Where should I shop for women's clothing?

So, I’ve recently lost weight. Like, a lot of weight. I started as someone who wore a very tight 28, and who is now in 12s and 14s, depending on the cut. I’d been that weight for a while, and there are some attendant problems that come with that. Some of them I can’t do a whole lot about–loose skin, for instance, is somewhat out of my control. Others, however, I can.

Because of my size, I’ve largely spent the past seven or eight years buying clothing based solely upon whether it could fit on me. There aren’t a whole lot of plus-sized stores, and hence not a lot of selection. I bought things at Fashion Bug and Lane Bryant in person, and later Old Navy when I realized they had a huge online selection. Sometimes I poked my head into Torrid, but they got too girly and expensive for me. I didn’t choose these stores because I liked their selection–I really, really didn’t. I shopped there because it was that or go naked.

I now find myself at the point where I can shop pretty much wherever I want, barring price issues and places like Allsaints which only go up to size 10 (and I can’t afford them anyway). Thing is, though…I have no idea how to do it. I mean, seriously–no clue. None at all. As proof:

[li]I found myself inside Hot Topic when I was looking for dressier clothes.[/li][li]I’ve only just realized that skinny jeans or jeggings in sizes higher than 6 aren’t a cruel joke, but rather are meant to be worn with high boots.[/li][li]I didn’t realize people didn’t wear pantyhose anymore.[/li][li]90% of my wardrobe consists of men’s t-shirts. And I’m not a dude.[/li][li]I have consistently bought flared/bootcut jeans since about 1999.[/li][/ul]

I found this thread from four years ago from someone in a similar situation, but the links in that thread are largely expired due to age, and my coloring and such are different anyway. Here is a picture for reference, coloring-wise (hair black, skin on the pale side with olive undertones).

I basically hate the way I look, and feel at all times as though I’m the size of a house. This makes shopping difficult, as I tend to hate everything equally. I also feel like I look dumpier in dressy clothes than I do in jeans and a t-shirt, though I know that’s probably psychological.

I’m 29, and I have an .hourglass-ish shape, meaning that I have a waist and I still have a bit of a stomach (which is to be expected, seeing as I’m still losing weight). I think. That’s what everyone I’ve asked has said, anyway.

I just don’t know where to shop, really. I’ve tried Wal-Mart and Target, but the former has too many sequins, and the latter is only sporadically good. I don’t know where else to shop–all those stores in the mall are basically a giant question mark, and women’s fashion confuses me. Everything’s see-through now? Are we supposed to wear layers by default? Why do sleeves stop at my armpit? Moreover, My fashion sense stopped about 10 years ago, and so I tend to be drawn to clothes that are younger than are appropriate for my age (see above re: Hot Topic).

I tend to prefer black and darker blues, purples, and burgundies. I’ve been told I look good in red, but it feels too bright for me. I think I look good in kelly green, but I have no taste. I love the look of Allsaints, but they’re expensive and slightly too small. So, help me out, Dopers, if you would. Where should I shop for clothes?

Where do you live, and what’s your price range?

You have a sort of goth look in the photo you linked to. Do you want to stick with that style, or try something else? Do you have to dress differently for work?

H&M and Old Navy may have some clothes you’d like.

Be prepared to not fall in love with most of what you see. You’ll really have to try on a lot of stuff before you find particular cuts of clothing that work well for you. Go with a friend or two who can give you good feedback on how you look in different things.

Luckily for you, skinny jeans or leggings with long, flowy tunic-ey tops are in right now. That’s a look that’s flattering for many body types, including, I suspect, yours. You’ll want to try a few different waist heights on the jeans. My preference is for high-waisted skinny jeans; I think they make the most of my curves. I know other women who swear by more low-cut pants.

If you like Allsaints, you might try other British and European stores like newlook.com (lots of “rocker chic” type stuff, good prices), carmakoma.com (expensive, but very nice stuff, plus sizes but they start at 12), and asos.com (free shipping both ways, prices ranging from decent to expensive).

I would try looking at fashion blogs and youtube - try searching for “outfit of the day” or “ootd” until you start finding stuff you like that you can take inspiration from. The good thing about these, too, is that they usually list where they got everything item by item.

I adore Boden - they aren’t cheap, but the colors and fabrics are nice and the clothes fit my womanly figure (even at my goal weight, I’m curvy, not a stick).


I am currently sitting in the same boat. I was a plus size 16 and am now a regular size 10.

My current solution is to shop at value village because I am still losing weight and am cheap. (And, hey, it’s good for the environment.)

I also buy bootcut jeans from oldnavy. They usually have some kind of sale and I like the way they fit (I have an ample rear at any size and my butt doesn’t hang out).

Do you have a buddy you can take to a mall with you? Really, the only way to figure it out is to try a lot of stuff on and you will need someone who you trust to give you a legitimate opinion.

However, other board members, what are your favourite normal-sized stores? For what kind of clothes?

I’d suggest just taking a couple hours and going to the mall/shopping section of town near you that seems to have the best selection.

Don’t focus on trying on or buying, just go into any store that looks like it sells women’s clothing. Get a feel for its style, price ranges, and who is shopping there (some stores have a lot of pre-teens, some have mostly 60 year old ladies, both are probably not what you want), and remember the ones you like. If you see an item you absolutely love, try it on and buy it if it works, but mainly think of this as a reconnaissance mission.

I’d try H&M first. Gap is good for basics - jeans, t-shirts that fit better than guys shirts, that kind of thing. LOFT is nice for slightly better basics - sweaters, pants. Department stores like Macy’s have good selection, a lot of crap but also some nice stuff. I like Anthropologie, but it’s both very pricey for a mall store and a bit more hippie/eclectic than you’re describing. Forever 21 has a ton of crappy tween-oriented stuff, but if you dig you can find really cheap stylish things for people over 21.

General shopping advice: always, always, 100x always try it on. Fit is crucial and you might need a size or two bigger or smaller than you think. I have perfectly fitting items from size 2 to size 12, XS to XXL. I consider myself a size 6-8, but if I only bought things that said 6 or 8 I’d be in trouble.

Shoes are important to looking nice, try DSW.

Look at fashion blogs. My favorite is technically for moms, but really caters to anyone who is looking to update their look after taking time away from fashion. www.aintnomomjeans.com Go through the old posts, a couple years back they did a “new style rules” thing that was a really basic look at updated fashion.

How tall are you? I’m a 5’3’’ woman roughly the size and age you are, and finding pants is hell for me. The only pants I like are Anne Taylor Loft - the petite sizes are the perfect length and great for an hourglass figure. You can easily find tops to go with slacks at places like Macys and Sears. I don’t wear jeans, though, my dress style tends to be more like business casual, so YMMV.

ETA: Congratulations by the way!

You are fabulous!!!

I have no idea where you should shop, though. I shop bargain racks and salvation army, except for my scrubs for work.

Macy’s has great sales occasionally, for ‘grown up’ clothes; I’ve never looked at their casual stuff.

They have lots of stuff with very simple clean lines; the size selection depends on the store.

I think the colors currently in vogue will look good on you; “jewel” tones with bluish undertones are NOT the rage this year. You look like garnet would suit you better than ruby, and that’s what’s out there now.

I think your face might be too round for crew necks or mock turtle necks. Consider v-necks and true turtle necks.

I’m probably not the best person to be giving fashion advice as I’m pretty boring sartorially, but since we’re about the same age and same clothing size I’ll tell you that I buy almost everything at JC Penney. When I lived in a bigger city I shopped at a wider variety of stores, but I live in a small town now and the local JCP suits my needs. They are fairly inexpensive, have both plain/basic and trendier clothes, and carry stuff for pretty much every occasion, from workout clothes to cocktail dresses.

They also have an excellent return policy. Within the past year or so they abolished the time limit on returns, and they don’t even require a receipt, although returns without a receipt are for store credit at the current price only.

Here’s another suggestion for JCPenney. I get most of my work clothes from there, and most of them FIT. Like…clothes made for women, not little girls, and that look nice, and are often on sale and not often that expensive, anyway. And what I have from there for work typically lasts a long time.

Lots of questions!

Scribble, I’m in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, which means I don’t have a ton of options regarding clothing stores. I’m up to the Chicago area frequently enough that I can get clothing there, though. As for the goth-ness…it’s more that I know that I can match things with black. Black shirts and blue jeans have been my go-to for years, and I like silver jewelry. I’d still like to stay with those colors, but nothing really…I dunno, scene specific.

My price range is as cheap as possible.

olives, I’m about 5’7". My legs feel short, though. I don’t tend to do slacks–I wasn’t allowed to wear jeans until I was about 12–it was all fabric pants or the stretchy jeans. Kind of a weird growing-up quirk. As a result, I wear jeans whenever possible, and skirts when I have to dress up.

Do the department stores have things that are in the middle? In other words, not meant for teenagers, but not meant for a middle-aged professional? I’m not even sure what’s age appropriate anymore. Graphic tees? Layers?

I’m in grad school, so while I need a dressier option, I don’t need to go so far as business casual on an everyday basis.

ANd j666, you’re spot on about the faux turtlenecks. They do not work wonders.

Congrats on loosing weight!

I agree with everyone who says you should go to H&M, but I also think you should try out Marshall’s. It’s not for everyone (you have to dig through the racks like a thrift store, and half the stuff is horrible), but you can find stuff that’s stylish and well-made for a fraction of the price of mall stores.

Do you need non-jean pants for work? Since you like boot cut pants, you could try “editor pants” at Express - they’re very flattering, and not expensive (since you said you’re still loosing weight).

If you feel comfortable in mens’ t-shirts, I think you’d really like these. They’re unisex, very very soft, and longer than most shirts. I steal them from my husband and wear them under cardigans. XD I have an hourglass shape as well, and these are flattering imo - they don’t hide that I have a waist.

Also, here’s where not to shop - you said you like younger styles, but beware of stores like Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe! Their sizes run very small (I think you’d need to be an 8 or 10 max to wear their x-large).

Aside from Hot Topic, I can’t think of any brick and mortar stores that offer much that matches your style in the picture, but there are a ton of websites that sell clever mens’ t-shirts related to any interests you have (teefury, shirtwoot, etc).

Yeah, age appropriate for late 20s-early 30s can be tough. Department stores do have some stuff that is neither too young or too old. Avoid the junior section, both because it is aimed at teens and because the sizes are very small. JC Penny has a line called ANA, which I like, and something called Mango (I think that’s the name?). Macy’s has INC and Bar III.

If you find a store you like, sign up for their e-mail list and you get coupons.

If I were you, my first mission would be a nice pair of skinny jeans you love. Not baggy and still slim fitting at the ankle- no flare, bootcut, etc. Then a pair of tall-ish boots, flat heels so you can wear them out and about, to wear over the jeans, and a long-ish sweater or top you love. Viola, one modern and easy outfit. Only caveat is that the jeans can’t have too much room in the calf or they won’t tuck into the jeans very well. A tip on this is to pull up a pair of socks OVER your jeans, kind of smush the excess fabric down the sock, then put the boots on, they will cover the sock and the jeans will look closer fitting.

Kohls if you have one, another shout out for JCPenneys. I lost a lot of weight and had a difficult time picturing myself in " fitted" clothes especially around my waist. Try on different sizes and take friends along to help you get the correct size and look you want.

I also second Express for work clothes. I’m a size 12/14 these days, and their pants fit me really well and seem to last. Urban Outfitters is okay for certain pieces, but they can by overly trendy/young. I get a lot of work clothes at Kohls too, but honestly their quality is not the best.

I gravitate toward the same coloring as you, and I really just kind of look at everything in department stores until I find a piece that is my style. I order a lot from modcloth.com, but their stuff leans indie/twee, so you really have to ignore a lot. You might like the stuff on Asos.com too. Shopstyle.com can be good for browsing. But you may feel more comfortable trying stuff on in person until you nail down what you like/what fits.

Oh, are there any of those “fashionable” second hand shops in your town? Like a Plato’s Closet - they can more “stylish” clothes that are comparatively cheap.

I shop at Gap, Banana Republic, and Loft for 95% of my clothes. The basic uniform I am seeing in stores and on women my age (I’m 35) is skinny jeans with boots, loose drapey top, and maybe a little cardigan over that. Add a bright or printed scarf if you want. Going to work, picking up kids from school, shopping, etc. I swear that’s what 75% of women will have on.

My advice is to spend more on pants that fit well and flatter (try on a bunch of cuts/styles to find ones you like. (Ask the salespeople to help you, the pants will have names that tell you nothing about how they fit but the salespeople will know the difference.) and get a couple pairs, get a good pair of boots and a few nice sweaters/cardigans. You can go cheaper on tops and accessories (I can often get tops at Loft for under $10 when they have sales.) Oh, and get a few bras that are the right size.

You could try Kohl’s which is in that little strip mall by Panera and McDonald’s south of the mall. Campaign Surplus on Neil is good for casual clothes as long as they have a sale going, and I think I read they have a sale coming up. Try Macy’s and Bergners (again, as long as they have a sale) in the junior department and some of the women’s clothes. Some will just be too old for you, but you’ll know that right away.Eddie Bauer has some nice things. They just had a 30% off sale this weekend but I’m sure they’ll have another one soon.

It seems like everybody has a sale as we lead into the holiday season, so you should e able to pick up a few good things that you can mix and match.

Express is nice; agreed that their editor pants fit nicely and look more professional than most. I like them. And I’m picky :smiley:

I have good luck with both Kohls and Penney’s, even as a plus size chick. If you find stuff you like at Kohl’s, sign up for the email/mailing list–you’ll quite regularly get coupons for an additional 15-20% off your entire purchase during their sales, plus you often get store cash to come back the following week. Once in a while, the stars align so that you’ll have Kohl’s cash, a sale, an additional “Power Hours” discount, and a % off coupon.

The whole hating all clothes equally and feeling huge and having a hard time with more fitted clothes is pretty normal for having lost a lot of weight, especially if you lost it fairly quickly. You get used to clothes looking and fitting a certain way and it takes longer for your head to adjust than it does for your body to change. My mom had gastric bypass a few years ago and it took the better part of a year for her to accept that a shirt that lightly skimmed her body was not ‘too tight’ or ‘obscene’ just because you could tell she had boobs and a waist. She got past it, and so will you. It just takes some time.