Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

July 6, 2012

Charming Shoppes no longer owns Lane Bryant, Catherine’s or Fashion Bug

Filed under: Fashion — Miss Plumcake @ 1:31 pm

Well, as you might’ve heard, Fashion Bug is closing.

Ascena bought out Charming Shoppes who controlled Lane Bryant, Catherine’s and Fashion Bug, and is bringing in the exterminator on more than 600 Fashion Bug stores.

I never shopped at Fashion Bug, and although I applaud their concept of having straight size and plus size clothes in the same room, I can’t say I’ll really shed a tear the way I did when Christian Lacroix shut down his atelier.

So now that Charming Shoppes is a subsidiary of Ascena, what happens next?

For a brief, flickering moment I had a thought that maybe this would be the rebirth of Lane Bryant. Fashion Bug’s gone and Catherine’s has always been dreadful –I remember having a modeling gig with them in 2001 or so and they put me in this terrible cobalt blue glitter-encrusted cocktail dress with matching bolero and a gold lame hat. There might’ve been bugle beads involved somewhere, but mercifully I’ve managed to suppress that memory– but for a few halcyon seasons, Lane Bryant was my everything. Could Ascena bring it all back?


Ascena’s current flagship brands are Dressbarn, Maurices and Justice. According to Dr Google, Justice is some sort of tween retail establishment and Maurice’s sells cheap-and-cheerful (and frequently eye-searing) fashion in straight and plus sizes.

That leaves us with Dressbarn.

I’m not going to talk too much smack about Dressbarn, other than its terrible name, because I remember wandering in completely devastated after a hateful 13 year-old sales associate at Neiman Marcus interpreted “We will hold this fantastic St John’s lavender silk tulle party skirt for you for 24 hours” as “I’m going to put this back on the rack the second you head toward accessories because fat people don’t deserve nice things you horrendous cow” and left me without an Easter outfit. I don’t think I actually bought anything at the Barn but I do remember being pleasantly surprised at the construction of some of the dresses, which were on par with Jones New York and some of the better plus-size offerings from Calvin Klein.

I imagine we’ll see a bunch of Maurices and a smattering Dressbarns pop up where Fashion Bug used to be. Time will tell what this means for the Lane Bryant line, but since Ascena already employs designers responsible for this:

We should be afraid. We should be very afraid.


  1. I honestly think that the buyers for DressBarn (terrible name, decent dresses) are schizophrenic.

    One season I will love everything. It will fit well, be flattering and I am challenged to budget what I want. Three months later I walk in and the place is filled with floral print mumus.

    Dressbarn is always worth a visit, but never dependable.

    I also mourn the old Lane Bryant.

    Comment by liberty — July 6, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

  2. Ive had decent luck at Dress Barn. I hope LB goes through a change. Just because I’m fat doesn’t mean I have ghettobooty and dress like I’m about to go clubbin’ at a moments notice.

    Where does a big girl go for a decent twin set around here?

    Comment by Coop — July 6, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

  3. This cannot bode well. I am neither a young twenty-something but nor am I a matronly woman who wishes to wear things that I wouldn’t have bought for my Grandmother.


    Comment by Babs — July 6, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

  4. @Coop: Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Buy cashmere off season and you’re (twin) set! Also, do me a solid and read/watch this quick Anderson Cooper clip. It might make you rethink some seemingly-harmless usage.

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — July 6, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  5. No. You’re kidding. Fashion Bug can’t be closing! I was supposed to get a job there when I turn 18 in a few weeks. The manager already offered me a job and everything. How can I find out when a specific store is closing?

    Comment by Bethany — July 6, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

  6. Thanks for the tips. Both of them. You’re right, I know better.

    Hug it out?

    Comment by Coop — July 6, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

  7. @Bethany: Sorry doll, but it’s true. Looks like you’ve got until early 2013. The good news is if you take the job it’ll probably last through the rest of the year.

    According to the Ascena investor relations site “Ascena also announced that, based on the results of its strategic review of Charming Shoppes’ operations, it plans to cease operating and close down Charming Shoppes’ FASHION BUG® business by early 2013.”

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — July 6, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  8. @Coop: Bring it on in. We’ve all been there.

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — July 6, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

  9. Coop – Ann Taylor Woman and Lands End are my go-to for less expensive twin sets than Neiman and Saks. In case your budget isn’t cashmere-friendly.

    And, dammit, right now LB has the perfect basic work trousers and perfect sizing system for me. (a number, a length, AND a shape). I have stocked up but if they change up I don’t know what I’ll wear to work.

    Comment by Jezebella — July 6, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

  10. This is so disappointing. Maybe we’ll finally get a Maurice’s, though. I hear they have nice jeans.

    Comment by Bethany — July 6, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

  11. Dress Barn. The name. I can’t. Just cannot.

    Re: decent twin set– Eloquii! The Limited is putting the plus range in a few of their stores now. The selection is pretty narrow– pretty much business attire only. Still, for my money their online store is the best on offer in this price range.

    Comment by Melody — July 6, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

  12. I’m with you, Jezebella – LB’s work trousers fit me perfectly, so OF COURSE they’ll discontinue them. I am not hopeful.

    Comment by Beth — July 6, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

  13. I have over the years scored a few nice things at Dress Barn.

    Plumcake, you are now required–REQUIRED–to post something pretty the next time you post because this dress….it makes us sad.

    Comment by Lisa from SoCal — July 6, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

  14. Oh god those right fit jeans are pretty much the only jeans that have ever fit my ass properly. I am going to save up to go on a jeans binge if they make them go away.


    Comment by Shinobi — July 6, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

  15. Well, I think we’re losing FB because Ascena thinks they already have the same thing with Maurice’s because they’re both on the same pricing tier. I’m hoping that the FB closures are actually Ascena’s way of reopening and/or expanding the Maurice’s brand because there are plenty of Dress Barns.

    I would gladly sacrifice the plus-size half of Dress Barn to re-allocate their dress selection to LB, because LB’s dresses have been dreadful lately(as in since about 2006).

    Comment by ChloeMireille — July 6, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

  16. Oh noes! I mourn the thought of FB going away. I was just in it this morning…I needed more shirts that I could wear to work. Looks like I should just splurge and buy the shirts I do like, because I am not sure if I will see them later.

    Comment by Tara — July 6, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  17. @Coop and Miss Plumcake: Your exchange above has to some part restored my faith that there are actual reasonable humans behind these avatar thingys. A gentle reminder, gently received. Sad that people acting just…right makes my heart swell with hope. Off to FB to grab some basic cheap tees that fit well. Thanks for the warm fuzzy.

    Comment by Claire P — July 6, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  18. That…dress…


    I thought for a moment that it might – MIGHT – work as a maternity dress. But my pregnant sister is reading this over my shoulder and wants me to make it clear that no. Just no.

    Comment by Liz — July 6, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  19. @Claire P: Glad we can be of service. It’s so easy to get huffy or preachy or misinterpret tone or a million other things on the internet that leads to flouncing and all sorts of ridiculous behavior. All of us slip up sometime or forget that people don’t know us well enough to know we’re Not Like That, so it’s better to just be cool and act like grown ups. It’s a little sad that two reasonable, right-acting people being reasonable and acting right is out of the ordinary, but I’m glad it brings you hope!

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — July 6, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  20. Miss Plummy, I adore you and your blog. You’re always so gracious, and I’ve noticed that the great majority of the readership is, too. Gin and tonics all around!! Also–I thought I was the only one who cringed at the name ‘DressBarn.’ I feel like that bit of Kat Williams’ stand-up–“It’s like they KNOW me!!”

    Comment by Misti Nicole — July 6, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

  21. Its been mentioned, but I literally cannot sing enough praises of Eloquii. It doesn’t really fit my casual needs though. I wasn’t aware AT had a Womens, checking it out now!

    Comment by Coop — July 6, 2012 @ 6:13 pm

  22. This is a nightmare. Justice seems to have boys’ and girls’ sizes. Dressbarn goes to 24. Maurice’s goes to 28 top 26 bottom. I’m a 32 that could only shop at Catherine’s and Fashion Bug.

    Sure, Catherine’s offerings aren’t the cutest, but I could at least reliably find something that would fit on my body, style and cuteness aside. But they always had SOMETHING utilitarian and business-casual so if I needed some pants for work I could get them. I wish I was a 24-and-under so I had the luxury of worrying about fashion, but this is my livelihood and straight-up not being naked on the line here. Or what I have a flood or a housefire? Do I just belt bed sheets until my Woman Within order comes in? Ugh. This is terrible. This. Is. Terrible.

    God, sorry for the martyrdom. Fashion is of course a valid concern as it affects how those around us perceive us, and the dearth of stylish plus size options is a problem. But what do I do for a winter coat so I don’t freeze? How do I just “make it work” with this???? I am genuinely crying right now. Being fat is just so damn exhausting. What do I even do?

    Comment by thesailorsaid — July 6, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

  23. You know what – it’s not Ann Taylor – it’s Talbot’s Woman I was thinking of. Sorry for the confusion.

    Comment by Jezebella — July 7, 2012 @ 1:53 am

  24. Dress Barn is a decent store. Just ignore the name. I do have a few dresses and some nylons from there.

    I never had any good finds from Catherine’s or Fashion Bug anyway. I won’t miss them. I am now afraid to go to Lane Bryant now.

    Has anyone tried Fashion 2 Figure? Some items looked cute, others were scary. Just asking.

    Take care, ladies.

    Comment by dcsurfergirl — July 8, 2012 @ 1:47 am

  25. @thesailorsaid -“Being fat is just so damned exhausting”

    pretty much sums it up doesn’t it? It’s not just publicly acceptable prejudice, ‘weight related health issues’ (whether they in fact weight related or not) It’s also just wanting to be able to buy a new winter coat or work clothes.

    Comment by Thea — July 9, 2012 @ 11:07 am

  26. I never really liked Fashion Bug, used to shop there under duress. Dress Barn isn’t too bad, although for a not quite yet 30 year old, most of their stuff kinda skims the parts of my body I wish to accentuate, making me look wider. However! DB is my go to when I need a dress for a wedding, church, or other event because I usually need minimal tailoring done. And I too mourn the old LB. Bought some tees the other day that appeared to be made of burlap.

    As for that godforsaken image you posted…TOTALLY tried it on. Wanted to see how a maxi dress fit me. My sisters were horrified and offered to set fire to it in the dressing room

    Comment by Amy — July 13, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

  27. Oh man. This is terrible. I go through simple t-shirts like water, and I love colors, and FB has been the very best source for reasonably priced colorful simple basic t-shirts.

    I MOURN. Also, if they change Catherine’s bras, I have no idea where I will buy bras.

    I’m a new reader and this post was on my birthday and I’m glad I didn’t read it then…

    Comment by Fizzy — July 16, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

  28. I had heard that LB was bought out and thought wow this could be good. I worked for LB about 12 years ago as a manager and loved most of the lines. I have some great linen summer skirt and jackets that are still a fashion basic in my closet. I miss having those kind of choices for work. I really wish LB would go back to the original concept of good quality,trending items and classic traditional pieces. Right now they cater to the 14 to 25 age group. Possibly one of you can tell me where to find classic and trendy well made plus size fashion. I love silks and hate polyester fabrics, but unfortunately I have champagne taste on a beer budget. Any suggestions?

    Comment by fashion frustrated — July 31, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

  29. @thesailorsaid~~I used to really have a bad attitude about being heavier and one day I saw a bummer sticker that just cracked me up and made me feel better so I will share it. It said ” I may be fat, but you’re ugly and I can diet” I snickered because then I began to realize that so so many of us that are heavier are really beautiful. If you really look at many of the skinny girls being skinny is the only thing they have going for them. I felt very superior and now think in my head wow watch out skinny girls when I finally get thin you all don’t stand a chance. Smile and remember skeletons are not sexy!

    Comment by fashion frustrated — July 31, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

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