As a plus-size woman, it can be hard to find places to shop. I have always been tall and curvy, and having children only enhanced my curves more. Throughout my life, I feel like I have had to compromise with clothing because there aren’t always great options for plus-size women. As a mommy, I have also found it hard to find plus-size clothing that is stylish and comfortable, while still allowing me to do all of the things required of me when I’m chasing my little ones around. After almost eight years in Iowa City, I feel like I have a handle on the places I like to go when I need some new clothing, as well as some tips for anyone who wants to create a closet you are excited to open up.
3 tips for creating a closet you are excited to get dressed from each morning:
1. Invest in yourself!
I am cheap. I have always been thrifty and love looking for the deals. It hasn’t been until very recently that I started feeling comfortable spending larger amounts of money on a single article of clothing. What I have realized is that I am worth it. And so are you. If I buy a pair of jeans, chances are pretty good that I’ll wear them for MANY years. One of my favorite pairs of jeans tapped out after five years and, although I was sad, I felt this great level of gratitude for how long those wonderful things lasted! If I spend $80 on a pair of jeans and I wear them for five years, that is only $16 PER YEAR. I think that is worth it. Additionally, I have noticed more and more that the clothing I spend a little bit more on tends to wash better, and last longer.
Bonus tip: If you’re going to invest in some nicer clothing, ALSO invest in some great stain treatment tools. Because you’re a fool if you think your kid is not going to throw up on that brand new expensive top you put on today.
2. Know your “uniform”
A blogger I follow talks a lot about knowing your “uniform” and purchasing clothing that falls within your uniform standards (Hi Sherry from Young House Love!). She talks about the concept of a uniform here. Basically, it is all about figuring out what you love (style, colors, etc.) and keeping your wardrobe within the standards you identify. Sherry loves a black top with a denim bottom. I love a fun top with a solid cardigan over it. Something else I’ve identified about my personal “uniform” is that I love a solid top with super fun jewelry. I like my outfit to be finished off by my accessories much more than I like to buy that super trendy top. I also know that my uniform on a weekday shifts a bit when it is the weekend.
What about you? Are you a leggings and tunic gal? Do you love a good skinny jean with patterned top? Knowing your personal uniform will help you shop in a more focused manner.
3. Buy some staple items
Once you know your personal “uniform” you can invest in some quality staple items that will work well within your wardrobe. My love of a good cardigan runs deeps. REALLY deep. I have a black, navy blue, beige, orange, yellow, and grey cardigan in my closet. All of these colors work with MANY of my other tops and I can mix and match them with a pair of jeans on any day of the week. I also make sure to have at least two pairs of jeans I LOVE in my dresser at all times. I have more jeans than that, but I’m talking about the jeans that you’ll pick to wear every. single. time. they are clean and in your dresser drawer. Those jeans.
Keeping my three tips in mind, go shopping! Let me share the places in Iowa City that I love to shop for plus-size clothing and why:
Best Stores for Plus-Size Clothing
The Department Store Option: Dillards
Dillards has a large section for plus-size clothing. Many stores will have one small corner for plus sizes, while the misses sizes span half the store. The Dillards plus-size section, still small, is bigger than most. I find a lot of my business casual clothing at Dillards. They also have a good selection of tops every season. Clothing can be higher priced, but their sales are good.
Locations: Coral Ridge Mall, Coralville
The Unexpected Option: Theisen’s
Stick with me here. Remember those jeans I talked about that I had for five years and loved so much? THEISEN’S! I got them at Theisen’s. They have a large clothing section and they carry jeans in a variety of plus-sizes. Those jeans are made for farmers and cowgirls and they last! I received numerous compliments on my jeans and people would ask where they came from. When I would say Theisen’s the response was always something along the lines of, “Wait. What?” Along with jeans, Theisen’s carries some cute tops and outdoor gear!
The Big Box Option: Target
Target’s plus-size section has come a long way over the years. For me, Target has some great tops/sweaters but I don’t typically like the pant options because they seem to fit oddly. Also, if you want a cute dress for any time of year, Target is your place. When summer time hits, they carry some of the more fashionable plus-size swim suit options at Target as well!
Locations: Coral Ridge Mall, Coralville
The Small Local Chain Option: Four Seasons
Four Seasons is a semi-local chain. It was first opened in Illinois, and now with only 9 locations, Four Seasons has two stores in our area. The clothing at Four Seasons is colorful and fun. I feel like it’s Hip/Trendy meets Old Lady. The prices at Four Seasons are high, but they have some of the best sales around. For example, a few times a year they have a clearance sale where any item already marked down is 50% off or more! Although the clientele at Four Seasons may be closer to retirement age, I have been able to find some solid items there!
Locations: Sycamore Mall, Iowa City and Lindale Mall, Cedar Rapids
The Obvious Option: Lane Bryant
Lane Bryant is the obvious option because their target market is plus-size women. They carry every type of clothing (casual, business, active wear, etc.). They have a huge focus on fit and work hard to make sure their clothing fits plus-size women well. The clothing is on trend with current fashion and is decent quality. Lane Bryant is also well known for their bras, as they have a large selection of a broad range of sizes.
Locations: Tanger Outlets, Williamsburg
The Surprise Option: Christopher Banks
Full disclosure: Christopher Banks is one of my grandma’s favorite stores (shhhh). When I shop there, I am always the youngest person in the store. However, they have great business casual clothing, the best selection of summertime staples, and solid active wear options. If you look past the long-sleeved shirts with embroidered palm trees on them, you will find solid camis, great shorts/capris, and some good options for tops. They also send awesome coupons. Recently I used a $15 off a $15 purchase on a clearance cardigan. My total for a high-quality cardigan was $4.98. Boom.
I don’t have room to talk about EVERY place that carries plus-size clothing, but a few more stores that are worth checking out include:
Torrid, Maurice’s, Marshalls, and JC Penney (All in Coral Ridge Mall)
Walmart (Highway 1 in Iowa City or Commerce Drive in Coralville)
Kohls (Commerce Drive in Coralville)
Old Navy, J.Crew, and Loft (Online, as most stores don’t carry the plus sizes)
(*edited to include reader suggestions*)
If you’re in the Iowa City area and looking for plus-size options, these are your places. I encourage you to be willing to spend time looking at the racks of clothing and envisioning how it might fit into your typical “uniform.” I think you’ll be surprised at what you can find!