At Neiman Marcus, luxury and quality are to be expected. But what about the selection for those of us over a size 12? Designer garments are notorious for thin cuts and delicate fabrics with no stretch. So should we even bother shopping at Neiman’s for anything other than makeup and accessories?
The answer might surprise you.
Last week, Apryl Churchill, Public Relations Manager of Neiman Marcus Northpark, guided me through an awesome and educational afternoon at Dallas’ favorite department store.
We started off on the 2nd floor of the store, which carries everything from contemporary, youthful outfits to jeans to workout clothes to fine evening gowns – you name it. In the past, department stores have had a reputation for very bad plus size selections. Many of the designers they usually stock don’t cut past a 12, so less fashionable off-brands take their place for sizes 14 and up. Needless to say, I was cautiously optimistic.
However, as we toured Level Two, over 20 different designers were pointed out to me that carry above a size 12, some extending up to 18, in every section of the floor. Lafayette 148 New York was a stand-out label to me, as it carries through 14 on the rack, and has items available on order through a size 18. CJ by Cookie Johnson jeans are another great option, in many on-trend styles, stocked up to a 16. So, if you are a size 16, for instance, it is conceivable that you can find a yoga outfit, a new work wardrobe, and a cocktail dress at the same time, in the same place, on this floor of Neiman’s NorthPark. Nice.
If you need some guidance on Level Two, ask for Maggie Smith. She knows where everything is, has a great sense of humor, and will definitely give you her honest opinion.
Moving on to Intimate Apparel, with Valentine’s Day coming up, a lot of us might be sprucing up the “foundation” side of our closets. When buying a bra for a more, shall we say, ample bosom, one generally has to sacrifice looks for support. Neiman’s has made sure you don’t have to choose. Stocking lines like Le Mystere and Wacoal all the way up to an H cup in some designs, the store offers bands up to a 44. This was another nice surprise.
In the shapewear category, I’ve never seen such a comprehensive collection of support garments in my life. Neiman’s even has a video presentation explaining how to customize shapewear selections, based on which curves you want to emphasize (see photo above). It’s like sexy Garanimals for grownups.
I was beginning to realize that this is no longer our grandmothers’ Neiman Marcus, where it’s all about popovers and sweater sets. Though, technically you can still get both of those things, in addition to sexy lingerie in a multitude of sizes.
Wrapping up our tour on Level Three, I expected Fine Apparel to have the smallest selection of sizes. I was completely wrong. While most of the designers cap out at 14, many of them are cutting clothes to drape and flow, so it is quite possible to find something that works for you. Identifying designers that fit your personality and shape is the most important thing.
For example, a Diane Von Furstenberg size 12 fits me just right, while a Stella McCartney 12 would cut off my circulation. On this third floor at Neiman’s NorthPark, Escada, Akris Punto, and Etro will all have more generous shapes for your curves. Eskandar has a very nice area to itself, and if you’re shopping 2X and up, their quality and design cannot be beat. Julie Marino, a young sales associate, is knowledgeable on trends and designers, and she can steer you towards ideal picks in the sea of beautiful clothing.
All in all, a surprising visit, no?
On a final note, though, one fact that is not surprising is Neiman’s price point. The quality and selection they offer is unparalleled in the world of plus size retail, however, a world which is often filled with cheap construction and lacking in artistic direction. I will leave you with the simple yet elegant words of Mary Harris, a St. John expert for Neiman Marcus: “Buy the best you can afford for the body you have.”
(Store interior photos, credit DFW Style Daily. Product photos, credit NeimanMarcus.com)