In our new advice column, Ask the Strategist, we take your most burning shopping questions and scour friends, call up experts, and draw from personal experience to answer them. As always, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org with one of your own — we’re here to help.
Question: “I’ve really struggled to find fashionable, affordable, and minimal plus-size clothing (think plus-size COS) for summer. I’m in my 20s and don’t want to look like my mother (which most plus-size clothing tends to do!). Help me out!”
My first instinct was to talk to my friend, broadcaster and author Louise McSharry. Louise often talks about Fat Shopping on her Instagram (she has a highlight saved on her page). She says: “Unfortunately, plus-size people aren’t often afforded the opportunity to buy from brands with a defined style, minimalist or other. Where straight-sized shoppers are grouped based on taste and demographic, plus-size shoppers tend to be grouped and marketed to based solely on their size, so most brands adopt a sort of scattergun approach when it comes to aesthetic, hoping they can provide something for everyone. A brand that does come to mind is Universal Standard, which is all about minimalism and high-quality garments. Unfortunately, I think plus-size women seeking that ‘miminimalist’ aesthetic have to trawl sites to find individual pieces that work for those looks. Mango’s plus-size line, Violeta, can occasionally deliver on that front, and from time to time items from ASOS’s Curve line work.
Depending on the individual’s size, Marks and Spencer can be surprisingly good, H&M’s plus line can deliver from time to time (and their main range now goes to a 22 in many items), and Navabi’s collaborations often serve up some gems (there are still a few items left from their collaboration with plus-size influencer Danielle Vanier, which was gorgeous and right up a minimalist’s street, I’d love if they did another one). If a plus-size shopper feels comfortable experimenting with straight size ranges, Monki’s oversize offerings can sometimes fill this gap up to around a size 24.”
Meanwhile, I also reached out to Chloé Pierre, founder of wellness platform thy.self. Chloé’s style perfectly aligns with yours: minimal, but with block colours, and slouchy tailoring. She says, “What I have found super helpful is shopping by colour, size, and considering fabric.” Like Louise, she likes ASOS Design and Monki but she also recommends Weekday, and H&M. She adds: “I would also suggest investing in a timeless wardrobe solution like co-ords. Have one for every occasion you can think possible and make sure they are of good quality to last a lifetime.”
Chloé focuses on sustainability in her shopping and notes that “sustainable yet stylish and wearable fashion should exist for every single body. That’s why I ensure I spend wisely and with the companies that continue to provide exquisite quality clothing for all bodies like Universal Standard, Nike, Monki, and Inan Isik. I also really want to wear more independent designers too that cater for all body shapes and sizes like TALA, Half Baked London, and Kai Collective. What I love most about these brands is that not only can I wear then, but I can learn from them and through their genuine belief in inclusivity which runs throughout their business.”
Lastly, I did some digging myself. At a kind of Cos-ish price point, I like Loud Bodies. Based in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. It’s a tiny, ethically made fashion line (just two seamstresses working with the founder, Patricia Luiza Blaj). Sizes go from an XXS to a 7XL, and prices start at around £60. I’ve chosen some pieces that I think will align with your aesthetic.
This dress looks so easy to wear, but still quite structured.
I like the dipped hem on this tartan skirt — wear it with a white tee in the summer, and a polo in the winter.
I couldn’t resist including this swishy electric-blue midi dress (also available in pink, red, green, and burgundy).
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