Shopping for women’s plus-sized clothes is a special challenge because not very many stores carry the sizes. However, there are lots of great deals to be had! It just takes preparation, patience, and a deep love of online shopping. There are several great stores that you can get amazing deals from if you use a little ingenuity and planning.
Saving everywhere – Don’t forget to sign up for eBates, which is a site that gets you percent-back rebates on shopping at thousands of stores. They are working on releasing a toolbar that will make sure you get your rebates at any of their stores, but in the meantime, always check there before embarking on shopping. The percentages aren’t big (usually 5% or less) but represent essentially free money for you. Frequently I have bemoaned forgetting to check and missing out on a couple of dollars I could have easily earned for free.
Coupon codes – The best coupon codes come from signing up with stores and getting their emails, but it’s always good to check around before finishing a purchase to make sure you’ve got the best deal. I usually Google the name of the store and “coupon code” to find codes at multiple websites. Kira’s Tip: If you use eBates religiously (like you should!) be careful not to click through on a coupon code website as this will sometimes ‘overwrite’ the eBates tracking on your computer and you might not get the eBates rebate. Just copy and paste the code into the site’s box at checkout in the window you already have open.
OneStopPlus – OneStop Plus is a great centralized online store that has everything plus-sized, including lingerie, dressy clothes, and swimsuits. It has most of the items from these brands:
- Woman Within
- Jessica London
- plus Taillissime, Avenue Body, King Size, Comfort Choice, Brylane Home, Ellos, and Ulla Popken.
Kira’s Tip: – I love stores like Avenue and Jessica London, but instead of visiting these stores, I prefer to do my shopping through the OneStopPlus site. Why? The first reason is that I’m a member of the OneStopPlus Shopper’s Club, which gets you various promotions, but most importantly gets you $2.99 shipping on any order, no matter how few or many items you have in your order. It costs $19.99 per year but if you buy a lot of clothes (or just make a lot of orders, like me) you’ll save that much in shipping alone. This also means that if I only want one item, I’m not going to run into a minimum $5.99 shipping charge. And if you buy several items, shipping can really rack up if you don’t have a discount program like this one. I’ve also used it to take advantage of coupon codes; one time, I made 2 orders of items, both around $50 per order, to use a $25 off $50 code twice. If I’d instead been charged a lot of shipping on both orders, I wouldn’t have saved nearly as much because it wouldn’t have made sense to make two separate orders (and ultimately would not have been nearly as delighted in what turned out to be $15 dresses).
The second reason – and this is kind of sneaky which is why I love doing it – is that coupon codes from all of the participating stores work on the OneStopPlus site. So if you get a promotional email from Avenue with a terrific coupon code, you can use it to purchase Jessica London items, or any other brand. And many of these brands, especially Jessica London, have terrific specials. Visit each brand’s individual site and sign up for their mailing list, and you’ll have a coupon code available any time you need to buy something. I’ve gotten some truly spectacular deals this way.
Old Navy – I’ve been buying Old Navy clothes for staples like t-shirts and jeans ever since they introduced their plus-sized line. Unfortunately, they no longer have it in stores (oh, that was a lovely brief moment!) but they still have a great selection online. The regular sizes go up to 20, but plus sizes starts at 16, which is wonderful if you area curvy girl in that range. There is a definite difference from most in how the Old Navy plus-sized clothing is cut, and the plus-sized jeans are usually woven with a bit of stretch so they’ll keep their shape better. For example, the plus-sized shirts are somewhat longer (no belly showing!) and the dresses have more “up top” room. Old Navy doesn’t have frequent sales, but if you have an Old Navy, Gap, or Banana Republic card you can get good specials. Sign up for their email list to get notified of the sales they do have – there’s a lot going on this season!
Lane Bryant – Lane Bryant frequently has $25 off $75 (or $50 off $150 and $75 off $225) coupons which are fantastic. I hang on to them until I find things that I want that are on sale, so I can stack the sale with the coupon and get twice the discount. Their clearance section is great, and they have free site-to-store shipping which saves you the shipping cost if you live near a physical Lane Bryant store. Their clothes are somewhat more expensive than the OneStopPlus items, but tend to be higher quality as well. I have about a million Lane Bryant t-shirts since the cut is great, the fabric is durable and keeps its shape, and the colors remain bright for a long time. I am very sad any time I have to decommission one. My only quibble with Lane Bryant is that many of their models are really quite tall, so sometimes things look different on my little stumpy legs than they did on the website. However, you can return website items to the store for free.
Sonsi.com – This is a brand new site only a few weeks old, but I’m already hooked. It offers clothes from Lane Bryant Outlet, Fashion Bug, DKNY, and dozens of other lines, all for $5 flat-rate shipping. The site is a little wonky to navigate, but it’s got really great deals and a very wide selection. No coupon codes needed to save here – definitely take a look!
Saving on bras – Lane Bryant also has a twice-yearly buy 2 get 2 free bra sale that is unbeatable. If you like their bras, make sure you sign up for both their email list and their mailing list – you can ask a store rep to make sure you’re on both. The email list will tell you about the sales, and you’ll get physical coupons in the mail that sometimes have a different time periods than the email coupons. They frequently have $25 off $75 promotional coupons, and during the most recent bra sale, I got one of these coupons in the mail that wasn’t available on the internet.
Another great place to buy plus-sized bras is, believe it or not, Frederick’s of Hollywood. This company no longer has physical retail stores but their website (www.fredericks.com) and catalog have a great selection of full-coverage bras, as well as lots of the little lacy things they’re known for. Their sizes go up to 44F and, as a bonus, their bras are actually pretty and come in a variety of colors. Frederick’s website has a whole section devoted to plus sizes. Sign up for their email list and they’ll send you coupons – sometimes you’ll get 25% off plus free shipping, and if you are very lucky your favorite bra will be on sale at the same time.
My other favorite bra website is barenecessities.com – they have a really huge selection of bras, including many high end lines that you won’t find in your department store. Return shipping is free and their prices are always quite reasonable. They have sales now and then but some items never go on sale. I like to put items in my shopping cart and check back now and then when they announce a sale to see if the price has changed. They have a very wide inventory that has a lot of different kinds of bras and lingerie, which is great for finding bras for special-occasion dresses. Also, you can search by size, which is super useful and helps you come up with items you’d never have thought came in your size.
Final advice – Of course, the best way to save money on clothes is to only buy things you’re going to wear – not things that you’re going to push to the back of the closet as soon as you get home. Too often, plus-sized girls buy something because it was the only thing there in their size. If you aren’t absolutely sold, don’t buy it. There will be other dresses. Just because it’s a good price doesn’t make it a good deal! If you’re buying online, it’s important to keep in mind what looks good and what you are going to regret. Don’t buy items that are in a smaller size because you’re hoping you’ll lose weight – even if you do, that item might not be your style anymore, and if you don’t, that’s money that you could have spent on something that you could wear tonight! And don’t try to follow trends – no trend looks good on everyone! – just keep an eye out for what’s new that might work for you. My favorite plus-sized fashion writer is Ashley Falcon, who writes the column “Big Girl in a Skinny World” for Marie Claire magazine. You can find a list of her articles on Marie Claire here.
There’s plus-sized style out there at great prices for all of us! What’s your favorite deal that you scored recently? Do you have any additional tips?
(photo credit: mikefats)