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Here are all the posts in our Forum/Blog on the topic of Clothing: day/workwear...

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.

 

Marguerite    Sunday 27 January 2013 at 22:30

 Post #332 



 
Subject: Beyond help?

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

 

 Emma    Monday 28 January 2013 at 16:16

 
Hi Marguerite,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 Kim P    Tuesday 29 January 2013 at 20:13

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

 

 Sammy    Friday 19 June 2015 at 17:21

 
Hi Marguerite,

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

 

Emma    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    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
 

Kalli    Monday 07 November 2011 at 21:21

 Post #252 



 
Subject: Opinions please ladies!!

 
Hi ladies,

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

Do you think it could be improved?

I would very dearly appreciate your insights on this,

Kalli

 

 Emma    Wednesday 09 November 2011 at 11:15

 
Hi Kalli

Thank you for your post... and question!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 Victoria Hollis    Thursday 10 November 2011 at 16:43

 
Hi Kallie

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

Victoria xx

 

 Kim P    Sunday 13 November 2011 at 15:30

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

 

 Emma    Monday 14 November 2011 at 15:57

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

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

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

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

 

Emma    Thursday 03 November 2011 at 16:05

 Post #251 



 
Subject: Dark energy

I was chatting to a lady today about how much black we wear, and in that kind of vague, fashion-brained way that things reverberate in one’s head, the conversation seemed to resonate with something I had heard in a programme on TV. It was a science programme, and it revealed that there was an enormous amount of ‘dark matter’ in the universe: it’s unseen, and went unnoticed for a very long time; no-one really knows what it’s there for, or really understands it, but it is pervasive. It influences everything, and our cosmos would be a completely different place without it. How very like the ‘dark matter’ within my own wardrobe!

Working in fashion, as I do, I find that over the years I have accumulated just about every ‘must have’ item of black clothing (and then some). I’ll tell you a fashion secret that we all know, but which is never alluded to by the fashion writers: not everyone has the time, space nor money to have all these ‘must have’ pieces! However, each item is extremely useful, and ultimately no-one regrets investing their money this way.

For instance, I would always recommend that you have a smart pair of black trousers for daytime. You know the kind of thing... crisp, tailored black trousers which, for instance, can be worn with a contrasting jacket for a job interview.... or teamed with a fashionable blouse to go out to lunch or a work meeting. This is the kind of trouser that is kept ‘for best’ and should last years. There are women out there who can rock the ‘crisp white shirt, gold necklace, smart shoes, handbag and black tailored trouser’ look, and it will take them anywhere!

Then, of course, there are ‘evening’ trousers. These could be any interesting, pretty, occasional trousers. They could be a fluid jersey, velvet, satin - even brocade - as long as they are cool and comfortable. It’s a terrible mistake to buy clothes so smart that they are actually uncomfortable.

Then you have the casual black trousers (dear me, who knew we needed so many pairs!). They may be really casual (black denim, say), or a step up - perhaps a stretch viscose mix with a bit of smart-casual style. Or even ‘leggings’...

Then we move on to dresses. These could hardly be described as ‘must have’ items, because so many larger women have to learn to live without them - as they are difficult to find. A good, plainish black day dress is a fantastic item. It could be worn to work on its own, or under a work jacket. It could be teamed with a smart jacket for a wedding, or it can be worn under a super-smart little jacket for Ascot - or a hundred other summer (or winter) events. It’s a wonderful foil for a superb piece of jewellery or pretty scarf.

This is not to leave out the ‘little black dress’, which is all about eveningwear. A good black evening dress comes in many incarnations - from the full-on ball gown to the minimal base over which a beautiful jacket shimmers.

Obviously, we all need a tailored black day jacket (obviously!). This could be a blazer or a traditional suiting jacket. Then there is the smart evening jacket. I know we don’t all really need one of these in order to live, but life is so much easier if you have one! Popped over a little cami, and teamed with the aforesaid black evening trousers, you are good to go at a minute’s notice.

These black items nestle quietly in my wardrobe. They are not the show-stoppers, and (for me at least) lacking in colour, they are always in the background of my look. When I am seeking out the ‘outfit du jour’, I don’t usually notice them; I’m thinking about my coloured pieces. The black supporting acts are just there. They are understated, and their utility and excellence are just taken as a given. Yet they provide my wardrobe with enough ‘dark energy’ to look smart at a minute’s notice, and without any stress. They may not be screamers, but they are vital and pervasive.

 

 Victoria Hollis    Thursday 10 November 2011 at 16:52

 
I read this with interest as I'm sure with many ladies I have a lot of black in my wardrobe. I went through a phase in my late teens/early twenties when all of my wardrobe was black as I had such poor self esteem I wanted to hide into the background.

Not so anymore lol I have a number of black items which I call into service to act as a foil to the large number of brights I have. I also have a love for prints which mix black with brights for example Anna Scholz's lumencent leopard print of a few years ago to this seasons stunning snake print items.

I refuse to restrict myself any longer. With my cool colouring pastels look dreadful on me I need stark clolours.

So (hoping to get a heads up here lol) what kind of prints can we look forward to S/S 2012 Emma?

 

 Emma    Thursday 10 November 2011 at 17:42

Hi Tori!

Thanks for your question, and thanks for, as always, really understanding what I was trying to get at with my piece: the fact that we all wear black items, but they don't have to rule our lives!

Sometimes, it seems that we larger women can go to either one extreme or another.... we drape ourselves in acres of black, or we can rebel against it, and wear no black at all!

Yet the best course is to use black for what it does best....as you say, as a wonderful foil with which to set off colourful or printed garments.

When I do my buying, (I have to admit) I do tend to buy a lot of colour, but mainly in plain fabrics. It's not that I don't like pattern (I love it). It's just that, quite often the patterns that certain companies think are suitable for larger women are mumsy and uninspired.

Over the years, however, we have sourced some wonderful collections that have superb fashion-forward patterns. Next summer has a plethora of such lovely items. The colours are varied: proper 'summer' colours. There're blues, purples, greens and a lot of different pinks.

Many of the prints are rather 'paintily', as if they are original art works, and are not like the run-of-the-mill patterened fabrics, A good example of this is the Marina Rinaldi Spring/Summer 12 T-shirt I am modelling here....to look at it you would think it was individually hand painted. It's gorgeous.
 

 Victoria Hollis    Thursday 10 November 2011 at 20:49

 
That top is gorgeous it looks very impressionist and the colour is gorgeous on you. Umm sounds like we have a lot to look forward to next season. I have to say your heads up on Anna Scholz's AW11 was right as always the black label is to die for this season.

 

 Emma    Friday 11 November 2011 at 15:43

 
Hi Tori-

I noticed that you have been known to wear Marina Rinaldi yourself, and look lovely in it. So I think you will be really excited by what's comming in next season.

This Italian collection (as you know, the plus-size range from the Max Mara stable) really is superb. It isn't cheap, but it is beautiful, is fabulous quality, fashionable, and a wonderful fit.

 

 Victoria Hollis    Friday 11 November 2011 at 19:36

 
I love the Max Mara stable of labels. Marina Rinaldi and Persona are my absolute favorites. I have a black wool and cashmere coat from Persona which is stunning, gorgeous and as warm as toast and I have a feeling I will be needing it this winter. The fact is yes the items are expensive but the quality is VASTLY superior to anything on the high street they are made in the EU and on a cost per wear basis they work out far better than other items I have bought, worn once and then languish in my wardrobe.

 

erin2011    Sunday 23 October 2011 at 11:01

 Post #249 



 
Subject: Evans floral top - only £4

Hi,

Evans orange floral tops are for sale for only £4. their original price is £28.

available in sizes 16-20-22


discounts offered on multiple purchases.

 

 Emma    Sunday 23 October 2011 at 22:57

 
Dear 'Erin2011'

Thank you so much for your thoughtful post! And thank you for giving our forum your attention in this way!

This is not the first time that we have had this kind of contribution, and I feel certain it will not be the last. I’ve come to the decision that, unless these kinds of post either damage our forum or our readers, they will not be removed, and will be treated in the same way as all our other contributions.

So, it would probably be worth taking a look at the blouse in question. The first, most glaringly-obvious fact about it is that it is out of season. As a summer piece, it jars now as, sadly, our summer is now just a memory. It’s true that many of us larger women tend to feel the heat rather than the cold, but as the season turns, the light changes. Now, even that small proportion of women who can happily carry off this rather frantic shade of tangerine during summer, will no longer be able to do so. Unless, of course, they are happy to accept the pitying stares of passers-by. Looking on the bright side, it could well be a boon to someone heading off to the Caribbean.

The style of the piece is slightly suspect. I am not entirely happy with the length of the sleeves. Obviously, it’s good to have a sleeve, but I would rather it finished in a flattering part of the arm. Similarly, the drawstring waist is bewildering. We can never sell items styled this way, but perhaps Evans has no such problems. Worst of all, I am worried about the length of this top. Once the drawstring has been flatteringly deployed, it will not be long enough to cover one's bottom. In fact, it may even be worse: it may not cover the tummy. I'm sure this couldn't possibly be the case, as Evans, with all its years of experience in the plus-size market, would never allow such an unflatteringly-short blouse to be put into production.

I wish, Erin2011, you had been able to tell us something about the fabric of the blouse. Is it, perhaps, a lovely natural fibre? A fine cotton, and/or silk blend? Something with a touch of Irish linen? Is it fashioned from a material that will be a pleasure to wear, breathing with a woman’s body, as she moves through her day? Will it wash well, over and over again: a true piece to treasure in one’s wardrobe? Because, we are not silly: we know it is the price per wear that shows the real value of a garment. If it is ruined in the first wash it can be a rather expensive purchase, even at a mere £4.

This brings us on to the only detail that you reveal about the top: the price. I know that in some quarters it is a commonly-held belief that larger women care only about the cheapness of a garment, and not its quality. There are people in our industry (I know, because I’ve met them) who think it is a waste of time providing larger women with clothing that is beautiful, stylish, fashion-forward, elegant and aspirational. I think there are those who have never really looked at larger women and seen how very beautiful many of us are.

But the proof of the pie is in the eating (please excuse the analogy!). If larger women really didn’t care about fashion, style, elegance, utility or quality in clothing, designer plus-size stores like Emma Plus would not exist, and there would be no readers of this forum.

 

Elizabeth    Tuesday 21 June 2011 at 11:04

 Post #221 



 
Subject: Outfit for Cartier polo in july

 
Hi. I am a pear shaped plus size, looking for an outfit suitable for the Cartier polo hospitality tent. Needs to be comfortable ! Have you any suggestions? Thanks

 

 Emma    Wednesday 22 June 2011 at 18:24

Hi Elizabeth!

Yes, we have reached ‘outfit’ time of year! This is when we spend our time sorting out different looks for the differing events that are stuffed into our busy summer season.

We all know it’s terribly important to get the right level of look for an event. Here at Emma Plus we provide outfits for lots of different occasions: visits to Glyndebourne, Buckingham Palace garden parties, Ascot... there are sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle, shades of difference between how we are hoping to look during these activities. These intricate little puzzles are the stuff of our working lives.

In fact I think some clever academic could express it as a mathematical equation. It would be something like: A (a woman’s physique, her body shape, size, height, colouring etc.) + B (the smartness or casualness of the occasion) + C (the expected weather or temperature) divided by D (the budget available) x E (fashionability) = G (gorgeous outfit!).

In this case, and without knowing your size, style, colouring or age, it would be rather difficult to be specific. However, we could talk in general terms about what would be a good idea for your event.

A little bird tells me that Polo match looks are quite flexible, from a smartness point of view. Because many of the spectators will spend much of their time outside (and sometimes on a somewhat muddy field), the look can even be casual. However, I cannot imagine the Cartier hospitality tent is going to be entirely casual!

I would recommend something pretty, yet comfortable - like, for instance, an Anna Scholz stretch silk dress. This would look super-smart, but the stretch silk is entirely comfortable.

Another option would be a good trouser set. The advantage of this is that it would be easier to find smart, appropriate outdoor shoes or sandals to go with this look (should this be necessary). We have a fantastic Elena Grunert soft jersey trouser set in a soft grey, which would be incredibly chic, yet eminently wearable. This particular outfit (pictured above right) would also be ideal for the pear-shaped woman, because, although the jacket is long enough to skim over the bottom, it is also softly fitted at the top, so as not to swamp the upper half of the body.

It would be a good idea to come into the shop soon, if you are able, as we have plenty of items that could be ideal...
 

Emma    Thursday 16 December 2010 at 16:59

 Post #180 



 
Subject: Snow-wear you dare...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Emma    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    Friday 16 April 2010 at 18:07

 Post #131 



 
Subject: Gorgeous!

Hi Emma

It was lovely to see you back today, collecting your alterations. Thank you so much for letting us show this picture of you looking lovely in your new Anna Scholz dress.

An expert eye may be able to see that we have adapted the fit of it (and made a tiny tweak to the design of the sleeves) to suit your petite frame...

 

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.

 
 

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