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Larger ladies - I need your advice

30 replies

bubblerock · 02/06/2007 11:20

I recently opened a small ladieswear/girlswear shop selling ex high street clothing, originally I was selling regular sizes but within a week I had so many requests for plus sizes (18 - 32) I brought them in and they are now my best sellers in the 'real' shop and my Ebay shop!

What I need to know though is which are the best brands, how do they compare with quality and sizing? I am mostly stocking Evans and a couple of M&S/Newlook items but I'd love to hear your opinions and also what styles you like.

Thanks in advance

OP posts:
KristinaM · 02/06/2007 11:26

I am size 18 and dont buy from M&S at all, its way too frumpy for me. i do get teh occaional pair of trousers from there as i am only a 14 bottom half

what age group are your customers?

fireflyfairy2 · 02/06/2007 11:28

MY SIL is an 18 & goes to M&S or Evans as they are better quality. She hates the likes of New Look/MKone as they wash all baggy & go out of shape.

she mostly wears skirts & tops, fitted trousers etc.. she is 36.

TigerFeetFormerlyCheesyFeet · 02/06/2007 11:31

I am a size 20 and get a lot of my stuff from Evans/Yours/New Look.

It is difficult finding stuff that isn't frumpy.

I would suggest not doing for brands per se but looking for stuff that doesn't look like your granny should be wearing it.

Will CAT you next time I am in Blackpool and I will come and have a look

bubblerock · 02/06/2007 11:54

Great advice - keep it coming, Mumsnetters have been so helpful with me doing this shop

The customers ages are so varied, I think that's the problem - I'm trying to cater for everyone, I just haven't got room!! I had some Evans turn up jeans and they flew out, although I sold them for £10 and apparantly they are £35 in Evans

I have NL combats and they seem ok quality, I have to agree though, so far the Evans stuff (apart from some natural edge Tshirts ) has been good quality.

I haven't heard of 'yours' - what's Ann Harvey like?
Tigerfeet - definately come and see me when you're over this way! I will advertise my Ebay shop on here when I have enough money - the difficulty is, my profit margins are quite small as I'm trying to sell more items at cheaper prices iyswim so it could be a while before I have an 'advertising budget'

OP posts:
bonkerz · 02/06/2007 12:02

could you email me your ebay shop? Am interested!
slittlejohns25 at hotmail dot com

bananabump · 02/06/2007 12:13

As far as I remember Ann Harvey is expensive, mostly older women's stuff and evening dresses etc, if your customers are used to paying £10 for stuff I really wouldn't stock Ann Harvey stuff.

I buy a lot of my clothes from Simply Be, on occasion their stuff can be cheap, they are starting to stock more designer stuff now though and it can be a bit more expensive.

Evans is good, generous sizes and the tops are usually a good length etc, but most towns do have an Evans now. Their younger range Seven or East Coast can be good, but some of their range is a bit naff (chavvy tshirts and velour tracky bottoms etc)

No idea about M&S because I assumed they wouldn't do my size (26)

Newlook are awesome, at least for my age group, and cheap! There are several ebay shops which do bigger fashion clothes, such as:

Big Girls Only

Big Girls Wardrobe

Pretty Big Stuff

Jeanettes Bazaar



In any case, well done you for stocking bigger stuff! It's SO DAMN HARD to find shops which stock big stuff, so on nights you find anyone over size 16 wearing the same evans top as you, it's a nightmare! Word spreads quickly so you'll always be in business if you stock plus size clothes! Just get a sign up in your window saying what sizes you go up to.

bubblerock · 02/06/2007 13:36

Wow Bananabump some of those Ebay shops are really smart - mine is pretty basic at the moment . I've uploaded a few of the items onto my picturetrail so you can see the type of things I'm buying and how much I'm charging - again, constructive critisism would be gratefully received

BTW - Do you like my sexy wallpaper that I chose for the shop?

I need to pop out, but please leave comments xx

OP posts:
Nemo2007 · 02/06/2007 13:41

oh bubblerock can you email me your ebay id? [email protected]

As for quality etc tend to go with Evans, although I know ann harvey tend to have some nicer 'occasions' wear. I think most people think of Evans as it is the best known larger shop. H + M do some ok bits too wich tend to wash well but would only last one season rather than Evans jeans lasting a couple of years or so.

bananabump · 02/06/2007 13:51

Well firstly your prices are awesome, are you actually making a profit???

The tops you have on there are lovely, I like all the smock/wrapover tops at the moment especially since I'm pregnant I don't have to buy specific maternity tops. Personally not keen and would never buy cropped trousers, but then I have awful legs, I have no idea if they sell well with other larger ladies!

I think you can't go far wrong with a few staples like black trousers, shrugs or boleros to wear over vests/short sleeved tops, and 3/4 length sleeved tops which cover bingo wings etc. I never buy anything white or with lots of horizontal stripes, too.

Plus anything sexy is good as it can be hard to find sexy clothes in big sizes - personally don't buy sexy clothes anymore as I feel a bit old for it (sob) but used to love tshirts with cheeky slogans for clubbing, and cleavage showing tops. Anything pink/girly or clingy seems to sell well on ebay when I scour the auctions.

Peacocks and Mackays also do some bigger sizes, peacocks is cheap and good for nightwear.

Love the wallpaper! Very nice So you're in blackpool? I have an aunt in blackpool, might have to visit so I can raid your shop! (well, after I've had the baby. Right now I look like an apple on a stick)

JackieNo · 02/06/2007 14:18

Can I say, when I'm buying stuff (size 20) I'm really put off by things in thin, flimsy, synthetic fabrics. Why do many shops seem to think that just because you're over a size 16 you want to wear things made of nylon? Your prices look great.

WigWamBam · 02/06/2007 14:25

I was just going to post the same thing, Jackie. Evans is a bugger for only selling synthetics.

My plea to anyone selling larger clothes would be to remember that large sizes don't stop at size 20, so it's good to see that you cater for up to 32. I'd like to see clothes from the taller ranges as well, as most Evans shirts and T-shirts don't cover enough of the multitude of sins which is my stomach!

Quality-wise, Evans is the best of a very bad bunch, really; no-one seems to make really good quality clothes for larger sizes. Most of the other makes are also too frumpy - Ann Harvey and Elvi sell the kind of stuff even my mother wouldn't be seen dead in. M&S do a range of larger sizes in some of their stores but again they're not really all that nice and they only go to size 28, which is no good for the norkularly gifted!

Would be interested in seeing your website, bubblerock.

ChipButty · 02/06/2007 14:46

Your stuff looks great, Bubblerock. Agree with the others reagarding synthetics. Find buying trousers that fit tricky too as 5' 9" size 24 bottom half and size 20 top half - waists always too big! Do you do shoes? I'm a size 9 and not many places do them - Evans, Next and Brantano - and not a great amount of choice. Good luck with your shop - there's definitely a market.

Nightynight · 02/06/2007 14:54

I know I post this a lot but....try shopping in Germany, I see so many larger ladies who are really well dressed here, so the shops must be better than in the UK.

I know that C&A does larger sizes, not sure about others. They are mostly like the yessica range, a mixture of synthetic and natural fibres.

kslatts · 02/06/2007 15:13

I tend to buy my clothes in Evans or Tesco's which now sell a range that goes up to size 26. I have bought from Simply Be before, but prefer to try stuff on before I buy.

The best shop I have found for plus size clothes is in America and is called Torrid. I'm now sure how you manage to pick up their stuff though.

bubblerock · 02/06/2007 16:03

Brilliant tips I knew you lot would help!!

OP posts:
SuGaRCoAteDPoiSOn · 02/06/2007 17:46

ooh, can I see your site/shop please bubblerock?

bubblerock · 02/06/2007 18:40

Hmm, not sure I'm allowed but It's jestersclothingblackpool - I guess mn towers can remove my post if needs be

OP posts:
SuGaRCoAteDPoiSOn · 02/06/2007 18:55

thank you, having a lookie now

I'll be in blackpool next weekend for a conference, is your shop open to the public?

email is banana dot toffee at googlemail dot com

SueW · 02/06/2007 18:59

Torrid is amazing for sexy girly stuff. Well worht looking on US ebay though as some sellers do ship to the UK and exchange rates are good ATM

Also good - anything from Lane Bryant - I stocked up on long vests last year, and bought a couple of pairs of Seven7 jeans.

Synthetic fabrics seem to be the in-thing across all sizes at the moment with those "beautiful to look at but hideous to touch" flimsy tops.

UK stuff - can't help with anything over size 20-22 but I found Evans stuff a bit on the ropey side sometimes.

Next has a generally good choice.

George at Asda has a large range of sizes and their linen stuff is great - I bought my first ever pair of white linen trousers cos they were only £22 and fully lined so no sad see-through look.

IlanaK · 02/06/2007 19:04

I prefer Ann Harvey, but it is expensive. You have to really look out for the nice stuff that isn't dressy or old fashioned, but I was wearing a lovely t-shirt from there today with some embroidery round the neck line that was nice. I like their tshirts as they really hold their shape and wash well. I always go for plain colours but with some embelishment like embroidery around the neck. M+S is good quality too, but rare that I find something I like. Evans is not great quality in my opinion, particularly t-shirts, but I can usually find ssomething I like.

My plea, to add to the others, would be to stock trousers that vary in length. I am short and its a pain shopping for trousers in large sizes as they are always too long. M+S and also Evans do them in different lengths.

SueW · 03/06/2007 10:37

At least if they are too long they can be taken up!

I am 5' 9" and don't have particularly long legs but it drives me made that so many trousers seem to 'float'

PersephonePlease · 03/06/2007 10:42

bubblerock...sorry for hijack but I have been looking for you!

Thread started in CHAT with your name in it!!

Budababe · 03/06/2007 10:48

I am a 22-24 at the moment and hate it as it is so bloomin hard to find anything nice.

Struggle with Evans sometimes as it is all so synthetic-y. Usually manage to find a couple of things.

M&S - their plus size range is very frumpy. Got a pair of linen trsr last year which were OK but nothing special.

Ann Harvy - frumpy and middle aged for the most part but have bought a few bits there on and off.

Elvi - frumpy

Am in Budapest and we have C&A - they do a large range but it's not great.

There is a German chain that are here called Ulla Popen - again frumpy but have the odd nice thing.

I go to Vienna every so often purely to go to the H&M there as they do their BiB range - bought a good few things there this week.

Went to New York at Easter and thought I had died and gone to heaven when I found Macy's plus size section - was great with a brilliant range - bought lots!

Have just discovered 2 US sites Torrid and another one called Iggi I think - am about to try them.

Am a bit scared of Ebay but did manage to buy a lovely dress on there recently.

I find that it is really hard to find anything that is reasonable quality and fashionable. Everything either cheap and tacky or frumpy.

bubblerock · 03/06/2007 11:03

I was wondering whether to import some stuff from America but I'm worried about the quality of their clothing, some of it can be really shoddy. When my relatives in Canada send clothes it's always brands like roots, banana republic etc.. and the quality is brilliant. There really is a lack of variety in plus sizes here isn't there? It's crazy as size 16+ is pretty normal isn't it? - I wonder what percentage of women are plus sized and what percentage of clothing lines come in those sizes?

Thanks again for the tips - I really appreciate it!

OP posts:
SueW · 03/06/2007 14:03

I found a survey but it's from 1981 on catalogue sales.


Or for £42 you could invest in the UK Retail Pocket Book 2006 which includes info on "Clothing spend by dress size"

It's possible that internet sales could attract more plus size sales. When you are a customer of a niche market, it's a lot easier to find what you are looking for using google than it is to spend hours dispiritingly wandering round shopping centres.

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