Guest post by Lauren Johnson. Lauren is a plus-size mama raising two boys and working from home as a tech content marketer in Fresno.
Every year I kind of dread scheduling fall family photos. It’s a lot easier now that I follow Maddie and just snag a spot for her limited edition sessions as soon as they’re available, but there’s still a little part of me that hesitates to schedule the photo shoot because as a plus-size mom, I know it’s going to be a challenge to figure out what I’m going to wear.
The hunt for a great plus-size fall family photos dress can be frustrating because all the cute Instagram and Pinterest inspiration you’ll find mostly come in straight sizes only. Also, many brands charge more for their plus size offerings than for the exact same thing in straight sizes (Old Navy, I’m looking at you, it’s lame and you need to stop) and it can feel like a lot to add the cost of a dress onto the fee for photos.
Knowing what I was up against, I started my search for the perfect dress a little earlier than usual this year. I also figured I could finagle the budget a bit to lump the cost of the dress in with this month’s spending and the photo fee in with the next month. MATH.
I was pleasantly surprised to find some fantastic options this fall. There’s been a bit of a size inclusion revolution brewing lately and I’m seeing brands like Target, Old Navy, and Wal Mart seriously stepping up their plus size offerings.
Just a quick level set on what I look for in a fall photos dress (your mileage may vary):
Small pattern or a solid color so I can coordinate with kids and husband’s outfit more easily
Midi or knee length (as a short woman, I avoid maxi length dresses)
Wrap silhouette or empire waist to compliment my apple shape
Fabric that flows and isn’t clingy
Something that will work with layers like a denim jacket or sweater
Fall or winter colors, especially greens, greys, rust/rose/merlot, and dusky blue
Here are dresses I would seriously consider purchasing (or did actually purchase) that have a wide range of plus sizes in stock.
Target wrap dress: $29.99 available in sizes XL – 4X and tons of great colors
This dress has a flattering wrap silhouette, short sleeves for easy layering, is not maxi length, and comes in colors like rose, merlot, and sage green. The fabric is soft and has some structure to it but is not clingy and BONUS there’s a snap at the v-neck to avoid gaping at the bust! This was actually the winner for me because I’ve worn this dress (in other colors) for our last two rounds of family photos. I ordered it in the sage green and in the merlot this year to see which color I like better.
Walmart wrap dress: $19.99 sizes X-4X in purple, black, and gem slate
I was blown away by how affordable this dress is and the amazing reviews it has. I may have to order one just to have on hand this fall for all my trips to . . . the grocery store. It has a flattering wrap silhouette, isn’t too long, has great jewel tone color options, and a v-neck that leaves room for a fun necklace and would look good with a jacket or sweater.
Poetic Presence Faux Wrap Dress from Modcloth: $44.99 – $89.99 depending on color, size, and sale | Sizes XL-4X in most (but not all) colors
It’s on the more expensive side of things, but this dress has a beautiful silhouette with fabric that looks soft while still maintaining some structure. I especially love the green plaid fabric for fall family photos because it would be super cute with a denim jacket or light sweater layer. I also like that the high-low hemline shows some leg without being too short to move around comfortably for the photo session.
Dusty coral lace button midi dress from Torrid: $55.65 on sale in sizes XL-6X
I love the color and romantic feel of this dress. You’d have to pair it with a jean jacket and booties to make it feel fall, but the color is one I’m seeing pop up a lot for the season. I especially like the v-neck, empire waist silhouette, and flowy skirt. This would be super cute with the right hat, too, and could be styled without a sweater or jacket for a spring look next year.
Cupro zip front drawstring shirt dress from Torrid: $52.85 on sale in slate grey or olive green in sizes XL-6X
This is a great dress to either soften with a sweater or make edgier with a leather jacket and booties. I love the zip closure at the top so you can customize the neckline, and the fabric looks like the right balance of structure and skim. I especially like the olive option for fall photos.
So that’s five plus-size dress options for you to start with. I hope it gives you some ideas of places to shop, how much you might spend, and what to look for in your perfect fall family photos dress. If you’re searching for something really unique, the Foundry boutique in Clovis stocks a small collection of plus-size dresses in store (you won’t find them online). And if you’re interested in resale, I’ve recently discovered an amazing Instagram shop called Cake that resells adorable, mint-condition plus size clothing. They’re not local but they do ship and are just starting to share fall outfits for sale.
Now that you know where to look for the right dress, you have one less excuse for booking your photo session. So get to it! A few limited edition slots are still available as well as full sessions where you’ll get to choose your own location and spend more time with Maddie capturing images in a wider range of poses.