Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Is plus size fashion in the UK good enough?


The UK high street is really coming into its own at the moment. After the recession, everyone got excited about vintage and independent designers, as we still do. But our favourite high street chains have jumped on that bandwagon, offering us even more choice than before.

But that choice and diversity doesn't necessarily extend to plus size clothes. Some of our favourite brands and shops still only go up to a size 16. In the worst cases, sometimes they only go up to a size 12 or 14. Or a 'medium' is in fact a dress size 10. Despite the extra choice, when it comes to sizing, something doesn't add up.


Sometimes, we totally understand the lack of available sizes, frustrating as it might be. A lot of the independent lingerie brands we feature only do smaller sizes. Annoying as it is, it's an expensive business, especially when it comes to something a specific as bra sizes. If a small business doesn't sell their stock then they're saying goodbye to their profit margins. They're saying goodbye to their next line, next season's designs and (hopefully) in the future, a larger size range.

But it still feels like those who wear a larger size miss out. We hear you - when we write about a lovely dress range, it can be maddening to see that it's only available from an 8 to a 14. If the average dress size in the UK is a 16, as many surveys and reports suggest, why aren't our shops reflecting this? We're offered plus size ranges, but these seem to be a token gesture (not unlike the tall and petite ranges that Kat and Sara have to contend with on a daily basis). Are they offering a beautiful capsule range, or is it more of a token afterthought?


Of course, there are some companies ticking the plus size box brilliantly. We're not naive enough to think that the fashion industry is going to change overnight, but there are certainly areas where it could be better. There are some areas where we could do better. Some of our favourite plus size brands stand out because the rest of the industry isn't even in the same league.

We don't want to kick off a debate about size (the Daily Mail are making a hash of that this week, let's not join them), accessible fashion isn't about size and shape. For some reason UK shops don't cater for women of different sizes and we want to explore this and kick off a discussion about what needs to change in the UK plus size fashion industry. Which companies are getting it right? Which shops need massive improvement? What's the biggest issue for plus size women going shopping? And what is it that plus sized women really want to see when they go shopping?

Gorgeous plus size clothing images from Lady Vintage, What Katie Did and ASOS Curve.

82 comments:

  1. I rather like the choice in UK plus size shops. I love Ann Harvey but it is not (much) available outside the UK. Kaufhof here in Germany used to have but alas, no more. I also like Evans, they have trendy clothes, not just matronly for plus sizes...

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  2. I'm STILL so frustrated by the lack of stylish, reasonably priced clothes for bigger girls. I have the added 'issue' of being 42 and don't want to dress too old or too young - and yet I always struggle to find nice things to wear. Nothing really has changed that much in years. Ho hum ...

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    1. Hello, there is a small shop in Maldon, Essex.
      GENEROUS CLOTHING which has Plus Size garments that are
      aimed at ages 30 - 60 if that is an area near you.

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  3. Thanks for this post! I find it so frustrating as a size 16, that I struggle to find shops that go up to the average UK dress size. However, thanks to this post I've now discovered Lady V London, I think this may be my new addiction!!

    Christina xo

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  4. A choice of high street bra providers who realise that although you may be a 28" or 30" back you can be a DD or E or even bigger cup size. You don't have to be plus sized to have boobs! Aside from Bravissimo and a select range at M&S (which cost more than most fashion/everyday brands) a lot of high street fashion shops like Topshop (or even online providers like ASOS) still reserve their prettiest and nicest ranges for those fitting an A, B or C cups. Plus I am short. Don't get me started on jeans and trousers for people of 1.60cm and under!

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    1. You're absolutely right. While I understand why an indie lingerie company might have a smaller range of sizes, bras stopping at a D cup really bug me. But more annoying than that is that high street brands suddenly seem to stop making sexy underwear over a certain size. The styles change, the fabrics aren't as pretty, there's less detail. Everything that I love about lingerie seems to be missing.

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    2. Totally agree with that. The notion that, because you're a D+ you want a "full-cup" bra and never a balcony or plunge (which, if properly fitted, I find FAR more flattering) is infuriating.

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    3. I understand that I need more support so a flimsy slip of a thing isn't going to be much use, but give me a little lace and silk!

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    4. Yes! I also have the small back size/large cup size issue. I'd love to be able to pick from a range of pretty underwear, rather than simply having to buy the one bra which actually fitted me properly.

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    5. Thank all the gods for Bravissimo. French and Swiss shops seem to consider that a C cup is the biggest they have to provide. I went up from a C to an E during my first pregnancy (and have stayed that way)- and if it weren't for Bravissimo, I'd have to fly over to the UK every year just to buy bras my size.

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    6. Mimi Holliday also go up to an E, which makes me the happiest person in the world. It's not what you'd call everyday lingerie, but it's bloody gorgeous.

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    7. I also get frustrated about clothes. As a curvy girl, though actually a size 14 over all- there's so many clothes that are remain cut for women with less in the boob department, meaning hunting for stuff which flatters takes longer. Even Pepperberry is expensive. Luckily for bras I discovered www.thebrastop.com (think that's right, if not,google The Bra Stop). Many similar styles to Bravissimo at much lower prices. Kris Line is my favourite brand so far- some gorgeous things. If only they'd launch their own cheaper version of Pepperberry too... I gave up wearing shirts or blouses years ago, but I'd still love more stuff better cut for my shape- especially warmer things right now (though I've been appreciating the resurgence of bat wing tops, with tighter or elasticated cinched in waist bands, so you get a slimmer looking waist- rather than something that ends up baggy all over, just to fit your boobs in!) Meanwhile, I also struggle with jeans and trousers. I had some apple bottoms jeans which fit a bit better, but had poorer quality fabric, so they died within about a year. I'd really love some levis bold curve- as I'd expect the regular 98%denim/cotton content that makes things last longer from them- but in the meantime, it remains a quandry. Still, I'm improving my skills as a seamstress, so maybe I'll be better able to adjust my stuff better soon. Wish I didn't have to, and could buy stuff that fits.

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    8. I agree with Helen, I am nearly 58 but I don't want a bra that looks like a piece of armour, I want a pretty bra that I feel good in

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    9. I've got some good stuff from Pepperberry but it's really overpriced for the quality and sometimes not the most stylish. I think it's just a matter of trying on a lot of stuff - e.g. I'm a 32GG and I can wear shirts from H&M for work. I sew up the fabric between a couple of button holes to stop it gaping and take the shirt off over my head. Slightly stretchy fabric helps!

      The choice of bras in larger sizes has improved dramatically over the last 10 years, so I count myself relatively lucky. I've stopped caring about not being able to buy lingerie in Topshop etc and am just thankful for the nice stuff in M&S.

      I completely agree about the styles in a lot of places - so many of the bras for larger sizes come up really high in the centre and it's not necessary or flatting. Give me a plunge any day.

      Evening dresses are the most difficult as no strapless/backless/halternecks.

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  5. You should try shopping here in Switzerland. The only place I find clothes my size (18) are H&M (and they all seem to be designed by a blind man for a 50-year old the shape of a pumpkin- curves do not exist!), and C&A. Fashion-forward, we are out here. Oh yes.

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  6. I agree with everything you've written. I'm nearly 6ft, size 18 and have size 11 feet. I like to wear good quality clothes and end up paying way more than your average sized girl on the street. It's maddening. Why can't shops cater for girls who are tall and plus size without you being able to spit through the clothes. Most of the plus size shops don't cater for the younger generation either. Very often they are for my mother's generation. I'll never be a small girl, why should I suffer?

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    1. I have only size 8 feet, but I'm also nearly 6ft and size 18-20. I also end up paying over £100 for one dress while my much slimmer sister can run riot on the High St and come home with 2 or 3 outfits for the same money. I completely agree with Anonymous' comment above. I find Evans frumpy and unable to cut for taller big girls. I hate elastic waists. Dorothy Perkins' tall jeans are good, but their plus size range is lacking. Bra shopping is better now I have discovered blogs like Fuller Figure Fuller Bust and Curvywordy. I also feel that the younger generations are not catered for. I still count myself as young - I am only 34 but look younger. I find that more and more I am shopping online rather than on the high st, and more often from abroad (I love Modcloth in the US and Biu Biu in Poland.) British fashion is way behind when it comes to plus sizes.
      Don't even get me started on wide calf (but not wide foot) boots.

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  7. Evans have lost their way, they had a brilliant range with Beth Ditto that sold out almost instantly and since then they ranges have been less than exciting and incredibly expensive. The same problem occurs in SimplyBe, a huge range (Mostly of shapeless/frilly/bejewled dresses) but those items that are appealing are well out of my price range. I am not willing to pay £70 for a denim dress.
    I find it incredibly frustrating trying to dress on trend, a vintage style is easier, but not always appropriate. I have to sing the praises of ASOS curve, although expensive at times, they have regular sales. Forever21+ have a small range, but it's affordable. H&M and New Look are always worth a look. H&M have an online plus size department, but some of their L dresses fit my 22 frame like a dream. New Look are hit and miss, falling into the frilly trap, but their online store has some great designers and their range is quite large.
    I've recently discovered Very go up to large sizes after seeing an OOTD (Outfit of the day) post on tumblr. Good items, but pricey.
    I have discovered that dressing well and in budget means shopping around and buying things when you see them.

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    1. Does it feel a little like an afterthought in most shops?

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    2. Definitely. I wish the UK had a boutique as kick ass and on trend as www.dominodollhouse.com/. Put off from ordering from a US shop after being stung by import taxes before, i've heard they package things as gifts, but still... Their galaxy dress, how their ranges change, designed to fit the fat girl, rather than hide her... Brilliant!
      I took a long way around to body acceptance and finding fashionable, for want of a better word "cool" clothes is sometimes still my self esteem's achilles heal.
      It bugs me when i see a style in a straight size store that they could just size up in their plus size range, but instead they use the same fabric and go for coverage instead. New Look are awful for that. Lace skater dress become lace tunic.

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  8. Hoorah!

    I hate Evans. They're useful, I suppose, but the quality is _awful_. Everything is in thin synthetic fabrics and very cheaply made. I know it keeps costs down, but it keeps me out of there, unless I'm really desperate.
    I recently made my first purchases from ASOS Curve who seem to have some pretty good stuff. Good range of sizes and I like their fit comparison tool for comparing their clothes to ones you own so you can see how they fit. Still some cheap fabrics there, but at least it's fun and fashionable.
    Beyond that, I don't know where to look. I can find some things in Monsoon, M&S and Dotty P. I have the added problem of being tall. (For some reason, things like plus size jeans don't have the leg length options of smaller sizes. Why? Some of us are big AND tall. Surely taller women are more likely to be larger than average in every dimension?) Which makes buying dresses a nightmare. I need space for my bust and length for my body. Apparently tricky to find. :( Perhaps I should just make my own?

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  9. I think there is far too little emphasis given to the potential, and increasingly desperate, plus size market out there. Too often no thought is given to designing specifically for 16+ women, the worst examples being sleeveless dresses, T-shirts and tops cut short, coats and jackets with a double-breasted finish, fitted shirts and dresses. To invest a little time and effort in looking at what plus size women really want would reap huge rewards. And we don't want cheap fabrics either!....

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    1. Polyester is no one's friend.

      I agree with the lack of thought in some designs. On one hand, I think that plus size women should have the same style options, but then I've looked at some items that go up to a 22 and just can't see anyone a size 16+ wearing them. If more thought was point into the design choices, everyone would win.

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    2. Hear, hear, Alison! I agree completely about the lack of design. Although I'm now a size 16 (down from a 22 in the last year), I've always had a well-defined waist - trying to find larger clothes which allow me to show off my waist has been a fruitless task. I don't want a sack!

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  10. Plus size fashion is a disaster. Evans is generally tacky, synthetic and over-fussy designs with the odd, brilliant exception. I used to love Monsoon, but my local store now only stocks to size 18 leaving us 20/22 ladies out in the cold. Drives me mad! Boden is good, but pricey but with some lovely things. I have a linen tunic which I wore to death last summer. M&S is frumpy with their better ranges only going to size 18 - why do they think larger women don't want fashionable clothes? So, shopping is a nightmare. H&M is hit and miss - I find the odd thing. Most catalogues are depressing full of frilly, flowery, gemstone studded crap - not my style or look. Please can someone out there design fashionable, flattering and decently priced clothing for larger women. I hear that Germany,Holland and the Scandinavian countries manage to have a selection, so it's not impossible!

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  11. I am a 14/16 and quite tall - I ordered one of the Lady V Hepburn dresses which arrived yesterday and it is bloody fantastic, really flattering. Hate shopping for jeans though and find dressing casually harder, often resorting to leggings.

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  12. I'm going to be blunt - the vast majority of women over a size 18 are that size because they are *obese*.

    Why are we normalising obesity by making clothes in enormous sizes? If you want to wear fashionable clothes, go on a diet, drop a few dress sizes. If I creep up to a size 14, I will eat less carbs and go to the gym more - I won't simply give up and buy larger clothes. It's not rocket science.

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    1. But there are some clothing ranges that go up to a 12 and no higher, some a size 14. This isn't a debate about weight - the UK average is said to be a dress size 16. Something doesn't add up about that and it's got nothing to do with diet and obesity.

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    2. Hang on. I was 63kg when I got pregnant with my first kid. With a total of three kids, I'm now 86. And I'd be on a diet like a shot- except that I'm breast-feeding, and my doc won't countenance the idea. So until I quit breastfeeding, I have to not only look like a whale, but dress like one too? Not fair!

      I'd also like to point out- I quite like being larger. I will be losing weight because it's bad for my health (arthritic knees at 38- not ideal), and because I'll be better able to run after my kids if I'm hauling less weight, but given the choice, I'd keep most of it on. I like my big boobs, I like my big backside. My husband has been muttering that he wishes that I don't "have" to lose it...

      But I'd give my eye-teeth to be able to wear something that wasn't a variation on leggings-snowboots-jeanskirt-breast-feeding top/jeans-snowboots-breastfeeding top.

      It's all about choice.

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    3. I agree stopping at a size 14 is very wrong (though i've never noticed this on the high street) but I do think high street shops should stop somewhere.

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    4. I'm afraid I kind of agree with that last anonymous post. We shouldn't be normalising obesity at all. It is not in any way ok to be seriously, unhealthily overweight. Having said that, people come in all shapes and sizes and why should taller girls with fuller figures, for example, have more trouble finding clothes? It's a fine line people, a fine line.

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    5. We're not asking the fashion industry to normalise obesity (let's think about that for a second), but there is a demand for better designed clothes in larger sizes. Our perception of what's 'large' is really out of kilter with the UK national average. But the fact is, there's a huge amount of women not being catered for and that's what we want to address.

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    6. "Our perception of what's 'large' is really out of kilter with the UK national average."

      No, it is not. The average size of 16 simply indicates that the UK as a country is becoming more and more obese, sadly. Just because 16 is the average does not make it a medium size!

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    7. The media industries and celebrity obsession has also forced size 0 to become an actual thing. We're so obsessed with the size, the number. That's not about health, that's about judgement.

      We really want this debate to be about fashion and areas in which our high street is lacking, not about weight. Health and taking care of yourself is another is an important issue, but it's very separate.

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    8. I hate this argument so much! It makes my blood boil. No person leads a completely healthy lifestyle. Regardless of how you live you are destroying your body in some way. Our bodies are actually designed to wear and tear and eventually decay. The only difference between a fat person (who might like some cake and a chinese or might actually have a medical condition - but hey, let's just pretend it's lazy people who can't stop shoveling food into their mouths, it makes it so much easier to dehumanise them that way) and a person who smokes is that their vice is visible. If people who smoked walked around with their black lungs on display they would probably receive the same prejudice. Even marathon runners who are otherwise fit and healthy? They're destroying their knees. Why is one persons choice different and more worthy of judgement than anothers?

      I am a plus sized woman because I enjoy eating cake and I enjoy fine, rich food. I am physically fit and go to the gym regularly but I am still over weight. I am okay with this. Why does this mean that I am barred from fashion? Why am I less entitled to the high street? I call BS on this attitude. It absolutely stinks. There is nothing worse about my life choices than anybody elses and while I accept the complications of creating plus sized clothes I do not accept it as an excuse. I also completely reject small minded views of size and what is an acceptable womanly shape. At the end of the day I would rather be with a size 26 woman who is comfortable with herself and styled impeccably than anyone smaller who is as mean as some of these commenters seem to be.

      You're a woman at any size from 0 to whatever. As long as you're happy and you're good to yourself that's all that matters.

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  13. Ah, a troll. How delightful.

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  14. If you really must derail this conversation in order to spew your fat shaming nonsense, then at least have the guts to come off anon. There are a million spaces on the Internet for you to shame and ridicule fat people, so why don't you take your ill informed bullshit somewhere else.

    If it's not your body then it's none of your damned business and you don't get a special prize for being able to maintain a figure smaller than a size 14.

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  15. I do hope that troll comment wasn't aimed at me (13:30 comment. I was under the impression that a troll wrote offensive and abusive things. Why is it offensive to state that it's not ok to be unhealthily overweight? It's not, it's very bad for you and I do agree that people shouldn't normalise obesity. People should respect their bodies, eat healthily and exercise. End of. It's not trolling to say that. But this isn't about that...

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    1. Nowhere does this debate suggest normalising obesity.

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    2. No, no, it was just mentioned earlier by someone else... this has got waaaaaaay out of hand... my point WAS, that while the anonymous user above states that obesity shouldn't be normalised (which it shouldn't, but is a completely different conversation!!)people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and shouldn't be penalised when it comes to fashion for not conforming to 'The Norm'. There. That's all! I wasn't being mean, I really wasn't!!

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    3. I think you're confusing 'normalising obesity' with 'allowing people to wear clothes they like'.

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    4. (and I wrote my comment before I saw your reply. Sorry)

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    5. The same question can be asked of any 'niche' clothing range - whether it's tall or petite. Any woman with large (or small feet). Large chested-women struggle (whatever their dress size). Those ranges aren't good enough either. Our high street doesn't cater for a lot of women and that's not on.

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    6. Plenty of people are that size and DO eat healthily and exercise, Ms Anon. I don't like the assumption that people are only the size they are because of their lifestyle; reality does not bear it out. A friend of mine is 'plus sized' and cycles long distances every day.

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    7. I am currently 'obese' although according to my doctor I am 'overweight'. I am almost 6 ft tall as I have said above, I am a size 18-20, and weight wise over the past year I have been anything between 16.5 and 18.5 stone. I have worn the same dress sizes at both these weights and anything in between.

      When I was at my slimmest, I was much lighter, physically. I was 10.5 stone. But I was still wearing a dress size 16. I had vital stats of 40 bust, 30 waist, 40 hips. My dresses and jeans still had a 16 label. If I had dropped below 10 stone 3, I would have been into the 'unhealthy' range of my BMI. I was cycling 6 miles every day and eating extremely healthily, including using small portion sizes.

      I also have a plus size friend who could kick my butt at the gym. Let's keep this about fashion and not about whether you can tell if a fat person is healthy by looking at them or not.

      Anonymous who was worried if the troll comment was aimed at them (comment 13:30), not, I think it was aimed at the much ruder remark at 13:23. The person who said this: "Why are we normalising obesity by making clothes in enormous sizes? If you want to wear fashionable clothes, go on a diet, drop a few dress sizes." Personally, I find that ridiculously insulting: why should I be banned from wearing the same as other women because I'm fatter than they are? That's just body fascism, fat-shaming and body policing, plain and simple. Which is another term for Hate Speech. And it's the way to give people complexes about their bodies.

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  16. It would be good that more shops actually stock their advertised 'plus' size ranges. In leeds, new look, H&M have both stopped selling theirs and places like DP only stock token gestures by having one size 18+ on their rails.
    Online stores like ASOS are brilliant for ranges but nothing on the high street compares. Sometimes you want to try things on first and not have the wait for delivery and then returns by post.
    Places like Evans and M&S tend to be for the older woman or as Julia says above 'styles that they seem suitable'.
    I am a size 18/20 top and 16/18 bottom which I dont think is large but find it nigh on impossible to shop on the high street, not big enough to be plus size but too big for 'normal' shops.
    Overall, very frustrating!

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  17. I struggle to find clothes that suit my shape. I'm a size 14, but only if my G-cup boobs allow me to be. Bravissimo is wonderful, but I struggle with their clothing brand, Pepperberry. Their dresses are lovely, but some are only 91cm long! I'm 5'11 and I just can't get away with anything that short! My main frustration is that so many shops design clothes that look great on women with smaller frames, and then just scale them up to bigger sizes. I'm maybe carrying a little more weight around my stomach, but I'm a big frame. Dieting isn't going to change that dramatically.

    I also love Lady V London. Oh, hello waist! I don't usually get to see you...

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    1. Lady V are fabulous. And so affordable.

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  18. It's hard being plus size (20/22) and wanting to wear nice clothes - so many of the fat bird catalogues are cheap fabrics - there are places that are go bigger - Next, Monsoon, Debenhams (Rocha, Mantaray), Boden and supermarkets but not in all designs... and not too bad for my age (42)but the range is restricted (even online) and you can never get them in the shops - get fed up of online shopping all the time.

    There is a bigger range in America - but many of the US sites won't deliver to UK (e.g. Gap who go big enough for me in US but not UK.

    I am on a mission to find reasonable jeans at the moment - I will not wear skinny jeans made out of cheap stretchy vaguely denim like stuff - I want jeans that aren't stretchy (or at least don't look it), are't tight on the calf and are actually made out od decent denim...

    Having said that I did just buy a red polkadot dress from Lady Vintage...

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    1. I'm size 20/22 and I've been buying my jeans from Next recently. Their denim is better quality than most and the Slim cuts are very good on a larger leg - not a skinny jean, more of a straight leg, so I find them very flattering. And the sizing is generous.

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  19. Nope, I really struggle on the high street. M&S Autograph range works for work clothes, and everything else I get from ASOS Curve range...

    I also scale between 4 sizes, depending on what shop I'm in.

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  20. Bravissimo is a godsend - I have embarrassingly giant boobs and really struggle to not only get bras which don't look like they've been engineered by NASA but which look nice under tops. It is bad enough that attention is often drawn to my chest without the exact lace outline of my giant bra being on show too.

    The other problem is cost - naturally more material, wire etc is going to be more expensive but wear and tear is also worse, so when I'm buying two bras every three months I don't really want to be paying more than £25/bra. I used to dream of a day when I could buy a bra in a shop on the high street and not order a load online and then have to send back the ones which don't fit.

    I was really excited when Pepperberry launched but their clothes are all a bit frumpy. I bought one dress for a wedding, it was £65 and the hem came down the second time I wore it, for that price I'd rather buy a dress and get it altered to fit. I just want t-shirts which fit right and dresses which don't end up with the bust line and waist in the wrong place - the rest of me is a robust 12/14 so having a bigger top half knocks my proportions out of whack.

    Buying TopShop tall tops sometimes works but my local store has stopped stocking that range...and don't get me started on the daft deep armpit holes which TopShop and H&M have taken to doing on vests, I don't want half my boob hanging out the side of my top thank you very much!!

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    1. Haha! No one wants that, no matter what their size.

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    2. I asked one of the staff in TopShop about the weird cut and she said 'oh its the fashion, you need to wear a boob tube underneath' - I didn't have the heart to point out that a) not even joining all their boob tubes together would create a garment to fit my chest and b) I just wanted a sleeveless top to wear with a skirt, for work, I wasn't arsed about whether it was cool...

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  21. It would help if sizing across the high street was actually as it appeared on the tag - there are so many differences in sizes that even for the most skilled shopper, it can be a mine field. Not once have I been able to just "nip into town" and take home the first dress/pair of jeans/top I like without trying it on. Shopping requires HOURS of patience when you're curvy/tall, and most of the time, it bores me to tears and makes me feel bad about my shape. I've actually given up trying on trousers in H&M as I can't even get a size 18 over my thighs (I'm a size 12-14 in most other places). How anyone above a size 16 copes with todays high street is beyond me - ladies, you have my sympathy x

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  22. P.S Loving the love for Bravissimo and Lady V London!

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  23. As mentioned in the original post...it's not just about plus size! I'm 5'1", DD+ bra but size 8-10 (athletic - read muscley!) so do live in generally oversized tops and taken up trousers! petite ranges are usually a token selection of the most boring items of a range and a tiny number of those! ironically though for sports wear I'm generally a Large!! ha!

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  24. I always walk out of Evans feeling utterly depressed by their clothes: shapeless, expensive, poor quality. I only go in during their sales to buy rings (trying to find rings that fit is as difficult as finding an awesome dress). I like lots of Simply Be clothes but once again they are rather expensive. New Look have lots of great clothes on the rails if you are a size 14 but wander to the back of the shop to the Inspire plus size range and all tailoring has disappeared and it's anything but "inspiring". I wish I could just take gorgeous clothes from their main range and go to their head office and say "can you just make these gorgeous dresses in a size 20 please?".

    M&S do some lovely bras but by far the best range for larger cup AND back size is Asda. Asda do a brilliant selection of gorgeous bras that also give you plunge and lift (most other bra makers just assume because you have naturally big boobs that you don't want them hoisted to look even bigger sometimes!) And for a bargain price of around £6! Monsoon do gorgeous dresses that I am forever falling in love with but rarely able to afford. Shopping for clothes should be fun and exciting but quite often if you are larger than a size 14 the High St can be a very depressing place to be.

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  25. It was actually stated recently that the average size of women in this country has gone up to an 18. The shops definitely do not reflect this.

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  26. I don't want to start the whole 'normalising obesity' debate again. But I can understand some points made by the original anon comment.

    I used to be a size 22 and very over weight. The struggle with finding nice clothes, to be honest, helped give me the wake up call I needed. I'm now down to a 16 and happy to be this size - my BMI could probably be lower but I'm not in a rush. I get frustrated by clothes that have cuts that are clearly just enlarged versions of a size 8. Skinny jeans are the worst! - Yes my waist is larger than a size 10, but really... how much larger do you think ankles can get! Clearly, no consideration has been made for the way in which larger bodies curve! Having said that the variations in curves a size 16 body can have are quite extensive... so maybe if I carry on hunting I'll find a retailer that designs with my curves in mind!

    I've never really looked into shopping at places such as Pepperberry so I'm not sure if this is something they already do but, perhaps retailers should create some kind of sizing system that references body type (apple, pear, hour glass) as well as small / med/ large?



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    1. Agreed, there is some truth in that. When I put on weight and don't fit into a 12 easily, it's because I'm eating utter crap.

      But those arguments are rarely helpful, and often come with a lot of unfair judgement. I don't think 'you're fat, it's your fault so you don't deserve nice clothes' is a discussion worth having.

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  27. I'm a size 22 and have found a revolution in plus size clothing recently (possibly since moving to England from Northern Ireland). I shop mainly from monsoon, boden, pepperberry and bravissimo with a few items from lady V and vivian of holloway. Having said that good plus size fashion is expensive, and I'm lucky enough to be an hourglass (just a big one). I always find bigger sizes from 'normal' high street shops e.g. dorothy perkins have real proportion issues-there seems to be an assumption that women expand equally in all directions resulting in long sleeves or tops that nearly reach my knees.

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    1. This is my issue too, mainly with tights (it's a small issue, I don't lose sleep over it!) - larger sizes tend to be longer as well and if buy xl tights (which in most places is the best fit for my size16 hips), the legs are EIGHT MILES long. X Laura

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  28. My bugbear is H&M - despite being a size 14/16, I regularly have to buy size 18 or 20 clothes there because their sizing is so off.

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  29. As previous posters have pointed out, we REALLY need to regulate what it means to be a "size X" so it's the same across the high street. When I was down to my skinniest (an underweight and unhealthy 7st 10) I was an 8 in New Look, a 10 in Topshop and a 12 in Miss Selfridge! Now I'm an ACTUAL size 10-12, and a brand on ASOS the other day wanted to sell me a dress in a 'Large'. If they think 10-12 is "large" what hope is there for people with more of those lovely womanly curves and big, beautiful boobs?! This is not the message we should be sending to women who are curvier.
    My Mum and sister are both plus-size and really struggle to find clothes that make them feel good - although there have been some bargains found at George, and F&F at Tesco - it's not exactly high fashion but if all the higher-end high street shops are offering is frilly stuff then they might as well get similar for half the price.
    IF on the other hand, there was more out there for Plus sizes, then I know they'd love to buy things that made them feel great.

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  30. I am a plus size women at size 18, go have a look at Pin Up Boutique who cater for all shapes and sizes. The high street was terrible for providing stylish and beautiful clothing not only in the right sizes but things that actually look good on!

    They aim more towards the vintage styled market but have something for everyone, they don't just cater for plus size they have sizes from UK8 right up to UK26 and are actually more competitive than most high street stores!

    You can find them at www.facebook.com/PinUpBoutiqueUK

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  31. Tbh i think shops dont cater for many body sizes and shapes all round just a very small handful. Im generally a uk size 8 but just because they sell 'my size' everywhere does NOT mean the clothes fit me. In fact i really struggle to find clothes that fit me nice because theyre always too big in some places and too small in others. The industry is not just biased towards size but shape. In my experience it assumes women are pair shaped and have very little difference between their breast and waist measurement.

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  32. Rather than regulating 'what it means to be size x', I'm all for getting rid of dress sizes because they don't mean anything and they confuse the hell out of most women and men that I know. It would be far better to have clothes arranged for bust and waist sizes in INCHES, and trousers for waist and hip sizes plus inside leg length, also in inches. Men already do it, they have chest and collar sizes on shirts and waist sizes and inside legs on trousers. Why can't we? Put an end to the tyranny of forcing women into specific dress sizes, which come with all sorts of baggage and inferences. When people realise that measurements are just numbers rather than a symbol of one's self worth, the world will be a better place.

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    Replies
    1. That's such a good idea. We do it with jeans! There's a stigma about certain sizes and a judgement with them as well. I think this would help with the different sizing in shops - men don't seem to have this problem as much. Clothing shouldn't be about the size and label inside - it should be about what fits. That perhaps doesn't solve the issue that the high street still don't cater for larger measurements, but it's a very good place to start!

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  33. I feel as well that often certain styles are rather forced upon people as well. Just because a pair of skinny jeans and a dropped armhole top look great on that 6 foot model, doesn't mean anything'll be doing when I wear them... (tipping the height chart at 5 ft 2") Clothes that truly fit are a joy, and can absolutely transform confidence, whatever your size. It's too rare a find on the high street.

    P.s. How amazing would it be to have a cheap alterations service next to the counter so that EVERYTHING fitted where it's meant to?! Again, this doesn't solve the wider issues, but it would mean that anyone who didn't perfectly conform to the 'average' specifications would feel fantastic in their clothes, rather than just ok.

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  34. I am a size 16-18 with 34J boobs, the only place I can buy bras on the high street is Bravissimo it always makes me laugh when other retailers make a big song and dance about their DD+ ranges and you go in and they stop at an E or F cup! Evans fustrate me as they only seem to cater for women with 38 and above back sizes I think the whole smaller back large cup market needs more choice!
    Both New Look stores where I live had ditched the inspire range which quite frankly was never great and the old H&M BB range was just green and black potato sacks and the odd pair of jeans which you needed to be 7ft tall to wear!
    I quite like ASOS curve but at 37 some of it is too young and jeans just fustrate me no matter where I go. I avoid Topshop as nothing in there will fit but River Island can be good for a few things and just lately Peacocks I got a lovely jersey skater dress.

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  35. I really do feel for large retailers as it isn't easy to make plus sized clothes. It's not the same as taking a pattern that fits a s8 and enlarging it. I am a perfect example of this as although I am a size 18/20 I have absolutely miniscule boobs so to find a dress that fits my stomach/hips but isn't a massive gappy mess at the top? Very difficult. That being said I think sizes on the high street are ridiculous - Primark is the worst culprit! They go up to a size 20 but my Nan who is a 12/14 wears an 18 in there.
    I find it very difficult to buy clothes. I absolutely can not stand Evans. All of their clothes just seem so dated and tent like. I might be a bigger woman but I still want to look good you know? I personally like Monsoon but that can be quite expensive. I am envious of my friends who can buy 'fast fashion' and constantly wear new things but on the other side of the coin... I invest more in my clothes and so they usually stand out simply because no one else has them.

    My plus size wish list: More options when it comes to tights/stockings, more shoes in wide fit, no ponchos ever, more empire cut dresses and also less tunics. I like them and all but a girl needs some structure sometimes!

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  36. Also! I would like to add - of all the people who need to try and clothes plus size women are probably the people who need to try them on the most! We are a curvaceous bunch and we have them in all different places. What might fit one s18 might not fit another so why are the majority of our options online? Sigh. We need a shop that isn't a regular sized shop saying *whispers* 'oh btw. fatties? we have some ponchos for you and some super bedazzled tunics! Oh and mom jeans lolz we know u luv those.'
    We need a brand new shop that caters to the fashion savvy, stylish bodacious women that essentially RAWRS out of the hight street and is like 'We're here!! Cover your goodies with these delectable morsels! You go girl!' I would call it Fierce and it would be awesome. If only I could sew...

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  37. A problem I find is that even when clothes are sold in larger sizes in high street shops, they are simply scaled-up versions of the stuff they are selling to the size 6s. I am 5' 9" and a size 16: shift dresses are very unflattering, as are very high necklines, and a lot of summer clothes look tarty as they barely cover my boobs. Places like Monsoon do brilliant clothes that fit, but as a student I can't afford to shop there.

    Also, do anyone else object to being called 'plus sized' when we are not overweight, just tall?

    Rant over. Phew.

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  38. I'm absolutely sold on a new sizing system, like the way we buy jeans. I'm a size 10 and despite being a very regular high street size, find the assumption that all my vital statistics will conform to each brand's idea (these vary hugely) of a size 10, rather limiting at times. It would be refreshing from both a fitting point of view and a mental association with certain sizes point of view to wave goodbye to the whole standard women's sizes thing.

    I think re plus sizes, most brands has got it all arse about tit. They've gone down the scaled up size 6 route. This flatters NOBODY. So nobody buys it. They lose money. They decide 16 aren't worth bothering with. They cut or even scrap their range.

    What they should have done was to employ a dedicated designer to design well thought out plus size ranges, that people might actually buy. Of course the afforementioned revolution in the sizing system would help no end with this, because, as previously discussed, curvier girls are not all curvier in the same directions.

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  39. I find, as the proud owner of 38-J boobs, that knitwear is the absolute worst. This year it has been nothing but short jumpers with very high round necklines. I'm 27, and gaze longingly at all the cute little jumpers with foxes and rabbits on them, but know that they would make my boobs look like a shelf and would finish inches above my waist-band. Sad times!

    P.S. I firmly believe that the current culture of using shame to pressure women into looking a certain way is deeply flawed. I feel a positive 'be healthy, you are worth it!' approach would be much more productive than the approach I generally get, which is 'you are worth nothing at this weight, and we don't want to suggest you are an acceptable human being in any way by providing clothes that make you feel good as you are'. When people feel good about themselves they start to believe they are worth the effort of being healthy - which is not the same as being thin.

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  40. Can I just share a revelation that is the Wrap and Poetry new Spring catalogues and websites, which I've just browsed (think they're the same company) which are full of lovely, elegant linen, cotton and silk unstructured separates, T-shirts, cardigans and dresses in sizes up to a 22. Yay! I could (but will try not to) spend a fortune, but feel generally uplifted that there's something out there I can actually wear this season!

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  41. I'm 5ft 10, I have very broad shoulders, long arms, 40-42E boobs, 34" inside legs and rock between a size 20-22 on the top, 18-20 on the bottoms and have size 9/43 feet. Having PCOS I carry my weight around my middle. I am a professional who desperately wishes for well made clothing that isn't £200 for a top or dress. I live in Monsoon, but only for tops and dresses (their trousers are too short). I buy trousers/jeans from Long Tall Sally/M&S- but not M&S tops (Their tops are too short in the body and arms, too narrow on the bust and the shoulders? Please!). I am pig-bloody-sick of being proffered the crap that is being peddled by Evans, Simply Be, Very.co.uk, Isme and the like. They all go to the same manufacturers and have the same objective - 'Look, we have to be seen to be catering for these types, so knock out some horrendously made, ill proportioned and unfashionable crap and we'll charge them the earth for it. They'll just be grateful we bothered'. I am not bloody grateful. I am big and tall and I want something that isn't made out of polyester or stretch jersey, will drape with class and fits. I have had to have bespoke suits made (which cost the earth) but that's what I had to do to get something that was even vaguely acceptable. If I had some serious capital... I would be designing that shop which does quality big clothing for tall people, at a reasonable price, accompanied by Tankini's which are underwired and designed for proper bust sizes, with a selection of large-sized shoes which aren't made out of the cheapest materials or with 9" platform heels. I am not on the bloody game! To all the big and tall girls out there - I feel your pain and have done for 36 years. Maybe I should take a sabbatical from my day job and give some serious thought to this issue.. The likes of the major chains aren't going to bother and as someone observed up there ^^^^ I think it would be a cracking business opportunity. Lots of love to all you equally frustrated big girls!(Except, of course, to the self-congratulatory size 14-er. Your size should be reward enough!)

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  42. You could start by using REAL plus size models' photographs in your article!

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    1. The issue is more that most shops with plus size ranges don't use plus size models. - that's not our fault.

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  43. This kind of thing makes going shopping for new clothes whether for everyday or special occasion a nightmere, Once I even broke down in a changing room after several hours of trying to find a nice dress for a wedding Id been invited to, at the time I was a 12 around my waist but have large G size boobs and could not fine anything that would fit, there is either Zara ,Top Shop ,Warehouse ,Jigsaw and miss sixty who have pretty current styles that appeal to me as a young girl or there are shops like Evans, Peacocks who have bigger sizes but styles seem aimed at older clientele, I actually have a figure and with all these women out there paying all this money to have my bust I would of thought there would be more clothes out there which gives more allowance for a big bust but to show off a figure too, Im fed up of having to don the likeness of a circus tent or potato sack to get something to fit!

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  44. I know this is a very old post but I wanted to add that I am currently a size 22, having dropped a dress size recently, and I feel all your pain. I've really struggled to find a nice dress for a wedding I have to go to soon. That said, those of you who are looking for jeans; I buy all mine at Yours Clothing. They are proper denim, with very little if any stretch and no elastic waistbands (hurrah!). They do three leg lengths too - the 32" leg fits me and I'm 5'7.

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