Thursday, January 6, 2011

Score!! Winter Stuff in Extended Sizes

I've written before about the difficulties I've encountered finding good rain gear and winter coats in extended plus sizes.  It's a problem that frustrates me no end.  I'm a chronically cold person (even when my hypothyroidism is well-controlled), and I get cold far more easily than anyone around me.  I need good warm clothing, sweaters, raincoats, and winter coats. 

We discussed before that my best sources so far were Junonia (women's sizes to 4x, sometimes 5-6x), and sometimes Land's End (women's sizes to 3x, men's sizes to some 4-5x) and L.L. Bean (some women's sizes to 3x, men's sizes mostly to 2x but a few 3x).  I can sometimes get outstanding stuff in these companies, but not always. 

The quality at Junonia really varies; some stuff is great, and some stuff isn't, either in fit or in quality. I got a ski jacket from them that was a huge disappointment, and a fleece jacket that was only so-so. And while they have some of the QuickWik-type materials and some ski wear, the stuff I've gotten from them in these have not been of the quality my kids get at REI or other major sports labels.  There's really a noticeable difference in terms of high-tech gear that helps wick away moisture or helps hold in the heat etc.  And as I see my kids with the really good stuff, I think ─ why can't I have that stuff too?

Land's End and L.L. Bean usually have some good stuff, and I got a couple of really great moderate-cold coats from them last year.  I also got a great wool sweater (not scratchy at all) from L.L. Bean that I use for keeping warm inside.  But the problem is that LL Bean stuff typically only goes up to a 2x in men's. Both LL Bean and Land's End only go to 3x in women's (not quite big enough in the boobs for me).  So, not always the best match for me.

Well, now I have a new source: Columbia Sportswear.  I knew about this company before, but last time I checked they didn't have women's coats anywhere close to my size.  My husband bought me a men's extended size coat from them 12 years ago, but it wasn't that great.  So I never really considered shopping for myself there.

But recently, a friend of mine gave me a "friends and family" pass (major discounts!) to Columbia's online store. My oldest son needed a bigger ski jacket, so I was hoping to use the pass to get a really good ski jacket for him at a halfway decent price.

When I went online to shop, though, I discovered that Columbia now carries extended sizes.  Score!!!

As is so typical these days, they only carry women's sizes to a 3x, which is almost but not quite enough for me....BUT they had men's sizes to 4x and 5x at times.  Whoohooo!

While it ticks me off majorly that more accommodation is made for men of size than for women of size (i.e., men are "allowed" to be fatter than women, and "allowed" to have more functional and quality clothing in extended sizes), I had to take a deep breath and move on.  At least they had some stuff in 4x, and I hoped the men's 4x might fit me. (Men's plus sizes are shaped differently ─ bigger in the belly and smaller in the chest and hips than I am ─ so it wasn't a sure thing). 

Because I had this one-time pass for a major discount, I took a risk and ordered a whole BUNCH of things from Columbia.com in 4x, crossing my fingers that they would work.  

Well, I got my package this week and IT WORKED!!!  I am so stoked.  I got a moisture-wicking shirt for workouts, a couple of full-zip or half-zip light jackets/fleeces, a high-tech wicking half-zip for layering warmth, a rain jacket (with special lining for more warmth), a soft-shell jacket (fleece on the inside, waterproof on the outside), and a full-on ski parka. 

I tried them all on and they all worked.  And the quality was way better than the stuff I ordered via Junonia, Land's End, or L.L. Bean.  Whoohooo!

I almost bought a pair of hiking pants too, but I decided not to risk buying pants at this point.  Men and women's shapes are too different and I've not had good luck buying men's pants in the past, so I didn't want to waste money on something I couldn't try on in person. 

But to get such ultra-warm, high-quality coats in my size?  Freakin' awesome when you consider I've been looking for years for quality stuff like this. 

Oh, and my son?  Got an AMAZING ski jacket ($260 retail!) for $90, plus some fitness shirts, hiking shirts, rain pants, and ski pants.  All very high-quality materials and workmanship, and they will keep him well-equipped for skiing, snow caving, wilderness survival, fencing, and Boy Scout hikes. 

I'm way poor now but it was worth it!  All in all, an excellent find!  http://www.columbia.com/.  They don't go to 4-5x in everything, alas, and they are quite pricey without the discount pass ─ but they had quite a few choices in coats, at far better quality than most other sources. Worth the price if you are needing a really good winter coat.

9 comments:

Lexi said...

Please let us know if you have any sources for plus-size snow pants for women or large bath robes in general. I've been looking and having no luck!

living400lbs said...

FYI, Making It Big has wool coats through 7X. They don't do ski/activewear or wicking shirt per se, but what they do have is in extended sizes.

I got a long wool coat from them over 10 years ago and it's still like new.

Kel said...

What are these sizes?? like in the UK equilivalents??? We have limited stores here too.. much more catalogue shopping!!!

Well-Rounded Mama said...

Lexi, Junonia has ski pants in plus sizes for women. Can't speak to their quality. However, I did get a pair of "soft shell" pants from them and they are quite nice. A little long for a shorty like me, but they seem to be good quality.

400lbs., love your blog. Thanks for letting us know about the wool coats at Making It Big. Totally did not know they carried coats.

Kel, I'm not sure how our US sizes translate to UK sizes. I'm thinking you go up or down one size (think I read that somewhere) but I don't know which it is, up or down. I bet you could google it and find out though.

Does Columbia have any stores or catalogue shopping in the UK? They might! Look around and see what you find.

SunflowerP said...

Kel: I use On line Conversion to compare sizes in different systems. It doesn't seem to be 100% perfect (and tops out, for women's sizes, at US 24/UK 26), but it gives an idea, and IME sizes can be inconsistent enough even in a single system from one manufacturer to the next that checking measurements is a good idea.

Lexi: I don't think I have anything for snow pants, but I can probably give you some sources for bathrobes - is it just that you're not sure of where to look, or that most plus-size doesn't go up to your size? If the latter, you might look at Plus Woman - their stuff tends toward the dreaded "dowdy and tentlike", but that's not as much of a downside for bathrobes and other things where warmth is the primary consideration, and they cater to much higher sizes than a lot of places. (I'll note that I haven't shopped there, so this isn't a rec, just a suggestion.)

If it's just not being sure where to look, comment again (or contact me directly if you prefer), and I'll see who-all in my link collection does bathrobes.

WRM, I hope you don't mind a first-time (AFAIR) commenter being so linkful.

Sunflower

womens ski pants said...

I am also looking for a plus-size ski pants for women a long time.

Pond Brook Cookie said...

I just got a pair of GREAT ski bib pants here. They go up to 5x, are nice and warm, and have stretchy hip panels!

Hurry while they are on sale!

fat2fit said...

I wear a 32w (4-5x) currently and I am 8 1/2 weeks pregnant. Unfortunately my water retention has been seriously flucuating and when my pants press into my tummy it doesn't help when I feel sick. I am in desperate need for extended size maternity pants. PLEASE HELP!!!!!

Well-Rounded Mama said...

Fat2Fit, look at the plus-size pregnancy maternity clothing FAQ on my website, www.plus-size-pregnancy.org. Some of the links will be out of date, but many will still be good. See what you can find there.

It's hard to find maternity stuff in extended sizes, it's true. You might want to consider a company that specializes in (non-maternity) extended sizes and get a style that works okay for maternity, like an elastic waist soft knit pant. pluswoman.com goes to 10x, for example.

Also, Roaman's and the like often carry extended sizes in stuff like that. Look for yoga pants, anything with an elastic waist, sweats, or drawstring-waists; they all work reasonably well if you can't find a specifically maternity pant in your size.

Or there are special button inserts/extenders that you can use on your regular pants to extend the size for a while in the beginning.

Best wishes finding what you need!