The Shopping Test (1)

Today I will be attempting to buy a skirt. From the high street.

Yeah, lofty ambitions, eh? Some aim for PHDs, others become highfalutin’ lawyers or some such. I am dreaming the impossible: A Skirt.

I love going shopping, of course I do, but if someone says ‘let’s go clothes shopping’, I open my laptop and get online. Rarely does clothes shopping mean leaving the house. Fruitless shopping trips are a depressing inevitability for me, so I simply don’t bother. So much so that the last time I bought a skirt from the high street it was last year. No kidding.

In the last blog I bemoaned the lack of a decent shop for big girls, and to be honest, I don’t think it’s the last I’ll be writing on that topic, however, imagine how confused I was when I watched this video. ‘How is she finding stuff in Topshop to wear?’ I thought. The largest size that they produce is a 16. I thought the idea of the Vogue Curvy video blogs was to show where a typical big girl can go shopping on the high street? Tellingly there only seems to be one British shop on there, and I would question the validity of it’s inclusion in the first place.

Let’s be honest here, I have been tempted in the past to go into a shop, even though I know I’m too big for their sizes, just see if I can find something that supposed to be ‘oversized’ that I can wear as a fitted item. It’s never a particularly dignity-filled moment. It always feels a bit dirty, like I’m scrabbling around on the floor for scraps of fashion. Not to mention the constant fear that I’m going to be discovered by some waif-like child who works there and escorted from the building, shrouded in shame.

I’m conflicted. Half of me thinks ‘Sod it, if it fits and you like it, wear it’, big girls have to get their clothes where they can. The other half just feels it’s a little bit… wrong. I really don’t think the fact that something fits is a good enough reason to purchase and wear a piece of clothing. It has to be flattering. It has to work for you or else what’s the point in spending your money on it? If the best we can hope for is a grudging shrug and a sigh of, “Well, at least it fits”, then what is the point? We might as well all just wear bin bags and not bother.

On a deeper level, it also gives retailers the wrong impression. Big girls don’t need elasticated waists, they need properly fitting clothing with structure. Loose-fitting fabric and elastic is not an adequate solution. It’s not about the amount of fabric that’s available in a top or a dress, it’s about how it’s made and how flattering it is to your body type.

So, with that in mind, I’ll be heading in to town shortly, armed with my camera, a super-thick skin and my purse. The mission? One well fitting, flattering skirt. Wish me luck.


  • 1
    September 22, 2010 - 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Also, Topshop 16 is very SMALL. I barely bother looking at tops there now as they are not cut for a chest my size.

    • 2
      October 6, 2010 - 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Gillian, I have the same problem in topshop and also miss selfridge. I find a dress or top/shirt I love, in my size (im 14 but if its gonna fit in anyway there I try a 16) and its gapes or is far to tight on my bust and end up looking/feeling a bit slutty!!

  • 3
    September 24, 2010 - 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Its no easier for men, not buying a skirt obviously, well not for many, but a decent pair of jeans is nigh on impossible unless you go to a “specialist” shop which are akin in location and appearance to other “specialist” shops.

    Take that high street giants!

    • 4
      September 24, 2010 - 8:05 pm | Permalink

      Oh Dan, I hear you. ‘Specialist shops’ often stock that really strong coloured, mid-blue denim that makes everyone look like they are direct from the 90s.

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