Surviving in the Plus World of Retail

Indianapolis Plus Size Personal StylistYesterday, I had an interesting shopping trip. I was working with a 22-year-old client who’s tall and plus sized, and she needed clothes for work—not fun casual clothes you’d wear to a music festival, but more serious, sedate business-wear, casual wear and some formal wear for meetings.

Our budget did not allow for us to go to higher end stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue or even Nordstrom. So that was our challenge. Add to that the client’s several preferences for styles she liked and didn’t like.

We did prevail, and I will tell you how!

We started off working together with a home visit where I evaluated S’s current wardrobe, and deciding what still fit, what was worn out and what items were still acceptable. We probably weeded out about half of her smallish wardrobe. What was left was a black jacket, a beige jacket, one slightly worn polka dot dress, a pair of skinny jeans, some tops, shirts and a dress.

We decided S was a “light” in the color analysis, which means she was very fair with blonde hair and blue eyes.

We set a date and put together a short list for work clothes and shopping. Budget was approximately $650, and there wasn’t any wiggle room.

Our first stab at shopping was online to see what sizes worked for S. She had liked Loft and I liked J Crew and discovered both stores sold Plus and/or Tall sizes online. We discussed her list and needs and picked out several items from both stores, mostly straight, ankle pants in neutral colors (and a pair of red pants), and a couple of professional looking shirts and shells. We did not buy a jacket at that time since we knew we could probably find them out shopping. Here’s the dress we chose.

We timed our purchases so they would come before our shopping trip, and we sent the J. Crew items to the store so S could try them on. Unfortunately, the pants from Loft did not fit or S did not like them. The top there was perfect, however.

The day we shopped, I pre-shopped as I always do, and picked out many professional dresses at Macy’s Plus and Missy department. There were many choices! Not as many choices, however, in office wear such as blazers, pants, skirts. S tried on many of the dresses –saying many of them looked too old for her—which is often the case when 20-something women buy work clothes, and it’s especially true to in the plus department! Anyway, she did find one especially cute dress by Lauren in a cap-sleeve sheath, with small gathers at the waist, in a white-blue-navy small print.

Next, at Loft, S found some interesting blouses and pants that fit her needs. She had much better luck here. She ordered three pairs of the straight, ankle pants. Our next stop was J. Crew. There, S tried on the pants and blouses—she found the blouses too casual—and they gaped at the bust-line. Pants did not fit. So, we focused on blazers – I am always in love with J. Crew’s blazers and in general tailoring. We found a beautiful blazer – the Going Out Blazer in black–and ordered the correct size online here.


Success! Whew.

Keep it sassy, Indy.

Beth Divine, Personal Stylist and AICI Certified Image Con