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Here are all the posts in our Forum/Blog on the topic of Clothing: jackets/coats/waistcoats...

Emma    Saturday 05 September 2015 at 17:09

 Post #450 



 
Subject: Autumn Promotion

Now that we are having our lovely Autumn/Winter 15 stock flooding into store, we have decided to do a special Autumn Promotion, just to kick the season off with a bit of extra excitement.

We looked around and saw that we have some of the very best coats that we've ever had, and decided that we will promote them with a discount offer.

The offer is £50-plus off selected coats, and £25-plus off certain trousers, and is for a limited time only!

 

 Kim P    Saturday 12 September 2015 at 19:44

 
What a great offer. I picked up a beautiful Christina Felix coat last year when you ran a similar promotion and I've lost count of the number of compliments I've had wearing it.

I must try and get into the store soon and pick up my new Tomo dress. Kim and Anna were so helpful when I called today.

 

 Emma    Sunday 13 September 2015 at 16:40

 
Ooooooo......Kim! Beware! We've had some AMAZING things in!

Thank you for your kind words -look forward to seeing you soon.

Ex

 

Mrs C    Tuesday 18 February 2014 at 19:08

 Post #387 



 
Subject: My wonderful coat! Plus a stock query.

 
When I was in the shop one day having something altered I was shown a long, fitted, shaped,quilted coat with a hood. I thought it was very nice but felt that I already had some nice winter coats so perhaps I would not buy yet. Then, on reflection I thought it would be just right for my forthcoming trip Stockholm and bought it. I took it on my trip and due to the appalling weather both there and on my return, I have hardly been out of it since!! The make is Frandsen. not cheap but well worth every penny of my investment. It is both warm and rainproof and dries very quickly and it is smarter than most quilted coats. it is also quite light in weight. It also saved me from a minor injury one day at Skansen zoo! So many thanks for showing it to me.
PS When will the new season linen trousers be in ?

 

 Emma    Wednesday 19 February 2014 at 23:35

 
Hi Mrs C,

Thank you so much for your lovely post about your Fransden coat. Yes, I also have that coat, and I love it!

It's a very interesting thing about padded coats. Many women (of any size) avoid them, thinking that they can add bulk, and make them look bigger. This can certainly be true of padded or 'puffa' coats: particularly the un-tailored styles. However, when they are beautifully tailored and cut, they are not only perfectly flattering, but, as you say, warm and light.

Fransden is owned by Godske, which is a Danish brand, and to be honest, there is virtually nothing that can be taught the Scandinavians about coats! This is something that I have found over again, and why I am so keen to make sure we always have some lovely Godske coats in stock. Shortly we will be getting their summer-weight raincoats. These are unbelievably good.

Please, do tell what happened at the zoo...you have really piqued my curiosity! Was it an out-of-control orangotan, or was it the old, old story of the wayward camel running amok?

I believe we have already had some fabulous linen trousers in. Kim (on our number 01273327240) is our resident queen of trousers, and she will give you the low-down if you call....

 

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 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    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    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.

 

Julie    Sunday 28 August 2011 at 09:38

 Post #239 



 
Subject: Autumn 2011

 
Has the new autumn stock come in yet? I am particularly interested in stocking up on autumn/winter fabric trousers and short jackets. Also are you having in any of those lovely knitted dresses that you had last winter?

 

 Emma    Tuesday 30 August 2011 at 10:53

Hi Julie

Thanks for your question! The answer is yes, we've already had quite a bit of our beautiful autumn/winter 11 stock in... I will be putting some images on to our website very soon.

Many of our trousers are already in and this season there are some different and particularly lovely fabrics. I have special affection for the Elena Miro pinstripe trousers with clever stretch panels in the sides (on the right of the picture). We haven't had many short jackets in yet, but it's early days!

If ever there was a season for knitted dresses, this is it! We have already had some lovely soft jersey knitted dresses by Marina Rinaldi (pictured on the right), and some proper knitted dresses from Verpass (pictured, with matching gilet, on the left). However, we are expecting loads more designs!
 

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    Sunday 26 September 2010 at 21:53

 Post #166 



 
Subject: Fantasy fashion

We’ve all heard of fantasy football, but how about fantasy fashion? Very few people ever get the chance to design their own fashion range, but that shouldn’t stop us dreaming...

What if I were to formulate my own unique collection of larger-size clothing? Say that somehow I was given the resources and talent to produce my own designs from scratch. What would I create?

Of course there are an infinite number of answers to this question, so if I am to develop this idea I had better concentrate on a single criterion: what kind of clothes have I always wanted, yet never found to my own personal satisfaction in the shops?

In other words, what are the clothes that I have been longing for? This, of course, is a very different collection of clothes than I would be creating if I were a real designer - where I would be producing a look that was fashion-forward and relevant to one particular season.

Instead, I’m talking about the eternal wish-list items that I have wanted but always been denied; a kind of clothing anti-autobiography, whose title would be ‘The Clothes I Never Wore’.

So, with so many items to choose from, I will edit my choices and just throw out a few random ideas...

Let's get the ball rolling with casual trousers. I would love to produce a pair of super-soft stretch leather leggings - the sort that one never sees in larger sizes but which would be incredibly useful under long tops or short dresses.

I would also love to get a really gorgeous long stretch-denim dress. Comfortable and practical, it would be a wardrobe staple that would still be fashionable decades after it was produced. When was the last time you saw a larger-size garment like this in the shops?

For outerwear, I would design a top-fashion raincoat. It would be 100% waterproof with a proper hood. And I’m serious about it being waterproof; mine would be functional enough to sail across the Atlantic in, yet incredibly funky and in a lovely colour... deep Atlantic blue, perhaps.

But I would go really nuts with my knits! In fact, I find the whole subject of knitwear in larger sizes both a great inspiration and a cause of real frustration. It’s true that one can get wonderful larger-sized designer knitwear this season, but there are still huge gaps in availability. Why, for example, is it so difficult to find patterned knits in our sizes? I would take Missoni as an inspiration and create gorgeous stripes in subtle yet unusual colour combinations. And I would design a line of soft, super-long dresses, supported by plenty of stretch (so there would be no sagging), with luxe layers of jackets, coats and capes.

One of the wonderful things about fantasy clothes design is the incredible optimism it engenders. I have been in the large-size fashion industry long enough to realise that many dreams do actually come true. Wait long enough (admittedly in the world of plus-size fashion, often rather too long), and you will eventually find items like these.

This is what the job of the clothes designer is all about: making people happy. For example, I have written in a previous blog about how I dreamed for years of a gorgeous sheepskin coat - and then James Lakeland created one so much better than I had ever desired. And this is far from an isolated case. Many times I have looked at an Anna Scholz item (like her long stretch-silk wrap dress from last winter) and thought ‘at last’!

Somehow, by osmosis, our personal clothes wish-list seeps into fashion’s collective subconscious. Keep looking long enough and you may well surprise yourself. And the deep satisfaction of finding the item that you always wanted, rendered in such a way that it exceeds your wildest expectations, is a source of great joy.

In fact, one of the things you have always wanted is probably in a store somewhere right now!



 

Elizabeth Shaw    Tuesday 30 March 2010 at 01:34

 Post #126 



 
Subject: wedding outfit for lady size 22 in wheel chair

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

 

 Emma    Tuesday 30 March 2010 at 12:15

Hi Elizabeth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma    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.

 

Angie    Wednesday 02 December 2009 at 23:03

 Post #96 



 
Subject: leather coat.

 
I have searched the web far and wide to find a decent leather coat in the U.K.
I am looking for a hooded 3/4 length parka, or duffle style, and although I found just what I was looking for in America, do you think I can find one here?
We have places like Simply be, who offer fashionable leather jackets that end just under the bust. Could you imagine what I would look like in one of those, with my size 48 boobs???
I am a good size U.K.22

 

 Emma    Thursday 03 December 2009 at 15:13

 
Hi Angie

Thanks for your post. The simple answer to your question is no, I am not aware of anywhere in the UK that you could rely on for buying a coat like the one you describe - or, in fact, any really nice leather items in larger sizes - and I find this very disappointing. If an online supplier of good leather coats in larger sizes exists, then I have not heard of it. Perhaps if any other user of this forum has some information on this subject, they will reply to this post...

You really would think that what you are looking for (a good, useful, stylish leather coat, in what is actually not a very large size) would be readily available in the UK. I guess the Americans are ahead of us in some areas!

Designer stores like ours are one of the only ways to source a really good leather coat, but they are a fringe item in our ranges. We would commonly only stock a very small quantity of styles, and finding the one that ‘lights your fire’ and is available at any one given time, is a bit of a long-shot. We don’t have any leather coats in stock at the moment, I’m afraid.

In general terms I do feel that you have touched upon a real difficulty - i.e. the problem one encounters when trying to get something quite specific in larger sizes. When customers contact us with this kind of enquiry, the way that we deal with it is to try to source something specifically for a customer, but I would be the first person to admit that this is a far from perfect system.

What we would do is find out exactly what it is that the customer wants (it could be anything from a corset to a leather coat to a sweater dress), discuss details such as price point, colour, size, etc., check our stock, and then, if we don’t have it, note the item down in our ‘Wish List’. Then we would see if there is anything similar available from our suppliers.

Sometimes it can take up to two seasons to actually get the desired item, so it is a good idea to opt for a belt-and-braces approach, and still actively search online even while you are waiting.

I would give a word of warning, though. With items like a leather coat it is best to buy a very good quality item, spending as much as you can reasonably afford. Mail-order items are often a real let-down in this area. This sounds like the kind of thing a designer shop-owner would say, of course, but truly, I think it is all too often a false economy to choose the mail-order option.

I think you may have already pinpointed one of the problems of mass-availability items: design. Many of the larger companies show a shocking ignorance as to what suits a larger woman (no, by the way, I don’t think a short jacket usually looks good on a larger bust!). The other thing that is supremely important in an item made of leather is the quality of the hide. A stiff, cardboardy leather is never going to be a pleasure to wear, no matter how many times it gets an outing. In fact, it will only usually look worse with wear.

Alternatively, if you were able to wait, reach out to your favourite designer large-size store, and buy a really good quality item as soon as it is available, it will be worth it. A quality leather coat is a real investment. It’s a very practical piece of apparel that's wonderful come rain or shine. A designer coat will be fashion-forward - giving you a great deal of aesthetic satisfaction, and is likely to be in a classic or individual style that will not date. Best of all, unlike other materials, the leather will improve over time.

Unfortunately, I am only too aware this is one of my replies that goes all round the houses without actually helping you with your specific problem - for which I apologise! The only bright spot is that I truly believe that availability of a wide range of items in our size range is improving. It is up to all of us to keep on asking for what we want - we need to drive home to the manufacturers out there that the demand for these kinds of items exists!

 
 

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