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Look at me, posting on time and stuff. It’s like I’m an adult who can do things in a timely manner. And by timely I mean “within the twenty four hour time span that defines the day I actually chose at random for myself.”

And as an added bonus, today is actually my fashion posting’s namesake– it’s Fat Tuesday! Happy Mardi Gras, everyone!

This is how I'll be celebrating today. Hello, baby that is now a deadly choking hazard!

I lived very briefly in New Orleans, but long enough to celebrate a Mardi Gras there. It was crazy. I remember being astonished that I got both a spring break and Mardi Gras week off. Most people don’t even realize that Mardi Gras stretches for weeks, the final long haul starting the week before Fat Tuesday of parades and parties and beads. Not all of them are as crazy as seen on Girls Gone Wild, but let’s just say I refuse to go into the French Quarter during the festivities.

To be honest, I’m not even sure if this is just a southern thing or not. Do they celebrate Mardi Gras in the north? In the west? Considering most of you don’t know what a decent kolache is, I’m beginning to doubt your culinary tastes, America. I swear, I’m going to move to California and open a decent kolache shop for y’all.

Anyway, onto the clothes!

Dress: eShakti; $35 (2X; 22)
Cardigan: Stein Mart; $15 (2X)
Tights: We Love Colors; $10 (C/D)
Shoes: Avenue; $15 (8.5W)
Earrings: Forever XXI; $3.80
Necklace:  Charming Charlies; $8

Total: $86.80

There are two big secrets of shopping for plus size outfits cheaply. One, always shop the bargain rack or the bargain section of an online store. eShakti does custom sizing, but their average prices run $50-80 a dress. The overstock section frequently has the same outfits for far less. Someone orders a custom sized dress in a 2X and it doesn’t sell for some reason, so it goes back into overstock. You can find the same dresses there for a much more reasonable $20-40 range.

The second is to never assume a shop doesn’t have your size, especially not a department store. More and more frequently shops are picking up on the fact that yes, even though we’re fat, we still wear actual clothes. And nine times out of ten we’re willing to pay a little more for something that looks fashionable when our alternative is a pair of Walmart sweatpants. I’m aware that this can be intimidating, though. I still get a strange feeling when I walk into some stores, like all the employees are staring at me and thinking “What are you doing in here? There’s no way you can fit into anything in our store.” This fear was amplified by an actual experience I had going to a Forever XXI at a mall, before I realized that not every chain had a plus size section. I asked where it was, and the snooty teenager gave me a once-over and said they didn’t have one, but there was a Lane Bryant on the other side of the mall. She helpfully pointed out, while holding back a giggle, that it was in front of the fast food restaurants.

So I get it. It can totally be a scary concept, stepping into a world that’s told you your whole life that what you need to do is get off your fat ass and look like our mannequins.  I still get the stink-eye in some stores, and I still get uncomfortable. But damnit, I’m there to buy clothes. Braving chains I never thought about as carrying plus sizes — Macy’s, Stein Mart, etc — is how I’ve found some pretty cute swag. It’s a whole new area of clearance racks to browse, and people are sometimes surprised when I tell them I didn’t get the things I’m wearing from more expensive stores like Anthropologie (which thinks you should fall off a cliff and die if you’re over a size 12. Or at least not be fat in their stores.).

So go fourth, my lovely fats! Explore! You never know what goodies you’ll find in unexpected places. I still can’t believe I can buy clothes at Forever XXI.