Wedding guest suit/clothes for plus-size woman?
November 5, 2015 8:51 AM   Subscribe

This previous question could almost be me--except that I'm much larger. I need to find a wedding outfit for a December wedding in Vegas, and I'm profoundly uncomfortable in dresses. Can you help me find sources for dressy straight-butch-ish clothes, in maybe a 26/28 size pant and a top size that ranges from 28 into the 30s?

My dream outfit would be a gray suit of some kind, with a shirt maybe in the purples somewhere. But really, anything that fits and looks nice enough will do. I really have very little sense of style and a very large sense of clothes-anxiety, and given my size and its rarity in shops, I don't even know where to look and what to try.

And if you have any opinions on tailoring, I could really use them. If I get something online that I can fit into but doesn't look as nice as it could, can a tailor help? What can tailors actually realistically do, if I bring them something purchased online?

Thanks for any ideas!
posted by Forgetful Jones to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What's your budget?

Pants in that size range are a problem -- I think most manufacturers just don't offer them because the fit gets quite complicated.

The important thing for clothing that you plan to have tailored is that it needs to be too big, not too small, which can be a problem for people our size. Buy a thing that fits whatever your most disproportionately large measurement is -- for me that's my thighs. Ready to wear pants that fit my thighs are often 10 or more inches too big in my waist. My alterations gal cuts the waistlines way down and insets darts front and back. I'm more readily able to buy jackets that fit me, but I have a large bust so I often get the waist taken in at the back (ready to wear tends to be more symmetrical front to back than women's actual bodies) with vertical darts. It is not uncommon for the tailoring on my clothing to cost more than my clothing.

Here are a few places where you can find some of the things you might be looking for: -- made to measure custom suiting for women. These are business suits, rather than dress suits, but you can choose your options to get what you want. If you prefer more masculine styles, you might like to try their menswear site, instead, though if you have big boobs, they might not end up fitting you that well, I'm not sure. I don't know what Sumissura's delivery time frames are like, but you might need to get cracking on this if you want it for December.

eShakti also does made-to-measure clothing (or select off-the-rack sizing, which easily covers our size). They unfortunately sell very little in the way of pants, but you could probably find blouses you like there. They would easily get something to you by December if you order this week.

Avenue has a page for size 28-32 pants.

FullBeauty allows you to search by size and includes pants from a number of different suppliers.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:21 AM on November 5, 2015

As a plus-size butch, I'd go to a Big and Tall store -- Destination XL is the one near me, and as a size 22/24 I didn't have any problem buying a belt or other clothes there. It's a bit pricy, but no more than a department store would be. I know that you're larger than me but Destination XL goes up to 8X men which I think should accomodate you. You will likely have to have anything you buy there tailored but jacquilynne already gave you a great tailoring spiel. I bought a belt from them a few months ago -- as I'm sure you know, finding plus-sized belts that actually hold up your pants is surprisingly hard -- and it's held up very well.
posted by possibilityleft at 9:38 AM on November 5, 2015

Have you tried a Big & Tall men's store? I went to a wedding once and a tall and large butch woman wore black suit pants, a white button shirt and then a floral vest. She looked quite nice, especially with the floral vest to give her that touch of femininity. So it sounds like your idea of a fitted suit with a purple shirt is quite similar in style. So, to me, that means your sense of style is good. :)

Anyway, perhaps find a Big & Tall men's store for the pants and femme it up a bit, like you suggest, with a purple dress shirt or blouse (which might be easier for you that fits).
posted by jillithd at 9:38 AM on November 5, 2015

Saint Harridan might be what you're looking for (they offer a thing for guaranteed fit that's new). It's pretty pricey, but I do think they've got a good model for fit/tailoring and I found the fabric to be higher quality than others. For the in-store experience, I think this shopping experience is a nice representation of what to look for and steps to take.

Nthing the importance of tailoring. I've found a good one who shortens sleeves for me, which is my most difficult fit issue.
posted by komlord at 9:47 AM on November 5, 2015

Take a look a Kiyonna "Plazzo pants" and one of their tops. I think you could make it work.

Ideally with dangle earrings, makeup and a eye catching sparkle clutch.
posted by saradarlin at 9:50 AM on November 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hi there - same size here. I just went to a wedding and wore black pants from the Avenue, so definitely check them out. Wide leg, kind of a crepe-y material. In my experience you'll have more trouble finding a shirt - I know I do - but start with the Avenue.
posted by lyssabee at 9:51 AM on November 5, 2015

I have the Palazzo pants from Kiyonna, and I would not wear them to a wedding. They read much more like yoga pants than anything dressy. I don't even particularly like to wear them out of the house, because the fabric is so thin that my cellulite shows through and the waistband is so bulky that it makes my tops look lumpy.

I think they could work better on a woman with a larger midsection (to stretch out and flatten that waistband) and smaller thighs (so the thin fabric doesn't cling), so if the OP is more of an apple than a pear, they might fit her better than they did me.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:24 AM on November 5, 2015

Without knowing your budget and how tall you are, that's a little hard. Most true plus size women's clothes have pretty crappy construction, especially as you get to the higher sizes. What about the men's big section at Lands' End? You could do something like these pants with a nice vest and purple striped dress shirt.

Joseph A. Banks has pretty decent men's suits (they aren't high fashion, but they're sharp enough) that I bet you could get a suit there and have it well tailored. It also might not hurt to check out the men's section at Nordstrom, they have impeccable in house tailoring that may get you something.
posted by notjustthefish at 10:41 AM on November 5, 2015

I used to be a plus size butch (had weight loss surgery and am still butch but no longer plus size).

My go-to-store for "business drag" which I have also worn to weddings, is Macy's Women. My go-to-outfit was a black blazer, black pants, and a dress shirt. I have three or four blazers in my closet in various sizes - all black :). I always went with Charter Club (Macy's house brand) because I'm cheap :) and my normal work attire is jeans/polo shirt or khaki's/polo shirt.
posted by elmay at 12:21 PM on November 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Two on-line sources I recommend often are Making it Big and Ulla Popken. Follow their sizing charts, they are pretty accurate.
posted by agatha_magatha at 12:59 PM on November 5, 2015

Thank you so much for the tips and links! Especially the tailoring information, that's all very helpful.

I'm 5'5", kind of large-breasted, and kind of a pear, lots of lower belly/hip/thigh, which makes me dubious about buying actual men's pants. Though I do love men's clothes when I can get them--I used to have a few men's button shirts from the big/tall rack that had slightly femmish/festive patterns on them, and they were totally my thing and lasted for years and years--they a flare to the cut and the tails that meant the belly/hip/thighs didn't cause a problem. Haven't had much luck with that sort of thing lately, though.

Re: men's suit pants, can one buy them very large to fit a large hip/thigh, and have the waist taken in? Or does that make more of a kludgy mess than it's worth?

My actual budget is hard to nail down precisely. I don't make much money, but if I could find a good outfit that I could wear again, I think I'd be able to scrape up maybe $500 for it?

To try and get myself started, I just ordered some wool trousers and a wool blazer in charcoal gray, at least to try on. But reading the reviews of the garments, it sounds like it's kind of a cheap wool mix, so I'm not getting my hopes up. However, even being able to choose/order something to try on is a big step for me, so I really do appreciate all your help.
posted by Forgetful Jones at 3:19 PM on November 5, 2015

If you aren't already aware of it, this wtfplus master list is a great general resource for plus-size shopping. Slightly out of date now, but it's just from 2014 so still has lots of good info.

Tailors are pretty magical, especially if you find a good one. Be sure you budget for that when you purchase your clothing. Also, keep in mind that it's easier to tailor something to be more fitted than to make something that starts out too tight fit. So err on the side of buying a little larger than you need if you know you're going to have the garment tailored.

You also could potentially have something custom-made. It might not be as expensive as you might think. Try to find something off the rack first, but if it's just not happening, consider having a seamstress make you something that's just what you want.
posted by pupstocks at 9:05 PM on November 5, 2015

Figure out whatever for the wedding. And then email Saint Harridan and start saving up to get a proper butch suit and you'll feel deeeeeeeeeeeeevine. Cross my heart and hope to see a pic.
posted by barnone at 7:43 PM on November 6, 2015

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