Formally Confused – Dress buying struggles
It’s November which, for some, means holiday gatherings! While this fact brings excitement and joy to some for others it brings the stress of finding something to wear.
I have never been a straight size, for the most part. Since having my son I’ve been even harder on my body and fully embraced the legging, sweatshirt, and messy bun life. Alas, I love being a princess in a gown.
At the moment my husband and I have three weddings, events for those weddings, my father-in-law’s 50th birthday, my mother-in-love’s graduation, and our two year anniversary coming up. I am currently in this odd range of plus and mid size. Depending on the store, cut, shaping, and if mercury is in retrograde or not my size range is absolutely ridiculous.
That being said, I know I’m not the only one. In the United States Plus and Mid-sized women makeup 70% of the market. Are 70% of stores catering to these sizes? Nope.
As an event just passed for us and we have several more coming up I thought I’d share some of the stores and styles that have been a lifesaver for me.
I love checking local thrift stores to find the best brands at the best prices. Some of my favorite local thrift stores that have never let me down are:
Good Shepard’s Corner Resale Shop
1809 S. Alameda St
I used to work in the same shopping center at this resale store and loved it. I would walk over on my lunch breaks and look through the store. I’ve found everything from vintage dresses new with tags to purses and gorgeous hostess gifts. I needed a black evening gown for a Halloween wedding in 2019 and found a popular 1990’s brand, in my size, new with tags, and it had the matching shawl. Literally perfect piece and timing.
Of course with this location, and all vintage pieces, please be aware that vintage sizing can be a little off and you may be a smaller size than you are normally. This has just been my experience with most pieces, but the opposite is also true.
4646 Everhart Rd
Threads is not new to Corpus Christi and thank goodness it isn’t. While I don’t always find something in my size I am always able to find shoes. My size is seemingly common in Corpus and trying to find something cute or in fashion is difficult and sometimes I don’t want to buy online.
As far as clothing is concerned the times I have always been able to find a dress is around dance seasons. So homecoming, prom, favorites, etc. People are cleaning out closets to purchase new dresses and finding something around these times is exponentially easier. Finding plus-size items has definitely gotten easier over the years, which yay, and I’m happy to see them including more mid and plus-size items in their Threads Boutique items as well.
423 Lomax St. Suite A
20/20 is a literal dream. The store is a little crowded, again yay, but just be aware if bringing a stroller or a little with grabby hands. The times I’ve gone I did have a stroller and it was easy to navigate as both employees were more than willing to be helpful, which is such a relief. But I would also recommend babywearing if at all possible.
Again, vintage sizing can be off so sometimes finding something is a little difficult but I highly recommend them for more than just clothing. Shoes, belts, jewelry, accessories, anything and everything you can think of. I’ve found that at times all I can find that fits nicely is very plain so having a local store to make a plain white or black dress more “me” is still a win to me.
Plus when you have employees who make you feel comfortable I think this is something that greatly increases your view of the store and day. I’ve never felt rushed or size shamed. It’s always been, “Okay, well let’s keep looking for what is made for you.” Seriously, love.
Make it fit!
If you can’t find it, make it.
Bridal Boutique & After 5
1308 Airline Rd, in Gulfway Shopping Center
Bridal Boutique & After 5 is a locally owned bridal store that also completes alterations and custom orders. While I have not had a dress made from them, my mom has and she absolutely loves the mom and daughter duo. This is why when I needed my wedding dress altered my mom recommended I go here.
While getting my dress altered and through the subsequent fittings I was able to see dresses from bolt to walking out the door. Along with several alterations, adjustments, and custom orders to ensure the size and computability of the person ordering the dress. Again, never felt rushed or size shamed. My dress was altered quickly and for a reasonable rate. Also, when we realized my veil did not match and I needed to get a new one they ended up making one custom for me to match. We found tulle I loved and lace that complimented my dress and the rest is history.
Nick Perez is the powerhouse being Nicó Collective. His brand treats custom evening wear and bridal. He is a self-taught designer who hails from the Coastal Bend. Currently located in San Antonio he is still turning out gorgeous gowns, evening, pageant, bridal, and more.
While I, unfortunately, don’t own any of Nick’s pieces I can dream. I was given the opportunity to model for him this past summer and I was to say the least, nervous. The dress I thought I was going to wear was unavailable and swapped out which scared me. Some of my uncomfortable areas would be shown. On a stage. On camera. On film. I was tempted to drop out.
I showed up the night of and was handed my dress. As soon as I put it on and Nick helped me tie the back I was sold. I was so comfortable and myself along with a few of the other girls were soon prating our Disney Princess twirls. It’s rare that I’ve put something on and fell in love, but this dress was an instant confidence booster.
That being said, my sister and best friend are both having their wedding dresses designed by Nick and we are all so excited to see what he turns out. The sketches are beautiful and we all know the final product will be breathtaking.
While learning to love myself I’ve had to constantly say, my body is not made to fit a dress. The dress is made to fit my body. Nick is the epitome of that statement. He is not going to make you something that doesn’t fit your body shape. You can’t walk into a dress store and try something on made for a longer torso, taller person, or different body shape and expect it to look good without alterations. Your body is unique just like you are. Shouldn’t your clothing be as well?
Bridal, evening gowns, formal dresses, prom dresses, all the things. I highly recommend Nick because I believe in his vision and appreciate the heart he puts into everything he does.
Torrid is the tried and true for mid and plus-size women. Sometimes the variety as far as formal and black tie is lacking, but there will be at least a handful of options. While prices can be a little on the higher end there are occasionally sales that include varying percentages off, BOGOs, and end-of-season sales.
I have a cocktail dress that I needed for an event that I fell in love with online. I wasn’t ready to spend over $100 online for something that I wasn’t sure would look good. I went into the store and ended up finding the same dress. After falling in love with the dress and not the price I was on the fence. I decided to bite the bullet and with sales and a coupon I had I ended up paying about $30 for the dress and a belt.
Along with cocktail and evening options I also purchased my Wedding Dress from Torrid. Their wedding collection, which includes bridesmaid options, is exclusively online. Well, at least it was when I was looking in early 2019. While visiting my younger siblings in St. Louis we were at a Torrid location and trying to find a nicer dress for my sister’s graduation. As we reached in to grab what we thought was a white romper we pulled out a wedding dress.
I immediately tried it on and was sold on the dress. Just not the price since I knew it would possibly need some alterations since it was very long. We left and I was convinced overnight to purchase it. I went back the next day and paid less than half of what the sticker price was. The dress was marked as damaged and there were some dirt stains on the bottom. Some oxyclean and hot water later the dress was perfectly ivory.
While I know this is not everyone’s experience it can be a tip. If you find something you love online but are unsure of the price, go in-store if you can. You can get a feel of the dress, or whatever it is, and ask about promotions and sales while there! Usually, the employees are more than happy to help!
I’ve loved Calvin Klein for a very, very long time. As with vintage clothing, the sizing is a little questionable with Calvin as well.
I had found an evening gown from them that was almost my wedding dress, then I found the Torrid dress. But I’ve worn everything from casual to evening from them and I love it.
One of my evening gowns from them that I wore for Halloween 2019 I was also able to wear for maternity pictures in 2020, at 34 weeks pregnant. Some of their dresses have a comfortable about of stretch that is unrivaled.
The other thing I love about Calvin Klein is that you can go to almost any department store in the mall, Ross, Amazon, Ebay, and even thrift stores to find it. Looking amazing while feeling good doesn’t always mean a higher price tag. Find something you love and take the time to price around or just give yourself the time to look around before your event.
Ask for help!
One of the greatest resources we have locally is Sarah with @StyledxSarah on IG. She constantly posts outfits, tips, and tricks, can assist with personal styling, and she also posts items for sale occasionally. She will also post-sales from varying stores occasionally that are size-friendly and inclusive. I was able to snag a gorgeous Calvin Klein cocktail dress for $10 at TJ Maxx after she posted about it!
Finally, if you know what looks good on you don’t reinvent the wheel. If you have a line dress that falls flat add a Pedi coat underneath to add some floof and change it up a little. Or add a slit. Just because you’ve worn something before doesn’t mean you can’t change up the accessories, shoes, or even adding revocable sleeves to give it a new look and life.