Where to Shop for Women's Clothes

Parent Q&A

Clothes with room for my tummy! Oct 26, 2018 (8 responses below)
Favorite clothing stores/services for professional women May 12, 2017 (9 responses below)
Need a Great Plus Sized Women's Suit Jan 24, 2017 (6 responses below)
  • Clothes with room for my tummy!

    (8 replies)

    I'm in my 50's and having trouble finding clothes that fit my changing body (not to mention all of my old clothes that don't fit at all).  I can't go one size up because then they are too baggy in my legs, arms, etc...it's just my tummy that has grown. So I'm looking for brands or stores that have clothes with more room just in the tummy area. I'm short so long tops (like tunics and swing style shirts) look enormous on me.  I know about Jag pants and of course there are always stretchy athletic clothes. I'm more interested in "business casual" or at least clothes that are nice enough to wear to a restaurant.  I'm fine with paying more for things that really fit. Any ideas?  Thanks in advance!

    Try J Jill (jjill.com) - some of their things are more forgiving in terms of fit.  Good luck!

    Check out Beta Brand. They have what they call dress pant yoga pants. Very comfortable, but a tailored look so they don't look at all like yoga pants. They have some other styles, too. There is a store in SF on Valencia, but you can also order the clothes to your home and return any by mail that don't work. I have two pairs of jeans and a pair of the dress pants and find them to be very comfortable and fit my curvy shape and pouchy belly well. https://www.betabrand.com/

    I have the same problem. I've had good luck with NYDJ and with the "dress pant yoga pants" from Betabrand in SF. If you want something more professional and can splurge, MM Lafleur has some incredibly flattering dresses that give the fabulous illusion of a waist. I also wear skirts with some stretch, or knee-length A-lines that can sit at various points on my waist and still look like the right length.

  • What are some of your favorite brands or stores or services that you use to help you look awesome at work everyday?

    I tried some of the box services and hated them - the clothing quality was really poor.

    I've worked with a stylist at Nordstrom, but she wasn't very helpful and I still had to go to the physical store - definitely don't have time for that anymore!

    Anyways, just curious how you are all managing a current wardrobe with all the other things you are juggling in life!

    Have you tried Stitch Fix? I know you said you tried some box services and hated them, but I personally have had a lot of good experiences with this one. My clothes either come from there, or the occasional online shopping splurge when I get discount codes for H&M, J Crew and the like.

    I definitely don't look awesome every day - only about twice a month! Nonetheless, I'll offer my advice.  

    First, I love shopping online too and have gotten some great things that way.  I've also made many many MANY mistakes (and returns are time-consuming, leading me to tell myself "Oh, I'll wear this sometime" and then it just ends up clogging up my closet). Plus, when I shop online I tend not to take risks, and if you want to look truly awesome, you're going to have to push your comfort zone a little.  So as painful as it may be, I recommend shopping in a physical store. And in that regard, I recommend making an appointment with a personal stylist at Macy's on Union Square. They have a huge selection in all price points - and ranging from conservative to edgy to dressy. The stylist will pull a lot of things for you to try on all at once, in a nice big dressing room, and put together outfits for you.   It's free, and you can get a whole wardrobe in just a couple of hours.  

    As for brands, I like Theory - it tends to fit me well (and Macys has a lot of Theory). A great local designer is Lesley Evers - check out her boutique in Rockridge. I love her Stella tops and have a huge collection in many colors.  I love her dresses too, although I tend not to wear them to work.  And a lot of her clothes are made in Oakland! You could also try Personal Pizazz on College (near Star Grocery) - the owner is really good at making recommendations and knows her stock inside and out. Once she figures out what you like (it helps to go in wearing something you love), she's as good as a stylist.  

    Last tip - even ordinary clothes of not-great quality look awesome, or almost awesome, when they fit perfectly. Unless you are really lucky, most off the rack clothes will not fit you perfectly. Find a good alterations person and use him or her.  

    Have fun.  I swear, one of the reasons I work is so that I have a place to wear my favorite outfits.  So, enjoy. 

    Check out mmlafleur.com - I used to shop with them when I lived in NYC. Excellent quality work clothes that fit beautifully. I can't recomment them enough!

  • Need a Great Plus Sized Women's Suit

    (6 replies)

    I need a really nice suit for work. Unfortunately I can't find a really nice suit in my size. I'm a 14-16 with a large bust, back and waist. The jackets in the women's department typically won't button and lay nicely. But the jackets in the big girl department are shapeless boxes with 3 extra inches of fabric at the waist. Plus they're ugly and made out of cheap material. I know that I need to lose weight but it would be nice to look my best while I'm working on that.

    I made an appointment with a personal shopper at Nordstrom and was very disappointed by the experience. Even though I had booked the appointment in advance and spent a good 15 minutes on the phone with the person, nothing was done to prepare for my appointment. I expected there to be several suits and blouses ready for me to try on when I got there but nothing had been gathered for me. I was there for hours while the personal shopper wandered around the store trying to find larger sizes. I really thought that they would plan ahead and have things delivered from other stores before my appointment. It was a huge disappointment. She eventually ordered me a size 14W Sejours (Nordstrom brand) suit that I could button. But there's a ton of extra cheap fabric in the waist area and it's not what I want. I feel like I'm wearing a bag.

    I'm looking for recommendations for either a store that might have high quality big girl suits or to someone who can make one for me. I'm willing to pay real money for something that's cut to flatter my figure, in a classic style, made out of really nice fabric with great stitching. But I'm terrified to commit to something like this without a very strong recommendation as I really don't want to waste my money on something ugly. I'd really prefer to buy something that I can try on first if possible.

    Any advice for me? It's really sad to be able to afford to buy nice clothes finally and not be able to find anything that fits.


    Try "In Full Swing" on College Avenue in Rockridge. Beautiful large size clothing, on the expensive side. I don't remember whether they have suits, but they do have two-piece and three-piece outfits.

    Unfortunately I can't help with your specific question, because it's outside my area of expertise. But, I worked with Megan at canvasstyling (http://www.canvasstyling.com/) and I had a great experience. I started off by sending her an email (much like what you wrote up above), then she and I had a phone call consult where I asked some questions about costs, etc. I needed a larger wardrobe, so I had her come to my house for a full consult & then she pre-shopped for me, and then shopped with me. It's bascially all of the preparation you wished had happened for you. 

    It did cost some $, but she was very up front about the costs for her time, and I was up front about what I was willing to spend. Anyway, I don't know if it's more help than you're looking for, but I was really really happy with my experience with her. 

     hi there! i used to be in the same position you were in when I had to wear nice clothes for my corporate job. I find that Macy's has a much larger selection of great plus size clothes than Nordstrom's does. I would have much better luck finding a non-boxy suits there but I often had to have a little bit of tailoring time to get a proper fit. Always had to have the waist taken in on my pants and I searched for blazers that would fit my bust line without being too straight. Macy's in SF has a great women's dept. good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Nice-looking clothes for 34 year old

Oct 2010

I need to buy some new clothes, but I never know where to shop! I am 34 and dress casually (jeans, slacks, tshirt, nicer shirts for work) and wear a size 14 pants, large shirts (5'7' tall). I want something not to expensive, but nice looking and easy to maintain. I don't need anything fancy or sophisticated and I don't care about the brand name really, as long as the clothes are good quality and durable. Where to people show for clothes? I don't have a lot of time so I want to go somewhere I can find clothes I like and I can wear and can afford. It seems like small shops tend to have really small sizes. So where do normal or larger size people go? need more variety in my wardrobe

I am about your size just a few years older. I go to Macy's. Some clothes can get pricey but you ARE paying for quality. I do not recommend Target or Old Navy even though they are cheap, because the clothes are made of cheap materials, very thin and have no structure. Nordstom's is nice for a splurge, but I wear Macy's clothes to work. anon

your description seems to match me almost exactly. I've found myself almost exclusively shopping at the Gap on Lakeshore. Cat

Seeking well-made, comfortable professional work clothes

Feb 2009

I haven't bought clothes for years but I will be returning to work and realize that what I have will no longer fit my middle-age, post-child body. So, I need to find comfortable (loose), well-made, professional clothes at a reasonable price. I'm just looking for basics and am not searching for anything trendy or fashionable...I just want to be well-dressed and appropriate. I absolutely hate shopping so I'm hoping there might be recommendations of a store/catalog that would meet my needs. anon

I recently went back to work after being home for five years and like you had nothing to wear. I tossed all my old clothes that kept taunting me and replaced them with practical, comfortable work clothes almost entirely bought at Macy's. I hate shopping but for some reason I can stomach a couple of hours there, maybe it is the really good sale prices! To cover my middle aged, post child birth body I have bought a lot of tunic tops which cover the tummy and have found some higher waisted comfortable work pants with a little bit of stretch in them. I am not an experienced shopper but Macy's seems to have a reasonable selection of clothing for women with normal bodies like you and me. But I do find that a half hour won't do it. You really need an unhurried chunk of time like a couple of hours. Happy shopping! anon

Comfortable clothes for work - I would recommend Eileen Fisher (there is an outlet store in San Leandro) or J. Jill. J. Jill is a catalog order company which has a store in Corte Madera. JZ

There are two great places that I've found, where I buy much of my clothes. Both stores have styles and sizing that are stylish, cute and sophisticated, but also a lot that will fit and flatter women of many shapes. Both carry slacks, skirts and cute jackets and sweaters suitable for most jobs, as well as casual clothes.

1) Two Star Dog (also called TSD) specializes in mostly natural fibers. Their outlet store is behind REI and always has great deals, lots of stuff for $20-30. Two Star Dog Outlet 1370 Tenth Street, Berkeley 510-525-1100 www.TwoStarDog.com

2) J.Jill I am quite short, so also like that they carry petite sizes. They have stores in many shopping areas, including Emery Bay, downtown Walnut Creek, and the Corte Madera Mall. They also sell on-line and have great sales on line. Karen

well made + comfortable + loose + professional = Eileen Fisher!

Macy's has them, Eartly Goods in Berkeley has them (nice place to try on clothes - roomy, unhurried). Once you find your size you can order online.

Where to buy nice clothing for a professor?

May 2008

After living in the east bay for more than 5 years, I am exasperated at the absence of places to buy the kind of women's clothing I like. Most of what I wear was bought when I lived on the east coast, but it's starting to look worn. I need to replace it, but I can't find decent clothing. I'm a professor, so I want to look professional but not like a lawyer or business executive. I prefer wool and cotton and other natural fibers because they have a nicer texture and weave, and they hang better on me. I only wear deep earth tones - deep brown/chestnut, olive,deep, burgundy, grey, black, will not wear pastels or patterns, yuck. I like solid colors and especially look for interesting textures or patterns in the weave, for example herringbone, and I like nicely-tailored looking styles - not close fitting but rather elegantly cut. An elegant button-down cardigan that falls at the lower hip or high thigh in a rich color, a short jacket in a nice light wool fabric with an autumn color and simple but elegant style... I can't find what I like anywhere. I have children so I don't have much money to spend on clothing so expensive boutique clothing is not for me, but I'm sick of going to the mall in Walnut Creek or Concord and coming back empty handed, the stores are full of cheesy looking loud clothing. Once in a blue moon I'll find something at Ross. Help! Where the heck can I find professional elegant looking clothing that looks natural and not synthetic and that won't break the bank? Are there any boutiques that sound like me that have sales from time to time? Missing Filene's Basement

The Eileen Fisher Outlet is in San Leandro right off the Marina Exit on 880. Her clothing is classic and comfortable and usually made with beautiful fabrics. She also does ''bold'' colors but always has black, raisin, blue, grey, etc. The prices there are 50% of list price and often with further reductions. I would also tell you that the merchandising in SF is often different than WC, even in the major department stores. You might find things more to your taste in the SF stores. Good luck. Elizabeth

If you don't mind driving a bit, you might find something you like at Off 5th Saks Fifth Avenue 'outlet' or Last Call Neiman Marcus. Both of these stores are located at the Great Mall in Milpitas and can have good sales and stylish clothing that comes from their regular department stores.Also located in the same mall is the Banana Republic Factory Store. If you want a place in the East Bay, you could also try the Nordstrom Rack in San Leandro. However, it is rather inconsistent and can be a big mess to sort through. Good luck! Judy

Hi, I'm in the same boat as you (in fact, I think you're describing me!). I haven't looked much, but the only store I've found is Earthly Goods on Vine near Shattuck in Berkeley. And, I can only afford to shop on their sales rack. I've adjusted my taste somewhat and now enjoy wearing Weston Wear, which I can find there, at Macy's, or at a boutique shop in SF 569 Valencia St(between 16th St & 17th St) www.westonwear.com. Again, I can only shop on their sales racks. I also shop at J Jill online. But I do go back to Filene's or Daffy's when I'm on the East Coast! I look forward to other responses. Thanks for the question! miss Filene's, too

I think you would like Eileen Fisher clothes. I recommend visiting Earthly Goods in North Berkeley to try them on and find your size, and then go to Ebay to buy last year's styles for a fraction of the cost. I have an email alert system on eBay that sends me email about Eileen Fisher clothes in my size NWT (new with tags). You can also get Eileen Fisher on garnethill.com but you'll pay full price so you might as well shop locally! Earthly Goods has other clothing that you might like too, and they often have good sales. Also check out Molly B's next door which has less conservative more interesting clothing that you probably won't be able to find on eBay! cheapskate with high end taste

If Earthly Goods on Vine is out of your budget, then I would suggest finding consignment stores. There is one on Solano Ave. where I've gotten some pretty nice pieces. There is Rockridge Rags on College Ave. I also shop at thrift stores, where you can find nice clothes that are gently worn for very inexpensive. Or what about Ann Taylor at the Mall? You might find a few things at H & M if you are a small size. Yea, it's slim pickin's here. I have an on-going annual clothing swap with friends who wear ABOUT the same size. We all bring what we haven't been wearing in a while and trade. You might think about starting your own. Don't forget the snacks and wine! not going to work nude yet!

Loehman's, in San Francisco (union square/financial district). It's similar to Filene's Basement - nice, quality clothing at a huge discount. -anon

Funky fun clothes in my forties

May 2005

Here's my dilema. I am 39 yo, have 2 little girls and am a stay-at-home Mom that will be looking for work soon. All my life I have been an ''edgy'' dresser. Nothing shocking (unless you count the phase in the early 80s when I wore 1950s bullet bras as outerwear but that's another story) but mostly mixed vintage looks. Anyway, I am having so much trouble finding some fun, funky clothes that I can feel comfortable in. Any suggestions for shops? Here's my three criteria:
1. I don't want to look like one of those 40 year-olds who are trying to look 20.
2. Must carry clothes for real women - I'm not an itty bitty size (probably an 8 or 10).
3. Not too expensive - I can't spend $200 for a pair of jeans or anything.
Please share any cool stores - I can't look like an OLD NAVY clone it's ruining my self-esteem. Thanks! lynn

Why don't you try Crossroads on Shattuck or College Ave.? I always find great funky stuff there, the clothes are good quality, and you can find a great outfit for less than $35. Seriously. They carry a lot of different sizes, too. I'm in my 20's, but I often find things for my somewhat-funky 50ish mom there. Funky shopper

I asked my teen daughter who shops mainly vintage and she says: My main suggestion would be Stop the Clock (on Addison near Shattuck). Others that are slightly more 20-s geared are: Wasteland (the Haight), Mars (on Telegraph), Step Back (I think this is what it's called)(the Haight). Also, Buffalo Exchange is always good, though not quite as excitingly vintage. I second the ''Stop the Clock'' suggestion. R.K.

Try The Outback in Emeryville on 66th Street between San Pablo and Hollis Avenue. They have great prices on Citron, Cutloose, and Natori. Berkeley rather than S.F. edgy but definitely NOT Old Navy. They also carry local designers, GREAT shawls and interesting jewelry. Karen H.

As much as I wish I knew all about fun and funky clothes, I don't. What I do know is that there is a website: http://www.punkymoms.com that is all about fun and funky moms like you. I bet they'd be a great source of cool shopping ideas.

Hello, I am a 40 year old mother of 2 babies. I have finally started shopping back for myself. I have always dressed nice, so here's my recomendations. First of all, there is nothing wrong with Old Navy. You can mix & match with their items for such a good price. Here's the places I love to shop, clothes are comfortable & cute & most of the time I find great items on sale. New York Company, Target (yes Target), Banana Republic, Lauren's Closet, AND Old Navy. Shelly

Try some of the nicer used clothing stores for nice, sometimes sophisticated, sometimes fun clothes. My favorite is Sol y Lucy up above 4th street shops (directly up from Peets, above 5th st). I always find something very nice or unique and it's never too expensive because it's used. There are others in San Rafael 4th st area as well. Anonymous

Plus size shops

March 2004

Hi. My parents are visting at the end of the month and my Mom is looking to do some clothes shopping. She is a larger sized lady and I was wondering if there was a good spot for shopping for clothes. Nothing too expensive, but not cheapy stuff either. Thanks! Lisa

In Full Swing, in Oakland, I think on College Ave. margo

Try ''Avenue'' either in El Cerrito Plaza or in Pinole. And then there's ''Lane Bryant'' in Hilltop Mall, Richmond. Good quality stuff, moderately priced (some things a bit pricier) but definitely not cheapy. anon

Really nice expensive clothing at Harper Greer in San Francisco, Says Who? on Piedmont has cool hip clothing, also a bit expensive. Consignment at Seams to Fit on Telegraph, which may have some of the above. In Full Swing has some nice things, on College. Good Luck.

All the More to Love is a plus-size consignment store on Park Street in Alameda -- they have great clothes. anon