I used to hate shopping.As a curvier woman, I’m blessed with wider hips and thighs. Suffice to say, it’s a rare occasion when off-the-rack clothing fits properly, and that’s without getting into the sizing inconsistencies that exist from store to store. (Thanks to vanity sizing I fluctuate anywhere between a 12 to a 20…)
The reality is that malls just aren’t all that friendly to women with curves and very few stores carry clothing that flatter a curvier body type.
Before I conquered my fear nervousness hatred for mall shopping, I would find myself scurrying in and out as quickly as I could, buying only out of necessity (because clothes would wear out and inevitably need to be replaced), and not because I enjoyed the experience or because I liked the way the clothes I was trying on looked on me.
Because I’m tall (5’9″) and have a broad frame I found it would actually be easier to sometimes shop at men’s stores—for jeans, t-shirts—items that fit, but definitely didn’t flatter.
Doesn’t sound like the stereotypical description of the female shopping experience, does it?
The problem with malls and retailers isn’t that the clothing is of poor quality, boring or too expensive, it’s that the way women are expected to look as represented by standard mannequin sizes, advertisements, and of course sizing availability just doesn’t equate to the representation of the average woman. (Note: She’s a size 12-14 approximately 160 lbs.)
As a result, there are thrones of women too afraid to step into a mall. Too intimidated to experiment with a new fabric, style or colour for fear it won’t suit her. Too insecure to ask a 16-year-old size 2 salesperson whether or not they have an extra-large in that dress.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be so tough.
I can only share my own story of getting over my retail insecurities, but in my case, I found style support and inspiration by going online. To forums, message boards, and websites to learn ways other women like me were dressing for our shape. I found a few ‘body doubles’ as I’d call them—and follow them closely for stye inspiration. After all—they looked great. I could too.
This is where I first discovered I wasn’t the only one having this issue, in fact there were a ton of women feeling frustrated trying to find clothes for their different body sizes and shapes.
These ‘so-called’ strangers online were helping each other, being supportive and encouraging each other. The conversations I was having with these strangers helped erase the voices in my head telling me I ‘wasn’t thin enough’ to be stylish.
Plus I found new friends and built relationships with women I’d never met. In fact, I’d say that even today many of them know me better than my in-person friends.
Over the years, with their help I’ve come to identify several stores that really cater to my shape. And cuts, styles and patterns that work for accentuating the parts of my body I love. Yes, that means I’ve gone back to the mall, to boutiques and to traditional retailers. But it also means I’ve come to discover a ton of online-only brands and retailers thanks to recommendations from my body-doubles.
They say knowledge is power. Who knew it applied to fashion too?
Savvy business people will tell you to build a product that solves a pain you’re experiencing. (“Be the change you want to see in the world”, and all that jazz.) Call it a little cliche if you will, but after spending the better part of a few years combing the web for the best style references and inspiration for my own use – I realised there was a huge opportunity to turn my newfound passion for body-positive fashion into a movement.
That’s why my husband, myself and a handful of our closest friends joined forces to create a body-positive community called BeauCoo. It launched earlier this year, and is currently accepting sign-ups. Browse user-submitted photos from women that look like you via BeauCoo.com on the web or better yet—download the companion mobile app for iPhone to share pics of outfits you discover either while your shopping (makes a great silent companion) or once you get home.
Need a second opinion from an unbiased someone like you? There’s no better feeling than snapping a pic of an outfit you just tried on and getting immediate feedback. All sizing is kept confidential but you’ll immediately benefit from being introduced to stores, styles and trends that are virtually guaranteed to suit you.
BeauCoo is taking a stand against the belief that being a woman is about shape or size. We believe women are beautiful, no matter the definition, and that style is a matter of personal preference. BeauCoo was designed for women to have a safe place to share style inspiration.
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