yet another clothes question
October 31, 2012 4:07 AM   Subscribe

Where am I NOT looking for great women's clothes which aren't too expensive? I'm a UK size 18 (US size 16, I think), and shop in all the usual UK high street places that go up to that size. I'm looking for clothes which are a little quirkier and more interesting than what you can find there.

Another clothes-question for fashionable MeFites...

A lot of the time I feel I look like everybody else. Some time ago I was at a party chatting with a couple of other slightly bigger girls and someone pointed out we were all wearing the same thing (wrap dress, long-sleeved tee-shirt underneath, tights, boots).

I shop at the usual places: New Look, H&M, Dorothy Perkins, Debenhams, Next etc. Also thrift shops. I feel like I am missing out on some more interesting options because a lot of places don't go up to my size, e.g. Topshop.

Does anyone know any slightly more offbeat and interesting places that do go up to my size and aren't too expensive? Mail order is cool too as long as they ship to the UK.

I have a pear shaped figure. I never wear things that are too tight. I hate "bodycon" clothes. My style is feminine but grown-up (not little girly), I love V-necks, bright solids, dresses with flared skirts. Ideally I'd do all my shopping at Modcloth, except they're based in the US and it costs a lot to get their clothes shipped over here.
posted by Ziggy500 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not from the UK, but there's a tumblr I read a lot by a woman in London, Buttercup's Frocks, who wears plus sizes and who looks pretty original. She dresses with a lot more patterns than you do, but she likes brights and dresses and tights and so on. I think her blogroll also has more UK plus size fashion bloggers.

She seems to get a lot of things in the sale at Monsoon. Back when I wore dresses, I got a lot of Monsoon dresses and skirts via Ebay and was always impressed with the quality. The sizes seemed to run relatively large even for UK sizes, ie I would wear my "US" size even though normally I'd take one size up in UK sizing. I feel like the prices on eBay for new or gently used Monsoon are very good.

I also liked cotton tunics from Evans, which I got via eBay.I felt like they were a bit nicer than US plus size places like Lane Bryant. Honestly, I got/get a LOT of stuff from the UK via eBay - I'd pick things that were either loose, so precise sizing didn't matter, or else things that had precise measurements.

This UK girl at Fatty Unbound has a lot of unusual stuff and seems to do well with sales and thrifting. She sews her own skirts, too, which might be an option. There's an Australian blogger (which has nothing to do with the UK!) called Frocks and Frou Frou who is a small plus size who has begun sewing her own skirts and seems to think that it's not too hard - that would be a way to add some uniqueness.

I don't know what is available to you in terms of fabric dye and washing machines, but if you have your own machine or access to one that you can use for a few hours, you can also fabric dye stuff. I do this to make slight color improvements - I got a pair of pale beige pants, for example, and overdyed them pale gold. I got a shirt in a weird off pale blue and overdyed it with pale aqua so that it's a good color for me now. Often people compliment these items - they're just ordinary shirts and pants, but in better colors than available in the shops. Especially if you are using light colors or dilute color to make this kind of slight change, the clean-up and likelihood of serious mess is small. I have done this in landlords' washing machines but only very carefully. (Tub dying is tricky and I don't usually do it.)
posted by Frowner at 5:13 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think one of the frustrating realities of being at the upper end of high street sizes (and I say that as a UK 16-18!) is that you have to work really bloody hard to find the interesting things – that one cute blouson dress is the only thing that's right in a shop full of clothes, etc.

Do you shop at ASOS? It's a serious mixed bag in terms of aesthetics and there's the hassle of sizing, but I've gotten some amazing jersey dresses there in great colours, as well as a few other bits. If you're not used to it, I'd recommend filtering by your size and a rough price range to avoid being overwhelmed. They have a plus-size range (Curve) too.

If you're not already familiar with NW3, there's a slightly vintage, printed quality to many of their clothes that you might love. Lots of nice things still show up around sale time, if it's looking too pricey right now.

Much more contemporary and a minimal kind of feminine, but you might also want to check out what's in COS every month or so, as a few things might fit the bill. I've a few dresses from here and they're very flattering and interesting, without looking like I've just gone with the Trinny and Susannah magic fix for my shape.

Seconding Frowner's suggestion of sewing, too. It's not super hard to learn to make a skirt and there's so many lovely, relatively affordable fabric options that this can be a game-changer. And (though if you're like me, this is one of the jokes in that same party conversation), having fucking awesome accessories and good colour combinations does wonders too – I've been getting huge joy recently out of an orange Gap belt and a pink necklace together over a black dress, etc.
posted by carbide at 5:46 AM on October 31, 2012

Increase your frequency at thrift stores and charity shops. I go as often as I can and find cheap, cute things that can supplement a basic high street wardrobe.
posted by mibo at 6:14 AM on October 31, 2012

Are you shopping online? For example, if you got to ASOS you can sort by size. Going to "dresses" and sorting by UK size 18 you get 454 options.

They have a whole range (ASOS Curve) for curvy figures. 75 products for size 18 women in there.

posted by MuffinMan at 6:31 AM on October 31, 2012

A friend of mine runs an online shop that does clothes in those sizes. She specialises in "boho batik" but not all of the fabrics are patterned.

I did clear this with the mods, for I fear the banhammer!
posted by hardcode at 6:42 AM on October 31, 2012

You say you're looking in 'thrift shops' (scare-quoted because those don't strictly speaking exist here), but charity shops vary immensely in what they offer and pricing, so it may be worth looking around a bit more. I also think you might have more luck at some of the vintage clothing markets in London, like the one in the Truman Brewery or the scuzzy end of Portobello. When shopping with smaller and more feminine women than me, it's often been the case that they are disappointed because all the cutest dresses on display are in larger sizes - I guess the small ones are snapped up by waiflike hipsters.
posted by Acheman at 7:06 AM on October 31, 2012

Boden was originally just in the UK and continue to offer a UK-specific site with UK sizing. It looks like their dresses go from UK size 6-22. They have tons of great dresses, shirts, sweaters, skirts, etc. Keep a close eye on their sale section and sign up for their emails for discounts.
posted by barnone at 7:55 AM on October 31, 2012

Nthing ASOS Curve, Boden and Monsoon. And Cos is my FAVORITE SHOP (which sadly doesn't ship to the US, where I now live).

Simply Be sometimes has some cute stuff.

Also, Joe Browns.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:09 AM on October 31, 2012

Response by poster: You guys rock. I am already a big fan of the Asos Curve line, but I see that their main clothing line goes up to 18 which gives me a little more choice.

Thanks a lot for the pointers towards Boden and Swirl clothing, I foresee lots of happy internet shopping in my future ;)
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:19 AM on October 31, 2012

Cute tights in various colours, interesting shoes and accessories can make a ton of difference, without stretching your budget too much. I wear a lot of clothes that aren't that interesting on their own, but with quirky additions that make my outfits more memorable. My budget is next to nothing, so little things count for a lot.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 11:35 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with everyone so far but also purses! The one I carry is from a local company (to me if you're interested) and EVERYONE wants to talk to me about it. Dudes and ladies! I used to love changing purses all the time but now I just use the same one every dang day because it gets so many compliments. If I'm wearing something kinda plain I still feel stylish because of the bag.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 11:48 AM on October 31, 2012

I'm also a size 18 and buy a lot of pieces at Jaeger - one of my favourite and most unusual dresses is from them. They are expensive, so I usually buy secondhand on eBay or stalk their (many) sales.
posted by ukdanae at 12:49 PM on October 31, 2012

Apparently I have become the official Cornish clothing representative, but try Seasalt, it's priced somewhat more cheaply than Boden - and goes up to size 20. The clothes are beautiful and last really well, they're all named after Cornish places/things too.
posted by Augenblick at 5:34 AM on November 1, 2012

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