Wednesday 21st February 2018
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Week of requests: Plus-size clothes

Beth Ditto blouse

Cecilia writes, “I’ve been reading your blog for years, and I only remember one post on clothes for plus-size girls. We’re a huge portion of the market, and it seems like there’s only a few brands that cater to us. I’d like to expand my clothing options.” Cecilia busted me but good. I’m pretty sure I’ve done more than one post on plus-size clothing options, but there haven’t been a whole lot more than one, and I definitely haven’t done any in a long, long time. I consulted my old friend and Sassy cohort Marjorie Ingall, author of the brilliant book Mamaleh Knows Best: What Jewish Mothers Do To Raise Successful, Creative, Empathetic, Independent Children and a stylish plus-size lady herself, for pointers.  She directed me to pop star Beth Ditto’s site, where I found this rather excellent eyelash-print blouse.

Beth Ditto dress

And also this pretty great dress—I’m not sure what exactly this print is of, but I sure like it.

Asos Curve dress

Marjorie  also likes Asos Curve, but cautions that it is a bit all over the place. Dig, and you can find some nice pieces, like this very flattering wiggle dress.


Asos Curve coat

Also from Asos Curve: this great grey cocoon coat.

Eloquii dress

Marjorie also directed me Eloquii, which specializes in bright, happy, trendy pieces. I like this brilliantly loud dress.

Eloquii blouse

And I think this top is really smart

Eloquii trench

Also from Eloquii: this very nearly perfect trench.

Maria Rinaldi dress

On the splurgy side of things, there’s Maria Rinaldi. This crepe de chine shift dress costs a fortune, but it is to die.

Eileen Fisher top

I don’t like that they don’t show choices on actual plus-size models, but Eileen Fisher has a decent selection in this category, though the sizes are limited. I quite liked this top.

Eileen Fisher serape

Also by Fisher: I love the look of this serape.

Universal Standard jeans

The one plus-size brand I managed to discover all on my own—and that I like quite a lot—is Universal Standard. If I were shopping in this category, this is where I’d be spending my cash. They make slouchy jeans that fit the way slouchy jeans should fit.

Universal Standard dress

They’ve got cool asymmetrical dresses that remind me of Maria Cornejo.

Universal Standard top

This faux leather top is just so good.

Universal Standard blazer

And this vested blazer (it’s all one piece) is so clever.

Posted on January 4th, 2017 30 Comments

30 Responses

  1. Linden says:

    Thanks for the tipoff about Universal Standard. There’s some nice pieces there. If their white button down fits without the dreaded button gap, they will have my undying appreciation.

  2. CassandraMortmain says:

    Thanks for this post, I’m looking forward to exploring. I would like to mention Ulla Popken as well, they are online only but not hard to figure out sizes and they have some very nice, affordable clothes.

  3. Kate says:

    Thank you! I’m plus size most of the time, and I also want to give a shout-out to Modcloth. Sizing can be a little tricky because they’re all different brands, but usually you can get a good feeling about how things fit by checking the reviews, which sometimes include photos of clothes on real people. And Uniqlo also has extended sizes. I’m wearing HeatTech leggings as we speak. They’re the best.

  4. Kirstjen says:

    I like Navabi a lot. I’m kind of right on the edge of straight/plus, but I’d say that Eileen Fisher straight sizes run large, so don’t be afraid to try them. Asos Curve is good, and so is Mango plus & Violeta by Mango. Also, I think I’m going to try this year. I just read about them. They feature their clothing on lots of differently shaped women – not all size 0.
    I’ve bought a few pieces from Universal Standard & I can say that the quality is very good.

  5. gk2829 says:

    Great selection. While I am not a plus size woman – it really makes me mad how little the fashion industry thinks of actual women. It is frustrating to see over and over garments which only really look good on skinny people. Thanks for this list.

  6. Robin says:

    I haven’t had good luck with the quality at Asos Curve. Boden carries sizes up to 18, and they are great for Breton striped shirts and button ups, and Madewell makes popovers and courier shirts that have a generous cut and will work up to about a size 18 as well. The Levis website has jeans up to size 34, but not in all styles. My pet peeve is plus sized options that are too printed or ruched. I want the same well cut, quality basics that my average sized friends enjoy.

    • Robin says:

      Also, thanks for the Universal Standard tip. I want some jeans and maybe the zip sweater. Also meant to add that my Eileen Fisher sweaters have had the best cost per wear ratio of anything I own. They just hold up.

      • Mamavalveeta03 says:

        Agreed, Robin, on the “too printy/ruchy” thing. And my Eileen Fisher holds up beautifully!

  7. Kate says:

    My preferred style is definitely more clean, minimalist, unstructured and, pardon my language, that is a bitch to find (and look good wearing) when you’re a size 16/18 with a large chest. I follow Universal Standard on Instagram and I am itching to buy their stuff. The Geneva dress is everything I dream of.

    On a completely different note, it’s not my style but I’ve always appreciated Society Plus’s clothes. They use diverse models who are truly plus sized, with a variety of body shapes, and they have bright form fitting clothes and an entire line of tulle and sequin skirts. Again, it’s not my style, but I appreciate that they’re offering bright, colorful, shiny things to plus sized women who normally are told that they should be hiding.

  8. Zoe says:

    Thanks for posting this … I’m right on the edge and this is so helpful. Please post on this again!

  9. Cory says:

    Just wanted to say a big thank you for this post and the great new ideas. I wear a lot of Eileen, purchased judiciously over the years, but I’m dying for new brands. Now that I’ve stopped coloring my hair I have to be more conscious of not looking too dowdy or “tastefully shapeless”. I adore the Rick Owens/ Helmut Lang aesthetic so I’m always trying to approximate those looks… Thank you for turning your sharp eye toward this end of the size spectrum!

  10. Thank you for the plus post! As a large size woman who still loves fashion, finding actual stylish options sized 14 and above is as elusive as spotting a unicorn! I have visited almost all of the sites you mentioned (Universal is new!) and would also suggest Mango, Nordstrom’s, Ruche (limited options), and Addition Elle, to name a few. And if you sew visit Burda – they have an awesome selection of patterns for us bigger gals!

  11. RebeccaNYC says:

    I would add Old Navy to this mix…I know, I know….mass produced crap, right? Not always crap, and they are the only brand I know of that offers it’s entire clothing line in extended sizes. Their jeggings tee shirts and sports leggings are nothing short of wonderful and every one of my favorite casual summer dresses has come from there, and I just got a a fabulous quilted hip length coat for something like $19.00 on a huge sale.

  12. Rebecca says:

    Great suggestions, Kim.

    More things I wish existed for plus sizes, in case the universe is listening:
    -Less polyester, more natural fibers! (Am I the only one whose body chemistry just makes synthetic stuff stinky?) I would order a ton more from Eloquii if they used silk (or cotton) instead of 100% polyester.
    -There is a gaping hole in the marketplace for those of us who can’t fit into Madewell/Steven Alan/Splendid/Vince. I am forever desperately seeking casual but not frumpy, cool clothes.

    And, for any of my plus size sisters reading this in need of new shopping destinations: I’ve had great luck with Lucky Brand for casual pants, love James Jeans and Slink for premium denim in extended sizes, was pleasantly surprised by how nice a sweater from Tart Collections was, hoard cashmere from Lands End, and have been really pleased with the quality of workout gear from Athleta, Callia Studio, and K.Deer. Fat girls work out too!

  13. josiebella says:

    I am sitting here in a Beth Ditto dress as I type. Love her stuff. Now I may be a bit biased but there are a couple of great plus size brands here in oz Harlow and Hope and Harvest. I am sure they ship world wide. They aren’t cheap (but if you are buying from the US then they are a little cheaper due to exchange rate).

  14. Geneva says:

    Thank you for this post! As I girl of a certain age who has been plus size all her life, I have seen plus fashion come a long way from “Lame Bryant” frumpy clothes to real fashion. However, we still have a long way to go in terms of high quality fabrics and sophisticated style (not everyone can go to work looking like a sex siren or a teen). I appreciate the suggestions of sites from other ladies, as some are discoveries for me.

    I LOVE Universal Standard and have almost everything they sell. The fabrics are high quality, the fit is phenomenal – no worries about button gape Linden! – and the silhouettes are classy. If you subscribe to Gwynnee Bee (plus size clothes subscription box) you can at least try them on and see how they fit before purchasing.

    Also great for plus size cashmere is Neiman Marcus Last Call and their regular store clearance section. High quality on the cheap! I have a ton of cashmere from both.

    As another reader mentioned Navabi is outstanding, but very very pricey. Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor have decent selections and are reasonably priced. A great independent line is PlyApparel and Ply428. Their customer service is the best I’ve ever seen. Also Eshakti who customizes fit on everything they sell.

    Lane Bryant has nice workout gear under the Livi Active line.

  15. Rebecca Too says:

    Such great stuff! The Beth Ditto stuff is amazing!

    I think that one of the saddest outcomes of the fashion industry’s ignorant business practices is that they create even greater divides amongst women – geographically and emotionally. When I browse the racks at a store that offers fashion flattering to my body or my esthetic I am surrounded by folks who look like me…it is not reality, it is not a healthy mindset, and it is a horrible example for our kids. I’ve begun trying to support businesses that don’t treat my curvy girlfriends like second-class citizens. (Example – until very recently one of our area Macy’s kept the plus-sized fashions in the basement between the luggage and the housewares…they don’t need my money!) I’m probably spitting in the wind but it makes my dark heart feel a little better…

    Whew! That got ranty…

  16. marjorie says:

    Thanks for the shout-out!

    The print on that Beth Ditto dress? Pencil shavings!

    Definite props to Modcloth for mixing plus-size and straight-size models and clothes without delegating plus to a metaphorical dark and dusty corner. But I find the quality is, shall we say, a mixed bag. And I’m with Kate in wishing Eloquii carried (some?) (any?) (more?) silk and cotton.

    Also should note that though we bitch, the shopping picture for us smaller plus women is so much better than it was a few years ago. Especially online. But women who are size 4x and up are still mostly SOL! Would be great if more retailers catered to them too.

  17. Karin says:

    Ooh, thanks for the Universal Standard tip. This is right up my alley…I’m size 14/16 and it’s hard to find minimalist looks in larger sizes. Hopefully they’ll expand their offerings.

  18. roe says:

    Carmakona — — does some classic pieces with a little rock edge to them. Lord and Taylor used to carry that line; looks like now you’ll need to order online to get them in the States. Also, Modamix and Junarose do some interesting pieces as well — Modamix is a little too edgy for how I tend to dress but I like what they do! 🙂

  19. Mamavalveeta03 says:

    Thanks for the tip about Universal Standard! I like their esthetic. I tend to go for simple classics, and consider Eileen Fisher a good fit for me. Several people have mentioned Violetta by Mango, which I like. I often find pieces by Vince, also.

  20. Kate says:

    Eileen Fisher does make some great pieces for the larger sized women. I am anywhere between a 10-16 (sometimes a petite) and I’ve had a lot of success with EF. Athleta makes some of their items in plus sizes as well. But I get a lot of items at Lands End. Some of their pieces can look mumsy, but if you are looking for good quality, classic clothing, you can’t go wrong with Lands End. They even have plus petites. Their swimsuits are AMAZING. They have swim tops with actual bra sizes and wires. The plus petite suits aren’t just shorter than the plus suits. They are actually cut for a petite. I have a pair of white jeans from LE that always get compliments. If you order from their website and don’t like it, you can return it to any Sears or Kmart if that’s easier than sending it back to LE. Oh, and they have wide shoes and socks in S/M and L/XL as well.

    I buy all of my winter coats from LE. They have petites and it’s amazing. So many plus size coats have necks and hoods for a human/giraffe hybrid.

    I do wish for more natural fabrics in all of my clothes. I can’t bear to spend $100 on a polyester shirt. They don’t feel nice and like an earlier poster mentioned, sometimes we need fabrics that have more room to breath.

  21. sheila says:

    Just a note: The Limited sold Eloquii in 2013. The brand was then re-started by its former employees as online-only. Thanks for this post (and the dog-centric one too!) I’m in-between regular and plus sizes and I’d love to see more size-inclusive posts here, esp. as many of the more interesting brands only run to size 10/12. While I feel ancient reading it, Refinery 29 has quite good plus-size coverage and their new policy of using a wider range of models in site photography is super-cool. As always, thanks Kim for your great read on what’s out there.

  22. Rachel says:

    Thanks for the post. The Beth Ditto dress print is not merely pencil shavings, but bright eye pencil shavings!

    I just wish that “plus” items could be integrated into the ongoing posts. Like a previous poster, I love the Rick Owens and Helmut Lang aesthetic and would like to see those “plus” options listed next to their straight-sized counterparts.

    In terms of brands listed: Universal Standard is great – as a true 22 I would note it runs large. Another classic, really nice aka expensive brands include Lafayette148 – not edgy but great quality (at great cost). The problem with the “extended sizes” at Uniqlo & Elizabeth Susan is that it is only a size 16 – basically the average female size outside of NYC & LA. Beth Ditto & EF make high quality pieces, but with the Beth Ditto line in particular you have to try them on, at least so I find.

  23. Rachel says:

    Oh, and if price is no object, check out eskandar.

  24. Ally Day says:

    Great work. I really appreciate the insight here in this post and confident it’s going to be helpful to me and many others like me. We need more plus size fashion. Thanks for sharing all the information.