Sunday 28th February 2021
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Preaching to the choir

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Every time I put together a post on plus size clothes—like this one on spring dresses—I am amazed afresh at how completely the apparel industry is blowing an opportunity. Why is there this mass misconception that every woman over size 12 just magically ceases to care about fit, style, and quality? The mind reels. Please, plus size ladies, if I’m missing any good resources, send them my way. Help me work harder to serve you better. Meanwhile: as I’ve stated before, my most important criteria when evaluating pieces for this category is to select only items that I would absolutely wear myself—not just pieces I think are good—for plus size. And I can say without reservation that I would die for this floral  confection. It may look intimidatingly body-con at first, but all that strategic ruching provides brilliant camouflage for lumpy bits.

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Another floral, this one with with more daytime potential and a little more breathing room.

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The print on this waisted, retroish dress feels like a kind of geometric/art nouveau hybrid, which shouldn’t especially work, but really kind of does. And the pops of lavender keep things fun.


I’m not typically a big fan of the maxi, but this works for me: there’s not an excess of volume, and the way the print fades out toward the bottom keeps it from coming off too loud.


This scarf print is probably completely insane, but it amuses me. And I like that it’s kind of arbitrary and and fashiony, because you don’t get a whole lot of that in this category.


A nice, diaphanous cowl neck dress is easy and simple and hard not to love. And the sophisticated print keeps things from getting too sweet.

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Posted on April 30th, 2013 27 Comments

27 Responses

  1. Lori Mac says:

    Lately I look for a light camoflagey sleeve when I think summer dress. Just to cover those flabby “hi Helen’s” . I think that’s why I am favoring the first dress but I wish the sleeve was a little shorter.

  2. Dianne says:

    Some really beautiful choices.

  3. Nancy says:

    I love the first dress. Do they make it in a size 8??

  4. Jenny Rae Rappaport says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for these plus-size posts!

    I’ve got a slight stumper for you, that I hope you’ll address in a future plus-size post:

    I’m a stay-at-home mom in my early 30s. My default outfit is jeans and a t-shirt because I spend a good part of my day playing with my almost-two-year old daughter. I can usually find nice jeans that fit me, but I’m having a huge problem finding plus-size t-shirts that are both stylish and age-appropriate. Calvin Klein used to make these sort of abstract/shiny designs on regular t-shirt material, but I haven’t been able to find them in years. Right now, I go back and forth between plain t’s (oh so boring) and Hello Kitty shirts (and yes, I like Hello Kitty, but I’d like some more adult options!).

    I’d love to see some current, age-appropriate, and not too expensive options (remember, the toddler is involved). Please help, if you can. =)

  5. Linden says:

    I don’t know what size you need, but this spring I am deeply in love with the hemp short-sleeved t-shirt from Poetry Fashion, which you can find online in sizes up to US 18. I have three and I’m working on getting more. They are drapey and slim-cut without being clingy, hit me on the hip in just the right place, are nicely finished around the neck so they look good underneath a blazer as well as with a more casual look, and can be machine-washed.

    • Diane says:

      Linden–just checked out Poetry Fashion and have a short list of must haves! Thanks for mentioning it. Question: does the sizing run true? I’m usually an 8 but sometimes have to size up to a 10, if the sizing is skimpy. Thanks for any feedback!

    • Jenny Rae Rappaport says:

      Linden: I’m a 16-18 on the bottom and an 18-20 on top, depending on cuts, of course. I still have an H&M size 12 top that I can wear, strangely enough. =)

      I’m definitely going to check Poetry Fashion out–so nice!

  6. marjorie says:

    kim, i love these choices! that first dress really is breath-catchingly spectacular. ASOS Curve has a particularly hiddy crop of dresses this season — not sure why, and it’s not like them — and other than a very simple square-necked 3/4-sleeve black fit-and-flare dress, that scarf dress was the only thing i liked. i’m excited to go to wisconsin this summer, where the TJ Maxx pickings are generally good. everybody needs a hobby.

  7. RebeccaNYC says:

    Well, thanks for acknowledging the problem, but these dresses are not the solution! (meaning I think they are ugly…sorry) As a size 14-16-18 woman, I am right in the middle and lost. When I was getting married for the second time, I just wanted a nice dress (not my usual knit black wrap dress that I wear everyday with tights and clogs) to get married in. I went up and down 5th Ave with no success. Lord and Taylor? “oh we only order a few of those sizes” Bergdorf Goodman? “oh, we don’t carry THAT size!” I mail ordered all sorts of stuff finding nothing. I swear it was like the princess and the pea. I ended up having a dress made. If you can do one thing with your power, help change this stupid industry that thinks women of my size just want to wear stretch jeans and tee shirts.

    In answer to your question about where “we” buy our clothes, I don’t shop in the stores, ever. I order from Jjill, Boden, Landsend, Athleta, EddieBauer, Talbots, and a few others I cannot think of right now. Nothing so expensive as the majority of the choices here.

    • Keri says:

      I said this exact same thing below. I’m a 12 and even THAT size is hard to find. If something runs small there’s often no larger size to try, and a Large only ever works 50% of the time. I can see where you’d have the same problem as I do – too big for most clothes yet still too small for the plus sizes.

      I like JCrew Factory (they go up to a 14 and seem to have better fitting clothes and Anthropologie.

  8. Leah S. says:

    I like all of these.

  9. Claire Sommer says:

    This first dress is quite simply the hottest dress ever. Watch the video on the Saks site. She is smoking–SMOKING–hot.Thank you!

    • Maria says:

      Yes. She definitely would bring ALL the boys to the yard (and a lot of the girls, as well, I might imagine). I have to keep reminding myself that the dress isn’t magical – buying it won’t turn me into that girl. Damn.

  10. rebecca says:

    The scarf dress is fantastic! And that first dress on that gorgeous girl is amazing! Good on you for addressing the fashion needs of our curvy friends!

    Maybe the scrawny butt fashion industry realizes that if the curvy girls had the pretty dresses they would get all the cute boys…. hmmmmm…..

  11. Mags says:

    Torrid is a great plus size store. You should definitely include in your next where to shop post.

  12. AmyM says:

    Thanks for this, Kim! And thanks for including a maxi dress in the mix. They are my go-to during the summer here in the desert (102 yesterday already). Some additional resources for your perusal — and Rachel Pally White Label.

  13. Jaye Brown says:

    Thank you. Lately I’ve been annoyed by the fact that clothing makers seem to think that they should just drape my size 18/20 body in printed, synthetic fabric an call it a day.

    Fit me dammit. Pull it in at the waist, add some darts, give me more ruching for the love of GOD just stop thinking I want to wear a tent with a print. Yes, it’s probably more difficult to design for a larger fit model, but I am willing to shell out some cash for well-fitted, well-made clothes. Now shut up and take my money!

    • Viajera says:

      Great dresses, Kim!!! Thanks!

      Jaye – I know what you mean, I’ve seen articles about how and why the fashion business ignores women over size 10, and they usually say something about how it gets harder to design to fit them. Well, count me a skeptic. I don’t think I buy it. Even in smaller sizes, women’s bodies are all different shapes, and mfrs seem to manage (sort of). So what if you have to adjust the designs? You had to adjust them when you designed them the first time! So, I think that excuse is total horsefeathers. They just don’t want to do it. It’s prejudice.

  14. Keri says:

    What’s this “over size 12” crap? Have you LOOKED at sizes lately? I’m a size 12 and I would say that 75% of the time “nice” clothes do not come in my size. A size Large will be an 8/10. I think there is a LOT of clothing for both plus sizes AND smaller sizes – its the 10-12-14 range that gets left behind. Being a 12 I’m too big for most things in “normal” sizes yet too small to wear plus sizes.

    • RebeccaNYC says:

      someone could make A LOT of money designing high end clothes for the 12-14-16-18 crowd. I’m thinking we should call the label “The Forgotten Woman” Anyone with a few Million lying around to start it?

  15. Pamela daley says:

    These are all justbfabulous! Ditto on the size 12 thing. What is the deal kthat size 8 is a LARGE!!

  16. Anne M says:

    Just want to mention that eloquii, source of the maxi and the cowl neck, is closing. Good for getting deals, but bad overall because it’s the end of a decent option for plus sizes. It wasn’t very well-marketed, IMO.

    You should add igigi to your list; she has some lovely dresses. And made in the US.

  17. jILL says:

    I’m old enough to remember when a size 2-4 was a small, 6-8 was a medium, and 10-12 was a large. I don’t know what happened over the years…there never used to be a zero or double zero sizing.

    I can’t wrap my mind around the idea that a size 12 is a plus size?? That model in the Saks video had great proportions – wowsers – and if I saw her walking down the street I would never think “plus size”.

    I’m a 6-8 in most things because I’m big boned, literally. Size 10 shoe. Big hands (same size as my 5’11” husband’s). Broad shoulders and a DD chest. I could never BE a size 0 (or even a 2) because of the chest, shoulders, and hips. It wouldn’t matter what I weighed (and I weigh 135 lbs). And I, too, struggle as well to find tops, especially, that fit the shoulders / boobs and then don’t tent out in the middle. I’ll take some ruching any day over looking like I have no waist.

    An old yogurt commerical (I think it was for yogurt) from the ’80s, had a group of women talking about another woman’s figure: “She’s a size 6!” *collective gasp* and supposedly it was due to her eating the yogurt…now (at least in Hollywood) a size 6 is considered “fat”. (Devil Wears Prada, anyone?).

    It’s all screwed up.

  18. maria sisco says:

    I am coming back in my next life tiny with small feet! I am a size 14/16 with size 11 feet. Plus sizes are too big -can’t find a decent dress anywhere. It might also be the fact that at 5-9 any dress I do find that fits is up around my coochie! I have money to spend but there are no clothes to buy!