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Here are all the posts in our Forum/Blog on the topic of Customers: special requirements...

Kim P    Saturday 13 May 2017 at 19:08

 Post #493 

Subject: Clothing Alterations

In case anyone is interested the wonderful Denisa who used to do Emma's alterations is still around. She has just done a superb job repairing a Tomo dress I had purchased but had managed to rip the sleeve before even wearing it! She also did a great job shortening a couple of pairs of jeans.

I posted the items to her as I am not local to Brighton and will definitely ask her to do any future alterations. Her prices are very reasonable and the quality of work first class. She is away at the moment but her number is 01273 696410


Marguerite    Sunday 27 January 2013 at 22:30

 Post #332 

Subject: Beyond help?

After extensive surgery that went haywire I am left with these measurements 56'' 57'' 60'' yet all the weight on my hips is on my bum so I go out and the waist and in at the groin (Tummy was removed but massive hernia makes me stick out at waist) and then I have massive thighs. I am getting to the point where I am getting housebound as the only way trousers or skirts will stay up is if I pin wide elastic to my bra and then pin it to the elasticated waist. When I was 20'' bigger all round I could buy clothes now Im 58 and feel almost suicidal as all my clothes wear out I cant find anything to wear it will get to the stage when I have nothing to go out in. I need good casual trousers then I can survive if not dress up. Any ideas please?


 Emma    Monday 28 January 2013 at 16:16

Hi Marguerite,

Thank you for taking the time to post on our blog, raising issues that I happen to know that other women will wish to read. This is because, although it may not seem like it to you now, these problems are very wide-spread.

For the benefit of other readers of this blog, a hernia is usually a tear in the layers of muscle that hold our internal organs inside. Through this tear, very often, the organs start to push, much like shopping emerging through a split in a carrier bag. This is actually rather a common occurrence amongst larger people. I myself had a 20cm abdominal hernia successfully repaired (for which I consider myself very lucky: many woman find it a struggle to get a successful repair, so have to learn to live with their hernias).

Because a hernia can alter the figure in such a way that one becomes a ‘non-standard’ body shape, this can become very inconvenient and embarrassing. Often, other people seem to accidentally make the situation a bit worse by their reactions. I remember, for instance, a customer asking me four times during one visit if I were pregnant! She just couldn’t imagine any other reason for my body shape!

The other problem is one that you highlighted: the practicalities of clothing! Often, if the hernia is around the middle, keeping trousers or skirts in place can be an issue. In my own case, keeping a waistband on my ‘waist’ presented the kind of problem you would encounter if trying to put an elastic band around a football.

As a specialist shop, we have dealings with all manner of ‘non-standard’ body shapes, and, on the face of it, your measurements do not appear to present us with anything that is unusual for us. I hope you will come to understand that you are not alone in experiencing hernia problems, which, along with many other issues, like severe curvature of the spine, or oedema, make up our everyday clientele.

If you are lucky enough to live locally, it would be a very good idea to come in and simply start shopping! There will probably be a need to have items altered to fit you, but again, this is quite routine for us. We do this work ourselves, and don’t normally charge for the service.

If you have a disabled badge, you are welcome to park right outside the store, or otherwise we have a very good car park directly next to our shop.

Things become a bit more complicated if you live too far away for it to be practical to come. I will be blunt about this, though. If there is any possibility of your coming, even if it is quite an effort and journey for you, you should really consider doing this, although I would suggest phoning us (on 01273 327240) first if you are travelling a distance. Putting aside one day out of your year to come to a specialist store that understands and provides for your needs may well make a huge difference to the quality of your life. People do not realise the massive importance of having suitable clothes for their lifestyles, until they cannot get them. If, as you say, you are beginning to feel that you cannot leave the house, this is also not unusual.

I hope that, after coming into the store, you will find that, as a 58-year old woman, you have an enormous lease on life, and once you start to get looking good in your clothes, you will feel your confidence and optimism returning.

Now I have to consider the possibility that, for some reason, you just are completely unable to come into our store! If you live in a distant part of the country, I would suggest the long, hard trawl of the internet to see if there are any really good speciality stores like ours. Then, if they don’t have an alteration service, find someone who can do it for you. Don't be embarrassed: many alteraton people spend a lot of time dealing with special requirements, and I can assure you that any experienced alteration person has dealt with many hernias in her day! Build a relationship with this person, and develop a particular type of alteration that works for you, that can be applied to all your clothes.

Keep old clothes that are wearing out, where the fit is good, and get them copied. You will be amazed how, when done in a number of different fabrics, you will have several garments that, even though they are identically cut, will look completely different.


 Kim P    Tuesday 29 January 2013 at 20:13

Hi Marguerite, I have had several trousers and dresses altered at Emma's and it makes such a difference. I hope you are able to travel to Brighton, all the ladies in store are very friendly and respectful.


 Sammy    Friday 19 June 2015 at 17:21

Hi Marguerite,

I can see this is quite an old post from you! In case you are still looking for a quality and good-looking clothes, which will fit you, I can recommend Dea London. I know Jelena, chief designer, she is very good at tailoring for plus size, so you might find what you are looking for. By the way, all items ordered from Dea London website can have free alterations. So in any case the item you will purchase will perfectly fit you. You can search in google Dea London.If you have any questions you can contact Janie, she will help you


Emma    Friday 15 June 2012 at 17:04

 Post #298 

Subject: Sporty?

I have had occasion, recently, to cogitate on the question of sportswear (as you do!). In my younger days I could never have been described as any kind of sportswoman. In fact, I have to say that my experience of sports was nearer to aversion therapy than leisure activity.

When I was at school - although I was reasonably fit and very healthy - sports just weren’t my thing. They were just about as far from being my ‘thing’ as it is possible to get on the same continent. I became very hot the minute I started to run; I was not particularly well-co-ordinated; and, post the age of 11, the school sports uniform was not big enough for me, so I had to wear something that made me stand out even further from the crowd! The fact that I stood a good foot above just about every other girl gave me a theoretical advantage in netball. But disappointingly I was unable to convert that into any kind of success in the sport.

So it has to be said that the word ‘sportswear’ is a bit of a challenge to me, even to this day. What on earth would I even need it for? I don’t do sport. And - after my early experience of not finding sportswear large enough - I am very concerned that it would all end-up far too small... after all, sport is for skinny people - right?

Well, as it happens, while I still eschew sports, I do undertake active occupations. For example, I really like walking. I do yoga (where I fail to excel, but enjoy it all the same), and I find myself generally huffing and puffing, dashing around all over the place. As readers of this blog will already know, I’m not one of nature’s slobs, so I would always like to have clothing that is suitable, comfortable, high-performance, but with a ‘put-together’, sassy look. You know the kind of thing: one minute you could be walking the dog, then, shortly afterwards, you could be meeting friends for lunch in town and popping off to a cinema matinee - without having to mess around getting changed.

So I was delighted when I found out about a new range called State Of Mind, which provides beautiful plus-size sportswear (see picture, right). A UK company, that emphasises manufacturing in Britain, it has developed fabulous sport-to-casual wear in sizes up to 26. The fabric is gorgeous - really soft, with a subtle drape and stretch, but developed as a proper sports fabric to keep you cool and perspiration-free.

The range encompasses little sporty ribbed jackets, jersey pants, tank tops, and sleeved tops... there’s something useful and gorgeous for everyone. Sporty girls will think all their birthdays have come at once (proper plus-size sportswear is as common as hen’s teeth), and the - shall we say - sportingly challenged like myself will need the whole collection, too.


Emma    Thursday 12 April 2012 at 11:39

 Post #279 

Subject: Trouser Day 21st April

We've decided to burst forth this spring (actually, we always burst forth, not just during springtime but at any time of the year... but I digress) and ‘go for it’ with an emphasis on really fantastic events.

I feel sure that any right-thinking plus-size woman would agree that one of the great struggles of modern life is the eternal quest for the perfect pair of ‘good trousers'. Trousers are a particular problem, not just for plus-size women, but for all of womankind (and perhaps mankind for that matter). There are so many variables in the proportions of the lower portions of the human body that it’s a bit of a wonder that anyone would ever undertake the thankless task of creating a pair of good trousers. I use the term ‘good trousers’ to mean not the kind of trousers that are bought in a sale, or picked up in a budget-priced high street store, or online, scooped up amongst the bewildering array of styles - all of which are displayed in photographs on generically-shaped models. These are simply ‘will-do trousers’, which will spend a short but useful life providing leg-coverage during the routine tasks of one’s everyday life... shopping in the supermarket, walking the dog, housework, doing a spot of gardening - that kind of thing.

No, ‘good trousers’ are quite a different beast, and cannot easily be picked up in such ways. I can honestly say that I have never heard the phrase ‘these trousers fit me beautifully, are incredibly flattering, lasted for ages and feel gorgeous... I picked them up online’. It’s not that I don’t think such an occurrence is possible; one look at the internet will immediately make you understand that, with the vast scale of humanity, virtually anything is possible - from a cat that speaks to a man capable of summersaulting from the top of one building to another. It just means it isn’t really all that likely.

Good trousers are a treasure. You slip them on and feel confident about your nether regions. You can put them on and forget about them. But if you were not inclined to forget about them, then thinking about them would give you nothing but pleasure. They look good, they feel good, and they have no vices (like a visible panty line, showing your cellulite, riding up, being baggy on the bum... the list of ‘trouser problems’ goes on).

A really good pair of trousers will take you into the office on an important day. You can wear them on a date, or out for lunch with the girls that you haven’t seen since you left school. They will see you through the tough times (when you don't have time to do the ironing, but still have to look 'put together') and the good (effortlessly looking smart at a moment’s notice). They will be your secret weapon, and your quiet, useful little friend that will stay around for years. They are quite literally worth three times the price that you'd pay for your high-street trousers - and a whole lot more!

And, of course, if you choose to also wear them to walk the dog, do the gardening or suchlike, then there will also be life left in them for that when they grow old!

A pair of good trousers should, first and foremost, fit you superbly. Until recently it was a bit of a mystery why this presented such a problem. The top designers were doing their best. They were cutting the trousers as perfectly as they could in order to fit the body shapes that they had identified. And yes, for the lucky women who enjoyed these body shapes, there were always superb trousers to be had. Yet there were very many women who found those trousers unsuitable. Routinely women would tell me that they just ‘didn’t suit trousers’.

Then of course there was the problem that one range tended to vary in shape from another. Some suited the slim-waisted bigger-bottomed woman, some the snake-hipped lady with the wide waist. How on earth was the customer to know which range was going to suit her best?

During the past 20 years the plus-size industry has expanded and improved immeasurably. More ranges have come on to the market, there is more choice, with the look becoming more directional and varied. Suddenly not only were there a host of different ranges from which to source trousers, but there was a greater selection of looks. It was all only serving to become more bewildering - but luckily, at the same time, independent stores were also improving and trying to develop an expertise in the whole area of body shape.

Recently, some manufacturers, like Finnish company, NP, for example, did widespread studies of body shape as it applied to trousers - and the reality started to emerge from the gloom. Not only were we in the plus-size industry able to identify what shapes of trousers would suit women with any number of different body shapes, but we were offering the differing shaped trousers to satisfy these requirements.

Hence the advent of our ‘Trouser Day’. We have had a couple of these events before, and they have been some of the most successful days we've had in our store. We assemble the biggest selection of trousers we can, and we identify which body shapes will suit which trouser styles. Then we train our staff and ensure that the most knowledgeable will be in the shop on this day.

Trousers are sorted into different groups, and our customers are fitted properly with trousers that many could never imagine would look as good.

On this day there will be refreshments and a prize draw, where a lucky customer will win a pair of trousers. Moreover, when a customer buys one pair of trousers they can then purchase a second pair at half price (exclusions apply). This generous offer is almost unheard-of at this end of the season - when choice is so wide.

The atmosphere buzzes on our Trouser Days and most customers find it a sociable and pleasant way to pass a Saturday!

Anyone spending £100 or more on the day will also get a ticket for two hours’ free parking at the NCP car park, adjacent to our shop.

Emma Plus's Trouser Day is on 21 April 2012, between 10.00am and 5.00pm. We really look forward to seeing you in store!


 Kim P    Friday 20 April 2012 at 19:10

Good luck with the day! A fantastic opporunity to buy flattering and comfortable trousers which as you mention is not something easily achieved in larger sizes. Some of my best buys fron you have been various wonderful trousers by Brand. I know the Trouser Queen aka Kim will be in her element! Can't make tomorrow but hope to pop in again soon.


 Emma    Saturday 21 April 2012 at 17:03

Hi Kim

Thank you for your lovely words of encouragement! I am here at the end of the day in the shop, tired, but very happy!

We had a wonderful Trouser Day... We were very busy and sold dozens of pairs of trousers to very happy customers.

I love these events; we always have a really lively, pleasant atmosphere here.

Now, the next event to look forward to is Anna Scholz Day...!

 Kim P    Saturday 21 April 2012 at 23:02

So pleased everyone had a great time, very hard work for the Emma Plus ladies but must be so satisfying seeing the joy on customers faces when they have found their perfect trousers.

I noticed the Anna Scholz event on the 12th May. Very exciting news!


 Emma    Thursday 10 May 2012 at 18:16

Just a quick update...we held our 'prize draw' for our Trouser Day event. All those who went in for it were placed in a jar, and a friend of Emma Plus (my old schoolfriend, Clare!) pulled the winner out. The winner is Debbie Bright.

Debbie is now the proud owner of another pair of Emma Plus trousers!

Emma    Saturday 14 January 2012 at 15:08

 Post #267 

Subject: Curvy?

I was reading an article the other day about modern politically correct language. It seems that many terms for people that were not acceptable in the seventies are now perceived as reasonably harmless. There are passing trends, not just in clothing, but in language!

In my business my preferred term for us larger women is ‘plus size’, or simply ‘large’. I cringe when I hear a larger woman described as ‘big’ (men are ‘big’, women are larger-sized... to me, there is something so unfeminine about the word ‘big’), and I find myself reeling back when I hear the phrase ‘big girls’. Although I have quite a few customers who merrily call themselves big girls, it brings to mind the term ‘big girl’s blouse’, which I take to mean something somewhat pathetic and useless - characteristics alien to my customers. Also, the use of the word ‘girl’ to describe a full grown woman has an infantilising effect; not really the kind of thing that sits well with sophisticated fashion.

The term ‘plus sized’ seems to have very little wrong with it. If something is ‘plus’ or has ‘plus points’ this is entirely positive, in the same way that ‘minus’ and ‘less’ seems to simply diminish the object. However, I have heard women complain about the term, because they feel that it tip-toes around the fact that we are larger, and is somewhat patronising. No wonder sometimes people don’t know what to say for the best!

You may ask why, on a fashion blog, I am even occupying my time in discussing such an esoteric subject. Well, it’s my belief that what you call something can actually have an impact on how it is treated. Years ago, when I was a large schoolgirl growing up with a large sister and mother, most clothes available on the high street in plus sizes were called ‘outsize’ clothes. And yes, the styles existed in a world outside fashion. They were completely different from the clothing available to smaller women. We were standing on the ‘outsize’ of fashion, peering in, and that was a frustrating place to be! Even today, there are archaic ranges being marketed to us plus-size boutique owners under the description of ‘outsize’ clothing, and they are simply horrible clothes. It seems the name they give their fashion speaks volumes about what they are peddling!

I have a bit of a problem with the word ‘curvy’, which seems the almost ubiquitous word to describe larger women these days. And funnily enough, it is the same basic reason that I have against the word ‘outsize’, albeit in the opposite direction. Whereas the latter word is an insulting term for the larger woman, I feel the former may in fact gloss over the shortcomings of the shape of some of those women. Saying a range is for the ‘outsize’ woman encourages the ‘designer’ (I am somewhat reluctant to use that word, but you know what I mean) to have a prejudice about the customer - stereotyping her as a woman with no sexuality, no style and no figure to speak of; lumping (excuse the term!) everyone in as the same.

However, I feel that the use of the word ‘curvy’ can do the same thing... but in the opposite direction!

In my opinion, a ‘curvy’ woman is a woman (of any size) that has one of a group of body types. Usually they have an hourglass body shape, although they can be a moderate pear shape, or a large-busted woman.

What they simply cannot be is an apple shaped woman! I say this as an apple-shaper myself. The reason for this is simple: it is very rude (the old fashioned word for ‘politically incorrect’) to refer openly to something that is to the detriment of someone present.

It is not detrimental to refer to the womanly curve that flows over a bust, and in to a smaller waist, before gently expanding to describe a feminine derriere. Yet I feel that it is rather rude to refer to a curve that goes out from under the bust, extending ever outwards until it reaches the meridian of the body, before returning, like the underside of a lollipop. Not all curves are good. Please, I would prefer it if you don’t notice my ‘curve’ (an apple shaper does not have ‘curves’ she has just one curve!), and if you do, I would be quite happy if you don’t mention it - in the same way that I wouldn’t overtly mention that your husband has lost his hair.

The term can also rub salt in the wound of the large number of women who have a straight body shape... those women that I refer to as ‘athletic’ build - although they can also be called ‘column shaped’ - while many women with the ‘well-proportioned’ body shape, who wish they had better definition, also feel excluded.

So it galls me when the word ‘curvy’ is used as a collective noun for all plus-sized women, when it actually only describes the lucky few! And, like the unfortunate situation with the word ‘outsize’, it can actually have some kind of effect on the brains of the designers.

There does seem to be a positive glut of designers creating fashion for the ‘curvy’ woman. This is, of course, a good thing. But readers of my blog will know that I am obsessed with diversity and trying to fit all equally well. I think it’s all too simple for a designer to say ‘I like women who have a real ‘lady’ shape, whatever size she is, and that’s the kind of woman I am going to design for. If there are women out there whose figures have anything beyond a moderate degree of imperfection or are out of proportion, then let them go buy another collection'. Unfortunately, there are all too many designers who feel this way.

In fact, the real art of dressing us larger women is to understand our imperfections, celebrate our deviations, and to flatter our forms, whatever they are. My business is all about diversity and (to use a very old-fashioned PC phrase) equal opportunities! I’m glad to say that there are still many designers who really understand larger women, with their various silhouettes, and provide gorgeous, accessible looks for everyone. Designers like Sallie Sahne (pictured above right: a gorgeous soft jacket from the Spring/Summer 12 collection) or Anna Scholz even manage to bring out the attractive curves in women who didn’t think they had any! That is a game worth playing!

Certainly many plus-size women are curvy, and I’m exceedingly grateful that they have some lovely designer collections. However, I am acutely aware that they only form part of the population of larger women, and it is our job to style each and every woman who enters our shop.

With that in mind, we will be fitting clothes to women who are plus-size, curvy, larger - and even those who are big girls!

Sadly, 'outsize' women may want to look elsewhere!


Emma    Friday 30 December 2011 at 12:38

 Post #266 

Subject: Sixtyplus!

I was just browsing the internet (as you do, during these long holiday days!), and had another look at the Sixtyplusurfers site, and was delighted to see that they have mentioned Emma Plus.

Perhaps I would say this(!), but it does seem that this is another indication that this is a very interesting site, full of useful information that ranges across a wide subject base. I really was delighted when I browsed the site - which, apart from the shopping information, had recipes, travel, IT advice... It's about time there was an online destination like this, specifically aimed at the sixty-plus person.

I believe that this kind of independent site is going to help promote the businesses that are giving the best service to their customers. This has got to be good news for everybody! I really do wish them well.


 Victoria Hollis    Monday 02 January 2012 at 00:40

This is such a great article. I know a fair few ladies who use this site. It's a good way to look for impartial advice in a lot of cases.

And I just thought I'd share this totally gratuitous picture of me at the Curves in Couture show with the AMAZING plus model, actress, photographer Velvet D'Amour. As you can see rocking the Anna Schols hot coral dress and lace jacket from S/S 11

 Emma    Monday 02 January 2012 at 17:25

Hi Tori,

Great to see one of your pictures from the Curves in Couture Show, which showcased some of the best plus size looks around.

I have long been hearing about Velvet D'Armour, a legendary figure in the plus size beauty and fashion world.

I love you in the Anna Scholz coral-a really gorgeous look....


 Rozi Desouza    Tuesday 09 October 2012 at 12:41

Hi.. i have visited the site which you have suggested. Sixtyplusurfers is really very good site and there are so many useful thing in it. Thanks for sharing this with us.


 mandy    Tuesday 04 November 2014 at 09:05

hi im on your website but cant seem to see any clothes for sale can you give me the link to veiw clothes please thans


Emma    Thursday 01 December 2011 at 15:10

 Post #258 

Subject: Parking!

After much thought and effort, we think we have come across a way to help our hard-pressed customer with her parking needs.....

We have introduced a scheme where anyone spending £100 or more in our shop can have 2 hour's free parking in the NCP car park right next door to our shop. This is effective immediately, and is for any day (including Saturdays).

This is a trial, and it will be effective all the time this post is up. For details, call us on 01273 327240, or just ask us whilst you are in store....


 Kim P    Thursday 01 December 2011 at 22:57

Great idea Emma, that really is a saving worth having as is the 10% off the gift vouchers.


 Emma    Friday 02 December 2011 at 13:59

Hi Kim!

Thanks for your post. Yes, I think it is so convenient to just park next door and stroll over. Knowing that you can get 2 hours for free does make the difference!


Victoria Hollis    Thursday 13 October 2011 at 15:13

 Post #248 

Subject: Thank You

Hi Emma

I just wanted to say thank you so much for yet another amazing shopping experience yesterday and this morning.

I am over the moon with my two Brand tops and jeans and have fallen in love with the Verpass trousers I could have quite easily bought a whole load more the faux fur coat was a revelation and the Angel Circle dress was amazing. Your buying skills are something special. You have a magic touch which partially comes from your artistic eye and the fact you get what us larger/plus size/ BBW or however we choose to label ourselves need from what we wear.

I have a distinct feeling I am going to be up again before Christmas lol....

Can you please give Kim a massive hug from me. She did indeed sort out my trouser issues. Having endometriosis and regularly going up 4 inches around my waist and lower stomach means trousers are tricky things but the stretch in the trousers and jeans she picked for me means I don't have to worry which is an absolute godsend.

Now I'm looking forward to my next visit...

Victoria xxx


 Emma    Friday 14 October 2011 at 12:53

Hi Tori!

Thanks for your lovely comments...Kim was particularly touched! She's a great girl, our Kim, the trouser queen!

She tells me that she also has the black trousers that you bought in grey...

It really was, as ever, a great pleasure to see you-I hope all your travelling went well.

 Kim P    Saturday 22 October 2011 at 13:11

AKA The Waistcoat Queen!


 Emma    Sunday 23 October 2011 at 23:08

Actually, Kim, there is a faux-fur gilet in this fabric with your name on it...when are you coming in for it?


 Kim P    Tuesday 01 November 2011 at 12:00

I'm coming in for my faux fur waistcoat this Friday!


Emma    Saturday 20 August 2011 at 16:26

 Post #235 

Subject: Form versus function

When I first started writing my blog I wondered whether there would be enough topics in the area of plus-size fashion to make it worthwhile. I didn’t have to wonder for long; just a few minutes' thought brought to mind a panorama of different angles on plus-fashion that are never covered in the mainstream media.

I was (perhaps foolishly) relieved - because I thought this would give me more than enough material for the blog. However, I have since come to realise that the problem was never going to be finding things to discuss; as ever (with me) it is that there is so much, that it’s difficult to know where to start!

A case in point is the subject of lingerie for the larger woman. I have written on this before, but it is only when you think about these things that you realise they are, ahem, wide subjects - with many different but equally essential angles.

The last time I wrote about plus-size lingerie I vented my spleen on the issue of the paucity of a proper fitting service for larger women. This time I want to talk about so-called 'functional' underwear.

The term functional does not imply that this is the only kind of lingerie that performs a function (hopefully all lingerie does that). Rather, it means that the underwear has a purpose over and above that which is normally expected from such a garment.

It’s worth taking on board the fact that lingerie that performs a certain function can have a major impact on what outer clothing a woman is able to wear.

One example of this would be to do with summer dresses and the larger woman. I hope that no-one reading this will be upset by my frankness; as usual I will address this subject head-on because I believe that the only women who do not understand what I am talking about are small women, and they will probably not be visiting this forum anyway.

From a size-16 upwards (or, if she is a pear shape, perhaps even smaller), women find that their legs rub together as they walk. On bare legs this can cause, at least, some discomfort, but at its worst it can mean serious chaffing - making bare legs completely impractical. This is not a problem when wearing trousers. It can cause a little extra wear on a garment, but we are all comfortable enough once the legs are covered in some way. In winter months, under dresses and skirts, we wear tights - which perform a similar job to trousers.

However, in the summer, if we are wearing skirts or dresses, we are left in a quandary. Women do not, in the main, want to wear tights during the summer. They are overly warm, spoil the summery look of a pretty dress, and look quite ridiculous with sandals.

I have many customers who for this reason have not worn any summer dresses or skirts for many years. Yet we have been able to recommend items to them that have completely opened up this type of dressing. There are many products on the market that do a similar job, but the garment I personally recommend is made by a company called Patra - a supplier of silk items. Patra produces a long-legged pure silk knicker in black, champagne, cream or navy that resembles a very fine cycling short (pictured, right). It is, in some ways, a halfway house between hosiery and lingerie. We have found that it is the coolest thing on the market, and the largest size should fit all of our customers (it is a stretchy knitted fabric).

Now we get to the rub (excuse my pun) of this particular post... how sexy do you feel when you are wearing such a garment under your clothes? Can you bring yourself to slip into some functional lingerie after all?

There seem to be two schools of thought. One says ‘even if I am looking sexy, summery, cool and comfortable on the outside, if someone actually saw what I am wearing underneath (the A&E doctor, perhaps, if I should be run over - or, heaven forbid, my husband), they would realise that I am not, after all, a sexy young woman... That I am in fact, an old crinkly, wearing granny-knickers!’

This school would rather forego all those lovely summery frocks and super skirts, and stick to trousers, shorts and cut-offs for the summer months, until they can climb back into tights in the autumn.

This opinion held sway for many years... but has now started to fade away. It may be of interest to know that younger women do not balk at the possibility of functional lingerie in that way that their mothers do. I believe this sea-change is due to the likes of TV stylists, such as Trinny and Suzanna (who used their BBC clothes-advice programme to introduce women to a better way of dressing), or Gok Wan, who is remorseless in his pursuit of a more flattering silhouette for all women. These presenters have tried to introduce the public to a fact known to celebrities for generations: that there are two types of underwear. One type is pretty, feminine and minimal, and it is meant to be seen. The other can be somewhat (shall we say) unglamorous in itself, but creates the perfect base for clothes. Wearing the latter does not mean that a woman has ‘lost the plot’ from an attractiveness point of view.

Celebrities have stylists to help them grasp the nettle; they need to be photographed looking good, and they do whatever they have to in order to achieve this. It’s not for nothing that Gwyneth Paltrow is rumoured to wear not one, but two pairs of Spanx knickers under some of her close-fitting red-carpet gowns. I have little doubt that most A-listers have lingerie that was never designed to be seen on its own.

The irony seems to be these days that the very fear of ‘looking like granny’ is the preserve of the middle-aged (or older) woman, whereas younger women are embracing the stylists' techniques to achieve the comfort, utility, style and silhouette they want.

And in the process they are opening up a new world of garments, such as summer dresses and skirts, which have long been out of bounds to them.


 Victoria Hollis    Tuesday 23 August 2011 at 15:15


You have done it again - it's spooky how much we think alike.

Thighs rubbing together is a nightmare scenarion. The shop on the high street beginning with e (I won't name them) has in their godawful hoisery range a thing called "comfort shorts" these are basically nylon doulble layered tight tops) thet feel revolting on hot sweaty and nasty and as has gone with the shops tights and stocking for the past 4 years the sizing is totally wrong. I have recurrently contacted this shop in respect of their hoisery over the years to no avail and this included me sending them a video of me struggling to pull their stockings for a size 26/28 over my elbow let alone past my knee. I now order levee stockings and tights online (they are a great german brand) but anyway I digress.

Underwear can both havee style and form - gok wans collection for simply be has a very retro 1950's feel and looks great as well as providing the S factory. I think I may look at getting some of those knickers you mentioned but another tip thrown in free is to get some of solid stick deodarant and rub that on your thighs and they wont chafe anyway....


 Emma    Wednesday 24 August 2011 at 17:04

Hi Tory!

Yes, what I really like about the Patra ones is that they are 100% pure silk. Obviously having any 'extra layer' of clothing is not going to make one feel any cooler; however, I do think the natural fibre really helps, and I never feel hot and perspiring in mine.

We used to sell the Levee tights here in our store, until the agent seemed to disappear. I'm guessing that they simply gave up on marketing them to the UK (there are so few specialist stores that would stock them here that perhaps it was not worth their while).

Other ranges were My Size hosiery, and the American range, Hue, which does lovely, very good quality, gorgeously-coloured legwear. I think all three of these ranges are still being made, though not marketed through stores in the UK any more.

My Size were a Dutch hosiery company, whose items were very well sized. Unfortunately their infamous English label read: 'Oversized Tights for the Corpulent Woman'... that may have been why they abruptly stopped selling in the UK!


Susie de Castilho    Thursday 20 January 2011 at 12:10

 Post #190 

Subject: Beautiful Elena Grunert jumper

Hi Emma et al, I've just washed and ironed my (tres expensive) beautiful teal Elena Grunert jumper - it has a graceful draped collar. The collar edge is now splayed out and looks crinkled. Somehow it needs to shrink back into shape. Can you find me a remedy? And what did I do wrong? I can bring it in if you like.

P.S. Great site


 Emma    Saturday 22 January 2011 at 13:19

Hi Suzie!

Thank you for your enquiry. I'm sorry to hear that you are having a worry with your lovely new jumper. However, the news is good. You should find that the next time you wash your Elen Grunert jumper, the rib will spring back into shape.

The trick with knits in general is not to iron the rib. This is because the form of the knit is for the yarn to be zig-zagged through the garment, making a concertina construction. This is how it maintains a springy shape. When the rib is pressed, the zig-zags are pressed flat, and the shape becomes a little flabby.

If the rib is slightly creased, one can be tempted to press it, but I would resist that temptation. Just a few minute's wear, and the body heat should negate any creasing in the ribbing.

The good quality wool that the Elena Grunert jumper was made from is excellent at retaining its shape, and once it has been washed again, this will recover. The main thing to remember only to press the main body of the jumper (if necessary), and leave the ribbing.

I always recommend drying knits on a flat surface, preferably on something like a towel, which will ensure that there is minimal if any creasing.

With a simple care routine, you should have your lovely jumper for years and years, and the neck will stay as pleasing to the eye as it was on the day you bought it.


Emma    Thursday 16 December 2010 at 16:59

 Post #180 

Subject: Snow-wear you dare...

With all the extreme weather we have been having lately, I have been thinking about what I would advise a customer to wear during the whiteout. It always makes me laugh when I hear terms like ‘functional clothing’ – as if there were such a thing as clothes without a function! Yet, of course, we do understand what this means. There are particular items of clothing that come in extremely useful, and really earn their living when the going gets tough.

If I were to plan an outfit to be worn out in the snow, I would go full-on. I wouldn’t try to battle on with the kind of thing I'd normally wear, but embrace the situation and revel in it! There are no half-measures when it comes to snow and ice.

Clearly, the greatest level of performance is needed from the outer layers. However, it is not necessary to invest in some kind of specialist snow jacket. A good wool coat will keep you beautifully warm, yet it will not be too heavy. Wool is amazingly waterproof (I say ‘amazingly’ despite logically knowing that evolution has designed wool to keep those Welsh sheep dry – and that’s no easy task!). Wool coats can be really beautiful, with lovely colours and styles (there’s no need to be a slouch just because of a bit of bad weather; we are British, after all). We’ve had a number of lovely items in this season, and we still have some treasures in stock: a notable mention goes to a fabulous cerise wool coat (pictured), made by the German designer Brand. I have a Verpass coat (quite a few years old now), which I have really appreciated on the snowy mornings, and we still have a similar Verpass jacket in stock.

In general the kind of coat that's perfect for this inclement weather is what I would call a ‘car coat’; not full-length, like a smart coat, but a slightly more sporty, shorter length. Around knee-length is perfect, and very practical.

On the legs I would suggest a pair of narrow trousers. I do think that for the look that I am recommending, a slightly narrow silhouette is the right way to go, because it is super-practical and warm. There are very good trouser manufacturers, like Brand and NP, which produce excellent wool-mix trousers that are totally non-itchy and (unlike in the past) beautifully machine washable. These come in a number of silhouettes.

I would tuck these into a pair of low-heeled leather boots. A range I would recommend would be Duo (available online). They deliver boots that are fashionable, and that fit all calf measurements. The boots in my photograph are actually from Clarks, also with wider calves, which were easily available and reasonably priced, but with the added advantage of being waterproof. I would then (on the very snowiest days) fit a pair of crampons to the bottom of the boots. I am completely sold on these little gadgets now. The ones I have (which I bought online: there are countless suppliers) twang satisfyingly over the outside of the sole, providing an extra grip, with chains that span across the underneath. I have had so much more confidence when striding forth on icy pavements (slight exaggeration there... it’s more a case of me gingerly strolling with a mock-relaxed attitude, trying not to build up too much speed when walking downhill).

To help with this, I have invested in a snow-stick. Mine was manufactured in Scandinavia, but actually they are widely available from many different suppliers, and are usually found in winter sports shops. I know that sometimes a woman (particularly if she is of a larger size) can feel a little sensitive about using a walking stick, because she doesn’t want to give the impression that her mobility is in some way impaired. However, I am happy to report that during every day of the last period of snowy weather, I sallied forth with my trusty snow stick (with a metal spike on the end for extra grip), and the only response I had from friends and strangers alike was jealousy and admiration for my wonderful seasonal preparedness. Several people shot out to buy one after seeing mine.

Under the coat I would suggest a good long jumper, again of wool if possible. We’ve got a number of ranges that supply good long knits. Verpass produced my favourite this season: a lovely knitted dress/top, with matching waistcoat (also pictured, under the jacket). Wonderful.

So, if you will, imagine my ideal of a woman wearing her snow outfit. A lovely colourful wool car-length coat, worn with a fabulous new longer-length jumper and gilet (set off, perhaps, with a toning hat and scarf). The fashionable tighter-fit trousers tucked into leather boots, with the Artic look reflected in the functional crampons and snow-stick – essential on snowy pavements even in town. She only needs a gorgeous handbag to totally rock the look: sporty, snowy, snug and chic.


Emma    Friday 03 December 2010 at 12:04

 Post #179 

Subject: Gift vouchers!

It’s December, and the thoughts of many people are turning to the exciting, yet sometimes thorny subject of Christmas presents.

At this time of year we usually see friends, partners or family members surreptitiously entering our shop, discreetly seeking out the perfect gifts for their loved ones.

Some people worry that buying clothing for a larger woman can be a bit difficult. Most of us do not like to reveal our size to all and sundry – even our nearest and dearest – and, of course, there is the issue of fit when clothes are bought without having been tried on. So there are many people who would love to buy clothes from Emma Plus or elsewhere for someone special in their lives, but find the prospect of it somewhat complicated!

The truth is, buying a present from us is actually quite problem free! Although (as a true English person) I hate to blow my own trumpet, I can’t help mentioning that I think we are passed-masters at helping with the selection of the perfect present. We have items of clothing for just about any larger woman, and we have a lot of experience in asking the right questions. We are also very adept at remembering the requirements of many of our established customers.

To put it mildly, our sizing can be very discreet, often with husband only aware that we have sold him a ‘size small’ for his wife! Unsurprisingly, many in the know make the pilgrimage every year to our shop to pick up a present from us, in the knowledge that we will recommend an array of lovely items from with to select their perfect choice.

As a fail-safe, anyone who buys items from us is welcome to bring them back within the season in order to exchange them, should they need to, and our alteration service extends (of course) to items bought as gifts. Many of our customers are really touched that someone has really paid attention to them to the extent of specially seeking out ‘their shop’ from which to buy their present.

Another great favourite for a present is a gift voucher. It is a real delight to watch a customer stride purposefully through the door in the New Year, with a glint in her eye, and a gift voucher in her purse! Our vouchers come in denominations of £10, £25, £50 and £100.

Because we are aware that some people are a little behind this year in getting their presents (due to the inclement weather), we have decided to do something we have never done before... a special offer on gift vouchers! For every £50 in vouchers bought this December, we will give an extra £10. At an unprecedented 20%-off, we have produced a limited edition of gift vouchers, which are being sold strictly on a first-come-first-served basis, and you will need to quote this Blog when you purchase. We will happily supply these vouchers by post in time for Christmas. You only have to telephone us on 01273 327240.

How pleasant to be able to find a thoughtful, appropriate present (with added value!), without even having to leave the house!


 Kim P    Friday 10 December 2010 at 13:17

This is a fabulous deal! My vouchers arrived this morning and they are a gift from me to me!


 Emma    Friday 10 December 2010 at 17:04

Hi Kim

Yes, it is such a good deal that we have had to do it as a 'limited edition'! The truth is that a wise woman (but only one who reads this blog regularly!) can end up getting 20 percent extra off her sale purchases after Christmas, or from new season's stock!

It's a special treasure reserved for our blog customers... and they don't even have to come into the store!

Emma    Wednesday 13 October 2010 at 21:43

 Post #170 

Subject: Barbie

Many little girls have a Barbie... that iconic plastic doll with the impossible figure, blond hair and vast wardrobe. And for a lot of those girls, their vision of how they will look on their own wedding day is very similar to the way Barbie looks when she marries her boyfriend, Ken. The white satin and lace dress, adorned with beads and sequins, nipped-in at the waist, with big puffed-out full-length skirt and bare shoulders.

The image that women have of themselves on their wedding day is often carried unchanged from girlhood through to womanhood, and quite often owes much to such toys, but also to a scrapbook of ideas from Hollywood, fairytales, celebrities and history. Very often the style of dress chosen for the 'biggest day in a woman’s life' has little or nothing to do with her everyday life, looks and style. It is the iconography from a different world than her own.

This is all great fun. It’s lovely to get a big dressing-up box and play at being Barbie, or a fairy, movie star or princess. However, if you are going to have to be on display in this get-up, in front of family, friends, your in-laws and your future husband, it has to be a little bit more than play-acting. You are going to have to look seriously fabulous!

But when a woman is over a size 18 it becomes more and more difficult for her to find a ‘traditional’ wedding dress that is going to make her look seriously fabulous. There are a number of obstacles in the way.

The first one is the most simple of all: finding a dress that will fit. Not all collections will be available in larger sizes.

However, let us suppose that she has managed to find a shop that will make a dress in a larger size. The problem then is with the selection of the dress. With most samples being shown in a smaller size, it can be extremely difficult to try on a dress. Very often they have to be ordered (and paid for – and we are talking about many hundreds of pounds) without having been properly seen.

This exacerbates the worst problem of all: that most traditional wedding dresses have certain stylistic features that render them unflattering to larger women.

They are usually white or cream for a start, and this is a difficult shade for a larger woman. White is not a recessive colour, so will not shrink the body size. It also describes the body shape in some detail, and can showcase the contours of the body to an unflattering degree. Shiny fabric accentuates this, often quite cruelly. Fabrics with a sheen have a problematic relationship with flash photography; quite a serious problem when the photograph in question may be on display for a lifetime.

Any extra volume, when worn by a larger-size woman, can also cause a problem and should ideally be avoided. So a puffed-out skirt is not normally to be recommended.

Many larger women do look lovely in a corset; especially those who already have an hourglass figure. Sadly, apple-shaped women who (as I know from personal experience) would love to wear a corset, just look uncomfortable because it showcases their least attractive feature.

A nipped-in waist is not always a good look for a larger woman, even one with a lovely waist. This is because it can, by contrast, draw attention to nearby larger features of the body. A cinched waist will showcase a large bust or bottom as much as it displays the waist itself.

On the plus side, a covering of lace, and a sprinkling of embellishment – be they beads or sequins – can add weight to the fabric (drawing it over the body) and will help to break up the texture, and so create a kindlier and less revealing surface. Also, many young larger women have superb shoulders and décolletages, which can carry the off-the-shoulder look beautifully.

If you're able to find a style that suits and try it on to see it properly, in order to make an informed decision; if you have a figure that looks good in a wedding dress; and if you are clever with texture and embellishment – then you can look knockout. These are, however, rather a lot of ‘ifs’.

So the upshot is that not all larger women can look seriously fabulous in a traditional white wedding dress. I think it is the realisation of this that brings so many brides to our door. More and more women seem to be getting married in ‘non-bridal’ wear; we see those seeking beautiful dresses, just not ‘wedding’ dresses.

This year we have sold stretch-silk dresses, jersey dresses, chiffon numbers, even full-length cashmere dresses. They have been in gorgeous prints, full-on colour or subtle shades. They have been long, ballerina length or knee length.

There have been the romantic, the glamorous and the subtle. But none of them have been ‘bridal’.

None of the women who have had dresses from us this year has ended-up looking like Barbie in her wedding outfit. And afterwards, when I have been shown the photographs of the happy events, I have noticed that none of the husbands have looked like Ken either.



Rachel Hawes    Sunday 19 September 2010 at 18:11

 Post #163 

Subject: Need Help

I am getting married in December, a fairly small do but i want to look special and wear a long dress (cover up my arms) and look at least a bit bridey without going for the huge dresses that seem to be available. I am quite a long way from you (in Peterborough) but just wondered if you could contact me and let me know the types of things you have in stock that may suit, I am a 5ft 9 size 26/28 and am stuck!

Cheers, Rachel


 Emma    Monday 20 September 2010 at 14:17

Hi Rachel!

Congratulations on your lovely news!

At the risk of sounding somewhat smug, I can't help remarking that you have found exactly the right store at the right time (although with no time to lose)! We have many, many brides like yourself (see post no 160) who choose not to try to resemble a giant marangue on the most important day of her life!

I would advise you to phone us on 01273 327240, and speak to either Jaq or Kim. I suspect that you may end up with an Anna Scholz beautiful dress (many brides do). Your size and height go in your favour...this is our speciality!

Many women travel as far (and a lot further) than from Peterborough, but it's very important to speak to you first, before travelling such a distance. We may even end up ordering in items especially for you, so it's good to get organised first.

We really look forward to seeing you in the store!


Emma    Sunday 05 September 2010 at 17:29

 Post #160 

Subject: Linsey and George...

I am so happy to be able to post a picture of one of our beautiful customers, Linsey, and her new husband, George, on their wedding day.

Linsey looked truly stunning in her Anna Scholz cobalt blue full-length wrap dress and jacket. I just couldn't get over how perfectly it suited her. It's always a special joy when women choose to wear our clothes to be married in.

She was kind enough to remark:
'Thanks again for everything, it is SUCH a pleasure coming in to see you and the other ladies, shopping isn't the dreadful occurrence that it once was...'

Everyone at Emma Plus wish the happy couple health, wealth and happiness!


Emma    Tuesday 18 May 2010 at 16:04

 Post #136 

Subject: Size matters...

Before our recent fashion show we spread out all our accessories and had a high old time selecting the right items to complete the looks that the models would be wearing. There was plenty to choose from... at Emma Plus we do quite a wide range of accessories to co-ordinate with our clothing ranges.

When I first started at the store I really wasn’t anticipating that I would be providing accessories, because I felt it was so difficult to find beautiful clothes in larger sizes, that that should take priority.

When you first think about it, buying the right accessories should be the easiest thing a larger woman can achieve for her wardrobe. After all, every street corner seems to have a shop providing beautiful handbags, jewellery, scarves, shawls, etc., yet women often have to travel for hours to get to a store that will sell them the clothes to go with them!

However, I have discovered that providing the correct accessories to go with our range in store is key. So over the years we have sourced suppliers that create exactly the right look for the larger woman... and one that is very specific to our requirements.

For instance, many of our scarves are specially made for us, to our own design. One of our designers, Jennifer Lumer, creates wonderful bias-cut scarves in a shape and unique design that is so practical for the larger woman. They are lightweight, yet quite long, and open out so that they can be worn as a shawl (essential if you find that you have to take your jacket off, yet are self-conscious about showing your arms). They are also cut very narrowly at the back of the neck, so they will not create extra heat and bulk when worn as a scarf, and will help to make your neck look longer.

For many years we have been specially commissioning necklaces from designers all over the world. This enables us to get the colours that tone with our range (and eliminates the need for our customers to adopt the time-honoured ‘trudging the pavement’ ceremony associated with trying to find the right colour of necklace to match a new outfit).

However, the single most important feature of all our accessories is that of scale. Our bags, scarves and necklaces are subtly selected to effortlessly reflect the larger scale of our size range.

I was reminded of the importance of this over the weekend. During May, Brighton has its arts festival. And Brighton festival means the ‘Artists’ Open Houses’ - a wonderful local event whereby the artists and craftspeople of Brighton open their doors to the public to buy their wares. I can thoroughly recommend it to all my customers, as I know a high proportion of them are very interested in design.

At one such open house I spotted a beautiful silver necklace, which I tried on with a view to buying it myself as a treat. When I had put it on, however, I was a little disappointed. It was gorgeous (two silver swallows, all hand made, delicately flying on a silver chain). However, it did not seem to be quite as lovely as the one being worn by the artist herself. This necklace, although identical in every other way, was considerably larger. I would have said that the chain was at least 4 or 5 centimetres longer, and the birds probably a third bigger. I asked the jeweller if I could commission her to make me a necklace just like the one she was wearing.

She looked at me with surprise, and took her necklace off; laying it side by side with the one I had been trying on. The two necklaces were exactly the same. Because I was a larger woman than the designer, the proportions of her piece looked entirely different on each of us. Although the size looked perfect on her, it was too small for me.

It was a confirmation of the need to select all aspects of one’s look with care - not just with reference to colour, fashion and style, but also with careful attention to size and proportion. Something professional stylists have known for years...


Emma    Friday 02 April 2010 at 22:56

 Post #127 

Subject: Spring into action

Listening to the radio this week I was interested to hear that the author, Mark Haddon, had written a new play, Polar Bears. Haddon’s most famous work so far is a book called ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ - a book centred on a character who has the psychological condition, autism. This latest play also has a person with an unusual psychological make-up: he suffers from bi-polar disorder.

As someone obsessed by people-watching, I have always been fascinated by these various psychological conditions... not because I have any particular knowledge or interest in psychology in itself. It is just that I feel that, if you watch people closely enough, you will see that most of us seem occasionally to exhibit evidence of some syndrome or other.

For instance, psychologists now tell us that there is no barrier between an autistic person’s psychology and that of the mainstream. We are all on the ‘autistic spectrum’, and the traits associated with the condition manifest themselves in our differing personalities.

I spend my life watching the people who come into my store. The fashion industry is not just about clothes; primarily it is about people, and I will jump in with both feet here: I strongly believe that most people (women, anyway) fit somewhere on the bi-polar spectrum.

As I understand it (and I’m sure readers in the blogosphere will put me straight if I am wrong) bi-polar condition is one characterised by extreme mood swings - not over the course of a day, but over weeks or months. The sufferer will often sink into a dreadful depression for some time, then the tide will turn and they will start to feel elated. Soon, they find themselves taking on new challenges, forging new relationships... spending money. After a while, because this condition is sometimes extreme, the behaviour can get totally out of control.

Obviously, the women who I see in my store do not, in the main, have problem psychological disorders: they are quite sane, and their behaviour only veers out of control if they have appeared during a particularly impressive Anna Scholz delivery! Yet I clearly see, over and over again, a similar (although of course, in no way so extreme) pattern of mood swings.

Many of us ‘get into a rut’ from time to time, and this rut can last days, weeks, or (if we are particularly unfortunate) years. It could be that we are bored in our job or relationship. Perhaps we are feeling a bit negative about ourselves physically. Maybe it’s been a long hard winter. We don’t feel like going out and enjoying ourselves: we certainly don’t feel like buying new clothes.

Typically, we don’t see our customers when they are in this phase, but they tell us all about it when they are next in the store. Sometimes, women feel like they have been vegetating at home, marking time for too long.

Then suddenly, the mood changes. It may be that something important happens to alter a woman’s mindset, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be as simple as the onset of spring. Suddenly the days are longer. There is a little sunshine.

It could just be that there is no external influence and it is merely that the down time is over, and she begins to emerge from the torpor.

For many women it is when they are beginning to feel the sap rising that we will see them in the store. They are starting a new phase in their lives. Perhaps they have met a new man. Or perhaps they are shaking up their career. All of a sudden, new things start to look possible.

These women will often embark on a new venture: they may drop a dress size. They might tone up. They may throw out all their old makeup, and change their hair colour.

We often see women in the store who have suddenly realised that the wardrobe they have no longer suits the woman they have decided to be. They are the metaphorical butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. They don’t just want new clothes: they want to project a new identity that suits the change they feel inside.

We don’t always progress through life on a steady path, moving forwards a little at a time every day. I think that many of us have a period of pause, followed by a strong surge of growth and development.

It’s one of the wonderful things in my job that I am privileged to play a small part in those precious, lovely times in a woman’s life. I think they are incredibly important, and the opportunity they present for growth and change should not be lost. I, for one, take these periods very seriously.

And this is an everyday part of my working life. Even as I am writing this there are women out there who are emerging from the winter, blinking into the spring. And they are right now hitting the search engines looking for somewhere that may have some gorgeous looks that are going to gel with the way they are feeling.

Sometimes it’s good to be alive...


Elizabeth Shaw    Tuesday 30 March 2010 at 01:34

 Post #126 

Subject: wedding outfit for lady size 22 in wheel chair

Looking for mother of the groom outfit In a wheel chair
looking for trousers and a nice bright top and jacket with out looking like an American football player. As I will be sat in the chair the whole time. The trousers can not be too tight down leg due to tube. The wedding will be in June, i hope you can help by suggesting what to get and what to wear with it on my head Hats get in the way of the person pushing me. Thank you


 Emma    Tuesday 30 March 2010 at 12:15

Hi Elizabeth

Thank you so much for your enquiry, and congratulations on your happy event! You will be glad to know that you have come to the right place! We have many customers who use wheelchairs, so we always make sure to have just the right kind of outfits to suit their needs. The size you mention (size 22) is towards the smaller end of our sizes, and all our range is stocked in that size.

If you were thinking of visiting us by car, the good news is that (with your badge) you will be able to park right outside our store - and access into the front of the shop couldn’t be easier. We are an easy shop to navigate, and - should you require assistance in accessing anything at any time - our staff are experienced enough to give you all the help you need.

We have several ranges of beautiful, brightly coloured jackets at the moment - some plain, some patterned. I would hesitate to recommend a particular one to you without seeing you first - the choice is simply too great! From what you say about American football players I’m guessing that you have problems with wide shoulders (like most of us). The good news is that we have sourced a number of items with narrower and/or less padded shoulders. In any case, we usually ensure items are specially fitted to you, so the fit is perfect.

A perfect jacket for a wheelchair user should be soft, with some structure and shape, but not too nipped-in at the waist. It should be of a minimal-crease fabric, and the shape should not be too full. We have a great selection to choose from that meet these criteria.

When it comes to trousers, I have found that three particular aspects should be borne in mind. Firstly, it is best to have a slight 'stretch' fabric. I’m not talking about anything too stretchy and flimsy, but a good medium-weight fabric with enough stretch for them to keep their shape and fall well from the knee. Then I would select trousers with stretch at the waistband for comfort. I would also be looking for trousers that are not too narrow (this can be unflattering on the legs as you rightly observe), but not too wide and floaty (which can foul the wheels).

To match the outfits that we have in the store, we have a fantastic selection of 'fascinators'. These are like hats, but much easier to wear, as they fit to the head like a hairband (see picture). They are light, so do not disrupt one’s hairstyle, and are not too large - so will not get in anyone else’s way. Those we have selected have proportions that particularly suit larger women, and are in colours that go with our range. They have been very popular, so I feel sure you will be pleased when you get the chance to try one on.

I would urge that you try to come into the store as soon as you can. Even if you leave visiting us to later in the season we have so many items that there will always be something lovely for you, but some styles are already selling out. In order to get the pick of everything, it is a good idea to be the 'early bird'...

Emma    Monday 22 March 2010 at 23:21

 Post #125 

Subject: Fit for life

Many women I know tell me that they have items in their wardrobe which they like the look of, but for some mysterious reason never wear. Very often these are lovely clothes, in beautiful colours, fashionable styles and sumptuous fabrics, which they have owned for years. Yet every time they are put on, they are taken straight back off again.

There may be many reasons for this: the colour might not be correct for the owner’s skin tone, they may be too hot or too heavy to wear. Conversely, they may be too flimsy and revealing. Or the owner may be sensitive to the fabric and start to feel that tell-tale prickle on their skin as soon as the garment is slipped on.

However, the most common reason for ‘rejected garment syndrome’ is fit. Or perhaps I should say, lack of fit.

You know when something doesn’t fit you well. In a nutshell, you don’t feel good in it. It tends to accentuate your bad features, whilst not making the best of your sylph-like areas. You look larger, less chic, less graceful and less sassy when you are wearing an ill-fitting garment.

Bad fitting is probably the number-one problem in the large-size market today. In the past, just getting lovely clothes in our size range was the big issue, but now (if you are prepared to put in the leg-work), with the advent of so many fantastic new ranges, it is possible to find absolutely gorgeous clothes to suit any body shape and skin tone.

However, fit is a perennial problem. It is so difficult for most women to find clothing that really fits them well, it’s possible for them to get very frustrated. With all the advances made in our industry, why-oh-why can’t they simply get the fit right?

Regular readers of this blog will probably find themselves anticipating what I am going to say, which I fear is along the same lines as what I am always saying: this is a very complex subject because women are very diverse in their physicality. We are not all the same, and with larger women, our differences are exaggerated.

When you think about it, it's fairly obvious that it is not up to the manufacturer to produce garments that automatically fit all of us, all of the time. That's clearly never going to happen! With each of us being such a different size and shape, it is not possible. If a garment actually fits us straight off (and it happens to be something we like), then we are happy and lucky. Otherwise the item will have to be made to fit.

The best a really good designer collection can do is sort out its own fit, so that their customers know where they are. A collection like, for instance, the Irish company, Personal Choice, is very reliable with fit. I would call it ‘spot on’ for an average-height woman, who has a well-proportioned frame. This can be contrasted with, for example, the Italian collection, Elena Miro, which tends to be a little small for its size, especially on the bottom half. But once you know of the fit, you can tell what to expect and what size to seek out. The trick is not to get too hung up on the size as it is marked on the label. After all, if it fits, why would it matter if you take a larger size in this particular collection?

So say you have sorted out your size in one of these ranges. You may find that in a certain style, you take a Personal Choice size 26 skirt. That is to say, in order to get this skirt on, this is the size you will take. But does it actually fit?

What is a fit? Is there a regulation tightness or looseness that constitutes ‘fitting’? Where does the hang of the garment come into it? Do all parts of the garment have to fit the same? Do all fabrics need the same kind of fit? What are the aesthetic requirements of a fit, and are practical concerns a priority? What is the psychology of a good fit?

Fitting is an art, not a science. It takes patience, observation and an open mind. When it comes to fit, fixed ideas will not help the process of getting it right.

It’s good to start with practical issues, which do indeed take priority. When you are talking about the physical requirements of fit, it is important to think how the garment is expected to perform. For instance, with larger women there are particular issues with movement. When we bend or alter position, our bodies - which are softer and have a far more flexible shape - will need extra fabric or stretch to accommodate this. During movement, fabric can be drawn over our bodies to a greater degree. If, for example, a size 8 woman wearing a knee-length skirt sits down, her skirt may still be knee length. If, however, a size 30 woman wearing a knee-length skirt sits down, she may - to her alarm - find her skirt disappearing like a blind being pulled up. However good her legs look, this may well be the last time she chooses to wear a skirt this short, and she may find herself deciding to remain standing on the train all the way home!

Stretch fabrics react completely differently to static fabrics, and bias-cut garments have a different character - offering a different type of flexibility: so-called ‘mechanical stretch’. Thicker, more textured fabrics can often take a tighter fit than fine, shiny or clingy ones. A good fitter will automatically alter stretch and bias fabrics in different ways to other fabrics, and will always keep the look of different weights, textures and surface effects in mind.

But it is with the aesthetics of fit that things really start to get complicated. If I were to be simplistic about it, I would say that we are back to our old friends diversion and concealment. If there is one ‘problem’ area that we are particularly sensitive about, then the fabric should be slightly looser there. This means that the fabric can flow loosely, not describing the body shape too fully. If there is an area of the body that one is particularly pleased with, or is rather smaller than is proportional, this can have a slightly tighter cut of fabric, drawing the eye toward it, and revealing the shape in more detail.

Women with a firm, toned figure, and/or young women, may well have a different aesthetic. Self-confidence and a well-proportioned shape may do away with the need to disguise areas, and will lead a closer fit being sought.

For the rest of us, we rely on a little subterfuge. For example, I, as an apple shape, may want to have tops that are not too tight across the tummy. Yet I could go for a really close-fitting pair of trousers. But it is not as simple as just buying a large blouse and a smaller pair of trousers. If I bought a blouse large enough to flow effortlessly across my ample tummy, it would be too large on the bust and shoulders. And if I bought a trouser that was tight enough on my legs, I almost certainly would never be able to do it up around the waist. And I don’t want shapeless garments: even the areas of looseness should have a defined, feminine form.

This, in a nutshell, is why we do so many alterations in our store. In order to get the perfect look, and something that is practical and comfortable, we have to alter most garments to fit their individual owners perfectly.

So going back to your size 26 Personal Choice skirt... Does it actually fit you? Is the waist a little tight (the waistband may need some attention)? Are the hips somewhat wide? Would they benefit from shaping to fit your slightly narrower hips? Would the length be correct with the shoes you had in mind?

If you were buying this skirt from us, we would not want you to leave the store without having these issues attended to by our alteration service.

Some people are daunted by the idea of all these alterations, yet they can be the making of a garment, turning it into the wonderful wardrobe staple that you really look and feel fabulous in.

So it may be worth looking at that rejected garment in the wardrobe, and thinking about seeking out a good alteration service. It really could make all the difference...!


 Kim P    Thursday 25 March 2010 at 20:31

Hi Emma, we have become so used to accepting poor service and "it will do" clothing from other retailers that you are having to point out the benefits of wearing clothes that fit properly. Would seem obvious but I suspect a quick rummage through our wardrobes will suggest otherwise!


 Emma    Thursday 25 March 2010 at 23:23

Hi Kim

How right you are! The other thing that I think has happened is that we have forgotten that clothes are manufactured items which are supposed to be made to fit us, not the other way round!

When we as larger people find that clothes don't fit, we often blame ourselves, which is barmy if you think about it!


Emma    Sunday 04 October 2009 at 17:56

 Post #81 

Subject: Navel gazing

When reading the way fashion is written about in newspapers and magazines, one sees the various angles from which this subject is usually tackled.

There are journalists that talk about fashion from the top down, and examine the influence of the most famous designers from their shows in New York, Paris, London and Milan. Alternatively, there are writers that concentrate on what is happening on the high street, or the youths that create street fashion.

Some journalists get obsessed with the influence of the economy on clothing trends, whilst others turn to politics (high heels as seen from a feminist angle, anyone?).

You can read articles about what women should wear at any particular age. And there have been many helpful stories about the best looks for people with various different coloured complexions, and body shapes.

However, there is one huge area of fashion that seems to be virtually ignored by the learned fashion writer. I’m talking about the massive impact that personality or psychology has upon what an individual is prepared to wear, and the look one is trying to achieve.

What kind of thing am I referring to? One important issue is: do you dress for yourself or for others? How confident are you?

For instance, imagine yourself in this situation. You are standing in front of, say, 50 people - all strangers - wearing an outfit that you are particularly pleased with, and feeling good. Then you find out that the people with you are going to be asked to comment on your clothes.

How does that make you feel? Are you relaxed? Confident? Do you have any idea what the people are likely to say? Will their opinion override your own? Indeed, is this whole scenario your worst nightmare?

So the 50 people all proceed to have their say on your outfit. Of that number, imagine that 49 agree with your own analysis of your style. The general consensus is that you are looking hot. Your look hits the spot - it’s fashionable, stylish and suits you.

However, there is one person among the 50 who has a different opinion. She feels that you are looking frumpy, lumpy and stumpy.

Be honest with yourself: would you actually be more likely to listen to that one dissenting voice, simply because it is being critical? Are hers the comments that you will take home with you? Do you find it easier to accept criticism than praise? Maybe that is what you are actually listening for?

Actually, are you your own worst critic? Even if everyone admires the way you look, do you still doubt yourself?

Perhaps you take an almost scientific, dispassionate view. To have the huge percentage of people agreeing that you look wonderful speaks volumes about how you are seen by others. And that one disapproving observer? Well, we all know that there is simply no pleasing some people!

On the other hand, are you the kind of person who can stand your ground, even if the proportion of approval to disapproval were reversed? Imagine that out of 50 people asked to comment, 49 felt that you were not dressed successfully, and only one felt that you looked superb. Would you simply smile, shrug and quietly realize that you were in the company of philistines, with the exception of one enlightened person?

Perhaps you would delight in their disapproval of your clothes, because nothing makes you happier than to be a rebel, with your own renegade style?

Or, if you were told that a group of people were going to make a comment on your fashion sense, would you simply not want to hear what they had to say, because you would find it tedious and pointless? You have no interest whatsoever in what people think you look like (we could call this the Anne Widdecombe attitude).

Do you get impatient with all this navel-gazing, and feel that we should snap out of it?

A woman’s reaction to these issues is key to the kind of look she is trying to achieve. Yet very often she has never really given any conscious thought to them. This is a major cause of confusion and frustration in my business.

There are women who know they look good in various colours and styles, and who feel that they ‘ought’ to wear them - yet find something standing in their way. Friends try to encourage them to break out of their safety zone, but they are unable or unwilling to do so. The obstacle is coming from within themselves.

Then there are women would love to try a more colourful, exciting, perhaps more revealing style, but instead stick to dull colours and demure shapes, which draw less attention (and less judgement) upon themselves. They are feeling pressure from others.

I think that, when it comes to buying clothes, you have to think about more than just your body shape and colour suitability. You have to understand, embrace and develop your own psychological makeup with reference to your look. Because although your body and skin may slip effortlessly into a chic, colourful and distinctive style, your psyche may have to be shoe-horned into it - with real mental discomfort!

The only way to deal with this is to meet it head on. To look at how you would like to dress, and what is standing in your way. You may decide that you really have nothing to fear and should ditch some of your inhibitions, embarking on making a radical new departure.

However, you may conclude that your tried and tested style has stood you in good stead, and has given you a welcome comfort blanket which has helped you in your life. Stepping outside this safety zone would not be worth the net gains... you have a busy life to get on with!

Either way, it’s worth knowing that it is a choice that you make each day of your life. In fact it is never too late to change, and I know from personal experience that real people do so all the time. The results can be truly life-altering!

It would be a good idea to think about what you are up against, though. Because if you find that for every 50 people voicing admiration for your look, you always seem to hear one negative opinion, it may be worth checking out the source of that one critical voice.

It may just be coming from inside your own head.


Natalie    Monday 06 July 2009 at 20:54

 Post #60 

Subject: Tall lady

Hi Emma,
I first posted back in February (No. 8). I've now lost 2 stone, with only 4 weeks to go until the wedding. If I let you know my measurements could you plase give me an idea of the sorts of dresses, skirts and tops/ or trousers and tops which are summery you have in stock?


 Emma    Tuesday 07 July 2009 at 16:32

Hi Natalie

Congratulations on your wonderful achievement! I’m so glad that you have been able to slim down!

We’re always happy to help with advice about stock holding. I think it would be a fab idea to have a bit of a chat on the telephone about what it is that you are particularly looking for. Our number is 01273 327240. When we have identified what you would really like, we could email you photographs - which is very convenient!

As you can imagine the season is drawing to a close right now, and things are selling through by the day. Generally, it’s advisable for you to get into the shop as soon as you are able so that you can have a good trying on session. It’s always sad to find that you have fallen in love with something, yet just get pipped at the post by someone who gets in here before you!

Don’t worry if you are still losing - we can usually find an outfit that fits you now, then alter it in the last week or two before the event, so that you have a stress-free perfect fit on the day!

Hope to see or hear from you soon...


Emma    Friday 22 May 2009 at 15:39

 Post #48 

Subject: My wedding

Hi Emma, Im getting married in April next year and my mum and i came in earlier in the year for a little look for a dress with short sleeves or dress with a little jacket for her in a caramel/stoney colour, we knew it was quite early but you all were so nice to my mum and as she is not the most confident person in the world because of her shape that really helped, she wants to come back to see you at the end of the summer/autum to see if you have anything like that in that colour coming in and then hopefully get it on order, thank you for making mum feel like she can look good. see you soon


 Emma    Friday 22 May 2009 at 18:05

Hi Emma

Thanks for your post. Congratulations on your happy event!

You are so wise to have started to look early. The best time to search for any item is at the beginning of the season. The good thing about coming in at the end of the summer is that you will have the chance of looking at the beginning of two seasons, Autumn/Winter, then Spring/Summer, if you come again after Christmas.

You may feel that finding an outfit in the Autumn/Winter collection that would be suitable for an April wedding would be difficult - surely your mother should be wearing a summer outfit for this time of year? But some of the early Autumn/Winter collections (coming in late July or August) do have a more summery look.

My advice is if you see something you love, just snap it up straight away, even if it is really early - you may well never see anything you like more. And if you don’t buy it when you see it, it may be gone. If you don’t find anything suitable in the Autumn season, you will still get another bite of the cherry for the Spring collection, which comes on in January.

The only slight alteration to your master plan that I might suggest is to be flexible about what you are planning to buy. Sometimes, just when you are looking for, say, a caramel dress and jacket, a wonderful skirt suit presents itself. Or a soft green dress and coat, or something else that - although it isn’t exactly what you were looking for - actually turns out to be the best solution for the event...


Natalie    Saturday 14 February 2009 at 19:15

 Post #8 

Subject: Tall Lady

I'm a tall lady, 40 years old, 6ft 1'' but the downside being I'm about a size 26. I am hoping to shed some weight for a wedding I'm going to in August, but miracles don't happen so suspect I may be down to say a 22/24 if I'm lucky. My query is do you do longer lengths in dresses as I live in trousers and tops which I mix and match from various shops but I'd love a dress not too fitted but suitable for a wedding, not black but colourful. Am I asking too much?


 Emma    Sunday 15 February 2009 at 18:17

Hi Natalie

Congratulations - you have stumbled across a business that takes your needs extremely seriously, and works tirelessly for the taller woman! This is partly because we have so many tall customers, but also perhaps because we happen to be tall ourselves.

Listening to what you want, my best advice is for you to try to get into the shop as soon as possible, or phone us on 01273 327240 and have a chat. This is because we have had some items in this week that may be just what you want, but they are selling extremely quickly.

Size 26 is our medium/large size - virtually the average size we work to, so it is not normally any problem.

We do take great pride in finding items in the correct length for the vertically blessed. For example, we had a customer visit the store just the other day who was bemoaning the fact that she could never get trousers long enough. Her inside leg was 34''. My colleague Jaq and I smiled smugly, casually fetched a pair of our longest jeans and measured the inside leg. It was 37''. The customer, a young woman, squealed with glee. 'Oh, I could wear out the bottoms of those, like everyone else does. I've always wanted to do that!'

Anyway, I digress. Back to the dress situation. There are so many things that have to be right about a dress. For us it has to be fashionable, beautiful, must work on the larger woman and has to be available in our entire size range. This, added to the rarity of getting the longer length, makes for a particularly tricky hunt.

However, it is easier in the summer season than in the winter, and we have succeeded in getting some absolutely gorgeous dresses. I will describe them to you as best I can...

We have had four full-length Anna Scholz dress styles come into stock this week. There is a V-neck dress, which is available in a kind of coral/burned orange floral pattern (as illustrated), and a black, white and grey pattern. There is also a rouched dress, with a kind of boob-tube at the top (with practical shoulder straps, obviously), with soft gathers falling to the ground - also available in these two fabrics. Both dresses have jackets available to go with them and are more than suitable for a fashion-conscious younger woman.

The other dress is from Sallie Sahne, and is a similar design to the Anna Scholz boob-tube dress (with slightly more substantial shoulder straps), in a gorgeous deep lilac blue or black. I would suggest that if you were able to come into the store, now would be an excellent time to do so, because these dresses will sell out quickly. We small independent shops have a rather cruel habit of deliberately under-buying, thus creating a competitive buzz about what we have. This is great for us, but it does mean that we will not be expecting to see these dresses in the store in the summer. They’ll be long gone. In fact, although they only came in on Friday, we sold three of them on Saturday, and, because they are specially made to order for us, we will, in all probability, not be able to re-order them.

One thing I would beg of you... please don’t put off buying your outfit in the hope of losing weight! It can be a dangerous strategy that often backfires. This is because the pressure to lose weight and find a lovely outfit (which is difficult at the best of times) can combine to make the whole experience very stressful, and can lead to a mad dash to find an outfit in the week before the wedding. We normally suggest that you find an outfit that fits you now, buy it and put it in your wardrobe. As the event nears you can bring it back to the shop and then have it fitted to your new slimmer self, free of charge and free of pressure!

 Natalie    Monday 23 February 2009 at 15:11

Dear Emma,
Many thanks for your lovely long reply. I feel so much better knowing that you can cater for me. Your 2nd paragraph regarding ringing you and visiting asap and your last sentence saying I can have it altered nearer the time is fantastic. I have started to make some progress on the dieting lark 4lbs off since my posting to you, but like you say it's the real world and things may stop or slow down. I try not to buy smaller sizes to slim into so your business sounds fabulous and I will visit very soon. Many Thanks - Natalie


Felicity Cook    Monday 09 February 2009 at 22:16

 Post #6 

Subject: Swimwear and big legs

Hi Emma,

I am so impressed with your site. I have been in touch once before and still haven't made it down to Brighton but will soon!

I have a question for you... being 56 and having struggled with my weight since the age of 5 I find now even after dieting, I have a big problem with my legs, from the knees up. Several years ago Speedo used to do swimwear with legs down to the knees... I don't seem to be able to find anything like this at all. Do you have any suggestions? I have been swimming in a body which comes almost down to my knees but isn't ideal.

The other thing is, I love wearing trousers but yet again, my legs are a problem for me. Loose fiiting trousers make me look even bigger and squarer and in my work, leading workshops, I need to be to get down on the floor, move around and look good when standing in front of a large group. do you have any suggestions for this dilemma also?!

many thanks for a stunning site!

Felicity, Cambridge


 Emma    Wednesday 11 February 2009 at 13:20

Hi Felicity

Thank you for your post, and kind words about my site - I will forward them to our IT expert!

You have mentioned a perennial problem that affects not just swimwear and trousers but many items of clothing... one's legs. You don't say what your particular problems are - but there are two main ones: size and texture.

Many women carry a disproportionate amount of their weight in their legs. Although this is the healthiest place to carry weight, one can feel very insecure about it being on display. Other women have textural problems with their skin. This can either be cellulite, loose skin (you mention dieting, which can be a cause), or even ridges that they consider aesthetically unpleasing.

If I were a swimwear designer, I would produce a much better selection of swimwear than that on offer in today's marketplace. My ideal range would have two elements (tankini style), with the customer given the choice of a number of different looks that could go together to create her perfect solution. She could choose a relatively svelte top with shorts, for instance, or a floaty, longer top over bikini-style bottoms. Every year I search the ranges, and am still impatiently awaiting something like this to be produced.

In the absence of such a solution I usually suggest an all-in-one swimsuit worn with a sarong. Sorry to be so mundane - and particularly sorry to suggest something which you have probably already thought of! The reality is that if you are covered up on the side of the water, you can quickly strip off the wrap and your legs won't be on show once you are in.

A couple of years ago I visited Australia and went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. To my horror, I discovered that we were going to be filmed, and the video sold to us afterwards. So I chose a really pretty, quite long vest, printed in a colourful floral pattern, and wore that over my swimsuit (which of course co-ordinated - I do own a clothes shop, after all!). Once wet, it didn't look that much unlike a swimsuit, except it was far less descriptive! Actually I was delighted with the result, and even bought a copy of the video! We stock vests like this every summer. If you would like one, you could always phone us and we will enter you into the wish-list.

With trousers, you really will need to come into the shop and have a good trying-on session, if that's possible. A lot of disappointment and frustration in fashion is caused not because one can't get anything to suit one, but because one doesn't get the opportunity to find out exactly what is right for one.

For example, if I had two different women in the shop, both of whom have larger legs and both of whom want to have trousers, I may well end up finding they opt for totally different design solutions. Although it is tempting to go for a wide leg when one carries one's weight there (and some people look stunning in them), others look 100 times better if they wear narrow (not too narrow, obviously), stretchy trousers, teamed with a much longer top. The trick is with the cut of the trouser and the texture of the fabric. If one wears narrow trousers, the fabric can be stretchy, but must never be clingy or silky. It has to have a firm texture, and preferably a dark colour. There is simply not enough space on this forum to do this subject justice, and nothing substitutes for a really good trying-on session.

I do believe that if you are able to come into the shop at a time when we are reasonably well-stocked (say, February-May for the spring collection, or September-October for the winter) I have every confidence that we will get you some fab trousers that solve your style conundrum once and for all. We will also be running another 'trouser day' as mentioned on the forum before. If you are able to attend this, you may find it revelatory. The dates are yet to be fixed, but will be posted on the forum when available.


 Felicity    Saturday 14 February 2009 at 19:20

Hi Emma

thankyou so much for taking such time to go into this subject in a way that I really felt heard!

I am going to get myself down to Brighton as soon as the Cambridge Academic term is over mid March.... I can't wait to see your collections and try some trousers.

many many thanks


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