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I decided to take a stroll around the mall after getting my hair cut last week. The booth where they were tweezing people’s eyebrows by wrapping pieces of string around each hair was particularly fascinating. I don’t go to the mall that much and it’s always funny to be reminded that there are so many retailers that manage to eke out a living despite the fact that I’ve never heard of them. However, I had heard of Forever 21 from a friend who says their bargain-priced knock-offs of the latest styles are her guiltiest pleasure, even if they are somewhat cheaply constructed. You get what you pay for. As I was passing their glass display windows I had to tell myself, “Hey, PQ, you could go in there and shop now and the sales ladies won’t give you furtive judgmental glares and wonder what a fat ass like you is doing in their store. You don’t really have a fat ass anymore.” Then I thought, “Self, you are totally right. Even though the thought of shopping at a store called Forever 21 makes me feel somewhat ridiculous (though not as much as a store called Dress Barn) I shall look at their clothes (even though 21 wasn’t a particularly great age for me and I would much prefer to be Forever 26). I will do it just because I can.”

So in I went and it was fun looking at all their dresses and blouses and thinking, “I could buy this and wear it if I had any money! How much can you get for blood plasma these days? Is their a blood bank in the mall? If not, there’s empty store space in the E wing!” I think I might be at a point where I could even wear their pants too. Wobbling around 180 pounds these past few months has been a bit annoying, but it has saved me from buying new jeans. The size 14 Venezia jeans from Lane Bryant I wear are starting to look a bit baggy, so I need to either gain back some weight or go buy new jeans. I’m opting for the latter. I’m not really looking forward to it though because Venezia jeans always fit me pretty well. Now I will have to go try on different brands of jeans at other stores until I find a style that is cut to flatter me. Even though I often resented the fact that I could only shop at Lane Bryant, it did make shopping easier because I just picked what was available in their shop and I was done. I prefer having more choices, but with that comes its own set of annoyances. See, even thin-ish people have problems.

I left the Forever 21 and also checked out The Express. I spent so many years wishing I could walk into these stores and shop without fear, but the funny thing is I was disappointed by how cheaply constructed most of their clothes were. The fabrics weren’t calling out to be fondled and I doubted the T-shirts would last that many rides in the dryer before disintegrating into the lint filter. I always assumed the stores that sold misses sized clothing were like Valhalla, minus the Vikings and beer. But they are just stores, and while I’m sure there are other stores that sell quality made clothing, some of them sell cheap crap that maybe aren’t worth all the idolizing I used to focus on them. Now I can buy cheap crap too! It’s like meeting your favorite band and finding out they’re assholes. But I will shop at more stores and hopefully I will find out that one of my favorite bands is even cooler than I thought they were.

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20 Comments

Dawn • July 18, 2007 at 8:38 am

Congratulations Pasta Queen! I look forward to the day that I tool will amble in and out of those stores knowing that I can actually FIT into those clothes.

Ann Taylor and Banana Republic have clothes with fondle-worthy fabrics. More in the not having to sell blood plasma range – Old Navy. If the stars are aligned, you can actually get some nice inexpensive stuff there.

Then there’s always the Bloomingdales and Macy’s. Unbeknownst to the general public, their clothes are pretty affordable because they are ALWAYS on sale. The stuff on the 75% rack is just as wearable today as the full price stuff. Plus their misses size stuf is amazing. Nordstroms is also a good place for cute clothes in your size, but they don’t have many sales. However, when they do (i.e Half Yearly Sale, Women’s Sale) you can make out like a bandit!

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Ann-Charlotte • July 18, 2007 at 9:03 am

I had the same experience.. I had thought for bloody ages that it would be marvellous to be able to shop in the “skinny” stores. Once I could shop there I realised I didn’t WANT any of the clothes because they were just plain ugly, not my style and cheaply made. But at least now we can *choose* to not shop there!

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JessDL • July 18, 2007 at 9:57 am

If you are looking for new jeans, I highly recommend the “curvy” cut ones at Banana Republic. They have enough room for an ass, but the legs are still slim. Congrats!

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Charity • July 18, 2007 at 10:24 am

Ah yes, the thrill of shopping in the “normal people” stores! The excitement of trying EVERY PIECE OF CLOTHING ON, because this designer’s size 12 is different than THIS designer’s. The mystery of trying to figure out why I’m a large in this style, but a medium in this?

Truly, the Lord taketh away the ass, but giveth more pain in it. Yea verily.

And Victoria’s Secret is that I have no more boobs when I’m a size 10, so I have to buy “assistance.” (Which reminds me, have you had your bra resized today? You may have changed sizes, and the girls need your firm support!)

Personally, I like shopping at the cheapo places — TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and so on — and just focus on different sizes. They’re great for those in-between clothes when you can’t afford to spend a lot of $$$ and know you’ll be moving through sizes quickly. (Or in my case when you’ve gained a fair amount of weight back and need temporary fat clothes! But this too shall pass!) Dress Barn Outlets are good too. I made out like a bandit there last summer. Good luck!

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Debbi • July 18, 2007 at 10:27 am

When I lost a lot of weight 10 years ago, my biggest motivator was being able to walk into The Limited and buy something off the rack. So what if it was stirrup pants and a ribbed tunic top? I felt like I’d really arrived.

My daughter-in-law stocks up at Talbott’s twice-yearly sales. You could definitely find some deals there.

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Kalyn • July 18, 2007 at 10:28 am

This was fun to read. When I lost 40 pounds, I very clearly remember the thrill of no longer needing to buy plus sizes! As for where to shop, I’m completely hooked on Chicos. Their stuff is a bit expensive, but everything I buy there I wear and wear until it is literally worn out.

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Smissy • July 18, 2007 at 10:42 am

Ann Taylor Loft! Sort of expensive full price, but they have some great sales. There clothes look and feel like good quality. Also want to agree with the person who said Banana Republic jeans. No matter what my size (I’ve been everything from a 4 to a 14) I’m ALWAYS curvy and they fit all the right places. (Plus they have petite and I’m 5’0″). Try the outlets to get them on sale, however this is one of the few things I believe is actually worth paying full price – their clothes, especially jeans, last forever.

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Marla • July 18, 2007 at 11:17 am

Oh no! I’ve been dreaming of the day when I could shop in a “normal” store! How disappointing. I guess I’ll be a Dress Barn gal forever… the quality is crappy, but at least they’re cheap.

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Helen • July 18, 2007 at 12:13 pm

Congratulations on your weightloss and your blog. I’m officially addicted to reading your archives. I’ve found them hilarious, enlightening and encouraging. You have shown so many readers the real power of a pound (or two, or three or four) at at time.

On the clothes and choice thing, you are dead right. Having more choices can be problematic, but it’s a problem that I’m learning to like. The thing is that my body is a different shape from the blob it used to be, and seeing the new body as it really is, is still a problem.

Something that really helped was a fresh, unbiased set of eyes and a set of basic rules so that I buy to suit my body. I subscribed to http://www.MissusSmartyPants.com and sent in my picture and was given a basic body profile, and then every week I get a snazzy email and pdf file with places to try out and ideas to focus on. She shops from different places all the time, which is good. Sometimes I love the clothes and sometimes I don’t, but I have way more hits than misses now.

The other thing that helped with jeans was http://www.zafu.com. You fill in a questionnaire about your proportions, and bingo, a list of jeans in many brands that may be a good fit for you. They also tell you what size to go for, and whether the fit runs bigger or smaller.

My kids wear stuff from forever21 because it is basically disposable clothing. It is cheap, cheerful and won’t last beyond this season.

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bitchwhoblogs • July 18, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Hey PQ-

Way to go…. and the fun really begins clothing wise when the discount places have clothes that fit!!!

I have purchased so many new clothes- I am now addressing my shopping issue. I tried out zafu- which I loved and then headed right off with their recommendations to Loehmanns, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and the Nordstrom’s Rack — by purchasing discount I a able to get terrific quality designer stuff for the cost of a lot of mall retail….

I find Lucky Brand jeans to be very flattering… I was never able to fit into their brand before – but just (***shock***) bought a pair in a size six which look cute and flatter me in all the right places.. Finding new jeans has turned into a pleasure — my faves are by Hudson, Salt, Elvis, Lucky and Michael Kors. Uhhh.. I pretty much live in jeans…

I am now realizing just because I can fit into them, doesn’t mean they need to make an appearance in my closet!!!

Have fun.

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melsky • July 18, 2007 at 12:49 pm

I can’t wait until I can shop in stores like that but I will keep shopping at the same store I shop at now – the thrift store. I honestly find as much stuff at thrift stores that I like as I do when I shop at mall stores with lots of things in my size, plus it’s way cheaper and you have the thrill of the hunt.

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scone • July 18, 2007 at 1:10 pm

Try the ‘sale’ heading on the J.Crew website. Excellent quality at 50%-75% off.

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Theresa • July 18, 2007 at 1:22 pm

For things like plain t-shirts, I like to shop at Sears or Walmart. Seriously! I think the quality is actually not that bad and sometimes they are so in-expensive that you don’t care how long they last. I wear white and black t-shirts a lot and if I can get them for under $10 I am really happy. I just got some t-shirts at Walmart on clearance for $3.50.

Now, for jeans… I grew up in the 80s and until I recently lost weight I was still wearing the 80s jeans, now referred to as “moms jeans”. These are the ones with a high waist, little pleats in the front and tapered legs. I can’t believe I was actually still wearing those now that I don’t anymore. Go to a place like Macy’s that has a ton of jeans styles and try on as many as you can to see what you like best. go outside of your normal comfort zone and try on low rise, flared legs, etc. Right now my favorites are Calvin Klein with low rise and flared legs (kind of pricy) and Levis low rise, flared leg. I also never thought I would like to wear low rise, but I love them.

Have fun shopping for your new body!

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jen • July 18, 2007 at 2:36 pm

For me, BWB’s revelation above was important — just because it fits, doesn’t mean I have to buy it.

By an odd coincidence, I was shopping with my younger sister today at Forever21 and Charlotte Russe. That stuff is cheap junk. H&M has much higher quality material for about the same price point, though their clothes run smallish.

I tend to live in Gap Outlet because I’m really a basics kind of girl — jeans, capris, t-shirts. Ann Taylor Loft when I’m feeling all trendy.

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psychsarah • July 18, 2007 at 4:09 pm

Howdy,

I just wanted to say that I can relate to the dilemma of choice. I too am a size 12 these days (seemingly forever, boy do I love plateaus…) so I’ve had some time adjust to being this size, but I had the hardest time figuring out what stores to go into that had clothes I would like, and how clothes in various stores fit, after spending my whole adult life as a plus size. I won’t bother naming my faves, because I’m in Canada, and that won’t help you (unless you’re a cross-border shopper…). I smiled and nodded my way through this post, as I do many of yours! Sometimes I think, that PastaQueen and I are sharing a brain! (In a good way, not in a creepy, psychotic kind of way I mean.)

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Evita • July 18, 2007 at 4:12 pm

I know what you are talking about. Going into a store and having the people look at you like “Ok, the only thing she fits in here are the earrings and the sunglasses”. I can’t stand it. I used to be able to shop at those stores and one day I will be able to again.

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Neat • July 18, 2007 at 7:52 pm

This is the first time I’ve read your blog. I enjoyed your post. :) I hope to read more soon. I like your earlier comment “embrace your inner freak.” :) I often embrace my inner nerd.

Take care and hope to see you out here in the cyber world again soon.

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Cindy • July 18, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Hi PQ,

Try Lee jeans at the army/navy-type stores…or Liz Claiborne at Macy-type stores. I like the LL Bean jeans (and they have the added bonus of arriving it the mail, so you don’t have to go to a mall!). I have fallen head over heels for Talbot’s, but can only afford their sales. I NEVER would have guessed this about me, but it turns out that I am a bit of a clothes snob. I can’t stand the cheap feel of most “bargain store” items. I’d rather have 3 or 4 nice shirts from Beans and do laundry often than to have every color from Wal-Mart. And I am getting really good at finding bargains (the real kind!). Oh, yeah…the Lands End section at Sears has some good choices, too. HAPPY SHOPPING!

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Tiffany • July 18, 2007 at 9:27 pm

Pasta Queen….way to go! :)

Thought you would like this video about a woman who said “Goodbye to Lane Bryant”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETA3B-sj6zI

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Adrienne • July 19, 2007 at 8:27 am

I’ll second (or third) the comment that Macy’s has a great Misses section, with frequent sales. Today I’m wearing a pair of Ralph Lauren jean shorts that I bought for $12 (original price $59.50). And I bought them in mid-June so it’s not like you have to wait til the tail end of the season to get deals. Also, I don’t know if they have these stores in your neck of the woods, but you can often get great deals at Filene’s Basement. And as others have mentioned, oh the fun of TJ Maxx and Marshall’s…though strangely not all of them are created equal. It seems some TJs/Marshalls/Filene’s have better deals/selection of clothes than others so have fun exploring!

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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