The Perfect Fit

No matter how my weight has fluctuated I’ve always had problems finding clothes to fit me properly, in particular dresses. Shopping was a nightmare. There’s nothing worse than hitting the shops with enthusiasm, a skip in your step and a few hard earned quid in your purse only to find that nothing nice fits you. If I wore one that accommodated my bust then it would be hang around the hips like old stretched washing; I’d have to gather it in with a belt to stop the item – no matter how expensive – looking like a shapeless sack.  On the flip side, dresses which were perfect around my hips weren’t woman enough to cope with my top half, leading to gaping buttons at best or me committing indecent exposure at the very worst!

Throughout my twenties and early thirties I never wore a dress as they just looked awful on me, in fitted frocks I’d bulge all over the place like a fat sausage with too much filling. It’s something I feel a real sense of sadness and loss about; I was forced instead to settle for skirts and tops of wildly differing sizes. Even on my wedding day I had to wear a suit instead of the dress I really hankered after. I did a happy jig when they introduced Lycra into clothes but a tailored top took me up to a size 20 a couple of times, and believe me I’m nowhere near that.

In recent years shops have cracked on to the fact women’s bodies come in all shapes and sizes (well done, retail sector!) and so us full figured women are better catered for. There’s room for improvement though and much of it.
Should any clothing stores be reading this is there any chance we could get shut of the  unattractive label of ‘plus size’? I have generously proportioned chest and hips in my possession and I’m proud of both; I shouldn’t have to slink into an out-of-the-way corner of the shop – where the plus size range is typically located – as if I’m an undesirable distant relative at a wedding, or a flabby elephant. And while I’m on the subject can shops for curvier women call a halt to the row up row of shapeless unflattering tunics which don’t acknowledge we have waists and make us look a good stone heavier than we are? They’re horrid!

But, steps although hesitant baby ones must be acknowledged. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar and so forth.  It’s a move in the right direction that curvier women are acknowledged on the high street and progressions need to be applauded – although not that much, we don’t want the clothing chains and designers to get cocky and complacent, do we?

The day I discovered Liverpool’s Bravissimo shop was one I’ll always remember. For the first time I bought a dress – a wrap around one; I still have it three years on – that actually fitted and flattered my figure. It emphasised my good points and were kind and forgiving about the ones not so great. The feeling was alien to me, so much so I felt the urge to pick up the assistant in the changing room, twirl her around and kiss her (I didn’t, by the way. That sort of thing tends to be frowned upon).

The chain paved the way in telling women they are a realistic size by giving their nice, pretty and feminine clothes the correct cut which curvy women need.

With Pepperberry, I am size 16 Super Curvy to accommodate my bust and the dress fits the rest of me as well and not two whole sizes bigger like some other shops! My wardrobe now contains fitted tailored dresses, a design I prefer rather than smocks or baggy ones – much more me!

Up until the last year my husband and friends stopped asking me where I got a new dress from because they knew the answer would be – yep, you guessed it, Bravissimo or Pepperberry.

But over the last year in particular, other shops such as SimplyBe have now acknowledged the need for a more generous cut around the bust and/or hips meaning progress is being made. Now I have more of a retail palette to choose from I can keep them guessing! I still look forward to more from high street names as they realise there’s a market in clothing full figured women properly. After all, our cash is as good as that of our more slender counterparts. Or so you’d think…

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10 comments

  1. I suffer from the same blessing / curse. I am fed up with wearing tops that are too big and am going to see if there is a Pepperberry store near me.

    • Thanks for your comment.
      There’s more of us ‘out there’ than designers think!
      I think most of the stores are called Bravissimo, they sell undies from Bravissimo and Pepperberry outer clothing.

  2. Whilst I am NOT a full figured gall(wish I was)-I can somewhat relate to your experiences. I had a mastectomy in 2009, and for 2 years(before my reconstructive surgery) I had to wear a rubber prosthesis, and struggle to find clothes that would disguise the fact that my chest was caved in on one side. Believe me, it wasn’t easy finding clothing that was stylish, and not matronly(I was only 38) but covered everything. I know it’s not the same, but my feeling was one of being isolated, and it seemed like no clothing company understtood this challenge. You look around, and you see awareness of so many issues; gay/lesbian issues, environmental issues, etc. but everyone seemed unaware of the need for stylish mastectomy fashions that would repair our broken self image as women. A mastectomy is so hard, society doesn’t make it any easier. Full figured galls must feel some what the same, since it seems like society ignores them in favor of wafer thin models who look like they survive on a trisket a day, and bottled water. LOL.

    • Thanks for that, Roxi.
      I suppose the thing we have in common is that we want to look and feel nice in the clothes we wear and that they flatter us.
      I never considered the problems of those who have had mastectomies, so thank you for sharing – certainly food for thought!

  3. Hi Cath,
    Good for you! I have also recently discovered the joys of appropriately shaped clothing from Pepperberry and also polish company BiuBiu. Have you tried the BiuBiu clothes yet?
    Unfortunately I’m in Australia and we don’t have anything similar locally so I have to order online and cross my fingers that I’ve picked the right size.
    Good luck with the blog.

    • Penny, I haven’t heard of Bui Bui – do they supply any high street shops? If not, the problem I have with buying stuff for my figure on-line is that it’s a lucky dip at what fits properly – each designer has different size fittings. For example I’m 16 super curvy with Bravissimo and 18 with Evans (but the sleeves on things with them tend to be a bit long but not it’s a huge problem).
      I’ll still look into Bui Bui, though – thanks for the tip

  4. I am afraid the problem with fit may be just due to financial reasons. Clothes for curvy women are probably harder to design, harder to produce at a reasonable price and harder to sell. I mean: you have to put more effort in design, probably more money in sewing as you will not be making a 1000 identical ones and a lot of money in advertising to reach all those women who need your clothes. Because most just think that “nothing fits” and “there is something wrong with me”. They do not suspect that a well fitted bra and a well fitted bust friendly top would actually make them so much slimmer. So for ordinary high street companies it is probably not worth is – a lot of trouble, little gain.

    It is so good to have companies like Pepperberry or BiuBiu (I have not yet had a chance to try SimplyBe, not sure how I would fit into their sizing with my 14SD / 32JJ).

    More articles like yours are needed, both for women to realise they may actually need curvy clothing (not necessary plus size, actually) – and for stores to realise there is such demand.

    • Hi Clarisse, you’re so right about the value of a good fitting bra! That’s an idea for a future article on here so thanks, I’ll be ‘stealing’ that one.
      It’s true as well that clothing for curvy women is a bit dearer which is an issue, but I find it’s better quality so lasts longer.
      It’s all about awareness and getting people talking so the industry takes notice!

    • As the owner of BiuBiu and a designer of clothes for curvy ladies, I can partly agree with the comment above. Designing itself is not a challenge, although it does require much more time and trials than standard clothing. But the demand, even though it is voiced on the internet quite loud, does not seem so big when it comes to real life. In spite of that, I am proud to have created my own brand of clothing which has already got some renown among international lingerie-and-clothing bloggers.

  5. It’s great news that our voice is being heard and more designers & clothing manufacturers like yourself are taking the plunge.
    I’m going to check out your website and have a look.
    Thanks very much for posting!

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