How to Save Money on Plus Size Clothes

by Kristen on January 15, 2014 · 43 comments

in Clothing, Guest Posts

Today’s post is a guest post, and if you’ve been around here for a while, you know those only happen once in a very, very, very blue moon. When I read blogs, I usually want to hear from the author of the blog, not someone else, and you guys have told me you feel the same way. But sometimes, there’s a topic that needs covering and I’m not brilliant/experienced enough to do it.

(That’s why I published a guest post up about cloth diapering.)

Anyway! When I asked what frugal things you struggle with, several of you asked for tips on shopping for plus size clothing. Since the curvy genes completely skipped me over, I’m woefully ill-equipped to answer this question.

(My expertise lies more in the area of skinny-fying clothing for my kids! )

So I reached out to a fellow frugal blogger, Jazmin, who happens to be of the curvy persuasion, and she was kind enough to write a guest post for me. Thank you, Jazmin.

How to save money on plus size clothes

As a plus size shopper, I know how difficult it can be to balance the art of wearing fashionable clothing on a budget. While I don’t necessarily consider myself to be a fashionista, I’ve found a few ways to indulge my desire for non-frumpy clothing while still saving a few bucks.

Online Savings

My preferred money-saving method is online shopping. However, I shop intentionally and in a very specific way.

I prefer to shop the clearance section during a great sale and ideally, I will also hunt for a coupon code that can be applied to clearance items; this requires some very close reading of the fine print of the coupon since many exclude clearance in their terms.

The clearance item + coupon code combo is used almost every single time I purchase clothing online, although sometimes, I don’t feel the need to wait for a sale if an item is an absolute steal.

Another way to maximize your savings is to go through a cash-back website like eBates or ShopAtHome. Admittedly, I’m bad about remembering to follow this tip. But if you shop online often, the cash-back can add up nicely.

In-Store Savings

When shopping in person, I almost exclusively shop at discount stores “ mainly Ross Dress for Less. I’ve found that discount stores tend to offer the most bang for your buck while offering trendy styles. I prefer shopping at Ross because they have a great plus size section in terms of style and variety. I’ve had good luck at Marshall’s and Burlington Coat Factory in the past as well.

plus size clothing at Ross Dress for Less

If you’re shopping at a “regular” retailer like Macy’s, Kohl’s or Target, the prices will be higher, and the plus size selection will be smaller, but it’s still possible to get a good deal.

Personally, what I try to do is ignore anything that isn’t on sale or isn’t clearance. If you know you’re going to be stopping at a particular store in advance, search online for printable coupons before heading out. The same goes for in-store shopping at specifically plus size stores such as Lane Bryant and Torrid.

Thrifting for Plus Size Clothing

As of late, thrift shopping has been my favorite way to save money on plus size clothes. As with most thrift shopping, it’s hit or miss. But, this is especially true with plus size clothing since they’re typically carried in very limited quantities at thrift stores.

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My local Goodwill has just one lonely row of plus size clothing (the row pictured at the top of the post is it). Unfortunately, this row consists of only tops. So, if your store is anything like mine, I recommend you set your expectations accordingly.

With that said, I’ve walked out of Goodwill with tons of cute shirts “ some from what I consider to be pricey name brands like Lane Bryant and Calvin Klein that I would never even consider paying full price for. I average two to three shirts per shopping trip, with each shirt costing just about $3.50.

Additional Tips:

“ Know when to pay for quality. Jeans are something that I’m willing to spend a bit more money on. Finding a good, flattering fit on a budget isn’t easy “ and it isn’t something I’ve yet mastered.

“ Know your measurements and compare them to online size charts before placing an order.

“ Use reward/loyalty programs if you shop at a particular store often.
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Jazmin Rode blogs at Frugality Gal, where she chronicles her experiences with freezer cooking, coupon-free shopping and living life on a budget.

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Hey, lovely readers! If you’ve got tips to add to Jazmin’s, please do share in the comments and help your fellow curvy (and frugal) girls out. :)

Leave a Comment

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ann a January 15, 2014 at 8:02 am

In my experience, Ross is never crowded! Bonus. Ours is near an old navy. We stopped by on Black Friday, and the line in Old Navy circled through the entire store. I believe the wait was 90 minutes. They even had two staff members working the crowd. We left and went to Ross. No crowd at all. No sale, but the prices were great, as always. I think there was a single shopper ahead of me in line at checkout. So if that speaks to you, plus size or not, it may be another reason to check out Ross.

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2 Jazmin @ Frugality Gal January 15, 2014 at 10:52 am

The typically short lines is another reason why I love Ross!

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3 Tina S. January 15, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Our Ross was crazy crowded during the holidays. A few days before Christmas I went in to look around, but when I saw there were about 15 people in line I turned around and left. I did go back after Christmas when it was less crowded.

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4 Tina Ray January 15, 2014 at 8:46 am

I have since become errrr uncurvy…However, I used to be a size 24. It is a challenge to find good quality clothing in plus sizes. My Goodwill fortunately has a good line of plus size clothing jeans, slacks, sweaters, and such. I have also utilized Craigslist and ebay to find great deals on clothes. To shop frugally you must be patient and as you stated in the blog…know your size.

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5 Kristin January 15, 2014 at 8:59 am

When I was a bit curvier than I am now, I wasn’t so thrifty, but I shopped at Lane Bryant a lot. I bought both casual and professional clothing there, and got some good deals. It seemed they were always having a sale and sending me coupons. I specifically remember a pair of khaki 100% linen pants that I got for something like $12 on clearance…they were really nice pants!

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6 WilliamB January 15, 2014 at 9:27 am

Jazmin, do you have any experience with buying things that don’t fit quite right but are inexpensive, then having them fixed to fit? I’m wondering if that’s less expensive – or less time consuming – then aiming for a good fit from the start.

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7 Jazmin @ Frugality Gal January 15, 2014 at 10:55 am

I haven’t tried this method myself but have heard great things about tailoring clothes to fit your shape.

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8 Rebecca January 15, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I do this a lot, esp if I can find an item on super clearance. I find a lot of “maternity” clothes nowadays are not as obviously for pregnant women, rather just nice and stretchy and maybe extra long, which actually works for me since I am super tall and have a hard time finding clothes that are plus sized and long in the torso. I just picked up 2 tunic tops at a Target clearance for less than $10 and all they needed was about 6 inches taken of the hem line to make a great shirt for me.

I am also 2 different sizes top and bottom, so dresses rarely work for me, but I frequently find a dress with a full skirt that easily gets made in to a skirt for me, just chop off at the waist and hem, sometimes I add elastic, or not. These are simple sewing fixes I can do at home, but I would also pay to have a perfectly tailored pair of pants or dress if I needed to.

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9 Christine January 16, 2014 at 1:21 am

I never thought of maternity wear before! Great idea, I prefer that my top be a little longer but I don’t necessarily need the plus size neck and shoulders. I’m totally hijacking your idea :)

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10 Wendelah January 15, 2014 at 9:45 am

I am a plus size fashionista. My approach is a little bit different. I buy quality merchandise, something that will last me for years, but fewer items. I shop with a list of what I need and I ignore everything else, regardless of how good the price is. I vary my look with accessories.

Ebay can be a good source, if you know for sure what you’re buying will fit you. Nordstrom Rack is great. Amazon. I got a classic caftan Rachel Pally dress in size 1X that retailed for $268 for $38 at Amazon, plus free shipping. I thought it was a typo. You have to buy out of season and concentrate on pieces that are timeless, not necessarily fashion forward.

I do shop at Ross, but more for household items. Towels. Sheets. A great non-stick skillet I’ve used for ten years. To be honest, I’ve never had much luck with fashion there.

No matter what size you are, if you find a pair of jeans that fit and are flattering for you, buy them. Watch for the sale, buy a second pair. My current jeans are Jag Curvy Fit. On sale 60% off. My last pair of Jag Jeans was bought ten years ago. I still wear ‘em to clean in.

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11 Jazmin @ Frugality Gal January 15, 2014 at 10:58 am

I definitely second your opinion about eBay. If you’re shopping a well-known brand on eBay it’s usually simple to look up their size chart online to make sure the sizing is right for you.

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12 Pam Smith January 15, 2014 at 9:45 am

My high school daughter is plus size, and of course, wants a little trendier clothes. I agree that Ross is a great place to shop for her. We have found a lot of jeans and tops there. She also likes Torrid, but it can be pricey. They can have great sales though. We have bought a clearance item and received one free. She also found two pairs of shorts for $6 (in Jan.)! If teenagers are looking for formal dresses, cute ones, not old lady!, Pacificplex is a good website to check out. We have bought two formal dresses and been very happy with their dresses and prices.

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13 Rebecca January 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Kohl’s has a nice Juniors plus section, but its online only. I frequently find trendier tops there.

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14 Stef January 15, 2014 at 10:03 am

Don’t stop at just one Goodwill, I have three around us, Plus try T-J Max. It is like a Ross. Clearance at Old Navy Plus is good! Don’t forget the pregnancy clothes!!! Those actually look really cute and no one can’t tell they are preggo shirts or dresses/pants unless you look at the tag! My mother-in-law uses the preggo jeans (Burlington’s Coat Factory) since she has a bulging belly due to 3 hernias and such, so for her it is very comfy and gives her the slim look down the legs… Since her legs are really thin! Just trying to describe the best I can without being rude.

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15 Rebecca January 15, 2014 at 4:10 pm

I love Target’s maternity tank tops, they are nicely fitted, not baggy, but super stretchy and long, which is nice so they don’t ride up when I move or raise my arms. In the winter I wear them as a base piece to layer with and in the summer, just as a light top with a skirt or shorts, I think I have every color possible.

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16 Pam January 15, 2014 at 10:14 am

I always shop for discount gift cards online at sites listed on gift card granny for added savings. I can usually find gift cards (both physical and electronic) between 5% to 20% off. I collect the gift cards for places I want to shop and wait for sales and search for coupons as well. Recently I purchased gift cards for Victoria’s Secret (the only place I can find comfortable bras that fit and only online), waited for their semi annual sale, searched for coupons and got free shipping along with a beach tote with a total savings of around 50%

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17 Kris January 15, 2014 at 10:23 am

At one point I was a size 18 but am now a size 8 or 10, depending. I would add to the above comments–don’t be afraid to go into upper-end department stores. Do what Jazmin does and don’t even “see” the regularly priced merchandise–head straight to the clearance section. I have gotten amazing deals on higher-end items.

I also second what Jazmin said about jeans, and I would extend that to all pants/skirts–be willing to pay a little more for a good fit. You can “trend up” your look with tops/scarfs if you have a few good basic, classic bottom pieces.

I think the biggest money-saver of all is to KNOW WHAT LOOKS GOOD ON YOU!!!!!!!! Purchasing a bargain top is no bargain if it doesn’t look good or is uncomfortable. Take a friend with you–try on different outfits–take a picture of yourself. Don’t make a purchase–go home and analyze which styles suit your figure more (when you aren’t so emotionally involved) and then make a decision on what you want to buy. Just because something is plus-sized doesn’t automatically mean it is a good style for you. Women who gain weight in their tummies need a different style than those who gain it on their busts/hips.

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18 jenelle January 15, 2014 at 10:29 am

If you have a QVC outlet by you, they always have plus size clothing and always have some kind of sale. I don’t have one locally, but plan special trips to go to one that is in our region. I found many great deals and sometimes they have sales of 90% off!

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19 Jazmin @ Frugality Gal January 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

Kristen, thank you so much for this fabulous opportunity!

Also – “of the curvy persuasion” is now officially how I will describe myself – love it! :)

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20 Battra92 January 15, 2014 at 11:19 am

One thing that I’ve noticed while spending hours upon hours of shopping with my wife (who is plus sized) is that in the world of Plus sized clothing there are certain attributes: Fashionable, durable, reasonably priced, flattering. Pick one of the above and you may get lucky.

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21 Susanna January 15, 2014 at 11:32 am

maybe your wife will have better success with these tips! so far my feeling has been the same as your opinion- I’m lucky to find price – pretty much gave up on the others- but I haven’t tried Ross or Marshall’s (I have the opposite situation from one of the posts- my Ross is always crowded!)

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22 Battra92 January 15, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Marshall’s has a lot of fast fashion stuff which isn’t very durable. It’s like a thrift store so they may have tons of stuff one day but nothing the next. We’ve left empty handed quite a few times lately. I feel really bad for her too. I just wish I had the dough for a tailor to custom make her stuff. :-P

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23 Susanna January 15, 2014 at 11:38 am

I’ll try these tips- thanks. I’m very unhappy with my appearance and an concerned health-wise- unfortunately I carry my weight in the stomach area(and other places later) and that’s a really bad spot – I can never find anything that looks good on me. stuff that looks ok is possible if I hunt and hunt and hunt (and unfortunately since leaving the skinny years and entering the curvy years the desire to try on every single outfit in every single store in themall has gone south…) even with my weight heading to the lower body I still cannot find jeans that fit- to fit the waist the butt is too baggy and mine usually fall below the bigger part of my stomach and bunch around my hips…very unflattering. and I hate spending money on clothes esp if they don’t look good on me!
but I will make a point of checking out these places..so far Kohls has been my best luck with sales and kohls cash though I’d still prefer to spend less. luckily I’m not a social butterfly and for my job I wear a lab coat so I almost always wear jeans/sweatpants/yoga pants and long tshirts

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24 Battra92 January 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm

For Jeans my wife went to the Levi’s store and they measured her in a couple places and told her which cut would be best for her. They didn’t carry them in the store but Levi.com always has coupons and they have sales periodically. They have up to Size 24 in Women’s plus.

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25 Susanna January 29, 2014 at 9:51 pm

thank you!

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26 Christine January 15, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Susanna, I’m built like you. Here’s what I do: Focus up. I spend good money on great and reasonably comfortable underwire bras that are –um- uplifting. Lane Bryant has the ones I like and they are normally $50 each but every six months or so there is an awesome sale. Just before Christmas I bought 4 bras for $80. With this foundation, I can wear flirty (not slutty!) necklines. I wear my tops a little longer — tunic length– and love flowing skirts. Add a little makeup and a flattering hairstyle and no one is really looking “south” on me. One :)

I buy jeans with some elastic in the band — otherwise I have fit problems. The BEST pair I have found was at Value Village for $4! I go thrift shopping every two weeks and have been lucky lately.

One place I don’t see that anyone mentioned is HolyClothing.com they have sizes from small to 5x. Prices are very good for Renaissance, Gypsy, Boho & Peasant Styles. I have purchased from them for years. (no, I don’t get anything for telling you about them.)

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27 Susanna January 29, 2014 at 9:50 pm

thank you!

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28 Ruth Boncorddo January 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Catherine’s is an awesome trendy plus size store. Not sure if they’re all over the US, but they were in Illinois & Massachusetts! I believe they’re also online. Very reasonably priced and if you give them your email address you will get great savings.

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29 Freckles January 15, 2014 at 1:24 pm

My best tip is FREECYCLE!!!

At least twice a month someone in my city offers up Plus Size clothing on Freecycle. Going from size 24 to currently size 14 I have been able to pick up clothes in all these sizes for free. I think sometimes people of the curvier persuasion tend to fluctuate in size (I know I do) so you can pick up clothes that have only been worn a few times before the original owner changes sizes. If your size fluctuates like mine it gets pretty pricy to replace wardrobes to accommodate new sizes so nothing beats FREE. And assuming that you are losing weight once these free clothes become too big on you, you can then pay it forward and offer them up again on Freecycle for someone else to benefit from them.

*Disclaimer – I live in a city of 1 million people so I recognize that perhaps those that live in smaller populations will not have as many giveaways on Freecycle.

**Shout out to Frugal Girl for mentioning Freecycle on her blog as I had never heard of it before she did. Once she introduced me (and other readers) to Freecycle I signed up for my local group immediately and it’s been incredibly beneficial for me, not just for clothing, but for furniture, small appliances, etc.

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30 Rebecca January 15, 2014 at 4:20 pm

The best tip I have is to buy well fitting bras and underwear. I wear a 38DDD or E and Lane Bryant sells cute and sexy bras that actually support too. They tend to have an annual Bra sale, usually right after the new year, and you can get buy one get one free! Good fitting panties, and sexy too, for 5 for $25.
I have a credit card from them and also get coupon codes via text that I can use along with an in store sale, plus get free shipping. I hate their jeans, though, that is just me and my fit. Kohl’s jeans are best for me, and come in plus tall sizes too.

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31 marie January 15, 2014 at 5:12 pm

I do a bit of all of the above: look online, look in store and clearances, thrift stores.

One thing that I think is key for me is taking care of my clothes well after I have bought them. I am super careful about washing according to the label (hand washing & drying flat if needed lets say) so that they last longer. I don’t put any of my work clothes in the dryer. I am also very afraid of cooking stains or grease or food stains and change from my work clothes into old lounge clothes as soon as I get in the door.

For special occasions, I will try to borrow from a friend rather than buy something I’ll only wear once (I’m lucky to have a good friend in a similar size). The clothes I hate the most are the pieces I bought for one occasion and never wore again.

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32 Linda Sand January 15, 2014 at 7:24 pm

I buy my jeans at Walmart. The Just My Size brand in the Women’s Short style fits me and they wear well.

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33 Amanda Yoder January 15, 2014 at 8:27 pm

This is an often overlooked hard topic. I find that some Kohls have a great selection of plus size and when you get a 20 or 30% off coupon plus their sales, they are good prices. Sometimes even great prices if on clearance. Not as low as goodwill/thrift store prices, but as you pointed out plus size at goodwill is very rare!

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34 Cheryl January 15, 2014 at 9:09 pm

We have a store call vanity fair. I love it for plus size clothes. I don’t buy a lot of new clothes but it’s hard for me to find jeans that fit me well. I found new ones at this store that I love. Last time I bought me some, I give $39 for 6 pair. They had a sale buy 2 get 1 free. The jeans were just $8 a pair. As cheap as you can buy jeans at goodwill.

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35 Trisha D. January 15, 2014 at 10:45 pm

The curvy jeans totally skipped my jean pool too, however, I feel I can relate to finding good deals at these stores too.

I’m really digging that cute leopard shirt and the lime green one. I’d totally wear them together- somehow haha. (I’m SOO not fashion-forward).

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36 Auntie Donna January 15, 2014 at 10:56 pm

I read through all the previous comments before posting when I saw so many, as I thought someone would surely beat me to my comments.
1. Great article.
2. Plus or any “specialty” sized clothing adds a level of difficulty, in our case because one plus lady can be pear shaped, the next round, the next hour glass. I weigh within a few pounds of several family members, though none of us even have the same shape or measurements.
3. What works really well on one plus lady is tragic on the next. (This is more exaggerated because we are bigger.)
4. What about consignment? Online or physical shops, this is a growing trend. There are a few great plus sized consignment shop in Maryland, several in Delaware, DC, and Virginia. They tend to carry more nice quality clothing in better shape than the thrift stores, you can go in and try on, and are still less expensive than EBay in many cases.
5. I use a combination of what was in the article and things other said in comments.

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37 Megan January 15, 2014 at 11:45 pm

I love all of these tips! I am so bad at “planning” my clothes shopping so I tend to be super spontaneous….

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38 Alice January 16, 2014 at 11:39 am

Love this topic!

For me, the sewing machine has been a godsend when it comes to this. Lands’ End has some good stuff in plus sizes, and they often have coupons, but for some reason, they make the armholes on plus-size tank tops GIGANTIC. (My bras are pretty, but no need to share them with the world.) Not everything can be tweaked, but it’s a great option to have available.

Most of my other tricks have been mentioned, but I want to particularly echo the idea of knowing what will work on your body, and avoiding cute things that you know won’t work well. Empire waists and fake wrap tops and dresses are great, but they won’t work with my torso. Not buying them is by far my cheapest option!

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39 Kaitlin January 16, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I don’t wear plus-sized clothing. However, I have recently had to shop for maternity clothes for the first time, and I find that some of the issues are similar: not large stock, not terribly trendy (at least here in Alaska), etc.. I’ve decided that I’m willing to spend more per item in order to get good-quality classic pieces that can be altered with accessories. Consequently, I have 2 pair of jeans, 2 shirts, and 2 dresses. Not very much choice in the wardrobe, but I like what I have, and my clothes are not going to fall apart after a few uses.

Also, I would second the opinion of those who say properly fitting undergarments make shopping for something flattering so much easier! Once I figured out how to buy undergarments that fit right, I found that clothes just looked better on me. It’s worth the extra few dollars to have good support under your clothing. I wish someone had told me that much earlier in life!

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40 Laura January 17, 2014 at 11:28 pm

I’m not necessarily plus-size at a 14/16 but often struggle finding pants that are a short/petite in these sizes. I have found that Gap often had great selections of their online-only merchandise that they mark as clearance and then are an additional 20-40% off. My 16 ankle length dress pants ($70 online) were on sale for $15.

I agree that knowing your measurements is most helpful in shopping online.

I have also found that for some shopping that rewards programs are 100% worth it. Any Gap, Old Navy or Banana card can be used at all stores and outlets and you get rewards for each $1 you spend. I earned $100 last year. If you’re shopping for gifts, kids and others this helps a ton

Also my newest thing? ThreadUP. Check it out.

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41 Tarynkay January 19, 2014 at 3:28 pm

On thrifting- check your local domestic violence charity thrift store. Don’t just stick to Goodwill. In every city I have lived in, DV thrifts have been the best for really nice women’s clothing. My theory is that rich ladies love to donate to DV charities. Anyhow, our DV thrift (which I love) has racks and racks of beautiful plus size clothes.

Disclaimer: I don’t wear plus size clothes, so I can’t promise that this strategy will work for everyone, I am just speaking as an observer and friend of ladies who do wear plus sizes.

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42 Jan Elizabeth February 15, 2014 at 4:42 am

I totally second the comment about the consignment stores. They can be awesome! I wore plus size clothes for many years (still wear 1x), and thought I had died and gone to heaven when I finally discovered one of these stores. So many styles, good quality clothing and ALL plus size, for really decent prices. A bit more than the thrift store, but way less than new.
We have a store called Ricki’s, here in Canada, that has carries all its clothing in a big range of sizes, and has some excellent sales. I don’t know if Ricki’s is in the US or not.

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43 Mary Davis July 18, 2014 at 2:15 am

Thanks for given nice information. I liked your suggestion about thriving for plus size clothing. I agree with you.

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