Plus Size On A Budget

Hi, dear people!
Teresa contributes this comment, lamenting the high price point of many of my recommendations:

Hmm. The Fluevogs are pretty amazing–artsy and whimsical, some look comfortable–but some look downright ugly, too. Most of the shoes you posted here look pretty good to me. I wish there WERE shoes my feet can tolerate that were not quite so clunky/funky/casual. But they are what I’ve got to work with. And they are the unchangeable part of my wardrobe–expensive (for me, $70-150 shoes are reasonable ONLY because I MUST have shoes that do not hurt my feet!), found at the end of a long search for comfortable shoes of ANY kind, and they bring peace to my wrecked feet. So I have to find clothing that works with them–that is professional enough looking but also a bit casual/”artistic.” And in plus size. That’s a tall order. I came to this site looking for ideas. Instead I found insults on my most essential staples. Lutherans don’t get paid enough to dress the way you portray here. Unless they have rich spouses. My hopes for inspiration are dashed.

TERESA, my CUPCAKE! DO NOT BE DASHED!
Now, it’s true that Fluevogs are insanely expensive and beyond most clergy budgets, and I totally take responsibility for causing shoe lust for such a pricely item. Fluevogs are a special obsession of mine and I never could have afforded them in the early days of my ministry when I was not compensated well and fairly as I am now.

It is also true that affordable, comfortable and fashionable shoes are WICKED hard to find, although not impossible.

I am amazed by how many clergywomen complain of bad feet, though. I am among them, but I couldn’t help but notice at a social justice training this past week that a major number of the Latina and African American women were wearing sexy heels or sparkly flats. Simply put, they had it going on in the footwear department, and I have to conclude that this is a cultural issue and not just a comfort issue. More on that later.

But Teresa! I want to assure you that, while I am no fashion plate, I do manage to avoid the most dreaded frump traps of the Fat Lady Wardrobe at a very reasonable price point. Let me share some of my sources. Please click on the photos to enlarge the image (to being way too big. Sorry).

Macy’s ! I buy a lot of my clothes on sale from Macy’s, which carries a fairly decent variety of plus-size basics. My sweater is by Charter Club ($35) and the tank probably $15 on sale somewhere. The skirt is Eloquii.com sale. $35. They have interesting choices — lots of weird stuff that make me go “HUH,” but some neat garments in the “artsy” category, and a very good return policy. Also try Modcloth and EShakti. I like Modcloth a LOT but do not order from eShakti because they take a long time to deliver and have some hidden return fees. Other readers ADORE them, though, so check them out.

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I almost never shop in stores but check in frequently with sales on websites. Macy’s white top on sale (in store). Kimono-style jacket from Zulily.com, for less than $20. Be aware that you can’t return Zulily items. Skirt on sale from Lane Bryant, $25.

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FloralKiyonna skirt on sale for $35. Kiyonna has very well-made garments but they cut everything super boobalicious and in stretchy material, so their garments are almost always a bad choice for me. I have two of their wrap tops that I regret purchasing. Anyone want one them? Size 3X? I have black and red. I can’t even wear them on dates because they’re so “HELLO, FELLAS, I’M CHESTY MAHONEY! NICE TA MEETCHYA.”
Pink top from Jones New York outlet in Maine ($30?). Cardigan my go-to Charter Club Macy’s brand.
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The shirt was a buy-one-get-one-free deal at the Jones New York outlet in Maine a couple years ago. I got the pink and the black and white polka dotted one. So I think it was honestly like $36 for both of them. I think this skirt was a buy-one-get-one 50% off at Lane Bryant, so I got the black and the cobalt blue at the same time for really reasonable price at the end of the season. I wear them CONSTANTLY.

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The shawl collar cardigans were on the sale rack at Macy’s years ago. I got a black and a navy and wear them ALL the time. Probably $20 each. My life is so much about my Macy’s cardigans. You just can’t have too many. Before I came to candidate with my congregation three years ago, I did splurge on two Talbot’s cardigans in fantastic blues. I’m sure they were on sale but they were still pricey. Talbot’s Woman is so expensive I don’t even buy their clothes on sale. I do have a skirt that I have worn a few times that I found on eBay, another good place to search for deals.

This Calvin Klein suit from Macy’s is the most expensive thing I have purchased all year. I got it last May for $90. I have worn it to four weddings, so so far it is proving to be an excellent investment.

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(The shirt I have had for years — also Calvin Klein from the sales rack at Macy’s).

This is a bit of a mess but everything I’m wearing is old sales finds. That belt is pony hair from Talbot’s and was 60% off, I think. It was a bit pricey for a belt for me but less than $30.
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This blue jacket from Torrid.com. Probably about $40? Torrid mostly sells way too hootchie stuff for us, but their jackets have often been a great fit for me because they actually have waists. The dress is so old, I have no memory whence I obtained it:

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Now, this dress was very expensive for me. I paid $90 for it from Nordstrom.com. It is by Adrienne Vittadinni. I think it was on sale but that was still a lot of money for me. I needed a dress for a wedding and i knew the cut was going to be great (no cleavage and midlength short sleeves) and I loved the print. I wore it to my 50th birthday and then to sing in in a Valentine’s Day cabaret. The blingy little black cropped cardigan is at least 15 years old and I purchased it at a Liz Claiborne outlet. Some things you never get rid of.
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Coats. This is a short ivory belted wool trench I bought years ago from the sales rack at Old Navy, size XXL and probably $35 on sale.

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This shawl collar belted winter coat was $40-something at Target two or three years ago. The hat was a gift from a parishioner and I bought the hat pin on Etsy for about $5. The faux fur scarf was on sale at Chico’s at the end of the season. Ancient black pants. Boots Le Canadienne from 2006.
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This green trench (too big on me, but oh well), from Lands End this season. On sale for I think $67, marked down from $90. I find Lands End clothes to be cut too big and boxy to be flattering but that’s because I’m shaped like a a double ice cream cone stacked on top of a meatball. Your mileage may vary, and Lands End makes solid clothes that you can style for more impact. And they have great sales and easy returns.
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So, Teresa, I hope this was a LEETLE bit more inspiring for you. I’m sharing all of these photos not to suggest that I am the paragon of plus-size dressing, but to show you in very specific detail where I found certain garments and exactly how much I paid for them.

Thanks for writing, pigeon!

4 Replies to “Plus Size On A Budget”

  1. JJill (a slightly less starchy version of Tlabots) has frequent sales, and everything is available in their women’s line. The Wearever selection has some great ponte skirts, tops, and slacks.

  2. I can’t recommend LuLaRoe highly enough for all sizes. They come in xxs-xxxl. Beautiful dresses and tops and leggings, all sold by consultants. I don’t sell it, but I buy lots of it. 😉 And they have a lovely Amelia dress with POCKETS. Check it out!

  3. I hit the jackpot when I found a thrift store that draws donations from a couple of very wealthy neighborhoods. I regularly find items there from Talbots, Liz Claiborne, Ferragamo, etc. at bargain prices. Usually these are well-made, classic styles in good fabrics and have been well cared for.

  4. Does this commenter have a stylish, frugal friend she can entrust to do the hunting for her? Give the person a rough budget, sizes, colors, and preferred retailers and let them do the online leg work, then purchase the best from the compiled list?

    Bargains can be found – I’m currently typing in a Michael Kors dress I found second hand – but they take time to hunt down, and I know clergy are some of the most time-crunched of all the professions.

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