Browsing Tag

plus size

Special Ranges, Tried & Tested

A bride’s opinion of Simply Be’s plus size bridal range


It’s time for a slightly different – and very special – post with a special guest!

A while back, when this site was still Big Girls Browse, I featured the lovely range of wedding dresses from Simply Be. This was a collection I felt really passionate about the moment I saw it. Wedding dresses are expensive, and plus size women get a very raw deal when it comes to their big day, often having to shell out for really expensive made-to-measure pieces, or settling for the very few cheaper off-the-rack options, most of which are pretty ugly and old-fashioned. Simple Be managed to produce a capsule collection of pretty, simple and non-frumpy styles in sizes 12 – 32, all costing £100 or less. They felt modern, chic and special, but fit a tight bridal budget. I knew they’d be popular, but I didn’t realise quite how popular! My post about the range quickly became one of the most visited on this site, and perhaps one of the loveliest moments of my entire blogging career so far was discovering that, in a tiny little way, I helped a bride have a brilliant wedding day.

With no further ado, I’ll pass you over to Rebecca…

Simply Be bridal collection Grace dress real life bride

“I was a bride on a budget. At 25 I was marrying my college sweetheart and had set a budget of around £400 for my dress.

At a size 20, I am plus size and was a follower of Big Girls Browse. When I saw Gemma’s post about the Simply Be bridal range I fell in love right away with the Grace dress. With its petal shoulders and simple but elegant design it suited my ‘Spring Tea Party’ theme perfectly. Not only was it beautiful, it was also a quarter of my allotted dress budget!

Plus size real bride in the Simply Be Grace dress

The dress is ankle length on my 5ft 11 frame, which firstly meant I didn’t ruin the bottom by standing on it or dragging it along the floor. Secondly, it meant I got to buy and show off some amazing shoes!

bridal shoes

The fit of the dress was perfect on me. True to size, the measurements on the website were spot on! It is floaty on top and the lining is fitted for a smooth appearance.

I love my wedding dress, it was perfect for me. It made me feel beautiful and bridal without being too fussy. It was comfortable and easy to wear and to dance in, and thankfully I was able to visit the bathroom on my own without any assistance!

I would highly recommend the range to any other plus sized bride on a budget, or even without a budget – why not have more money to spend on other things!?”

I think we’ll all agree Rebecca looks gorgeous in the dress, and hopefully this ‘real life’ review will help anyone else thinking about making a purchase from the range. I’d like to thank Rebecca so much for taking the time to write this post and share the photos from her beautiful big day. If you’d like to pass on your congrats to her or ask any more questions about the dress, she’s on twitter as @msmagic.

You can shop the Simply Be Bridal Range by clicking here.

Celebrities, Special Ranges

Claire Richards for Fashion World


A few weeks ago I was invited by Fashion World to meet the new face of the brand, Steps star Claire Richards. Fashion World, for those who’re unfamiliar with the brand, is a catalogue shopping brand aimed at busy women sized 12 – 32. As a working mum with a busy life, Claire is a great fit for them, and what has begun as a simple collaboration where she chooses her favourites from an existing range should extend to Claire co-designing her own range in the near future.

Claire’s yo-yo dieting and battles with her weight have been highly publicised over the last few years so I was interested to hear what she had to say about body image and acceptance. After years of trying to slim back down to where she was in her Steps days, she seems to have finally accepted that she’s not meant to be that size now.



It can’t be easy being ‘the one who put on weight’ in a pop band. Regardless of how Claire looks now, she will always be held up against her teenage self, strutting about in a bikini top and combat pants with a waist the same circumference as one of my thighs. The press event was held at a cake shop (BB Bakery – yum) and at the photocall the photographers couldn’t have made it more obvious that they wanted snaps of Claire that made her look as gluttonous as possible. “Can you hold the whole cake stand, Claire?” “How about two cakes, one in each hand?” Claire was a consummate professional throughout, but it’s a good thing I wasn’t the one standing up there – those cakes might have ended up smashed onto some very expensive camera lenses!


I got some time to sit down with Claire and a couple of other bloggers towards the end of the event, and despite the fact she’d probably been answering the same questions for hours, Claire was open, honest and more than happy to chat clothes, curves and body image. She’s frank about her body and how she feels about it now – that it’s taken a long time, but she’s realised the only person she has to answer to is herself, and she feels happier now than she ever did starving herself in her Steps days. I asked if there was a lightbulb when she finally realised that your weight does not equal your worth, but she said it was more of a gradual thing, that she slowly learned not to care so much.

When you have battled with your weight (in public) for a decade, you can’t just one day say “I AM HAPPY NOW” and expect that to be it. It’s a long process, changing a lifetime’s worth of negative thoughts. I truly do think she’s found a happy weight, but years of being told she’s fat or that she has to lose weight have obviously affected her.

This was evident in the fact Claire’s fashion advice was straight out of the unspoken ‘how to dress your curves’ guidebook. Choose things that “work for your body”, that are slimming, flattering, cinched at the narrowest point. And don’t forget the shapewear! She loves her shapewear.

There is obviously nothing wrong with this (I love my shapewear too) but I know there is a large portion of the plus size community, particularly online, which hates this approach to dressing. Claire is not part of the ‘f*** flattering’ movement, and I don’t think she ever will be. She’s the ambassador of a mainstream brand that aims to make dressing well easy for busy women who don’t have the time to spend hours shopping, nor any big desire to be ‘trendy’ if it doesn’t work (in traditional terms) for their body shape or age bracket. And she seems to be doing a good job of that so far, whilst gently pushing the boundaries. I liked that in her picks from this season it wasn’t all wrap dresses and illusion panels. There was a jumpsuit, a textured bodycon style dress, and skinny red jeans – all slightly more adventurous styles for those with a fuller figure.

My last question for Claire was, of course, what her favourite Steps song is. It’s the same as mine…

ps. I still know the entire dance routine. And I’m not ashamed.


Top 5 dress plus size dresses from Simply Be

Today as part of Dressember I’m looking at some of my favourite dresses from one of the brands that has supported Big Girls Browse since the very beginning, Simply Be. I wore a Simply Be dress for one of the very first days of my first Dressember, so I think there’s nice synergy in this post happening now!

I love the label for offering a great combination of classic styles and trend-led pieces in a really good range of sizes. I know that a lot of my plus size friends rate Simply Be as one of if not *the* best when it comes to UK plus size retailers, because they have such a big range and some great collaborations. I also love seeing the clothes on models with bodies like mine – Naomi Shimada and Laura Catterall can sell ANYTHING to me! Here are some of my top dress picks from the Simply Be Winter collection…

Peplum PU Panel dress £55 – this is similar to the dress I wore for the Ways To Wear challenge, but with a bit of a sexy twist by way of the PU panels down the middle. I love that this sticks two fingers up to plus size conventions – it’s fitted, it’s sexy, it’s got interesting textures and while it’s black, it’s not boring.

Ruby Rocks Butterfly print dress £55 – I’m a sucker for a butterfly print, and this is a really nice one that doesn’t look too twee or 90s. I also love the cute pink-trimmed collar, which makes the dress look youthful despite the modest length. I’d add a bright coloured wedge or platform shoe and belt the waist to add a bit more definition.

Bonded lace dress with beaded collar £70 – Though I know Simply Be have a brilliant plus size bridal range anyway, I can absolutely see this being worn by a modern bride for a low-key wedding. It’s such a great shape and the collar detail stops it from looking too ‘timeless’ and thus boring. For a festive party I’d add accessories in a bold colour like cobalt blue or red to keep it away from the bridal look. As for the hair, this is crying out for a beehive!

Anna Scholz bird dress £70 – It’s easy to see why this is one of Simply Be’s bestsellers – Anna Scholz is the queen of great printed plus size designs, and her more affordable diffusion range for Simply Be is a great place to look for cool day dresses in quirky prints. She always picks fluid fabrics that hang well (and wash well) and I love the shape of the skirt on this slightly retro dress.

Flock baroque print skater dress £48 – You can’t beat a skater dress and this one comes in one of my favourite colours for clothing, a bright sapphire blue. I love a fit-and-flare skirt style because it’s so comfy and easy to wear, and the long sleeves make this a bit more practical for the cold weather than some of the skimpier options. Baroque print is a key trend this Autumn, and I’d love to see this dress teamed with a leather jacket and really high heeled ankle boots to keep it looking current.

Disclosure: Post in collaboration with Simply Be

Clothing, Coats & Jackets

Top Winter Trend – Contrast sleeve coats & jackets

At this time of year you’re lucky if anyone sees what you’re wearing under your coat while you’re outdoors, so you may as well make sure you’ve got some seriously stylish outerwear. When Burberry showed a leather sleeved trench a couple of years ago, it sparked a trend that’s lasted right through to this Winter. You can’t get far browsing the outerwear section without coming across a parka with contrast sleeves this year, be they leather, knit or even sequin. Though many have a bit of a utility twist in khaki, camouflage or leather, if you prefer something smarter there are some alternatives, like the cool belted ASOS curve offering. The ones I’ve picked out for my list prove there’s a jacket of this style to fit everyone from a size 6 to a size 32. I’ve already ordered a sequinned sleeve one for myself (what, you thought I’d go for a less ostentatious option? Have we met?)

Dresses, Special Ranges

Simply Be launches gorgeous plus size wedding dress range

Words can’t begin to explain how excited I am about Simply Be’s new plus size bridal range. I don’t have plans to marry any time soon, so I’m not looking at these with my big day in mind, but I’m hugely impressed at the quality and variety that they’ve managed to pile into such a small range. There are only four dresses so far, but if they’re a sign of what’s to come, this could be the start of something very special.

This could have gone so wrong. It could have been a pile of horrible, frou-frou strapless numbers and ugly toilet roll holder shapes with cheap embellishment. Instead, I really feel like the Simple Be team have done a wonderful thing; they’ve created a capsule plus size range of wedding dresses that will genuinely make people who wear straight sizes go ‘wow, I wish they did that in my size’.

Not only are these dresses pretty and modern and wearable, they’re affordable too. Coming in at around £100, they make looking amazing on a budget for the plus size big day a real possibility. They’re available in sizes 12 – 32.

Grace petal trim wedding dress £100

What I love the most is that there are dresses with sleeves. But not ‘guys, we’d better make one with sleeves for the people who want to hide their arms’ sleeves. Proper, pretty dresses that look special, and beautiful, and unusual, but just happen to cover the upper arms. The Marilyn is a gorgeous example, a formal take on the much-loved wrap dress.

Marilyn wrap detail 3/4 sleeve dress £100

I’ve seen so many plus size bridal offerings that look incredibly uncomfortable. This annoying idea that anyone over a size 12 spends their entire life wanting to look as thin an possible has meant it’s corsets and boleros all over the shop. But a corset is not right for everyone and that Simply Be have recognised the need for comfort and prettiness over waist-cinching properties is fabulous. They’ve even paid attention to trends. My favourite from the collection, the Isabella dress, combines a touch of Downton Abbey with a splash of Gatsby for a lovely vintage-inspired look. I really wish this came in colours so I could buy one for my next formal event!

Isabella vintage style beaded wedding dress £90

And they haven’t forgotten those who don’t want to marry in white. The final dress in this collection (which I hope grows over time) is a pretty pink number.

Evelyn knot front wedding dress £100

Shop the whole collection now at Simply Be. And have an AMAZING wedding!

Sponsored Posts, Websites

Make your plus size dress hunt a bit easier

One of the biggest problems women face when hunting down the perfect dress if they don’t fit the average high street sizing chart, is the time it takes to find what you’re looking for. More and more stores are limiting their in-store sizing, so online is often the place to go. But often you’re either forced to scroll through loads of inappropriate styles due to bad navigation or site organisation, or you keep coming across things that aren’t available in your size as you hunt down the few that will work for you.

So I was interested to discover the range of Plus Size Dresses at Essentially, this site aggregates the best dress styles from various stores, to make your search that little bit easier if you’re size 12+.

As the selection grows and the site develops, I can see this becoming a really useful tool for saving time if your shopping time is limited. Right now, it offers up styles from brands like Anna Scholz, Jeffrey and Paula and Joe Browns, with (I hope) lots more to come.

There’s also body shape advice for those who’re not sure what will work for them (though I operate a ‘if you love it, wear it’ policy – life’s too short to live by the rules!) and also a great filtering system by size, style, designer or occasion that will quickly narrow down results to help you find exactly what you’re looking for really easily.

Keep an eye on this site if you have limited time to shop – it could just help you out!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Retro / Vintage, Swimwear

Super swimwear for 2012 – my latest bikini and swimsuit picks for all sizes

It’s SUMMER, guys! And you know what that means. Holidays, hot weather, and the possibilty of having to strip off the layers and flash a bit of flesh. Despite not being a willowy size 8, I’ve never really had a huge problem with stripping down to swimwear in the Summer. To be honest, I’m less bothered about the amount of flesh on show and more worried about the inevitable “you’re so PALE!” comments. Perhaps being such an English rose (ha!) helps to detract from the cellulite…but it also helps to have a killer swimsuit or bikini to draw the eye in. I tend to favour very feminine, vintage-inspired designs and anything with frills or spots. My favourites this year are a mix of frilled swimsuits, cool modern styles and bikinis that make the most of a voluptuous figure. Here are just some of my favourites…

Red or Dead ‘maps’ two piece bikini £36.50 at Amazon – I’m so sad this is yellow (one of the colours that just looks terrible on me) because not only do I love the frilled skirt for hiding that diggy-in hip thing anyone with a bit of flesh will always get with a bikini, but also because I absolutely adore the London map print. So cute, and so apt for a Londoner on tour! Red or Dead make some of the best retro-inspired swimwear on the market right now, and this is my fave for 2012.

Skirted swimsuit with piping detail £38 ASOS
– I have the plan black version of this swimsuit from last year, but I’m really excited to see they’ve bought the shape back this year with added white piping. It is without a doubt the most striking swimsuit I’ve tried – I truly believe it looks better on a curvier figure than on a slim one, so I’m sad ASOS only make it up to a size 16. Hopefully a Curve version is coming soon, because this deserves to be worn!

Curvy Kate Caribbean bikini top £32 and briefs £17 at Simply Yours – Let’s talk about how excited I am that Curvy Kate have branched out into swimwear! I’m a huge fan of their lingerie; it’s comfy, stylish, affordable and available in a good range of sizes, so getting all that in swimwear too is a big deal. At Simply Be you can get the bottoms up to a size 20 and the top up to a K cup in some band sizes. There’s also a tankini if you prefer a bit more coverage.

Kansas bikini top £34 and frilled brief £28 Freya – I was blown away by the quality of the swimwear at the Freya press day. So often when you get DD+ swimwear, style and trends have been sacrificed in the name of fit. But Freya manage to combine both, and I love their retro-inspired ranges. A lot of pieces have frilled bottoms, high waists or skirted bottoms. For 2012, Kansas is the new kid on the block. The pale blue gingham is a nice change from polka dots, but still has that vintage touch. It hits stores / online in July, so get your reminders set now!

Blue floral frill swimsuit £38 Floozie by Frost French at Debenhams – I know a lot of you will probably turn your nose up at an adults swimsuit that looks just like the ones worn by 5 year olds in the 80s (go on, you know you had some frilled florals). But I love my swimwear cutesy, and this is about as cutesy as you’re going to get. Just add cats eye sunglasses and chunky wedge sandals to complete the look.

Marilyn swimsuits in royal blue $102 Pinup Girl Clothing – If it’s good enough for Dita Von Teese, it’s good enough for me. I’ve spoken a lot about Esther Williams swimsuits on here before (and I own one of the bikinis) but if you fancy a proper 50s inspired swimsuit from elsewhere, Pinup Girl Clothing is the place to go. This royal blue is my absolute favourite, but the Marilyn comes in plenty of other colours too.

Black parrot print Pacha beaded bikini £26 River Island – Though I’m not exactly the Ibiza-dwelling target market, I really love the River Island / Pacha collaboration, mostly because of the immense amount of co-ordinating pieces you can get to go with all the swimwear. Want a strappy beach maxi, or a one-shoulder scarf dress? No probs! And the bikins themselves are pretty cool too. This frilled parrot print one is my personal fave, I love all the beaded frills.

Blue rio print one-piece swimsuit £34 Topshop – This swimsuit is the complete antithesis of my usual style, but for some reason I just love it. So much so I’ve used it in outfit picks before, and I’m sorely tempted to treat myself before they sell out. I love that it could easily be worn as a top in the evening on a beach holiday, tucked into a pair of shorts. The only thing that would make it better is if the print were Las Vegas, not Rio!

Fifties swimsuit £49 Boden – I don’t own a thing from Boden, but I do think their swimwear is really pretty and very good if you want something with a little more coverage than most younger stores give. The fifties swimsuit comes in various prints and has ruching down the sides to streamline and make the most of a good waist. There’s also a lovely polka dot bikini / tankini set that you can mix and match depending on how confident you’re feeling!

Espana ruffle one-shoulder swimsuit $148 Monif C – If you’re plus sized and tired of all swimsuits being ridiculous skirted floral numbers and ugly, frumpy designs, Monif C is the designer for you. The one thing her designs are not is boring! I love the one-shouldered Espana, which has boning and powermesh for a great fit, and ties to adjust for the right fit on the leg. This design also comes in red.

Green floral padded bikini top £16 and frilled bottoms £12 Next – Green is a really great colour both tanned and pale skin, making it a great choice if you’re off to sun yourself, and I love this shape which really makes the most of those ‘assets’. A padded bikini top works for any cup size; it pushes up smaller boobs for a bit of a lift, and it shapes and holds larger ones for a great shape. Next swimwear also has the benefit of being really good quality – this will see you through more than one Summer if you take care of it.

Brown and white leaf-print bikini top £8 and bottoms £4 George at Asda – This is my favourite bargain bikini of the season. Teaming a bit of cool neon with a classic print, it’s a great one for showing off a tan and the shape is very classic and works on a variety of body shapes. I also applaud George for going up to an E/F cup too.

Tummy control scoop neck wrap swimsuit £29.50 Marks & Spencer – Ignoring the ‘tummy control’ element of this, I just love the unusual wrap design and clever colourblocking that make it a bit different to a classic plan swimsuit. I also really like that it comes in a longer length, making it a perfect choice for tall women who want something a bit unusual.


March Wishlist: Lighten Up

I’m dreaming of Spring, and the time I can finally put my winter coats back in the wardrobe and pull out the lighter jackets, blazers and my beloved beige belted trench (from Gap, bought forever ago). With that in mind, my March wishlist is all about a lighter colour scheme, dotted with my current colour obsession – rust. I just managed to bag the last ASOS pleated skirt 2-in-1 dress in my size and I’m really hoping it doesn’t look too mumsy on a curvier figure. Pleats are hard enough to pull off at the best of times, but I love the colour combo enough to risk it – I can always take advantage of the great returns policy!

Stone stripe dress with belt £40 at Dorothy Perkins
Twisted layered dress £49 by Love Label at Very
Pleated skirt colour block dress (also in Curve & Petite) £35 at ASOS
Butterfly intarsia jumper £14 G21 at Asda
‘Menna’ bow detail platform sandals £80 PPQ for Office
Birdy tie front blouse £22.99 at New Look
Rust frill detail hanky hem blouse £14 Rogers & Rogers at Matalan
Antique telephone long pendant £12 at Accessorize
‘Minnie’ peach suede platform heels with bow £80 Miss KG at Kurt Geiger