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Where to Shop If You’re In-Between “Straight” Size and “Plus” Size

Christina Hendricks, Fairchild Archive

There are lots of pretty clothes for “straight” size women—aka sizes 00-12—and there are more and more options for “plus” size women—18-44—every season.

But what if you’re a size 14-16? (Or a 12 -18, for that matter.) These numbers are often missing from the racks at most popular retailers. And at the plus-size stores, size 14W is often cut a little too generously in certain "regions."

So what’s a “normal” girl to do? (After all, the average American woman is a size 14.) First, try following these tips to fashion freedom:

Find an awesome tailor. Whether the piece is a little too big, a little too small or a little too long, a good tailor can probably fix it. And make you feel way more comfortable.

Shop online. This is a no-brainer, but the web is really the best place to find size 14s and 16s from specialty stores like Gap, Old Navy, J.Crew, Ann Taylor, etc. (Even fancy department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom have a great selection of "normal" sizes online.) The better news is that most retailers will let you return items to the brick-and-mortar store, thus avoiding the hassle of mailing it back. (And watch for free shipping specials. Most retailers offer free shipping if you spend over a certain amount and all-around free shipping every few weeks.)

Try the men's department. If you're looking for basics—button down shirts, skinny jeans—you'll certainly fit into the mens versions. (Just visit said tailor to make the necessary tweaks.) APC, for instance, offers unisex denim.

Don't discount petites. It might sound like an oxymoron. But if you're short and curvy, it's worth visiting the petites section. Nordstrom, for instance, has plenty of petite stock in size XL, and the pieces will fit your proportions better.

Try stuff on! Just because you were a size 16 in the pants you tried on last week at Banana Republic doesn't mean you're a 16 in this week's skirt. Before you assume that you won't fit into something, take a stab at trying it on. You're sure to experience some let-downs, but there will also be some pleasant surprises.

Remember: you're not alone. Everyone struggles with finding clothes that fit. Working hard to look good is always a challenge, no matter what size you wear.

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