Help me help my sister find a new clothing store

My sister is skinny (bitch).

Anyway, she’s either 5’3" or 5’4". She weighs about 105 on a “fat” day. She is very slender (her shoulders and hips are waaay narrower than mine (even before I got really fat).
She used to only wear Old Navy clothes because their online clearance section was very affordable.

But she has come to realize that she hates Old Navy clothes.

She also hates shopping because super skinny people have just as much trouble finding clothes that fit as fat people (getting us shopping together is fodder for a new TV show about women going postal on clothing manufacturers).
Anyway, she generally wears a 0-4, depending on the manufacturer. She wears either a 1 or 2 in Old Navy or Gap. She could go smaller but she is not a fan of form-fitting pants.

She has also recently been informed that she looks “butch”. She is not happy about this. Apparently, wearing jeans and t-shirts every day while having the figure of a prepubescent boy makes a woman look butch. So, she started out by dying her dirty blond and graying hair red. Now she would like some new clothes.

So, where should she look? She is 33 and doesn’t feel like trying to dress younger than she is.

She HATES skinny jeans with a passion. She likes straight leg or boot cut.

She also likes knee high boots but they are always way too big on her calves (the complete opposite of my problem with boots).

She generally wears short and long sleeved t-shirts but I think she might be willing to branch out a bit.

She occasionally wears slacks but they tend to make her butt disappear.

If jeans and a T-shirt are her uniform there’s not much that can be done to make her look less “butch”, as that’s typically the last thing a woman with a somewhat androgynous body wants to wear to look more female or sexier. If she dresses like a 12 year old boy. and has the boy of 12 year old boy that’s what she’s going to look like.

Skirts, leather pants, baby doll cut tops, and maybe some interesting shoes and boots are usually the ticket to provide some snap and glam. Quality accessorizing is also important.

This may be the gayest post a hetero man has ever made on the SDMB.


She does want to look a bit more feminine but for her that most likely means different shirts. It’s highly unlikely she will wear a skirt unless she’s going to a wedding or funeral. Shoes aren’t a problem outside of work but she wears steel-toed sneakers at work. She does like shoes and has a lot.

Mostly she needs new clothes and doesn’t want to keep shopping at Old Navy and the Gap.

I would encourage her to wear slightly more feminine tops rather than just t-shirts, if she doesn’t want to look “butch.” Most of them are just as comfortable as regular shirts anyway. Banana Republic has some nice tops on sale every now and then. H&M has a wider and cheaper selection. It doesn’t have to be fancy - something with a ruffle around the neckline or softer colors could help her look more “girly” without going overboard.

I was also going to say H&M. On the slightly more upscale end check out J Crew (petites), she might find something she likes on sale. Ann Taylor Loft, I used to recommend but it has been a bust for me lately – all the same things they had at H&M except more expensive.

Banana Republic is out simply because it’s way too high priced for her. She will NEVER spend $50 on a shirt that’s on sale.

H&M doesn’t seem to have an online store for the US. Am I missing something? Personally I love H&M. The few times I’ve shopped there I’ve found really pretty tops for really good prices. Sadly, my sister lives in Plattsburgh NY so if it’s not possible to shop online then it’s out.

Has she looked in the “petite” shops at the mall? Can’t think of any names at the moment as I’m too much of a heifer to shop there (I’ve lost 65 pounds, but I’m still 5’7" and meaty). But they might have more in the “feminine sportswear” genre than the junk that Old Navy sells.

Mall shopping isn’t much of an option for her. The mall in Plattsburgh has one floor with MAYBE 15 clothing stores. She has shopped in them all.

Driving to Glens Falls, Albany, Burlington, etc isn’t much of an option because gas is expensive, she is cheap, and she really hates shopping so she would never drive that far just to buy clothes.

When I lived with her, we went to every clothing store in the mall trying to find 1 stupid dress for her company Christmas party. It took us 3 hours to find one that fit properly and we were both totally miserable when we left.

Does the mall have a Forever 21 too? I find H&M and Forever 21 to have the best options for smaller women while being younger and trendier. If not, maybe she could try more upscale shops since the more upscale the shop is, the smaller their sizing. So, instead of Gap, maybe try Banana Republic or Macy’s.

Also, it might just be the demographics of the area. If she’s an outlier in her town, they probably won’t stock too many of her sizes. In that case, Banana Republic has an online store as does Macy. They’re definitely pricier than Old Navy, but the cuts and material are better for a smaller person.

Edit: Ack, wandered away and more posts snuck in. I know Banana Republic and Macy’s are expensive, but you can find some good deals when they’re on sale and a few expensive but well-fitting clothes can make a big difference in a wardrobe.

If she’s thrifty a decent thrift like Goodwill will offer her tons of options for next to nothing.

I pretty much used to BE your sister so I hear ya on BR/Express/JCrew being kind of a non-starter, even with sale pricing.

I’ve actually ordered a fair amount of decent clothes from Online, they have petites available, and stock changes pretty often, so if you don’t see anything you like, just check back in a couple of weeks.

My best friend is about the same proportions as your sister, height and weight, she shops a lot on the clearance racks at Ann Taylor Loft and really likes them. She also has the boot problem, by the way, and finally ordered some custom boots from these guyswhen they were having a sale. She actually got a great deal on them and they fit her freakishly skinny calves (I am allowed to say that, we have been best friends since we were kids). So maybe tell your sister to watch this website for a sale and then pounce on the custom boots.

No Forever 21.

No Goodwill.

No Macys.

Target yes. They just got a Target a year or so ago. She doesn’t like the store itself but I think it’s just that store, not Target in general. I’ll tell her to check their website.

They have 1 or 2 very small, poorly stocked thrift stores. There’s 1 consignment shop but it’s very expensive.

I’ll also tell her to check out Ann Taylor Loft. Are they less preppy than Ann Taylor? She will NOT wear a sweater set. She does work in a factory after all. She works in the office but she spends a lot of time on the factory floor and she used to be an operator and a QA. She has a reputation to uphold. :stuck_out_tongue:

She’s pretty particular for someone on a budget who doesn’t want to look like a baby dyke and doesn’t want to shop higher end fine apparel stores* or* discount stores. Good luck.

Victoria’s Secret sells clothes and actually has a decent petite line that is reasonably priced and is not too young or old for her age group. Definitely more sturdy than Old Navy clothes.

J Crew tends to run a little big (size 4 feels like a size 6) plus, they are expensive.

It is actually possible to shop Banana Republic at a reasonable price. I sign up for their email alerts and can find some decent prices with their 20-30% discounts. Also, most of the time, their email discounts apply to sale and clearance merchandise. Being an unusual size is a great help in clearance merchandise since most of what is left is very small/very large sizes.


I didn’t mean she didn’t like those stores. I meant she doesn’t have those stores near her.

She’s looking at Forever 21 online right now. When she does buy clothes that aren’t gender neutral, she usually goes for more funky than preppy clothes.

She’s not that picky in all honesty. She’s boring.
As far as not wanting to shop higher end - it’s more not being able to. She and her fiance don’t make a huge amount of money and they have 3 kids, child support for a 4th, a mortgage, a car payment, and lot fees, not to mention debt that his ex left him with.

She wants clothes. She doesn’t want to look butch. She also wants to pay her mortgage.
Kkrose That link is awesome! I am totally going to buy from them when I actually have money. She is browsing them too and she loves the boots. She’s not happy with the prices and I don’t have the heart to tell her that after the conversion, they’ll be even more expensive. I’ll keep them in mind for potential gifts for her though.

dukette71 - Good call. I forgot about them. They do have one in her local mall but it’s too small to sell anything but undergarments. The one near me has two sides - one for clothes and one for undergarments. I’ll tell her to check them out. She wont buy bras there after she found out they cost me $50. I pointed out that buying bras for an F cup is different than a less than A cup but I don’t think she believed me.

dalej42 Good point. I’ll remind her of that. That was why she was wearing Old Navy in the first place. She was about 23 and still wearing the clothes she wore when she was 15 because she didn’t have the money to buy clothes. I spent about $100 on the Old Navy clearance section and bought her a whole wardrobe for Christmas. I did that for 3 or 4 years. She is still wearing mostly the stuff that I bought for her. Unfortunately I no longer have a job or money so I can’t buy her clothes for her.

I should be more specific.

Old Navy - the clothes she has bought (or I bought) in the past are fairly gender neutral and don’t do anything to show what little figure she has. The other stuff is too “young” for her. She doesn’t want to dress like someone 15 years younger than she is.

I have to agree with her. Old Navy’s clothes do seem more 18-20 year old to me.

The Gap - Nothing wrong with them other than the fact that she is wearing their clothes and apparently they make her look butch. I have never shopped at the Gap so I have no opinion here.

Expensive stores - She doesn’t NEED new clothes. She WANTS new clothes and she wants to change her style. Since she doesn’t NEED clothes, household and family concerns come first so money is sparse.She could have shopped at Banana Republic last week. They had $200 floating around. They decided instead to buy a chest freezer so they can save money on meat instead.

So what she wants is…

  1. Inexpensive (we’re talking under $10 per item here - MAYBE $20 for something really special).

  2. Available in very small sizes.

  3. Not gender neutral.

  4. No sweater sets :stuck_out_tongue:

  5. Quality is not much of an issue. My sister is just shy of OCD. I have never seen someone make crappy quality clothes look as good as long as she can. It’s annoying actually.

  6. *** Important *** Must be available online. She doesn’t have access to multiple 2-4 story malls like normal people.

  7. Thrift stores are out simply because she just doesn’t have access to them. She has nothing against used clothes. In fact, the only reason she has so much clothing right now is because she loves yard sales and lives in an area with massive numbers of them in the good weather. She found one last year with 3 size 0 women selling all their clothes. She made out like a bandit.

  8. Brand name is unimportant.

  9. Does not want to dress like a recent high school grad.

  10. NO SKINNY JEANS! She finds skinny jeans revolting.

Actually, she really doesn’t need pants at all. She needs pretty shirts.

If your sister is trying to look more feminine without being too “girly,” she should look at slightly different cuts of clothing, rather than at different stores to shop at. Instead of a plain old Oxford-type shirt, what about something with some seaming to define a waist, along with a bit of stretch to the fabric? Example: Many, if not most stores, from highest-end to discount stores, seem to offer a similar style - doesn’t have to cost a month’s salary. The important parts of the equation are the seaming under the bustline, and the small percentage of Spandex that improve the shirt’s fit, not the cost. Or, instead of a plain old denim/leather jacket, maybe she should consider one with a little more tailoring. For example: Esprit traditional denim jacket authentic used + FREE SHIPPING |

If your sister has the patience, I agree with the advice that she continue to search at thrift stores and yard sales. The problem with this sort of shopping is that you can’t just walk in with plans to buy a white blouse, black pencil skirt, and nice fitted blazer in just the right shade of puce. However, if you’re patient, and especially if you’re a bit of an “outlyer” on sizing (especially in smaller sizes) you can frequently find a great item or two to round out your wardrobe - even in a small town. (Yes, I have found $5.99 Ann Taylor suits in a size 4 Tall, even when I lived in a town of less than 3000 people.)

Can’t even a thin woman wear jeans and not look butch, if she chooses ones that have some feminine touches, like stitching, etc.? I’m thin, albeit male, and one thing I can say about jeans is when your waist is three or four inches shorter around than most people of your height/age/sex/whatever, you need to find jeans that have a lower rise–unless you want to wear them sagging, which I doubt your sister does. Otherwise they’ll come up to your ribs and you’ll look like Richie Cunningham, or the female equivalent thereof. (Ron Howard wasn’t extremely skinny, but true to the period the Levis he wore on the show were rolled up at the bottom, meaning they were several inches too long). As for the teeshirts, if you mean she insists on dumpy, big, shapeless ones like most guys wear for working out, then I can’t help you there. But I’d think there’d be some kind of women’s top she could wear, which would also help to offset any butch vibe from the jeans.

And seconded.