3 mid and plus-size women on how they shop sustainably

Top tips on how to shop curve fashion sustainably.
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Shopping sustainably is never easy – but it gets a whole lot harder if you’re a mid or plus-size woman.

For many women over a UK size 16, it can be difficult to find clothing brands that cater to their size – and if they do, a ‘fat tax‘ is sometimes added on, particularly for made-to-order brands.

READ MORE: Why has sustainable fashion left plus-size women out for so long?

While charity shops and re-selling apps are another good way to find sustainable fashion, the options become fewer and fewer for curve sizes – and with fashion often being used as a tool for self-expression, it makes doing so sustainably very difficult.

We wanted to learn more about how mid and plus-size women tackle the dilemma, so we spoke to 3 influencers on how they create a sustainable wardrobe, their top tips for finding decent ethical clothing and where they get their fashion inspo.

Charys Dewhurst, @babyguerilla

Where are your favourite places to shop for plus-size and sustainable fashion?

I keep an eye open in charity shops (though there’s rarely much in plus sizes) and will sometimes search by my dress size on eBay, but my number one is Instagram!

I don’t use their shop function, but there are so many small businesses and independent makers creating clothes and sharing them via Instagram pages.

As they’re sewing on a smaller scale, they’re often really happy to provide custom sizing, meaning you can get something that fits just right. It’s also a lot more affordable than I’d have expected and people often run sample sales or have people test new patterns/sizes at a discount. 

Do you shop exclusively sustainably?

Yes. I made the commitment last year when I realised how many options there were available from small makers and that I was in a financial position to be able to do so.

Shopping sustainably is more affordable than expected, but still can’t compete with the pricing from fast fashion brands. I also realised that where the quality of fast fashion garments tends to be low, I was having to replace things really frequently, meaning I was buying new clothes multiple times a month and throwing out a lot.

READ MORE: 6 sustainable and plus size clothing brands to know now

I realised I could save and buy one dress that cost three times as much, but would last three times as long. I always want to do anything I can to reduce waste and it’s really important to me that people that make the clothes I wear are paid fairly.

Speaking to small makers and hearing how long it takes to make one jumper really highlighted how little garment workers in fast fashion are paid versus the work that’s required from them for me.

Shopping sustainably isn’t an option for everyone as it is more expensive, so I feel that if you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford to, it’s even more important that you do.

You’re also often supporting small makers which is another big benefit – you know where your money is going. 

Do you have any tips for those trying to shop more sustainably?

I have never been able to find anything I liked from a big sustainable business. Things are either extortionate or their plus-size options stop at an 18. I have been really lucky with charity shops and eBay once or twice, but it is really hard and the options just aren’t there. 

The big turning point for me was finding small makers on Instagram, so start there! If you find one brand you like, you’re often recommended similar accounts, and there’s a great sense of community meaning small brands often share each others content and suddenly you’re spoilt for choice. 

Searching hashtags like #plussizesustainablefashion #handmadeclothing #slowfashion are helpful, and if you find someone making things you love, it doesn’t hurt to message them and ask if they’d be happy to make something in your size – that’s how I found my current favourite brand! They didn’t yet stock my size when I first reached out. 

I also happen to have found lots via snag tights on Instagram, a lot of the models whose images they share are plus size, and they’re often wearing exciting garments from sustainable brands. 

If you find something you love, share it and share it to those hashtags too! That way you’re helping others to find exiting, sustainable plus size clothes and spreading the word. 

READ MORE: Erdem has added inclusive sizing, but why isn’t this the norm?

Who do you follow for sustainable fashion and styling inspiration?

I’m yet to find anyone who is big on plus-size sustainable fashion – I’m sure they’re out there, I just haven’t found them yet!

I follow a few influencers who share a lot of plus-size fashion, but they seem to mostly share big hauls from fast-fashion companies, which is understandable as they are the main options for plus size clothing!

The most sustainable option is also the clothing that you already have at home, rather than buying something new, so by that nature, it would be great to see more people sharing how to style things in multiple ways so it feels fresh without having to buy anything new.

@gaudygrrl has some highlights on her page about things like how to add pockets to things you already own, which I LOVE. It’s great to see ways to repair and revitalise things you already have. 

Which brands do you look to for clothes that make you feel confident?

My number one go to is Aesthetic Laundry. They are a small business run by the most lovely and brilliant women.

A lot of their garments have an oversized fit, but are cut in a way that means they don’t feel baggy or like you’re hiding away. The bright colours, and super comfy, stretchy fabrics mean I’m yet to find something from them that I don’t LOVE wearing.

They stock up to a 5XL and have run an amazing project called the #bigepicshoot with women of all different shapes and sizes, so you can see what their clothes would look like on someone that looks like you. Everything is so well made, and there’s such a variety of colours that you can go really bold or pick something more muted if it suits you. 

I expected to find underwear the hardest to shop for sustainably, but brands like Molke and RedragsCSP, who offer super comfy pants in ANY size, have made it a breeze. I’m no longer buying the only set of black M&S pants that go up to my size – I can choose from a whole range of exciting fabrics that fit my personality. 

I’d also love to shout out to Sadie Alys, Plus Equals, Sew Wasted, Foundling Studio, Hiccups and Juice, Creative House UK and My Poor Purse, all of which make really unique and exciting clothing and either offer plus sizes or custom sizing. 

READ MORE: 17 plus-size influencers to follow now

How would you define your style? 

After hiding away in as much black as possible, I’m enjoying finding out what my style is.

At the moment I’m loving bright, bold colours, lots of pink, and anything that feels a little more unique or individual. Rather than having a set style, if I see and I like it, I’ll wear it!

I’m trying to feel okay taking up space, and wearing things I like that might be big and puffy too, instead of feeling like I need to make myself as small as possible. 

Cat Brant, @thecatscurves

Where are your favourite places to shop for plus-size and sustainable fashion?

I personally shop second-hand. I mostly use the apps Depop and Vinted, and very occasionally eBay and Facebook Marketplace. When I have to buy new socks, I get them from BAM and I buy my underwear from M&S.

Do you shop exclusively sustainably?

I try to and around 90% of the time I succeed. I do so for environmental reasons and I started a few years ago. Me and my husband have tried our best to do a little bit better every year in all areas of our sustainability mission.

Do you have any tips for those trying to shop more sustainably?

I think the very first thing I tell people who want to start shopping sustainably is that they probably don’t need to shop at all.

READ MORE: The best places to snap up vintage bargains online

Reorganise your wardrobe, if you can think of a few outfits and occasions you can wear things, keep it. If you can’t, set up a Vinted shop and sell things. you can use the money you make towards key investment pieces that you’ll wear.

The trick here is to have enough variety to start with, without it being so overwhelming that you only wear the same few items.

You should be able to see everything you own if possible, if not then take a photo of outfits you like and start a folder in your phone so you can quickly refer to outfits you own.

I also recommend investing in key items that you can wear again and again. They should be quality items that transcend fashion trends. This is tougher for plus-size and mid-size women, but it is possible.

There are a rising number of independent UK brands that will make clothes from measurements. If you don’t have the money for custom-made (and that’s a lot of people!) then second hand is great for women up to about a size 20-22 and then the choice gets really limited.

However swap shops on Facebook, plus-size clothing groups and body twins on Instagram might offer an opportunity.

If learning to sew to custom make your wardrobe is something you’re interested in, there are loads of online courses.

If you do buy fast fashion, read the sustainability and ethical policies of the brand and make sure you consider your purchase and its impact before you buy anything.

Who do you follow for sustainable fashion and styling inspiration?

I follow women all over the world. I think style transcends size and I follow women of all sizes, as well as some who I draw personal comparisons with.

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Outfit repeaters and women who create fashion challenges give me great ideas for new ways to wear my wardrobe. I like @scandinavskya @recycled_remix @shopin_yourcloset @the.thrifted.gay.

I think personal style will really dictate who you follow, but Instagram is saturated with women sharing their outfits so there’s a community for you, whatever your style, shape, size or niche.

Which brands do you look to for clothes that make you feel confident?

For me it’s a mindset rather than an outfit. I don’t really have any specific brands I look for – I tend to look for pieces when shopping second hand and in plus sizes, so I can’t afford to be really picky!

How would you define your style? 

I define my style as girly and bright. It’s fairly eclectic though – I’m 31 and I’m still trying new things.

READ MORE: How to make money from renting your clothes

Josie Wass, @aplusfatshion

Where are your favourite places to shop for plus size and sustainable fashion? 

Personally, I’m a gal on a budget and I find it pretty difficult to find sustainable, affordable, size-inclusive brands.

When I want to shop sustainably I hit the thrift store first! I also love secondhand shopping online – places like Poshmark, Thredup, Vinted, and sometimes through Instagram accounts!

Some sustainable retailers I shop on sale are: Dazey LA, Universal Standard, Pact, The Standard Stitch, and SeeRoseGo.

Do you shop exclusively sustainably?

I don’t, though I hope to someday shop completely sustainably! Right now, my wardrobe is about 50/50.

I try to actively avoid brands I know have a terrible ethical/sustainable reputation, but shopping this way is a privilege! It involves sizing and budget availability, and I’m a strong believer in doing what you can, even if it’s not perfect. There are lots of factors working against the ability to shop 100% sustainably.  

Do you have any tips for those trying to shop sustainably?

Shop second hand. By doing this, you’re removing clothing items from the waste stream but can still shop brands you know and trust. Plus, it’s super affordable.

Take baby steps. Start by selling items in your closet that you don’t wear and putting that money towards one more expensive sustainable piece. Repeat.

Do clothing swaps with your friends. It’s like shopping secondhand, but for free. Find a few friends around your size, and shop each other’s closets. 

READ MORE: How to swap clothes online during lockdown


Who do you follow for sustainable fashion and styling inspiration?

@ferventlychic @timorourus.me @laurenmarigold @ohhhhhhhhhoney and @nic.taliaferro.

How would you define your style? 

My style is ever-changing! I would say it’s somewhat boho – lots of florals, hats, and dresses, but also classic – lots of neutrals and wearable, timeless pieces. 

For fashion advice and general chit-chat, join our Facebook group What To Wear Next.

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