In an exclusive shoot at Oulton Hall with the White Rose shopping centre, Stephanie Smith creates special occasion looks to suit all sizes.
As the wedding, race meet and garden party season gets into full swing, many of us find that our wardrobes are struggling to cope with the excitement of it all.
It’s difficult enough to put together one suitably alluring special occasion outfit, let alone three or four or more to last the season. There’s the expense, of course, but then, we do tend to bump into the same people, especially at family and friends’ weddings or anniversary celebrations, and we can’t be wearing the same outfit each time, no matter how much thought went into its creation.
For women over a size 16, these problems can be multiplied, with less choice on the racks and more worries about what, exactly, is going to work well, both flattering and on-trend.
However, the situation is improving, year on year. Our High Streets and shopping centres increasingly offer gorgeously fashion-forward clothes in sizes 16 and above, as I found when I went to the White Rose Centre in Leeds to select clothes for model Amy, who is a size 16 (although she is tall – 5ft 11in).
Usually, I find myself putting together outfits for models who are size 8 or size 10 (and also 5ft 11in) and I can honestly say that it does feel rather liberating to dress curves, for a change. It’s more normal, too. After all, the average woman in the UK is 5ft 3in tall, weighs 11 stone and wears a size 16 (the average man is 5ft 9in and weighs 13.16 stone).
So, size 16 is normal. Last year Debenhams launched size 16 mannequins to sit alongside its usual size 10s and, although such moves are not without criticism, there can be no denying that curves can be very beautiful indeed.
For our shoot, which took place on a beautiful spring day at the splendid Oulton Hall (hotel, spa and golf facilities), clothes were supplied by Simply Be, Evans, Monsoon and New Look. Simply Be, which has stores at White Rose Leeds and in Doncaster, offers clothes in sizes 12-32 and shoes in sizes 2-10, and with width fittings. For weddings and special occasions, it has fondant shades in mint, blush, peach and ice blue and suggests adding a detailed necklace to draw attention to collarbone and décolleté.
The outfits pictured here are ones created to suit all sizes, not necessarily plus size, although all the clothes are in a size 16. It can be hard to find shoes in large fittings, although New Look and Evans both go beyond an 8 (and Amy said the popping pink shoes were very comfortable, by the way – just the thing for a special event spent all day on your feet).
No matter what your size, invest in accessories such as statement necklaces and long scarves and shawls, as these can completely change the look of an outfit and give you a quick season update – at a bargain price. And the most versatile piece was the long fringed cream jacket from Simply Be, which adds the perfect note of boho luxe glamour to pretty much any piece you care to pair it with.
All clothes and accessories from White Rose Shopping Centre, Leeds. Thanks to Simply Be, Evans, Monsoon and New Look.
Location: Oulton Hall, Oulton, Leeds, www.devere-hotels.co.uk/hotel-lodges/locations/oulton-hall
Pictures: Simon Hulme
Styling: Stephanie Smith
Thanks to Kiran Watson, Kara Dixon, Matthew Fraser
Model: Amy Steed from Catwalk Model Management, Leeds
Hair: Rebecca Charles (formally of Rebecca Charles Salon, Leeds), creative director at Jon Kinsey Salon, 259, Harrogate Road, Leeds, 0113 268 8598 and www.jonkinsey.com
Make-up: Steph Watts using bareMinerals range at Debenhams White Rose.