The fashion caste system that separated people into those who can (skinny and rich) and those who can’t (everyone else) created by snobby designers and power-hungry fashion editors (who by the way are often plus-sized themselves), is crumbling. A fashion utopia is emerging—one that offers several fashion options for curvy fashionistas, none of which involve polyester tent dresses.
In this article, we give you the rules to follow and the stores to shop to enhance your voluptuous, fashionable self. Take that, Kate Moss!
The Rules of Plus Size Fashions
In this diet-obsessed, waif-model culture, designers still gear their creations toward a size 4 (a shout-out to all of the skinny fashionistas—we love you, too) and their version of “plus size” is just a bigger size 4. Fear not! Commit these size rules to heart and watch your style quotient rise.
Dressing in one color de-emphasizes your problem areas by creating one long silhouette.
Break out the heels
Heels elongate your legs, making you look slimmer in the process. Stores like Zappos.com offer a huge selection of pumps and heels from designers like Etro and Roberto Cavalli.
Low-Low-rise is not an option
Very few people, regardless of size, can wear low-low-rise pants.
Avoid crop jackets
Crop jackets draw attention to your waist and butt. Purchase well-structured jackets that hit you right below your bottom.
Vertical lines are a must
Vertical stripes make you look thinner by drawing the eye to look up and down rather than side to side.
Purchase boot-cut pants
Pencil-leg pants make big butts look even bigger. Stick with pants that have a slight flare at the bottom to create a more balanced look.
Find a great tailor
Don’t throw out those great-fitting pants because they’re too long. A sharp tailor will be able to hem them to your desired length for less than $20.
The Plus-Size Fashion Stores
So where can you buy these clothes? Below are the best stores to purchase plus-size fashions that will enhance your style while going easy on your pocketbook.
CurvyHQ.com is a great place to find almost anything — they say they have the largest selection of plus-size clothes in the world. Prices are low and pieces are trendy!
Lane Bryant is the best plus size fashion store on the web. They offer a wide array of grandma-free plus size fashions including a new jeans line called “Seven7”. Finally someone got the memo that plus size stylistas want designer jeans as well.
Believe it or not, the online version of Gap carries pants up to size 20. In addition, outerwear, sweaters and tops are available up to size XXL.
Kiyonna features sophisticated styles for fashionistas who wear a size 12 or higher. We are big fans of their dresses.
Owned by The Gap, OldNavy.com has cheaper, lower-quality versions of the fashions seen at their parent store, up to size 28 Plus/3XL. It is a great place to stock up on tees, tanks, and other items you may buy in bulk.
This is the best online outlet, and a great place to pick up cheap designer items. The plus-size section tends to be a little boring, but it’s possible to find deals like a Dana Buchman top for up to 80% off retail.
Stop by Target for toilet paper and leave with an outfit. Even the Isaac Mizrahi line goes up to size 18.
Wal-Mart Terra & Sky is hot! Where else could you score this season’s hottest style, the boucle jacket, for $26? More items are being added each day!
Torrid is THE best place to shop if you are a young, hip, plus size fashionista. From their 50’s inspired prom dresses to their low rise jeans, this store definitely sheds the plus size grandma myth. Plus the items are reasonably priced with most items below $50.
Top Plus Size Fashion Designers
One of my favorite designers, hip and expensive. Find this designer on sale at the Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus Outlets.
Tom and Linda Platt
These designers make beautiful evening dresses up to sized 4x.
Carmen Marc Valvo
Sexy evening wear for plus size fashionistas
Trendy, bright and affordable
Fluid fashions good for plus size petites.
Stylish urban wear that younger plus size fashionistas will want to check out.
Linda Allard for Ellen Tracy
One of the best lines for plus size fashionistas
The cheaper cousin to the Gap has an extensive plus size section.
The Classic American designer’s preppy petite line.
Stylish suits for work. Check out A line, the Anne Klein line at Sears.
Online store stocks pants up to size 20 and tops up to size XXL.
Mixing hip with classic, Tommy Hilfiger’s plus size line is great for weekend wear.
Great, albeit expensive, line for plus size fashionistas.
Try stopping by your local outlet mall—Off 5th, the Saks Fifth Ave Outlet, has an amazing selection of designer plus-size fashions from Donna Karan, Oscar De La Renta and Anne Klein. And check out stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom,Bloomingdales, and Macy’s; they all have very hip plus-size departments. The plus-size departments at Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s usually have the best sales, while Saks Fifth Avenue has more cutting-edge fashions and higher-end designers.
Remember that you can be a fashionista regardless of your size. Don’t let pop culture’s ridiculous fashion caste system dictate what you can and can’t wear. Armed with a heaping dose of self-confidence, a purse full of common sense and the rules above, you’re well on your way to becoming a true fashionista.
Thanks for stopping by! I'm Catherine, your Budget Fashionista style editor. I'm a bargain shopper at heart, as I love nice things but hate paying for them! I'm also a personal finance writer who's been featured on USA Today and MSN Money.