An A+ for Plus-Size Clothing: Stores That Make the Grade (+3 Tips For ANYONE’S Closet!)

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.

best plus size clothing stores in iowa city

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.


plus size clothing stores options

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.

Honorable Mentions:

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!


 

Linda is a Michigan native who moved to Iowa City in 2011 and hasn’t left yet. She and her husband of twelve years, Jacob, have two spunky kids – a kindergartner and a third grader. Linda works full time at the University of Iowa as the Administrative Director for the Medical Scientist Training Program. Together, Linda and her family enjoy cheering for the Nebraska Cornhuskers (shhhh!), going on adventures both big and small, and playing board games (they have over 100 and will play with anyone they can talk into it). Linda is often told she has two volumes: on and off, and she will enthusiastically respond to any news you tell her. No matter the volume she uses, Linda is an “old soul” with a love for baking, embroidery, and old movies.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Lane Bryant in Lindale is closing. 😭😭😭

    I am a Torrid fangirl through and through. My uniform is trendy amd I love to shop the new seasonal assortment.

  2. I have had major success lately with Loft and Jcrew online. I am not sure how long they’ve been selling plus size clothing but I’ve snatched up a ton of great work clothes for very cheap. I mean, I just got an amazing light colored tweed dress from Loft for $7 and four lightweight tanktop blouses (perfect under cardigans!) for $9.99 each at jcrew. I think jcrew is still figuring out its sizing for plus size wear but loft seems to have hit it perfectly. Their dresses fit like a glove and the pants were perfect.

  3. I hate that old navy won’t carry any plus size clothing in store. Mail order is nice, but I like to actuallt see and try on clothes before I buy. One online place I live is Lands end. Their cloths are sturdy and LAST! Another place you have to find coupon codes and deal links in order to make things even slightly affordable.

    Dillard’s is my go to place in town. They have really good brands, and if you time it just right, some great deals. When I was pregnant two years ago, I just bought oversized regular clothes. There was not anything available in my size in maternity.

    • I like being able to try things on as well, which is one of the things that makes me weary when purchasing online. That is why I make sure they have a good return policy before I order!

      I LOVE Dillard’s and can always find something there. 🙂

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