"Is it me or have designers lost the plot? What has happened to reasonably-priced, elegant clothes that I - size 22 and 70 years of age - could wear? I don't want low-cut tops or badly cut trousers that accentuate my hips. On the other hand, I don't want to dress like a frump."
It's no secret that women come in all shapes and sizes, but all too often we see retailers catering to the size 10 20-somethings while ignoring those who are plus size... not to mention those who are plus size AND over the age of 50. So what items of clothing are the most flattering for plus size, older women? Which brands are the go-tos when it comes to stylish garments and a decent range of sizes? And what should you consider when dressing to suit your shape? We reveal all (not literally).
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Having a few staples up your sleeve is a good way to make sure you have a top notch plus size wardrobe with clothes suitable for any occasion. Here are the essentials...
"A wrap or shift dress always looks good."
Wrapover dress: H&M
If you're looking for plus size clothing over the age of 50, wrap dresses are a definite must-buy. The V-neck shape is a particularly complimentary style for those who are heavier on top, while the wrap element will highlight your waist shape in a pleasing way. Versatile and available in a range of styles and fabrics, one of these is sure to stand you in good stead in the months to come.
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"I wear tunics all year round, but in the winter I wear them over long-sleeved tops with a boyfriend cardigan on top."
Lace sleeve tunic: Bon Prix
Tunics or longer tops are perfect for plus size, fuller figures as they are flattering on most, if not all, body shapes and hide those areas that you might not feel too comfortable with. Buy a range of tunics featuring different prints and colours to enhance your capsule wardrobe and provide a bit of variation on days when you can't decide what to wear. This way you won't get caught out when your favourite tunic starts to look threadbare. Comfy and fun, don a tunic with jeans during the day or pair a longer style with leggings in the evening.
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"I recently bought lovely jeggings in M&S in nice colours. The first pair fit so well I bought three in the end!"
Cotton rich jeggings: M&S
As for trousers, jeans are your best friend, but it's comfy stretch fabrics all the way, we say! Find a pair with a bit of give at the waist and try a darker colour (black or dark blue) if you want to make your legs look slimmer. Jeggings are the ideal alternative to jeans if you find the latter isn't comfortable enough. Pair with a longer length top, a blouse or a jumper depending on the occasion (and weather!).
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"If you want to look stylish, go for good tailoring."
Joanna Hope wide leg trousers: Fifty Plus
A tailored fit - not too tight or too loose - will add a touch of magic to any outfit. While there is, unfortunately, a lack of tailored options for plus size women, brands such as Fifty Plus have a range of trousers and jackets that are perfect for spicing up your work wardrobe or adding a little something to a special occasion outfit. Tailored clothing will make you feel confident in clothes that fit you like a glove. And it's more than affordable too if you know where to look.
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"My winter skirts have always been pencil skirts."
Tailored pencil skirt: Simply Be
Clothes should make you feel good, not frumpy, which is why we reject the age-old rhetoric of 'dressing to suit your age'. Choose styles that flatter your body shape and make you feel amazing, even if they feel a little daring at first.
Curve-hugging pencil skirts accentuate curves, and are a wardrobe staple that you can wear with a tucked in blouse or top for work, an event or even if you're pottering about at home. A pencil skirt gives the illusion of a defined waist and, while it may be cinched around the middle, it doesn't have to be uncomfortable. Most high-waisted pencil skirts come in stretchy fabrics that sit comfortably and provide a bit of breathing room at the same time.
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Is there a rule of thumb when it comes to choosing plus size clothes? Not really, according to our gransnetters, but these five tips might just give you a steer in the right direction.
It's time to separate the good from the, err, not so good. Whether you're looking for a brand that supplies the perfect pair of jeans or the best quality dresses, there's something for everyone. So what's out there for plus size women over the age of 50 and which brands are the most trusted among this age group?
"I have to say White Stuff as been a revelation for me - lots of tops, knits, dresses and lovely colours."
"Have a look at White Stuff - their fabrics are forgiving without being dowdy."
"If I'm dressing up, then I like White Stuff."
"They sell plus size in New Look online - it's very well priced and a decent quality."
"I have just bought a T-shirt from Yours. It was £9 - lovely and comfortable to wear, nice and long, and washes well so far."
"It's Marks and Sparks or nothing for me. No other clothes seems to fit."
"Joules is excellent for jackets and tops."
"Boden tends to be a bit more expensive, but their jersey stretch wrap dresses are a boon."
"Seasalt have lovely quality clothes, but are a bit pricey."
"One of the best things about Cotton Traders is that they give a good choice of trouser length."
"Cotton Traders are good. I have some very smart jeans that, in fact, do have an elasticated waist and they don't ruffle up around the middle. It is wide elastic and it just looks like a tidy wide waist."
"I've bought the same trousers for years from JD Williams as they fit well and are so comfy."
"I've bought some excellent tops from Bonmarché."
"Bon Marché is great. The clothes are bright and modern and the sizing is generous."
"I Like East. Their sizes are generous and they have lots of natural fabrics."
"I like to wear FatFace mainly for casual."
Beautiful clothes in a variety of styles and prints designed by Dawn French.