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

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

 

Liz    Friday 03 February 2017 at 17:07

 Post #491 



 
Subject: Plus Size Swimwear

 
Please could anyone recommend any stores that might want to stock my plus size swimwear range? I manufacture and sell a selection of plus size swimsuits and swimdresses up to a size 26. Currently they are only available online at www.swimdressboutique.com but I would like people to be able touch, feel and try the garments on as I feel sure that they would fly out of the window.
Any advice gratefully received.
Liz x

 

 Emma    Monday 06 February 2017 at 14:40

 
Hi Liz

Congratulations on two counts - creating plus-size swimwear and appreciating the need for larger women to try on their clothes before buying them!

If you wanted to sell wholesale the usual method would be to engage an agent - they tend to be the people who really know about the shops. Of course, they require paying (commission of 20%, I believe), so that would be something that you'd have to think about. The main reason why suppliers use agents is to have access to the stockists. Please don't buy any lists available online - they're basically a scam. If you wanted to know of a really good agent, if you have some really good images, write back on this forum and I will send them off for you to a couple of the best.

Sadly, however, I actually think that you might be better off looking for a foreign agent - of whom I'm unlikely to be able to recommend. There are far more shops in other countries than in England.

If you really would like to market yourself - and many people do, although it's tough - I would go to the big fashion shows, like Pure in London, and have a look round. It's eye-wateringly expensive to get a stand, and I wouldn't do it straight off, but chatting with people there will prove invaluable.

If you decide that doing a fashion show is for you, I would seek out one of the specialist plus-size shows, like Curvy Is Sexy in Berlin. However, if you did sell there, you would be selling into Europe, a very tough gig at the moment!

Good luck and more power to you.

 

Kim P    Sunday 09 October 2016 at 14:35

 Post #484 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz Sample Sale

 
AS is having a sample sale on 1st November. Has anyone been to one before? I was wondering what it was like and whether the samples are in a range of sizes or just the smaller ones?

Any info greatly received!

 

 Emma    Thursday 13 October 2016 at 08:10

 
Hi Kim,

The best way to answer this question is to say that you should go!

These sales have been going for some years and are wildly popular!

Far from just supplying samples, they sell a huge variety of gorgeous Anna Scholz styles across her size range.

Get yourself a ticket and dash down to London -the Chandelier Building is very close to Neasden Junction railway station!

 

JENNIFER LUMER    Saturday 08 October 2016 at 21:08

 Post #483 



 
Subject: Good luck in future

 
Hi Emma
So sorry to hear you have had to close
Thank you for all your orders over the last years
I shall miss looking out for fabrics for you .
I wish you the best of luck and good health for the future

Love

Jennifer

 

 Emma    Thursday 13 October 2016 at 11:41

 
Hi Jennifer,

Thank you so much for your kind words -and for your gorgeous scarves and jackets, which we sold for so many years, and loved so much.

You were our last UK producer - everything else we sold came from Europe -and that was our downfall to a degree.

I do wish you all the best for the future.

BTW : have you ever thought of selling your delightful Jennifer Lumer items directly to the customers?

 

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    Saturday 23 January 2016 at 13:52

 Post #462 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz on the Web

I am up to my neck in buying for Autumn/Winter 2016 at the moment. Having just returned from Belin, where I attended the Curvy is Sexy fashion show, I can report that the clothes that will be available from August onwards are going to be more gorgeous than ever.

That's lovely, so why do I feel a frisson of sadness? It's because I will not be buying Anna Scholz for the autumn, just as I did not buy it for the summer collection that is now being delivered into our store.

Why, you may ask, am I not going to stock one of the iconic plus-size collections, and one which I have been stocking every season since Anna started her line, back in 1994, and which I personally love? Well, for the time being, Anna Scholz is not going to be sold through boutiques like ours, and will instead be sold exclusively through her website annascholz.com.

Anna was the first plus-size designer to really understand that larger women needed to be seen as fashion-forward, sexy, intelligent and beautiful women, in a time when the phrase 'fashion over the size of 16' was considered to be a contradiction in terms. She is a plus-size icon, and her design creativity goes from strength to strength. I, for one, really hope that she produces collections that we can buy and stock in my shop again some time very soon.

In the meantime, we will, like everyone else, visit annascholz.com to get our fix of Anna's patented variety of fabulous...

 

Kim P    Friday 09 October 2015 at 21:25

 Post #451 



 
Subject: KJ Brand Sensitive Trousers

 
Hi Ladies

Thanks for posting the KJ Brand Sensitive trousers after the alterations on leg length.

I had bought the crop trousers in the Summer and was pleased that a full length version was available for Autumn / Winter.

These must be the most comfortable trousers I have worn and now surpass my previous NP favourites. The fabric is so soft and light and the waistband is excellent. It is so comfy and does not roll or cut in at all.

What I also like is that you can decide what look you want by changing the size. I can't think of many trousers where you can wear a range of sizes and each size fits beautifully. I ordered a smaller size as I wanted more of a legging look for under tunics and dresses but I could have ordered a larger size for a conventional straight trouser leg.

They are just brilliant, I have the black and blue and hope that KJ Brand bring out a range of colours in the coming seasons.

 

 Emma    Saturday 10 October 2015 at 15:58

 
Hi Kim,

Thanks for your post, and your lovely words about our trousers!

You are so right -I too have three pairs of those trousers. My normal size (18) fit me close to the leg -a great look for under the kind of tunic which one of my nieces would call a dress, but which I would call a top! I also have a pair of size 22 ones, which are more of a classic trouser shape on me. They are just so cool and comfortable!

Next summer, Brand are selling them in white as well as the black, but as yet don't appear to be contemplating any other colours. However, I am agitating for them to broaden their choice!

 

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.

 

Kim P    Saturday 21 February 2015 at 17:18

 Post #431 



 
Subject: Beautiful Spring / Summer Clothes

 
After reading on the forum that new stock was arriving I rang the store yesterday and knew from the excitement in Kim's voice that the shop would be full of lovely new designs so decided to pay and visit and so pleased I did. The shop looked wonderful with splashes of vibrant colours, both colour block and patterned complimenting the classic designs.

I am delighted with the Tomo tunics in the waffle material, the sea foam green colour was beautiful and the black is a staple. The orange scarf purchased will go lovely with both. Kim was as usual the trouser queen and the Brand leggings she recommended are so comfortable and will get lots of wear.

I would have been so disappointed if I had left it and visited in in a couple of weeks to find my size out of stock in those Tomo tunics, I did not realise that for many styles you only have one in each size. I know you often post that new stock flies out but I saw it for myself today, it was lovely to see so many happy people leaving delighted with their purchases.

I hope to pop in again in a few weeks when more new arrivals will have appeared. Thank you again for the excellent service!

 

 Emma    Monday 23 February 2015 at 15:54

 
Hi Kim,

Thanks for your post, and lovely comments! It was lovely, as always, to see you on Saturday. You got some gorgeous things, and, sad to say, deprived other people of getting them.

The wicked truth is (as I have alluded to before in this blog) that we try every trick in the book to make our store more interesting, and create the need to buy our clothes. This means that on the one hand we try to buy as wide a variety of different styles (buying fashion in a 'wide but shallow way'-lots of styles, but low numbers of each). The by-product of this kind of buying is that when you see an item in store that you like, it's a good idea to snaffle it up straight away. It's likely to be the only one in that size, and once it's gone, will never be seen again.

I know this can be a bit of a nuisance to our customers, but it does mean a continual stream of different and varied clothes, and a healthy competition which (I am being really honest here!) is very good for business!

Some of our customers have asked us to phone them when the new collection comes in, and they dash in to get ahead of the rest of the field. Not a bad idea, and it's one that's open to everyone. All anyone has to do is phone 01273327240 and tell us what you are looking for. We will do the rest...

 

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.

 

Kim P    Sunday 16 February 2014 at 13:13

 Post #386 



 
Subject: New Season NP Range

Following on from my last post I also completely fell in love the pink and black NP Top. It is gorgeous and I'm sorry my photography skills do not do it justice. Perfect length and I love the way it is cut in at the waist to flatter the waste but not cling over my tummy area. The sleeves are a great length with light ruching at the cuff. It was such a perfect shape for me that I bought the black and cream option as well.

Thanks to Anna and Olivia I had a great days shopping and I really appreciated their assistance and expertise.

 

 Emma    Sunday 16 February 2014 at 17:23

 
Hi Kim,

thank you so much for your feedback about the new NP collection. There is a bit of a story about this...

Several years ago, NP was without doubt our best mid style collection. They are a Finnish company, set up in 1925, whose expertise in plus-size fashion was second to none. They just seemed to have such an amazing ability to style the perfect fashionable, yet comfortable and flattering garment for the plus-size woman.

Then something started to go amiss. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with the quality of their clothes, which has always been excellent. Nor had the price increased (I think they have been able to keep an amazing price-per-wear ratio), and the cut was a good one in the main. No, what had happened is that they seemed to have forgotten how to produce those magic clothes that were so perfect for us.

On speaking to their agent, I found out where the trouble lay. NP had opened a series of shops of their own in Finland, and had found that they were selling more and more of the smaller items (they manufacure from a size 12 upwards). This led them to start producing the kind of clothes that small people want! Sadly, I had to face the fact that the gorgeous NP, as I had known it, was a thing of the past.

Then last year we had an exciting development: their British agent (the superb Tuula Hastings) excitedly contacted us and told us that NP had decided to bring out a dedicated plus-size range, and they had brought back one of their incredibly experienced and talented designers. Tuula brought this woman into our store to discuss the new range, and I can't tell you how excited we were to see that NP seemed to be persuing this particular path.

Sure enough, last season, NP brought out its 'Curves' range, which is what they have called their dedicated plus-size section. It has been, in every way, absolutely superb. As you say, the fit is lovely, and very flattering, and, as an extremely experienced plus-size designer, and a larger (and very attractive) woman herself, she had been able to bring her own knowledge to bear on what the larger woman will feel comfortable, fashionable and attractive wearing.

I've just bought my NP Curves set for Autumn/Winter 2014, and I can confirm that it is just getting better and better. I'm really happy that NP is now firmly back on board with its plus-size customers.

 

 Kim P    Monday 17 February 2014 at 22:38

 
That's very interesting about NP, thank goodness they saw the light as their Curve range is great!

 

Kim P    Sunday 16 February 2014 at 13:05

 Post #385 



 
Subject: Tomo Coat

Hi Emma
Sorry to have missed you and Kim yesterday but I was very well looked after by Anna and Olivia. I came in to pick up the items I had bought in the sale that needed alteration and as usual they look great.

It was great having some new season stock items selected for me by Anna and Olivia to try on. The unlined Tomo coat I would not have thought of trying on but I am so glad I did as I love it. I love the styling and the texture of the fabric. I will be wearing this coat a lot as soon as the weather picks up!

 

 Emma    Sunday 16 February 2014 at 18:10

 
Hi Kim,

Thanks for this. I hope you don't mind me making this observation: I do find your photographs excellent, because the clothes can be seen so clearly, but I do wish you would include your head! I know why you don't (you have a natural modesty and reticence), and it's not an unusual thing to do on this forum, but it's such a shame to exclude it, particularly as it is highly attractive! Somehow, I just feel it would complete the picture!

I love this coat, and I love Tomo, a Japanese-inspired German collection, which is relatively new to Emma Plus. The shapes in this collection are very simple, and slightly architectural, with an emphasis on beautiful fabrics and textures. Their knits were extremely popular this winter, and, having just bought their Autumn/Winter 2014 collection, I feel sure they will be a huge hit next winter, too.

The Tomo that has come in for this summer includes some gorgeous midnight-blue printed jackets and tops, some fantastic super-fine raincoats, and gorgeous elements of textrured linen. Fantastic, and already proving very popular with customers.

 

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!

 

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    Thursday 03 October 2013 at 11:55

 Post #370 



 
Subject: Tribal fashion

While preparing for next week’s Emma Plus Fashion Show (taking place, of course, at the store in Brighton on 12 October at 2.00pm), I found myself cogitating on the subject of ‘fashion tribes’.

There is no shame in not knowing what a fashion tribe is (in fact, I almost think less of myself because I know about this kind of thing). To the uninitiated the term refers to the different groups that most fashion-conscious women fall into when developing their style.

One very common tribe among plus-size women is the ‘Medieval Robe’ dresser. You may not have consciously noticed this kind of woman, but chances are that you have seen her. In the summer she wears almost full-length linen dresses with long coat-like jackets over the top. Trousers are always full and tops rarely finish above the knee. She loves handkerchief hems, often with the pointed edges of her tops almost scraping the pavement as she swishes along. In the winter she will often wear knitted serapes and long knitted jumpers with huge cowl necks - and she teams it all with scarves and snoods. Colours are purple, beige, terracotta and mustard.

A close 'relative' of hers (although both would be horrified to hear me say this) is the ‘Japanese Modernist’. She wears ‘architectural’ clothes, with a futuristic twist. In the summer she will wear heavily textured linen (almost seersucker), often cut into asymmetric shapes. She may well have a long sleeve on one arm, and an elongated collar hanging over the other. One side of her outfit looks like a dress, the other side rises to reveal a trouser leg. What she shares with the ‘Medieval Robe’ woman is an unwillingness to display her body; clothes drape and flow around the physique creating ambiguity. Colours are strict: black, white, beige and red are the only shades allowed under any circumstances. She will often top-off her outfit with a severe pair of spectacles.

At the other end of the scale for dressing is the ‘Yummy Mummy’. She is usually in her thirties or forties, and lives a very busy life. There is no way in the world she would have time and space to cope with a robe, or a long collar dangling over one elbow. Her clothes are pretty, but incredibly practical. In the summer she wears a cotton jersey dress teamed with a pair of cut-off leggings. A cheerful print with a splash of colour (often picked up in her jolly choice of shoes - usually Fitflops or Crocks - or a colourful handbag) never goes amiss. In the winter she will wear skinny jeans teamed with a colourful knit and waterproof jacket, plus ankle boots. She is eclectic with her colours; she wants to wear what suits her, but she has a penchant for spots and Breton-style stripes.

Among my customers are a disproportionate number of ‘Luxe Euro’ women. These are ladies of impeccable taste. They abhor what they refer to as ‘shapeless’ clothes (there is no overlap whatsoever with the ‘Japanese Modernist’ or ‘Medieval Robe’ women), and they are obsessed with the tactile quality of garments. They can smell quality from ten yards, and their fingertips can detect cashmere while they are still several millimetres above the fabric. They will not buy anything unless it fits to a T. Not all these women possess the financial resources which you would expect to facilitate this kind of taste, but no matter... they simply become past-masters at sniffing out the truly gorgeous bargains, and they buy clothes that give them a lot of use. In the summer they will often wear a high-quality linen blouse, teamed with impeccably cut, toning trousers. In the winter they will emerge with the most gorgeous Italian cashmere winter coats known to mankind, teamed with printed silk scarves. Many of these women prefer the Italian palette: navy, beige, red, charcoal, pale grey and bright coral.

I could go on all day (there are so many different types), but I have a Fashion Show to arrange... Hopefully, it will hold something for all those who attend - whatever their particular fashion tribe.

 

 Kim P    Friday 04 October 2013 at 23:22

 
Hopefully Kim will be modelling for the Waistcoat tribe!

 

 Emma    Saturday 05 October 2013 at 15:04

Hi Kim

Funnily enough, this is the waistcoat that Kim is going to get!

x
 

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    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....!!!

 

Emma    Saturday 09 February 2013 at 15:44

 Post #337 



 
Subject: ASD (Anna Scholz Day): 27 April 2013

We now have the best possible news! We have been successful in persuading the fabulous Anna Scholz to create another Anna Scholz Day here in our store!

For those who have already heard about the famous Anna Scholz Days, this will come as long-awaited news. For readers of this blog who are unfamilliar with the Anna Scholz Days (ASDs), this is the most exciting event of the Brighton fashion year.

During the ASD, Anna's latest range is shipped into our store - including many pieces that have never been seen in any store in the UK. We have our superb alteration service on hand to fit the gorgeous clothes to our customers there and then (and items can be sent on for you to receive at home, beautifully fitted, and usually with no extra charge). Anyone spending over £100 will be able to enjoy 2 hours' free parking in the Theatre Car Park adjacent to our store.

But it gets even better. Anna herself will attend, bringing key members of her team. She is a true plus-size fashion icon and is a very beautiful, glamorous fashion expert and visionary, who knows just about everything there is to know about plus-size styling.

During the day there will be refreshments, and a prize draw for all those who attend.

We do hope you can pop this date in your diary, because it really will be a unique and wonderful experience!

 

 Sharon    Saturday 09 February 2013 at 17:53

 
Excellent news and just after my birthday so I can buy presents ;-)

Love the coat you're wearing in the picture too.

 

 Kim P    Saturday 09 February 2013 at 19:38

 
Wonderful news, I would very much like to come!

 

 Kirsten    Tuesday 12 February 2013 at 18:54

 
Wish I could fly over for that day! Love the pic of you and Anna in the AW 13 and looking forward to your blog post about that collection!

 

 Emma    Thursday 14 February 2013 at 14:11

 
Hi Sharon...yes, the coat (from autumn/winter 13) is superb, a lovely soft boiled wool, edged with leather. I particularly loved it teamed with the little co-ordinating tweedy tunic dress. Until you have tried on a coat or jacket with contrasting sleeves, it's easy not to realise how flattering they are. This is because any look that breaks up the width of the body makes you look narrower. In this coat, I only look as wide as my torso: the arms do not add to my silhouette.

Hi Kirsten...how lovely to hear from you! I really wish you could make it to the ASD. If it's anything like the previous ones, it's going to be fantastic.

 

 Nicola Sutherland    Friday 15 February 2013 at 18:43

 
Perfect timing - already have the reason to treat myself - the perfect birthday day out for me!

 

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    Saturday 11 August 2012 at 14:28

 Post #305 



 
Subject: Simply divine

I am just so excited about the new collections that are starting to come in. This week we had some gorgeous Elena Miro (fabulous jersey tops and dresses, jackets etc), Verpass (knits to die for), and the very beginning of the Anna Scholz consignments.

It’s fantastic to see the wonderful life-affirming colours. Fashion works in mysterious ways... by the time the new colours arrive in the store we are longing to get our hands on them.

These two box-fresh Anna Scholz dresses are simply divine.

 

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    Saturday 21 July 2012 at 10:40

 Post #303 



 
Subject: Spring/Summer buying...

It’s that time of year again... buying time! It’s a time for excitement, planning, anticipation... but also a time for reflection. What, if anything, have I learned from the summer of 2012 that I can take with me when I am purchasing the collection for Spring/Summer 2013?

Well, the elephant in the corner does appear to be the weather. For about three years now, in early summer, periods of lovely sunshine have been few and far between. Situated above the jet-stream (rather than the usual position of below it), the UK has been colder, wetter and windier, at least until mid-year. Things often seem to warm up only later on in the summer.

So I was thinking about the criteria I need to consider when I am doing my buying for next year. Of course, there are many of the same issues that we always have, and will continue to think about (probably) for ever more. For example, I will be thinking about summer weddings.

As long as there are human beings, there will be love - and if there is love, there will be summer weddings! Weddings are easy to buy for. Yes, I have to use every ounce of my experience and knowledge to source items that fit and suit my customers. But other than that, buying for weddings is a no-brainer. No-one is silly or wise enough to second-guess the weather when buying an outfit to wear to a summer wedding. The fact is, regardless of how the rest of the year has been, it’s always going to be sunny on that one special day! And, in any case, you are going to wear that gorgeous outfit come what may!

For weddings, it's pretty, colourful, comfortable and suitable outfits, in ‘this season’s’ colours and styles, that my customers are looking for. Obviously the first range to look at for this kind of thing is Anna Scholz.

Then there is work-wear. Again, this tends to be largely eternal to what's going on in the atmosphere. Women are involved in every profession, and each has its own sartorial rules. However, most occupations these days do not have a proper dress-code. Most women wear smart-ish everyday clothes to work. So when I talk about ‘work-wear’ in particular, I’m talking about the kind of clothing you would only wear to work. Suits, mainly, or smart jackets and dresses. Again, this is a no-brainer. The environment in the average British office hasn’t really changed all the time that I have been in this profession. So buying it is all about finding out about the latest styles, fabrics and colours, and sourcing some great, invaluable items. I’ll be rifling through the Marina Rinaldi collection for the lion’s share of this kind of garment.

No sea-changes there then. So what will be different next summer? I think it will be the ‘everyday’ clothes that will be subtly different. In my opinion, many women will - either consciously or subconsciously - be looking at those items that they find have been the most useful during our recent wet summers, and will want to wear more of the same.

We have been selling lightweight trousers very well recently. And no wonder, because - during odd weather - it is very difficult to know what to wear, and a good pair of summer trousers, teamed with a great little jacket and lightweight top, is so useful. It also side-steps the vexed question of whether or not to wear tights! When rain is falling from the sky, it feels wrong to splash through puddles with bare legs (and, er... sandals?). Yet to wear tights and proper shoes, or boots, looks so wintry and feels so hot. A light pair of trousers worn with sandals or summer shoes is just the ticket in these situations.

I shall be looking to collections like Brand (who do super ultra-cool trousers), NP (whose trouser expertise is second-to-none), Verpass (who always have great trousers), and various other ranges to help me with the great summer trews.

A good lightweight casual jacket is a very useful thing in this weather. You know the kind of thing: neat and shapely, perhaps in an interesting colour or fabric, and made of stretch cotton. If you get caught out in a very heavy shower, it won’t keep you dry (we’re not talking about rainwear here), but at the same time it will not be ruined. And the rest of the time it looks flattering and feels summery and comfortable. It’s so useful you will not take it off when you come inside, and most of the time it will be great for outdoors, too. You put it on and you are good to go. Personally, I just adore Elena Miro's little jackets (see picture, right), so I will go hot-foot to their showroom and snuffle them out.

Underneath that jacket you will need a lightweight top. Colourful, with a bit of femininity, and cool - made from a practical, washable fabric. It will have to have a sleeve, because you may well have to take your jacket off when the going gets hot (which it could do; even in the rain it can feel uncomfortably warm).

Of course, a must-have is a jolly good raincoat. While we have been having all this wind, an umbrella offers little or no protection from the downpour. It really isn’t good enough if we are going to be getting repeated rain to have an old sports coat, or dog-walking raincoat that shows a sorry face. Nowadays, we may find a lot of use for a summer raincoat, and it had better look the part - and earn its keep.

Lastly, I have to remember that (hush, because I am whispering this now), it is actually possible that we will indeed have a long, beautiful, sunny summer next year. I have to be prepared for this, too.

This is the joy - and the challenge - of fashion!

 

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    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    Friday 20 April 2012 at 17:18

 Post #282 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz Day 12th May

I have to confess to being extremely excited... we have managed to persuade the gorgeous Anna Scholz to come to our store again, to celebrate another Anna Scholz Day!

For those who attended our last Anna Scholz Day, I don’t think I will have to say anything about this event in order to encourage them to attend - other than that we will be participating in all the same enjoyments as before.

We will have - specially delivered - the cream of Anna’s Spring/Summer 12 collection, many items of which have not been seen in any stores. And the collection itself will be far more comprehensively represented than one would usually find in one place. There will be items that neither I, nor any of my team, have even seen before (so you can imagine the heightened atmosphere that we will be in the shop when the deliveries arrive; a heady mix of fashion-obsessed women bursting open a delivery of fantastic Anna Scholz fashion).

There will be a competition, where the first prize is £250 worth of Anna Scholz fashion, and second prize a beautiful Emma Plus necklace of the winner's choice.

We will have refreshments, and Anna herself will be coming into the store to meet her ultimate customers, answer questions and get feedback.

There will be a sociable, happy, festive atmosphere... this is truly one of the happiest days of the year - and well worth calling in to the store to join us for.

Anna Scholz Day at Emma Plus is on 12 May. We open at 10am, and are expecting Anna in our store around noon. All are welcome!

 

 Anna    Saturday 21 April 2012 at 08:05

 
Hello Emma,

Well I can not wait. Came into your shop with my friend Tori, but that day you were in London, I think. I love Anna's clothing. Looking forward to meeting.

Anna

 

 Emma    Monday 23 April 2012 at 14:29

 
Hi Anna!

When I first saw your post, for a moment I thought it was from Anna Scholz, commenting on her Anna Scholz Day...it wouldn't be the first time she has posted on this forum!

I was sad I missed you the time that you came into store with your friend and mine, Tori, so I look forward to seeing you next time. I don't know whether Tori should go in for the prize draw this year: as last year's winner, she may find that winning it two years in a row may create 'Anna Scholz clothing envy' amongst the other customers!

Having said that, the chance to win another Anna outfit would certainly be worth it..it certainly wouldn't put me off!

 

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...?

 

Abbie    Friday 27 January 2012 at 16:13

 Post #269 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz dress

Hi Emma

I would like to ask you about Anna Scholz sizes. I live in Sheffield and found your blog/website on Twitter last night. I was so happy to find that there is couture plus size- it sounds ridiculous but I had pretty much given up on ever feeling glamorous! I've now found lots of sites via Twitter but most shops are either in the US or in your neck of the woods.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I am going to a party next Saturday and I have seen a lovely dress on Anna's website -

http://www.annascholz.com/sale-2/stud-jersey-panel-gathered-dress.html

I'm probably closer to a size 22 than a 20 but I just wondered if you had any comments about Anna's sizing - I really want the dress but the only sizes available are 20 and 24. I don't know whether to go for one size or the other or not get either. I really want to feel fabulous for this party though and the dress suits my budget as I don't have much over £50 to spend...

I'm going to save up for a visit to your shop, for sure!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Abbie

 

 Kim P    Friday 27 January 2012 at 21:39

 
I've always had a postage paid returns label when ordering from the Anna Scholz website so I sometimes order a couple of sizes to try on for sizing.

 

 Emma    Thursday 02 February 2012 at 18:44

 
Hi Abbie,

Thank you so much for your comments! I do hope you can come in to our store at some point, because it would be such a very great pleasure to reassure you that there really is a lot of glamour out there available for us plus size women!

Anna’s sizes vary considerably. Or, if I were to give you a more complex answer, her styling varies with her designs. For instance, she has some designs which are quite floaty and loose (like some of her kaftans), whereas some of her dresses are quite fitted, and don’t have anywhere near as much room in them! All her styles tend to be true to size.

With this particular dress, it is quite close fitting, so I would suggest going one size up, rather than a size down. I’m not suggesting this will definitely be right for you (one can never say 100%); however, I do think she will refund or exchange if it is not right. The only thing I will mention about this dress is that the jersey is quite lightweight and silky, which means it can be a little unforgiving when on. I have a similar dress from Anna, and I wear mine with a pair of very long knickers from Evans (you know, they give a smooth silhouette with no panty-line!).

I'm so glad you have discovered the joys of Anna Scholz, and hope you enjoy your party!

 

 Abbie    Thursday 02 February 2012 at 18:46

 
Thank you so much for the speedy response .....

My boyfriend has said he will come down with me to the shop! I will need to save up but I'd really love to visit. I've never been to Brighton so I think it'd be a brilliant experience.

I just have one final question - where do you recommend for good quality tights?!

Thanks for being so incredibly helpful.

Abbie

 

 Emma    Thursday 02 February 2012 at 18:58

 
Hi Abbie,

On the subject of tights, all I can say is gggrrrrrrrr! If that sounds a strange thing to say, I can explain! We have been asking this question back and forwards on our forum lately. We have found something very strange has happened in recent years. Just a little while ago, we used to stock really fantastic tights of different colours and textures. There were a number of ranges: Levee, My Size, Hue, Yoek, and others too. One by one these manufacturers have given up! I’ve sent out a request for those reading this forum to tell us when/if they find a new supplier, and I have promised that we will stock the tights, if they are available. (This would be very helpful if, for instance, there was a manufacturer who doesn’t sell to the public, but will only sell in bulk to a shop.) However, at the moment, I’m very sad to say that I am in as much of a loss for them as you may be. I guess in the meantime, it’s trolling round Evans, Simply Be, etc., online…?

Really looking forward to seeing you some time!

I just thought I would also mention, at this point, that you have had some problems in posting on this forum, and most of our conversation has been through email (you contacted me through the website to alert me of your problem). You were very kind to say that I could simply put the conversation here, so that others could read it.

The reason why sometimes it can be difficult to leave a post on this forum, is that certain key words can set off our 'spam filter', making the whole post disappear.

My recommendation would be to automatically copy any comments being left on the forum, so that, should the post be gobbled up, they could simply be pasted, and sent to me by email. I will, as I have done here, simply put them on to our forum for all to see... I have the power!!

If any readers would like some private advice of a plus-size fashion nature, please feel free to email me through the website, and I will reply via email, without posting it on the forum!

Emma

 

Victoria Hollis    Saturday 12 November 2011 at 00:39

 Post #253 



 
Subject: 100percentpeople Plus Size Awards

 
Hi Em

Apologies for the shameless plug/posting here but I was hoping I could avail many of the gorgeous ladies who post and lurkers to go to

http://100percentpeople.com/plus-size-awards-2011/plus-size-ladies-fashion-retailer/

And pop in a vote (or two you can vote every 12 hours) for Anna Scholz. The reason I ask this is simply no other plus size designer has given us so many options and keeps evolving her ranges at a breath taking pace.

From her diffusion ranges for Debenhams and Simply Be through to Black and White labels she has given us curvy women so much and I think its time that she got the recognition she deserves.

I have no idea why she's been lsited as a retailer rather than designer but hey ho

 

 Emma    Saturday 12 November 2011 at 14:24

 
Hi Tory...

I have just voted for Anna Scholz!

 

 Anon    Saturday 12 November 2011 at 14:38

 
So have I!

 

 Kim P    Sunday 13 November 2011 at 15:40

 
I voted Emma Plus on that list and also in the independant plus size fashion retailer category!

 

 Emma    Monday 14 November 2011 at 15:43

 
Hi Kim!

Thanks for that....I didn't realise that Emma Plus was on the list. Did you put us there?

Anyway, I'm most gratified, and would be very grateful if anyone (who has the time and the inclination) would consider voting for us as well!!

 

 Kim P    Monday 14 November 2011 at 19:35

 
No, you were already on the lists!

Vote Emma Plus :-)

 

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!

 

Anita Bellamy    Sunday 17 July 2011 at 14:11

 Post #225 



 
Subject: RE:Models of Diversity Curvy Plus Fashion Show

 
I there I am the plus size ambassador for Models of Diversity and we are holding a casting for curvy Models Size 14, 16, 18, for a Fashion Show in London . This is for London Fashion week in a East London shopping centre

Please contact us
URGENT. Plus models sizes 14, 16, 18, for Fuller Figure Show LFW. email info@modelsofdiversity.org . Casting Sunday 24th July 11am-4pm.
With kind regards
Anita

We are also looking for designers

 

 Emma    Sunday 17 July 2011 at 17:46

 
H Anita!

Thank you very much for contacting our forum about your model search. Good luck with your excellent efforts, which we support.

I will resist the temptation to mention that size 14 and 16 women are not 'plus-size' (I'm sure you've heard that all before, and you are trying to move fashion forward, whilst being realistic). However, it does have one practical drawback on this forum: because we don't stock below a size 18, it's unlikely that many smaller women will be reading!

I hope you will be very successful, and that you come across an exciting new designer, too.....

 

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

 

Victoria Hollis    Tuesday 10 May 2011 at 22:13

 Post #214 



 
Subject: The Anna Scholz Event 07/05/11

 
Hello Ladies,

I just wanted to say thankyou for such a fantastic event. Meeting Anna and Darren was such a total and utter pleasure and dream come true.

I was over the moon to win the prize draw. I LOVE MY DRESS ! Can I ask that you post the pictures for the reason that my dress isn't on Anna's website for some reason (it's the parrot print with a contrast trim but it's not the wrap dress - can you tell me which one it is lol.

What was so nice was everyone in the shop was getting the thrill of seeing exactly how well Anna's designs work. You had a multitude of shapes, sizes and ages and we all looked fantastic wearing Anna's designs. The cocktails and nibbles were a wonderful treat too. I think Pickle enjoyed all the attention as well - he seemed besotted with Anna too.

I will be back soon without a doubt

 

 Emma    Tuesday 10 May 2011 at 22:28

Hi Tori-

Yes, I can confirm to all those disappointed ladies out there...you did win the Anna Scholz prize draw!

You looked resplendent in the Parrot Maxi dress. I'm so glad you won, because I know how much you loved that dress, and how good you looked in it.

I will write a blog about the 'Meeet Anna Scholz Day', which was one of the most enjoyable days I have ever spent at Emma Plus. I have been recovering from the exhaustion brought about by it, but hope to be back blogging some time soon!

It was so lovely to meet up with you, and to also meet some customers completely new to Emma Plus, who came and mingled with our lovely regulars. It really was a fantastic day.
 

 Victoria Hollis    Tuesday 10 May 2011 at 22:59

 
Can I ask if there's any possibility you can email the pictures of me ? I have several people chomping at the bit to see them

 

 Emma    Wednesday 11 May 2011 at 13:56

Consider it done!
 

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!

 

miss Bartoz    Monday 14 February 2011 at 15:14

 Post #195 



 
Subject: you at missbartoz.de

Dear Emma,

It was so nice to meet you at the cpd in Düsseldorf.
I have uploaded the two gorgeous pictures on: www.missbartoz.de

Looking forward to you comment.

Best,
Ulrike

 

 Emma    Friday 18 February 2011 at 16:49

Hi Ulrike

Thank you so much for visiting our forum!

Jaq and I really enjoyed meeting you at CPD Duesseldorf - the major fashion show in Germany that we visit every season.

You looked in perfect happiness on the Anna Scholz stand, and I can see why... we thought her collection was fantastic, and I know you felt the same!

I am going to be writing in my blog about the show, and about Anna's collection. In the meantime I really laughed when I followed your link and saw a picture of me, resplendent in my Anna Scholz black and white striped dress (from the Fall 10 collection), and my special tights with bows all down the back! So girlie!!
 

Caroline Abram    Monday 24 January 2011 at 13:39

 Post #192 



 
Subject: Miranda Hart

 
Hi Emma,
Did you spot Miranda Hart's Anna Scholz dress that she wore when collecting her Comedy awards at the weekend? As soon as i saw her i turned to my husband and said ''i bet that's an Anna dress'' and of course, i was right!!! I am a huge fan, of both ladies, and can't wait to see the new spring collection in your shop. Any news on a date yet for the fashion show?
Look forward to my next visit very soon,
Caroline

 

 Emma    Monday 24 January 2011 at 14:17

Hi Caroline

Thank you so much for your message - which hits the bullseye of two of my obsessions!

I love Miranda Hart, and I have been following everything she has done for years. There's something about her that just tickles my funny bone. I know it's really sad, but I have been toying with the idea of writing to the BBC to see if they will let me send her an invitation to come and visit our shop... any time, day or night! I think she would like our style...

Our fashion show with Anna Scholz is happening in April (another source of great excitement and enthusiasm for me). I will give out the exact dates just as soon as I get them. I really think it is going to be the event of the year. I just love what Anna has got in store for us this summer... On the right you'll see another showing of the photograph taken of Jaq and me (with the Anna Scholz model, Anna, and their sales director, Penny) trying on some of her gorgeous stretch silk dresses that will shortly be coming into store!

Miranda obviously likes Anna's clothes (she looked fabulous in the Triangle Anna Scholz dress receiving her award at the Comedy Awards), so who knows, she might even turn up!
 

Emma    Saturday 15 January 2011 at 13:06

 Post #187 



 
Subject: Real-sized models...

I am always interested in the images used by the fashion industry to sell their wares – which some would say is a rather blunt way of describing fashion photography. After all, it really is about selling, isn't it? Or are fashion images an art form? Don't they provide an aspirational, fantasy outlet for women’s imaginations? Surely, they are only obliquely commercial?

In my opinion, yes and no... The pictures created by the fashion industry are made for one reason: selling clothes. So in one way the answer is a clear no; it's an airy-fairy notion to think it is just art. It is highly commercial, and if the commerce behind the production of these images were not a profitable one, then they would pretty soon stop being published.

When we who work in clothes retail do our buying at the big fashion shows and fairs, we are bombarded with pictures of the items we are there to look at. Yes, the clever and artistic photographers and creative directors are using all their wonderful inspiration and skill to make images of female beauty... up to a point. When you speak to the agents, you are immediately struck by their emphasis on commercial concerns. Their first words often are: ''Do you like the main picture in our catalogue? Do you think it will encourage your customers to look at our range?''

Yet there is certainly an aspect of fashion images that is entirely fantastical, and nothing to do with reality. Top fashion models are often a size 6 – but they are usually over 5’ 10” tall. As the average British woman is 5’ 4”, and a size 16, this is obviously a 'fantasy version' of womankind.

I have so often heard it suggested that fashion images have to be 'aspirational', that I decided to look up exactly what that word meant. The list of synonyms is: ambition, goal, objective, target, hope, desire, wish and want. Hmmm. I would suggest that, for an average woman, the image of one of these models could hardly be described as 'aspirational'. 'Normal' women may (or may not) desire, wish or want to be this freakishly tall and thin – but it is surely not something that they could reasonably set as an ambition, or attainable target, or goal. Arguably, doing so would be very unhealthy.

I think that such obsession with the unattainable spreads right across the fashion industry, and our part of it (the plus-size specialist) is not spared. It has been said before on this forum that the pictures of plus-size clothes are often modelled by slim models. Ironically, the models used to promote plus-size clothing are far nearer to the average woman than they are to the plus-size community.

There are individuals and groups of women who are trying to redress the imbalance in what is promoted as beauty. I was recently looking at a website for the Real Bodies Unite Campaign. They have an on-line petition for women who would like to express their frustration at the images, which – when you think about it – are provided for us, and paid for by us... yet many of us find unsatisfying. Surely, we should be getting better representation from the fashion industry that serves us.

Sarah Jones, from Real Bodies puts it this way: ''I want to make a change to see body diversity in fashion so we can all feel happier in our own skin and be healthy whatever size or shape we are!''

For anyone interested in signing their on-line petition, the address is: http://100percentpeople.com/specials/real-bodies-unite-campaign

 

Caroline Abram    Tuesday 14 September 2010 at 15:33

 Post #162 



 
Subject: Shop Visit

 
Hi, I just wanted to mail you to say how wonderful it was stumbling across your shop on Saturday. Totally unexpected, and to find such a unique selection of plus size clothes,excellent customer service and what a great time my friends and i had with the banter! It makes a change for them to have to sit and wait for me to try items on, and very comfy there were to on your lovely sofa! I am very pleased with my Anna Scholz top, and in the sale, great! I am also very excited about the new designs we discussed in the shop and cant wait to try them on! When is the next fashion show? (my offer still stands if you need a model...!!) I have already recommended you to two of my lucky friends so i hope to see you again very soon.
Caroline.

 

 Emma    Tuesday 14 September 2010 at 19:01

Hi Caroline!

Thank you so much for your kind comments... I hope you will not mind that I have put them on to our 'Testimonials' page (accessible from the Homepage).

It really was so lovely to meet you on Saturday... a real piece of luck. Some people spend six hours on the road travelling after tracking us down online, yet you happened across us when you were passing!

We will tell you when we will be doing the next fashion show. I know you will enjoy it – they really do go down so well. It is just a chance to see some lovely clothes, have a laugh and a chat, some champers and some nibbles... really, a perfect way to spend a Saturday!
 

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.

 

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    Saturday 07 August 2010 at 21:02

 Post #150 



 
Subject: Summer 2011...

Having returned from my usual buying trip to Germany last weekend, and after a week’s holiday (a staycation in the best place to holiday I can think of... Brighton!), I am just turning over in my mind what I have learned about the Spring/Summer 2011 season.

The colours, the fabrics, the silhouettes, the detailing... does it all add up to a change in the aesthetic? Are we going to see a continuing of the trends enjoyed this summer, or are we going to veer off in a whole new direction? Have there been improvements, or are we in familiar territory? Most importantly, are we going to like what is coming through?

I always start with colour, which is the key to understanding any given season. When I was at Art College I shared a house with students from the Fashion and Textiles course. One of them was studying in the hope of getting a job in colour prediction. This is a very specialized field in fashion, which involves predicting the colours that are going to be adopted anything up to five years ahead.

The really fascinating thing about colour prediction is how it feeds into all aspects of fashion. For instance, if the colours that are coming through are bold and bright - like hot pink, set against orange and gold - the chances are that the aesthetic of the designers is going to be from cultures where these colours are prevalent. So there may be influences from South America and India, for example. The designers may gravitate towards the shapes, fabrics and intricate, ornate embellishments characteristic of those cultures.

By taking a quick peek at the colour palette of any given season, you can get clues to just about everything that's going on... So when I went into the fashion houses in Düsseldorf my first thought was of the new colours.

There has certainly been a sea-change in the colour palette for Spring/Summer 2011. The shades are cool and serene, sophisticated and neutral. We are seeing a lot of influence from the natural world... pebbly colours, with silver, taupe, steel, nude and aubergine. The prints are also echoing the natural world - with textures from the landscape and animal prints.

Usually when we see any kind of neutral palette, alarm bells begin to ring. Continental women look a million dollars in beige, but you really need that sun-kissed European hair and skin to look good in it - not to mention the warm Continental sun. And when British women see animal prints they tend to see ‘pub landlady’.

However, I have no such worries about the palette. The colours were softer, cooler and more sophisticated, and easier on the typical British complexion in the typical watery British sunlight. The animal prints are understated, and their subtlety would leave Bet Lynch perplexed!

The end result is a kind of luxe look. It’s expensive-looking... it’s grown up, sumptuous fashion. The key to this style (as ever, when the inspiration is the natural world) is texture. There are sandwashed silks and chambrays, metallised fabrics, and there was also a little bit of leather (unusual for a summer collection). This is going to be very popular, and these items are going to stand the test of time and will be worn for years to come.

The look is based on minimalism, luxury and sophistication. There is less embellishment: the fabrics are left to speak for themselves. In the main the ideas are from Western culture. There is almost an Art Deco philosophy.

The silhouettes are soft, and we are still talking about the ‘long top/short dress’, worn with narrow pants look. There are gorgeous long shirts (for heaven’s sake, if you buy nothing else during the Autumn/Winter 2010 and Spring/Summer 2011 seasons, please, please invest in a long shirt and a long jumper... If you miss the boat on these items, you will regret it, and have to wait years before they are available in stores again).

Luckily for the colour-junkies, there were still some brighter colours to be had, though. An honorable mention goes to Godske that had some lovely little silk chiffon dresses with drape detail in gorgeous blues and purples.

So what sticks out in my mind the most at this stage? Well, I have already written about the Anna Scholz collection (as ever, a triumph)... I was also blown away by Sallie Sahne - yet again. This German range (of which we are Britain’s only stockist, by the way) really caught the mood with a gorgeous collection mainlining on textures, fabric handles and finishes. We bought a beautiful metallised cami and jacket in pewter, which would take you anywhere, and just couldn’t resist the faux leather jacket (as soft as baby lambskin) and trousers in a steely taupe. We also shrieked with delight when we saw this wonderful little blazer with knot-detail at the shoulder (see picture above). Genius.

 

Nicolas Bow    Saturday 26 June 2010 at 20:58

 Post #143 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz maxi dresses

 
Hi there

I found your site through Anna Scholz's on website. I am looking for a dress for a friends wedding but don't live near to the shop. Do you have many of the dresses on Anna's site currently, and how long will they be the current collection? I would love to visit your shop, but as it is a trek any info. beforehand would be great.

Thanks

Nicolas

 

 Emma    Sunday 27 June 2010 at 23:28

Hi Nicolas

Thank you for your enquiry. This is a difficult time for finding summer items, as you touch on in your post. The fact is the summer stock (with all the gorgeous seasonal dresses) comes into store early in the year (around January or February) and then starts to sell through by the end of May/June.

As you rightly surmise, by this time of year these summer dresses are soon to be superseded by the winter collections, which will start feeding into stores by the end of August.

We probably stock the widest variety of Anna Scholz styles in the UK, but even we do not have a particularly good selection of the summer collection by the end of June, so you are right (if you are travelling some distance) to contact us first about availability.

We are hoping to have a final replenishment from Anna Scholz's summer collection soon, but in the meantime we are happy to order in any specific items that you are looking for - if they are available.

It would be a good idea to telephone us on 01273 327240 and talk about your requirements...
 

Emma    Tuesday 18 May 2010 at 16:04

 Post #136 



 
Subject: Size matters...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Emma    Monday 03 May 2010 at 22:49

 Post #133 



 
Subject: We've come a long way, baby!

Seems funny to think back on it now, but for some years I lived in a country where most of the women I sold clothes to tended to abide by quite a strict rule of modesty.

By this, I mean that it was not thought seemly for my customers to show anything much of their bodies, and very often they were put under powerful social pressure (and sometimes internal pressure!) to be extremely demure in their dress. Mainly dressed in black or other dark shades, they wore all-enveloping garments, which showed-off their shape to the minimum, and almost none of their flesh.

So the garments that we had to stock in that store were, in the main, dark coloured and rather shapeless. The main purpose of most of the clothing seemed to be to disguise the shape, rather than to express or flatter it. Skirts were as long as possible, almost floor-length, and wide... a long pleated skirt was a sought-after style because it expressed almost nothing of a woman’s shape and, even then, they were often worn with a slip underneath. Blouses were never low-necked (heaven forbid there be any cleavage on show), and sleeves were always either full- or three-quarter length. Jackets were baggy, shapeless and long. Many, many women considered it to be completely inappropriate to wear trousers at all.

The customers who did feel free to wear more revealing clothing were sometimes frowned upon, and some of them told me that they had to endure some kind of moral censure from friends and family when they ventured out in their (relatively tame, by our standards) less repressive looks in public.

I did try very hard to buy beautiful, sexy, relevant, fashion-forward looks for the store I was working in at the time, but it was an uphill struggle to come by the kind of clothing I was seeking. I wasn’t looking for anything too outré... I was just wanting to stock something relevant; not the new Lady Gaga wardrobe!

Time after time agents and designers told me I was on a hiding to nothing: no-one would want to wear anything that pushed the envelope. Even if the customer had enough self-confidence to be able to ‘flaunt’ herself, the social pressure would be too great, and she would be too uncomfortable to enjoy her more liberated look.

Wow, you may be thinking... where is this country, and what was it that caused this restrictive style of dress? We often find that different religions can expect such modesty from women. Fundamental Christians, strict Muslims and Jewish women often choose this sort of fashion language... did I live in a country populated by one or several of these groups?

Of course, the answer is that the shop I worked for was in Brighton, United Kingdom. It was actually in the exact location of the store I now inhabit. The date was 1990... only 20 years ago. My customers were large women then, as they are today. And at that time, whilst the slim girls were wearing miniscule tight skirts - showing their midrifts or in super-short sweater dresses with towering high heels - the larger women were expected to cover up.

The truth is, when I first started in plus-size fashion in this country, larger women were expected to be invisible. Or I should say, the shape and flesh of their bodies were not considered to be decorous enough to be on show. Most of the styles we sold at the time were demure to the point of being yashmaks. Quite seriously, most of the looks could have been worn by community nuns.

Nowadays, we have got used to the fact that the shape of larger women can be beautiful, and that their flesh can be as lovely as any human flesh. And (perhaps more importantly, for most of us women) even when we are not beautiful, we are lovely, and it is our birthright to be as visible as anyone else.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t feel the need to show myself off, warts and all. Actually, in my opinion, a lot of the skill of a fashion stylist is to hide or disguise those parts of one’s physique that are not (shall we say) in prime condition. I, for instance (in common with many women over 40, whether they be large or small), would rather stick pins in my eyes than show off my upper arms.

However, there are certain assets that I am more than happy to display, and I have found a way of showing my figure to its best advantage. There really is no need for any woman to try to 'anonymise' herself by draping her physique in what amounts to a dust-sheet!

Consumer pressure has brought many of the designers on line, and new, sexy collections have erupted on to our scene. Now that there are more larger, younger women, social pressure has been turned on its head, and women are not only allowed, but positively expected to make the best of their looks.

Larger women are seen as sexy, sassy beings, and there is no need to hide themselves away unless they choose to do so. We have come such a long way, in such a relatively short space of time.

 

Emma Wakefield    Tuesday 13 April 2010 at 20:34

 Post #130 



 
Subject: Fab Saturday

 
Just wanted to say thanks again for all your help on Saturday. Not only do I have some FAB new clothes to look forward to, but all my re-vamped and re-shaped old favourites to discover all over again too. I really can't think of ANY other shop that would offer to alter clothes bought 2 years ago!! Meeting Anna was the icing on the cake. Looking forward to seeing you again on Friday (but please don't let me try anything else on!)
Emma

 

 Emma    Tuesday 13 April 2010 at 22:41

Hi Emma

It was great to see you on Saturday. Congratulations on the weight loss... you look fabulous!

It's honestly a pleasure to make your lovely clothes fit you again. I hope you will get a lot more use out of them.

I was thrilled to have Anna Scholz in the store (here is a pic of you both together!)- and she was thrilled to hear what you said about her collection. It's lovely for designers to get feedback from their customers...
 

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    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.

 

Emma    Saturday 06 February 2010 at 22:01

 Post #113 



 
Subject: A stunning delivery

It’s been a thrilling week. Although I have barely had a minute to call my own, I feel I just have to add a quick post!

Earlier in the week we had a stunning delivery from Anna Scholz that included some lovely kaftan tops, as well as several of the gorgeous dresses I described in the previous post I wrote, entitled 'Joy'. I have posted a picture one of the said dresses here!

Tomorrow morning I wake at 3.30am to start preparing for my twice-yearly trip to CPD Duesseldorf, one of the big fashion shows I attend. I will be buying the Autumn/Winter 2010-11 collection for the shop.

It’s always exciting to see what is going to be on offer for the seasons ahead. I particularly love the winter collections with their richer colours, beautiful soft textures, and layered silhouettes. I really can’t wait. I will be reporting back about it when I return...

 

 Kirsten    Monday 08 February 2010 at 18:11

 
Can't wait to hear about the autumn collections! I have been following Anna's tweets re: Dussledorf and just from the brief autumn preview she has posted on the new blog, it looks really beautiful! Also, please post some pics of the spring collection when you get a chance. Still anxiously awaiting the arrival in our US stores..... Hope your trip is wonderful!

 

 Emma    Wednesday 10 February 2010 at 15:52

Hi Kirsten!

Thanks for your post. It’s always lovely to hear from people as interested as we are in the latest clothes. We will be putting the new Spring/Summer images on to the site very soon...

Jaq (our store manager) and I are just back from Duesseldorf, where we had an exciting (albeit exhausting) trip. Other readers may be interested to know that the outing was to a large fashion show to do our buying for the Autumn/Winter 10 collection. The highlight for us were (as ever) the Anna Scholz designs, which were a tour-de-force.

When I have time to do the subject justice, I will describe what I saw while I was at the show.

I’ve posted a photograph of Jaq (left), Anna (middle) and me (right). I am modelling a sample of a beautiful alpaca coat from the collection, which was incredibly soft and light, yet warm. It has on-trend puffed shoulders, and a kind of graduated silvery stripe that emphasises the furry texture of the fabric. Jaq was wearing her own Anna Scholz silk kaftan from last season.

I had a strong attack of ‘coat love’, and I did try to sneak away wearing it, but unfortunately didn’t get far. I will just have to wait, like everybody else, until the autumn to get mine.
 

 Kirsten    Friday 19 February 2010 at 15:47

 
Love the photo Emma! The coat is beautiful and you look great. Can't wait to hear more about the AW10 collection. I should be getting my Anna Scholz spring things sometime next week here in the States!

 

 Emma    Saturday 20 February 2010 at 15:27

 
Hi Kirsten

You are going to love this season's Anna Scholz! She is on top of her game, and her colours, prints, textures and styles are gorgeous.

I hope you find yourself some lovely new items for your wardrobe...

 

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    Monday 16 February 2009 at 00:02

 Post #10 



 
Subject: Fashion Magic

One of the things I love about fashion is the wish-fulfilment aspect of it. This is particularly satisfying in the area of larger-size clothes.

There have been many times during my career in fashion when what I have wanted has only been available in small sizes, and I have felt so frustrated that I have almost given up all hope in ever getting it in my size.

For instance, years ago I saw a film set in Norway (or Sweden - some Scandinavian country, anyway), where the (size zero, probably) heroine was wearing the most beautiful coat. I couldn’t tell you the plot of the story: I have no idea whether the heroine died in the end or married some fabulous hunk.

But I remember that coat. It was made of the softest sheepskin, with the suede on the outside and the soft, luxurious wool pile on the inside. The coat was black, full length, and the material so supple that the collar rippled like a wave as the actress slipped it on.

How I sighed when I saw that coat. I’d never seen anything like it in our size range and there was no reason to suppose I ever would. Yet, without my knowing it, the fashion fairy godmother was busily working away, finding some way to create that coat.

When I saw it, it was in the James Lakeland showroom, about three years ago. It was obviously not the same coat - there were probably many stylistic differences - but the magic was the same. It was everything I had imagined it to be: the woolly inside as soft as cashmere, the suede outside lush and velvety. The cut was generous, while retaining the feminine Italian styling. And it was available in sizes up to 28.

I only got one of those coats for our shop. It was fiercely expensive. I was never able to own one myself, but that wasn’t the point. It was like a little bit of magic. I had wished for that coat when it just seemed like an impossible dream... and then it had appeared. Someone loves us larger women enough to create clothes like this for us!

Actually, I don’t know who the lucky woman who got that coat was. I do hope she enjoys wearing it - it will last a lifetime.

 
 

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