Big boobs and the British high street.

Coat - Topshop
Dress - Primark
Tights - Dorothy Perkins
Boots - Primark
Necklace - Topshop

Do you lovely readers think the UK high street is plus size friendly? I wear a UK size 16. The main problem I have is with my chest, I have big boobs and damn do they keep me from buying so many nice things I would love. I either have to buy something that's far too big everywhere else or attempt to manouver my boobs into a top that just doesn't want to budge but fits beautifully everywhere else.

Stunning Crystal Renn modelling for Evans new campaign.

I'm on the lookout for a biker jacket at the moment, very unlike me, but I want to pair it with floral dresses and boots in the spring/summer. I went to Evans in search of either this one or this black jacket. Evans is a well known plus size (and boob friendly) in the UK that ranges from a size 14 - 32. I do find things a bit bigger than normal in there, so like a size 14 in there is more like a size 16 in somewhere like New Look. I wandered in today having seen their new campaign with the beautiful 'plus size' model Crystal Renn wearing a kickass biker jacket. Hurrah, I arrive and see the picture of the lovely biker jacket laden ladies in the window, go inside, look around, look for a bit more. Nothing, nada. Not one of the many advertised. It never ceases to amaze me how Evans throw away their chances of success.

The bottom line is, yes you can try to revamp the brand by designing some quality pieces but at the end of the day if those pieces aren't in stock and the other half of the stock is overpriced dowdy ankle length, almost animal print but not quite (you know the ones) skirts in a run down, dreary blue low-lit store you aren't going to attract young customers more than willing to spend money on clothes that fit them well and keep up to date with key trends. Why does this store throw away this great opportunity?

Incidentally the next two shops I went into were also members of the Arcadia brand. Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins. Both stores looked great, mainly the visual merchandising in the window wasn't just a cardboard cutout photo of items not in stock, as well as that the shops were bright. That's right Evans, it's more fun to shop when you can actually see the clothes. How can shops under the same company be so far apart?

Now, I used to work for Arcadia as a sales assistant in Dorothy Perkins. I stayed at the job for about 6 months before my frustrations got the better of me and I quit on principle. As some of you UK shoppers might remember Dorothy Perkins for a was endorsed by Gok Wan of How to Look Good Naked fame. I don't agree with the show, when I was younger and a bit more naive I thought anything about positive body image is a good thing, but then I realized that squashing your body into all sorts of ridiculous underwear to hide that bump there, buying some new clothes to show off you waist, spending more money on make up, bronzers, hair products all in the quest for perfection is not learning to love yourself, but learning to hide yourself. Not in the same way as drowning in baggy clothes, but the same nonetheless.

Anyway, when Gok Wan began promoting Dorothy Perkins we got these flyers into work about determining your body shape (something I highly disagree with). I managed to be a pear, an apple and actually every single 'body shape' had some trait that was applicable to me. So, the plan to overhaul the staff's uniform was to have a staff night where the other members would decide your body shape for you, you would be paired with another staff member and they would pick some clothes from the Dorothy Perkin's range for you to pay for yourself and wear as uniform. Now, sorry but I (at the time) was 19 years old and felt fully capable of picking my own clothes thank you very much. I didn't need to stand in front of my collegues and be judged and forced to pay for clothes I didn't want with my hard earned cash. So I left.

Would I work in that industry again? Yes, because I believe things can change if the right people are behind it. Arcadia, let your staff think for themselves and remind you why you hired them, don't waste opportunities like Evans, I love the jackets, the florals are great and I can see from your blog you have some lovely stuff coming up in April! Topshop and Miss Selfridge, widen your size ranges. I love you, I will buy that dress if it's available in a size 18. If not, I will take my money elsewhere. What is your opinion readers? Do you believe like I do that in this current economic climate businesses cannot go on ignoring such a large (mind the pun) potential customer base?

p.s. Thanks for all the recent comments on my blog, it really makes me smile! I know I am not the typical beautiful, skinny blogger so it's nice to know that people admire the way I dress and the outfits I pick out for myself.


  1. It pisses me off so much when Miss Selfridge have really nice petite dresses (I'm 5ft1) but not in a 16, argh!!

  2. A-MEN-TO-EV-ER-Y-THING in this post.
    BTW, I still can't get over the whole Gok Wan thing. There's got to be some kind of law against that kind of thing?!

    So, personally, I average at a 12 - 14 UK. Mainly because I have NO chest to speak of, so I can fit into a 12 on top usually, but often I'll wear a 16 because I'm not into figure hugging outfits (I have a lot of extra weight around my ribs - it's my trouble spot). When I was a teen I was an 8/10, and I'm not going to was so much easier to shop.

    For example, I love Topshop, but everything in that damn place seems aimed at a size 6. Recently I've started to go vintage and that's helped a bit. I've also been buying a lot from New Look (which I never liked before, but...) but online as they have a wider stock of 12+ clothing on the website than in store.

    I adore Crystal Renn, but you know what I'd love? If she modelled for Topshop or New Look or River Island or something. These are all shops size 16 girls shop in, so why the hell can't they stick her in a campaign? I'm not saying I want all my models to be more curvy, but mix it up a bit UK high street. I guess it's a fickle world, the fashion one, but it'd be nice.

    Oh, kudos on the biker jacket, lady! You know that's right up my alley, so yeah, own it. There's a really obviously-trying-to-be-hip vintage store on Ann Street that had some nice vintage biker jackets.


  3. I can't stand Gok Wan.

    Re: boobs i think it goes both ways. I'm quite flat-chested and find that many shops leave far too much room around the bust area so i often have to wear a top underneath a top or dress to cover up the area where my boobs are 'supposed' to be but aren't! It really depends on the shop tbh but i get these feeling most stores make their clothes with a very narrow range of boob size in mind.

    Your experience working at DP sounds horrendous and reminds me why i wouldn't want to work in retail (have done before, but not in a clothes shop).

  4. I'm a size 10/12 on top.. My 32Fs make my life impossible. I hate Gok Wan.. he just makes me cringe!

  5. Woo, go Claire!! :D

    Completely agree with everything you said. I really used to like Gok, but he's worn thin on me over the last month! So has all the 'this is your body shape' stuff.

    The whole DP thing sounds horrible, I would have left too!

    And btw, I think you look great in all your outfits!! :)


  6. I'm a size 10, but lately I've found that places are making sizes bigger and I'm fitting into 8s. This means that shops then start doing size 6s and 4s, which I find ridiculous. Yet they don't go above a size 16 in some stores! I think it is really terrible. I understand they can't cater for EVERYONE, but when the average dress size in the Uk is 16/18, you'd think they'd go a bit above as well as below.

    I hate it when people try to tell you what shape you are. Some people say I'm hourglass, then others say I'm a pear and others say I'm just petite! OH and it also really annoys me in magazines when they have 'dress for your shape' features and they assume that petite=boyish and skinny. It is NOT! Gahh.

    1. Ditto. I really hate most magazines for their insane belief that everyone is straight up and down with legs like giraffes. I wish the current spotlight on Adele would get shops to start updating their lines to fit girls like us. I have to say though, I am shocked about your experience at DP. DP is the only place I can get button-down shirts that, well, button up in Manila.

      A from A + B in the Sea

  7. I completely and utterly agree with you Claire - great post.

    Evans makes me groan. It's that horrible mixture of old lady long skirts and patterned tshirts, with some vague efforts at up to date stuff that almost always fails, that really annoys me. I wonder if their target age group is much higher than most high street stores?

    As a general rule I'm finding some other high st stores a lot better. Dorothy Perkins and New Look, for example, seem to have a nice range of stuff that's designed to suit curvy shapes. Nothing annoys me more than rails and rails of stuff that's designed for skinny girls and has been scaled up to the larger sizes, regardless of whether they'll actually fit properly or look good.

    I'm a bit shocked by your tales of Dorothy Perkins!

  8. Great post! I agree with most of what you're saying. I think Evans can be quite frumpy, I think DP is better. But after reading your horrible experience working there I'm not sure...

    Anyway, I think you look absolutely lovely in your outfits! You've made me wear more florals, that's for sure! And I thought you looked smaller than me (I'm a UK14/16 with 32G chest) but then again, sizes vary in different shops. A size 14 in one shop is more like a size 10 in others. I find that annoying, but it just means you have to try things on. I find it hard to look at clothes on a hanger, or on a skinny model on a poster, and imagine what it'd look on me, so I find clothes shopping can be quite a downer...

  9. Fantastic post and I completely agree with everything you have written!
    I always think you look fantastic and your outfits are amazing.
    Evans has this fantastic opportunity but they somehow don't seem to utilise it properly, in the way that seems so obvious to shoppers.

    I generally try and not shop in high street shops, finding their sizing completely atrocious! I am a uk 12-14 but find I can go in to somewhere like H&M and fit anything from a size 8-16 depending on the range!


  10. I agree with so many things about this post.

    Firstly, I'm a size 12/14, and so many things do not fit because my boobs are 'too big' for the size. I swear they think that girls are poles and have no curves at all! SO many things fit around my chest but are too big around the waist. Women are built to have curvy bits, shops should realise this, quick!

    Also, I think shops should stock bigger sizes! Because I'm an average size, I am lucky enough to find sizes in the majority of the things I want, except bras! I swear in Topshop the largest cup size they go up to is a B or a C. Hello?! I'm only a size 12 yet you don't stock my bra size?! And they have such lovely underwear, but I just have to shop somewhere else!

    They are loosing out big time if you ask me.


  11. I agree. I'm not sure places like Topshop would benefit from selling size 20 clothes? Although maybe they could do a plus size range like New Look does? I definately think size 18 should be introduced though because its such a common size - especially for ladies with larger chests!
    I can't buy trousers, jeans, shorts or skirts from Topshop, Miss Selfridges etc because their size 16s just don't fit me - so frustrating so I just go elsewhere!
    Also, that is fairly shocking that they expected you to actually pay for clothes someone else picked out for you =/

  12. what a great post! a really good read. i study retail and did a project on evans and simply be and i always thought how their promises didn't deliver, like when beth ditto did the evans range and some of the pieces were so out there, yet almost all of their normal stock is like the bad office section in h&m, all boring and old. most high street shops seem to copy each other with the typical floral or sailor dresses or playsuits, like it's almost standard. evans needs a better standard range of really great fashion pieces and slowly needs to expand it to cover most of the store! i totaly agree they are missing out on a huge market here. my plus sized or bigger boobed friends would never go into evans on principle of the brand image! but i can see how frustrating it is to find something like a coat when the high street shops just increase the sizes without consideration for a bigger chest. and btw you are certainly beautiful!! and skinny is overrated, i purposely put on a stone over xmas because i was self concious about being bony and found that guys certainly don't want to feel bones! i can't believe that dotty ps night, that really doesn't sound like fun! why would you want to talk about everyone's bodies!? i'm not a fan of goks methods either, how many times are you really going to wear the spanx or super tight belt? when you have a normal life it wouldn't happen!xxx

  13. big boob troubles - I'm right there with you!
    Loving the blog...and craving cupcakes now ;)

  14. Everything is cut to a standard size which unfortunately is a result of cheaply made mass produced clothing for the high street, I can't see them changing their ways anytime soon... if only they'd prove me wrong! I hate the sympathy sizing they're doing now... like putting elastic on shorts and stuff so you think you're a 12 or whatever. I wish they'd sell clothes the way they used to... by measurements, inside of generalizing with a set size... sure some of us may be similar sizes but our bodies are NOT cut from the same cloth (pun not intended! :P)

    My mouth opened in horror when I head about the DP thing, that's appalling, nobody should be judged because of their size! I remember when you worked there but I didn't know that was why you quit.

    As for the Gok thing, I mean I see what he's doing with the embrace your shape thing, but I hate classifying things... like you must be explicitly straight or gay, this attitude is similar to clothes, you must be a pear shape, you must be an hourglass etc... and those awful 'hourglass' spreads in magazines annoy me too, when they use a 10-12 model, and they can't go any larger, a substantial democratic readership of those magazines are plus-sized. Then they throw in a plus-sized feature every couple of issues and think they're making a big gesture. Nu-uh.

  15. I totally agree with this post. I'm a 10 usually but I have big boobs so I can't get anything around them. In topshop a size 16 dress wouldn't zip up. It's ridiculous.


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