[quote="prolifewife, post:1, topic:184350"]
I'm a rather womanly looking woman. :p My health issues keep me this way, thankfully DH likes curvy women. :D
I fluctuate between size 14-18. XL,14,16 in pants and XL, 16/18 tops. If I buy clothes that fit, they often make me look like I'm stuffing myself into them or overweight. If I buy a size too large, the pants fall off and the shirts look like I'm in maternity tops. We are on a tight budget so I can't go to specialty shops. Where are some inexpensive places to buy good quality plus size clothes?
To begin with, you're not that big. More than half of the women in the United States are Size 14 or bigger. So you are not that big comparatively speaking. Of course, if you're comparing yourself to movie stars, that's different. I still remember when the three stars did the movie of Charlies Angels, Drew Barrymore was considered "large" because she was a Size 6, while the other women in the movie were Size Zero. Oh, brother!
I'm a size 26-28, much bigger than you, and I consider myself gorgeous and healthy. I eat well, better than many thin people. And I work out almost every day. I have problems with my knees and ankles (several surgeries) that make it impossible for me to do weight-bearing exercise, so I'm limited in my workouts. But I keep on working out at non-weight-bearing cardio and upper body weights, and trying to eat healthier.
As for clothing, I like Catherine's. If you get a store credit card, and also the store Perks card, you can get some amazing discounts (20% or more off the pricetag). Right now, they are doing a sale with 70% off the pricetags. They have a nice variety of casual and dressy clothes, and much of it is "young" looking, not frumpy. The clothing is usually good quality, too. I wear some of their clothing for more than ten years, and still keep wearing it!
It's not a "speciality shop"--I'm not sure what you mean by "specialty shop." Catherine's is just a good, cheap place to buy bigger-sized clothing.
What good is a "cheap" discount store if you can't find the clothing that you need and if it's poor quality stuff that makes you look dumpy? Often some of the "discount" stores don't sell real Plus-Sized; what they sell is regular clothing that is sized up. But it isn't really designed for larger women. It doesn't fit right--I've seen Size 26 t-shirts in some of these stores that have Size 8 sleeves! And I've seen many of these discount plus sizes that are huge all over; e.g., a pair of slacks that has a huge big fanny space AND a huge big stomach space--so it fits in the butt, but the waistband hangs open several inches. The clothing for large-sized women has to be made in womanly proportions so that it actually fits. It can't just be Size 8 sized up. I hope that makes sense--I'm not a seamstress, so I'm not using the proper terminology. Sorry.
Catherine's also has wonderful sales people who are able to advise you on sizes and styles that look best for your body.
Catherine's has developed a line of slacks that fit different large body types. As you know, some bigger women are big only in the belly, others are big only in the butt, while others like me are big all over.
I also like--you'll laugh!--K-Mart! At least for some things, especially casual to sloppy! They have a line of Joe Boxer stuff that is extremely cheap (under $10 for a sweatshirt or sweat pants or pajamas). And the KMart t-shirts are so cute--Disney characters, etc. Definitely a good place if you're looking for casual (outdoor, around the house, play with the kids, washing the car) clothing. Not a good place for dressy.