Philomena and Iskra from Model 1’s Curve division share their shopping tips for girls with curves in all the right places
Originally posted on MSN UK, March 2014
Once upon a time, plus-size fashion meant frumpy frocks and shapeless smocks. Happily those days are long behind us, with retailers finally waking up to the demand for fashion-forward plus-size clothes, and investing in trend-ticking ranges for girls with curves and a sense of style.
Now, with the likes of Evans and Simply Be upping their game, and brands including ASOS, Mango and (just last week) Boohoo introducing their own plus-size ranges, there’s never been a better time to be a curvy fashionista.
We asked two such girls, Philomena Kwao and Iskra Lawrence from Models 1’s curve division, to reveal their favourite places to shop for plus-size style – and here’s what they had to say…
Click through the images below to discover Philomena and Iskra’s recommendations on where to shop for plus-size fashion.
ASOS Curve > The online shopping mecca ASOS launched its first Curve collection back in 2010, and it quickly became the go-to store for on-trend plus-size buys. ‘ASOS Curve has great fashion-forward pieces and a brilliant range,’ says Philomena, while Iskra adds: ‘You can not only get all your basics but some key pieces that are so affordable.’ She also gives a shout-out to the denim collection, saying: ‘Finally, denim shorts that are long enough with good bum coverage. Way more flattering!’
Boohoo Plus > Curvy girls everywhere rejoiced when the online retailer Boohoo unveiled its very own plus-size collection earlier this month. Featuring on-trend prints, summery pastel colours and fashion-forward shapes in sizes 16 to 24, the range is every bit as stylish as expected. ‘I haven’t shopped here yet,’ says Philomena, but she confesses that the price points (tops start at £10, with dresses from £12) make it a tempting prospect. Iskra has a top tip too: ‘Boohoo does great T dresses that can be worn casually or glammed up with shoes and jewellery, or my favourite accessory – a good old hat.’
Evans > Evans has long been a stalwart of the plus-size world, but in recent years its collections have really come into their own thanks to collaborations with the likes of Clements Ribeiro and Beth Ditto. The latest range – entitled Live Unlimited and modelled by Italian Vogue’s curvy cover girl Robyn Lawley (above) – features ‘fashionable pieces that are not limited by size’. Philomena heads here when she’s in need of coats and shoes, saying ‘they have great lengths and widths’.
Violeta by Mango > She’s a busy girl, that Robyn Lawley – the size 16 model also starred in the Violeta by Mango campaign when the Spanish label launched the plus-size label at the end of last year (the rather gorgeous curves on the left belong to her). ‘I loved Mango anyway, but sometimes their items don’t fit so well,’ says Philomena. She adds: ‘I’ve ordered a few items. I can’t wait to try them on and check out the quality and fit!’ Watch this space.
Littlewoods > Looking for the best shapewear? Iskra has a tip-off: ‘ I was fortunate enough to try Littlewoods’ So Fabulous range recently and I can’t stop raving about it.’ Made for sizes 14 to 32, it’s not just figure-flattering shapewear and lingerie that the line offers – there’s also clothing and shoes, too.
AX Paris Curve > On the back of customer feedback requesting larger sizes, the team at AX Paris launched their Curve collection in February 2012, catering for sizes 12-26. Much like the rest of the site, dresses of all shapes are key – Philomena particulary loves their ‘fun flirty dresses and great body-con styles’.
Dorothy Perkins > Good old Dotty P’s doesn’t have a separate plus-size range – instead all of its main range clothing goes up to a size 22, making it an essential high-street calling point. Philomena is particulary fond of its jeans and trousers (‘they have a higher seat, not your typical low rise,’ she says), while its spring/summer collection features lots of sugary-sweet pastel shades, calf-length skirts and dresses and cut-out details – perfect for ticking this season’s trends.
Brastop.com > ‘In my opinion, underwear is the most important thing to invest in,’ Iskra wisely confides. And, given that it’s estimated that 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra, she encourages girls to get themselves measured, recommending Debenhams, House of Fraser, Bravissimo, and Rigby and Peller as the most reliable places to get fitted. Having established her own size, Iskra’s go-to lingerie labels include Panache (pictured above) and Freya, which she picks up from Brastop.com, as well as La Perla and Victoria’s Secret.
Forever 21+ > The ‘American Primark’, as the fast-fashion label Forever 21 is often called, first arrived in the UK in 2010, bringing with it not only an abundance of tie-dye, festival fringing and floral prints but also its brilliant plus-size range, Forever 21+. ‘Often it’s an extension of their main fashion lines,’ Philomena says of the range, adding that it stocks ‘great fashionable designs with a good cut and great prices.’ The brand has eight UK stores, including a huge flagship one on London’s Oxford Street, but if you can’t get to one of those, don’t worry – everything is also available online.
Simply Be > Already dreaming of your summer escape? Be sure to head to Simply Be, the plus-size store with sizes ranging from 12-32 – Philomena swears by its ‘great swimwear that has a fantastic fit.’
H&M > ‘H&M is my number one go-to label for casting outfits,’ Philomena says of the high-street institution, adding: ‘It does beautiful, contemporary staples such as skinny jeans, blazers and vest tops which are well-cut, affordable and of an amazing quality.’ She also swears by its basics (like the rest of us, then!). Sizes range from 18 to 28.
New Look Inspire > New Look’s range of sizes is one of the biggest on the high street (its Inspire clothing line goes up to a size 32), so there’s a lot of love for New Look’s plus-size styles. Philomena looks to it for ‘cute dresses that are affordable and flatter my figure’. It’s also worth noting that its extensive shoe range features wide-fits.
About Philomena (left): Londoner Philomena has been modelling for two years, after being scouted at a Models 1 modelling competition. The 24-year-old, who has a Masters in International Health Management, now lives in New York after having to the Big Apple a year ago. About Iskra (right): Blonde Iskra originally started out as a ‘straight size’ model at the age of 14, but struggled to fit into standard sizes and, feeling the pressure to conform, eventually quit to focus on her education. When she left school at 19, she felt fortunate to be able to be part of the growing plus-size industry, which gave her the opportunity to work in the fashion industry and be her natural, size 14 self.