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Here are all the posts in our Forum/Blog on the topic of Fashion: brands...

Kim P    Saturday 13 May 2017 at 19:20

 Post #494 



 
Subject: Designer Shop Stocking Plus Size Clothing

 
I have recently visited Tavistock in Devon and was pleased to find a shop selling both standard and plus size clothing including a few favourites from Emma Plus Angel Circle and Tomo.

It is Brigid Foley, 8a Paddons Row, Tavistock 01822 612048

Brigid is a lovely lady and the shop had a nice feel to it and included being offered a coffee upon arrival.
They also do mail order

www.brigidfoley.co.uk

 

Andrea    Sunday 22 May 2016 at 23:31

 Post #472 



 
Subject: Our Focus Group Invitation

Hi there! :) We are 2 students from the London College of Fashion and we are working with a plus size German brand looking to enter the UK market. We are hosting a focus group this Thursday May 26 in a Central London location (SE1) to gather opinions from potential customers. There will be complementary wine and some snacks, as well as a lovely rooftop/terrace viewing overlooking the London Eye. Your opinions would be greatly appreciated! Please reply to this post if you would be interested

 

Emma    Friday 06 March 2015 at 17:12

 Post #432 



 
Subject: New Images Spring/Summer 2015

Just a quick message to remind customers that the new images of our gorgeous Spring/Summer collection are now loaded on to our website.

As always, our images just scratch the surface of what is here in store. I really do recommend coming in to view the collection at the earliest opportunity - it's a sight to be seen!

This year the colours are jewel-emerald green, turquoise, lapis and amethyst, and the fabrics are eclectic. There is lace, leather, denim, silk, linens, lawns and lovely jerseys of all kinds. There are hand-painted materials, dip-dyes, raw edges... everything is about variety and creativity.

We hope to see you soon.

 

Emma    Saturday 23 August 2014 at 18:24

 Post #409 



 
Subject: New Season's Stock

Cobalt blue is a very big story, both this winter and next summer. We've already started to get our autumn/winter stock in, and we are seeing how popular this colour is proving.

Pictured right is the 'Scotty Dog' Anna Scholz dress (so called because, true to her whimsical nature, Anna has used silhouettes of Scotty dogs to create her exclusive print) £195, and far right is a gorgeous KJ Brand jumper at £129, both is this glowing, jewel colour....

 

 Sharon    Friday 29 August 2014 at 20:17

 
Hi Emma

I must have the Scotty Dog dress - is it the tunic or the space dress? I'm coming down next friday so I will definitely be looking for that.

Have you got any of the knitted skirts you mentioned yet? I have visions of a very cosy winter in one.

Hopefully see you Friday

 

 Emma    Friday 29 August 2014 at 22:30

 
Hi Sharon,

We've only had one knitted skirt in so far (it's still rather early in the season), but it's a real beauty. It's from Japanese-inspired German range, Tomo. It's long and straight, black, with a leather panel down the front. Absolutely gorgeous. There may be more here by the time you come in next week, because deliveries are arriving all the time now.

The Scotty dress is lovely, (it's the tunic: a lovely, simple shape, edged with pleather) but a word of warning: they are going extremely quickly. I think it's the colour blue that really attracts people. Virtually everything we have had delivered so far that is in this colour show every sign of selling through.

We really look forward to seeing you next week-

 

Emma    Friday 22 August 2014 at 15:31

 Post #408 



 
Subject: Bring on Summer 2015!

So, I hear you all ask, what are we to expect from the wonderful world of plus-size fashion next summer (officially referred to as Spring/Summer 2015)?

The huge story next year is black and white. This is a continuation of what we have been seeing for the past two or three seasons - and this coming winter, too. The look is really taking off now, and we are going to run the whole gamut of black-and-white looks next year.

There are the jazz-age floral prints, from ranges like Anna Scholz or Verpass (the latter flecked with elements of lime green), smudged-graphite-and-white - from all sorts of ranges, including the German label CPM, and crisp black-and-stone Mondrian-inspired blocks from Verpass and Elena Miro.

There are some fantastic textured blacks from Marina Rinaldi, and rippling summer knits from Tomo. Stripes and spots leap from every corner... from ranges like Samoon, Elena Miro, No Secret and others. Black and white animal prints growl and purr from Matt and Anna Scholz. I could go on and on.

It seems that every collection has some elements of black and white. There is something for everyone, and I do urge you to get into black and white (if you are not already). It is here to stay, and it's so versatile! It’s rare to find a fashion story that is so variable: there is the grungy, young and edgy end of the scale, but there is also the floral and pretty end. There's the sophisticated suited-and-booted workwear, and then again there are more architectural looks that make use of arty textured weaves and knits. And there is everything in-between.

Another huge fashion story is denim. At Anna Scholz we're seeing smooth, nineteen-seventies-inspired chambray (see right). Samoon offers sophisticated little stretch city-denim jackets. These contrast markedly with Brand’s take on the denim jacket, which is both casual and practical: the eternal jeans jacket. Matt takes the denim shirt and transforms it into an oversize tunic to wear over leggings. Exelle dyes oversize T-shirts into denim-inspired gorgeousness, and everywhere we see different fabrics - from jerseys to linens, indigo-dyed into the denim spectrum.

Indigo blue is such a kind colour. It suits almost everyone, and due to the ubiquity of jeans, now counts as a neutral - meaning that it will team with almost everything.

Elsewhere, the look book for Spring/Summer 2015 will include the colours turquoise (and all the colours either side of it - from cobalt to teal), orange (or coral), lime green and taupe. Fabrics will be crinkle linens, lots of knits with all sorts of different effects, silks printed to look hand-painted, digital jerseys, and textured weaves. We are also seeing more leather - both as jackets and as trims to knits.

The silhouette is still with the tunic dress over leggings, although slightly more outré trousers - with harem pants, sarong-trousers and super-wide strides edging in.

There is the introduction of more jumpsuits (don’t worry, I won’t be filling my store with these - although they will be making a guest appearance!), pencil skirts (long and stretchy gorgeousness), and long crinkly skirts. One of the main stories, silhouette-wise, is the neat fitted jacket. This is so versatile (it can be worn over a narrow little skirt, or teamed with a billowing dress underneath), and one such jacket can be used in dozens of different looks.

All in all, the look next summer is clean, simple, flattering and practical. It is stuffed with essential pieces that you will wonder how you ever lived without. And, if you make some wise choices, it will take your look forward for many seasons to come.

 

 Kim P    Friday 22 August 2014 at 18:28

 
Hi Emma

All sounds very exciting, some new names to me on your list of designers so look forward to seeing their creations next year.

Will you be getting any Tomo this Autumn/Winter?

I was sorry to miss the sale, didn't realise it was on!

My regards to all the Emma Plus ladies

PS I note a certain garment missing from your list of trends

 

 Emma    Saturday 23 August 2014 at 11:44

Hi Kim,

So sorry that you didn't know about the sale! We will have to make sure this doesn't happen again!

Yes, there are some new ranges on the horizon: it's very exciting, actually! I love the new collections, and am, as ever, looking forward to getting it all in (in 6 month's time!). I also loved this dress from Anna Scholz in a beautiful exclusive silk print (see right).

We've had some gorgeous Tomo jumpers in: they are so lovely that words fail to describe them! I would urge you to come in straight away!!!

It's a good idea to find us on Facebook and have a look at what we are showing there.

On a sad note, I scoured the collections for waistcoats, and am so sorry to say that it just wasn't a look for next summer. You and Kim will shed a little tear, I think!
 

Emma    Friday 14 March 2014 at 18:03

 Post #392 



 
Subject: Winter blues...

Having now finished my Autumn/Winter 2014 buying trips, I feel that I can accurately give an account of the lovely fashion we will be expecting to receive next winter.

First things first - and I know from experience that every conversation about future fashion always begins with the same question - will we like the colours?

Well, I am delighted to go on record to say that almost everyone will be satisfied with the lovely hues and patterns that the designers have provided for our delectation.

There is, just as there has been for several seasons now, a strong monochrome element - playing yet again on the Art Deco vibe. Black, grey and white prints snake their way across fluid silhouettes. Sleeves are stretchy and narrow, but the body is enveloped in a wide, unstructured graphic pattern. The shapes are deceptively simple, but as ever with these designer ranges, cleverly cut to be ultra-flattering. Ranges like Wille run with the idea of the black-and-white print or weave, in fabrics ranging from jerseys to silk/linen mixes - to offer bold but elegant impact.

Where there is colour, they are the most wearable and popular colours you could think of. All manner of blues... from denim-grey, through petrol to cobalt... the span of this hue doesn’t stop until it hits ultraviolet. This looks particularly beautiful in prints placed against black and white.

A special delight for me was a range of gorgeous soft fitted leather jackets from Danish brand, Jorli (see above) - one of which, in the almost iridescent hue of cobalt blue, had my name all over it. I could see myself swanning along wearing one of the aforementioned printed dresses, with the lovely blue leather jacket layered on top.

As soon as I did so, however, the old ‘clothes rage’ returned. I simply couldn’t wait to get that jacket, and the prospect of having to spend six months without it caused me to grind my teeth in frustration. I am actually gnashing now just thinking about it. But I know that September will inevitably make its way here, and by that time I will be lusting after the following season’s stock on order!

If, unlike me (very unlike me) your passion doesn’t run to a cobalt blue leather jacket, perhaps I could interest you in a lovely brick-red one? Or maybe teal green? Or rather I should say, perhaps Jorli could interest you in one, because this is what they are producing this autumn. Any of these jackets would look mighty fine layered over a print dress, or even a long T-shirt and jeans.

German brand Verpass has quite a bit of the red, which again it teams with the black and white look. But there is so much more to Verpass next season than this. They are going for colour in a big way. Shocking pink, our friend the cobalt, emerald, and a pop of lime really bring this collection to life - and make it one of Verpass’s best winter seasons to date.

Anna Scholz has also surpassed herself with her bold must-have designs. Again riffing on the grey and black prints, she adds a pop of mustard, teal and (surprise, surprise) cobalt and chartreuse. It’s incredibly life-affirming and completely wearable.

In fact, if I had to sum up the whole ethos of Autumn/Winter 2014, it would be with those two words... affirming and wearable. I can’t wait.

 

Emma    Saturday 25 January 2014 at 17:00

 Post #384 



 
Subject: Task Versus Job

Here I am again, contemplating my new buying season. By the end of next week, I will be up to my ears in buying our stock for Autumn/Winter 2014. The last moment before I see the new collections is always an expectant time for me, and one during which I try to think about my priorities.

If I want to really analyse what it is that my customers want, I had better do so before I go and look at the collections. This is because I am a girlie, meaning that, once I have had a glimpse of all the gorgeous, shiny new things, thoughts from before will be gone from my head. And once they have gone, they will not be coming back!

However, I do believe that if I see lovely things that surprise and delight me, and completely take over my desires, I may as well simply buy them, and forget all about the specifics of what I thought I was looking for. This would be because, if the new styles have had that effect on me, then they are bound to have the same one on my clients.

To express it as an example, let’s say that I have a customer - shall we call her Ms Smith? - who is looking for a dark grey sensible business suit. You know the kind of thing: a flat, workaday woven fabric, in a colour that’s practical, with a simple, practical cut. I promise that I will try to find her one, and I go out to look for something along those lines.

As soon as I take one look at the collections, however, I am blown away by a gorgeous trouser suit in a delicious soft tweed in a midnight blue colour, in a modern style that oozes sophistication. So this is what I buy. When Ms Smith comes into our store, what do you suppose would normally happen? Well, all my experience would tell me what to expect. This would be that she would walk in the door and ask me whether I was able to source her the grey suit she had been seeking. When I tell her I had found her something else entirely, there would be a frisson of disappointment that crosses her face. Yet when I show her the beautiful midnight blue soft tweed, a look of ecstasy would sweep from ear to ear.

Of course, it’s arguable that perhaps I should source the customer that workaday suit anyway, just to be on the safe side. However, my passion tells me that, once she has seen the gorgeous new design, that will be what she opts for every time.

I was trained that, in every occupation one should remember what is your job, and what is your task. And then you should always emphasise that your job should take precedence over your task. In this example, my task is to find Ms Smith a grey, workaday business suit. I don’t denigrate the task: it’s a very important thing to try not to let my customers down, and to take seriously my promises to them. However, my job is to find Ms Smith something that she loves, and help her style herself in a way that seriously enhances her life. This job must always take precedence over any task.

All I have to do really is look forward with hope and expectation that the designers will have found things that will delight and surprise me.

I am looking for things that are life-enhancing, and they haven’t let me down before.

 

 Kim P    Thursday 30 January 2014 at 22:13

 
This is where independent specialist retailers who know their customers come into their own. Good luck with the buying decisions, there will be nothing drab ordered I'm sure!

 

Kim P    Sunday 12 January 2014 at 11:47

 Post #382 



 
Subject: NP Trousers

 
I couldn't believe how comfortable the new collection of NP trousers were when I tried them on yesterday. You could forget you were wearing them!

The straight black leg is very flattering and it's nice to have pockets that don't stick out or add bulk. Another winner, I look forward to wearing them once the length is altered.

 

 Emma    Monday 13 January 2014 at 00:11

 
Hi Kim,

It was lovely to see you at our SuperSale yesterday. Thank you so much for your kind comments about your new trousers.

As I mentioned to you when you were having them pinned to the correct length, fabric technology has come an enormous way since I have been working in the shop. I can remember the very first pairs of trousers that contained Lycra in the weave of the fabric (which were supplied by Finnish brand, NP). As usual, the new fabrics took years to make it into the high street brands, being introduced first into the designer ranges. It sounds ridiculous now, but the idea was originally something of a tough sell to many customers who assumed that it would mean that trousers would 'look' stretchy: ie clingy, track-suity, or looking like something Max Wall would wear. There were times when I (in an uncharacteristically bombastic way) threatened to give a pair of the new-fangled trousers to regulars who refused to try them. However, once tried, there was no going back, and now the idea of having trousers without any stretch at all is almost unimaginable for most larger women.

These latest innovations-the super-stretchy, soft fabric, which allows the pants to achieve a lovely flattering, yet comfortable straight, narrow leg, and the clever new waistbands which look conventional, yet are stretch, continue the habit of invention that some of these ranges take as a given (these are also made by NP) which the designer brands do so well. I think you will be delighted by their performance in your wardrobe!

Also, I noticed that you immediately recognised them for what they offered, so I was spared from having to threaten to give them to you if you didn't buy them! Phew!

 

Emma    Wednesday 27 November 2013 at 16:04

 Post #376 



 
Subject: Fashion tribes continued.....

Once you start thinking about different fashion tribes, it's difficult to stop. Recently I have noticed a particular ‘type’ that seems to be quite prevalent in Brighton at the moment.

It's what I call the ‘Ruby’ woman. She takes her sense of style mainly from the nineteen-forties and fifties. She will wear ruby-red lipstick, and draw prominent dark eyebrows on her pale face (no false tan here!). Her hair is also dyed black, or dark brown, and is often extravagantly waved. She loves to wear red - which is nearly always teamed with black. At this time of year she snuggles in a soft red coat, which she wears with a pair of black leggings and cute little fur-lined booties. Sometimes, if she if feeling particularly exciting, she will opt for a pattern: a rose-print in the summer or tartan in the winter season. Often seen with a red bow in her hair, her look is feminine and glamorous.

Another tribe is the ‘Luxe Minimalist’. This woman is all about simplicity and perfection. Happy to wear the subtle version of just about any colour - she likes a soft, loosely tailored shape. Trouser suits echo Armani at his nineteen-eighties best, while skirts and casual trousers are effortlessly draped. The Luxe Minimalist loves a classic shirt; always long, sometimes the softest silk, sometimes in the crispest cotton or linen. Not to be confused with the Luxe Euro woman, who is intensely feminine in her styling, this woman’s look could almost be described as androgynous. She does not wear clothes with detail or body-conscious tailoring, and she hates short skirts and jackets (she’s probably never tried on a pair of tights in her life), or close-fitting trousers. She has her pop of colour - but this is the only striking thing about her style. All details - be they buttons, ties, lapels or waistbands - are pared back to a minimum.

To make the issue super-complicated there is even a tribe which can be clearly recognised (by other members at least), yet who all have completely different looks. These are women who can change their look radically in a day; they may set off for work in the morning in a sexy-librarian look, then, after dashing home for a quick change, emerge to go out to dinner in a Luxe-Euro look. Later, at the weekend, one of them can be seen elegantly sashaying around town in a fluffy angora jilet teamed with soft woollen trousers (à la Luxe Minimalist), yet later in the day is seen leaving the house wearing a full-on leather biker look - with knee-high boots.

One distinctive thing is that they always have the ‘complete look’. This is the woman who won’t leave the house if her handbag doesn’t work perfectly with the ethos of her outfit, or if her shoes don’t have exactly the correct height of heel to carry the whole thing off. She has a forensic eye for detail.

These women form a very particular group: the Fashionistas. They work in the fashion industry, not as designers (these would hardly be worth writing about as most wear shapeless black clothes in my experience), but rather on the selling side... quite a few of them are boutique owners! I see them when I do my buying in that part of London where all the fashion agencies are... or when I do my purchasing in Germany... or at the airport on the way to a fashion fair. I can always recognise them, and I know that they usually recognise me. There is a certain little nod of the head that we give each other as we dash past on our various fashion-orientated missions.

 

Emma    Thursday 24 October 2013 at 15:57

 Post #373 



 
Subject: Fashion tribes (cont...)

I have continued thinking about fashion tribes ever since I wrote a blog about the subject a few posts ago. It’s interesting how, in any area, it is always the extremes that stand out, and with fashion tribes this is especially so. There are two fashion tribes that represent polar opposites, sitting as they do at either end of the fashion spectrum.

One is the ‘Clothing Woman'. This lady does not wear fashion - she wears clothing. She wants apparel that fits, that's practical, that suits her colouring, that is of good quality and that is modest (this is actually quite important), but she couldn’t care a fig about what the latest looks are. As a hater of shopping, the Clothing Woman wants her attire to last - and this is one of the main reasons why she buys quality clothes. In fact, she would rather be painting the spare bedroom than touring the shops looking at fashion.

A typical Clothing Woman will wear nothing but trousers (usually a practical cotton pant from a very good quality range - like those from the German manufacturer, Brand), teamed with some kind of jersey top (of the T-shirt variety, often from Verpass, which produces great easy-care tops). Sometimes she will place a cotton jacket on top, or perhaps even opt for a knit. Colours are usually natural greens, blues and beiges, but when the Clothing Woman wants to inject colour into her wardrobe she can sometimes be seen in purples, cobalt blues and reds. Although she is keen to wear shades that suit her complexion, she doesn’t worry about fitting her body shape. If her body doesn’t suit the classic Clothing Woman combo of casual trousers and T-shirt, then that’s too bad; she will wear them anyway, and feel comfortable with herself. The Clothing Woman is the sworn enemy of any kind of embellishment.

Her polar opposite is the ‘Minx’. The Minx is a ‘pretty in pink’ kind of woman. She loves embellishment, froufrou and sexiness. Never far from the hairdresser’s chair, she will always flash a little cleavage as she sashays down the street, clutching her gorgeous Sarah Forsyth handbag (see www.sarah-forsyth.com). Doors will open miraculously for her as she approaches, and she has never done any interior decorating in her life.

She loves pretty colours. Pink (of course), but also red, blue, green turquoise... almost any shade you can imagine. Not averse to a little black dress (so long as it has something sexy about it - like the latest black jersey/lace number produced by Italian fashion masters Marina Rinaldi), she will often wear dresses and skirts of the type we will be receiving from German maker Jomhoy next spring (see photo above right). She likes her clothes to fit quite closely. The one thing that she has in common with the Clothing Woman is that she's not overly obsessed with getting items that suit her particular body shape. If she didn’t suit the sexy look, she would wear it anyway. But her clothes are often tight enough to describe her figure to passers-by in forensic detail, something anathema to the Clothing Woman. She is a force in her own right, and gets away with anything.

 

Emma    Saturday 31 August 2013 at 14:26

 Post #367 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz Discount

After the tremendous success of our Anna Scholz Day earlier this year, we have become quite keen on the idea of encouraging our lovely Anna Scholz customers with a surprise treat whenever we can.

All our Anna Scholz Days have showcased Spring/Summer collections, so to give a little something to those who love Autumn/Winter clothes (or who just love Anna Scholz clothing of any season) we are offering a 10% discount on all new-season Anna Scholz clothes. This offer starts right now, and will go on for a limited period only, so I suggest that if you feel tempted by anything you have seen so far this autumn, now may be a very good time to invest!

 

Emma    Friday 30 August 2013 at 17:32

 Post #366 



 
Subject: Jazz boomerang

I had mentioned in a previous post that there were two main currents in fashion for next summer, both differentiated by colour and style. I have already talked about the trend that involved colour with a capital ‘C’ (see post no.365 which dealt with the fashion for bright digital prints next season), so now I am going to address the other main style, which is markedly different.

What are the colours that are not actually colourful? The answer is black and white, of course! In everyday life, black and white are not considered colours, yet in the fashion world they certainly are - and very important ones too. Often there is a season (usually winter) when black dominates. This is frequently a time when the clothes are gorgeous, but the clothing shops seem drab. Acres of black do not make for a good retail display! Similarly, there are seasons (usually summer) where everything in-store is white. The emphasis is then on a kind of clean, modernistic (or spiritual) aesthetic, that can alienate all but the most careful wearer. I well remember watching a friend have what would have been a tiny mishap involving a glass of red wine... had she not been wearing a pristine head-to-toe white outfit at the time. The result wasn’t pretty.

Black and white together is an altogether jollier idea. Usually (as with next Spring/Summer) this bi-tone look is channelling that enthusiastic, optimistic period in the nineteen-twenties - the jazz age. Next spring, collections as diverse as Irish designers, Personal choice (who have come up with some super little jersey dresses in black/white combos with pops of coral), Danish brand Que (lovely floor-length cotton monochrome-printed dresses), German range Verpass (chevron-printed stripy jackets) and Spanish designers Jomhoy (authentic-looking flapper dresses in Art-Deco patterns) are all in on it. The look is young and jazzy. But there's also a nod to earlier re-incarnations; I could well see Twiggy wearing some of the little dresses when they were all the rage in the sixties. But then we could equally imagine Bianca Jagger draped languidly in the soft black and white deco-inspired trouser outfits in the nineteen seventies. It’s a style that just keeps on coming back, and looks fresh every time.

Still on the flapper-dress subject, there appears to have emerged an ‘it’ dress for next summer. Many of the different collections are coming up with their own versions. These are lace dresses in two parts. There is an inner base, a glorified slip, that can be almost any colour (although it's usually black or white), then there is an outer part of lace of some kind. Jomhoy had a gorgeous version, with very fine black lace over a nude backing - the lace picked out with subtle, tiny sequins. Anna Scholz (see above right: I couldn’t resist a twirl) had a slightly Japanese-inspired one, over a black base with kimono-style sleeves. Personal Choice had a lovely one with open ribbon-lace over a cream base. There are many more... which is a good thing, because I think everyone will want one of these next season. Even if you would not normally run to a dress, it is a wonderful look to have as a long top over loose-fitting trousers or snappy little leggings.

This fashion has got a lot going for it. It is stylish, flattering and easy to wear (you can dress it up for a smart occasion, or slip it on with a pair of flip-flops on holiday).

Most of all, though, this trend is marvellous value for money. The black and white look never really goes ‘out’, and it is a real top-fashion boomerang. A bit of discreet rummaging in the back of the wardrobe every four or five years will produce something that is all the rage, and looks new all over again.

 

 Sharon Cross    Friday 30 August 2013 at 22:33

 
So exciting - i love lace. I think it was all those teenage years wearing lace fingerless gloves! And do i spy stripes at the back in the photo? I'll take any excuse to wear stripes. Do we have to wait until next year?

Ps Kim was v naughty when I visited last - she showed me far too many lovely new season things that I had to buy.

 

 Emma    Saturday 31 August 2013 at 14:22

 
Hi Sharon,

Thanks for this.....yes, Kim in a naughty girl!

I can feel your interest in black and white beginning to grow as next season approaches! Yes, there are stripes, spots, various patterns and combinations. Fab.

 

Emma    Saturday 17 August 2013 at 15:30

 Post #365 



 
Subject: A thing of beauty...

Having almost completed my buying for the Spring/Summer 2014 season, I am taking an overview of what I have found.

Although there are many micro-trends, the overall direction seems to be split into two main currents - both based on colour and style.

The first is for colour, and it is this particular fork that I am going to discuss in this post.

To mention that there will be colour in a Spring/Summer collection does seem rather a ridiculous observation. Of course, every summer has some kind of colour, even those seasons where shades are muted or neutral. However, I think that anyone who sees the palette on offer for Spring/Summer 2014 will realise immediately that I am talking colour with a capital ‘C’.

I am often asked (particularly in the summer season) what colours we should expect? Well, the answer this time is ‘all of them’! I am old enough to remember vividly (what an apt adjective) the colours that flooded the fashion stores in the early eighties. They were gorgeous - but far from subtle. A rude person would reference a children’s TV presenter when describing them, but an aficionado of design would really appreciate the joie de vivre and beauty of the vibrant combinations.

There are pinks, purples, lilacs, blues, turquoises, greens, yellows, oranges and reds. In this trend the whole rainbow has been drawn down and woven into what we are about to wear. My personal belief is that the innovation of digital printing has arrived at the very moment when the late nineteen-seventies (also a time of colour experimentation) and the early eighties were in vogue, and the impact resulted in an explosion in the paint department.

This movement transcended international borders: I found it everywhere. For example, the chic and understated Italian range Elena Miro produced a beautiful story of delightful separates based on a watercolours theme. The lilac, pink and turquoise patterns had a subtle, yet definite kick, even as they were delicately traced over the surface of jackets, dresses and trousers.

New to Emma Plus, the German range Twister tantalised my 'tastebuds' with a sweetshop full of juicy printed T-shirts and casual T-shirt dresses. Just the kind of thing to wear in the sunshine.

Q’neel, part of the Danish Godske group, provided lovely broad-brush prints in lime and emerald green, cobalt and black.

But it was at German range Brand that I found the motherload. There were gorgeous, joyful, colourful digital prints everywhere. I ran amok and bought heavily into their lovely T-shirts (see picture, right) - knowing from past experience that what they display in attractiveness is equally reflected in their quality and durability.

And this is very important. When I get a beautiful, colourful garment that is a joy to wear I want it to last. A thing of beauty really should be a joy forever.

 

 Kim P    Sunday 18 August 2013 at 18:24

 
Roll on next Summer! I like Brand, the items I have from that range wear well and were reasonably priced which is always a bonus!

 

 Emma    Monday 19 August 2013 at 12:04

 
Thanks, Kim...

There's certainly nothing drab there!

 

Emma    Saturday 03 August 2013 at 15:07

 Post #364 



 
Subject: Workwear Summer 2014

It’s buying time of year again, and I am up to my neck in choosing the collection for Spring/Summer 2014! When going buying, I like to keep foremost in my thoughts what it is that my customers want. I know this sounds obvious: after all, if I am not stocking what my customers want, then what am I here for? Well, it is possible to argue that I should just buy the most beautiful items that I see, and keep my head completely clear of all other considerations.

In real life, of course, one does not have to be so ‘all or nothing’. I will go out and buy the most beautiful items that I see, but I will also strongly bear in mind the clothing that is being sought and asked for by my customers. And a whole lot of the requests expressed across my counter come under the heading of ‘workwear’.

Before I start to go out to buy, I really don’t have much of an idea about what it is I am going to find. Years of experience have only served to help me know some very small pieces of wisdom, which I use to the best of my ability...

One such piece is that no season comes out of a ‘clear blue sky’, even though it may seem to do so. Each season carries forward themes from what has gone before. So when I am trying to anticipate the new looks, I spend a bit of time contemplating the way the fashion wind has been blowing over previous years.

For instance, one of the very strong influences that we have been seeing for some time now (and which I have referred to before in this blog) is the return to the ladylike looks of the nineteen fifties and sixties. This started some years ago, and mirrored other cultural influences - such as music (the singer Amy Whitehouse was an example), TV (Mad Men is a reference here) and interior design (who hasn’t noticed the vogue for fifties and sixties modernist furniture at the moment?). One of the results of this has been the return to the type of glamorous workwear that used to be ubiquitous, yet which had all but died out a few years ago.

The problem was that the look, in its original incarnation, was not practical or comfortable - not a good thing for workwear, you may think. It was often a pencil-skirt and fitted jacket, or a fitted pencil-skirted dress with jacket. These were uncomfortable garments to wear, as when you sit down in a fitted jacket or dress, they suddenly become a lot tighter around the waist, and when you walk along in a pencil skirt, you soon realise that you are not going anywhere fast. The lighter summer fabrics were fragile, clingy, transparent and had no stretch - so had to be lined, making them very hot. In the winter, in order to be warm enough for the chilly office, these garments had to be made of stiff, scratchy wool. Workwear of the period had to be meticulously laundered, starched and carefully ironed, or continually taken to the dry-cleaners. These were not clothes for the fainthearted!

This didn’t really seem to worry women in our mother’s and grandmother’s generation. These were doughty women who went through the War, and were prepared to spend 18 hours a day in a bombproof corset.

With modern technology the look has become a lot more accessible. Fabrics have a much better handle, and are incredibly practical. Often natural mixes, they nevertheless are far easier to care for - being machine washable, non-iron, non-clingy (even when, as they usually are, unlined). They don’t crease anywhere near as much, and, with modern, warmer office spaces, need not be made out of anything that is either stiff or hot. No wonder so many of us women have wanted to re-imagine those looks again, but this time with comfort and practicality in mind. Because, after all, those wonderful vintage silhouettes were sexy and business-like... a dynamite combination.

So when I have sourced the classic fitted dress and jacket work combo like the one pictured, right, I jump at the chance to get it. It is in the Spring/Summer 14 Sallie Sahne collection, and comprises a navy blue dress and jacket. The fabric is light, stretchy, washable and non-crease, with a lovely diamond-shaped texture running through it. The dress is very fitted, with tiny silver piping at the neck. The jacket is lightweight and slightly boxy. I tried it on, and found that I could stride all over the showroom, bend and stretch, sit down and generally do physical jerks in it in great comfort... ideal for the woman who leaps up from her desk and clears the corridor with a single bound, beating everyone else to the lift.

It’s one of the new breed of workwear that I have been sourcing for next spring. I’m about half-way through my buying now, and I have been delighted with what I have been finding.

 

 Kim P    Monday 05 August 2013 at 19:45

 
Such a lovely outfit and it looks like it was made for you Emma! These investment pieces are worth the extra initial cost, they are classic enough in design to keep in the wardrobe for years.

 

 Emma    Monday 05 August 2013 at 20:48

 
Thanks, Kim!

Yes, it is bizarre how Sallie Sahne manages to get the fit so perfect! I felt as it I could have walked straight out of the Sallie Sahne showroom wearing their sample, and onto the board of some major international company!

It's also true about these being 'investment clothes'. I have a bit of collection of Sallie Sahne items going back some years, and I cannot remember anything actually wearing out.

 

 jamesbrodylevi    Monday 27 October 2014 at 07:06

 
Actually, I am very much interested to purchase the Salwars. The images which you shared was good to buy. Is there any price reduction is available on those dresses.

 

 Eliza Lowrie    Friday 23 January 2015 at 12:05

 
It was great reading your post. I style a tee under my elegant resolution jacket with my fluid pant which I bought from ginger&smart and naked heart heels for an elegant look.

 

Emma    Friday 31 May 2013 at 16:21

 Post #358 



 
Subject: Watercolours in fashion

It seems that a mixture of influences comes together to act upon the plus-size fashion industry, resulting in the prevailing trends at any particular moment. I’ve been thinking about this ever since our Anna Scholz Day, when I was struck by how many people said they'd never seen our shop looking so colourful! Why was it that, all of a sudden, we had so many gorgeous fabric designs in stock, all at the same time?

Looking around the materials available this year, I see there really is a riot of colour, and I was set wondering what force it is that works in similar ways on different designers from completely unrelated fashion houses in countries many hundreds of miles apart. This year we have had wonderful prints from places as diverse as Germany, Holland, Sweden, Finland, Great Britain and Italy. Although the prints, like the designers who created them, are diverse, it seems that there is a subtle undercurrent that runs through the thought processes behind them.

I was trained as an artist, and I have a fascination for artistic connections, so I can’t help but come to a theory as to what is going on...

Most of the more beautiful fabric designs seem to have a wonderful ‘painterly’ quality - and it's not just any paint. The look is definitely ‘watercolours’... plus-size fashions in subtle colours that merge into one another, mixing, flowing softly, and suggesting that very distinctive way of painting.

I would say that the designs of the moment hark back to some of the most beautiful fabric prints and paintings of the nineteen-fifties. This was the era of glamour, and a ladylike, sophisticated aesthetic which was unashamedly pretty. There is always a pop of colour somewhere, be it a dash of purple among a sea of turquoise, or a pink brushstroke undulating against a green background. These are the fabrics for the woman who wants to look feminine and ‘dressed-up’. They're perfect for a wedding.

So this summer's fabrics have taken on influences from the same decade that has been dominating clothing design. We have had the nineteen-fifties inspired silhouettes for some time (and, by all indications, will continue to have them for the foreseeable future). Now we have the corresponding watercolours-inspired fabric prints from that era too. I’m delighted; they are beautiful.

 

 Kim P    Friday 31 May 2013 at 21:18

 
Sounds lovely, can't wait to see them in real life in a couple of weeks time!

 

 Emma    Saturday 01 June 2013 at 11:35

 
Hi Kim!

Can't wait to see you! When do you think you will be coming? x

 

 Kim P    Sunday 02 June 2013 at 21:57

 
Hi Emma, Tues 18th / Weds 19th. Conference time in Brighton again!

 

 natashasimpson    Wednesday 05 June 2013 at 11:51

 
Hey, ema
sound like really good a water color design clothes.

 

 Emma    Wednesday 05 June 2013 at 17:04

 
Hi Natasha,

thanks for your comment...yes, I just love these colours!

 

Emma    Thursday 02 May 2013 at 11:54

 Post #354 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz Day #3

We are still both high and exhausted after our Anna Scholz Day on Saturday. Having had these days before (this was our third ASD), we thought we knew what to expect. On the day of the event the shop looks very different after the special delivery of Anna Scholz items has arrived, and it feels different, too: it’s very unusual for all of the women who work here to be present, all at one time. There is always a buzz as we gird up our loins for the busy day ahead.

At the beginning of the day, before we are open, there is a pregnant pause. We gather together to have an early morning coffee, and to examine our handiwork. The shop floor looks great, with the Anna Scholz collection providing a riot of summer colour, and new shop floor displays created to showcase the event. The window display has been carefully devised to give maximum impact. The dainty nibbles (courtesy of John Lewis) are ready on their plates, and the fruit punch is already in its bowl. All the decks are cleared, and the pin-cushions are stuck full of pins. Outside, the sun shines brightly.

Then it’s opening time... We turn the ‘open’ sign on the door, and the key in the lock. And almost instantly the shop is full of people. Within minutes you can hear the laughing and the giggling. People are trying on colours and looks that they have always wanted to try, but they just didn’t KNOW they wanted to try them! Women move in and out of the changing rooms - a kaleidoscope of colour and pattern.

The day goes in a whirl. This particular ASD was the busiest yet. Personally, I had no time to think about anything for about seven hours: it is a kind of meditative experience. I am lost in the moment, and my head is cleared of everything except what is in front of me. Not being at all sporty, I guess this is what it must feel like to compete in a sporting event. I actually think this kind of thing is good for me (and the other members of staff) psychologically. I am certain it is very good for our customers, who, quite clearly, are having a blast.

At the end of the day we have waved Anna and Darren off, sat back down on our sofa, almost too tired to start on the journey home. And we all feel happy and grateful that we work in such a lovely job.

 

Emma    Saturday 20 April 2013 at 16:14

 Post #353 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz

I have been cogitating on the designer, Anna Scholz. Not surprising, because next week we are hosting our third Anna Scholz Day on Saturday 27th April, where the designer herself will visit our store, meet her customers and bring much of her range with her.

It’s always a great day. We have lots of scrummy nibbles and drinks, oodles of fantastic Anna Scholz clothes, loads of happy customers and, of course, the lady herself - a beautiful, charismatic presence.

Many times I have had people ask me why I love Anna Scholz and her oeuvre so much. In order to explain this phenomenon I will have to go back to the beginning...

I started working at this store 23 years ago. It was then, just as it is now, a proper plus-size shop. When I say ‘proper’, I mean that it has never been one of those irritating shops that call themselves ‘plus size’ but start at a size 12 (why?) and go all the way up to a size 22 (surely, this doesn’t even count as a plus-size these days?). When I first came here we stocked fashions from a size 16 up to a size 26; nowadays we stock mainly between size 20 and 32.

Back then, it was very difficult to find really lovely clothing in those ‘proper’ plus sizes. The main reason was good old-fashioned prejudice. Against all the available evidence it seemed that our own plus-size industry had decided a number of things about its customers. It had decided that we were elderly (or middle-aged in a particularly frumpy way). It had decided that we were dowdy (dull and lacklustre). It had decided we were sexless (heaven forbid that we showed a bit of femininity). It had decided we were shapeless and wanted nothing more than cover-ups. We were supposed to lack the energy to bother about fabric care (there was a disproportionate amount of ‘drip-dry’ clothes). We weren’t prepared to spend on our clothing. And, more than anything else, we hated colour.

I’m not saying that it was impossible to find lovely clothes back then. It was just very, very difficult. And they were few and far between. It was a difficult time for our shop.

I will never forget the first time I saw Anna’s collection. It was at the huge clothes fair that used to take place at the NEC in Birmingham and it was in February 1994. I had seen a picture of one of her dresses, and I had already decided that I was going to look her up if I got the chance. I walked on to her stand at the exhibition, and the rest is history: my shop has never been without an Anna Scholz garment from that day to this.

Anna (as far as I know) was the first plus-size woman to have her own fashion line, and it showed. She didn’t need anyone else to tell her what larger women wanted. She was young, vibrant, attractive, driven, enthusiastic, uncompromising, skilful, and anything but apologetic about her size (she is still all of these things). Her clothes were a revelation, and we couldn’t get enough of them.

Looking around today it’s easy to think that she is just one among many designers producing fashion-forward, sexy, joyful, colourful clothes. Yet she was the first, and still the best. And she has been a powerhouse, turning out fabulous items that have been a joy to consumers and an education to our industry for the past almost two decades.

 

 Kim P    Wednesday 24 April 2013 at 18:43

 
I hope everyone has a great day on Saturday, so many beautiful designs to choose from! They are always great fun and I am sad to be missing it.

 

 Emma    Thursday 25 April 2013 at 13:18

Hi Kim

Thank you very much... We're sorry you can't make it.

We've already had the delivery in and we're trying it all on, stomping up and down, pouting, squatting, swinging our hair around and posing girlishly - just like the models in the photograph!
 

Emma    Monday 04 March 2013 at 23:17

 Post #344 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz A/W 2013

I think that regular readers of this blog will already know what this post is going to be about... More than anything else, I am a creature of habit, so it can be predicted with some certainty that once my buying has finished I will be turning over in my mind thoughts about my favourite designer, and putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

Of course, it is always exciting to see the Anna Scholz collection every season. She, more than any other designer, is the inspiration for much of what we try to do at our shop. I like unapologetic, celebratory clothes, that are fashion forward, sexy, self-confident and joyful. I want fashion that is well-cut, flattering, colourful, creative and original. Of course, I get these qualities from the other design houses that we stock (I wouldn’t bother to buy from them if I didn't), but it is Anna Scholz that takes all of these qualities in each season and runs with them. She is the only collection that I have stocked continuously from the time that both she and I first started our businesses.

So it is always with a feeling of anticipation that I go along to my buying session in her large, airy rooms in London. I have never come away disappointed... but some times I come away angry. And this was one of those times.

Perhaps I should reassure readers that my anger didn’t stem from any kind of disagreement. Anna and I did not have a spat over whether orange or teal was the colour du jour. Nor did her right-hand man Darren spill coffee in my lap. And her little pooch, Frieda, did not shed dog hairs on my Alpaca coat. No, this was a completely different kind of anger.

I have mentioned before in my blogs that I can get very cross indeed when I am buying, and I particularly love what I see. I am like a spoilt girl (Violet-Elizabeth Bott, from the Just William books, I think). I see something I really love, and I just want it. I want it now! This is how I felt with several items in the latest Anna Scholz collection.

Just walking in the door, my eye fell on a lovely leather jacket that was softly calling to me. It was gorgeous: a typical Anna Scholz cut with all the designer trimmings and more, plus a really beautiful fit. Available in black or crushed raspberry, it was a real, classic leather jacket, zipped and tailored, but with fabulous fashion-forward detailing on the shoulders.

How I would have loved to have walked out of her showroom right then wearing it. To be honest, I would really like to be wearing it right now. I don’t think I would ever want to take it off. Sadly, I had to say goodbye to it, and wait six more months before I even see it at again - because, of course, this was the Anna Scholz Autumn/Winter 2013 collection. I will have to wait what will seem an eternity before I can get that jacket. Gggggrrrrrrr.

Leather did seem to be the icing on the cake of many of her designs for the autumn. I particularly loved a little boiled wool coat with faux leather trim and sleeves, which I would want to wear over one of her new tunic dresses. There is one, in particular, with a small herringbone tweed that would combine into a kind of twin-set, for wearing either with opaque black tights (and which would look super with little boots) or leggings (see picture).

Anna had devised a whole forest of these tunic dresses. I fell in love with several - including a gorgeous georgette layered one in black, which would look very sophisticated for an evening do. Another had a subtle geometric print, and a line of sequins running down the front. They felt so girly, and yet also so grown-up and sassy.

As ever, there were plenty of Anna's lovely signature stretch silk dresses, in different lengths and prints, and all manner of beautiful tops. More and more I am noticing little tunics, both as tops and as dresses.

The colours were black, olive, pink, lime, teal and purple - while the looks were both retro and modern. The fabrics were her stretch silks, leather (both faux and real), tweed, boiled wool, and various jerseys.

I will try to put any frustration to the back of my mind, however, because we have the Spring/Summer Anna Scholz collection in our store right now. And it is a dream! In reality six months will pass in the blink of an eye, which is about as much time as it will take me to lay claim to the leather jacket when it's delivered.

 

Emma    Saturday 02 March 2013 at 17:40

 Post #342 



 
Subject: Fall 2013

So, now I can officially say that I have finished my buying for Autumn/Winter 2013. If there is anything out there that I should have bought, I neither have the time nor the budget to get it now.

I do think next winter is a very strong season. As many regular readers of this blog will know, fashion doesn’t usually jump forward with a sudden jerk; it tends to evolve in a logical progression over a number of seasons. And Autumn/Winter 2013 is no exception. The looks are simply evolutions of the last winter’s lines. This means the retro-nineteen-fifties/early nineteen-sixties styles are still holding sway.

If you referred to them (and wore them) as 'tops', they would be considered long, but if you referred to them (and strutted around in them on your gorgeous legs) as 'dresses', they would be quite short. These are the garments to invest in. The look is simple, with little tunics relying for their charm on their beautiful, soft, detailed fabrics. Often there is a kind of twin-set of tunic with matching coat/jacket - which smartens up what is rather a sporty feel (see picture, right, of a lovely Marina Rinaldi set of coat and dress). Like it or not (and I love it), this is the signature look of the season. Many women will be rocking the look by teaming these items with leggings or even tights, while others will opt for a more conservative look with trousers.

The correct trousers to wear with the dress/top are, in the main, quite narrow, but some slightly wider ones are being produced that are bit more accessible for the woman who doesn’t like to show her legs off in too much detail. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, there are the really wide strides, which counter-intuitively can actually look very good with a tunic top. This is because they ‘turn’ the look a little - introducing a kind of Art Deco aesthetic.

Skirts are dirndl (please don’t expect me to buy these for my shop; I cannot bring myself to do so... yes, they are very fashionable, but I find them extremely unflattering to all larger body shapes), or pencil. Both these looks would be worn with rather grown-up looking vintage blouses and little jackets.

As far as fabrics are concerned, we are talking about luxury - with materials falling in soft drapes around a minimal silhouette. There are very soft tweedy weaves, knits, cashmere mixes, silks, jerseys, faux-furs (and real furs: but we don’t stock those!), even the odd velvet and devore. In fact, there is quite a lot of sheepskin and leather next winter, and, although the embellishment is subtle, beading and sequins give little splashes of interest here and there (and not only in eveningwear). Leather in trims and sleeves gives an edgy feel. We are increasingly seeing the use of digital printing, more often than not on jerseys, with the inspiration being the very futuristic production method itself. Many of the patterns are op-art, modernistic designs, in beautiful jewel colours.

The colours are teal, petrol and deep turquoise, mustard, cobalt, purple, grey, red, cerise... but most of all, black and white.

From both a retailer and a fashion enthusiast’s point of view it is a lovely season: so easy to buy and such a delight to introduce my customers to. In fact, I can only see one down-side. It is the fact that, even though the weather is so cold now (and, of course, I would love some new knits and coats), I still have to wait another six months to see the clothes come into store!

 

Amanda    Monday 25 February 2013 at 18:07

 Post #341 



 
Subject: Why can't there be a happy medium?

 
Hi Emma,

I enjoy reading your well written Blog and often agree with your take on plus-size fashion as we seem to share a passion for Anna Scholz clothes. I've been reassessing my buying habits lately as the AS collection is so expensive, especially the tailoring pieces. I'm not saying they're not worth it - just sometimes out of reach. There is something to be said for the every day pieces that perk up your wardrobe and don't mind a daily wash, not everything can be top-end. However, it does spoil you for the alternatives when the cut of Anna's clothes is sooo flattering. So why can't there be a happy medium, a well cut top in a poly fabric instead of silk for example? It still feels as if we're grubbing around trying to find the same buying opportunities as the rest of the market - ho-hum.

 

 Emma    Monday 25 February 2013 at 19:06

 
Hi Amanda,

Thank you for your kind words, and for your interesting post. As ever with the best posts, the discussion resulting from it becomes quite complicated relatively rapidly.

When it comes to Anna Scholz clothes in particular (and, in fact, designer clothes in general) we at Emma Plus only sell the medium to high end of the range. This is mainly because it would be economic suicide for us to try to compete with the very large retail concerns that are able to throw their weight around in the more-reasonably priced end of the marketplace.

For example, if I were to try to stock a jacket of my own devising, deliberately designed to be a very economical piece, I would pick, say, a very modest well-priced simple cut, in an everyday fabric. I would approach a manufacturer to produce my idea. Sadly, as I am only a small concern, I would probably only be able to ask the manufacturer for, at most, twelve of those jackets (in assorted colours). If the factory was only selling to me, they wouldn’t dream of just making 12 garments (unless I were to pay to have each individually made by a seamstress, which would put them easily into the Anna Scholz price range). The factory would only be able to sell me those 12 jackets if someone else was buying the other 188 (or however many they would need for a run). There are not enough small independent stores in this country to fulfil that order, so the factory would have to approach the large companies, like Simply Be or Evans.

If a large company became interested in the item, it would probably be able to order hundreds of them, but would, in all likelihood, demand a huge discount from the factory. They would then be able to sell that piece at a lower price than I could manage. By this stage, the jacket would be virtually unrecognisable from my original plan: a far lower quality than I would want to stock anyway, because any of the large companies would demand changes, resulting in the type of product that we all complain about. Actually, this everyday jacket would have become the very type of garment that Emma Plus was set up to offer an alternative to. On present form, this would mean tawdry fabric, boring, frumpy styling, bad cut and depressing colours.

In my opinion, there is one main problem in the plus-size womenswear market. It isn’t that stores like ours don’t sell more affordable clothes. We are a designer shop, and if we were a mainstream-size designer-wear store, no-one would be wishing us to sell more everyday affordable clothes. People would simply see us as part of the wide tapestry of clothing that is available. Yes, our clothes are meant for every woman, but perhaps not for every day.

The problem is clearly the complete dearth of middle-price plus-sized clothing. In order for this kind of clothing to be available, it would have to be provided by big companies (for the reason I have outlined with my example of the jacket). It is a national disgrace that we, the plus-size female consumer, can buy the kind of clothes available in Evans (roughly equivalent to BHS), but cannot buy clothes equivalent to, say, Cos, Hobbs, Jaeger, Karen Millen, Jigsaw, or any of hundreds of stylish, tailored middle-range clothing that is available to the mainstream sized woman. Why is this? This is not a rhetorical question. I really mean it: for heaven’s sake, why is this? Surely, there are way enough plus-size women in this country to make such a concern a great success. I will state here and now: if there is someone out there wishing to start one up, I would be happy to offer my services as a consultant.

I would also expect some of the very best designers, like Anna Scholz, to jump at the chance to design for such a store, which would broaden their customer base, and make interesting, exciting, and well-designed clothing available for every woman, every day.

By now, Amanda, you may be wishing you hadn’t raised this subject with me: as you can tell, it is something of a bug-bear to me, and it does tend to raise my blood pressure! But I am very grateful you mentioned it, and gave me the excuse to get onto my hobby-horse about it yet again!

 

 Amanda    Tuesday 26 February 2013 at 16:32

 
All I can say is here-here! I totally agree. My particular bug-bear is good jeans now that Jessica Svoboda has thrown the towel in. I even spoke to Winnie about it at AS (she's a treasure) and she explained much the same conundrum to me as you have with the jacket. Have the fashion industry really missed a trick or is there no market for it as it's hard to imagine that no budding entrepreneur (maybe of the curvy variety) would have plugged the market?

 

 Emma    Wednesday 27 February 2013 at 10:47

 
Hi Amanda,

I think you have hit the nail on the head there! In my opinion, jeans are the best prime example of why plus-size women need actual shops, positioned in actual space in order to try them on! We have loads of lovely jeans, but as yet I am not thinking of trying to sell them online, because usually a new customer has to have a jolly good trying on session before both she and we know what are the correct jeans for her.

Jeans are so complicated that we have to stock loads, in all different shapes. We range from Elena Miro snug ones, NYDJ high waisted, NP (every different shape you can name, tending to be snug on the thigh), Brand (an assortment of different styles, particularly good for the larger-thighed woman), and so on.

I do believe that the high street is crying out for a shop that sells this kind of thing: completely different from the flaccid, cheap one-shape-fits-all jeans that are available online in the main.

 

Emma    Wednesday 20 February 2013 at 18:28

 Post #340 



 
Subject: Future shock?

Customers particularly interested in fashion will probably already know that London Fashion Week is happening at the moment. It’s existed since 1984, and is a well-established date on the international calendar of the clothing industry, providing a platform for fashion designers to show their wares in the UK.

What has never been provided within this event, however, is any kind of platform specifically for the plus-size fashion business. So I was fascinated to hear that this was the inaugural year for the British Plus Size Fashion Weekend, founded by renowned plus-size blogger Remi Ray, and timed to coincide with the beginning of Fashion Week.

I decided to make the pilgrimage to Shoreditch Town Hall, a mid-Victorian monolith of a building, whose shabby-chic interior offered an impressive backdrop to the event. I am used to going to the kind of industry happenings that are for insiders only - basically buying events strictly for doing business. In the kind of fashion shows that I have been attending for the past 20 years, the public is certainly not entertained. They tend to be non-controversial, rather swish occasions set in plush environments, comfortably insulated from the outside world.

This new show exploded on to Shoreditch with an unashamed enthusiasm, energy, and overt point of view that I have never experienced before.

My day there began when I arrived mid-afternoon, and joined the throng of women looking over the sponsor’s stands. I was interested to see the range of clothing of the kind that we wouldn’t normally sell in our store. These are clothes, in the main, sold directly to the customer, either through small independents online, or with the large retailers like Simply Be or Evans. It fascinates me to see the difference between the kind of fashion they provide for an event like this (which showcases the designer-led capsules that they would bring to a full-on fashion affair), and their mainstream clothing.

The main part of the big plus-size retailers’ offer is relatively pedestrian, but when the big companies go in for designer fashion it is very youthful. The quality is low, and this complements the particular type of edgy fashion, which is possibly only intended to last a single season. There is a vibrancy and excitement about the styles which is infectious. However, I can’t help feeling that a store owner like me had better tread carefully, and not be too seduced by the youthful enthusiasm of the looks. The kind of woman who buys a pair of silver leggings, and teams them with a cropped top, or pops a transparent chiffon cape over a bra and hot pants, is unlikely to purchase such items in my store!

It was during the fantastic catwalk show later that evening that this miss-match between different plus-size fashion aesthetics became most evident. It really was wonderful to see a proper plus-size catwalk show. Having been to too many fashion shows even to begin to count, over too many years to admit, I can honestly say I have never seen one before. Yes, I have seen shows that have a few plus-size women here and there, and I have seen ‘mainstream’ fashion shows that have a section for a plus-size designer. Online, I have watched the lovely Elena Miro catwalk shows in Milan, but this is the very first show I have witnessed myself, and it was a revelation.

Designer Anna Scholz’s clothes were there (see picture), and her collection was truly superb. I would argue that she knocked all other designers out of the park with her offer. However, that is just my opinion, and she represented just one end of a very diverse spectrum.

I have always believed that women who take the time and effort (and spend the money!) to shop in a store like mine, wish to purchase something that they will get a lot of use from. So I have tried to avoid flash-in-the-pan styling, no matter how inviting it might appear at first sight. This is because our clothes are made to last and to treasure, and it would be a shame if the style dated after one or two seasons.

I have also always thought (and my thinking was so ingrained that I have to confess that I simply took it as a given) that our clothes should be flattering, and that they should make the most of our assets, whilst unashamedly hiding our weaker points. This, more than anything is what we stand for, and where a designer like Anna Scholz takes prominence.

Looking at the different kinds of fashion on the catwalk, however, I was struck by the fact that my own views are just that: views. They are there to be disagreed with. If this show is to be taken literally, there is seemingly a huge wave of young, large women charging forward into the future with a whole different aesthetic. They want style, and they don’t care if they show off their bodies. They want looks, and they don’t care if they last. They want fashion, and they want it in quantity. They want it now, and they don’t intend to save up for it. They want what they want, and they don’t mind whether they look thinner of fatter wearing it. If you have a problem with their clothing not looking flattering enough, then it is your problem, not theirs. They have attitude and not a little courage.

There is an argument that what is seen on the catwalk should never be taken literally. The looks are designed to be controversial and argumentative. However, these weren’t haute couture catwalk looks: they were all commercially produced items that someone out there is selling.

I’m still digesting this new information. It has yet to be shown whether this is something that I am going to have to take on board in the future.

One thing is certain: it did me good to be drawn out of my comfort zone and to see a different point of view.

 

 natashasimpson    Thursday 06 June 2013 at 09:33

 
Wow amazing size plus fashion.
Sounds like amazing.
Dressing sense is amazing like from excel clothing....!!!

 

Yasmin    Sunday 03 February 2013 at 16:53

 Post #333 



 
Subject: Plus Size Fashion Market

 
Hi, I am a fashion student and doing a university project on the plus size clothing market, it would be really appreciated if you could complete my survey, it will only take 2 minutes :)

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QGYZ9DW

Thank you very much for your time! x

 

Anne Worms    Friday 09 November 2012 at 12:55

 Post #321 



 
Subject: Joy

 
What joy to find a new pair of soft black Brand jeans in the back of my wardrobe! Bought last year, or the year before and put away in the summer.

 

 Emma    Saturday 10 November 2012 at 16:03

Hi Anne!

Yes, isn't it lovely when that happens...it's like putting on your winter coat for the first time in the autumn, and finding your favourite ring in the pocket!

I'm incredibly into my 'Brand' at the moment. We've had some wonderful jeans from them that are soft and narrow with a superb fashion look. Of course they sold out straight away, so we've had to send for fresh supplies!
 

Emma    Saturday 15 September 2012 at 15:57

 Post #310 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz Spring/Summer 13

Hotfoot from buying Anna Scholz Spring/Summer 2013, I was left wondering why it is that I am always so blown away by this designer’s creations. Time after time I feel an excitement almost bordering on panic when I see each new collection (it’s so hard to decide what to buy, because I want everything), and this season was no exception. With a bit of consideration, I think I know why...

Before I worked here I could have been forgiven for not really understanding the different body-shapes of women. We are all familiar with our own body shape, and, if we have good taste and judgement, we develop a knowledge of what suits us. However, we can’t be expected to know and understand what is going on with everyone else! In fact, the biggest learning curve that I had to climb when I first started working in plus-size fashion was to understand the great diversity of physiques amongst larger women - and how I could use this knowledge to help women to create their best possible look.

One of the frustrating aspects in my business is that each plus-size designer seems to create clothes for one particular body shape. For instance, Elena Grunert creates for the tall, larger woman - with a somewhat straight physique. Her partial namesake, Elena Miro, on the other hand, has designs on the neater, perhaps more apple-shaped woman. The collection produced by Exelle excels in flattering shapes for the pear-shaped woman, while Personal Choice has a happy relationship with the hourglass lady. Although there are always exceptions to this rule, what tends to happen is that the body shape - not the taste - of a woman is what dictates the designer that's best for her.

With Anna Scholz, however, the tables are turned by the fact that she has an unheard-of level of experience and knowledge for a designer in our industry. Looking around the Spring/Summer 2013 collection, I was amazed by the sheer diversity of it all. There are gorgeous items to suit every body shape, and yet all of them enjoy the highly distinctive Anna Scholz vibe.

This year (as with most years at Anna Scholz) is all about the dress. We see it here in every possible incarnation... The work dress, in either black/white or cobalt/black combinations set with panels for a flattering waist. The fun, flirty little nude-coloured pleated dresses, finishing above the knee, that my niece would kill for. The gorgeous double silk long (or short) kaftans, for which Anna is justly famous. The floor-length maxi-dresses, in cheerful summery colours, that will grace many a Mediterranean holiday next year. And the sophisticated, strappy evening dresses that would instantly give you a pop of glamour for even the most prestigious event.

Yet it was the little, deceptively simple-looking day dresses that I have come away dreaming about. There was one in black and white with little flashes of red, shaped by clever all-round darts, that looked cool and cottony for the summer that we know is going to come-in next year. The floral cotton dress (pictured above) managed to be a vintage Anna Scholz item, while still looking completely new and fresh. Then there was another black and white dress that skimmed the body in a shapely, yet swishy way, frothing with a little soft frill around the bust and arms in an incredibly feminine manner. You put it on, and you are good to go... anywhere!

The colours are edgy: nude, cobalt, black, black/white, peacock and flame. And the fabrics are - as ever - her great strength. The wonderful double silks are joined by jersey, crepe, georgette and cotton sateen.

Taken as a whole the collection provides a comprehensive resource for plus-size women (particularly those obsessed with fashion) of every body shape, which they can select from and know they will look gorgeous in. If you are into Anna's style, then you're in.

 

 Kim P    Tuesday 18 September 2012 at 11:46

 
That dress looks lovely on you Emma. It's amazing how Anna Scholz keeps coming up with such gorgeous prints season after season.

 

 Emma    Thursday 20 September 2012 at 14:54

Thanks for your remarks...yes, Kim, Anna does have a genius for fabric. I think one of the aspects of her as a designer is that she is completely uncompromising with her fabrics. Even this very simple jersey dress (see right) packs far more of a punch because of the sophisticated palette and Art-Deco references, that draw you in...
 

 Rozi Desouza    Tuesday 25 September 2012 at 11:47

 
This dress is looking so beautiful on you. You are looking gorgeous.

 

 Emma    Wednesday 26 September 2012 at 13:47

Thanks, Rozi, for your lovely comments.

This is another Anna dress that I felt fabulous in (see right)!
 

 Bruno Moretti    Thursday 18 October 2012 at 08:44

 
Nice dress. You are looking so good in this dress.

 

Emma    Saturday 25 August 2012 at 19:25

 Post #308 



 
Subject: Spring-Summer 2013!

I am half-way through the buying season (which for some reason seems to be going on for rather a long time this year), so I feel that I am beginning to get a bit of a view as to some of the trends that are appearing on the horizon for Spring-Summer 2013.

I love the look that is beginning to prevail. There is a softness and luxury to it. For several years now the emphasis has been on an easy, luxurious look, with beautiful printed and patterned fabrics and elegant silhouettes.

This is the era of the dress, and the summer season I'm seeing really does seem to be providing plenty of choice... and I haven’t even seen the Anna Scholz collection yet! The two basic types of dress have remained the same now for several years: the maxi-dress and the on-the-knee dress.

The on-the-knee dress comes in a number of different permutations. There is what I coyly call the ‘short dress, long top’ look - by which I mean a dress that a young woman would wear with a pair of sassy coloured tights or (in the height of what will hopefully be a summer next year) tanned legs and plenty of attitude. Whereas women of – ahem - my kind of age would call it a long top, and probably team with a really lovely pair of trousers.

This dress also comes in a more demure grown-up version (see image, right, from the French company, Alain Weiss, worn with a matching chiffon jacket...; as ever, please excuse my hair - it's an occupational hazard when you are on an overseas buying trip and have to try on a hundred different garments), where the dress is somewhat short, yet entirely wearable without causing blushes either to the wearer or the viewer. As this dress is sized up, the length also grows, and it can be shortened to fit.

Clearly the maxi dress, by definition, comes in just one form: it starts at the top of your body and keeps on going until it hits the floor! In olden days one needed to be going out somewhere quite posh (and most likely in the evening) to wear this kind of thing. If you walked down the high street in the middle of a week-day wearing one, heads would turn - more with curiosity than admiration.

Now, the maxi-dress has beaten down the wardrobe door and is dashing around all over the place. These days you can see it - accompanied by a little cardigan and some colourful beads - wafting down the road in the spring sunshine, on its way to lunch with friends. You can catch sight of it in the middle of the day, teamed with flip-flops, floating along the seashore on holiday. Or you can spy it, teamed with a slouchy designer bag, chunky gold necklace and sunglasses, jumping out of a sports car in a county town, ready to do a little ‘retail therapy’. No-one now thinks you are overdressed.

What all these dresses have in common now is that, with a little bit of application (of lipstick and mascara that is), and a bit of attitude (a few well-placed accessories), these dresses can still be dressed-up to do all the posh things that we have always expected of them. Summer weddings, Ascot, evening events, the opera, parties, etc. And then afterwards, we can wear them thoroughly dressed down and integrated into our everyday lives. This is the true joy of living in the era of the dress!

Colours, of course, are essential. The shades I've seen so far for next summer are cerise, emerald, lapis, slate, and black and white. For dresses, it really is all about the prints. Next summer is going to be a riot of the most feminine, gorgeous pattered fabrics that we have ever been lucky enough to find. All in all, really gorgeous, wearable clothes... roll on next year!

 

Emma    Friday 27 July 2012 at 18:30

 Post #304 



 
Subject: Whirlygig

It has to be said, I am quite an argumentative person. Who could be more argumentative than someone who, even when re-reading her own words, disagrees passionately with them? That’s me!

When I was re-reading my last post about buying for next summer, I found that I just didn’t agree with me, and felt the urge to put the opposite point of view.

In my last post (to jog your memory or save your time if you have not read it yet), I was talking about what you could call ‘practical’ fashion. I was looking at the weather we have had so far this summer (and the last, and the one before that), and thinking about the kind of clothing that has recently proved to be the most useful. Then I was intending to get more of those kinds of hardworking, everyday items. You know the sort of thing... lovely, comfortable trousers, teamed with smart little jackets and pretty tops. How very practical, comfortable - and sensible!

Oooeer. That’s a word that brings me up short. Sensible? Has it really come to this, that we (calling ourselves a fashion store) start thinking about buying sensible clothes? How hideous! How very pedestrian! Isn’t fashion about something a whole lot more than simply dressing yourself? Isn’t it really about beauty, passion, gorgeousness and lust? Aren’t the clothes we wear a whole lot more than simply covering us up in a practical, workmanlike way? Aren’t they transformative? And if they are transformative, wouldn’t it - on the whole - be so much better to be transformed into something stylish, lovely, individual and original, than into something sensible?

What if news of my awful lapse got out? Gather round, everybody, and see the Emma Plus Spring/Summer 13 collection... it’s wonderfully sensible! It would ruin our reputation.

So how have I suddenly recovered and seen the light? In the week or so since I wrote that last piece, three things have occurred to make me regain my usual fashion mojo. The first thing (the elephant sitting in its familiar spot in the corner) is that the weather has completely changed. Walking down the road just now, I felt like I was abroad. The golden sun was filtering down, and there was a kind of summer spirit shimmering in the air that made Brightonians look different from a few weeks ago. Back then we appeared thoroughly British: damp, earnest, nose-to-the-grindstone folk, manfully struggling through the mizzle to get to work. Today, we all looked like sophisticated, relaxed, suave Europeans, stylishly sashaying down the avenues, casually selecting a picturesque roadside café in which to start our torrid affair with a handsome Gallic... sorry. Starting to get carried away there! Still, I think you get the overall picture. What a difference a bit of sunshine makes!

Another thing that has happened since I wrote my last blog is that I have started to receive brochures from the various collections I buy from. It’s early days (I haven’t, for instance, seen the Spring/Summer 13 Anna Scholz brochure yet), but the omens are good. More than that, they are exciting!

Looking at the brochures I’ve had so far I’m seeing colour; beautiful turquoises, cherry pinks, emerald greens and cobalt blues. There is texture: soft, tiny crinkle linen weaves, chiffons, rich swirling jerseys, and delicate lacy effects. In dresses there are drapes that swirl around the body as if caught-up in a summer breeze, and gorgeous tops and jackets with plenty of volume. There are prints (some of the best I have seen: abstract, or near-abstract sophisticated flower designs) in bold, life-affirming blocks of colour.

Suddenly, looking at the pictures, I realised that (for example) what I really needed in my life right now was a pair of stretch skinny cherry pink jeans. Who knew that? Luckily, Brand did.

The final reason for my abrupt change of heart is that the buying season has crept up and is now thundering down on us like the tornado in the Wizard of Oz. I am caught-up in the whole fashion whirligig that spins us rounds and deposits us in a completely unexpected place every season. It’s better than any fairground ride.

Funnily enough, a close look at many of these exciting items also reveals something quite odd. Many of them - like the aforementioned skinny Brand jeans (seen above right with a sleeved, pretty little top) - also happen to fall into the ‘sensible’ clothing category. On second thoughts, perhaps I’d better not mention that.

 

Emma    Wednesday 27 June 2012 at 06:48

 Post #300 



 
Subject: ASD in the news...

I was delighted to see that our Anna Scholz Day (ASD) merited a mention in the industry bible, Womenswear Buyer magazine – right. A trade journal for the fashion industry, WWB makes it their business to keep a finger on the pulse of all that's 'moving and shaking' in the world of fashion retail, and published this piece about our recent visit from top plus-size fashion designer, Anna Scholz...

 

 Kim P    Tuesday 03 July 2012 at 19:56

 
Great to have such good coverage for Emma Plus! You all look lovely in the pic as well.

 

 Emma    Sunday 08 July 2012 at 12:54

 
Thanks, Kim, for your lovely comments...!

 

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    Friday 08 June 2012 at 11:39

 Post #297 



 
Subject: Tights, camera, action!

I was so excited to receive the new Cette tights this week. As regular readers of this blog and forum will know, we have had something missing at Emma Plus for too long... tights!

I would like to paint a picture of something that really happened to me. Something that I am not proud of, and, I am ashamed to say, in my youth has happened to me many times.

Imagine the scene (those of you of a delicate disposition should probably not, because it isn’t pretty)... I am running towards the ladies’ toilet, I dash into the privacy within, I bend over and pull off my tights in a positive hysteria of rage! I drag the items off my feet, then, holding them in my hands, I attack them, ripping, pulling and tearing at them - all the while growling like an injured tigress. Anyone witnessing this would conclude I was quite mad.

I then throw the tights in the bin, gathering together all the ladylike dignity I can muster, and issue forth with bare legs - trying to look like the whole incident never happened. Why did this occur...? Because my tights were nowhere near big enough. And wearing uncomfortable tights is the quickest way to insanity that I know!

Eventually I realised that I was going to have to bite the bullet and stop buying cheap hosiery. It's a false economy, and it wasn’t very good for my sanity.

Many of my customers have had similar experiences and tell me that they will never, ever, wear tights. The wounds run deep, and without counselling on the NHS, they simply couldn’t envisage ever being able to get over their aversion to hosiery. However, it doesn’t have to be like this. Believe it or not, tights can be your friend.

So, at Emma Plus, we have begun to stock really good quality tights. From time to time over the years we have stocked many different tight brands, and they have all been excellent. The only problem is, every time we get a really good collection of tights, the company only lasts a few years and then goes out business. I think I know why this is - but more of that later.

Until you have tried 'designer' tights, it's easy to think that they are expensive and probably not all they are cracked up to be. However, each time we have been lucky enough to stock proper designer tights, they have been a joy. At about £14 a pair, they may well be twice the price of high-street brands, but they tend to last so much longer.

I personally have beautiful designer tights in mint condition, which have been used over and over again, that I bought ten years ago! Sadly, I honestly believe this is the inherent problem with the industry. Once a woman has bought all the tights she needs for her everyday life, she may not buy any more for years! The business model for this industry therefore seems to be flawed. As consumers, all we can do is snaffle up the lovely tights when we get the chance.

A really good quality pair of tights will have certain characteristics. They will be smooth, and may well feel a little thicker than other tights (although the yarn is particularly fine). The colour will be entirely consistent: there is no question of the areas where the tights have to (ahem!) increase the area of coverage, like over the thighs or calves, looking any different from any other part of the leg. This gives perfection of tone, which really helps create a sophisticated and polished overall image, and is very flattering to the legs.

Although tights of every type (even the good quality ones) can - and will - go into holes or ladders, the chances of this happening to the best tights is massively minimised; the main reason for their longevity.

Vices associated with cheaper tights have been done-away with in the quality varieties. For instance, they will not pill (those nasty little bobbles that can develop on the surface of garments), they won't stretch out of shape, they won't fade (and the colours are wonderful), they will have a lined gusset for supreme comfort, and they have enough lycra content to ensure that there are no 'Nora Batty' incidents!

But there is one thing about designer tights beyond and above everything else. They are big enough. Properly big enough.

Need I say more?

 

 Kim P    Thursday 14 June 2012 at 10:40

 
Hi Emma, that's excellent news. I am sure we can all relate to tights behaving badly! I will be very interested to see the new hosiery when next in the store.

 

 Emma    Thursday 14 June 2012 at 11:23

Hi Kim!

yes, it's good to have them again. There's plenty to choose from, from 'footless tights' which are actually more like leggings, to opaques, to hold-up stockings, and sheer tights.

The colours (see some of them, right), are also lovely!
 

 Kim P    Friday 15 June 2012 at 17:25

 
What lovely colours! Ideal for summer and winter.

 

Emma    Thursday 17 May 2012 at 12:46

 Post #291 



 
Subject: ASD

Anna Scholz doesn’t come to town every day, so it was a huge red-letter day on Saturday when she and her sales manager, Darren, came down to visit us. The sun was shining and everything was looking really bright and colourful in our store. To celebrate our ASD ('Anna Scholz Day'), we had decked out the shop in Anna Scholz displays, and had given her collection pride of place in the centre of our store.

We ordered scrummy nibbles (hors d'oeuvres and darling little cakes from Waitrose... bless ‘em!), and put plenty of bubbly on ice. We had our whole staff working together for this day, and of course we were all wearing Anna’s creations.

The stage was set, and we gathered expectantly at the beginning of the day. It didn’t take long before the shop was flooded with people. Anna fans had travelled from all over to get to us, partly because Anna had decreed that we be stocked with the largest collection of her Spring/Summer 2012 collection that you could find in our country, and partly to meet the lady herself.

We’ve had an ASD before, and it was one of the happiest working days I have ever spent - so I knew it was going to be highly enjoyable. However, it is only in the thick of things that you really understand what fun it is. There is something colourful, joyful, glamorous and decadent about Anna Scholz clothing, and all the women who had come into the store on Saturday knew and appreciated this. It was a meeting of like-minds!

Anna drew two lucky winners for the prizes that were available in our lucky draw. The first prize, for a voucher for £250 worth of Anna Scholz fashion, was won by Sidonie Stevens. The second, an Emma Plus necklace, was won by Jane Steven (the similarity in names is co-incidental: we didn’t go out trying to find Stevens!). This was a particularly happy chance, because Ms Steven, as a ‘small person’ wouldn’t have benefitted from the Anna Scholz prize, but as she happened to be in the store when the draw took place, found a gorgeous vintage blue/green necklace that matched the peacock-print dress she was wearing at the time.

Quite what Sidonie Stevens is going to do with her voucher is yet to be decided... the delight and excitement was palpable when we telephoned to inform her!

 

 Emma    Saturday 26 May 2012 at 17:10

Just a little pickie of Jane Steven with her lovely vintage necklace prize.

We are hoping to get a photograph of the delightful Sidonie Stevens wearing her gorgeous Anna Scholz prize....when we do, we will post it onto our forum!
 

 Emma    Saturday 26 May 2012 at 17:14

On the ASD, our lovely customer, Anna Martin, cooked a fantastic cake in the shape of a saucy basque.

Anna Scholz cut the cake, and we all had a piece...it was light, fluffy, delicious....risen!.....everything my cakes are not. Thanks so much Anna!
 

 Emma    Saturday 26 May 2012 at 17:34

It was lovely to see past and present members of staff at the ASD. Jan, who used to work with us, still shops here, and is one of our most stylish regulars.

Of course, she loves to wear Anna Scholz's clothes, so it was only fitting that she looked resplendent when she met the designer in person!
 

 Emma    Saturday 26 May 2012 at 17:40

I was particularly taken by the way that Kim P, who travelled down to Brighton especially to attend the ASD, managed to channel the Anna Scholz livery with her own outfit.

She perfectly matched the promotional material for the Spring/Summer Anna Scholz.

We had to keep an eye out for her as, camoflaged as she was, she was able disappear into her 'natural habitat' on the day.
 

 Emma    Saturday 26 May 2012 at 17:46

Part of the 'dream team' on the day....on the left, Jackie and Lisa, with Kim on the right. Centre right is our 'intern for the day', the lovely Leo.

All are looking superb wearing Anna Scholz, and showcasing the variety on offer in the range.
 

 charlie conley    Wednesday 13 June 2012 at 10:29

 
Please upload the image before completing the rest of the form or your data will be lost!

 

Emma    Friday 11 May 2012 at 17:40

 Post #289 



 
Subject: ASD minus one

So here we are, the night before our ASD (to the uninitiated, Anna Scholz Day), and, although I know this does mean that I am a very excitable girlie, I am feeling really hyper...

We have had a large delivery of gorgeous things: dresses, tops, jackets etc., and the Anna Scholz butterfly colours have really given our little shop a zing. There is something life-affirming about those lovely shades.

The stage is set... let the trying-on begin!

 

 Jackie Newman    Sunday 13 May 2012 at 09:13

 
What a brilliant time I had at ASD!!! Loved meeting Anna and Darren. Great personalities! Can't wait to see the photos. Loved the clothes and can't wait to wear the Cornelli dress on the cruise!

 

 Kim P    Sunday 13 May 2012 at 12:58

 
Just to echo Jackie's post, it was wonderful yesterday and I am so pleased I went. A joy to see so many ladies looking beautiful in their new outfits. Anna and Darren are such lovely people too. Thank you again!

 

 Nicola Sutherland    Sunday 13 May 2012 at 14:20

 
Sorry I didn't get to meet Anna but was early/lucky enough to have lots of gorgeous things in my size to choose from. Am really pleased with all three of my gorgeous new dresses. lAnd as always the lovely welcome, service and honesty on what suits me best that I always get with you. Look forward to the next Anna day.

 

 Emma    Thursday 17 May 2012 at 12:49

Thank you, Jackie, Kim and Nicola for coming, but also for helping to make the ASD such a success!

I'm so glad you enjoyed it... it really was fantastic, and we are now actively persuading Anna to come down again next year. The ASD only seems to get bigger and better!
 

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    Thursday 15 March 2012 at 15:35

 Post #274 



 
Subject: Greek goddesses and dressing-up boxes

So here I am, hot-foot from the Anna Scholz showroom - where last week I was buying the collection for the Autumn/Winter 12 season.

It’s always lovely to visit Anna, Darren and co in their den; a light, open space situated in a post-industrial building. Her team are always beavering away at their desks and tables, sharing a cup of tea and a friendly welcome to us buyers. It must be a very pleasant thing to see the recipients of your hard work arriving at your workplace, and to be able to listen to the succession of noises emanating from the viewing area. In our case, the noises were - in ascending levels of volume: a) stunned, delighted silence; b) sighs of enjoyment; c) tinkling, happy laughter; d) cries of joy; e) screams of ecstasy; f) loud slaps to calm us down... At Anna Scholz, it was ever thus.

More and more these days I am finding that Anna Scholz is all about dresses. Thank heaven for that, because there is no-one who can cut dresses for plus-size women the way Anna and her team can. The most important thing about dresses is the fit. They have to hang properly on the body, to express the womanly shape, yet to be flattering and not give ‘too much information’. This is far, far more difficult than it sounds - and it sounds difficult enough! Most dresses from other designers either show a woman’s shape, both the good parts and the bad (in case you are struggling with what I am talking about, I mean womanly curves equals good parts, cellulite and wobbly tummy or legs eqauls bad parts), or just give up and are completely shapless - not a good thing.

It goes without saying that Anna's cut effortlessly scythes through these issues; she is never shapeless and always figure-enhancing. Many of her dresses this season are either fitted (for instance, her lovely tweedy work dresses, teamed with matching sharp jackets) or fluid (stretch silk was very much in evidence) and high-waisted. The fitted dresses show a maturity and showcase the slightly retro-aesthetic around at the moment. For many of these more suit-inspired outfits the ‘sexy executive’ or even ‘seductive librarian’ look is explored to an extent that any woman who has not yet grown out of her ‘little girl with a dressing-up box’ phase would be more than happy.

Of course, I have always loved Anna’s stretch silk dresses. These days she always shows a panoply of shapes, some more floaty than others, some long, some short. This season she created dresses with panels, cleverly manipulating the fall of the fabric, and drapey frocks that brought the cloth across the body in ways reminiscent of a Greek statue.

There were other fabrics, too. Beautiful soft wool/cashmere mixes to create her swing coats in pumpkin, caramel, or sumptuous black. Silk chiffon was turned into dresses with sleeves and skirts that would take a will of iron not to swish around the room in every time you put them on. And various jerseys... for example, her 1970s-inspired jersey prints with which she has gone full-on and created maxi-kaftans that Penelope Keith would have been happy to sport in her classic creation of the glamorous but monstrous Margot in ‘The Good Life’.

People are always taken with Anna’s fabrics, particularly her stretch silks which, like all of her fabrics, are exclusive designs. I’m not surprised that they are what she is known for; there are fabric designs to die for in every collection. However, I don’t always think this is why her pieces are such a joy. One’s eye is drawn to a gorgeous fabric, yes, but only a fool will buy a dress, no matter how lovely the print, unless the cut of it enhances the body. How many of us have, with great regret, walked out of a shop after trying to squeeze ourselves into something made of a lovely fabric, only to have to give up on the whole idea, and go home with a heavy heart?

This is the true revelation from Anna Scholz. When I first see her new fabrics, out of an old habit I inwardly sigh, because somehow I still don’t really believe that the lovely cloth will ever be made into something that will either fit me or flatter me. Yet when I then try the dresses on I see that they are cut just as well as they are printed, and it is like a dream come true. Hence the squeals of ecstasy in her showroom.

The prints this season are in a superb palette of emerald green, teal, mulberry and cobalt blue, and also project a nineteen-fifties vibe. There are animal prints that are subtle and sumptuous in blues, greens and blacks; there are abstracted graphics; and there are full-on Rothko-inspired painterly effects.

My absolute favourite is a gorgeous Rothkoesque stretch silk print, draped day dress in the most glorious blues, greys and black - pictured. I also cannot resist showing you a lovely emerald snake-print top... or dress if you happen to be below the age of thirty!

 

 Jessie Clay    Friday 27 April 2012 at 22:49

 
i would like to know if you have a book that you put out and do you make thing that a lady can wair in a wheel chair ? and that is not coast a arm and a leg ? if you do i would love to get a book and see what you have . thank you Jessie Clay

 

Emma    Saturday 25 February 2012 at 14:46

 Post #272 



 
Subject: Colour...Fall 2012

During the buying period we flit round and about like bees gathering honey, visiting all the different collections. Each designer we see provides goodies, but it is only when we make our full selection, and imagine it all side-by-side in our shop, that we can judge how the flavour of the coming season is going to develop. We've done most of our buying now for Autumn/Winter 2012, but there is one designer that we have not visited yet, and it’s a big name: Anna Scholz. Until we have taken-in her collection, the overall essence of the look for next fall is still up in the air.

Anna Scholz is all about colour, so her collection - I think - is going to be key for us next season. The colours we have been buying from all the other collections have tended to be in quite a narrow band. The sharp-eyed fashionistas who have been reading my blogs may have noted the main palette. There has been a lot of black (and when I say a lot, I mean it!). Ordinarily, I would worry that this may be a little dull, but the black items we have been buying have been so gorgeous that they can be forgiven. The emphasis is on fabric - and what fabrics we have been seeing! From the gorgeousness of the black and white tufted tweedy Marina Rinaldi coat, through sharp pin-stripe black and grey suiting at Elena Grunert, to the subtle black and silver-grey weaves of neat little Elena Miro jackets, it’s been all about the fabrics.

Then there are the greys. Grey is not the easiest colour in the world to sell in our shop. Many women (quite wrongly, actually) worry about wearing grey after the natural colour of their hair has silvered. However, mother nature normally equips us with colouring that works well, and as our natural hair colour turns grey (although, ahem, this may not necessarily be the colour we admit to), our skin tone usually becomes more subtle, and looks cool, elegant and crisp set against these neutral shades - which then starts to suit us more than the colours we wore in our callow youth.

The greys on offer next winter are a pebble-palette of silvers, taupes, gunmetal, ash and anthracite. We’re talking minimal, sophisticated and incredibly easy to wear.

So other than grey and black, what else is there? Moving right along from the taupe, we have antique ivory, stone and beige. Hhhhmmm. I think it may be correct to suggest that, by this point, all red-blooded British women are going to reply... but where is the colour?!

Luckily, set against all this subtlety there are some beautiful colours that take centre stage. At Marina Rinaldi we saw beautiful positive purple. Everywhere we saw shades of red (from brick to eye-popping scarlet), and in a number of places there was pumpkin and teal and/or turquoise.

Set against this were some gorgeous blues. All the above colours are jewel-like, strong positive shades that popped when placed against the subtle background hues of the season. The blue, however, was really special when seen in this context. I call it viola, because it reminds me of the gorgeous viola flowers that my mother used to grow. The colour glowed and winked at you as you passed by, always giving a little hit of pleasure when you noticed it. Some of the best blue items I saw winking at me as I was buying for next winter were in the Verpass showroom. Truly lovely blue knits (often shot through with black) that teamed up with blue jersey tops to provide wearable, stylish investment pieces to enhance any wardrobe for years to come (see picture, above right).

 

 Victoria Hollis    Wednesday 07 March 2012 at 21:38

 
I am in love with this blue you are wearing. I have to admit that a lot of my wardrobe is black but I use colour to offset what may be looked at as funeral wear. For example a favorite outfit of mine is the wonderful verpass jersey trousers I bought from you with my Anna Scholz black crepe jersey top with shoulder cut outs and teamed with the bug print mac. I team this with my new red framed glasses my big red patent leather bag and a coat of bright red mac lipstick andd I am good to go. Fabric is so important as well like you mentioned. Like the angel circle black silk column dress you had in before Christmas the way it looked was amazing. I understand you are off to see Ms Scholz tomorrow I hope you have a wonderful time

 

 Emma    Thursday 15 March 2012 at 15:37

Hi Tori,

Thanks for that....the Anna Scholz, as you may gather from my blog (above) was fantastic.

If you like that blue, you will love the gorgeous colours of the collection. The dress that I am wearing here has blue and purple lights in it, and she also does this print in a full-length style that you would die for.....
 

Emma    Tuesday 14 February 2012 at 18:20

 Post #271 



 
Subject: Getting what you really, really want...

In my last blog I was just about to go off to start the first of my buying trips. Well, I’m back from that now, but I am still up to my neck in Autumn/Winter 2012 buying. Although I have seen and bought some gorgeous items, it isn’t over until, as they say, the fat lady sings (that would be me then - singing for pure joy, because what I have seen so far has been lovely).

I asked, on my previous posting, what it was that women were wanting me to buy. I had a couple of answers on my Twitter page (@emmaplus). One woman begged me “please can we have sleeves - small ones, lace ones, long ones, cutaway ones – anything, but plus-size fashions need arms!”. Another wished I could obtain clothing: ”that fits big boobs but doesn't look like a tent around rest of body!” With these words, and others, ringing in my ears I sallied forth.

I have a little saying that goes like this: “Something’s best points are often their worst”. I guess this is just another version of the old adage “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good”. Anyway, there's something in my business that provides both the best thing and the worst thing about my job. This is that I do not design my own stock - but instead choose from designs offered to me by others.

On the bad side, were I to be designing my own collection I wouldn’t hesitate to say “let there be sleeves” and decree that every dress and top produced this season should have one of an array of sleeves. As my correspondent says: “small ones, lace ones, long ones, cutaway ones”... but never without! If only it were that simple. The fact is I don’t have any direct say in what is produced by the fashion houses. I just get to buy the results of their genius.

However, this situation also creates what is most fabulous about my job... namely, being the beneficiary of all that genius! Every season is a surprise, and most are a real delight. If I were asked to design clothes every year, I'm sure I would soon run out of good ideas. But this is a neverending conveyor belt of creativity and innovation. I just don't know what I am going to find next.

So I have been looking around, and have seen a number of gorgeous dresses and tops with sleeves (those women reading this who have their fashion-heads on will know that, as a winter collection, the sleeve thing is much less difficult).

When I was at Marina Rinaldi, I bought some lovely jersey dresses, all resplendent with long sleeves. And I was thrilled to see that they had produced a gorgeous light, soft tweed suit that included not only a lovely jacket, but trousers, a skirt, and – yes - a matching dress... with sleeves! That makes the hit-rate of this outfit extremely high. Business suit... tick. Soft and wearable... tick. Versatile... tick. Sassy... tick. Sleeves... tick.

Because I am so excited by this development, I am breaking several fashion laws* and putting a picture of me trying the said outfit on, right there and then in the Marina Rinaldi showroom (see right).
* I will list the laws I am breaking: firstly, I am trying on a dress in easily one size smaller than I require. Secondly, I have it on over the top of my leather leggings and various other garments (I just couldn’t take them off in the middle of their display, with people walking past). Thirdly, it is not a very good photograph. It’s blurry, so my IT specialist will probably be disgusted with me putting in on our forum (I was going to say something about it! - J.). Fourthly, my hair: just look at my hair!

But at the very least, I think we can see that I am not a vain person, and am quite able to show you an unflattering picture in the service of getting you to see this dress! But this is not an unflattering style of dress - particularly if one makes an effort to get the correct size and take off one’s previous outfit before wearing it! It also achieves the objectives of my second correspondent; it would fit beautifully over a larger bust, and - in common with almost every other Miraldi outfit - shows no tent-like qualities whatsoever...

 

 Nicola    Saturday 18 February 2012 at 12:32

Hi Emma

I love the look of the suit you're wearing in the picture. It's left me chompong at the bit to see what next winter has in store for us. I loved this season's selection so much it's hard to imagine it getting any better.

I have attached a photo of me in my Elena Miro gilet, I love how soft it is. As you can see I too was having a bad hair day!

Looking forwards to seeing you all in the Spring.

NICOLA
 

 Emma    Saturday 18 February 2012 at 13:06

Hi Nicola

Thanks for the photo... Brynn looks hale and hearty, enjoying his dinner! I hope you are all very well.

Yes, I love that Elena Miro gilet, and I have enclosed a sneaky peek of a gorgeous Elena Miro jacket that I have ordered for next season. It's just as soft as the gilet you are wearing, but thicker (like a coat). It has a bit of a trompe l'oeil effect, in that it looks like a waistcoat worn over a knit, but is actually all one piece. It is beautiful.

But enough of this Autumn/Winter 2012 stock talk... we are now getting superb summer pieces in. I think there may be plenty for you, Nicola. Is there anything you are particularly looking for?

As for your hair... it's better on a bad day than mine ever is at its best!
 

 Nicola    Sunday 19 February 2012 at 13:05

Hi Emma

I love the look of that Elena Miro jacket!

Regards this spring/summer, like this winter, I need to re-stock my entire wardrobe. I need items which are flexible enough to be worn for work or casual. My linen shirts are all looking a bit tired now, I would love some new ones, especially if they are somewhat tailored (like the Marina Rinaldi 3/4 sleeve blouses I got a few seasons ago). Trousers are a must, I really like the KJ Brand trousers I got this winter, not too baggy but not too tight on the thigh either.

Let me know when you think the best time is to come over. I have a bank holiday in mid march but I don't know if that would be too early.

Here's another pick of Brynn showing off his Welsh rugby shirt while we watched the 6 Nations last weekend.

NICOLA
 

 Emma    Monday 20 February 2012 at 15:28

Brynn is such a happy baby! He really does have such a definite personality already, and always has had!

There will be plenty for you to see in mid-March: there already is, actually. Most of our lovely new Brand trousers are in stock, and we've had some fantastic items in, from Elena Miro, new (to us) Danish range Carmakoma, Nanso, and loads more.

We haven't had our Marina Rinaldi deliveries in yet (see photograph of some of the items we have on order), but we are expecting them very shortly, and there is a lot there for you in particular, Nicola. This should all be delivered well in time for your March holiday..... Hope you are able to make it.
 

 Kirsten James    Wednesday 22 February 2012 at 17:12

 
Lovely Emma! However, I am anxiously awaiting the Anna Scholz full report as only you can give it! Glad your trip went well. Thanks,
Kirsten

 

 Emma    Friday 24 February 2012 at 16:27

Hi Kirsten!

Thank you for your remarks and interest! As soon as we have seen the Autumn/Winter 12 Anna Scholz collection, I will write a blog, and fill everyone in!

In the meantime, we have had most of the superb Spring/Summer 12 Anna Scholz dresses in, and they are just a joy to behold. Really, this is the best ever season for Anna Scholz dresses, which of course means that it must be one of the best plus-size dress collections of all time!

The image I have here is a gorgeous selection of the Autumn/Winter Marina Rinaldi looks. There is the aforementioned business suit (with dress), as well as a couple of lovely dresses, a coat to die for (with little tufts of texture in a stylish weave), and some yummy jumpers and knitted jackets (Marina Rinaldi always uses such fantastic fabrics: the knits look almost hand-knitted in yarns that feel like you could curl up in them), with matching scarves.

One that particularly sticks out is a wonderful super-long knitted jacket (almost a knitted coat-dress), in a dense, soft knit with teeny tiny sequins scattered throughout. So sumptuous, luxurious yet subtle.......mmmm
 

Emma    Thursday 02 February 2012 at 19:59

 Post #270 



 
Subject: What we really, really want...

Well it’s here again... buying time! It seems ridiculous (even to me) that I can still get so excited about an event that comes round every six months and that I have been involved with for the best part of the past twenty years, but there it is. It really is something that I never tire of!

This weekend Jaq (the store manager) and I will wend our way to Germany to visit the fashion houses in Düsseldorf. This is where most of the designer clothing companies rent showrooms where they set out their stall to sell to us retailers. We can trawl through dozens of collections there, buying the best, and taking note of the rest.

Before we go, we really have no clue as to what to expect: fashion can turn on a sixpence, and even having an encyclopaedic knowledge of what has gone before doesn’t give you any kind of a head start.

For example, Spring-Summer 12 (the collection that is now hitting our shop) has got beautiful bright colours, and quite modernistic, fresh styles, much of it inspired by holiday wear. If you turn to our ‘Our Range’ page on our Home Page, you will see what I mean: the new images are in. The looks are very current, and the colours are what I call ‘Barcelona’ tones... young, vibrant, joyous and artistic.

Yet the season that preceded this collection (the Autumn-Winter clothing that we are just selling through now) was all about the retro look. There was a palette of vintage colours, reminiscent of 'Mad Men', and more structured shapes that spoke of a sophisticated, bygone, ladylike era. This was grown-up dressing.

There had been a sea-change between these two seasons, so there may yet be another one in the pipeline! Who is to say what the new Autumn-Winter 12 looks are going to be?

Perhaps now I am conveying something of the excitement that can accompany a buying trip...?

All I can do before I see the new collection is to cogitate on what it is that I am looking for. One must - first and foremost - remember that I will be buying a winter collection.

Yet again, I will be looking for knits like a heat-seeking missile. We have had so many cold winters of late, that it really does seem that I can sell each and every beautiful jumper, knitted cardi, jacket, sweater-suit or knitted dress that I can lay my hands on. So I will go out, hell-for-leather to get the best available.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it... That’s my way of saying that I adore knitwear, and I could stare at gorgeous knits every day and night from here to next Christmas - and never get bored. I love my job.

I would adore to get my hands on a really, really long coat! What is it with designers, that they seem to make lovely mid-length coats (good!...take a look at this lovely wool version for Winter 12, by German designer, Brand, right), but no really long coats (bad!)? I know there is now a pent-up demand for the long coat, and I will try my best to satisfy it.

This winter we stocked some gorgeous business suits from the likes of Marina Rinaldi, Elena Grunert, and others, and they sold like hot cakes. In fact, I would say that this is one particular requirement that never goes away. Even those customers who have been lucky enough to have already bought business suits from us, still want more! In fact, the one thing that really seems to stimulate the urge to buy a suit from us, is to have just bought one! It seems they are addictive.

And there are those women who didn’t get a look-in with the suits... they want some too! I refuse to buy a boring suit, and finding the really interesting and super ones is always a bit of a hunt, but I am packing some comfortable walking shoes, and I will not give up until I am successful.

Of course, I am canvassing opinions from my customers, and would love to hear any requests on this blog, or in the shop.

What do you all really, really want from next winter’s collections...? How can I make your day...?

 

Kalli    Monday 07 November 2011 at 21:21

 Post #252 



 
Subject: Opinions please ladies!!

 
Hi ladies,

I am doing a university project on the Plus Size market. I was hoping some of you would be kind enough to give me your opinion on what you think of plus size womenswear that is in the market today.

Do you think it could be improved?

I would very dearly appreciate your insights on this,

Kalli

 

 Emma    Wednesday 09 November 2011 at 11:15

 
Hi Kalli

Thank you for your post... and question!

To be honest, I don't know what response you'll get on this. I'm unsure for two main reasons... Firstly this forum has never really developed into a discussion site. I don’t have a reason why this should be: although it’s my website, I am entirely happy for it to go in any direction. However, what seems to have happened is that readers have asked very specific questions - like, what should I, with my own particular body shape, wear to my daughter’s wedding; or where on earth can I get tights? If anyone simply wanted to chat, then they went elsewhere!

However, alongside this I have been writing my blog, which often does address the topic that you are looking into: the current state of the plus-size market. Sometimes this has elicited readers’ responses - but by no means always.

The other reason for my uncertainty is that the question is such a vast one! It’s a bit like asking what we think the world is like, and how we think it can be improved!

I often get letters (emails nowadays) from scholars like this. In the early days I used to write reams about the problems involved in this industry (after all, they are legion), but as time has gone on I have realised that much of my information is probably not useful. Because it is such a huge subject, it may be worthwhile - if only in this instance - to take a small area of it to make a more manageable study...?

However, I do congratulate you on the method you have employed - i.e. actually asking larger women for their opinions and needs. In doing this, you can teach the large companies a thing or two!

I really do wish you the best of luck in your study Kalli, and hope that you get something of use from our forum!

 

 Victoria Hollis    Thursday 10 November 2011 at 16:43

 
Hi Kallie

I'm actually a member of a facebook group which could possibly help you with this - drop me an email to victoriahollis@ymail.com

Victoria xx

 

 Kim P    Sunday 13 November 2011 at 15:30

 
This blog contains much information from both customers and a specialist retailer of plus size fashion so take the time to read back if you have not already done so. First hand experience is valuable, why not go into plus size high street retailers and specialist retailers like Emma Plus and road test them as a customer? The levels of service and product on offer will give you a clearer idea of the good and bad of the sector. If you are not plus sized yourself then maybe you have a friend or family member who could accompany you. Plus sized ladies are just as varied in their likes and dislikes as any other size customer. Good luck with your research.

 

 Emma    Monday 14 November 2011 at 15:57

 
It's a fact that our industry is hugely dysfunctional. I don't know of any business that pays less attention to its own customer base.

Could you imagine if, for example, one learned that the aircraft industry only manufactured sufficient components to satisfy demand for parts needed by half the planes in existence? And that the owners of the aeroplanes which were not catered for spent large amounts of time and money tracking down what they need (and were still extremely dissatisfied)? Wouldn't it be strange if you heard that consumers in that industry were not consulted, and that their money went unspent, because their needs were not being addressed? If this happened, how long do you think it would be before some large company moved into what was clearly a lucrative and unsatisfied market?

Yet this is the reality of plus-size women in their dealings with the fashion industry.... I know this, because I come into daily contact with women who tell me so. Our shop benefits immensely from this unsatisfied demand, meaning that we regularly have women travelling the breadth of the country to shop with us. As a businesswoman, it's great news for me, but as a larger woman, I am disgusted.

There is something very odd about the fashion industry that seems perversely dead-set on ignoring many of its potential customers....

 

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    Friday 09 September 2011 at 16:21

 Post #242 



 
Subject: Snuggle

So what would I suggest are the ‘must have’ items this season? The autumn/winter 2011 collections are flooding into store now (see 'Our range' in the main section of our site), and with every delivery I am reawakening the excitement I felt when I forward-ordered these clothes six months ago. In more ways than one, this is a vintage year for design.

Generally the items that are ‘must haves’ for any particular season fall into two groups: those which you personally have a need or a yen for, and those which the industry has provided that are so good at the time, that just about everyone should snap them up.

Luckily, the rules affecting what you need (or want) and what the fashion industry suddenly comes through with are the same this time. For anyone suffering from amnesia, last year we experienced a very cold winter, where all bets were off as far as our normal wardrobe staples were concerned. Out had gone those trusty yet suddenly inadequate and flimsy cotton jumpers that had been our go-to items when the weather got cold in previous years (I say previous years: actually the winter before was also quite extreme if I remember correctly). Out, also, had gone the notion that you ‘really don’t need’ a winter coat. The rules had suddenly been rewritten.

Many women are normally perfectly warm, no matter what the weather, and to suddenly feel the cold blast of extreme winter was an unexpected and unpleasant wake-up call. It sent numbers of my customers into my shop in the pursuit of all things snuggly. They wanted coats, wool jackets, woollen trousers, jumpers, cardigans... let’s face it, they needed the part of their wardrobe that was missing: the winter part.

This was particularly noticeable because larger women in general tend to feel the heat and do not often feel cold. So some of us have decided to simply ignore warm clothing and rely on the fact that most of the time we live on quite a temperate island. In a nutshell, there was an area of our wardrobe that had been long neglected, and suddenly was desperately needed. To make matters worse, when we really started to think about it, we realised this neglected part of the wardrobe was often quite necessary!

The problem with the fashion industry is that it is always ahead of itself. Regular readers of this blog will know that my advice is always to ‘buy early’. I try to make it a habit not to use saleswomanship or hype in these writings (I can’t expect people to want to want to regularly read this blog if it is nothing better than advertorial for the designer clothing industry), and I try to give honest, logical advice to consumers. So when I recommend buying specific items early, I do so with good reason. Generally speaking, by the time you find you really need to wear the clothes, the best examples will have already sold out. This is as true for winter coats as it is for summer dresses.

So last winter, during and after the worst of the cold weather, we had a stream of customers wanting items that were simply not available for love nor money. I had women virtually crying on my shop floor, so desperate were they for at least one really good jumper, or knitted jacket, or winter coat. Yet the cupboard was bare; they had long since sold through.

So now, the fashion world (which in an uncharacteristic attack of realism, has taken collective note of what happened in the last two winters) has woken up to the possibilities of gorgeous warm clothing. And this has happened at the same time as many of my customers, scarred by last year’s disappointments (please note that I, too, bear these scars; there is nothing worse for me than sending droves of desperate customers away without the very things they had come in for), have decided that they ‘must have’ some really lovely winter wear. For once, we have a lucky and happy confluence of minds. We may all actually get what we want!

The looks this season are soft, warm, fluid, sophisticated and subtle. Everything is about knits or fabrics with a soft, generous handle. Despite everything I have just said, there are still cool knits (mixtures of cottons, silks, cashmeres, etc.), and as many different levels of weight of jersey, plus opportunities of layering, as there are degrees on a thermometer. It’s all about versatility: designer clothes last a long time, and it is necessary to get the maximum use out of them. So items that can be layered in cold weather and stripped back during the warmer times, are key.

All the collections we bought have acquitted themselves well this season: my favourite for knits? Verpass (see dress and jacket, right), with its subtle nineteen fifties aesthetic. Now that we have had many of their beautiful jackets, knitted dresses, coats, jumpers and gilets in stock, we are already finding that the fashion-hunters are in, snapping up their must-have pieces.

These women know that in order to get what they really, really want, they had better come before the cold weather hits. Because in Britain, we may sometimes not get a summer, but we do generally get a winter.

 

Emma    Saturday 06 August 2011 at 12:41

 Post #229 



 
Subject: Spring/Summer 2012

So here I am writing my blog, fresh from buying some of the new collections. I was in Germany last weekend, and have visited several London showrooms since, and was able to see enough of the Spring/Summer 2012 styles to begin to form an overview of the looks of the season. I have still got a few designers to visit (for instance, I haven’t seen some of the Italian ranges like Elena Miro or Marina Rinaldi).

The last time I did my buying (about six months ago, when I bought the current Autumn/Winter 2011 collection), I was struck by the influence of the early nineteen-sixties and late nineteen-fifties looks. The fashion press uses the shorthand ‘Mad Men’ to describe this style, and I think that many people feel that this single American TV programme has been responsible for the whole sea-change in fashion that we have seen in the run-up to this autumn. I don’t go along with it myself: the TV programme, in my opinion, was just part of the tide that was running in this direction.

Personally, I love this era of fashion. The fabrics are key, with the use of texture, subtle colour and highly creative materials. There is a kind of sophisticated 'luxe' look to the clothing. I love the way it plays with volume: the contrast between tight clothing (narrow cigarette pants worn with minimal boots, for instance) and wide, draped areas (say, a large, sumptuous knit).

This is a look perfectly suited to winter wear - particularly with the clever woollen woven fabrics and wonderful knits. I was wondering how it would translate to the summer. With their emphasis on sleeveless styles and tight fitting waists, those nineteen fifties and sixties summer dresses were a bit scary for us larger women.

So it was with something of a relief that I saw the Spring/Summer 2012 collections had not gone for full-on vintage. Actually, although there was a great feel of art and mid-century modernism, the look was kept well under control. The designs, instead of being fusty and pedantic, look fresh and accessible.

The colours for the summer are gorgeous; they remind me of the celebratory, jewel-watercolours that I saw in a recent visit to Barcelona. An explosion of colour erupts, often from a black background. It’s an unsophisticated, celebratory palette: something incredibly suitable for summer looks. In the main, I love sophisticated minimalism and subtlety for winter looks, yet for summer wear I long to see exuberance, playfulness and colour. For the next two seasons, my wishes have come true.

Elena Grunert (the German range famed for quality and fit) had a gorgeous range that included a wonderful ‘nautical’ look that I was delighted to buy into. With a navy base, the designer had played with the spot motif: most of the spots were white, but the occasional one was pink. The jacket to match was particularly scrummy: navy blue, edged with a fine white stripe.

As ever I got very excited on viewing another German collection: Sallie Sahne. We are their only stockist in the UK, and have been steadily building up a group of customers who are obsessed with the fabrics, drape and cut of this unusual collection. This time I was blown away with one of their dresses in particular. It was made from their signature digital-print fluid, yet substantial jersey. The bodice was snuggly neat-fitting to the body (low-cut and sexy, of course) and yet under the bust it fell like a column to the floor with generous drape - all flatteringly sleek. It was like a kind of alchemy; I have never discovered how they achieve their effects. How does one make a garment with that much fabric, yet which has no added bulk? After examining previous designs under the microscope to see how they work, I suspect that this designer is just obsessed with ‘getting it right’.

Everywhere I looked I saw sumptuous colour, nowhere more so than in the Kirsten Krog room. This Danish range from the Godske stable has made a name for itself with its beautiful prints, which are usually produced on gorgeous silk chiffons and satins (see picture, right). We frolicked our way through the frothing silk jackets and dresses, and spent an enjoyable few hours choosing the outfits that happy wedding guests or Ascot attendees are going to be sporting next summer.

As ever, my biggest excitement was reserved for the Anna Scholz collection. She is a British-based, German-born designer who ploughs her own furrow. Often she is years ahead of her time, and when she isn’t that, she is at right-angles to the prevailing look. Her clothes have a way of making everything else look pedestrian.

Next summer, she has gone full-pelt into dresses. I was chatting with Anna about the growth of her dress line, and she told me that she enjoyed huge demand for this form of clothing. I was happy, as someone at the coal-face of plus-size fashion retailing, to tell her why I thought this was: putting it succinctly, other designers seem to have difficulty creating dresses that fit, are beautiful and are flattering. Anna has the knack of producing these with apparent ease.

I love her quirky, humorous and joyful take on nineteen seventies-style fashion. As one who lived through that decade, I know that the clothing available then (especially for larger women) was anything but joyful. However, Anna has re-written history, and I think that some younger women will look at her designs and think it was a golden era!

Next summer, her dresses seem to have achieved the impossible: they are even more wearable than before. I was particularly taken with a lovely blue and white china pattern shirt-waister dress that came in two lengths - on the knee or to the ground. I again suffered from 'the anger' (see blogs passim)... I desperately wanted to walk out of her showroom wearing that dress. I don’t want to have to wait six months for it!

The Anna Scholz collection was, as ever, refreshingly eclectic, with many different colours and styles: dresses with sleeves, or sleeveless. Dresses mid-calf, mini or full-length. Sophisticated or casual... you name it. And that was just the dresses; as ever her separates were stunning. I was happy to see that she had continued with her stretch linen - surely an inspired idea that the world has been waiting for.

Every now and again, when looking at her collection, I spy something that makes me go weak at the knees. One that comes particularly to mind is a fabulous hand-dyed silk chiffon kaftan. Absolutely gorgeous!

 

Emma    Sunday 17 July 2011 at 17:58

 Post #226 



 
Subject: Wish List

At around the end of the ‘buying’ time of year (towards the end of the season when we forward-order our stock) I usually write a piece in my blog about what we have seen and bought from the new collections.

All forward-ordered items have to be purchased at least six months in advance because they are specially made for us, which takes time. This means that we will now be ordering for next summer... Spring/Summer 2012!

As regular readers of the blog will know, we visit fashion showrooms and we do a little bit of travelling abroad. We usually fit in a trip to Germany, where there is a large fashion presence in the city of Düsseldorf. It’s a very good place to go to find new collections, and to get an overview of what the new looks are like.

This time on the blog, I have decided to try something a little different. Before we do our buying, we always build up a ‘wish list’ of items that we really hope to find, and which we would like to come home with (metaphorically speaking). After 21 years in this shop, my wish list has grown to humungous proportions: there are literally hundreds of things that I look for.

So, for a bit of a change, this time I would like to write a post before I go buying - listing the clothes that I want.

I’m not talking about those items that I know I can get. For instance, the perfect black casual trouser (or smart trouser for that matter), or an excellent black dress. No, I’m talking about hunting down those things I know I - and my customers - want, yet the fashion industry doesn’t necessarily know we want!

Such a list of general ‘wish list’ summer items would include:

Beautiful cotton blouses, which are long enough to cover the derriere, yet snug fitting on the shoulders, with a good, practical sleeve that really covers the top of the arms.

Summer dresses, suitable for a wedding, or some such event, which again have a good sleeve, and which are feminine, colourful and sexy.

Casual cotton jackets that have a feminine silhouette.

Really super printed cotton jersey tops... one step up from a T-shirt.

Work suits, the jackets of which are fitted, stretchy and smart, with an edge, plus a choice of either trousers or a skirt.

Proper rain-proof summer raincoats.

I could go on... almost endlessly! However, I wanted to leave some space in this blog to list the things I am particularly looking for this year. By this I mean the kind of items that have the right fashion edge for right now.

For example, this time I would just love to have some summer dresses with that nineteen-fifties vibe. You know, those beautiful, sophisticated coloured prints - and feminine shapes that have been brought to the fore with TV programmes such as Mad Men. I need fancy dresses (for day events, evenings, etc.), plus simple ones (to wear around town doing the shopping, or for work).

I would like to get some stretch narrow cotton trousers in interesting colours, with some gorgeous, pretty long shirts to wear with them. You know, that Beatnik look.

As always, I would just love some summer knits. I mean knitwear made from cotton, linen, silk, viscose, or any such cool fabric. And I would like a great variety of shapes, in lots of lovely colours! Again, with the retro look that gives them a bit more structure and femininity.

I need (and I really mean need) some good summer wedding outfits. I refuse to come home unless I am able to buy some lovely dress-and-jacket combos or separates. They have to be (guess what!) colourful, easy to wear, sassy and super smart. I'm also looking for a touch of that nineteen fifties or sixties edgy style.

I’m desperate to see some gorgeous, wearable skirts. I’m open minded: they can be long, short, flowing or narrow. But they have to have ‘that look’: elegant, sassy, colourful, retro. They are also going to have to be properly adapted to the plus-size market. Skirts from the fifties and sixties tended to be either very bulky or incredibly tight and figure-hugging, so the designers will have to know their stuff to get it right.

At this time of year I get incredibly excited, because I haven’t seen anything yet of the new looks being prepared for next summer. The designers who dream up those styles are amazing - I really never know what to expect. They may produce items that fit the general description of what I am looking for, but they are always different from the designs I have in my own head.

Ironically, the fact that I am not going to come home with what I am expecting is the very thing that makes it all so exciting. Because those designers will have created clothes that are far more fascinating, artistic, fashionable and chic than anything I could ever come up with. That's why I am a fashion store owner and not a designer.

 

 Victoria Hollis    Friday 22 July 2011 at 23:37

 
Oohhh Wishlist....
There are several things that are on my DREAM list that I woule love to find but I think they must be somewhere in my shangri-la

* A soft fitted leather jacket in black falling over the derriere but with a feminie finish subtle but timeless the kind you could wear with jeans and boots or throw over a cocktail dress for an edgy feel.

* The perfect pair of indigo blue bootcut jeans - alas I have never foud any jeans that work on my figure

* Cotton blouses for summer as you have stated - cant find any that work for me anywhere...

* The perfect black worksuit I think must be a figment of my imagination

And there are a few other things but these are my most pressing wishes.

I for my sins am an autum and winter girl with my cool colouring the colours of winter suit me much more than the atypical brights and pastels of summer. My eyes are glues for when we get pics of the autumn and winter collections up from what you said at the Anna Scholz day I am waiting with bated breath to see the black label items and when they are available another sojourn to Brighton will be called for I think...

 

 Emma    Saturday 23 July 2011 at 11:11

 
Hi Tory!

Thanks for your suggestion! Yes, a gorgeous, soft leather jacket, that has feminine style, yet covers the bottom! Is there some reason why the designers won't do this? Anna Scholz does some very good leather jackets, but they are what I call 'outdoor' leather jackets...full-on coats, if you will. That's not what I am thinking about.

The best we have come with in this field are the Sallie Sahne suede-effect jackets...soft, feminine and draping. However, they are not real leather!!! On the plus side, the faux-suede is thoroughly washable, so there is always an up-side.

I think the nearest we usually get to a perfect work-suit is with the Italian company, Marina Rinaldi. There are big down-sides (why the shorter skirts? And the price...), but the jackets are incredibly feminine and wearable.

As usual, there is a mental note to self when doing my buying for next summer: more variety in jeans....always more variety!

 

Emma    Monday 30 May 2011 at 20:45

 Post #219 



 
Subject: Ker-ching!

In keeping with my habit of rushing in where angels fear to tread, I have decided to write on the subject that most designer store owners try their best to avoid... price.

Over the years there is a story that I have come across many times. This is when a woman comes into our shop for the very first time, even though she has known about us for several years. She has been curious, but has diligently avoided actually entering our portals.

Her friends or family have been trying to drag her in, and she has always resisted. Eventually something has forced her to come to us. It could be a family wedding that has driven her (after many fruitless and depressing hours trawling just about everywhere on the high street) into the shop as a last resort. Or it could be that she has decided that the only way she is ever going to stop her sister going on about us, is to give in and pay us a visit.

Then something magical happens - she is stunned and delighted. She buys all sorts of lovely items. She rushes up to us, and tells us that she wishes she had come in before. After this first experience she becomes one of our regulars.

I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times this particular scenario has been run and re-run in our shop. I appreciate that this sounds like an ‘advertorial’; an attempt to sell our service to any customers who read the blog. I genuinely don’t intend that to be the case.

In fact, I am happy to suggest that this experience is not unique to Emma Plus. I feel certain that this is something mirrored by every good designer shop in the country. It speaks volumes about the way women, and in particular larger women, feel about designer clothing.

For many it is an expensive indulgence that they are not permitted, and should avoid at all costs. People think they do not deserve designer clothes. And some are afraid even to take a look inside a shop like ours.

The kind of clothes we sell are not cheap. They are not impulse buys. Many of them may cost twice - or more - the price of their high-street counterparts...

But exactly what kind of prices I am referring to? As I have said, many of our items do have a steep price-point. The most expensive collections, like, say, Marina Rinaldi (from the superb fashion stable Max Mara) or Anna Scholz (arguably the best-ever plus-size designer) can be expensive. Although Anna Scholz’s Black Label collection has a price-point that is not too far from the high street, her White Label collection can provide, for example, dresses which will set you back £400 or more, and Marina Rinaldi is priced at about the same level. Any decision to buy pieces from this end of the market had better be well considered.

Purchasing at the top end of the market is not a rich woman’s game, however. Items from these designers are investment pieces. Often they will be bought for special occasions: a sister’s wedding, a special party, a reward for a promotion. But these clothes will be incredibly fashion-forward, beautifully tailored and well-made. They will be your friends, and you will joyfully turn to them on many happy occasions over a number of years. By the time you have had your last wear out of them, you may find that they are the cheapest per-wear item that you have had all along. And then you might even sell them on eBay!

But a good designer plus-size store does not only sell high-end fashion. There will be a host of mid-range fashion as well, from companies such as NP (the Finnish collection that has specialised in plus-fashion since 1925) or Verpass (a German range that is really hitting its stride at the moment with 1950s inspired design). Prices start at about £65 for a blouse, and many of these items will be as well cut as the top-end clothing. They are extremely utilitarian, being comfortable, washable, durable, yet stylish. It is in these ranges that we often see amazing fabric innovation. Years before anyone else was putting stretch into fabrics such as cotton or linen, these were the ranges that were trailblazing, as they are now with the new body-cooling fabrics.

Again, items bought at mid-range prices are good long-term investments. These are usually clothes expected to perform as smart everyday pieces (often workwear) over quite a long period of time. They have to be reliable.

I think what shocks the uninitiated, however, is the low-end of our price range. We sell items from collections like Brand (the brilliant German house famed for its trousers) and Nanso (a Swedish range of beautifully colourful jersey items), and these prices are very accessible. Starting at £49 for its tops (which are amazing quality - these gorgeous tops really are bullet-proof), Nanso has its own keen following amongst our customers. When priced against the high-street these items are only a degree or so higher, yet their look is a million miles away.

I believe that when we begin to think of ourselves as the very people for whom all this wonderful fashion is being created, at every price-point, we will rush into the designer shops to see what's on the menu. We may not be able to afford everything we want, all the time. But that doesn’t matter, because, whatever we can’t get in this season, there will be something equally lovely for us in the next. And the purchases we have made will still be there to mix-in with our wardrobe, which over the years will build to become our style fingerprint.

The value of that individual, beautiful, unique resource is - as it is worn on our back every day of our lives - incalculable. This is how we are seen by the world. And yes, I believe it is worth the time and the investment.

 

 Kathy    Wednesday 01 June 2011 at 14:55

 
I totally unreservedly agree with Emma
I love clothes, I love shopping and my wardrobe is brimming with items that cost a bit less and were worn a lot less then that.
I rarely throw things out so I live with all my mistakes....
Take it from me - quality delivers and it is worth the money.
I am still wearing clothes from Emma's that I bought ten years ago...
Sure have fun for a season - and buy the thin fabric high street Tee in a seasonal tangerine... but come next summer it will sit unloved and unworn... and a waste of money!
Better spend your hard earned cash on Emma's lovely wearable durable clothes.
Money saving tip- shop her sales... divine and at very attractive prices!!!

 

 Emma    Wednesday 01 June 2011 at 17:04

 
Hi Kathy!

Thank you so much for your contribution!

You are one of our most stylish customers (and, we are talking about an extremely stylish body of women), and I do really appreciate hearing your views!

 

 Victoria Hollis    Wednesday 01 June 2011 at 22:54

 
Hi Emma and the lovely ladies at the shop......

I just wanted to stick my nose in on this one - apologies in advance lol if it's a bit long winded....

The cost per wear issue is a good one all of us want to wtach the pennies at times BUT there is no point in spending a minor fortune on a high fashion item wearing it once feeling uncomfortable and then hiding it at the bottom of the wardrobe.

The fact is there are a great many larger ladies, bbw's or whatever we choose to label ourselves as who think they don't deserve nice clothes and use that horrid phrase "oh I will buy something like that when I lose weight"

Buy yourself that gorgeous dress now......You will feel fantastic.

Anna Sholz for example her clothes are TIMELESS and frequently multi seasonal for example her summer maxi dresses can easily be wintered up with knee high boots (duo go upto a very large calf size) and one of her gorgeous cardies and coat (ummmm fallen in love with the pink once you wore in your pic Em)

We deserve to look good and feel great

 

 Emma    Thursday 02 June 2011 at 23:45

 
Hi Tory-

I couldn't agree more! I think that sometimes there is one small advantage to making a more substantial purchase...that the decision has to be a considered one.

Often it simply isn't worth having that 'high fashion' tangerine top, if it doesn't suit either your body or your personality.....

 

 Kim P    Saturday 04 June 2011 at 21:51

 
The Brand and Nanso ranges are very good value, as you say Emma they are not much more expensive than regular High St prices but are well styled and a little different to what you'll see elsewhere.

 

 Victoria Hollis    Friday 17 June 2011 at 16:20

 
The tangerine thing this season is VILE I know very few women who can get away with that shade I have to say Anna Scholz's coral dresses are far more flattering

 

Emma    Thursday 03 March 2011 at 15:19

 Post #198 



 
Subject: The Fabulous Ms Scholz!

I am dashing to my computer to give my forum/blog readers some super-exciting news! Anna Scholz and her team are paying a special visit to our shop, and they are bringing their current range with them!

The date for this event is Saturday 7th May, on which day we will be open between 10am and 5.30pm (as usual), and our shop will have a different look... we will be stocked with the full Anna Scholz Spring/Summer 2011 range, and will be welcoming the cream of her sales team, who will advise us about the collection. More exciting still, during the hours between 2.00pm and 5.00pm we will be graced with the presence of Anna herself, who will be joining us for the afternoon!

The day promises to be a fantastic experience: we will have the Anna Scholz range in a width and depth that can be found nowhere else. Although we usually have a superb collection of Anna Scholz designs, we could never hope to cover the range in its entirety, so this is a wonderful opportunity. That this is happening during the best-ever collection is particularly exciting!

We will be offering refreshments, showing-off the clothes, and consulting with the designer herself. Our customers will have a unique opportunity to meet their favourite designer, hear her views and inspirations and give feedback. For anyone tempted by the gorgeous items, we will have our own dressmaker on hand to undertake alterations to ensure the clothes fit like a second skin.

For those who would like to register in advance, there will also be a superb prize draw, the winner walking away with £250 worth of Anna Scholz clothes!

Everyone is more than welcome to come along at any time during the day, but customers who would like to enter the prize draw should call 01273 327240, or contact us through our website. We will send you an entrance card... no purchase necessary!

I do hope you will be able to come... our special days are a fun, social way to enjoy a day in town, and this one promises to be the best yet!

 

 Vikki    Thursday 10 March 2011 at 15:28

 
This sounds great, I shall register to come along!

 

Emma    Saturday 26 February 2011 at 15:58

 Post #197 



 
Subject: Elena Miro show...

 
I was just looking on the Elena Miro website, which features a catwalk show of their Autumn/Winter 2011 designs.

It's fascinating to see the influence of the nineteen-fifties or early sixties: it's the real look of the moment.

There is a wonderful femininity in the look, and the way that Elena Miro does it. It drips with Italian retro style...

The web address, if you would like to take a peek at the catwalk show, is http://curveditalia.elenamiro.it/

 

Emma    Saturday 19 February 2011 at 13:53

 Post #196 



 
Subject: Fall 2011

Here I am again, writing about next season’s collections... plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

We go to see the sparkly-new fashions and developments, and in order to do that we go to the same old airports, stay at the same hotels, visit the same fashion houses and shows, and meet all the same people! We could be forgiven for getting jaded and feeling that nothing has changed in half a year.

However, that’s the wonderful thing about fashion: although it seems that we are settled into our usual routine - having ‘just another day at the clothes rail’ - in fact the experience is radically different every time! Which, of course, is the whole point of the exercise.

It goes without saying that the huge difference every season is the look of the gorgeous new clothes. I suppose it is in my nature to get excited about new collections. If I didn’t, perhaps I would not be suited to this industry. Actually, I think that many of us who work in fashion tend to get a little over-excited when we see pretty things.

The look for Autumn/Winter 2011 is certainly a gorgeous one. In a continuation of the theme for this summer, the emphasis is on fabric and quality of construction and tailoring. There is a luxe look, with the use of different textures and handles. There is a lot of draping, but the shape of the body is never overwhelmed. A soft, fluid jacket will envelop the figure in generous folds, but would be worn over a pencil skirt, or narrow trousers. A wide, relaxed pair of trousers will softly fall from a snug, tailored felt blazer. The overall effect is of lushness and elegance. Ironically, infinite care is taken to look effortless.

A big part of the look is a nineteen-fifties aesthetic, but we larger women shouldn’t be too worried about this. Of course, we know that many of the looks from that decade are all about exhibiting a show-stopping figure, and for those of us whose physiques may draw less than admiring glances, this can be very intimidating. However, there is so much to this new take on the look that mitigates the need for a perfect hourglass silhouette. The best designers (Anna Scholz, of course, Marina Rinaldi, Elena Miro, and - rather a surprise here - German brand, Verpass) are able to create the most beautiful draped clothing which gives a larger woman somewhere to disguise her less alluring features whilst showcasing her best assets.

The colours are varied. Yes, there are the dreaded animal prints (creatively and subtly used, they have proved they can be tamed), which showcase nude, taupe, grey, tan and brown. And there are also all the nineteen-fifties-inspired colours you would expect: coral, turquoise, deep green, lipstick pink, purple and cobalt. There is a mass of gorgeous vintage monochrome looks. Because of the lovely, varied prints to be had next season, though, the range of colours is actually rather wide. There is something there for everyone.

What were my favourite collections? Well, I really felt that Verpass had come into its own. Who knew that they had a nineteen-fifties inspired designer working for them, just waiting to get their big chance? Their knits were an inspiration, and, after two very cold winters, will be received by a grateful nation. However, the prize goes to the Black Label by Anna Scholz, as the best collection for Fall 2011. This is her reasonably priced selection, and year-on-year it has been getting stronger. These new looks need a masterly hand in tailoring: cutting a tulip-shaped skirt in a dress for a plus-size woman takes know-how! And what a treat it is to see Anna and her team turning their hands to using these skills so comprehensively in her more accessible collection.

As usual, I saw one of her coats that I could not resist, and I am modelling it here in the picture. It is a deep lipstick-pink soft wool coat - with a high waist and softly pleated, almost tulip-shaped silhouette.

 

 Anna Scholz    Saturday 19 February 2011 at 15:10

 
Thank you Emma for letting me win :)
See you very soon

Anna

 

 Emma    Sunday 20 February 2011 at 18:26

 
Hi Anna!

Thank you so much for reading our blog!

Can I just take this opportunity to point out to blog/forum readers that this forum makes it possible for the consumers of our clothes to have a direct contact with some of the movers and shakers in the plus-size fashion world!

So if you have something to say (perhaps mentioning something you love, or putting in a request for something you really, really want), now is the time to make your remarks on the forum.

You never know who may be listening!

 

 Kirsten James    Wednesday 23 February 2011 at 18:32

 
Thanks Emma! I love reading your reports on what is coming up. I am really loving Anna's spring/summer 11 line so I know the fall will be equally stunning. And that is a great color on you!

 

 Emma    Saturday 26 February 2011 at 16:23

 
Thanks, Kirsten!

This lovely pinky colour is so flattering, and the wool fabric is so soft...

Ordinarily, I would say that I'm waiting for winter in order to get my hands on this lovely coat, but after all the cold weather we had this year, I'm happy to wait for it.

I'm more looking forward to spring!

 

Emma    Saturday 28 August 2010 at 14:49

 Post #157 



 
Subject: Denim

I was chatting to one of my customers this week, who surprised me by suggesting that she was, in her 50s, ‘too old’ to wear denim. It amazed me because this point of view was itself so long past its sell-by date!

As most people know, from the beginning of the 20th century denim started out as a simple work-wear material, but at some point items made of this fabric started to take on a stylish image, and denim has from then on always lurked somewhere in the world of fashion.

Early on it was the fabric of youthful rebellion, with a hard edge. As the denim-clad James Dean famously said: ‘What am I rebelling against? What have you got?’

In those days, denim was for teenagers, and was an expression of a rejection of their parents’ smarter clothing aesthetic.

As the century went on, however, the spread of the denim look became wider and wider. There were the echoes of the manual work-wear look, with baggy dungarees and jeans, but there were also sophisticated disco-influenced designer denims, adorned with sequins, beads and embroidery. And there were stylish fashionable dresses that women-about-town were happy to be seen in, and soft and feminine chambray blouses.

Denim has so many advantages. It’s a strong, long-lasting fabric, whose texture improves with wear and washing. The colour flatters most skin tones. It is a natural fibre that breathes with the body and it is often seen as egalitarian and non-pretentious.

The denim look continued to mutate, and today is incredibly diverse. To take an example, we are now expecting a delivery of ‘jeggings’ a denim legging, from Anna Scholz. This is a real ‘fashion’ look: the ultimate take on the ‘skinny jean’, which is the perfect item to team with the ‘short dress/long top’ look.

Women come to us for wide-leg jeans, classic-leg jeans, and every now and again we still have the bootleg shape (which is coming back into fashion). We often do dark denim, washed denim, and coloured denim jeans. However, jeans are not by any means the beginning and end of the story for denim. As is now usual with this material, some of the new looks push the envelope into whole other areas.

For instance, in stock at the moment we have a wonderful Brand dress, (pictured) which, although it looks like denim, is actually made from Tencel, arguably a better fabric from which to construct such a garment, as it provides a flattering, cool fluidity.

But it is next season (Spring/Summer 11) that our denim looks really take off, and we have some fabulous items on order. We are expecting long shirts, with a gorgeous drape. We will have wide-leg trousers, and little soft denim dresses. We have ordered lovely long skirts and soft pleated jackets. Many of these items are not made from the classic ‘denim’, a cotton fabric that takes its name from Nimes, in France, where it originated. Some of them are Tensel, some Cupro, and much of it is linen. But the look is ‘denim’.

In the meanwhile, there have been technical advances in the classic cotton denim. New mixes of Lycra, which by adding stretch make denim so much more comfortable. The German range, Brand, has added its ‘sensitive’ fabric to denim; a new development designed to provide a much cooler wearing garment.

There are other advances, such as the innovation that LauRie, a Danish brand, has developed, with its clever tummy-support panel that makes its ‘magic Slim’ jeans incredibly flattering to wear.

So next summer, there is going to be a riot of different denim looks erupting on to the fashion scene. With the exciting designs, diversity of styles and aesthetics, innovative fabrics, and clever ideas, there is something here for just about everyone.

I’ve already got this season’s Brand dress, and I will be buying into the lovely Verpass linen denim looks for next season. In particular, I am looking forward to seeing a gorgeous Verpass linen soft jacket, which I have my eye on. It’s stylish, flattering, unique and sophisticated, and – like much denim – will slip very comfortably in among the other looks in my wardrobe.

It’s probably not a garment a teenage rebel would want to wear; but so much the better for that.

 

 Kim P    Monday 30 August 2010 at 14:46

 
Denim! That reminds me, have you got any of those pull on Brand jeans I like in stock at the moment?

 

 Emma    Tuesday 31 August 2010 at 12:38

Hi Kim!

Thanks for your question...the Brand jeans are on order, and we are expecting them momentarily! They may well come in today.

We are also expecting the new 'Magic Slim' Jeans from LauRie in shortly, which we are quite excited about. I would certainly be very interested in your opinion of them...

I have put up a picture of Jaq and I on our way to a party on Saturday, given by a dear friend to mark his 50th birthday. Jaq and I felt resplendent in our Anna Scholz!
 

 Kim P    Tuesday 31 August 2010 at 20:47

 
All sounds very exciting stock wise and what a swell couple of gals you look! The dresses are so nice on you and how clever of Jaq to have a necklace design that compliments the horsey print on the dress!

 

 Emma    Tuesday 31 August 2010 at 21:33

 
Thanks, Kim!

Yes, Jaq is indeed the accessories queen!

 

 Emma    Thursday 02 September 2010 at 16:33

Hi Kim!

Really looking forward to seeing you this Saturday...the Anna Scholz tunic top is here (and put by for you), as are a number of other tops that Kim thought you would like.

I'm glad to report that nothing dreary has come in this season....
 

 Kim P    Friday 03 September 2010 at 02:04

 
That's super!

 

 Kim P    Sunday 05 September 2010 at 11:50

 
Had a lovely time in the shop yesterday, lots of beautiful clothes it was very hard to choose which ones to buy! You have so many new things in store it was a real Aladdin’s cave. It was great to see some lower priced items too such as those Dominique trousers, they are ideal to mix and match with the more high end lines. The curved handles on the new design carrier bags are a big improvement, as you said they are more comfy to carry in the hand or arm. Like many others I now await the Brand jeans to arrive!

 

 Emma    Sunday 05 September 2010 at 17:04

Hi Kim!

Thanks for your kind words....I think you are getting the measure of our modus operandi now! We rush around, serving our customers, showing off all our clothes and generally being very business-like...then, once all the customers have been served, and all the clothes tried on, out comes the tea and cake!

Our cake on Saturday was wonderful: supplied by one of our long-standing customers, Lisken, who had baked it in a charitable cause (so it was OK to eat it!).

I loved those leggings on you. The way they fit is very flattering. It just goes to show that you never know what is going to be a favourite buy until you get to try things on!

I look forward to your next visit (once the Brand has come in).

I have put in a random picture of Pickle, for no particular reason...

 

 Emma    Wednesday 15 September 2010 at 16:24

Hi Kim!

You will be delighted to know that we have had the Brand trousers in.

Our Kim suggests you may be interested in a pair that is in the same style as one you had before, but a different colour. You had a purple-aubergine pair, and this new pair is a lovely turquoise-denim colour (it sounds not-so-good, but it's a lovely, subtle colour)....
 

 Kim P    Wednesday 15 September 2010 at 21:59

 
Thanks for letting me know! I will ring Kim, would def have to see the Turquoise as it's difficult to visualize them.

 

Kim P    Wednesday 18 August 2010 at 16:42

 Post #153 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz again!

 
Hi
I see the AS A/W 2010 black label collection has been released so was wondering if you can recall whether you will be getting the print jersey cowl neck tunic in stock? I may well be tempted!

 

 Emma    Wednesday 18 August 2010 at 19:03

Hi Kim

Thanks for your post! I think this is a picture of the aforementioned cowl-neck top, and I can see why you would be interested in it!

We are still awaiting our latest Anna Scholz delivery, but it is due any moment now. We will call you when it has come in.

As you (and any regular readers of the blog) may well guess, because of the pitiful performance of my memory, I just couldn't tell you whether we have ordered this particular top, although it's very much the thing that we would normally look to have.

However, this doesn't matter unduly; I can usually order items in from Anna that you like the look of, so you can try them on in the store and decide whether they are 'you' or not. So even if it doesn't arrive in the next delivery, we would be happy to get you one in.

We should also be having some gorgeous Nanso tops in soon, that you may well be tempted by... it's a dangerous time of year!
 

 Kim P    Wednesday 18 August 2010 at 23:37

 
Yes, that's the one! Thank you for taking the time to post the pic up, gorgeous isn't it. Fingers crossed you have it and you are right in saying having Nanso in stock is a dangerous time for me lol!

 

 Emma    Wednesday 25 August 2010 at 16:52

Hi Kim!

There's dangerous news aplenty! We've had in some fantastic Nanso tops, much of our Anna Scholz, and some gorgeous knits from the likes of Elena Grunert and Verpass (jacket pictured).

I will email you a selection of photographs....
 

Emma    Tuesday 10 August 2010 at 11:38

 Post #151 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz rules!

I thought readers of the blog would be interested to see a piccie of Jaq and I on the Anna Scholz stand at our recent fashion show visit in Germany.

Jaq and I are on the right. On the left, you can see the Anna Scholz model, (also called Anna) wearing the lovely animal-print dress that I was raving about on a previous post!

Next to Anna on the left is the lovely Penny, who is always wonderful to see on the stand. We are all wearing next summer's samples (which we couldn't resist trying on), and feeling fabulous.

Resplendent in the centre of us girls, is the famous Darren, from Anna Scholz. He resisted the temptation to don an Anna Scholz dress!

 

 Nicola    Tuesday 10 August 2010 at 13:55

I think you've been at the schnaps too much in Dusseldorf Emma. Anna Shcolz??

I am just starting to look at flights for a trip over in Sept/Oct. Is there anything coming in I should look out for?

Also will you be updating the web page soon? - I can't wait to see what's coming in.

NICOLA
PS Photo is a view taken for near our house this spring.
 

 Emma    Tuesday 10 August 2010 at 16:12

Hi Nicola

Thanks for pointing out my 'typo'... Anna Shcolz, very embarrassing! As you say, too much of the Schnaps... or should I say shcnaps! I have corrected it because I can't bear to leave it like that!

Thanks, also, for the lovely picture of your locale. It looks gorgeous.

This is a very exciting season, especially for knitwear lovers like you, Nicola! There are so many gorgeous knits to come in.

The look in general is soft, with long tops and either very wide trousers, or very narrow.

I've shown a little picture of a jersey set that I photographed when I bought it back in February. It is from Personal Choice collection, and is a gorgeous black jersey swing-style jacket with handkerchief hem, trimmed with royal blue, with matching blue cami and black trousers. I tried the sample on in the showroom and it was gorgeous.

Although (of course) we are still awaiting most of our autumn stock (including this set), we are getting deliveries every day. By the time you arrive in store, we will have so many lovely things to show you... it's a very exciting time of the year, especially if, like me, you love winter clothes!
 

 Nicola    Thursday 12 August 2010 at 13:35

 
Thanks Emma

The Personal Choice outfit looks great. Perhaps you could let me know when it comes in.

NICOLA

 

 Emma    Friday 13 August 2010 at 14:30

 
Hi Nicola

It's come in, and it is gorgeous... tell me if you would like me to save/send it for you...

(The blue is much stronger than the photograph suggests. It's a lovely, really deep royal blue.)

 

Emma    Tuesday 06 April 2010 at 01:10

 Post #128 



 
Subject: Turning back the clock

Not all expensive clothes last longer than cheap ones. Expensive designer clothes are often made of tender, gorgeous fabrics. They can have fine, delicate surface finishes... or construction details that speak more to aesthetics than utility.

For example, an invisible hem can be a fragile way of finishing the bottom of a garment. The ultra-fine thread is carefully drawn across the hem, catching tiny pieces of fabric at regular intervals. It’s possible that this hem will last a lifetime. However, if you are unlucky, you can break the thread and the hem will need to be replaced. The designer has not chosen this method for its durability. If that had been the intention then a good, robust double-seam would have been used. This hem has been carefully selected as the perfect way of making a garment look 'effortless' and 'pure'.

Expensive fabrics can also have a shorter life than cheap ones. Let’s face it, if you would like a garment to last a lifetime you would construct it from thick polyester. Something, say, like crimpeline (a heavyweight knitted polyester) would be perfect. I once watched a Marks and Spencer staff uniform, made from such a fabric (the sleeve of which had got caught in the door of a giant industrial washing-machine), spinning backwards and forwards at enormous speed for an hour or so. It came out of the wash in perfect condition. This would not have been the case if the garment had been made out of the finest cotton lawn.

Yet, despite this, designer clothes do tend to last considerably longer than high-street clothes. This is because they are much better made, and the fabrics have been developed to perform as well as possible, within the confines of their natural limitations. Designer clothes are also 'fashion forward', which means than even after several years, they will not look dated.

Many of the clothes that I sell will be worn many dozens of times while they remain ‘smart’, but there is more to them that this. They may go on to have several lives.

The first life is that of the treasured, beautiful, trendy garment. This is the ‘go-to’ item when you want to look good, and you need your clothes to make a statement about yourself. It is your top look.

Then, after several years, the garment becomes an everyday staple. You would wear it to the office on a normal day.

Inevitably, the item then becomes the ‘old friend’: something worn around the house. It is so comfortable that you are happy to do the gardening in it.

Eventually, the garment is sent off to the charity shop, where another larger woman swoops on it and takes it home as a treasured find, and it starts a whole new existence. It's perhaps not surprising to learn that the ecological pressure group, Friends of the Earth, has done research that has found better-quality fashion items to be kinder to the environment over time.

I was rummaging through one of my cupboards the other day and pulled out an old treasure that had fallen on hard times. It was a Persona knitted jacket, from about six or seven years ago.

It had had rather a hard life. I'd loved it when it was new, and wore it often in the shop. Persona is an Italian range whose quality is legendary. It is a cashmere mix - as light as swan-down, and warm and soft as puppies’ ears. The colour is incredibly fashion-forward, a kind of pinky-purple. Even the embroidery on the back (in a petrol blue and lime green) was prescient of the embellishments that have come into vogue over the years since its creation. It came with a matching silk shirt (long since given to one of my friends) and shawl.

It has never looked unfashionable in all the time I have had it, yet it suffered from something for which it was in no way to blame: I put on weight, and no longer felt that I could carry it off at work. But it was so beautiful I couldn’t rid myself of it, and it was so comfortable I felt it calling me as a snuggly (perhaps a little too snug!) everyday warmer to wear around the house.

So that is exactly how it has lived its life for the past four or five years. I have done the housework in it. I have walked the dog in it. I have (it seems from the available evidence) cooked and eaten spaghetti bolognaise in it!

When I took it out of my cupboard the other day it presented a rather sorry sight. There were dog hairs... there were stains... and bobbles. It looked as if the charity shop was calling for it.

However, it is such a beautiful garment and so on-trend at the moment, that I just couldn’t bring myself to let it go, particularly as - now that I had lost the weight - it fitted me again. I decided to try to turn back time.

It was too late to gently wash it by hand with a wool detergent: that horse had bolted. So I washed it in my washing-machine, with plenty of Vanish on the marks. When it had dried I carefully removed the dog-hairs using Sellotape. Then I used my trusty de-piller, bought from John Lewis, to remove the bobbles. I carefully pressed it, and then looked at my handiwork.

It had returned to what I would call ‘excellent vintage’ condition. When I put it on I was so glad that I had my lovely old friend back again. I will really enjoy wearing it to work once more with pride, and I will be happy to watch it start its life all over again.

This jacket was an expensive garment: Persona is one of our highest-end collections. I doubt if it was any less than £150 when I bought it. However, if you were to tot-up how many times I have (and will) wear this garment, it works out at just a few pence per wear. And each time I was spending that few pence, I was enjoying a beautiful, fashion-forward, comfortable work of art.

I would rather be wearing that than a garment that was cheaper to invest in at the outset, yet which would have a much shorter, less comfortable, less aesthetically pleasing, and ultimately less economically sound life.

 

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    Tuesday 02 March 2010 at 00:00

 Post #118 



 
Subject: The New Look

Tomorrow we complete the very last of our buying for Autumn/Winter 2010. It's always exciting to be buying for a new season, because there is something unexpected to be had every time.

Fashion is an extremely competitive business, and the designers know that they are only as good as their last collection - so every item counts. In the really good ranges, the designers will not just reflect the latest fashion; they will innovate and push the look forward.

Every now and again a season shows a sea change: a time when the silhouette changes, and Autumn/Winter 2010 is one of those times. In the past few years we have been seeing tops growing longer, more interesting in shape, or with a different shape of shoulder, and - arguably - all the alterations to the silhouette has sprung from these developments.

There are three basic new silhouettes to be seen. The first and major one is that of the dress and legging. We've been seeing dresses getting shorter for some time now, just as tops have been getting longer. These looks has now met in the middle, and the short dress has emerged that will need to be worn over trousers or leggings. I know it sounds alarming for many women to hear that they are being invited to wear leggings! There are many worries in this area, which can be encapsulated by the phrase 'Does my bum look big in this?'

The fact is, though, that these new short dresses are extremely flattering. They usually have plenty of drape, flowing from a high waist. They end just above or on the knee, so there is little worry about visible cellulite. There is now a comprehensive selection of good quality coloured leggings to complete the look. When the 'dress/top' is a sweater (and there are plenty of these!), one may want to wear it with leggings and boots, which are now widely available in the required calf widths and interesting colours.

I tried on some lovely shorter dresses at Anna Scholz - including a magenta tulip-skirted jersey one that was to die for. I was also extremely taken with an incredibly retro long top/dress from Dominique, complete with a pearlised peacock printed down one side. It shouldn't work, but it really does!

The second new silhouette is that of the cocoon. Tops, dresses and jackets have been showing a tendency towards interesting and innovative shapes for some time now. Next winter, this will emerge as a succession of variations on a cocoon shape, where the garment is allowed to flow out with extra volume, only to be draped and pulled in at some point towards the lower part of the body.

Years ago when these cocoons, puff balls, draw-string bottoms, welted tops, etc., were last in fashion, they were often a disaster for larger women. Badly executed, they can add unnecessary bulk. Now, however, they have come of age and flatter the body, whilst adding an arty, directional edge. Exelle showed a particularly gorgeous puff-ball coat in pale grey, which Jaq is planning to spend her wages on this autumn...

The other silhouette is one which has also been developing for some time. It's what I call the 'Parisienne' look. This is the trend for incredibly neat, cinched-in tailoring - often with the emphasis on the shoulder - which can be much sharper with added detail. Anna Scholz, of course, was all over this look. She produced some lovely dresses and jackets with that incredibly sexy, sophisticated style.

Elena Miro and Personal Choice also went in for some lovely jackets reflecting this aesthetic. One in particular from Elena Miro was the classic Channel-style jacket that every woman should have in her wardrobe. It was in loose-weave black tweed with silver sparkles, and the edges of it were trimmed with frayed fabric. It was as perfect and delicious as a little very dark Parisian chocolate.

On a practical note, after the incredibly cold winter we have just endured in the UK, we are seeing some gorgeous coats coming through. Everything from soft wool coats, to raincoats, to the softest and most cuddly fun-fur coats, to fitted puffer coats are going to be on sale this autumn.

My favourites were spread far and wide: in the fashion business, one develops an eclectic taste. I loved the little dresses, the cinched-in jackets, the coloured leggings. I'm sorry to say my wardrobe is going to be bulging even more at the end of this autumn!

And after the winter we've had last year, one of the very first things I am going to invest in is a really lovely, warm coat. I have my eye on one from NP - surely one of the best examples of a puffer jacket. And it is in the 'must-have' colour: violet.

 

Emma    Sunday 21 February 2010 at 23:57

 Post #115 



 
Subject: Knit wits

As Jaq and I set out on our most recent buying trip, we did what we always do: started to talk about what it was that we were particularly looking to buy for next season.

As followers of the blog will know, by ‘next season’ I am not referring to Spring/Summer 10. Believe it or not, already that’s ‘this season’ (although the actual British ‘spring/summer' does seem like a distant dream, the clothes are very much here)!

So we are buying for Autumn/Winter 10 - and as ever it’s an exciting prospect. One of the things that governs what items of clothing we seek to choose for a season is what we lacked in that season last time around.

In the car driving us to the airport (we were, as usual, flying out to Germany to do some of our buying) we were discussing what we had been short of this winter. We looked at each other and both simultaneously said the same thing: ‘knits’!

This year was such a cold year, and, cruelly, just when we needed it most, there was a dearth of knitwear. There seemed to be hardly a woman in the land who hadn’t opened her wardrobe at some point during all the ice and snow and realised that she just didn’t have enough knits! We certainly saw quite a few women desperate for some lovely warm jumpers, and counted ourselves among their number.

However, when I’m talking about knits, I’m not just referring to jumpers and tops. For our winter collection, we usually seek to sell the whole panoply of knits - through knitted coats, skirts, shawls, jackets... anything you can think of, so long as it is scrummy.

Yes, a good knit is simply scrummy! The best knits will have a generosity to them. They will be soft; they will have stretch; they will flow and drape. The colour will flatter, yet be versatile. A really good knit is a garment that you will want to wear in a hundred different ways, teamed with all manner of other items you already have in your wardrobe.

In the past we have not always found good knits; indeed some years we have found nearly no knits. When the fashion is for short, cropped knitwear, or for close-fitting garments, we tend to steer clear. These are styles that are difficult for the larger woman to look sleek and effortless in. In the past we also had a lot of trouble with fabric. Frankly, if it’s clingy, stiff, itchy or prone to stretching, I’d rather not bother with it. You need to have your wits about you when you are seeking knitwear.

There is a lot that a knitwear collection has to get right. We have to be aware, for instance, that some women work in a hot environment. Believe it or not, knits can be found that are both cool and light! Many women need the garment to have excellent performance. If you are sitting for long periods, for instance, it would not be acceptable for a skirt to ‘seat’. Well, there is no excuse for this in the designer end of the market. A good skirt should keep its shape in perpetuity.

People don’t want to spend half their lives dashing backwards and forwards to the dry-cleaners. So thank goodness nearly all the good quality knits these days wash like a dream.

Some of our customers cannot wear wool. In the old days, when fashion was hide-bound by some very old-fashioned ideas, wool was the only fabric to be had in the winter collections. That is now a thing of the past. We make particular efforts to source 100% cotton knits for the winter, as well as the summer ranges. In fact there are so many beautiful fabrics available, from cashmere, silk, cotton, viscose mixes, and Marino wool... I could go on. Nowadays, the opportunities are there for the best designers to create something both stunning and truly practical.

So it was with high hopes, yet some trepidation, that we first started to look at the collections. We shouldn’t have worried, though. It appears that the designs are all about knits for next winter!

We have done our customers proud. We bought the most beautiful knitwear that we have ever found in one season. The shapes tended to be quite fluid: there was a tendency for many tops to be very long, almost dress-like. Luckily, we were able to source the right trousers to wear with these.

We found some gorgeous suits incorporating long knitted skirts, with chic and minimal styling. We found textured, swing, knitted coats. And smooth, minky cashmere for those with a feel for luxury.

The colours for the autumn are easy on the eye. Neutrals tend to be blacks, greys (of every hue), stony taupes and browns. Accent colours are magenta, purple, petrol and, of course, glowing deep cobalt blue.

My advice to women who really appreciate knitwear is to stock up next winter: beautiful choice like this does not come around every year. It may be a long time before you see knits like this again.

 

Susie Grant    Friday 23 October 2009 at 21:07

 Post #84 



 
Subject: Size

 
Just found your site - your clothes are fabulous but surely your models do not reflect the size of ladies that you are catering for.

 

 Emma    Saturday 24 October 2009 at 15:11

Hi Susie

Thank you for your post. You make an interesting point that I have always felt would arise on this forum sometime!

As with a lot of interesting questions, although on the surface the subject appears simple, it is in fact quite complicated.

The images that we have on our site fall into two groups. One comprises pictures that we or our customers have provided, and represents the clothes that we have had in our store. These photographs are mainly on our forum, and are usually of either happy shoppers wearing our outfits, or our own shop window mannequins modelling our styles. We have two mannequins, one of which is a size 20 and the other a size 24 (and so are at the lower end of our size range). However, by definition these images are of clothing in plus sizes.

The other set of images that we have on our website are those provided by our suppliers, and are posed on professional models. We have little influence over our suppliers in their choice of women sporting their looks. (It would not be practical for us to take our own photographs on models-we can only really do it on our mannequins.) If you have not already done so, it may be a good idea, at this point, to check out the pictures that are on our ‘Our Range’ pages. Believe it or not, these women (in the main) are considered to be ‘plus-size models’!

This is because the models for any particular size range are always far taller and slimmer than the average woman. Thus for ‘mainstream’ fashion, the models can be six feet tall and a size eight (surely no-one can deny that is a freak of nature). In the plus size range, the models would be size 16 or 18, six feet (or more) tall women. These plus size models often do not have a single scrap of extra flesh on their frame, and are perfectly proportioned.

I know that some doubt that these models are in fact a size 16 or 18 (they certainly look very slim). For most of the speciality plus-size ranges, however, I can personally vouch for the fact that these extraordinarily perfect looking women must actually be this size, because the clothes they wear in the photographs are. I have seen and checked over the sample clothes provided to the models, and I promise they are ‘plus size’. That is always supposing that you consider plus size to be 16 or 18.

Which leads us on to a whole other can of beans! I personally think it is ridiculous (and a scandal) that women who are size 16 or 18 are considered ‘plus size’. This is patent nonsense, because the average woman in Britain today is 5 feet 4 inches tall and a size 16. By definition, size 16 is average-sized, and in no way 'large'. In fact, taking the models' height into account, they are actually much slimmer than the norm. (You may have gathered by now that this is a bit of a hobby-horse of mine!)

This is, in a nutshell, where fashion and ‘real life’ collide. It could be argued that the fashion industry is at present living in cloud-cuckoo land. One day, I feel sure, larger women will be considered just another current in the mainstream. All we can do for now is to express ourselves as the women we are (beautiful and fashionable) and ask over and over again to be realistically represented in this industry.

So I applaud your question, and hope that you continue asking it of every fashion professional you encounter! I will certainly continue to bring this up with our suppliers, and - as I know for a fact that some of them read this forum - am very happy that you have raised it here!
 

Emma    Wednesday 09 September 2009 at 22:48

 Post #75 



 
Subject: Joy

The poet John Keats wrote ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever’, and when it comes to fashion (at the very least) I agree with him. Fashion is an art and an industry devoted to the pursuit of beauty, and is in the business of joy-creation.

We are coming to the end of the buying season now (I have just one more range to buy to complete the Spring/Summer 2010 collection), and I have been taking an overview of what’s in store for us next year.

There are so many highlights worthy of mention, that it’s hard to know where to begin.

We have ordered chiffons and jerseys in soft, flowing styles, in jewel colours, ranging from teal, to cobalt blue and purple. We have gone for sassy, sexy little fitted jackets from Italy and Ireland. We have selected crisp, cleverly-shaped linen suits, and Sergeant Pepper-inspired waistcoats, adorned with cut-steel embelishment.

Hilariously, we have even invested in some jumpsuits, which some inspired person has managed to make work for the larger woman (I’m going to have one of those!).

But I suppose, yet again, the range that most stood out for me was the Anna Scholz collection.

Anna Scholz is the foremost designer for the large-size market. Her clothes exude confidence and uncompromising sensuality. They are unapologetic; they assume the wearer is an attractive, vibrant woman with attitude and taste.

If Anna had produced a collection up to her usual standard, I, for one, would have been thrilled. Judging by previous collections, one could assume that Anna would always bring forth something that will be just gorgeous.

So it was almost with disbelief that I looked at her collection for next summer. There were so many items that were breathtaking that it was difficult to take them all in. It seems almost illogical that someone should decide to just go berserk like this! I think, if I were Anna, I would worry that I was using up all my most brilliant ideas, all at one time. There is not space in this piece to list all the clothes that deserve mention, but I will dip in at random and describe some...

There was a black and white floor-length stretch silk gown, with an Art Deco inspired print, plus a plunge neck and sleeves - that is a dress that every large woman ought to have in her wardrobe. The versatile fabric is also used in one of Anna’s trademark kaftan tops.

There was a mink-coloured trouser suit, whose styling gives a nod to a man’s dinner suit. The same jacket is produced in a cobalt blue, and can also be worn over a matching wrap dress.

There is a gorgeous chiffon creation, with a pink and grey swirl pattern on a black background. This has been made into a couture-style dress with an interior structure that could only have been dreamed-up by a genius.

There was a dress with a Grecian draped neckline, made from sweet and feminine hydrangea print stretch silk, giving the impression of a nineteen-thirties tea dress - yet with a brighter, more sharp and edgy feel.

In fact the feel of the collection for me was of nineteen-thirties meets the seventies, with 21st century hindsight.

In the same poem, Keats wrote 'Some shape of beauty moves away the pall from our dark spirits'.

Speaking just for myself, had there been any pall from dark spirits hanging over me at the time, it would have rocketed away after I had caught sight of these beautiful creations. That’s one of the wonderful things about being a woman: the presence of really gorgeous clothes can work wonders...

 

 Sharon Cross    Thursday 17 September 2009 at 15:52

 
Hello - I've just found your blog and I have to say its great.

One plea though - please don't print these pictures of Anna Scholz's dresses when I can't buy them yet: its like having your nose pressed against a particularly good sweetie shop and not being allowed in :-)

I've worn Anna's clothes since her 1st collection and still adore them...now, have to find a time to come down to the shop as hoping it must be as good as the blog.

 

 Emma    Friday 18 September 2009 at 15:38

 
Hi Sharon

Thank you for your post and for your kind words.

Yes, it's very cruel to show images of clothes that you cannot get until next summer. But now you know how I feel!

I have mentioned before on this blog how sometimes I come away from buying a collection (particularly an Anna Scholz collection) in anger, because I feel bad about having to wait for six months before I can get the clothes...

 

 Anna Scholz    Friday 18 September 2009 at 17:46

 
Dear Emma -
I just had a good read through your ever so well-written Forum and blog :)
I always enjoy our appointments and love nothing more than to tease with new exciting designs for the forthcoming seasons. I am sure you will be glad to hear that even I have to wait until spring to get my hands on the new goodies.
I am happy that things are going so well for you and our collection is flying !
All the best and lets do that lunch very soon.
Anna x

 

 Emma    Saturday 19 September 2009 at 12:36

Hi Anna

Thank you so much for taking the time to post on our blog!

I think it is a good thing that you are able to see the comments left by customers who enjoy wearing your clothes.

Of all the ranges that we have ever stocked, the Anna Scholz collection stands out – it must be very satisfying to be involved in this highly successful creative process.

Here in our shop it certainly feels good that we are able to provide these clothes to the women who really love them, so we are very grateful to you and your team!
 

Emma    Sunday 10 May 2009 at 23:47

 Post #40 



 
Subject: Fit for purpose

The harder I work the luckier I get. This is as true for fashion as it is for life. What I mean by this is that some clothes simply work harder at succeeding than others - and it makes a great difference.

For example, I was looking at one of my camisoles today. This particular garment was made by a German company called Sallie Sahne. In reality, it’s only a kind of vest top, which I've had for years, but nevertheless, it’s a piece that I appreciate. There’s something indefinable about the fit. I feel confident wearing it. The thing about this Sallie Sahne cami, and indeed virtually all our really good quality designer clothing, is that it really flatters the wearer’s body.

Looking at the garment closely, with an educated eye, you can start to see why. The top itself is quite long; it certainly doesn’t stop halfway across the stomach - the usual problem with a cami. The straps, though very fine, are beautifully stitched - soft yet firm - and are adjustable with a good quality buckle, that neither slips, nor jams sideways. The front of the cami is double, with no seam at all at the bottom, so there is no chance of any ridge widthways across the body. If there was any possibility of this fine, heavy, and very stretchy fabric clinging to one’s stomach (and there is very little), then it would only be the inner layer that would do so - the outer layer, visible to the world, would always glide over the top. And because the bottom of the cami has no seam, there is no bagging.

The facing at the neck is flat and smooth. There are bust darts, and the sides of the cami are shaped. It’s the sign of a very good garment when both these things are done, and done well. Instead of making the mistake that a lot of cheaper ranges make, this pattern cutter has really understood the shape of a larger woman’s body. The cami comes in under the bust, instead of in at the waist. This means that the cami would never swing in an ugly ‘pregnant’ look from the bust, but neither would it cling to emphasise a less than toned stomach. Under the arms, the cleverest touch of all, the straps continue in an arc, elasticated and slightly gathered. On the hanger, this looks slightly odd, yet on the body, it produces a perfectly fitted, smooth look that will sit snugly and never show your bra.

This cami costs probably three times as much as many of our normal camis. Yet it washes over and over again. The fabric does not need ironing. It does not pill, shrink or fade. It’s cool and breathable. It will last more than three times as long as an average cami.

This is the case for most of the really good jerseywear from the best collections that pass through my shop. Jackets fall effortlessly from the shoulders. Dresses stand like columns, only emphasising (but not over-emphasising) the bust. Tops don’t snag on the body.

When I first looked at Sallie Sahne jerseywear I swore I would never buy it. Although it didn't cost a fortune, it did seem just too expensive. Initially, at the fashion shows, viewing it on the hanger (never the best way to look at jerseywear), I didn’t realise how good it was. Even when I did, I wasn’t convinced my customers would care enough about the better quality to pay the extra. Eventually, I weakened and bought a small quantity.

Of course it sold almost straight away. Sometimes customers would try it on with no intention of buying it - they were just curious. Yet when they slipped it on, they really liked the way they looked in it. ‘Why oh why’, they would complain, ‘does it always happen to be the most expensive thing that looks best on me?’ Many women thought this was just bad luck, when actually it is the whole point about designerwear in the large size market. You could say exactly the same thing about Anna Scholz, Elena Miro, Marina Rinaldi, Personal Choice and many other ranges that get it right... on purpose.

This is what top-end design is there for. Someone, somewhere, has taken infinite, obsessive care, looking into every possible aspect, to make a garment that is as flattering as it is humanly possible to make. Someone has consulted with larger women, and really listened and cared about it doing what they wanted it to do. And someone has been totally uncompromising. It is as if they've asked, OK, what on earth is it that we have to do to make this thing absolutely perfect? For all I know, with all the attention to detail, skill, and the best materials, these items may actually be as cheap as it is possible to make them.

And when it fits and flatters, you can be sure it really isn’t because of luck...

 
 

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