Oh, Ann Harvey, how I hate you
Dear Managing Director of Anne Harvey,
As a size 22 fashionista I was pleased to learn you had opened up a branch in my neighbourhood, having bought two fab linen dresses from you last summer. Imagine then my deep dismay when I arrived at your newest shop only to be met with a selection of clothes in dingy colours and styles best suited to a bunch of Saga-cruisin’ septuagenarians than my hip 48-year-old self. Where, pray, were the bold geometric prints; the vibrant colour combinations; the fat-girl-flattering smocks, sack dresses, tie-back Empire and A-line tunics picked up on by every, single, non-plus-sized retailer on the high street? Where was the 80s-retro vibe even Evans managed to get right this season? And in what parallel universe could French navy and congealed-blood red possibly be described as up-to-the-minute?
I realise there are few, if any, plus-sized movers and shakers in the fashion industry and, judging by the profoundly unimaginative frumpfest you’re offering your captive audience right now, I’m guessing Alexon is no exception. So here’s a novel idea: try asking some actual fat women what we want in our wardrobes, since you plainly haven’t a clue. While I can’t claim to speak for every ample consumer out there, I feel reasonably confident in saying most of us want to make the most of our assets in flattering clothes that reflect prevailing trends, just like thinner women do; as opposed to being compelled, through sheer lack of choice, to dress like a separate species.
Take, for instance, that perfectly wretched combo that prevails only in fat-lady shops – the long, sleeveless, shift or bias-cut dress with obligatory matching short-sleeved shirt. Boy, nothing says mother-of-the-bride like that cynical little exercise in greed and laziness. (Actually, I tell a lie; if there’s pattern involved, nothing says woman-masquerading-as-an-overstuffed-three-piece-suite). Given that most fat women – especially the older demographic I’m assuming you’re targeting, having discontinued your more youthful Anya range – detest showing off their upper arms, how’s about you stop charging us an extra forty quid for the privilege of covering the offending area and just put some sleeves on the sodding dresses? If it’s high summer, I don’t want to be wearing an extra layer thanks – and, while we’re on the subject, what genius came up with the notion of lining skirts and/or dresses intended to be cool with naff, sweat-inducing polyester? (Mmm, the feel of static on bare legs. Niiiice). And please don’t fob me off with some old guff about how vastly expensive it is to line plus-sized clothing with anything else. In the first instance, you’re hardly cheap and secondly, if Monsoon can manage to manufacture a cotton-lined voile dress that fits 47” 40” 48” me with room to spare and retails at £45, you haven’t got a leg to stand on.
Since you are one of precisely three dedicated plus-sized chain stores in the entire country I feel you owe it to UK plus-sized women to try considerably harder than you do. If I’m offended by the dowdiness younger plus-sized women must lose the will to live when they come into your shops Right now I’ve never been more grateful Monsoon have upped their size range. If you seriously want some of my hard-earned dosh, you need to drag your designers and marketing people off autopilot; start thinking just a little more Beth Ditto and a lot less Hyacinth Bucket. Above all you need to understand we’re not a breed apart; we’re simply bigger – and, believe it or not, we also read fashion magazines.
B. Puff (Ms)