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5 Thrifting Tips for Plus-Size Women

Posted by on October 25, 2013

There are actually some really great shopping options for plus-size women, especially online. It’s not too challenging to find great dresses, tops, skirts, and pants that are designed to fit and flatter curvy women. However, sometimes you just need a fashion fix, and the wait time post-shipping does not always make online shopping the “funnest” way to get your fashion fix.

If you have a few hundred dollars a season to revamp your wardrobe and a saintlike patience with your UPS service, then online shopping can serve you very well as a plus-size woman. However, for those of us who don’t have unlimited means and patience for week-long waits, thrifting is a great alternative.

Unless you’re going to a thrift store that specifically caters to plus-sizes, of which there are unfortunately very few (one of the most well-known is the formerly NYC-based, now Cleveland-based, Re/Dress), it isn’t going to be easy to find a lot of options that work for you if you’re a US size 12+.


The Re/Dress CLE is located at 2678 W.14th street in Cleveland and I definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in the area. Credit: Zero Style Blog

Thrifting for plus-size clothes is a commitment. You have to make a plan to spend several hours scouring the racks and trying on a lot of different stuff. All brands and designers run differently and true vintage pieces (meaning 40s-70s) were made based on a completely different sizing chart than the one that exists now. (Just ask Tim Gunn.) However, it’s worth it for the treasures you find in the end.

To help aid in your thrifting adventures, I put together a list of the top five thrift shopping guidelines that I strictly adhere to when I’m in a Macklemore mood.

Credit: asatrian via weheartit

1. Check the new arrivals

This seems like an obvious one, but the new arrival section is always where I head first, because it’s the freshest stuff. If you really want to become a thrifting genius, it’s going to require lots of return trips to your favorite thrift stores, and that means that you’re going to flip past the same ugly sweaters more than a few times. Going to the new arrivals section will give you a chance to see the best offerings of the store first, and can help you decide whether or not you want to spend the rest of your time in the store or move on to greener pastures.

2. Look through all the sections

Speaking as someone who has worked in a thrift store, it is really really hard to properly sort everything when dealing with new accessions. Not everyone knows all of the various brands that you receive and sometimes tags have been removed or are degraded, meaning that we have no way of knowing where something “belongs.” I once found an adult Wildfox sweater in the kids’ section, because it had a cartoon print on it (so obviously I snatched it up).

Credit: Fancy Fine

3. Try everything on

Much like “look through all the sections,” this rule is just all about patience. Most women are pretty knowledgeable about what “looks like it could fit,” but a lot of people lack the motivation to actually try stuff on. Yeah, it’s annoying, time-consuming, and usually pretty itchy, but you just need to reconcile yourself to the fact that if you don’t try your finds, you’re going to miss out on some great pieces or waste some of your budget on stuff that your probably shouldn’t have bothered with.

4. Bring a friend with you

Ah, yes, that elusive shopping buddy who patiently waits outside the changing room for you to model your finds and is nice enough to tell you when that orange dress with the embroidered peaches on it might not be “office appropriate.” But seriously, friends make thrifting more fun and it’s always good to have someone with you to live tweet your attempt to squeeze your butt into a size 10 Kate Spade skirt that was only $20. (I may be drawing on a personal experience here.)

5. Keep a budget in mind

Basically, the whole point of thrifting is to save money. So I always set a hard budget before I go out. If I say that I am going to spend no more than $50, then I’ll leave my credit cards at home and bring no more than a $50 bill because, quite frankly, I’m not known for my self-restraint.

Do you have a go-to thrifting tip that never lets you down? Share it in the comments!

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