I am a size 12, which lands right in the nexus between what most fashion brands consider straight size and plus size. Despite the average American woman falling between a size 16 and 18, it’s still difficult for me to shop in most stores, especially when I like to size up for a loose fit. This becomes more of a nightmare when you consider that there is no universal size chart that works across brands, which means you can’t blindly shop for clothes everywhere even when you “know” your size. Sometimes sizing can vary within one brand as a woman named Riley Bodley discovered last year at American Eagle when she suddenly went from a size 0 to a size 4 in the same pair of jeans. She posted about her experience on Facebook and it went viral. The struggle to shop is clearly real for everyone.
Even if you’re smaller than I am with a curvy frame, certain retailers can make you feel left out because their straight cuts don’t accommodate hips. Zara and J.Crew are the first places that come to mind when it comes to that issue. You have to size up substantially and by then you’ll need a tailor to make the clothes flatter the rest of your body, and that’s only if the brand offers a size big enough for your hips.
If you’re an in betweenie on my side of the size spectrum, some brands may carry above a size 12 but only online, which is where I do most of my shopping these days. It’s not ideal, but there’s more selection, zero chaos, and I can filter by size. Here are my go-to places to shop:
I could shop online at Asos all day every day. They cater to inbetweenies perfectly with trendy clothes done in a variety of silhouettes, making sure there’s something that will suit you no matter your body type. The best part is that they offer free return shipping where all you have to do is put the items that didn’t work for you in the original packaging, throw on the shipping label, and drop it in your nearest mailbox. It’s so convenient!
If you like clothes with a vintage or quirky touch, ModCloth is for you. It’s a great place to shop for pieces with personality that you won’t find anywhere else. They also use models of all sizes on their website, which I love. Why doesn’t everyone do this already?! It’s 2018! ModCloth doesn’t just think of diversity when it comes to the body types, they also make sure to have a range of different skin tones and hair textures represented in their images. The brand also offers free return shipping and if you chose to get your refund as a store credit, they throw in an extra $5 so you have a little extra cash to find your perfect piece.
Forever 21 is tried, true, and affordable. It’s not a place that I go to for quality but I can find some trendy pieces to mix in with my staples in their plus-size department. Their selection is a lot wider online but the catch is that you are responsible for returning shipping costs if you choose to mail your items back.
Despite their lack of body size representation with their models, Express has been so clutch for me throughout the years. Back when I was in the corporate world they had a wide range of work clothes that were cut for my curvy figure. Once I moved onto a creative field they are still a go-to, especially their jeans which come in high waisted styles with a good amount of stretch that enhances what I’m working with. The best part is that Express is always offering deals/sales so I never pay the full retail price. Their return policy is a little iffy — it’s free if you bring the items to their stores, but they charge $6.99 if you use their pre-paid label for mailed returns.
This brand has a long way to go in terms of serving plus-size women, but their line does go up to a size 14, which totally works for me. This has been a god-send in their tops department since I also have a large chest that a lot of brands don’t factor into their designs. Topshop’s Jaime jeans are also wildly popular with curvy girls. The classic styles never go on sale so they cost more than my Express jeans, but are worth it because the denim feels sturdier while still having some serious stretch! Bonus: Topshop offers free shipping and returns in the US.
Fashion Nova’s jeans are the truth if your waist is smaller than your hips. They are very thin but priced accordingly, which makes them a cost effective way to add a few extra pairs into your rotation. The major drawbacks are that you have to cover the cost of return shipping and you only get store credit. I suggest starting out with a small order to figure out your size, and go from there.
Are you a “in between” girl? What are your favorite stores to shop? Let us know on Facebook.