I want to add to that today with a find and in my next post, a suggestion. The find:
Taipei, Shilin District (Tianmu), Zhongshan N. Road Setion 6 #764
It’s on the east side of Zhongshan and a short walk south of International Square and the American School (as well as a short walk north of the Community Services Center and some other schools), right underneath where Whose Books used to be.
Basically, they sell American clothes that either fell off the truck, were slightly imperfect or were overstocked from American shopping malls. This means that:
1.) 80% of it is horrible – stuff you’d never wear, but…
2.) …the 20% you would wear is well worth searching for because it’s made to American body shapes. There is a men’s section but women will find this the most useful as our body types have much greater disparities.
In the USA I never had to shop in plus size stores, but I’m used to it here, because I do realize the size and body type differential here. My issue with the other plus size stores in Taiwan is that, while great to have around, they’re meant for plus-size Taiwanese women…which is fantastic, except I’m not a plus-size Taiwanese woman.
The clothing at H&L, MiniMe and 5XL is made in larger sizes, sure, but it’s made for women who are shorter, less curvy, straighter-hipped and smaller-chested and narrower-shouldered than Western women, meaning that while it all “fits” me around the waist, it doesn’t “fit” me in other ways – busts are too small, shoulders too narrow, hemlines too short – plus size Taiwanese girls are still not necessarily 5’8”! So yes, there are places to shop at if you are a US14, but they won't help much if you've got height and curves to match.
That, and the clothing often follows Taiwanese fashions, which are sometimes fine but sometimes…just not my style. I’m not into the “let’s add lace and some glittered English words that say things like “HAPPY LOVE!” and SEQUINS, oh we need SEQUINS and this top needs at least twelve more ruffles and puff sleeves and ooh, let's take this romper, stick some tights on it, add a few extra lapels, rough it up a bit and add some raggy bits of fabric hanging goodness-knows-where and a zipper that can't be used” look.
Best Buy, after you sift through the stuff you’d never purchase, has more American looks – there are horrid ruffled tops but there are also unadorned necklines, hems that are realistic for taller women, and a dearth of glitter.
They also sell interesting costume earrings and some cool scarves.
It also veers away from the all-too-common “this shapeless shift tunic fits you! You can buy it! It fits you!” (yeah, because it’s a sack that allows for absolutely no waist definition - thanks but no thanks).
Other choices where I've had luck:
Danee/SkinJoy 100% Silk
Danee/SkinJoy 100% Silk
Locations all over Taipei - there's one on Changchun/Songjiang and one at Roosevelt/Jingmei MRT Exit 3.
Don't go here looking for high fashion - go here for soft pure silk cardigans, camisoles and blouses (they do sell skirts, pajamas, pants and other items as well) for work if you work in an officey environment or want to buy something in your size that is high-quality and comfortable - great for under-pajamas clothing in the cold winter months with no central heat, and great for basic button-down cardigan-style shirts for work and blouses to go under suit jackets.
Wuchang Street Market Indian Import Store
Ximen/Taipei Main area off Wuchang Street near Bo'ai Road
From Zhongshan Hall (Ximen/Hengyang Road) facing Bo'ai Road, turn left and you'll come to Wuchang Street - down past Ximending this turns into a cinema street, and closer to here you can find Taipei Snow King. Cross Bo'ai and follow Wuchang until you see the entrance of a small covered market. A little ways in and on the left is a small Indian import store (you can tell by all the bellydancing stuff). The racks here are laden with good finds for women of all sizes. I bought one of my favorite skirts here and another friend bought a cool, embroidered-collar rust-colored wrap shirt.