One of the most frequent complaints I hear from women has to do with the lack of stores selling fashionable plus size clothes. So I applauded Hudson, Wis. boutique La Rue Marche for turning over half of its shop to larger sizes. I wrote about it in the Pioneer Press, I talked about it on the radio. Finally, an independent shop recognized that women of all shapes and sizes want to wear trendy, stylish clothes. Finally, curvy women could try on jeans rather than guess their size online. Finally, a shop stocked the same contemporary looks for size 18 that are available in size 8.
But store owner Lisa Shortridge just informed me that she has eliminated plus sizes already. They just didn’t sell. "Women did come in and buy," Shortridge told me, "But some of them seemed to be a little older and they were not looking for my style. Also, it was really hard to find cute merchandise from vendors. And I think these women don’t think of shopping in boutiques – maybe they’re too intimidated, which makes me sad."
Any other theories? If the women who complain about a lack of plus size options don’t support the retailers that are trying, you can’t blame stores for sticking with 0-12.

All I wanted was a couple of new shirts.
Getting dressed postpartum is oddly more challenging than maternity fashion – and that’s not even accounting for the spit up and milk leaks. While pregnant, I sought out shirts that were form fitting to show off my belly – better to let people know you’re knocked up, rather than knocking back too many pints of Chunky Monkey. But the clothes that worked at 9 mos. now feel too revealing. Nothing cute about the aftermath. Nothing cute about my 3-year-old pressing the jiggly remains at my midsection and asking "Mommy, is there another baby in there?"
And the boobs are a bigger issue (literally) than the tummy. Even some of my more forgiving shirts and sweaters won’t work because I’m taking up so much fabric up top.
So I decided to make the trek to Hot Mama. I wanted to check out those Yummie Tummie body shaping tanks I’ve heard so much about. I know women love them, but personally, I felt like the stretchy top (think Spanks in shirt form) simply emphasized my extra rolls. I did, however, find plenty of longer, loose (skim the body, loose – not potato sack loose) tops.
I actually had time to try a few on because 1. Hot Mama has toys to occupy my 3-year-old. 2. My parents came along to hold the newborn when he fussed.
It really does take a village to shop with children.
The baby was fine. My  newly potty trained older one, however, suddenly needed to poop. I dropped the  one Free People shirt that fit, left the stroller in the aisle, the baby with the grandparents and dashed across the hall to the restroom (A good mother always identifies the nearest potty when out in public with a toddler.)
False alarm.
Returned to the counter to pay when the urge hit him again. This time, I could tell by his red face, and the fact that he asked if I had brought him other pants, we were in trouble. So much for those cute Elmo underpants.
We regrouped, cleaned up, packed everyone up and about three hours later, we were ready to go home.
At least I did get my shirt. And a silver bangle.

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It’s tough to come up with a clever baby gift, especially when No. 2 is the same gender as No. 1. I always think it’s nice to send something personalized for the younger child, who is destined to a childhood of hand-me-downs. I’ve given (and received) personalized children’s books from the Minneapolis-based Iseeme.com and monogrammed jean jackets from Redenvelope.com (last I checked, they were discontinued – sorry). But I recently received one of the coolest personalized baby gifts I’ve seen: a set of three baby bodysuits decorated to look like vintage soap box labels, branded with my son’s name. They’d be cool looking even without his name, but the personalization makes it an extra thoughtful gift – and one that you can bet I’ll be passing on to other friends. You’ll find these onesies, and other vintage style designs, at Retrofitbaby.com. Smart move by the small Berkeley-based company: they included with the gift a handwritten congratulations card, along with a coupon for $5 off a purchase.

T_159_19My little guy is not about to go cold. Blankets are definitely a favorite baby gift. They’re all cozy and appreciated, but one that really stands out comes from Little Giraffe (sold at Bananas in Wayzata). It just might be the softest, silkiest material I’ve ever felt. Apparently, we’re in good company. I just read in People magazine that Ms. Suri Cruise is a fan of Little Giraffe.
We’re keeping the blanket anyway.

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After prolonged deliberation (about nine months), I concluded there is no one stroller to fill absolutely every need. It’s a conspiracy to ensure that every parent ends up with two, three, maybe more four wheel contraptions taking up space in the garage. For me, suddenly the mother of a newborn and a 3-year-old who still appreciates the occasional lift, it came down to a double stroller that would work well for walks around the lakes, like the Phil and Teds, or one that would be lighter weight and more compact for the malls. I went with the malls. But the three of us have already taken our new Joovy Ultralight Caboose on a spin to the park and so far, I must say it has exceeded expectations. It’s not much bigger than a single stroller, maneuvers well and folds easily. My toddler can sit or stand, and seems to enjoy both. He can buckle himself in, but has yet to master unbuckling – which is perfect. The infant seat fits right on the front. Our only complaint thus far: with the infant seat in place, the bigger kid gets a bit squished. Guess he better get used to that.

From vintage doilies to contemporary negligees – Jessica Gerard is determined to find retail success on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. She has closed The Vagabond, which was filled with a smattering of vintage home goods and ladylike gifts, and will reopen in early May as Flirt Boutique, featuring a "sexy-sweet combination of lingerie, loungewear, accessories, and bath…inspired by vintage Hollywood glamor." She plans to carry Wendy Glez and Eberjey lingerie and intimates, Bella Il Fiore cosmetics and Roger and Gallet bath products plus travel accessories, fabric care, cosmetic cases, jewelry, slippers and more. Sounds like a welcome addition to the east metro. Right now you’d have to hike over to Wayzata, home to Unmentionables and Cherie, to find many of these brands. Check back with AliShops.com for a review as soon as the store opens at 1330 Grand Ave.

Tough enough to find the perfect prom dress, but how about one that looks stylish, without costing $400? Mothers of teens have been asking for suggestions of places to shop beyond department stores and prom shops like Glitz at Mall of America. I’ve been trying to steer them to special occasion consignment, vintage and some lower priced alternatives like Sears and JCPenney – both of which might surprise (in a good way). Local mom Chris emailed me for ideas, and then followed up with the results of her two-day prom shopping marathon with her picky daughter and friend. She’s got some great observations:
"We did all the vintage shops out 50th and France way, they really didn’t any formal wear that would appeal to teenagers but we definitely plan on doing that shopping trip again in a few weeks just for fun when we are not on a mission, the stores were great!  Brides of France had a small selection, but in the $400 range.
"My Sister’s Closet on Grand had a small selection of dresses that appealed to us and the staff was very helpful. It was worth the trip. Macy’s at Rosedale had a great selection – the girls each found a few that made the final list there.  And the prices were $120 – $180 so right in the price range for prom.  JCPenney has a nice selection too and every dress is 50% off right now – we actually put dresses on hold there.
"Both the girls found the perfect dresses at Cache at Rosedale.  (I would have never thought to go in there).  The staff and even a few customers were having fun with the girls helping them shop.  The dresses were right around $200, the jewelry the sales ladies were trying to accessories the girls with was a bit on the expensive end ($60 bracelets and $40 earrings).  A suggestion for shoes is Charlotte Russe.  "Both the girls got their shoes there and the store had a special, second pair for $10 so we got two pairs of shoes for $32.00 – can’t beat that!
"We’re done until next year!  Again, thank you for your suggestions and your web site.  We are planning some more vintage and consignment shopping trips because we didn’t get through the list and we have some new stores on our radar.  The girls were amazed that they could get those favorite Abercrombie and/or other name jeans for a mere fraction of the price in these stores so  I think they’re hooked on the idea.  We did score on jeans and some other items at Nu Look. Strongly recommend that store for the teenagers, three pairs of designer jeans and two t-shirts for $50."