Friday Fluff/Fatshion: Love for Good Customer Service

Recently, Sarah of Fat Girl on a Bike posted a few complaints about Junonia‘s new triathlon gear. Soon after, Anne Kelly, president and founder of Junonia, left a long and thoughtful comment in response, as well as a request for customers to continue providing feedback on their products.

How much do I love that? I’m no triathlete, but I do shop at Junonia (this suit for $29.95 is one of the best deals I’ve gotten in the last year)–and I know they’re a godsend for women who are sized out of Lane Bryant, etc., so I love them even more for that. As much as we complain (rightfully) about the lack of plus-size clothing options out there, and  some of us complain about virtually all of the decent options being online-only, there is an upside to being a niche market: We get to deal with smaller companies who will bend over backwards to get things right for us.

I ordered something from B&Lu not long ago and fucked up entering the promo code that had been the inspiration for my order. So the order went through at full price, and it was all my fault. I e-mailed their customer service addy, explaining that it was my fault but asking if there was anything that could be done, and I had a response from one of the owners within 15 minutes, telling me it was no prob and she’d taken care of it. Add that to cute clothes, fair prices, and genuinely plus-sized models, and I want to freakin’ marry B&Lu.

On the local level, when I went into Vive la Femme to interview owner Stephanie Sack a couple weeks ago, I was welcomed like a long-lost friend–and so was the other customer who came in while I was there. (Look for that interview here soonish.) Stephanie and Other Stephanie, her darling employee, knocked themselves out finding us stuff to try on and giving us very honest opinions of how the clothes looked–including, “No, that’s not working, don’t buy it.” Stephanie’s mission is to send fat girls out of her store with clothes they love, not just clothes that mostly fit or look okay or get the job done. Fillyjonk had a similarly great experience at LeeLee’s Valise in Brooklyn.

Most shopping experiences–if you’re not a socialite with gobs of money and 0% body fat–just do not go that way. I’m not gonna get a personal response from the president of Lane Bryant within 15 minutes if I write to tell them that some of their denim smells weird, you know?  (In fact, from what I’ve heard, those who have written with that complaint have pretty much been told, “Um, yeah, we know.” Meanwhile, nearly a year after the Right Fits were introduced, that problem persists, as I recently verified with my own nose.) The manager of my local Avenue is not going to spend an hour bringing me shit to try on, telling me how fabulous I look in some things and that I shouldn’t even consider buying others. And we all know what a blast it is to deal with Old Navy’s customer service. But places like Junonia, B&Lu, Vive la Femme and LeeLee’s Valise actually make a good-faith effort to respond to their customers’ feedback and deliver a better product or experience next time. They behave as if they actually give a rat’s ass about our satisfaction and our loyalty, not just our dollars on a single transaction. They know they depend on both word-of-mouth and repeat business; alienating customers is simply not an option.

So today, just for one day, let’s not talk about the dearth of affordable plus-size clothing or the insane cuts and shoddy construction, or the crap treatment we’ve gotten while shopping. Let’s talk about the awesome customer service experiences we’ve had–’cause I know lots of us have had them, and they’re something worth celebrating.

It doesn’t have to be about a plus-size clothing company–though if you’ve had a great experience with one, please do recommend it here. Just tell us about a time when you were treated fabulously, when a problem was resolved to your complete satisfaction, when someone went above and beyond to make sure you knew they actually cared about keeping your business. It doesn’t happen that often, but man, it’s nice when it does.

68 thoughts on “Friday Fluff/Fatshion: Love for Good Customer Service

  1. You know, I don’t even know WHY I like B&Lu’s customer service so much. I can’t have had that much interaction with them. But I just have a sense of them as being basically willing to bend over backwards to help you out.

    I just wish their clothes had been working for me lately. Even the ones I’ve liked enough to buy, I’ve returned. Not their fault, though.

  2. I just had a little online chat with a customer service rep from Lands’ End. I was trying to figure out if the plus-size pants that I just bought came in petite also because they were too long on me.

    Rather than just answer my question (the answer happened to be ‘no’), she said she would pass along the request for petite length to the buyers and asked what the fit was like on me otherwise so she could share that too. Maybe that’s their standard practice to say/ask that, but it was a nice touch – not just ‘nope, sorry, get ‘em hemmed’.

  3. Whee! What a great Friday Fluff. I’ve had great experiences at Fresh Ayer, a plus-sized boutique outside Philadelphia, specifically in Wayne. (I’m crap with codes, but if you google “Fresh Ayer” it will be the first link, I think.) The store itself is really lovely, with gleaming hardwood floors and nice big dressing rooms with adjustable lighting. The selection is great, too: C.enne.V, Trentacosta, Kiyonna, Svoboda, etc.

    The owner, Liz Ayerle, has been working every time I’ve gone in there, and she’s wonderful. Her goal was to create a Lee Lee’s Valise-type store for the Philly area. She gives every customer personal attention, and she’ll constantly pull stuff off the racks to give you to try on. On my first visit, I was the only customer in the store, and she spent a good hour with me giving me things to try on and just generally helping me. Her best friend — a thin woman — also works there, and she (the thin woman; I can’t recall her name) is also really great and totally down with helping fat women find beautiful clothes.

    When I went in there for the second time (probably about a month after my first visit), Liz remembered me and the fact that I’d bought a particular red Trentacosta shirtdress on my previous visit. If something doesn’t look right, she’ll scour the store to find you something that looks awesome.

    The store can be pricey, but I do really appreciate the attention!

  4. Yeah, I got a good vibe from B&Lu’s customer service too. Unfortunately I never got the clothes I ordered – I entered the tracking number and apparently they tried to deliver 10 days ago while I was at work – but they didn’t leave a notice! So I’ll have to email B&Lu and find out where they are.

    My really good experiences have been with underwear. The specialty lingerie shop near my house is just great. (Cat’s pyjamas for anyone who lives in Calgary). I went in for a fitting, and the woman who helped me was amazing, bringing me so many bras until she found the perfect one, and explaining to me how they fit and how they’re supposed to fit. After I gained some weight, I went in to try on my favourite bra in a 34G and discovered I actually needed a GG but they don’t make it in a GG. I bought it in the G anyway because it fit well enough, and the saleswoman gave me 10% off, because I shouldn’t have to pay full price for something that doesn’t fit perfectly. Isn’t that great? I buy most of my bras online now that I know what size I am, because they’re a lot cheaper, but I do try to buy something from them every so often, just to support them.

    My other good experience was with figleaves.com. I ordered a pink bra on sale, and the matching pink thong was sold out in my size so I ordered a matching black one, figuring the black and pink would look cute together. The customer service person processing my order called me at my house just to make sure I didn’t order non-matching colours by mistake.

  5. Wow, I thought it was just ME with the smelly pants from Lane Bryant. As a Canadian who bought them on a trip over the border, I just washed/rewashed and tried various different tricks, none which worked.)

    Finally, I gave up: didn’t return them, didn’t complain, because I bought 2 pairs on the same trip and one smelled and the other didn’t.

    Since I live in Canada, though, I can’t sniff test in the store. Hope they DO figure that out, because I won’t buy denim from them until they do.

    As for good customer service, well, I’ll have to think on it… I’ve got a couple fabulous web-hosting company stories, but that’s sort of a niche thing.

  6. I am wearing some funky-smelling Right Fit jeans right now. It smells vaguely like cat pee, right? I thought it was just my over-sensitive nose!

    As for good customer service… um, I’m at a loss. Just made my first order from B&Lu, so we’ll see how that goes.

  7. I didn’t notice a bad smell to my Right Fit jeans, but they sure wore out quickly after just two months. And it isn’t as if I wore them every day – more like 1-2 times a week or so.

    Another small plus-size business owner who is very involved and helpful is Beth Ann Herrin of Reality Plus Clothing. Hers is an online store, but she does have a small storefront boutique local to me. We’ve met several times and she’s really passionate about providing quality clothes for plus-size women. Her storefront is more like a coffee house; it has a couch and women just come in, sit back and relax. Her workroom is also on-site and she paid great attention to her dressing rooms, ensuring they were roomy and comfortable.

  8. I bought 2 pairs on the same trip and one smelled and the other didn’t.

    It’s only one kind of denim. If the other was a different color, that’s why.

  9. I’ve got funny-smelling pants from B&Lu actually… kind of clay-ey. I’ve washed them tons of times. They’re great pants though.

    I just wanted to say in re: Lee Lee’s… so I went there in November partly to try on this one Tadashi dress because I was looking for something for the wedding. Lisa emailed me MONTHS later, like maybe February, to let me know that she was going to be stocking it in ivory and light blue. By that point I’d decided to have a friend make a dress, which is an idea I like better for myriad reasons, but I was just blown away by that. I hope we can all give her tons of business in the future because damn, she deserves it.

  10. I had great service from Svoboda about a year ago. I’m in Canada, and there was some kerfuffle with my order getting over the border. They were super prompt to respond to my emails, and got it sorted out very quickly.

  11. Maybe the smelly pants are why there’s that stereotype about fatties smelling funny? ;-)

    But on the topic of good customer service, I’ve also been very happy with Junonia. I had ordered a couple of things from them over a period of perhaps a year, and when I called to order the second set of things the customer service person remembered my name from the first time! It was very impressive and almost a little freaky.

    Hippy Chix Shop also has great customer service. I pulled a Kate (heh!) and forgot to enter a promotion code, but when I emailed the owner to ask if I could apply it anyway she did, and very pleasantly. Their Vanilla Sugar plus size shirts are very groovy, too.

    And even if Lane Bryant has stinky pants, I’ve had some very good experiences with their salesladies. The last time I went in to buy a pair of jeans, my regular-sized friend was shocked at how friendly and helpful the salesladies were, and, bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t shop for clothes at LB, bought some earrings just to be part of the sister feeling.

    On the non-plus-size spectrum, I’ve also appreciated the quick shipping and easy returns at zappos.com.

  12. I have a 2nd job, part-time, at Penningtons/Addition-Elle here in Canada. A huge part of the reason I even applied there is b/c the customer service was sooooo fantastic. When I first started shopping there, I was one of those women hiding in sweats. I hated shopping. Now I am completely in love with fashion. I never walked out of that store with anything that was remotely unflattering, and the staff always went out of their way to find me the “good stuff.” After awhile, I just started shopping with a list, and I never had to spend any time searching – I could just go into the fitting room and have it brought to me!

    I love working there, and yes, the emphasis is on service first. I treat customers the same way I wanted to be treated – finding them the right clothes, telling them the truth about how the clothes work. Now I’m one of the ones who has customers waiting in the fitting room for me to find them random things they might like. It’s really cool.

    I think it’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a job. Lots of women come in with the worst body image ever – being able to find flattering clothes for fat women, and getting to tell them how great they look, is the high point of my week. I only wish I could take on more shifts, but I have this day job issue…..which is what I should be getting back to, I suppose! ;)

  13. O.C. Zappos IS plus sized! They are one of the only places besides payless that I can buy shoes!! YAY Zappos!

    I got some things from Igigi for Christmas. (That gorgeous lace overshirt thing and a trench dress.) The dress was actually way too big on me, so I had to return it for a smaller size. (Actually the first time this has ever ever happend.) But the exchange was really easy, we even shipped it to a different address no problems and I think it only took about a week. One thing I REALLY liked was that the dress came with its own travel case type thing, which for the price, is good to have.

    I’m thinking about buying this for the 5 weddings i have to go to this summer. But I might stop by VLF and see if she has anything that might fit me. (and be less exorbitant)

  14. yay, i’m so happy that the other canadians are chipping in here! i love b & lu, but ordering from any u.s. retailer sometimes results in random customs fees on top of whatever shipping fees i paid in the first place. and then, of course, if you have to return anything, you’ve paid as much on shipping as you have for the entire damn garment in the first place.

    for dresses and dressy-er options, i’m so sold on maximum woman in toronto. they have stuff from igigi, kiyonna, and all the usual suspects as well as some of their own stuff. i spun in there like a hurricane (i was rushing from work to another appointment) and wailed that i had an hour to pick a dress for a wedding, and could the nice ladies please help me? did they ever. they combed the store, pulled out everything in my size that was tea-length and colourful (which i’d asked for), and brought it to me in the lovely boudoir-esque dressing room. plus, they have several pairs of dressy mules and a box of those pseudo-kneehighs, so that i could actually see what the dress would look like with nice shoes. very very appreciated when it’s colder than gravity one is wearing massive snowboots.

    the ladies of maximum woman cheered when i came out of the dressing room wearing their “belle” dress in red. i cheered too. it cuddled my curves and cradled my own rack of doom. i never felt better.

    here’s me in the dress: http://www.flickr.com/photos/14513357@N02/2369701204/

    and maximum woman has an ONLINE store too!
    http://www.maximumwoman.com

  15. My first (and definitely not last) order from Kiyonna was a great experience — I ordered two sale/clearance dresses as a “test run” to see how their stuff would fit me. One of the items was out of stock even though the web site showed it as in — so instead of just saying sorry, they allowed me to pick any item I wanted and added it to my order at the original dress’s price.

    Love them! And the dresses are great.

    My experience with B&lu has been awesome as well, although from now on, if an item doesn’t have size info on its page I’ll probably not buy it — I’ve had weird fit issues with a shrug that I exchanged and will now have to return.

  16. A lot of people diss on Torrid, but I’ve had some of my best shopping experiences there. The salespeople are always very nice and very helpful, and even the web customer service is great. It’s also the place where I am most likely to be remembered and greeted warmly, always a nice feeling.

    I haven’t noticed the smell with the new LB jeans, but I did notice that they gave me a horrible allergic reaction. Yes I washed before wearing!! But I got an allergic reaction to the dye so badly I had to take prescription antihistamines for a week. My thighs were bloody and it hurt to walk, and I had to take painkillers to sleep. :( I don’t like to say “never” but I’m pretty sure I won’t buy jeans from them again.

  17. There’s this local Chinese food place that I love, and once when I was there with friends, I left the tip. Then as we were buying stickers before leaving (a tradition) the waitress came up and asked us who left the tip.

    I raised my hand.

    “Thank you, and here,” she said, holding the tip out to me and smiling.

    I was completely flabbergasted. She saw this and said, “Really. I don’t need it. You can buy more stickers with it or something. But I don’t need it.”

    And then she very kindly grabbed my hand and set the money down into it, smiled, and went back to work too quickly for me to respond.

    It was one of the coolest and nicest things I’d ever seen.

    Also at Red Robin with my sister once, my sister made the comment that here favourite part of the freckled lemonade was the strawberries at the bottom, and she wished she could just order a bunch of those soggy lemonade strawberries. Less than two minutes later, the waitress, who had apparently overheard our conversation, set a bowl of the strawberries they use in the lemonade down in front of my sister, said “It’s free”, and then went back to work.

  18. I’m normally a little pissy with Old Navy… blah blah blah won’t get into that now as this is supposed to be a positive experiences thread! But last week I actually had a great experience with them. I’d gotten a coupon in my postal mail for 15% off my entire in-store purchase. I wrote to their customer service and said, “This is frustrating that I would be denied this discount simply because I am too large to be shopping in-store.” They wrote me back within 48 hours with a single-use coupon code to get 15% online. I was cool with that.

    As far as plus size lingerie goes, I’ve had good experiences purchasing bras at both Dell’s Bra Boutique in Fairfax, VA and Trousseau in Vienna, VA. Great service, knowledgeable fitters, and good selection at both places.

  19. Service wise, the best I’ve had is at Jessica McClintock in the Mall of America.

    I had spent most of the morning at an unnamed large bridal shop in St Paul look for a dress as a gal who fits in the 16-20 street sized arena with my best gal pal who runs about a size 6. I also wanted color for my wedding dress, not white in part because I spill on myself. Not a single dress in my size at un-named bridal shop, but some were at least large enough we could pull them over my head unzipped to get an idea how they would look if I could wear them. Then we went to another department store (f* you Marshal Fields) where I was point blank told “we don’t carry your size”. I was goddamn near tears. And thus we went to the Death Star (the MOA). There we told them my woes and they sat me down and started picking out dresses and seperates and everything else for me. While I didn’t buy that day, I did buy one of those dresses I tried on that day for my wedding next month.

    Oh and Junonia and tri suits? I just think not. But I’m also a tri person completely offended by the whole idea of shelf bras in swim suits as it contributes to drag in a massive way and that’s the spot I pick up my time relative to the field. I’ll take the biggest Speedo/TYR/Nike/Dolfin racing suit I can squish myself into for the whole thing thanks.

  20. @fillyjonk :

    I had a fancy event to go to this month and needed some fancy clothes. I finally got a chance to spend a few hours (and a few bucks) with Lisa at Lee Lee’s and had an absolute blast. As luck would have it, I had the place to myself, so she spent a lot of time with me and was all around awesome! It sounds like she occasionally throws an “event” night where she hosts a group of ladies to shop — sets up some refreshments and everyone has at it … Sounded like she was getting ready to have a group of opera singers from the Met come over. How fun! Thanks again for the tip — I owe you a DiFara’s pizza :)

    (BTW this is my second time posting today about buying expensive dresses. In reality I am a scruffy recording engineer who wears ratty jeans/sweaty black dog hair covered yoga pants and t-shirts 99.99% of the time. No clotheshorse am I … sheesh)

  21. I don’t buy clothes often, but when I do I’ve gone to Catherine’s almost every time. The salespeople there are generally more helpful than I even like (I don’t particularly like clothes shopping) and have certainly told me when something does or doesn’t work for me, what is appropriate for work, etc. Nothing but good things to say about them. And that’s two different stores. Bit pricey, but like I say I don’t often buy clothes and their clearance racks are awesome. I know vesta says she’s had great experiences with Catherine’s too.

  22. @ Astrobabe — I agree. Shelf bras in swimsuits… no way. Unfortunately, my latest suit, though, I couldn’t find anything that worked but a Junonia… and my old one had just seen too much chlorine to be decent anymore. I’d ordered and sent back several others, but I just felt like the TYR’s and Speedo’s had shrunk or something (I was replacing a 40 TYR and figured the same thing would work again), and I was not comfortable in them… in any sense of the word! It’s hard when you want the suit to be athletic vs pretty but you’re bigger than the “40” that most of the racing suits go up to. So I’m still looking for the perfect suit…

    Re my Junonia suit, though… it’s great fabric, well made, I got it on sale for a great price. So nothing about the company to gripe about there. I just don’t like the built-in bra.

  23. Thanks for the comments on the Rightfit jeans, guys. I have had mine nearly 7 months & I don’t notice any funny smell (I am a yellow & got the classic fit in dark indigo), & they have worn fine, not falling apart or anything, but I have been having some big issues lately with intense itching along my inner thighs. I think I will stop wearing the Rightfits for awhile & see if that helps it.

    I have the greatest luck with the quality of merchandise & the customer service at LLBean & Land’s End, but, as we have discussed before, Bean has a very small selection of plus size clothes, Land’s End carries many more things in plus sizes, but they both have the habit of never carrying the things I like in the colors I really like. I do a fair amount of business with Junonia, mostly things on sale in Juno’s Closet.

  24. Libbyloo-

    Try Dolfins then. Swim Outlet has then as does Sierra Trading Post. I’ve got a Dolfin HP from STP for Hawaii next week and I’m quiet happy with the fit in the 40.

    And I’m on the fence with TYR right now. I’ve realized that the boobies can’t do a flyback suit and be covered. But finding non-flybacks is a bit of pain in the tush.

    And speedo makes a 44. I’ll just be buggered if I ever see them. I miss the days of Hind making swim suits. They had like every freaking solid color known to man and went from 22 to 48 in womens sizes. And they were affordable. I lasted though multiple swim seasons overjoyed I could get a 36 in whatever color I wanted when I went to their store.

  25. Argh posting again- Libbyloo- the speedos in bigger sizes that you’d want are the xtra Life Lycra. They’ve got it in solids for $59 (about the ave speedo price) in sizes up to 44 on their site right now.

  26. I have to agree with anniemcphee, I love the salesladies at Catherine’s (any of their stores). I’ve been in 4 different stores and they have been so helpful and nice. I usually tell them what style of top I’m looking for and my price range and they’re right there pulling things off the rack to show me, telling me which colors/patterns they think will look good on me, etc. I don’t go in often enough to be remembered by name, but that doesn’t bother me at all, I just like that they’re so helpful.
    I do get remembered by name at the bread store, though….lol…I think because I’m in there every week getting the light whole wheat bread DH can eat (doesn’t send his blood sugar spiking all over the place, it’s low carb and high fiber, great for a type 2 diabetic who likes bread now and again).

  27. thanks rachel and shinobi! it was, truly, the first dressy dress i’ve owned as an adult that made me feel like a million dollars and not like somebody’s frumpy lumpy pity friend :)
    isn’t it amazing how a great outfit, purchased in a cheery and supportive atmosphere, just makes your LIFE?

  28. Probably my best customer-service experience ever is with Peggy Lutz (www.plus-size.com). Last time I ordered from them, Peggy herself called me — they had my measurements on file from the previous order and she wanted to know if I would like my dress altered to fit me better! I wish I could afford to buy from her more often — if I ever need a dress for the Oscars, she’ll be getting my business.

    Now, would someone please open one of these fabulous boutiques in Maine?

  29. Peggy herself called me — they had my measurements on file from the previous order and she wanted to know if I would like my dress altered to fit me better!

    Wow! That’s impressive.

  30. Lily, I am sitting here in misery, post-oatmeal bath, covered in calamine. I have been to three different doctors over the last three weeks, trying to figure out what is up with the itchy rash I’ve had over the last two months.

    I never even considered my RightFit jeans. I love my RightFit jeans (which do not smell to me). They actually do fit me, though I know they don’t fit everyone, and I wear them several times a week. But if they’ve been the source of this rash, I will BURN them. What color were yours?

    In happier news, Dor-Ne corset shop in Silver Spring, MD has *fantastic* customer services, and actually found me a bra that fit. I have been to every specialty lingerie store in the DC metro area. I have ordered things online. I have tried everything. I thought it was hopeless. I did have to wait a little while to see a sales rep, but she spent personal time with me, and found me a bra. I almost cried. The guy working at the front counter was also incredibly nice, professional, and knowledgeable.

  31. I know not all stores are the same, but two of my local Dillards department stores have fantastic salespeople. There is one woman who has worked in the woman’s department as long as I’ve been shopping there, and she’s great about knowing the merchandise and helping you find what you’re looking for. She even had amazing patience during the one trip where I had to have tried on at least 50 pairs of jeans because I had no idea what size I was (and I did buy every pair that fit well, which wasn’t too many, but boy, were they wonderful jeans!).

    The folks in the lingerie department are equally helpful – they offer fittings on the spot, but leave you alone if you don’t want one. They also know their merchandise and were respectful and full of suggestions when I explained some of my unique fitting problems. This is why I keep going back there.

    And a shoutout to H2Owear.com – I get my lap swimming suits there. I’ve spoken with them twice on the phone because I always seem to order while they’re transitioning colors, and they’ve been really friendly and took the time to explain any changes so I could make the right choice.

  32. To add insult to injury, one of the doctors told me that I had eczema (it’s not eczema) because I was fat. *headdesk*

    I will stop being the negative voice in the positive thread now. Just had to vent.

  33. i am posting for the first time ever to echo how AMAZING stephanie at vive la femme is! i go to chicago a couple of times a year (usually) to visit family and friends and that shop is basically my top tourist destination, though it definitely requires me to save money for quite a while before going to be able to afford anything. i walk into the store, she assesses my size (once through clothes, 2 hoodies, and a vest, and was right on literally 94% of her selections!), and grabs me everything in the store that she thinks will look good on me. admittedly, the items do not always fit my aesthetic, but really–what is that??? it is an amazing gift! i definitely have never had a customer service experiences even resembling that. so good!

  34. The ladies at the Lane Bryant in our local mall have always been totally awesome to me and my friends – whether we were venturing into the mysteries of first trying on the Right Fits and getting six different sizes to try on or getting bra fittings or just generally being fantastic. It’s a total rush; before now, most of my experiences were either being ignored or being outright scorned.

    Non-clotheswise, the folks at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab are super. Half the Lab staff is on the fan forum, and as far as customer service goes they’ve always been helpful, fast and accommodating.

  35. Kate,

    I recently found B&Lu after visiting various websites (the Bombshell Beauty site has a good listing of places that carry larger sizes) and I ordered from their sale selection. Never having ordered from them, I felt lucky to be able to try them out with sale items. I got the order within three days! The clothes were very roomy (truly sized) and even more gorgeous than they were on the website (which is beautiful and has gorgeous models on it too). I just wanted to share that wonderful experience with you. I sent a mail to the buyer to say thanks, and that I will be shopping with them in the future. It’s so nice to look at clothing that will come in your size…I’ve spent too many years pining over things I couldn’t have. This is fabulous!

  36. I am a huuuuge fan of Lands’ End for their nice quality plus-size clothing anyway (they’ve got great basics!), but I also love them for their customer service.

    A few years ago, I had placed a big order with them for Christmas gifts for some family members. The order got packed wrong, and instead of one of the pieces, I got a Polartec scarf. I called to let them know about the mistake, and they said they’d get the right item into the mail for me right away. Then I asked if it would be all right if I returned the scarf to the local Inlet store, instead of shipping it, and the woman I spoke to told me, “Don’t worry about it. If you don’t have any need for it, donate it to a local homeless shelter or something similar.”

    Sure, it was a $20-or-less scarf, and I’m sure that’s not a big loss to Lands’ End’s bottom line, but I still just was really impressed by that.

    I also have returned items to them bunches of times, and they have always been cheerful and helpful and never once given me a hard time. I lurve them.

  37. Karen,

    I had a similar issue (hives and face/throat swelling that stuck around for about 10 months). I had no luck getting an allergist to take it seriously, but the dermatologist was a huge help. She prescribed a combo of Hydroxozine (like Benadryl, but less sleepiness) for nighttime and Dapsone (an energy-sapping drug developed to treat, I kid you not, leprosy, but it helped with the itchiness) for daytime. I’m not saying that’d be the right treatment for you, of course, but there are definitely options out there.

  38. Oops, I was so excited I forgot the topic.

    The best customer service I’ve had hasn’t been for clothing, actually. The folks over at Dansko (shoe company) are amazing – I fell and scuffed the whole top of a new pair of their shoes once, and in annoyance emailed them to ask if they had any suggestions for making the leather look better. I got a response back almost immediately, saying unfortunately there wasn’t much they could suggest, but there was an attached gift certificate good for about half a replacement pair when/if I needed one. Awesome.

    A roommate of mine had a pair of Danskos with a buckle that kept breaking. The second time she sent them in, they refunded her the cost of the shoes, still fixed them, and ended up sending them back with a whole bunch of socks. Totally geeky socks with little clogs on them.

    Also, Jade Yoga. They make fantastic mats, if anyone is in the market, and they’re wonderful to work with–they respond to questions very quickly, and are happy to replace a mat if something goes awry with one (they’re natural rubber, so you have to be careful how you clean them). A woman in my studio left hers to dry in the sun, not realizing that was a no-no; she called the company and they replaced it for free.

  39. I love the lingerie department at my local Von Maur dept. store. Not only do they stock a good selection of bigger cup sizes, the ladies who staff the department are very friendly and helpful.

    I wish we had Bravissimo stores in this country. I’ve ordered several things online from them and have been pleased with the speedy service and quality. I’m also pleased that they shipped me a catalog, even though I’m out of the country (thus costing extra postage for them) and hadn’t specifically requested it. I haven’t had to call customer service yet, but I get a sense that they’d be super helpful.

  40. Becky: “My other good experience was with figleaves.com. I ordered a pink bra on sale, and the matching pink thong was sold out in my size so I ordered a matching black one, figuring the black and pink would look cute together. The customer service person processing my order called me at my house just to make sure I didn’t order non-matching colours by mistake.”

    I love figleaves.com! The first time I ordered from them, I had to exchange one of the bras three times to get a proper fit. No problem: return shipping (and shipping of new items) was no charge, and I always got the exchanges in less than a week of shipping out returns. I just wish they had sales on my favorites more often.

  41. Hm this isnt about customer service but it’s just a randomly positive comment: i recently made my first order from Torrid and i just love it! And i heard of them through this site, so thanks. Yay for my cute new jeans and my cute little puffy sleeved shrug!

  42. Karen, I had the dark wash. Another friend of mine had a less severe rash from the light wash too, though. And online I’ve heard several other women talk about having reactions to the dye in the new jeans. Honestly we should all write LB about it–I would sure like my money back because when I found the right “new” size I bought three pairs, none of which I can wear now of course. And if their product is making people sick, they need to know about it.

    I hope you feel better soon. And I’m sending that bigoted doctor virtual shame vibes, ugh. I was terrified to tell anyone about my rash because I knew a lot of doctors would try to claim it was just “chub rub.”

  43. Oh god, yeah, figleaves is AMAZING. They definitely go above and beyond in terms of making returns easy, which is great because ordering bras online is so hit and miss.

  44. Angela that red dress is amazing! I LOVE having great dresses and feeling great in them :)

    My friend had a great experience with Lane Bryant. Had to return a pair of Right Fits but she had already washed them. It was no problem and they exchanged them without question.

    I can’t think of a fantabulous shopping thing at the moment but the story about the strawberries reminds me that hubby and I were at Longhorn’s restaurant and had just gone in to split a meal so we could get to the desert with the warm chocolate chip cookie. I guess we were both so ga-ga over that cookie the waitress brought three out on a small plate! We were in heaven :)

  45. They don’t have ‘em in the States, yet, but my best customer service recently (re: clothes) was with Change. They’re at change.com, and it sure doesn’t look like lingerie for bigger women, but they ROCK in store for actually fitting your rack of doom into a bra.

    I’d been wearing a DDD: I was falling out the bottom and knew this was a cup size issue. After measuring, I ordered some larger cups from LB – which were just big enough to let me know they were too small. Rather than tensor banding my chest down (like the DDDs), they quadra-boobed me.

    Anyway. I walked into Change feeling kind of scared and sheepish, and they slung me into the appropriate bra size and just kept finding me fabulous bras. There was a plus size woman helping and a straight sized woman helping, and I felt comfortable and cared for with both.

    I LOVE GOOD BRAS

  46. Oh, and we should really get a rep from LB to read this thread about the RightFits, because I would love to have a billion pair, but can’t take the risk of smelling bad and rashing – especially when cross border return is such a pain in the tuchas.

    Mine smelled to me more like burned plastic. I think they were the darkest blue denim.

  47. I have to give a shout out to the ladies who work at my local Avenue. It’s one of two resources for plus-sized women in my town. The other is the tiny Women’s section of our dinky Mervyn’s. Anyway, whenever I walk into Avenue, the saleswomen are not only uniformly courteous, but willing to go the extra mile for me, too.

    They’ve hunted down my size in the storeroom, let me know about coupon sales I didn’t realize were going on (always, in those cases, pulling out a store stock of coupons and applying the appropriate ones to my purchase) and mentioned when I’ve come in the door that they’ve got new things in colors/styles they think I’d like.

    You’d get the impression from the above that I spend a lot of time there, but really I go in perhaps four times a year. Five if I’ve got cash to burn.

    There’s also a really great independant shoe store in my town called Scott’s where I get incredible service. My feet are very hard to fit. They’re a small size, quite wide, and have incredibly high arches. I always say I walk on cubes. In addition to this, I’m picky about styles and too clumsy/distracted to wear high heels. In short, I’m a shoe salesman’s nightmare…but at Scott’s they love me for some reason. They once special ordered a pair of shoes for me three times to get the sizing and color just right and never charged me an extra dime. In fact, they gave me a 10% discount! And the last time I was in there, they all complimented my toe socks…as well as giving me the 10% discount again.

    Oh, and I just have to join in the chorus of Wow! for Angela and her fabulous red dress. Beautiful dress, beautiful lady, and they go together exquisitely well.

  48. Okay, my favourite (absolute favourite) Australian plus-sizes store: My Size.

    I discovered them when I was living in Canbrrra, and fell in love. For the first time, I’d found a place which actually specialised in clothing for women who weren’t size 10! A place where the clothes weren’t just a scaled up size 8, and where they appeared to be designed for women with curves, rather than women who were straight edges. Plus they suited my style! I’m more at the boho-hippy-goth end of the fashion spectrum, with a good solid dose of geek thrown in (I buy clothes because they’re comfortable, not because they’re fashionable – and I define “comfortable” by “practical” and “useful”), so I often have a lot of problems with finding things I judge to be acceptable. But My Size keeps coming through. About the only issue I have with them is they tended not to have pockets in their office-style trousers (and I’m one of those people who *needs* pockets, if only to have somewhere to put my hands if I’m nervous) but they seem to have figured that one out.

    I’ve shopped in two of their stores (Woden, Canberra, and Cannington, Perth) and in both locations, I’ve found the staff to be friendly, helpful (without being *overly* helpful, if you know what I mean) and very willing to help out with all kinds of things. Given my shopping style is rather masculine (go in, two of those, two of them, three of those, wrap ‘em up, I’ve been here too long already) I generally don’t need too much help, but it’s good to be able to get assistance if I do.

    I have to admit, one thing I *really* love about them is their colour range. I’m one of those lucky people who’s able to wear strong colours (I like emerald and jade greens, cobalt blues, bright pinks, and blue-tinged reds as well as the basic black and white) so their palette (which tends strongly toward the jewel tones most years, and generally has something wearable even if those aren’t “in”) really suits my preferences.

    [Caveat: I’ve just ordered damn close on $1000 worth of clothes from them online. I may well be saying all of this to remind myself why I like their stuff!]

    Now, if only I could find someone (other than Bodywise) who did decent underthings for sizes greater than sixteen. Oh, and bathers which cover sizes 22 and 24 which *don’t* assume we’ve only got nice dainty little B cup tits? I mean, really, I went looking around last year, and every single pair I tried on I was spilling out of the top of (or if I wasn’t, I knew they’d last about ten seconds once I got into the water). It’s the practicality thing again – I want to actually be able to *swim* in a pair of bathers, not just lie on the beach and watch. Any suggestions?

  49. I got my first ever bra fitting last week at a store in Denver called Sol. It was a fantastic experience–the saleswoman took a look at me, asked what size bra I was currently wearing, disappeared for a moment, and came back with a bra that fit me PERFECTLY. Without measuring it or anything. Then she grabbed a bunch more in assorted shapes and colors, and almost all of them were fantastic. The ones that didn’t work, she ditched immediately. She wasn’t only super helpful, she was EFFICIENT–I was in and out in half an hour.

    Also, I recently had my identity stolen (that is so weird to write, like someone is walking around in the world wearing my face), and everyone at my bank was incredibly friendly and competent while it was getting straightened out. They managed to get all my money back and keep me from freaking out completely. I will have warm and fuzzy feelings towards them forever!

  50. oh, thank you thank you for all the suggestions. One of the side benefits for discovering the fatosphere was discovering all the plus-size retailers online. My clothes have improved so much in the past few months!

  51. Another bra fitting story: the lingerie section of Myer in Melbourne (Australia) has a bra fitter called Avril who is an a-mazing. I ended up fitting into something reasonably common (in the end) and since it’s a mainstream store then if you’re an unusual size there might not be a lot of stock there for you, but Avril will work with you until you know exactly what size you are and what sort of bra will work and why… then you can look further afield if necessary! She’s good and very accepting of all shapes and sizes.

  52. It’s been a while since I shopped, but I’ve had good experiences with “My Size” in Australia. I’m not sure if it’s policy, but they also seem to have larger sized staff, which reduces the shopping-discomfort level further and means that they know what you’re talking about and what issues you’re dealing with.

    Nothing fancy, a fairly good range of basics and everyday wear, and some nice bright colours as well.

    I get bras online at Bodywise. Again, basics, but not all beige (Black, red, cream, pink, white, leopard, and some mixes). One phone call with my measurements led to perfectly sized gear sent out Express Post. No underwires = {love}, and the ones with lace use a soft microfibre lace, not that scritchy stuff.

  53. Nice clothes at B&Lu — but no petites.

    I’ve settled into a nice groove of buying my pants from the Woman Within catalog (Mainstreet Blues stretch twill in a 16P fits me perfectly and comes in boot-cut for a nice long line — for under 30 bucks) and my tops from the sale section of J. Jill. I realize that 16 isn’t that big as big goes, but they recognize that a 16P is different from a Misses 16. And they also recognize that not everyone who’s big is 5’9″ or taller.

  54. Another specialty store – I have had fabulous luck with http://www.birthandbaby.com for nursing bras. I ordered a couple of different bras recently while trying to figure out sizes, and she called me the next day to check because she didn’t think that the bras I had ordered would both fit the same person – different brands that have differences in their cup size. Speaking of the rack of doom, the bras I ordered were J-cup, and they offered much bigger ones. They also classify their bras by breast shape, so you can figure out if it’s worth trying some of them before you order. Their shipping is cheap and returns are no problem.

    Their “house brand” sleep bras are cheap and really nice if you like wearing a bra to bed (whether you’re nursing or not), and they make it up to 3X (I realize that won’t work for some women here, but it’s a lot bigger than I can find elsewhere for an inexpensive sleep bra).

  55. I had a fabulous experience buying a corset at Fairy Gothmother in London. I was a nightmare customer, especially looking for a corset, in that I’m fat AND I have really small boobs (a 38AA is baggy on me). But they gamely laced me in and out of approximately ten million different corsets until they found the one single one in the whole shop in which I looked fabulous.

  56. I’m late on this but chiming in anyway about the Right Fit jeans issue – LB knows about the problem with the dye on the dark indigo jeans. I don’t know what they’re DOING about it but I know they know about it. My guess is that they made a huge first run of the jeans and in the future, the jeans won’t have the smell. But they have to sell all the stinky ones first, probably.

    Soaking them in vinegar/water helps but if you’re allergic to the dye, I’d just avoid the dark ones until they change the dye process.

    I shop online way too much to say that any company is really mind blowing but I had a really great experience with TimBuk2. I like shopping at Torrid when I find myself in a mall. They always find really perky but not annoying girls who actually want to help you pick out fun clothes. Zappos is great, too.

  57. I haven’t seen anyone speak up for the clothes at Making it Big (http://www.makingitbig.com/). They’re not as fashion-forward as many of the other places mentioned – I can judge this by the fact that although I was wowed by the clothes and the service at Vive La Femme, I didn’t come out of there with anything I actually wanted to wear or looked good on me (or could afford, but that’s another story).

    Making It Big specializes in natural fibers (although they do have wonderful rayon, which some people don’t consider natural), sizes 2x-8x. Their clothes tend to be pretty neutral as far as cut goes – more flowing than fitted, which suits me fine. They make the only pants that fit me, anywhere. They do really well with my shape: a very exaggerated hourglass, with big thighs. They often have gorgeous fabrics in lovely colors – I try to go for the fall/winter catalog rather than the spring/summer because of my particular skin tones, but YMMV, of course.

    Most of their clothes are casual, but when I had a managerial job, I used to wear their matching pants and shirts in more formal fabrics and throw someone else’s jacket on top. Because they are located in northern California, I do feel that they don’t accommodate extremes of weather, which is an issue for someone like me who lives in the midwest. They don’t have anything warm enough for deepest winter, and their crinkle cotton, which they bill as a summer fabric, is just awful in the humidity we have here.

    Still, they do bike shorts and jeans and swimsuits and cotton knit pants and rayon pants and dresses you could wear to someone’s wedding and full slips/nightgowns made of the most wonderful cotton lawn you can imagine. I find their prices quite steep (approx $70 for pants), but my reference point these days is the Salvation Army, so others may not find it quite as pricey. And their clothes are all made in the U.S., which admittedly hasn’t always done right by its textile workers, but soars above the third world equivalents most of the time in that respect.

    I don’t order much from them anymore (see Salvation Army comment above), but for years they were the mainstay of my wardrobe, and I felt I always had good service and good value from them.

  58. Daniel’s (shoe store) in OKC only had heels and sandals in my size (9AAAA) but they ordered some more practical ones for me to try on and spent quite a bit of time with me both times I went in. I think it’s family owned because the salesman called the saleswoman Mom. They did keep measuring my feet over and over. My feet change size and shape when I wear shoes. My shoe size bears no resemblance whatsoever to the size my feet measure and it seems to fascinate shoe sales people.

  59. Hmm. I thought the Right Fit smell was just me. o_O However, I use home-made laundry soap and I can report that it takes that scent out with just one or two washings, so if you’re really hard up for a “cure” to the stinky!pants, one might give that a shot. (Plus, making your own laundry soap is hella cheap compared to buying detergent, and more environmentally friendly!)

    I live in a small-ish city in northeast Arkansas called Jonesboro. It’s big enough to have a few amenities (including an awesome mall) but small enough to maintain a bit of a small town feel. I am a regular in our Lane Bryant, and I have been so since it opened only a couple of years ago. The associates recognize me, remember my size, greet me by name when I come in, call me to make sure I remember to use my Real Women Dollars discount before the date expires, etc. They’ve let me exchange things for store credit when I didn’t have a reciept, everything. It’s quite neat to feel like a VIP when I go into a store. It doesn’t happen at every single Lane Bryant, of course, but I really do appreciate the atmosphere at this one.

  60. another person to comment about terrible rashes from the dark blue RightFit (which aren’t so Right FIt on me after all, so I don’t hate giving them away).

    But it is disturbing that so many of us reacted badly to something in that fabric.

    thank you for Lee Lee’s. I am going there THIS WEEKEND.

  61. Hi all! Thanks for the kind words about Junonia. We do try to keep an eye on what’s being said about us out here in cyberspace, both good and bad, because we’re always looking for ways to improve our products and service. Plus, we just like reading all of the fabulous plus-size blogs out there!

    If you ever have any questions or comments about Junonia, don’t hesitate to write me: annekellypresident@junonia.com

  62. In case of any german Shapeling happening on this thread: last Saturday I had a great experience in Hamburg. Since I also have the Rack o’ Doom ™ with size 32 errr… I, I have trouble finding bras, even in german online shops. No longer so!
    I had read of “Change”, which is a scandinavian store, and found that they had a shop here in Hamburg in the Europa Passage, so I checked it out. They have sizes 60-100, cups A-J. It is a tiny tiny shop, but they seriously have a wide variety of sizes on the racks. I had no trouble getting a dozen or so bras in my range of sizes.
    It was saturday, so with only three changing rooms, I had to wait long to try on the bras. Most of the stock is part of a special deal where you have to buy bra and panty, but if you take two, you get the second one for free.
    But the big big plus, apart from the size rage (seriously, in the past five *years* I haven’t been able to find a shop that even *has* my size), are the nice salesladies, who were very very friendly, and couldn’t have been nicer.
    I also bought panties and stockings, and plan to keep buying these there (though I could get those elsewhere) simply to keep that shop going as much as I can.

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