fashion

ROADTEST: I went searching for the perfect size 22 summer dress. Here is what I found.

I’m just your average size 22-24 woman. I love block colours and glitter and, if I’m honest, this time of year makes me a little anxious.

As an extroverted introvert I find the parties overwhelming – all of the hugs are a little unnecessary, but more than that – if I don’t have at least two weeks notice, it’s virtually impossible for me to find something to wear.

I am the queen of online shopping. I have my go to brands, I know the fit of their clothes, my size, the delivery time and with the help of AfterPay I usually have my wardrobe sorted well in advance but December has me shook.

Mamamia reviews: The latex bodysuit. Post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

Last minute invites, changes in weather and life in general have me scrambling outside of my usual online haunts to the IRL shopping experience. I feel a little vulnerable and out of my comfort zone.

Where do people go for last minute buys that are funky for us curvy babes?

I had no idea… but I was going to find out. Last weekend I hit up my local shopping centre to see if I could find the perfect summer dress for women above a size 22.

Hopefully my experiences will help you as you search for the perfect dress to fit your plus size frame.

Note: Sizes vary from store to store so I tried to find dresses that fit my body rather than sticking to one size. The number on the tag is just that, a number. Don’t hold onto it.

Also, I’ve rated the cost of these dresses using dollar signs. So ranging from $ for cheap, to $$$ for exxy.

Cotton On.

I think I speak for every plus size babe in Australia when I say ‘Cotton On put your plus size range in store. Please. I want to shop!’

Cotton On has some beautiful patterns and their plus size range is actually great, I just wish that I was able to get my hands on it in store. Anyone else hate buying things online the first time? We need to try things on.

I went into Cotton On knowing that the chances of me finding anything off the rack was going to be slim to none but I went in determined and came out with this little black find.

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COTTON-ON
Cotton on dresses. (big fan of the black.) Image: Supplied.

Cost: $

Size: XL

Fit: Snug around the bust but great everywhere else.

Target.

While I give props to Target for having the Bella Curve range from the start, the two racks of stock were hard to find and when I did find them the only colours I could see were navy, black, khaki and white... fat people like colours too you know.

I persevered and happily, I did find two dresses.

My favourite is the Bella Curve Dress. The fit is generous and it has pockets so that's a win in my books. I would probably ditch the fabric belt and add a wide leather belt to add definition to my curves but otherwise this dress is great.

It’s flowy, casual and perfect for your next BBQ.

TARGET-DRESSES
My favourite of the two Target finds is the stripes. Image: Supplied.
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Cost: $

Size: 22+

Fit: Generous. Roomy, breezy and super comfy.

Big W.

Much like Target, Big W has one rack of plus size clothes BUT they had colours and patterns that made my serotonin levels soar (serotonin dressing is a thing, Google it).

The collection was small but the colours were bright and the sizes were there.

Big W dress
Big W dress. Image: Supplied.

I mean how cute is it?!

Cost: $

Size: 22

Fit: Amazing. Roomy, not tight around the bust or arms, the length is perfect.

City Chic.

Fat girl heaven, right? I love do love City Chic and instantly relax when I walk through the doors because I know they’re going to stock my size.

City Chic is more expensive than the other brands I’ve listed so far but you get what you pay for so let's save these for a special occasion.

I love colours and I love blue. It’s bold and playful but it's not THAT bright so it’s perfect if standing out isn’t really your thing. I also love a wrap dress.

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Wrap dresses fit my curves perfectly, they cinch you in at the waist highlighting your gorgeous figure. They also fall from the waist which is perfect if you are not loving your belly that day and want to be fancy and comfy.

CITY-CHIC
City Chic dresses. Image: Supplied.

Cost: $$

Size: S

Fit: Beautiful.

Forever New Curve.

I have never been to Forever New Curve and I really wanted to give it a try. Without sounding like a total fan girl, it was great.

The colours were light, bright and vibrant, the styles were fun and perfect for spring/summer and there were sequins. I am a sucker for anything that sparkles.

The sizes were generous and range up to a 22 (a large 22). I found it practically impossible to choose just one thing that I loved from Forever New Curve - but here are my top two.

Dress No. 1 just made my heart sing. I felt cute, and ready for high tea or cocktails with the girls. I just hugged my waist in the best way.

Dress No. 2 was always going to be my favourite. I saw it from across the room and beelined for it. It was love at first sparkle.

FOREVER-NEW-CURVE
Forever New Curve dresses. Image: Supplied.
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Cost: $$

Size: 20 for dress one and 22 for dress two.

Fit: Forever New Curve run big, when I order from them I will be sizing down.

Before we wrap this up I want to add two things. The dresses that I have put in this article are the ones I loved. I tried on around five dresses in each store and not all were great experiences. So if it doesn’t fit then that’s ok, move onto the next dress.

I want to put this challenge to mainstream retailers in 2020. Extend your sizes above a size 18-20. Fat people want to buy clothes too. We want colours and patterns and to feel good about ourselves and while some stores do stock our size for many of us the prices are out of our reach. Let’s make fashion accessible.

Let’s see real people in advertising campaigns and let’s ditch the idea that the size of our pants is indicative of our worth.

If you want my top tips for online shopping this summer you can’t go wrong with Little Party Dress, Ada + Lou and ASOS.

And remember, just because a shop doesn’t stock your size, doesn’t mean you aren’t perfect just the way you are.

Lacey-Jade Christie is a fiery Melbourne-based plus-size influencer and host of The Fat Collective podcast. She combines her life as a nurse with her own experience of mental illness and is a strong advocate for safe spaces for the BoPo and Queer community to come together through both the podcast and at various events she hosts throughout the year.  Not one to shy away from the controversial, she is an LGBTIQ+ activist, feminist and published writer, having featured in publications such as The Guardian, The Age and Archer Magazine and many more. Lacey’s passion for inclusivity and celebrating diversity shine through her much like the glitter she is constantly covered in. For more from Lacey-Jade, you can follow her on Instagram. 

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