Friday, 29 August 2008


Far more influential blogs than this one have written about Duo The Somerset based firm that are the only place I know of selling calf-fitting boots in a range to fit between 30-50cm. Prices are typically £150-£200 but the quality is good and my first pair has lasted two Scottish winters. This year I'm thinking of purchasing their Navarra style a suede flat heeled boot that nods to this winter's principal boy trend. The company seems to be thriving and have gone from a mail-order only business to opening several "fitting rooms" where you can be measured by a trained assistant and try on any number of styles to get a sense of how they fit. After years of boot misery I was very sceptical about the service and the fitting was probably one of the most pleasurable shopping experiences I've ever had. Now that I'm familiar with the range I'm confident enough to order by mail.

Duo have also branched out to sell width fitting shoes. This is another neglected market in the UK and they should do well. Though the styles could do with being a bit more contemporary as there is an over-abundance of the kitten heel to a degree not seen since the mid-nineties heyday of LK Bennet. Some styles like the Daisy pictured here are much more sucessful

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Suit Shopping

As mentioned above I spent today shopping for a new trouser suit. Never a pleasant task when you are wide of hip and short of leg. Nonetheless I'm happy with my final purchase from the very reliable Betty Jackson Black range from Debenhams. I got a very plain black jacket with a Peter Pan collar and matching trousers in hallelujah! Shorter leg length. The range goes up to a generously cut size 20. The Quality and finish of this range for the price (£120 for the suit) is exceptional) Its a healthy sign that there is hardly ever anything from this range on sale. I think it fills a real gap in the market for women looking for a design led range that is not too flimsy and wearable for formal occassions.
Other places searched included Marks & Spencer where there were a few choices in somewhat garish looking stripes. There seemed to be a more promising Autograph Essentials range but not in any larger sizes in the branch I was in.
Then there is Next. I'll probably have a full rant in a future post on the size range there but suffice to say today there were plenty of good looking suits but not available on the racks in size 20-22.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


After the bile in my last post I thought I should turn my attention to writing about a clothing range that I like and one of my favourites is Wrap a UK based mail order company who produce four seasonal catalogues throughout the year mostly of separates in natural fibres. Their size range goes from 8-22 and they have different length options available for trousers and skirts.

This spotted silk pleated blouse is a good example of why I like their stuff. Its quirky and distinctive looking,without being garish; it could pass for a Jaegar blouse. Furthermore it is made in pure silk; this does mean it costs £99 but my guess is that any purchaser would get good mileage from it as it could be teamed with jeans (as in the picture) or with a black wool skirt or trousers for work and be a signature piece for at least a season.

I also love this coat and am seriously considering purchasing it for this winter. Its £169 so I reason a coat is good value as it costs less than two blouses. Its 100% boiled wool and has a neat combination of both 50's and military styling. It comes in charcoal as well as the red but I think this colour works really well.
If I'm going to order it I guess I should act quickly as the larger sizes go fast. If Wrap had a high street presence where I could go in and touch the clothes I'd probably have a wardrobe of their stuff.

I'm hoping to go out shopping for a trouser suit for work this weekend. I'm determined to pick something wearable off the shelf. I'm pretty sure that I'll exhaust and depress myself in all the usual places before ending up in Marks & Spencer, but we'll see.

Thursday, 14 August 2008


It seems to me that plus sized clothes specialists fall into a number of different categories; none of which merit the term wearable. Here are my definitions of how the market splits up:


I've lost count of the number of times I've been promised glamourous, fashionable clothes in extended sizing only to find on viewing a range of garishly coloured synthetics with ugly prints and elasticated waists. Anne Harvey and Elvi are the most visible contenders on the High Street here. the latter is the purveyor of the truly horrible purple T-shirt featured above. Yours for only £39 Stella McCartney fans! But this is the most prevalent style available for mail order too and even more upmarket retailers like Chesca push this look. Noone under 50 would wear this stuff and those that do look frumpy, so why is it everywhere?


Loose, flowing, natural fabrics in lots and lots and lots of layers. Thus giving the wearer the appearance of a mummy (not a yummy one) Specialist boutiques stock this look often pushing this stuff for big bucks claiming some kind of Euro-exclusivity.

Muffin tops
This term I apply to places like New Look, Dorothy Perkins and Evans. It is admirable that they do extended ranges of sizing in fashionable styles that are accessible and affordable. However, the flatter factor of low rise jeans or waist-skimming tops is something that many purchasers might want to take into account. There are also only so many lemon stencil print t-shirts you might want to buy every season before turning your attention to say a nice well cut jacket. You may be looking for quite some time before finding such an item in these stores.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Why Fashion for Aliens

This blog is my attempt to chronicle the difficulties that women who are non standard sizes have coping with the limited ranges that there are on the British High Street to dress themselves fashionably.
I'm a UK size 20-22 (US 18-20, Euro 48-50) and I have a reasonable amount of money to spend on clothes. I could drop about £250 on a Business Suit but I can find precious few places that will allow me to do so.
If things are difficult for me then I can't imagine how much of an effort it must be if I were less than 5ft tall, more than 6ft tall, or if I had a disability that affected the choices I made when I got dressed.
To the fashion industry we are fashion aliens; creatures as odd or exotic to designers as your average Latvian model might seem if she were parachuted behind the checkout at your local Morrisons. The fact that we are present in sizable numbers seems to count for very little because the industry likes templates that are easy to supply and stock in mass numbers so we are literally marginalised and "tokenised". Stores may claim to offer clothes in wide size ranges but in practice tiny numbers of the sizes at the top and bottom of the scale are produced and often they are not displayed or restocked after an initial sale.
In postings I'll try to find good sources of clothes and I'll name those I think are the worst offenders. I'll probably also use this as a forum for chronicling my own shopping habits.
I'd love any input from anyone that takes the time to read this stuff; mostly I'll just be grateful (and a little embarrased) if you do.