Most women have experienced that crushing disappointment when a pair of fabulous boots don’t close past the calf or the sleeves of a delicious winter coat don’t slip over a sweater without cutting off circulation to the arms. .
It’s not just about fashion brands remembering to design beyond a size 14. It’s not even about how “plus size” fashion is so often covered in fussy detail. in order to “disguise” the figure, while most women want is a beautiful, chic figure.
Coat, £200 and boots, £159, johnlewis. com
Fashion designer turned blogger Erica Davies (pictured) has launched her own label to create clothes that fit women the way they wear them
It is a failure on the part of the High Street to consider how women actually wear the clothes we are sold. How we use them. How we like to put things in real pockets rather than supporting fake pocket flaps as a style feature. How, in winter, we are likely to wear a sweater under our coats. And how normal women who exercise, go to work, feed the family, and generally take care of our busy days, don’t necessarily have calves as slender as a 6-foot-1 catwalk model. , and might need a heel with some heft, if he – and we – have to get through the day.
It’s precisely this issue that led fashion editor-turned-blogger and author Erica Davies to share her exasperation with her 191,000 Instagram followers.
Coat, £220 and boots, £129, johnlewis. com
“I was trying to find knee-high boots – I saw all these beautiful Jimmy Choos and Victoria Beckhams, but I couldn’t find anything I liked on the High Street. And when I did find them, they didn’t “If I’m a 14 and I’m having trouble, what does that mean for a woman who’s a 16, 18, or 20?”
Erica asked her followers, “Is it just me?” And the floodgates opened. Reader after reader, they told sobbing stories about the trauma of having to have a pair of boots that were too tight cut off in a store; or hate the humiliation of going shopping with friends and being sent next door to the “plus size store”. The comments kept pouring in.
Coat, £280 and boots, £109, johnlewis.com; dress, £265, wyselondon.com
It was the start of a journey that would see Erica design boots and coats for real women, with the help of John Lewis – which is why she talks to me from her home in Essex, where she lives with her husband and 12-year-old children. and ten.
Erica’s designs continue to be directly influenced by that early “Is it just me?” conversation with her online community – what they all wanted to talk about was the chasm between what High Street produces and what many women want to buy.
So, armed with anecdotes and research, Erica prepared a presentation and, somewhat between her teeth, approached John Lewis to tell them: This is what your customers want.
Coat, £220 and boots, £109, john lewis.com; trousers, £38, riverisland. com
To his surprise, they agreed to give it a shot. The result was last fall’s debut collection of knee-high boots for John Lewis, which quickly sold out.
“I had a woman who messaged me saying she bought five pairs because she was so thrilled to finally be able to wear the long, sleek boots she had been waiting for years,” recalls Erica.
Its success has been such that there are 16 models of boots this year as well as a new collection of 12 Erica Davies coats inspired by the same source: real women whose bodies have for too long been the afterthought of fashion.
Coat, £280 and boots, £169, johnlewis.com; dress, £247.50, meandem.com
Erica has taken her favorite coats over the years – from vintage cocktail coats to chic shawls – and given them a modern twist. The result is a collection that’s not in the plus size category – they’re cut so you can wear them fitted or loose and style them your way.
“We don’t want to dictate sizes – some of them are oversized and some are more fitted, so it’s really about trying them on and seeing what works for you,” says Erica. “It’s about giving people choice and also being aware of the practicalities.”
This explains the characteristic silhouette of this collection – a raglan sleeve that curves over the shoulder into a wide “bracelet” above the wrist. Chic, structured, yet spacious, the cut offers the wearer plenty of room for layers – or can be elegantly lifted over a chic dress without the risk of crushing it.
Coat, £200, dress, £65 and boots, £169, johnlewis. com
“I love the wristband sleeve because it gives you extra style options – you can wear it with a contrast color sweater or longer colored gloves,” says Erica.
“I love this Carrie Bradshaw thing about making a nice coat part of the evening outfit. But it’s also a coat that a school mom can throw over her pajamas if she wants to feel a little tighter.
Of course, in a cost of living crisis, it’s fair to wonder if a cocktail coat is going to be the shopping priority, and Erica acknowledges that these are investment coats, rather than fast fashion. , with price tags to match – they cost £180-£280, with boots from £69 more accessible – although they do look more expensive, especially the satin-lapel tuxedo coat .
Coat, £220, dress, £65 and boots, £129, johnlewis. com
‘The idea was that you could treasure and pass on these coats, but they will also be available to rent on the John Lewis rental site (rental.johnlewis.com), so if you have a party or wedding you can benefit .’
Social media has allowed designers to speak directly to their customers – or at least those who are willing to admit that the customer is perhaps the best informed (Scamp & Dude and Heist are among the labels to be commended for following this rich flow of inspiration). And for Erica, that’s what makes her job worth doing.
“If I can be the middle person to find market gaps, it’s an amazing place,” she says. “People judge fashion for being flippant, but it’s so important to women’s self-esteem. And if a female reader can influence the creation of something she’s never been able to find before and that she feels good in it, that’s all I can ask for.
- The Erica Davies X John Lewis collection will be available from tomorrow.