Back to Sunderland in 2002.
Thinking back, this was one of the last years that I ever remember going into town shopping with my friends as a school teen. I was in my second year of big school and all the girls around me were really starting to discover their style. Well, as much as you could when over plucked brows and frosty pink lips were in fashion.
FCUK tops were very much on trend and I remember standing in their changing rooms, desperately get trying to squeeze myself into a top adorned with three repetitions of 'Bristol cities'. I'll leave you to make your own mind up on that one but needless to say, I walked away from the store with less self esteem than I went in with and a top that I would later resign to the charity bag in the hope that it would be loved by someone else who could get it over their own Bristol cities.
Growing up as a plus size girl was hard. I couldn't shop in any of the stores that my friends did and by my mid teens I had reached the point where getting dressed on a morning was a choice between which black tent to wear next. With the best will in the world, it is very difficult to find your style when your local highstreet offers two plus size concessions, both of which were as drab as the other, and the internet hadn't really advanced much further than eBay.
Fast-forward to college and my first chance to treat my dad with tickets to see The Pogues in Manchester, using money I'd earned from a Saturday job. Little did I know that travelling across the country at Christmastime for a gig would be music to my ears in more ways than one.
Within seconds, I was trying on half the shop; ridiculously excited at how beautiful the clothes were and overwhelmed that they were in my size. We may not have been in New York but this was certainly my Fairytale!
Fashion plays a large part in finding and expressing your identity which is particularly important when you're growing up. I felt as though I didn't fit in at school and it was so hard to follow the latest trends when all I had access to was Evans and Etam, the former of which seemingly designed exclusively for the elderly and the latter closed its plus size section faster than it opened.
When I found Yours Clothing, I no longer felt restricted; I could walk into a shop, be treated with kindness and respect and have more choice to choose from than I'd ever imagined.
From that day on, I searched for any excuse to travel to Manchester. Pass Plus Driving Test, Manchester! Girls weekend away? You guessed it, Manchester!
I even recall doing a tour of three stores in the Yorkshire area while on our way to a caravan holiday. We arrived several hours late, with my now husband almost completely losing the will to live but even then, he couldn't deny that it had all been worth it when he saw how amazing and confident I felt in my new outfits that weekend!
|SHOP Navy Jersey Shirt // SHOP Rose Print Trousers|
Yours Clothing even have a mens brand now called BadRhino which specialise in big and tall mens fashion in sizes L to 8XL. While women's plus size fashion has come a long way in recent years, mens still has a long way to go and I feel as though they're largely underrepresented on the high street. There are so many guys out there that struggle to find great looking clothes that fit them and when they do, they're usually ridiculously overpriced. Its really not fair to have to pay over the odds just because you're taller or larger than others.
I'm so impressed with the BadRhino range because its stylish yet practical and perfect for all occasions, day or night. All of their menswear is realistically priced too; I'm talking £14 for a polo shirt unlike the £100+ that I've seen in some stores! Plus its easy to be able to get an idea of what the item will look like in real life as BadRhino use models in a range of sizes. You might even recognise some famous faces on their site from football legend Razor Ruddock to Game of Thrones star Kristian Nairn and Ben Whit, the UK's first big & tall male model.
I've linked some of my favourite pieces from BadRhino below if you're a man reading this, or shopping for one, as well as the pieces from Yours above that I'm wearing. I love how easy to wear the jersey shirt and printed trousers are; definitely a staple for spring!
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