A third of European women are a size 16 or over. And the local plus-size fashion market is estimated to be worth £6.44 billion. But, despite this, fashion designers and buyers seem to rarely hit the mark when it comes to stocking what I actually want to wear. While you could speculate that this is due to there being a small percentage of plus-size women who work in the fashion industry; it's evident that the industry has some evolving to do.
Finding my style as a young plus-size woman was really challenging. Retailers seem to only go from one extreme to another: either super provocative or incredibly mature. Although fashion has come a long way since the early 2000s, and my days of accompanying my mum to the only plus-size shop in the mall are behind me, there's still a stark contrast between high street stores' 'main' versus 'plus-sizes' ranges.
Another muted floral print. A black tunic. Look! Another tent-like dress... While some brands consistently provide great curvy pieces (scroll down for our faves), there's still a lot of high street brands who keep pumping out the same few 'blah' pieces. So, dear fashion retailers, this is what I don't want to wear anymore - and I suspect I'm not alone.
Cold shoulder tops
In 2018, the cold shoulder became an 'It'-trend in plus-size collections. Unbeknownst to many, curvy fashion stores would manage to find a way to incorporate this - often impractical - design into every collective thereafter. What started as a fairly cute twist to the classic black tee or dress quickly became the most infuriating design decision. No, my jumper doesn't need to have a cold shoulder, it's winter. Yet two years on, you can be sure there's a brand adding this style to 'new in'. I don't want it.
Floral and polka dot prints
There's nothing groundbreaking, interesting or exciting about floral print, and in all honestly, there never was. As the rest of the fashion world evolves and moves on from florals and polka dots, plus-size fashion seems to be stuck. I don't mind the odd floral item. In fact, one of my favourite dresses is the infamous floral embroidered mesh dress from H&M that everyone owned or wanted to own in 2017. Yet that piece is fun, young and fresh, and doesn't feel like it should be a curtain or dining table cloth in my grandmother's home. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for lots of the other floral options available in curve collections...
Shapeless smock dresses
While smock dresses are great for the occasional 'throw on and go' moment; they aren't the staple retailers have made them out to be. I want tailored dresses that are cut to show off and accentuate my curves. I shouldn't have to fork out extra money to get a dress altered or think of a creative way to belt an item to create some shape - the shape should already be there, or at least be an option among the dresses.
Beige, black and grey everything
Not everything needs to be dull and dark. This trend of making plus-size ranges in moody or neutral tones, while the same brand includes electric, fuchsia and jewel tones in their straight-size collection is my biggest pain point. Plus-size women want the option to wear colour just as much as women who can fit in size 6-18. We all love an LBD, but we don't need our wardrobe to only consist of black. Give me some damn colour.
The same two skirts
If it's not faux leather or denim, you probably won't find another skirt in a curve collection. Even using my own wardrobe as an example, the two skirts I own are black and faux leather. Why aren't brands making stylish skirts in a size 20 and beyond? I’d love to see more sequin drenched, bold printed skirts, ruched minis or preppy bouclé skirts with a cropped blazer to match. And it doesn’t always have to be black - again, colour pls.
What brands need to realise is plus-size women like me want to feel as confident, beautiful and sexy in their clothes just as much as anyone else. Our size shouldn't stop us from wearing what we want. But to be able to do that, retailers need to create those options.
Brands that do cater to the stylish plus-size woman
New Girl Order Curve: Designed with the online shopper in mind, this brand is so far removed from tent-like dresses, dark tones and floral prints. New Girl Order Curve is the destination for the edgy, cool girl who you either want to be friends with or date. Sizing ranging from an 18 - 28.
ASOS: When it comes to wide ranges and offering something for everyone, ASOS is the retailer. From classic to trend-driven pieces and sizes running from 16-30, it’s got everything for every kind of girl.
Kai Collective: This brand may be smaller but its impact is unmatched. Worn by celebrities like Saweetie, Ella Eyre, and Tiwa Savage; Fisayo Longe has created a label that empowers women of all shapes and sizes. If that messaging alone doesn’t make you feel sexy, Kai Collective’s pieces sure will. Catering to those who want attainable clothing with luxury aesthetics from a size 6-22.
Very: This is a one-stop destination for all your shopping needs. Between their V By Very brand, and offering some of the latest trends by your favourite brands, Very speaks to all your retail needs.
Violeta by Mango: For the woman who is effortlessly chic, minimalist and laid back, Mango’s plus-size range is perfect. Available in sizes 14-26, their range is designed to be comfortable, feminine and modern.
Simply Be: Their slogan says it all: “curves take centre-stage”. When it comes to finding the classic LBD, bold and sexy lingerie and figure hugging jeans, Simply Be is the place to go. Available in sizes 8-34, there’s no woman who isn’t catered for.
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