite will be too short in the arms and torso. (I have briefly tried on petite size blazers in the past.) An X Small women's or Small juniors fits perfectly on the arm length/torso length. My measurements: 32/34 inch bust with bra, 25 inch waist, pretty small shoulders and skinny arms.

4) I can't have sheer! That means quality, thick cotton, and no light colors like white/yellow unless they are really thick! This is the major reason that I won't buy online. I have to make sure it's 100% opaque. (Same sheer issue for a more traditional "blouse" which I am also interested in.)

Are there any department stores or brands that carry an X Small on a regular basis in women's dress shirts?
I live near Salt Lake City for reference. Budget is around $20 ish per shirt. I am only looking for a couple more.

Old navy has some on their website that come in X Small, but I haven't been able to find any in-store. When I click on one and say "find in store" they are all unavailable near me.

Bonus: Are there any good blouses this time are year that aren't sheer (in store)?
posted by Crystalinne to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Halogen is a Nordstrom brand, so if you visit their store, you should find a fairly robust offering of Halogen shirts.
posted by dotgirl at 12:46 AM on June 5, 2013

J. Crew seems almost too obvious; did you rule them out for some reason?

(Wait for sales, and "30% off everything" sales on top of sales, and do check eBay)

The blog Alterations Needed looks to be having technical problems at the moment; check back, it may be of interest -- slants petite, if memory serves, but is also a good resource for finding out who is selling grown-up's clothing in small sizes.

I would suggest (1) avoiding most dress shirts that are sized in "XS" instead of "0" or "2" -- the more fitted, the more "dressy," and, along those lines, (2) going through the work of finding a good seamstress and being her friend. It isn't too hard to have a shirt cut down to size. Right now I am excitedly awaiting the return of a lovely silk thing with fantastic colours, good thick 1980s silk in nearly new condition, that I thrifted and sent off with the seamstress to turn into a 0 with a modern fit; the whole thing will be far cheaper than even a cheapish new shirt. If you have time for thrift stores and can find somebody you trust with a sewing machine, that's another good route to go.

It used to be that you could go to Brooks Brothers and get a women's dress shirt in a beautiful fabric -- french blue herringbone weave cotton, say -- with french cuffs, under $75ish -- but now, though there are size 0s and 2s, it looks rather cheap for the price, and boring. Old stock turns up on eBay, though...
posted by kmennie at 2:17 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

J Crew Factory has so many really pretty shirts right now. They start at XX small, ha. They're more than $20, but they always have deals and sales and stuff. They seem to have two UT stores.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:56 AM on June 5, 2013

Yes...why not get a larger shirt (even from Goodwill) tailored?

BTW, an XS at J. Crew can be like a medium at other stores. I even have an XXS I wear, and I'm a 4-6. ;p
posted by semaphore at 6:50 AM on June 5, 2013

I've been buying my dress shirts on eBay lately. I prefer non-iron shirts (Brooks Brothers and Foxcroft brands are good and plentiful. Foxcroft's got more interesting colors but doesn't tend to do bust darts, which is a shame) and once you know what size you take it's easy to run a search every now and then to see what colors are available. Those things can run up to $100 new, so picking them up for $10/ea is great, and the non-iron fabric holds up well.

You'll be fine with any of the medium-to-dark colors for avoiding sheerness, but in case it's an undergarments-showing issue: match your bra to your skin color (or a bit darker), not to your shirt.

The key measurement to look for if the eBay sellers provide it and if you haven't already been able to check sizing in a particular brand: armpit-to-armpit width. You can check that against a shirt you have that fits you well and it's measurable flat.
posted by asperity at 7:49 AM on June 5, 2013

Have you tried Banana Republic, this shirt for example? They have 0 & 2 and the sizing guide seems to fit your parameters.
posted by Requiax at 8:33 AM on June 5, 2013

This might sound crazy, and there aren't many colors right now, but at a 32 inch bust, you could probably wear a girls' size 14 in Crew Cuts, the J. Crew kids line.
posted by peep at 9:14 AM on June 5, 2013

Have you tried Express? http://www.express.com/clothing/Women/Essential+Shirts/cat/cat430006

I have the same issue with petites being short in the arms and legs but sometimes too wide. I haven't tried the shirts but their pants actually fit which gives me hope. They also have x-small. They often have sales - buy 1 get 1 50% off or $25 off a certain purchase amount.
posted by mokeydraws at 10:00 AM on June 5, 2013

New York & Company always has a ton of XS in stock and their size chart is here.
posted by jabes at 10:22 AM on June 5, 2013

Ugh, women's dress shirts are so hard to fit! I would highly recommend finding one you like style of and having it tailored.

FWIW, I think the weird cotton stretchy sides are for making them more comfortable underneath a blazer or sweatervest. Not practical if you plan on wearing by itself.
posted by radioamy at 10:49 AM on June 5, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks all so far. To clarify, which I should have in the question, I am not interested in having them tailored, at least not for the price range that I am looking in. Potentially my new job opportunities may be a causal environment so I think getting one tailored would be overboard. (I am also a decent seamstress and don't want to do it myself either, I already usually end up hemming my own dress pants.)

The X Smalls that I have fit extremely well. So that's why I'm looking there.

Good suggestions so far, but I'm not sure I could go past $30 ish. I put my budget around $20 in my question. I kind of need them on the cheap for now. If I have a professional job setting in the next few months, I could spring for more money so I wil keep them in mind.

Sheer: I have tattoos. I don't buy dress/work clothing that is at all sheer. (Which is a bummer when I find a cute one light pink, but it's see-trough.) I'm fine going with darks to combat that problem, but I also want some more feminine colors if I can find them.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:19 AM on June 5, 2013

Children's sizes are not only good because they fit (if they do) but also because they are much cheaper for the value. My daughters (who are not that small (can't wear children's clothes), but still size 2) are buying pretty dress shirts at H&M all the time.
posted by mumimor at 11:43 AM on June 5, 2013

I'm about the same size as you (but with a long torso, so petites/children's sizes are definitely too short, even regulars are often too short). I've never found a cheap brand or store that sells dress shirts that fit - when I worked in an office I ended up resorting to regularly scouring the clearance racks at Banana Republic, Dillards, etcetera and buying anything I found in my size. I've also found thrift stores to often have dress shirts in tiny sizes, at least in my area - maybe people quit the job, maybe they outgrow them, I dunno, but I have a lot of work clothes in J Crew, Express, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor that I bought at Goodwill in almost-new condition.
posted by celtalitha at 1:37 PM on June 5, 2013

Oooh yeah, thrift stores are always teeming with XSmalls. Spotted a beautiful Banana Republic fitted no-iron shirt in a size 2 recently for about $2.
posted by jabes at 2:17 PM on June 5, 2013

Man, you're two days too late in asking this question, because I sent literally 20-25 dress shirts your size to Goodwill on Monday. I would have just sent them to you for shipping costs.

But to answer your question - most of those were bought at Ann Taylor and Banana Republic.

Goodwill is definitely the way to go. In Milwaukee they have a "boutique" Goodwill where all the designer-y stuff goes. It's super easy to find XS sizes there because people are more likely to grow out of that size (and give their stuff away) than into it.
posted by desjardins at 5:00 PM on June 5, 2013

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