I think one could safely say that no woman comes to NYC without the expectation that she’s going to spend a LOT of money on clothing and other stuff she just can’t find at home. In my case, this is magnified many times over. See, at home, the clothing options are limited to The Bay, Reitmans, Penningtons, and Addition-Elle. And internet shopping. But shopping over the net is a bit of a crapshoot, because what do you do if the clothes don’t fit when you get them? Resell them or send them back (at a net loss)?

My mission while in NYC is to try out all the cool plus sized clothing store options, including the ones that have free (!!!) shipping inside the US but major expenses to Canada. I’m all over it. Based on a review of my closet, this is what I needed: colourful tops; a winter jacket with a hood, boots in grey or brown, colourful tights, and a really hot pair of jeans.

Yesterday, I hit up my old standby, Lane Bryant. I feel like LB is a store with a personality problem: it can’t decide if it wants to be hip and cheap, or just cheap. I owned a pair of pants from LB for six years – no pilling, very little fading, and they were like magic – it didn’t matter what I weighed, they always fit. I was hoping beyond hope to replace them yesterday, and pick up some more basics, like casual pants and sweaters. Oh, and jeans. Damn, it is so freaking hard for me to find jeans. I have very skinny thighs for a plus sized woman and even the skinny jeans I tried on at LB looked like I had an extra piece of fabric (like yesterday’s undies) stuck in behind my knees. I was in the change room for over an hour, and I bought underwear, one pair of casual pants, and a sweater. Oh, and a pair of grey, knee high boots that make me very very happy.I figure I tried on about 40 items of clothing. It was very frustrating.

After LB I went to Re/Dress, a plus sized consignment shop. As always, it was very much hit or miss. I bought a sweater and a pair of bright red leggings which will look awesome underneath a dress with those new boots. Also, lovely staff. Too bad they’re closing next month.

A quick stop for some mediocre thai food for lunch later, and I was in the spectacularly lovely neighbourhood of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. (LB and Re/Dress were in downtown Brooklyn.) I was a woman on a mission: to go to LeeLee’s Valise, which is a store that has been featured on What Not to Wear over 20 times. Seriously? That’s got to be as many times as Macy’s. I can’t tell you how much I loved this store. Let me just describe it a bit to you.

The store itself is kinda small – maybe 20 feet wide by 30 feet long. it has racks on the four walls, broken up by two very lovely change rooms. The middle of the store holds accessories like bold necklaces, handbags and truly beautiful belts. (Who am i? I’m commenting on a belt. Being beautiful.) There was one sales person working when I was there, and myself and another first time customer (who came with her friend, making the whole experience so much like me shopping with my best friend that I immediately felt at home). I’d say that Leelee’s has about three to five different styles of tops and dresses in a number of different patterns, a small rack of pants, and some rather high end looking underwear.

They have one rule at LeeLee’s: you must come out of the dressing room with each item you try on. That’s because they want to make sure that you have the right size, and that you’re wearing the item correctly. For instance, I couldn’t figure out how to do up a wrap top. Because I’m an idiot, and because there’s a specific way you want to wear this top. The saleslady (who was 12 kinds of awesome) hooked me up. She told me that the average first time customer is in the store for 3 hours and spends over $1000. Let me tell you, I totally get that. I was in there for 90 minutes, hootin and hollerin with the other customer and her friend, pulling stuff off the racks and bringing it into the room and getting feedback and giving advice all the way around. Man, it was such an incredibly positive shopping experience – I can hardly even describe it.

I bought two dresses and one skirt, and it wasn’t cheap. No, it was really really not cheap. But those items fit me perfectly and they’re (most importantly) not black. You know what I’m talking about, ladies. Ask me what I brought to NYC? Five black tshirts, a black cardigan, a grey cardigan, two pairs of jeans and a jean skirt with black tights. Black is safe. Black is comfortable. More importantly, black is the colour that plus sized clothing comes in. Not at LeeLee’s. There it is a riot of colour, and I loved it. And, now that I know which styles fit me, I know what I can buy from them in the future, on the internet.

The next store I went to, today, was Macy’s. Holy hannah. They have a HUGE plus sized section. HUGE. It’s like, a third of a floor of the biggest store in the world. I took full advantage of that and found my killer jeans. In fact, I found two pairs of killer jeans, a pair of dress pants and a lovely dress, and three tops that are NOT BLACK. And, I got a discount. Why? Because I’m foreign. Ha. Also, they were having a shoe sale today, and although in that area I had the worst salesperson known to man, I did get myself a pair of short boots that I’m supposed to forget since they’re a Christmas gift.

What did I learn? In every single brand, I’m a size 16. Tops need to have structure built in or imposed through a belt or by (shudder) tucking in. The salesladies in Macy Woman are the best, most conscientious salespeople ever. Good salespeople are not that way just because they’re on commission (proven by the jackass in shoes), but because they care (proven by the not on commission salesperson at LeeLee’s). And, shopping when you have to say to yourself “I love it, not like it, but actually love it AND it makes me look good and is comfortable” means that you buy less stuff. Man, I tried on a lot. And you know what? It was worth it. Because I got stuff that makes me look fantastic and makes me feel good about myself and who I am.

I’m still looking for a winter jacket (later in the month), and am keeping an eye out for unusual and exciting accessories. But for the most part, my clothing shopping is done. I’m happy. I’m proud. And I’m really really glad I did that closet purge earlier this year!Ā  šŸ™‚