Taking shape very kindly offered me a styling session at my local store (I say local, it's in Kingston which is zone 6, but until central London gets one it's my closest option!) and as I was going to be nearby on Good Friday I arranged a session and turned up ready to try on some clothes IN REAL LIFE! The joy of try before you buy! I was greeted by Liz Heath who runs the Leicester Taking Shape store.... she had been given the rather tricky task of styling me, and was lovely and (thank goodness) happy to listen to my views on the clothes and didn't take offence when I didn't like things. She really was delightful, and it was a super fun experience for me!
Kingston is a small store but it's very nice, and tucked away at the back is my area; the Eplisse section! Taking shape have a slightly older clientele and so a lot of their pieces aren't my style, but I often love the dresses from the Eplisse range. This was my opportunity to try on some of the items I've been looking at online!
I knew I'd like this 'Carnival Rose' dress, but when I tried it on I loved it!. It is a firm fabric with a hint of stretch (cotton & elastane) so it skims all the right bits and nips in at all the right bits too. I'm wearing the size 22 and the fit is perfect (no need to size up in taking shape, from my experience they're pretty reliable if not generous!). The black and white floral pattern is perfect and it's below the knee, so it's perfect for bare legs!
The 'Chinoiserie' dress is one that I've had in my wish list for a while. It's so pretty! The fabric is super soft and stretchy and the colours are lovely. I think I tried size medium because they were sold out in the bigger sizes, so as you can see it doesn't quite fall right, and it's a bit small on my bust....
.... I think if the bigger sizes had been available this would have come home with me! If you want a comfortable and lady-like dress then this is the one for you!
If you want a sexy dress then try their super popular 'Rose Etching' Dress. This is a slinky number, made from a very strokable super stretchy fabric. I'm wearing the 22 here (with bulgy leggings and the wrong bra!) and the fit is great.
The dress is knee length on me, and has a built in stretch lining. It's extremely comfortable for a fitted dress. I really like this one, and my boyfriend liked it too (always a good sign!)
So those were the dresses I chose to try on, now it's time for the dresses that Liz selected for me! I wouldn't of picked this 'In Bloom' dress from looking at it on the hanger, but actually, it's rather lovely when it's on! I think I like it even more now I look at the pictures. The bias cut on this full dress with heavy stretch fabric is generous. I don't know why but I can't get this page to load properly on the taking shape website, so I'm not sure if this dress comes in 22 / 24 or medium / large etc. I do know that I had to size down though, so maybe bear that in mind!
This dress falls below the knee and is very full at the bottom. I think this shape would be excellent at balancing out a large busted lady with a smaller lower body!
I had looked at this 'Hibiscus' maxi dress on the website but I wasn't sure about the beaded neckline. I don't mind it so much in real life, but sadly it's too short for me. I found it difficult to get the empire line below my boobs (even though it's stretchy fabric) and it was a few inches too short over all. No good for me, but great news for you shorter ladies! This dress is cute and comfy, and when worn the beads just look like a chunky necklace! I'm not sure what sizes I tried the maxi dresses on in, I'm sorry lovely readers, I was a bit excited so I didn't check! I'd guess Large or extra large, but check the measurements provided on the website!
I had the same issue again with the 'Starburst' maxi dress. Too short for me. I really like this one though... Liz made a good choice here with the colours and pattern. I would have snipped the thread holding it together on the bust (for a lower cut look!) but otherwise I would definitely wear this one if it came in 'long'! Again, this is nice and stretchy!
I also tried on a pair of their wide foot sandals. They look like wedges but they're actually quite flat.
As you can see my square feet fitted them without a problem!
Liz surprised me by giving me £100 to spend in the store which was so generous! Taking shape had a 20% off deal over Easter, so I managed to get 2 beautiful dresses but only spent about £7! I am such a lucky girl! Guess which ones I chose......
Of course I chose this one! It's slinky and lovely! I opened up the cross over top so it is now nice and low-cut. I don't know what my cameras problem is but some of these are annoyingly fuzzy.... never mind, you get the picture right?! P's, this is without any shaping undies, just knickers and a decent bra!
And the 2nd dress?!
Of course I had to have this one, I felt like this one suited me best, and I felt wonderfully girly and pretty in it, so it had to come home with me!
Big thanks to taking shape for their generosity and to the lovely Liz who totally accepted and supported my (stubborn) sense of my own style and was super lovely to me the whole session. The chance to actually visit a shop that sells my size has become so rare that I forget how nice it is. It's so exciting to think that the high street may be opening up to plus size women at last!