70′s fashions were not kind to kids who fell outside the margins of average sizing. My tall and/or extra thin friends had to have their pants tailored either at the waist or hems, because the right combination of length and waist size was never offered. I (and every other plus-sized girl) was limited to “Pretty Plus” clothing from Sears, dowdy and not at all Kardashian-trendy at the time.
My daughter(like me) carries any extra weight around her middle, and is the tallest, fastest-growing kid in the 3rd grade(unlike me). The girl likes a boxy silhouette, and her Dad & I are prudish tyrants about her shirts being long enough to cover the gaps in all seated and active positions. Crack is whack.
Around Christmas, uniform-optional days were becoming challenging as everything had been outgrown. Her Majesty needed casual outfits with sleeves that fit and extra inches to the inseam. My observations from my first foray out of average kids’ sizing were extensive, and here are my tips for shopping today’s “special sizes”.
What are Special Sizes anyway?
Slim sizes are self-explanatory, and plus (for girls), husky (for boys) or half sizes typically are roomier than regular sizes. Some retailers have extended sizes, meaning they offer a wider range of sizes that go beyond the traditional size chart-either offering a non-toddler size 3 or size 18+ in kids’ clothing.
Have a young lady in the house who wears plus sizes? Most of the Juniors’ Plus lines use Women’s Plus sizing, but for edgier brands and youthful styles. The relative explosion of styles, brands and shops makes me glad my baby girl won’t have to endure my tailoring and searching woes!
Don’t skip the product ratings
If you’re unfamiliar with the standards of a brand or seller, peruse the comments of those who have already bought, worn & washed the same item. Keep in mind that usually the most pissed off or genuinely pleased customers take time to write a review.
Read entries from both ends of the spectrum, and you’ll be able to judge whether it works for your budget and the wearer, and hopefully reduce the re-order/return cycle. At best, they give an online shopper hands-on insight on size, quality, shrinkage, and color, which is important because you’ll need to….
Phone first if you plan to shop (or return) in store
Most of special sized merchandise are online exclusives. Some shops have items in store, but it’s a good idea to verify whether there’s a dedicated department, or just a single rack, as supply varies by location.
Most brick & mortar stores will process returns for online purchases, but a quick call to either customer service or your local branch will save you time if you need to ship it to exchange for size or color. The website’s option to “find a store” can be unreliable, as it relies on systems that are updated overnight, and many of the salespeople I spoke to expressed the limited supply of new items depletes quickly.
Max out the discounts and rewards with a strategic buying plan
Plan your purchase to use a 1st-timer discount if possible, as most websites offer them in exchange for an e-mail address. Check Facebook and Twitter for any codes or coupons, as fans and followers often get a preview sale day before it’s posted on the website.
A relationship with a savvy salesperson is also worth nurturing. These folks can become your in-store advocate with a quick call or e-mail to notify you of new inventory, markdowns, and the like.
Remember to add some extras if close to the “Free Shipping” minimum. Stock up on underwear, socks or shoes, they’ll all get worn eventually, especially if they are gender-neutral styles and colors.
I ended up purchasing from…drum roll please!
Sizes: Boys’ & Girls’ Slim & Husky/Plus, no Juniors’ Plus, but Men’s Extended sizes and Women’s Plus
Brands: Store Label only, but you can shop any of the Gap brands & combine at checkout for one shipment
You’ll Love: Frequent sales & markdowns, Super Cash (Get $10 off every $25 you purchase during the redemption period) and very speedy shipping. Not just basics, uniforms and logowear, but on-trend pieces in lively colors and prints.
You’ll Live With: Limited in-store availability for purchase, but returns taken at the stores which are everywhere. Old Navy not known for hand-me-down quality of items.
Sizes: Boys’ & Girls’ Slim & Husky/Plus, Juniors’ Plus, but Men’s Big & Tall, Women’s Plus
Brands: Levi’s, French Toast, Van Heusen, Vigoss; Private Labels (Arizona, Total Girl) & Designer Collaborations (L’Amour Nanette Lepore, Olsenboye) & more.
You’ll Love: Girls’ Plus Activewear, Edgy styles for Juniors’, always tons of fashion-forward clearance-priced accessories, jewelry & handbags
You’ll Live With: $99 Free Shipping minimum, but Free Ship to Store minimum is $25. “Unique” Juniors’ Plus sizing is a bit confusing. Boys’ Husky selection is limited relative to Girls’ Plus.
Once you find something under budget that fulfills your standards and your kid likes the look and feel…Buy it in every color, because it might be gone later!
What item never fits your kids’ quite right? What are your special sources to achieve the right fit? Dish, please!