Besides a shared language (
sometimes), many might argue that the U.S. and the UK actually have very little in common. Where more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christian, according to the Washington Post, nearly 50 percent of Brits are secular, reports the Guardian. An American may not think twice about sending back a steak that's been left raw despite their medium-well order at a local restaurant. A Brit would, generally speaking, rather keep their head down. Even so, the nations undoubtedly overlap when it comes to one thing: their production of plus size fashion. Or, perhaps more accurately, their lack of production of plus size fashion. Thanks to international shipping options, however, dipping our toes into the transatlantic plus size shopping pool is getting a little easier.
Despite heightened cultural conversations about
"body positivity" and "fat acceptance," the truth is that shopping for clothing above a UK size 18/20 is still far from a particularly pleasant experience — especially shopping IRL. Plus size indie brands and established e-commerce sites are definitely easier to come by than ever before, but in comparison to the straight size market, well, our options are limited. As for shopping in the actual world, it's still nearly impossible for a plus size babe to step out of a shopping centre carrying bags without Yours Clothing, Evans, or SimplyBe printed on the sides. And if you're above a UK 34, forget about it. Stylish clothing is still nearly nonexistent both on the web and the high street.
One way to broaden our options from the UK is to borrow from the Americans, though. More and more brands are offering international shipping options. Some are even offering deals to British consumers. While it's true that no good postage deal will help you avoid that pesky
duty charge for goods purchased abroad (typically 20 percent of the total price paid), a rad ensemble — especially the kind of thing rarely available in size fat — is often worth it. With that in mind, the below American plus size brands are ones to keep an eye on. Wide Leg Printed Jumpsuit, £108, ELOQUII ELOQUII is a US-based brand known for actively listening to its customers, and subsequently beloved within fat positive circles. From putting together lookbooks featuring models sizes 30 and 32, to adding chic wide fit shoes to its repertoire, to launching a (much-needed) swimwear collection this year, the retailer delivers timeless yet trendy, bold yet functional options time and time again.
Its size range typically encompasses UK 18 to 32, and although price points are on the higher side (the average dress may go for anywhere between
£60 to £120), sales are frequent and delightful (you can often snag 40 to 60 percent off everything in your shopping bag).
UK shipping will set you back approximately £23, but investing in a brand that's continually striving to improve the plus size shopping experience is a pretty good use of the cash.
You By My Side Stripe Dress, £21, Fashion Nova
Anyone who spends even a small amount of time browsing through the #plussize hashtag on Instagram has likely come across
Fashion Nova, and specifically Fashion Nova's Curve range. The budget-friendly, clubwear-meets-daywear brand has amassed nearly 2 million followers on its Curve-dedicated Instagram profile alone, largely thanks to the help of the many influencers who support it. Here you will often find form-fitting (and subsequently fat-celebrating) wears in sizes 1X through 3X, or approximately 18 through 28 in UK terms.
Styles will very rarely cost more than £45, though most live in the £15 to £30 zone. What's more is that Fashion Nova now offers free UK shipping on orders above £57, so the only extra fee you'll have to worry about is VAT.
Blackheart Black & Red Star Skirtall, £34, Hot Topic
Ask any former chubby goth or emo where they loved to shop in the early 2000s, and chances are
Hot Topic will come up once or twice (or every.single.time). To this day, the alternative mall brand specialises in everything from obscure band tees to Disney-inspired apparel, to funky punk wears. Its plus size pieces are often available in sizes 0 to 6, which equate to UK sizes 16 through 34. And its prices very rarely exceed the £45 mark.
Although UK postage will set you back approximately £28, the sad truth (although perhaps an obvious one) is that the state of niche plus size fashion is even bleaker than that of trend-driven looks. Alternative clothing options are few and far between, making Hot Topic an oasis in an otherwise fatphobic desert.
Squishy Belly Bebe Ultra Short Crop, £26, Fat Mermaids
Owned by the self-described fat mermaid herself,
Jai Mobley, Fat Mermaids is an indie plus size brands that "believe[s] in being magical, bold, and taking up space in a world that tries to ironically, make us feel small." Since the release of its now-iconic "IDGAF About Your Diet Susan" sweatshirt (which clapped back against diet culture and fat-antagonistic rhetoric at large) its popularity has soared into the online fatosphere, with its designs now beloved by many.
For only £10 postage, you can get your hands on a Fat Mermaids original (like the upcoming "Squishy Belly Bebe" crop top) from Britain. Styles come in L through 6XL, and in traditional unisex sizing, making this retailer loads more inclusive than the average high street curve range.
Navy Floral Lace Bralette, £25, Torrid
Most plus size Millennial babes in the States are likely to agree that
Torrid is a "staple" brand. That is, one of the OG plus size retailers out there. It has specifically been designing sizes UK 14 to 34 for 17 years, selling everything from basics to well-fitting denim to some of the best bralettes out there. In fact, Torrid lingerie stands out in the fatosphere. It is all at once sexy, practical, trendy, and timeless. And who said fat babes can't wear bralettes, anyway?
Although postage costs to the UK are on the higher end of the spectrum (approximately £37), this may be one worth investing in if you have a haul-like order to place.
The Bunny Wrap Swimsuit Top, £30, Smart Glamour
Owned and run by feminist designer Mallorie Dunn,
Smart Glamour is arguably the most inclusive shopping destination on the market. Not only is it plus size inclusive, with items available in sizes L through 15XL and to custom measurements, but its wears are actually sold in the full straight size spectrum, too. That means every piece can be ordered in XXS through 15XL and to specific measurements to boot. When Smart Glamour says it's about "fashion for all," it truly means it, and its e-commerce and marketing imagery always reflect as much.
Despite the fact that SG is an indie brand, its price points aren't out of this world, either. You can snag pieces as low as £22, and international postage won't be much more than that. A brand you'll feel good about supporting, and stylish AF while wearing, Smart Glamour is definitely worth the transatlantic check-out.
Tiered Puff Sleeve Cotton Eyelet Dress, £91, eShakti
Another customisable godsend,
eShakti pieces are available in a base size range of XS through 6X, or approximately UK 4 through 40. Like Smart Glamour, you can also choose to customise your order from the ground-up, selecting your own measurements, neckline, sleeve, and hem preferences along the way.
eShakti pieces play on classic silhouettes and timeless detailing (vintage lovers would certainly find something to fall in love with here), but the brand can evoke trends, too. Asymmetric one-shoulders, gingham prints, and Cuba-inspired styles (all of which are rocking summer 2018 trend reports) can easily be found here. Offering £10 UK shipping, it's really quite the bargain.
High Waist Mini Slouch Denim Pants With Patch Detail, £125, JIBRI
With her outlandish silhouettes, space-occupying hemlines, and the occasional wild print, designer Jasmine Elder of
JIBRI is helping fill a void in upscale plus size fashion.
JIBRI consists predominently of investment pieces: Styles you may save up for and cherish for a lifetime. Each seasonal collection also features an array of looks that one would not struggle to picture on any Fashion Week runway.
Postage to the UK is a heftier £37, but the splurge is (when possible) worth the feeling: The feeling that your body (just as it is, no weight loss required) is already worth investing in. JIBRI's clothing is sometimes available in sizes 0 through 4 (UK 14 through 32), but most pieces go up to a 3 (UK 28).
When The Stars Align Dress, £97, Zelie For She
There are few designers (in either the straight or plus facets of fashion) evoking the uniquely ethereal, dreamy aesthetic of
Zelie For She by Elann Zelie. With every passing collection, Zelie finds ways of reworking floaty silhouettes in ways that one might call high fashion, but that are also incredibly easy to wear day-to-day.
Although most styles come in sizes XL through 3XL (roughly equating to UK 18 to 28), some pieces are "one size fits most," featuring adjustable strap details that'll help you fit the piece to your body perfectly. UK postage will cost approximately £27, so this is also one to save for.
That said, indie plus size designers are undoubtedly making more waves in fatshion than their big name contemporaries, creating pieces that consumers have been wanting to see for decades, but also those we never could've envisioned ourselves. When budget allows, they're definitely worth supporting in return.