Saturday, March 21, 2009

Snoop Shopping

This morning I went to our local DressBarn with my mom. I like the stockings they sell and since the weather is warming up...I hope...I need stockings to go with my skirts and dresses. And yes, I am firmly on the side of wearing pantyhose...I like them and have no issues with them.

So once in the store I notice that they have a really great selection of plus size dresses. There are a few styles that I've wanted to try on before making them and since my mom was game I loaded up with several different types of dresses and headed off to the dressing room.

If you don't mind, I would like to share a few observations with you:

1. I don't shop! Hardly ever...so I was amazed at the depth and selection of plus size dresses until I walked onto the other side of the floor and saw what they had in the smaller sizes. Ummmm, can we say unfair! Totally and absolutely unfair in the amount of dresses on that side of the floor versus the dresses on the plus size side.

2. If you are going snoop shopping make sure you wear a good bra (check), a good pair of undies (check) and any foundational garments and/or hose you would normally wear. Since this was a spur of the moment decision, I didn't have the last two. However, the store did sell control top pantyhose, I purchased a pair which helped alot in the decision-making process.

3. The dresses I took into the dressing room were:

~ a poly/lycra knit short sleeve wrap dress

~ a pin tucked sleeveless straight dress

~ a v-neck dress with a ruched waistline and full skirt

~ a border print black/white dress with a defined waist, belt and short sleeve cropped jacket

~ a waisted dress with a short sleeve sweater jacket

4. I have no idea what size I wear in RTW...I originally bought the wrong size into the dressing room with me...which meant my mom had to retrieve several pieces in the correct sizes!

**I learned that I can wear a belt (both skinny and thick...haven't worn one in at least a decade) if the style of the dress is right.

**That I am still not sure if I look good in a wrap dress but it may have been the print and the pleating on the side of this particular wrap dress. My mother thought I looked slimmer and I thought my butt looked like a big old shelf! But I am more amenable to the whole wrap dress thing now that my last knit dress worked so well.

**That the right dress with waistline seaming can be a slimming look on me.

**And most importantly, that I'm thankful that I sew!

Jeeze Louise if I had to relie upon RTW to dress, I would look terrible...or have to spend an inordinate amount of time in the mall, in the stores, constantly dressing and undressing to find a few items that fit. I also now understand how so many women have issues with their bodies...RTW does not help you. It glorifies the young, the skinny, the flat... Who is like that except a 12 year old?!

Okay, I didn't post this to rant about RTW...but so many times when other plus size women write me and ask how I know what works for my body, I always give the snoop shopping advice. Today I took my own advice and now I have to add one more piece to my snoop shopping tip ~ don't be discouraged by what is available in the stores! The point is to find out what shapes/styles look good on you and to realize that you can make the right length, the right fit, the right color/print/pattern for you...and if you see something in a smaller size and you believe the shape would work well for your body, go for it! This exercise is to just get an idea!

Also realize that I rarely base my dress-making decisions upon plus size offerings. I know what works for my body type and if I see something in any size that I know I can interpret...I go for it! If I stuck to what RTW offered there would be no "Dior Dress" or the "Michael Kors knock-off dress" or even my classic sheath dress.

After this exercise, I did walk out with a dress. I was so amazed at how I looked in it after slogging through the other try-ons, the price was right and it's something that's not currently in my wardrobe. However, I am purchasing a similar Butterick pattern during this weekend's $4.99 sale and making my own version, soon!

Here's a look at the DB dress - sans make-up and how I tried it on in the store:



Butterick 4914 - which I think can give me an alternative but in the fabric, color and styling I want:



Finally, I believe that snoop shopping can be very beneficial to your sewing. Especially when new styles come out and you are not quite sure if they will work with your body type. This advice, of course, applies to women of all sizes. I don't know if I'm going to keep the dress...already I'm revising the look in my head! *LOL* But it was a morning well spent and I'm off to sew because despite yesterday's snow event, I do believe that spring is coming soon and I've got to be ready!

More later!


43 comments:

  1. First of all, you look lovely in that new dress! Wouldn't you think that by now, in 2009--the designers and RTW would have progressed enough to make beautiful clothes for someone other than a 20 year old size 2 ?
    When will they realize that people of all ages and all sizes like pretty things? And yes, I am thankful I sew also.

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  2. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR ENERGY? That dress looks fab on you! You gave such good advice in this post (as always). It's great to be able to buy a new dress, but I know what satisfaction you get by making it yourself, I experience the same feeling. Have a nice sewing afternoon.

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  3. I personally love that dress on you. I am a plus size woman. I am a quilter and do not sew garments. I have been visiting your blog for about 6 months or so and you make me want to sew clothes now.....oh, where will I find the time? Maybe we could make a deal.....hehe, Just kidding. Love your style!

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  4. That dress looks great on you--a lovely, fresh spring look. Keep it!

    Maureen

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  5. I love that black and white dress on you! I definitely agree that shopping RTW can be a good exercise even if you make all your own clothes--I was there when I was about 40 pounds heavier than I am now. Remember that you're under no pressure to buy when you're snooping so try on at will and hit as many departments (or stores) as you can handle. Even if nothing fits quite right, you can get a general idea of what works on your figure. I thing one of the challenges of Plus is that people can be Plus in many different ways, and by necessity the manufacturers can't customize for all variations.

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  6. Your new dress is very flattering - I love the print and the style on you.

    As far as shopping, believe me it ain't easy even if you are young(ish), skinny(ish) and flat(no ish). I am rarely able to walk into a store and find something that fits well - that's why I sew. I think because we (sewists) demand a higher level of fit, we are always going to be disappointed by RTW offerings.

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  7. Arggh, typo. That would be "think" not "thing".

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  8. I love your sense of style and what you make suits you.You know the colours you like and you are very up to date and modern...all thanks to your wonderful sewing. I do think this RTW style suits you but this garment isn't in the same league as your own work.

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  9. Snoop shopping is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and try new styles. Especially for those of us whose bodies have changed over the years! lol! That dress looks great on you and I can't wait to see the ones that you make.

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  10. My daughters spend hours and hours in the mall. Of course, if you're young, beautiful, and a college student, this is a wonderful form of entertainment. As for me, I do what you do: browse ads and magazines, hunt through patterns, dream of hust the right fabric, and love everything I've done, because I never finish it if I don't love it. Your DB dress is a really pretty pattern, and makes you look thinner! Great find!

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  11. You look fabulous in that dress! Snoop shopping is a great way to find new styles that look good or help us break out of a rut. This is very different from what you usually sew and I am sure that you can make it a whole better than Dress Barn!

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  12. OMG, knock me over with a feather. THAT Butterick dress is The pattern that I've made several times and have lived in for the last two summers. My Green and white rayon knit dress is made from that pattern. Everyone and her sister has already made it. Took a snoop shopping trip for you to listen to me.... ;)

    You'll love it.

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  13. That dress looks fantastic on you. I hate shopping. Nothing ever fits me, and being a curvy size 14, nothing is ever made for my body - ever. I may try on tops, but bottoms are out of the question. And since I have yet to tackle making my own pants, mostly out of fear and not having anyone nearby to help me, I wear the same two pairs constantly. I admire you so much for actually trying on RTW, and even more for finding something that makes you look so positively gorgeous.

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  14. I try on lots of clothes to find the style that works for me. The problem for us plus size gals is that you have about 5% of the clothing options available in your size. It makes it very hard to find clothes that fit because of the limited pool to choose from. To compound the problem - clearly plus size is an afterthought for the majority of designers and stores. There are rarely interesting, fashionable clothing options available. Plus size usually consists of wardrobe "staples" which can be a snore.

    Sewing helps me fill out my wardrobe. I wish I had the time to sew all my clothes like you do. You certainly are an inspiration.

    Congrats on the great dress find. It is very flattering on you and I have no doubt I will see it again in you own version.

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  15. Awesome dress on you Carolyn - and you are so right -- especially for those of us on the 'not so thin' end of things, we tend to talk ourselves out of different styles. Snoop shopping is a great exercise to break ourselves out of that. We really never know what is going to look good.

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  16. I used to work at Dress Barn and Lord and Taylor. Their plus side kept them both in business.

    Your dress is awesome. I love the print and that hint of green is perfect for spring.

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  17. I love the dress but can't wait to see what "restyling" you will do when you sew your own version.

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  18. i did that earlier this week to see how different length capri pants and city shorts looked on me. It was EYE OPENING! LOL

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  19. Even though you didn't make, it really looks flattering on you!

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  20. This dress looks terrific on you! I've made Simplicity's version of this dress (S3775) twice and always get compliments when I wear them.

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  21. After my earlier comment, I thought of something else. You mentioned belts. I am a plus size and always steer clear of belts but in light of what you said today, maybe that would make a good topic for a blog post one day ie what types, color, etc.

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  22. Wow, wow!! Love that style of dress on you. Thankfully, the Butterick sale was still on when you posted this, so I caved and went shopping at Club BMV and ended up with more than one dress. LOL! But my mom is coming her for Mother's Day and I'm thinking a new dress for our MDay lunch will be fun to sew. I've been in a slump and I think it's because I don't really need anything for my boring life. ;-)

    Also, congrats to you and your family on adorable Daniel's birth! What a dreamy little face on that boy. :-)

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  23. That dress looks fantastic on you and is very slimming. I love that it shows off your waist. I can't wait to see how you make it even better. Here's to hoping spring is coming this week!

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  24. The dress looks great on you. Now you can jump in and make an even better version on your own. I'm glad you decided to try that one on!
    Marguerite

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  25. Agree with everyone, the dress looks fabulous on you. I am going out tomorrow to get B4914, for one I love Maggy London dresses and secondly, I have tried on numerous occasions to get S3775 which is similar to B4914, but it is always sold out.

    Thank You for the lovely compliment on my dd's dress.

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  26. You look beautiful, as always and it's is good to snoop at styles and techniques at retail stores. I do it all the time just to get ideas and to shop of course.

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  27. The dress looks fabulous... very flattering. I snooped shopped today. I'm really appreciating my sewing skills. I looked at maxi dresses. I couldn't find one that was long enough for my 5'9" frame. I'll be getting my patterns and fabric in order.

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  28. I feel another knock off or even better dress coming our way from the House of Carolyn Design Studio. It is hard to snoop shop when there are a dozen garments on the plus side of the store to choose from but that is the store selection in most rtw. I do snoop shop but it is usually done following one of my adult daughters around malls and bring home jewelry,shoes, ideas and if desperate some ill fitting rtw outfit. It is nice to know about the Dress Barn stockings as I still wear them with dress clothes. I will give them a try. I always enjoy seeing your outfits. I hope my back issues of late cease and I can pick up the tracing paper and scissors soon. I don't need to snoop shop as you keep me supplied with patterns and ideas. mssewcrazy

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  29. The dress looks wonderful on you! Very pretty and flattering :)

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  30. Fabulous post as always - filed with lots of good information. Did you take photos of the styles you liked?

    I like your new dress I say keep it. g

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  31. When I snoop shop I am checking fabric content and lining. It bothers me when a decent style or fabric is unlined. Then I snoop for style and color inspiration. Snooping is most educational. Love the dress on you ,really like the Maggy London!

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  32. Very pretty dress - it looks great on you - can't wait to see your versions! I am almost always disappointed in the construction of RTW (at least what I can afford)- but if this makes you happy when you wear it, definitely keep it.
    Blessings,
    Patti

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  33. I think the RTW dress looks good on you, but I can't wait to see what you manage to come up with when you take its inspiration and mix it with a good old dose of that Carolyn magic.

    Feeling the need for a good snoop shop coming on. How I miss Loehmann's and their bright-white photography friendly dressing rooms . . .

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  34. Dress is so cute on you.

    re: RTW, you know I was glancing at Clinton Kelly's (of what not to wear) new book "Freakin' Fabulous" yesterday and he has a section on "how to dress" (of course). He made a point that made me think.

    He said, because of the range of body shapes and sizes and the fact that stores are trying to maximize their customer base,

    it is UNREASONABLE and UNREALISTIC for ANY person (ANY person, men and women, even a size 2 woman) to go into a RTW store and expect to buy an item that fits (really fits well) right off the rack. If you do, it's a stroke of luck.

    His advice was to buy things that "almost fit", find out what fitting problems are fixable, and get a good tailor. I think sewing is a better option!

    =)

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  35. Love that style of dress on you. Had a similar experience in a store not long ago -- went shopping for a particular something and ended up trying on dresses. I have all kinds of new ideas now of things that look good, things I probably would not have otherwise tried.

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  36. The dress is great. is that green trim I see around the neckline? Or is that just my computer? I think it would look good with a cardigan or jacket also to extend its seasons.

    But more importantly- when do we see more baby pictures? He is so cute. My mom says there is nothing so special as being a grandma. What are you sewing for him?

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  37. Carolyn,

    Your new dress looks wonderful on you; I envy your ability to wear sleeveless dresses.

    Karen

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  38. You look great in that dress! I think snoop shopping is very helpful in deciding what you can and cannot wear. As you lamented on the availability of styles for plus size, the same is true for petites and petite plus. Not fair at all!

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  39. You look stunning in your new RTW dress!!! I agree on "snoop shopping can be very beneficial to your sewing", I do it whenever I find the time and most of the times I come home empty-handed but feeling very inspired! Sometimes I give it and I buy clothes, because I'm more a clothesaholic than I am a sewingaholic, LOL!

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  40. The DB dress looks great on you! How fun to find a new style that works. You will have such fun with the Maggy London pattern! Can't wait to see what you create.

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  41. Keep the dress! I love it on you! Great shopping tips, too. I always try on a lot of stuff and then decide what I'm going to make. Saves me the trouble of making stuff and hating it. I can just walk away from the fitting room having spent no money or time! I have that pattern, too, and it makes up pretty quick.

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  42. You look great in the dress. Can't wait to see your version(s).

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