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April 24, 2024 5 min read

Where To Shop For Plus-Size Tailored Clothes, With Tips From The People Who Tailor Them

For size-inclusive tailoring, these experts offer sage advice.

It’s easy to make the reductive assessment that plus-size garments are generally free-flowing, shapeless silhouettes, but there’s a selection of well-made garments that harness the power of something slightly more tailored.

While there is still a glut of ill-fitting “curve” collections hanging at the end-of-sale racks trying to be passed off as “size-inclusive”, there are several specialist brands and designers who are committed to a well-thought-out wardrobe that also consists of crisp blazers and well-cut trousers.

Comfort is one of the key drivers for why we wear what we wear each day, and finding quality tailoring that looks good can be a challenge at any size; but for those that identify as size 18 upwards, the selection of tailored garments on offer can be limited, ill-fitting and uninspired.

But what constitutes good tailoring? It’s not always as rigorously shaped as we’re led to believe. It can be a simple matter of how a jacket is cut to fit the body correctly, or the way a pair of trousers skims the legs. Sometimes it’s the way a soft lapel sits on an equally relaxed (but still structured) blazer or vest, the latter I’ve discovered is an ideal way to incorporate tailoring into a plus-size wardrobe as it’s less restrictive than a blazer but still provides the smartness one demands from a sharp jacket.

As we’ve offered in our previous Wardrobe 101 instalment, finding suitable alteration services can make or break your wardrobe, and regarding plus-size tailoring, it often pays to collaborate closely with the designer or seek an alterations service that knows how to tailor correctly to your body shape and can make the necessary adjustments required to ensure the best fit possible.

To help offer some perspective on what to look out for when it comes to tailored plus-size garments, I spoke with fashion designer Sarah-Jane Duff, whose label Lost and Led Astray is one of the few plus-size clothing brands that offer a distinctive design point of view

What stigma around plus-size fashion and tailoring do you think people get wrong?

Sarah-Jane Duff: Stretch — you don’t need stretch fabric to be able to wear fitted clothing. You need a good pattern maker! In terms of tailoring, just because it goes around your body doesn’t mean it’s a good fit.


What should plus-sized dressers consider when investing in a garment that has a bit more tailoring involved?

Sarah-Jane: Make sure you get the right size. Never worry about what the labels say, try on different sizes, all our different proportions mean different styles will always fit differently.

Knowing your measurements can really help to find the right size, particularly when shopping online. We recommend using a measuring tape and taking measurements at the time you are investing in a new tailored piece. Everyone’s size fluctuates, so it’s important to be up to date.

In plus-size fashion, the bust measurement is really important so that your jacket or coat can close. If you find this measurement isn’t listed, we recommend asking for it.


When it comes to quality tailored garments, what is your approach?

Sarah-Jane: We create what I call soft tailoring. We have moved away from more formal, traditional tailoring because I have noticed a trend toward customers looking for tailoring that works with their bodies rather than more ridged shapes. Our tailored outer pieces are designed to contrast with our more delicate draped dresses and tops for a complete look.

At Lost and Led Astray, a good fit begins with the design sitting high on the shoulder and falls from there. We like to use a generous set-in sleeve, so they will fit more bodies and allow for plenty of movement. We always look at the proportions of the design to make sure it will suit a generous sleeve. Double-breasted and wrap styles can be a great way to get more coverage for the bust. Closures are often for styling rather than function as I find outerwear looks best worn open as it creates a lovely longline through the body.

Even if a jacket fits, because of the way a plus-size body moves it will often still pull and ride up. The waist tie is another way we allow for a personalised fit. I like to tie at the back to give more shape to these styles. We also consider different customer heights when designing — some styles have maxi lengths for taller customers or cropped lengths to suit a shorter person so as not to swamp them.



What key tailored pieces do you currently sell and what are their key design features?

Sarah-Jane: We have our always populaCocoon coat, which has a classic notched collar with a generous wrap-over front. It has a tie closure, but what really makes it special is the cocooning sleeve shape. This style suits our taller customers.

The other tailored style in store is the Orchid jacket. This is a more classic, double-breasted cropped shape with an extended lapel collar, which gives a minimal look. It’s designed to hit you in just the right spot at the top of the hip to create a lovely waist.

We also have a super-cute, cropped trench jacket on the way. When it comes to tailoring, we love riffing on classic shapes and giving our own Lost and Led Astray spin.


Do you offer bespoke tailoring for customers in-house?

Sarah-Jane: We offer a custom service where we work with customers to make an existing style their own. We also do alterations all the time, but it is most often to change the length rather than any fit issues. We work really hard on our fits, so we don’t tend to have many issues in this area.

What fabrics do you work with when it comes to designing comfortable tailoring?

Sarah-Jane: Natural fibres that breathe and drape so beautifully over the body. Wool is the number one, but I’ve learned a fabric blend like wool/viscose can help give your garment a longer life. Our designs rely on the natural give and movement in the fabric, which informs our fabric choices.

Lost and Led Astray ‘Orchid’ jacket $493

Cropped bolero-style jackets are a clever way to play with proportions, and a tailored jacket like this is a perfect throw-on over a loose-fitted dress, immediately transforming the ensemble into something that feels like a little more effort has been made. Available in a range of colours and prints, we’re especially taken with this playful leopard-print option, the perfect way to inspire a look made up of artfully clashing prints

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