Shopping on the high street, online & vintage when you’re a curvy girl

I’ve had a bit of a result today when buying a piece of vintage clothing. I spotted a Laura Ashley dress in my local charity shop and snapped it up, thinking that I’d be able to take it in if it was too big. The tag said size 14 but I didn’t consider the difference between modern and retro measurements, which put this dress at a standard size 10 in today’s sizing. Thankfully, the zip did do up, but it got me thinking about sizes on the high street today and how different it used to be. So watch out if you’re buying vintage, because the sizes are considerably different so always check the measurements, especially if buying online!

In high street stores dressing a fuller figure can often lead to tears in the changing room, frustration when looking at size tags and annoyance when staring at the size six mannequins proudly modelling the clothes. If you are a size 16 or above, so commonly perceived as a plus size (whilst also being the UK’s average size), fashion is just as important and dressing for your shape is only a challenge if you are in the wrong store.  Online there is a much better selection of plus sized clothing options with many sites offering excellent guides on how to dress your shape to look stylish for any occasion. I’ve had a lot of demand for curvy tutus, petticoats and custom-made fashion skirts and am soon to launch a new curvy range on my website – here’s Hanna from TheWardrobeChallenge.co.uk wearing one of my tulle skirts, punking it up in a leather jacket and boots:

the wardrobe challenge hanna photo of tulle skirt for punky princess fashion look

Here’s some tips on dressing a plus sized figure

  1. Go for fabrics that compliment your size. Skin tight Lycra tends to be unforgiving and clings to all the parts of your body that you prefer to hide.  More complimentary fabrics include silk, linen, and cotton which gently cover and shade any bumps that you would like to keep out of sight whilst feeling gorgeous against your skin.
  2. Show off your best bits: curvy girls tend to have fabulous boobs, so choose a flattering V-neck or scoop neck which highlights your assets.  Know the parts of your body that you want to show off and choose clothes based on that. I love checking out the CurvyWordy.com fashion blog for inspirational styling ideas.
  3. Be bold – being plus sized doesn’t mean you have to hide behind a sea of black clothing, so long as the size and style is right you can be as bold in the colour stakes as you wish.  Work from the inside out, make sure you have good underwear. A great fitting bra and pants that offer support as well as reducing lines can really impact how you look when putting on your clothes.

Most of all, don’t worry about the label, as size is irrelevant when it comes to style; wear what fits rather than trying to squeeze into what is normally ‘your dress size’.  Nothing looks worse than badly fitting clothes that force your natural shape into uncomfortable clothing!

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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