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When it comes to affordable fashion, plus size ladies have loads of online options (Asos! Modcloth! eShakti!), but picking up a last-minute look that’s both stylish and budget-friendly IRL can be a bit trickier. That’s why we tapped Sarah Conley—fashion blogger, casual red lipstick-wearer, and social media manager for the excellent plus size e-tailer Eloquii—to take us on a tour of her favorite New York City shops."I think for a long time, plus size women just had to pick from what was available," Conley says. "Now, with so many new brands emerging, we’re really having the opportunity to explore our own personal styles." Tag along as she gets fancy, reveals her secret tall-girl shoe source, and shares some styling tricks women of any size can copy (for example, wearing two fur stoles at once, like a boss).
Rent The Runway: 16 W 18th St.
First stop: Rent the Runway! At the online rental shop's brick and mortar location, customers can try on dresses they've mused about online. Pro tip: while the Flatiron store carries sizes 14 through 22, it's best to call a few days ahead if there's a particular plus size style you have your eye on. That way, if it's not on hand, Rent the Runway's stylists have time to pull it from the company's massive warehouse (along with any other picks they think you might be into).
Sarah arrives Eloquii'd out in the brand's jeweled sweatshirt and cobalt 'Studio' midi skirt ($89.90), and gets straight to browsing. "I love a midi skirt because it makes my waist look smaller and masks wider hips," she says.
Next up is a floral Eloquii dress ($40 rental fee). "I love the really bold print contrasted with the solid sleeves and the mesh," says Sarah. "You can wear it now with tights, and it make you look like you’re looking forward to happier weather, which is really important these days"
Sarah swings by the accessories table before heading out the door. Onto the next stop!
Intimacy: 104 5th Avenue
Intimacy is Sarah's go-to for lingerie. The mini-chain specializes in bra fittings, and stocks hard-to-find cup sizes. But, before we head inside—an outfit shot! Sarah is wearing a quilted leather jacket from Lane Bryant, studded Docs, a Sunday Somewhere backpack, and two faux fur Zara stoles—a longer one to belt, and a shorter one to keep her neck warm (a pretty genius styling trick).
Sarah grabs three bras by her favorite lingerie labels, Panache and Elomi, and heads through the beaded curtain to the dressing room.
The contenders: Elomi's 'Tango' balconnet ($58), Panache's 'Andorra' bra ($66), and Elomi's 'Caitlyn' bra ($59).
An embroidered Panache bra is the winner!
Space NK: 99 Greene St.
Time for a beauty break! This Soho shop stocks tons of cult-y makeup and skincare brands, like Sunday Riley, By Terry, and Eyeko.
Sarah makes a beeline for the Lipstick Queen display. Her favorite shade? 'Black Tie' ($50). Mystified by how her lipstick hasn't budged all day, we ask for her fancy-lady tips. "I start with a good lip foundation. I love Buxom's because they're tacky and they really grip the lipstick," Sarah says. "You can also use a clear lipliner to make sure your edges don't bleed. Then you can take a concealer brush, dab it in a little concealer, and clean those lines up."
Another favorite is Jin Soon nail polish in 'Heirloom' ($18).
Just a girl and her Diptyque, having a moment. "I usually travel with a mini Diptyque candle," Sarah says. "It just makes any place feel a little more like home, a little more comfortable. It instantly calms the room."
Nordstrom Rack: 505 Fulton St.
Sarah is here on a mission to find her next pair of go-to black flats. Nordstrom Rack stocks lots of women's shoes in sizes 10 and above, and the new Brooklyn outpost has a particularly great selection.
Success! Sarah scoops up a pair of black quilted leather Dolce Vita sneakers ($39.97), pointy Franco Sarto flats ($49.97) and elastic-wrapped Tesori flats ($49.97).
Onto the clothing racks. A silky purple top and cropped black Eileen Fisher pants (for 93% off) make the cut. "This is great for anyone who works in a more conservative office environment," Sarah says of the outfit. "The shape and length of the pants lets you show a bit of personality while still looking professional."
Lord & Taylor: 424 5th Avenue
The last stop of the day is Lord & Taylor, where Sarah spots a neoprene Calvin Klein dress ($139.50). "The green is such a fresh color, especially with the weather right now," she says. "The A-line shape and scuba fabric are also very flattering, and this dress will transition very easily into spring through summer."
Time to edge it up a bit. Sarah pairs a Calvin Klein snakeskin print top ($99.50) with a Vince Camuto maxi skirt ($79). "The top is scuba, so it keeps its shape more than a lighter weight fabric might, and the Vince skirt is a fresh take on asymmetrical. Plus, I love the zipper!"
A Calvin Klein moto jacket ($139.50) finishes off the look. Shopping day = successful.