4 Places to Find Fabulous Plus-Size Jeans on a Budget

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After spending some four hours in a department store with my mom today, I realized that there are some great plus-sized (size 12+) jean choices out there ... if you can afford them, that is.

What about us girls who want great fit, but can't afford over $100 a pair? Jeans are a big deal for me—I'm 5'8, curvy, and I range between a size 14 and an 18, depending on the brand. (There seems to be little continuity in sizing. That's enough to frustrate me most days.)

Well, I made it my mission to hunt down brands that offer great fit and fashion without breaking the budget. I am going to omit usual retailers like Macy's, Carson's Nordstorm's, Bloomingdales, Saks, and Von Mauer. Sure, they have great clothes, but not usually budget-friendly.

Here is what I found thus far:

1. Lane Bryant

Lane Bryant Genius Fit Embroidered Skinny JeanLane Bryant Genius Fit Embroidered Skinny Jean

As a rule, I usually start here. They are good quality, come in a variety of washes, shapes and styles. Also, there always seems to be a sale or frequent shopper promo going on.

Price Range: $108.95-$19.99 (clearance prices; DKNY and Seven7 cost more)

Brands: DKNY, Seven7 LB Store Brand

Pros: Especially online, this retailer offers anything from jeggings to trouser jeans; petite to tall; embellished back pockets; whisper effect to plain; dark denim.

They have a wide variety of jeans that fit well, and almost every pair they make includes some spandex, so there is a little wiggle room and curve-hugging to help a plus-sized body look its best.

Also, there's almost ALWAYS some sort of coupon-reward card deal. Sign up for the email list and earn RealWoman dollars. Don't pay full price, ever.

Cons: What's up with the high waistband? Mom jeans have to be designed perfectly to be a good look, and they're a matter of taste: I personally don't appreciate most pairs attempting to cover my belly button. Make sure you play around with wear the waistband hits you. I would like it if LB made more jeans that come in a variety of inseam sizes. ::cough cough::

2. Sears

Surprised? Yeah, me, too. Except I walked into a Sears store the other day and came out with a very cute, great-fitting pair of dark Canyon River Blues skinny jeans.

Price Range: $54.00-$13.99

Brands: Canyon River Blues, Levis. Gloria Vanderbilt, And a Kertain Brand Which Shall Not Be Named

Pros: Between Levis and CRB, there are some great cuts, styles, washes, and rinses for all less than $100. I didn't spend too much time looking at Gloria Vanderbilts in store, but there is a wide variety online. Levis are classic—you can get a great look with plain, well-fitting pants that look great with a T-shirt or a going-out blouse. They wear well and look even better worn in.

Canyon River Blues have come a long way, too. I have long since believed I was not meant to wear skinny jeans ... but I was wrong, and CRB made it happen. The right amount of spandex, dark wash, appropriate inseam UNDER my belly button, and length made it happen. Thanks.

Cons: Size 18 is the cap for these brands. Sorry, the "plus-size" portion is limited. While the store had much better options than I anticipated, I would not have been able to shop here at the beginning of my weight loss journey. If this is where you are now, hang in there.

3. Torrid

With a revamped image and clothing look, Torrid is leaving its gothic/punk days behind. As I have left my punk teenager self behind, I look forward to shopping here again.

Price Range: $105.00-$22.98 (clearance)

Brands: Silver, Source of Wisdom, Torrid Denim

Pros: When it comes to stylized, Torrid is going to be your best bet. You can get colors, patterns, faded, rips, zipper accents, funky washes—you name it, and all in sizes up to 28. There is also a vast array of skinny, trouser, flare, bootcut, and straight leg jeans. I'm optimistic about shopping for denim at Torrid again.

Cons: Not sure I have any at the moment. Since they have revamped their image, I think Torrid will appeal to more plus-sized women rather than the teenage-ish vibe they were toting before. Prices and styles both look good. I would like to see them pick up another design house to compete with Silver, though.

4. The Gap/Old Navy

They are the same company, folks. Don't be fooled. This also includes the Banana Republic, PiperLime and Athleta as well, but those brands are much more expensive, so for the purposes of this post, I will omit them.

Price Range: $69.95- $30 (high end is the Gap, low end is Old Navy)

Brands: Nope, don't do brands. Just the Gap and Old Navy

Pros: They make it a point to offer you any color, cut, and style. These people do denim in all the colors of the rainbow. The Gap likes to think itself as the all-American classic store, meaning it offers classic denim options, along with a hipster twist. You can find a pair of mint skinny jeans in the same place as a regular pair of bootcut jeans, and there's equal opportunity shopping up to size 30 (online). In stores you can find up to size 20.

Cons: Sizing. I used to work for this company. I know (or rather, knew) that their jeans were not created equal. Even though they don't want to admit it, quality assurance can be an issue. Try these pants on. You can try on seven pairs of size 14 jeans and maybe only a few will fit. Do not get discouraged—sizes range greatly between jeans here. It's not you, it's them. It's the Gap's dirty little secret.

These are my top four picks. I heavily kept budget in mind when writing this post. I know you can walk into a department store and find a pretty pair of jeans, but the plus-size options seems to be so limited and higher in price. It's not THAT much more fabric: You're not fooling anyone, department stores. And plus-size does not mean fat, or unflattering. So, designers, stop trying to put us in tents or mom jeans. Get with it.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I would love to know of any design houses / independent designers who specialize in plus-size denim. Upon a Google Search and scanning through more than 10 pages of results, I've come to realize that there's a big, gaping hole in the market.

Tell me who you are and what you are designing. Or, if you have a favorite brand, tell me! I'd love to share it.

Happy Hunting,

Lady J

Read more of Lady J's Wanderlust Guide blog at: http://ladyjwanderlust.blogspot.com

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