Big clothes in the big city? (DC-filter)
September 17, 2014 8:45 AM   Subscribe

I'm a fat woman (US sizes like 26-28 at the moment), newishly arrived to Washington DC. Where can I buy some clothes my size, in a brick-and-mortar store where I can try them on, and if possible that's near public transportation? My job involves some physical work and can get a bit dusty/dirty; I tend to wear jeans or cords, and a button shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

There used to be a Lane Bryant at the Pentagon City Mall, so I went over after work the other day only to find that the store was completely gone as if it had never been (no sign of it on the mall maps, etc.). I felt surprosingly upset, even though I don't really like LB as it tends to feel kind of cheap/flimsy to me...but it comes in my size, which is hard to find. I feel overwhelmed and almost panicky at the prospect of trying to find clothes, but ordering online has a lot of its own problems (e.g., when things don't fit right, I sometimes get so stressed out about trying to figure out the exchange procedures that I never do exchange it, so I wasted money for nothing. Ugh.). I'm down to two pairs of pants without holes in them.

So, where do the fat women who aren't dressing femme or executive style go to try on some pants? It's a pretty big town, so I know there must be places (?), but I could use some guidance to find them. I have occasional access to a car, but I'd vastly prefer it if I could travel by Metro and/or bus.

Many thanks!
posted by Forgetful Jones to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Hi, Forgetful - you are right in my backyard. I, too, was shocked by the sudden departure of Lane Bryant. It was still my go-to place for underwear and cotton bras. The nearest one is now at Kingstown, which is only car-accessible.

Next door to where Lane Bryant used to be is the second floor entrance to Macy's, and their women's department is relatively large. I don't shop at Macy's anymore because they won't dump Trump, but assuming you have no moral objections to shopping there, the women's department has a great selection of jeans and pants. They carry all the major lines that do plus-size: Michael by Michael Kors, Lauren, Calvin Klein, Jones of New York, plus their own house lines Inc. and Alfani.

I don't know if I would bother with Nordstrom, at the other end of Pentagon Center, because their Encore section just keeps getting smaller and smaller, but they do carry some of the bridge lines like Lafayette 148, Misook, and Eileen Fisher, so that's another option if you're willing to spend more $$$.

I know that 26-28 is problematic, because a lot of the lines stop at 24, but I think that the 3X in Alfani and Inc., at least, is considered a 24/26, so those could work for you.

I honestly cannot think of anything else that is metro accessible.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 9:18 AM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Marshall's and TJ Maxx have big girl sections as well as Maurice's(sp?) Those are the most reasonably priced stores. Any major chain such as Macy's, Belk, and Dillard have plus departments. Theres Catherine's and Ashley Stewart, but for me they tend to have more church type clothes. There's also Torrid. Now granted I'm not in the DC area but those are the big girl chains that I visit and I'm sure they're in that area too. I'll grant you there's probably another Lane Bryant somewhere else in the area. Shoot if all else fails I have good luck at Goodwill and thrift shops.
posted by PJMoore at 9:19 AM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: There's an Avenue in Alexandria.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:22 AM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: There's still a Lane Bryant at The Mall At Prince George's (which I've only ever heard anybody call PG Plaza), which is on the Green Line. And my wife found out from employees that the Pentagon City store had been turned into a sort of regional clearance store before it closed, which (A) explained the sometimes very random selection, and (2) meant that by the time they shut it down she didn't expect to find much there anyway.

Aside from that, she shops at the Macy's locations at PG Plaza and Metro Center, but usually more for dresses than daily wear like jeans. For jeans she'll make a trip to PG Plaza whenever Lane Bryant changes the cut or construction of its jeans, then buy replacements online as long as they keep selling the same styles.

The closest Torrid stores aren't convenient without a car and mostly have clothes even more cheaply made than Lane Bryant, but she's found a few cool t-shirts and a couple formal dresses she really liked (which required zipper replacement at some point, but which are still in rotation). I don't think she's found anything at Torrid she'd wear to work.

Online, she's found Lands End to be the least frustrating. Lane Bryant tends to go through weird phases where nothing will look good on her body type, so she mostly orders jeans, bras, and underwear she already knows the sizes of (and takes advantage of sales, free shipping, and Real Women dollars). Old Navy has a bunch of plus size stuff online, but the sizing is horribly inconsistent and she ends up having to return half of every order, if not more. Also the "cheaply made" thing definitely seems to apply to Old Navy more than it does to Lane Bryant.

And FWIW she's bought numerous swimsuits at the Marshall's at Columbia Heights. She doesn't buy much else there, but she's had really good luck with the swimsuits.
posted by fedward at 9:33 AM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: Seconding the Avenue. I don't live near Washington so I wasn't sure if the Avenue was easily reached, but I like their stuff a lot.
posted by lyssabee at 9:44 AM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: Not a local, but know the feeling. While it's really not true that any Macy's etc. will have a decent plus size selection,* individual ones do, so go to one that does. When Lane Bryant hiked their prices without changing their quality a few years ago, I abandoned them for Macy's. Full price on midrange items is the same as full price items at LB. I use Macy's coupons and shop their clearance and sale sections a lot. While their lower-end stuff is no better than LB's (or Avenue's), at least there's more to choose from, and the mid-range and upper-range stuff is far better made and longer lasting. Macy's also carries more items over size 24 than, say, Penney's does.

*For example, the one in the Bay Area city where I used to live had a minimal selection, mostly lower-end, and did not even carry coats or special occasion dresses in plus sizes. If I went south to Valley Fair in San Jose or north to Sun Valley in Concord, though, the Macy's there have extensive plus size sections taking up half of a level of the store. So it depends a lot on the individual store. For all I know, that's not true, or less true, on the East Coast, but it's worth keeping in mind.
posted by wintersweet at 9:55 AM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: Talbot's at the "big mall" in Tyson's Corner has a Woman's sizes store, and there's a metro right at the front door now! That Macy's also has a good Plus size department.
posted by ersatzkat at 10:51 AM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: There's a Torrid at the Montgomery Mall. I used to take the Red Line to Silver Spring (or Bethesda?? You totally want to WMATA this) then one of the J buses up to it.
posted by spunweb at 11:27 AM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: If your waist isn't that much smaller than your hips, get pants from the men's department.
posted by brujita at 3:39 PM on September 17, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone! All these ideas give me hope, so I can pull myself together and get back on the hunt.

Brujita, the tops of my thighs are unfortunately disproportionately large, but I'm always willing to try on men's clothes (most of my favorite shirts at the moment are men's from a department store's big&tall section...a unisex or slightly femmish-styled man's shirt is totally my jam). And oh, god, if I could find men's pants that fit me, I would have pockets. POCKETS. To dreeeeeam...the impossible dreeeeeam...
posted by Forgetful Jones at 5:51 PM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: (Macy's has these really nice Jones New York button-down shirts that I have been eyeing for bowtie-wearing purposes; they tend to be expensive, but if I'd ever pay attention and go in with a coupon, THEY COULD BE MINE. Or yours. Hang in there!)
posted by wintersweet at 9:56 PM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: The Torrid in Montgomery Mall has shut down, sadly. The nearest Torrid to DC is out in Springfield now.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:57 PM on April 4, 2015

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