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…