Fashion bug is the "other option" for those of us who are just over the Lane Bryant after-washing sizes but can't afford Igigi or Torrid prices. But it's always had the usual reputation for inexpensive plus size fashion in that it tended towards giant frilly peasant blouses with applique' kittens and similar horrors.
I received a flyer from them talking about a store makeover, but didn't get there until today. I'm on a desperate search for something that looks like a man's tuxedo vest for my Halloween costume, so I'm hitting every plus size shop in a ten mile radius (plus salvation army/goodwill, of course).
I have to say I'm impressed. Some of the features I liked about the local store:
Instead of having a plus side of the store and a missy's side of the store, they now carry just about everything in a size range from small to 30/32 on the same rack. I did notice the 30/32's were pretty scanty, but I'm betting that's because they sell much faster due to scarcity. That's a stocking issue they need to address. If they're paying attention they'll stock only one or two of each thing in medium and three or four each of the two largest sizes instead of the other way around. Their turnover would probably go through the roof and they'd lose less money on the clearance rack.
They split the store into Formal/Casual instead of by size. You know if you want work wear it'll all be in one place.
Their formal wear is stylish, professional and FITTED. I saw enough sharp, tailored skirts and fitted blouses to blow my next four paychecks. Much love to the argyle "scholar" sweaters, pinstripes and pencil skirts. MUCH love to the Audrey Hepburn style little sleeveless black dress, which I might just eat Ramen for a week to own. The point is that while there were a couple of baggy things, they're actually starting to stock clothes that assume fat women also have a body worth fitting.
Their prices came down. This is brilliant. They've finally determined their market and are pricing accordingly. They're not competing with high-end plus fashion, like Lane Bryant, Torrid and Catherines, because, frankly, they can't. They're competing with Wal-mart, Meijer's and other big-box stores that sell baggy, shapeless generic tee shirts to 5X. In that market they're a big fish in a little pond. They're in the same price range, but much younger and more stylish. I think this is a brilliant marketing decision, and not just because it means I can buy a tailored pinstripe jacket for $30.
Overall my impression was that the plus size fashion drought might just be drawing to a close. I'm loving the combination office professional meets classic punk styles I'm seeing this year. Think black pinstripes and steel buckles, or pencil skirts with a fedora. Now if they could just drop the waists to accomodate us amazonian tunic-lovers, I'd toss my closet and start over.
Speaking of office punk, I'm making a necktie mini skirt, hopefully in time for a party this weekend. Thanks to Salvation army (50 cents a tie) and a woman on Freecycle who's giving me a bagful, I'm managing to do it pretty cheap. I'll post instructions once I work out the details.