Monday, April 13, 2009

"Go-to" Outfits 1: Tunic, leggings and flats

Every mom, and really every woman, needs her "go-to" outfits. When you are a new mom, and you feel like nothing you wore pre-pregnancy fits, but you can't bear the thought of putting on your maternity clothes again, this concept becomes that much more vital. 

I just want to share a couple of my favorite combinations, all of which are plus-friendly, all of which will give you a finished look that works in multiple venues. Here is the first outfit in this series...

Tunic, leggings, and flats. Easy, easy, easy, this combo has the added bonus of being relatively cheap, if you want it to be. My favorite thing about leggings and tunics is they are relatively seasonless. It took me a while to come around to leggings, having worn them in the 80s (with the stirrups? yup), but they are the most forgiving fashion trend ever (if done well). 
The trick to doing this well is to get a tunic that is mid-thigh or longer (a short dress also works), and leggings that go all the way to the ankle. It keeps the leg looking long, but doesn't reveal too much around the booty. I recommend wearing flats with a rubber sole; they're just that much easier to walk in. You could also try converse-style sneakers, especially if your tunic is made of a more-casual material like cotton jersey. Speaking of which, the more cotton in the legging, the better. 

Those spandex jammies tend to hug the leg in a less flattering way, plus it's like wearing pantyhose, which I avoid like the plague if at all possible. 

For the tunic, the key is to get something that drapes over the stomach, but isn't so billowy that it looks like a tent. Because I have a large bust, I try for something that is fitted there and then falls away from the body. The thinner the fabric the better. You want it to come off as light and airy. I also find that a nice print on top, or a funky necklace can add a personal touch to this look. I stick to plain, dark neutral leggings (okay, black), but if you feel like you can rock a printed one, go to town.

Some great tunic options here (keep in mind that, because a lot of these styles are meant to be oversized, you can always look a size or two down from your regular size):

This one from Old Navy is cheap and comfy looking, but still very cute.  This one from SWAK is styled like a traditional Indian Kurta. This one is made by a women's cooperative in India and goes to a 4X (and they have lots of goodies in plus sizes, worth a look if you are of the boho persuasion). This Gap dress goes to size 20, and is on sale at their website. I love this buffalo plaid one from missphit!

For leggings try:
American Apparel: I wear their XL leggings and wear a 16W pant. I think someone who wears an 18W or possibly even 20W would fit these.

Try any department store that sells a lot of plus sizes--Sears, JC Penney, Kohl's, Wal-Mart, etc. 
ETA: check out my polvore set of plus-size tunics!

Friday, April 3, 2009 style?

Finding plus-size nursing clothes and bras is next to imposssible. But you can figure something out if you get creative. Keep in mind when you are searching a site that nursing bras are frequently listed under the maternity section. I found that wearing a camisole under a tshirt worked as a makeshift nursing top. You just yank up the cami and yank down the tee. It's a lot cheaper than a nursing top and works nearly as well. Bonus: get a cami with a shelf bra and wear it with your bra for added lift.

Here are a few sites where you can find nursing bras:

Motherwear. There plus-size section is actually pretty large, but they only go up to a 3X. I thought this style shirt was nice, this tunic (I will be singing the praises of the tunic for the plus mom later) looks pretty good, this cami is rather pretty, this embroidered tunic looks great for summer days in the park, and this 3/4-sleeve wrap top would be particularly flattering. For bras, the pickings are slim. They have four styles and go up to a 46H. Not of the styles are available in the full range of sizes, though, and they only offer one underwire option. My experience has been that soft cup styles do not provide enough support for me at a range of sizes from 40F-44DDD.

Bravado Designs. They offer nursing tanks (which have a built-in bra) and bras; their largest size is equivalent to a 46G. I own this one, and it is very comfy. The problem is that it's not the most, er, uplifting.Also try searching for Bravado bras on Google as they are sold on a lot of sites and the prices vary dramatically. Click on "style" on this site and choose maternity and nursing. This site has a wide array of bras, and includes a time-saving feature where you scroll over the picture and it tells you all available sizes. I spotted sizes up to 48H, and there may be higher sizes. They seemed to be having a big sale when I looked, so definitely check them out. Carry Goddess, Anita, Fancee Free and more.

Some more sites for nursing bras: 

Decent Exposures. This is a strange little company out of Seattle that sells bras, underwear, nursing bras, and things like unitards. It's like a totally unhipster version of American Apparel. A lot of there stuff is made from organic cotton, and many items come in sizes up to 6X. I haven't ordered from them before, so I can't really speak to quality or sizing, but they seem to have very good customer service policies, so may be worth a try. Their nursing "UnBra" doesn't look that supportive, but it comes in sizes up to 54L, is made of organic cotton, and comes in a huge range of colors.

Pickles and Ice Cream. Most heinous name for maternity and nursing wear site ever, but carry at least one bra in a 50L. Direct link to that bra is here. They also sell bra extenders

Ann's Bra Shop. Small but good selection of larger sizes. Terrible interface, but a few good bras.

For the crafty among you, there is always the option of converting your regular bra into a nursing bra. (Thanks to a member of Livejournal community Fatshionista for the link!) I discovered some of these sites by persuing Plus-Size-Pregnancy's Nursing Bra page. This page offers a wealth of nursing info for plus-size moms, but a lot of the links are out of date. Still worth a look, though.

Anyone have some nursingwear sites you want to add?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Finding Jeans That Fit (your lifestyle, budget, style)

Finding a great pair of jeans is a quest that challenges most women, not just moms, plus-size women, or any other way you want to slice up the female demographic. I find that my jeans collection is like a living, breathing entity: ever evolving, constantly being reevaluated for comfort, function, and style. Right now I have in my possession the following pairs:
  1. Old Navy bootcut sweetheart rise, dark wash, size 14 L
  2. Old Navy skinny high rise, dark wash, size 16 R (like these but with a high waist)
  3. Banana Republic straight leg, dark wash, size 16 R
  4. Old Navy skinny sweetheart rise, RED, size 14 R (kinda like these, but not as cute)
  5. Z Cavaricci skinny mid-rise, antique wash (kind of a grey wash), size 16 R (similar to these)
  6. Mossimo for Target bootcut, dark, size 18
You might notice that the sizes are all over the place, and that I have a pair of long inseams.The funny part: the BR jeans are a bit tight, and the Mossimo ones dig in at the waist. The ON 14s are snug when I first take them out of the dryer, but are almost too loose after a couple of hours! So, clearly sizing is not to be trusted.

Further complicating things for me, my body shape changed dramatically after having a baby. I went from more or less an hourglass to something our good friends over at Igigi call a Figure Eight which I take to mean I have a sorta-defined waist and my hips are mostly the same width from high hip to low. Which means my pants are always falling down. This is a problem when I take my little girl to the library story hour and have to lunge across the floor to prevent imminent injury by flying projectiles of various kinds, or when I have to stoop to pick things up that my daughter has removed from our grocery cart to the floor. I have come to appreciate the allure of mom jeans after a few dozen public hike-ups. Not that I am willing to go there, just, y'know, they seem to stay on and stuff.

Conventional wisdom says you should try on dozens of pairs until you find ones that fit. Well, that is a great thing to do if you have the time (and energy!), and also if you are fortunate to wear a size that is readily available in stores. Another option, if you can afford the initial price tag, is to order a bunch of styles online and try them all on at home. This works best if you order from a place that offers flat-rate shipping and has a bricks and mortar store where you can return the items that don't work (or work, but you can buy cheaper elsewhere, like ebay), or sites that offer free shipping both ways. 

One great site that offers free shipping both ways is You have to create an account with them, which involves giving them your measurements (and we're talking wrist circumference, knee to floor length, you name it), but in exchange you get $15 off your first order with the code WELCOME15, the aforementioned free shipping, and customized shopping based on what they have in your size. I got the Z Cavs this way, which are my best fitting jeans. They also offera limited selection of Svoboda premium denim, which are difficult to find in stores; this is the only place I know of that sells them who also offers free shipping. If you have another source, please let me know!

Another decent possibility is to order from the Old Navy/Gap/BR mega machine, where you pay 7 bucks for all you can eat, er, buy. The only trouble you might run into in this case is that most of the plus-size items on ON's site say they are "return by mail only," which means you will be paying $6 for the return shipping. Boo. Gap and Banana items don't have this issue, but they only go up to 20 and 16, respectively. They do seem to have a semi-permanent "free shipping when you include an item from Piperlime" offer, so if you are in the market for some shoes, you can save this way. Some pairs that look promising include the bell bottoms from Gap and the classic rise boot-cut jeans from Old Navy. Gap's Curvy Boot Cuts might work for those with a more defined waist, but I generally steer clear of anything in Old Navy's low rise jeans because I like to keep my butt inside my pants when possible.

Levi's has a similar return policy to Old Navy and Gap, but the difference is you can return most items to a Levi's store. Just remember that this does not include the jeans section of a department store that sells Levi's, but a Levi's-only store. They offer a small selection of plus-size jeans. Anyone who is familiar with their styles, please comment on the quality and cut. Sears sells many of the plus Levi's, and is a great place to look for sales.

I made this polvore set of some cute pairs out there.

Anyone else have great jeans sources? 

Monday, March 30, 2009

First Contact

Playground Wear
Playground Wear - by lowbudgetdiva on

Welcome to Big Mamas, a blog for plus-sized fashion for moms! 

In my obsessive scouring of the internet for plus-size fashion blogs, I observe a noticeable absence: style for plus-size moms. I don't think your style should be dictated by having children, but neither do I think you can ignore the challenges of wearing heels or silk blouses on the playground. So an element of practicality is in order for a lot of us. I see this issue addressed well in blogs for straight-sized moms, and some of these blogs even occasionally feature special entries on plus sizes. Which is all great, but it leaves me wanting more.

Out of this void springs my new blog. Here you will find tips on where to shop, how to find the best fit, suggestions on styles that are well-suited to the lifestyle of the hip, plus-size mom with a messy kid in tow. I aim to offer a mix of stock photos from online retailers, collages I create in Polyvore, and live photos of myself and willing volunteers. This last is important to me because I think that for plus women, even more than for many (but not all) straight-sized women, it is essential to see how a garment looks on a real body, and one close (or, at least, closer) to one's own size. Not only does this give you an idea of how you might reasonably expect to look in an item, but it also goes a long way to correct the fashion world's dysmorphic vision of how a woman should look. But that's a soapbox for another day. 

That brings me to the last thing this blog is about: presenting images of plus-sized women, and widening our perspective on what is beautiful, stylish, and, really just "normal." The oft-quoted statistic that the "average U.S. woman...wears a size 14" could be combined with figures about women's sizes at various stages of their lives. A recent study showed that women over 36 have, on average, measurements larger than a size 14. It would be interesting to see what impact motherhood has on a woman's shape.

What you will not find on my blog is any discussion of weight loss, updates on the hottest trends, or parenting advice or opinions about various parenting styles. These topics are amply covered elsewhere, and don't interest me much. I might mention trends, but I feel as a woman over thirty that grabbing onto each new thing is not really on my radar anymore. I tend toward a mix of classic and fashion forward, borrowing from trends only if they seem like a fit to my lifestyle.

I hope you find something of interest here!