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FINDING THE FIT

Large-size, stylish clothing is hard to find, but it's out there

Recommended stores: Target, H&M, Old Navy, Lanvin and Dries Van Noten, Kiyonna, Abby Z., Nordstrom, Jet Rag and Missphit.

March 01, 2009|Emili Vesilind

No doubt about it -- shopping can be frustrating. But for fuller-figured women looking to keep up with current trends, it can feel like an archaeological excavation.

Megan Anton, manager of L.A. designer resale store Decadestwo, wears a size 12 or 14, and she has the kind of personal style other women unconsciously emulate. But to maintain it, she's learned to circumvent fashion's size restrictions.

"When I have less to work with, I get more creative," said the 31-year-old, who's perfected the art of spotting an oversized jacket or a blousy top on the racks of hip boutiques. ("It will fit me in a different way, but it will still be cute.") Anton also shops vintage, H&M and Target's designer collections. "I've definitely had moments where it's ticked me off . . . the cuts aren't fashion-forward enough at places like Gap and Banana Republic. But what gets me is that people are missing out on the idea that all bodies can be beautiful."

Ivory Kalber, 29, one of the few plus-size models who works consistently in L.A. (she's pictured on the cover and on these pages), named Target and Old Navy as two of her favorite places to shop, because "they keep the styles the same, and just make them larger," she said. "I don't want to have jeans that in bigger sizes have awkward proportions. That really bothers me." She added, "The bigger companies haven't caught up with making clothes that are bigger but really cool and hip."

Deborah Irmas, an L.A. art advisor who also wears a size 12 or 14, is regularly clad in cerebral brands such as Lanvin and Dries Van Noten. But in navigating the designer brand landscape, she's learned that there are "plenty" of brands that don't cater to her shape. For example, "I can't wear anything Prada," she noted. "The Belgians are bigger, so their collections tend to be too."

Scavenging regular-size stores and brands usually works only when you're smaller than a size 16. Fortunately, there are a handful of savvy retailers for style-setting zaftig women -- in SoCal and beyond.

Upstairs Boutique

Kiyonna, a rare plus-size brand that interprets up-to-the-minute contemporary looks for larger shapes, is available online, but also has its own Anaheim store. On top of the company's headquarters, the aptly named Upstairs Boutique carries Kiyonna (including its brand-new lingerie line) in sizes 10 to 32, Spanx body shapers and Svoboda denim.

1440 S. State College Blvd., Suite 5G, Anaheim, (888) 549-6662, Ext. 113, www.kiyonna.com. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Abby Z.

This New York-based boutique and collection -- available online for Angelenos -- features a trend-right array of denim, dressy and casual tops and dresses you won't find in your mama's wardrobe. A tie-dye chiffon dress, knee-length "duster" cardigans and dark denim are only some of the fetching looks you'll find, in sizes 0X to 3X and 12 to 24. www.abbyzboutique.com

Nordstrom

The plus-sized Encore department of this Seattle-based department store has one of the more chic (and sizable) selections of apparel for fuller figures, including looks from the few designer labels that dabble in plus, such as Calvin Klein and MICHAEL Michael Kors. Size ranges vary by brand.

At the Glendale Galleria, 200 W. Broadway, Glendale, (818) 502-9922, www.nordstrom.com. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Jet Rag

This iconic secondhand shop doesn't go out of its way to stock generously cut clothing (or be particularly helpful once you're in the store), but it also doesn't avoid it. If you're in the mood to hunt, there are some serious gems to be found -- including floor-length peasant dresses, Pat Benatar-style '80s sweaters and fringe leather jackets -- in sizes 12 to 16.

825 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 939-0528. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.

Missphit

This tops-only brand manufactures some of the most fashion-forward apparel we've seen for fuller figures -- including stylized trench coats, kimono-style tunic tops and '70s-inspired sweaters in sizes 1X to 3X.

www.missphit.com

-- Emili Vesilind

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