Finally, plus size fashion done right

I’m a bit of a clotheshorse. I’m not the most trendy person, and I’m certainly not Instagram-ready every day. But I love shopping and keeping up with the trends. My favorite feature in my new home is a walk in closet that, in conjunctions with my dressers, is big enough to house my entire wardrobe. No more being late to work because I had to go upstairs and dig in the guest closet for the blouse I wanted! I’ve been shopping less this year (#budgetlife), purging my closet, and trying to make sure I can get multiple wears out of whatever I do bring into the house. Fortunately, I have better options today than I did five years ago. Ironically, it’s at the same time that I’m starting to lose weight but, c’est la vie.

One of my favorite brands, Eloquii, has undergone a rebranding over the past year. If you follow any plus sized fashion blogger, they’ve modeled multiple pieces from Eloquii with good reason. They used to focus more on fun casual clothes that were good for everyday and could easily be dressed up or down. They have always had a dedicated formalwear/going out looks section, but in the beginning it was more conservative and in line with their former parent company The Limited. Now, they are moving in an edgier direction, going toe to toe with brands like ASOS Curve and City Chic which caters to a more adventurous and trendy customer who isn’t afraid to turn up the glamour. I’m still a frequent customer, but my style is a little more understated. I go to them primarily for statement tops and going out dresses. Click to enlarge the gallery images below.

See what I mean? There are a LOT of statement pieces there. But that’s okay. The entire plus sized market is underserved but basics are much easier to find than special, stand out ones that don’t look cheap (Forever 21+ and Fashion Nova Curve don’t work for everything). They still have enough basis to keep me coming back.

Loft is completely my style, but it was only just this summer that they started doing plus sizes. I’m happy to report that the wait was somewhat justified by the quality. In a move unique to plus size lines, almost every single straight size piece is available in plus. And the trendiest items, the ones that make the campaigns and the new arrivals page, are available in plus as well. I haven’t done exhaustive research, but every piece so far that has caught my eye in their social media advertising has been available in my size–and FOR THE SAME PRICE! This is a major, major win in the plus size world and one we’ve been asking for forever. Here’s a look at their selection (click to enlarge):

If you compare the homepage for the general website and the plus section, you’ll see that the overall look and feel is the same–they are treating the plus size customer the same as their overall demographic. Shocking, I know, but unfortunately that is rare and to be commended. Loft serves a large age range of customers, from my 25 year old coworker to 45 year old soccer moms to 65 year old grandmothers who are young at heart, and it shows. But the classics are classic for a reason and Loft does them well.


I’m so glad to have better options. Old Navy’s quality and fit are wildly inconsistent. GAP doesn’t do plus sizes but I can fit into their upper range depending on the fabric and fit. Target has cute stuff, but quality and fit are a problem plus the significant upcharge for plus size items ($5-10 over the straight size equivalent, but hidden by the fact that plus sizes are different brands, except for Who What Wear). I simply can’t justify dropping $40 on a paper thin, ill fitting shirt. Fortunately, there is now enough brand diversity for the plus size market has some competition. I’m looking forward to better quality and better fashion for all.

Dear Target

Dear Target,

Despite being a retailer that prides itself on stylishly being all things to all people, your plus size market has been grossly ignored. The plus size section is relegated to 2 or 3 racks at the far end of women’s apparel, and is often mixed in with maternity. While the emergence of the Ava & Viv line, designed in collaboration with several notable fashion bloggers, was supposed to provide a fresh face, nothing changed. The most fashionable items (which were little more than colorful basics) were offered in that initial launch, and everything since then has been absolutely pitiful. At my local Target, the plus line is updated with 5-7 new pieces per season. Invariably, half of them are black or white.

Meanwhile, a quick perusal of Target.com shows a substantial collection of plus items in Target’s proprietary Merona and Mossimo lines, many of which are equivalent to the plus size lines…and none of which make it to my local Target stores, with the exception of solid color tees, cardigans, and basic slacks. The demand for fashionable plus size clothing clearly exists, as evidenced by the fact that the Lilly Pulitzer collection sold out in mere hours.

So, you’ve tried it again in a collection with Who What Wear and you’re finally doing some things right. The collaboration is a long term one and includes plus sizes. Perhaps most importantly, almost every item in the straight size line was provided in plus, in at least 2 color/pattern options.  Aesthetically, the offerings are a HUGE leap forward from Ava & Viv.

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This dress was the one thing I knew I had to have!

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I’m not a leather jacket kind of girl, but I love having the option to become one.

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Polka dots are always in style for me.

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Finally, modern styling for plus sizes. I bought the boyfriend jeans.

However, there’s still room for improvement. The Who What Wear line was only available in a limited selection of stores, and only a few of those stores carried the plus line. As stated above, some of the items were not available plus.  For example, a longline blazer in blush pink and an olive green  sweater dress that I would have purchased if I had the option. Additionally, the logistics were off. The collection was stated to go live on January 31, but I couldn’t add anything to my cart until about 12:30 pm CST (and I only got to the plus size items by searching the Target website, because they weren’t up on the splash page). But the Target twitter account said the plus size items wouldn’t be available until February 1–with the likely result that some shoppers missed out entirely. Last but not least, Who What Wear is dissociating itself from the plus items. They link to the Target collection on their website, but only provide links for the straight size items. It’s kind of hard to send  a message that all your customers matter when your collaborator doesn’t acknowledge half of them.

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Love this dress, but couldn’t buy it.

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This would go great with some of my dresses if it were available in my size.

Target didn’t knock it out of the park, but it finally has a plus size collection that is comparable to Forever 21, H&M, ASOS, and others. It remains to be seen whether the progress will continue, or if this is just another means of placating the masses without really solving the problem.

 

 

Dear Eloquii, Again

Eloquii is back, and I think it’s here to stay.

From the time they launched, there hasn’t been a month that I haven’t seen one of their pieces featured in a fashion magazine or on a fashion blog. The styling is gorgeous and I drool over every new lookbook that drops. But I don’t have unlimited shopping funds, and lawyers don’t get to wear jeans to work. It seemed like Eloquii was going to focus on casual and cocktail attire. But recently, the workwear section of the site has exploded. While there are only a couple of options for coordinated suiting so far, there are lots of good mix & match options. One of the things I dislike about my profession is the conservative dress code- I like to be comfortable and cute, and suits tend to be neither. But I’ve finally found pants that fit properly, blazers without shoulder pads that accommodate a larger bust, and pretty, stylish blouses. So in addition to being my first stop for special occasion dresses and trendy casual clothes, Eloquii has rounded things out with workwear that’s both fun and appropriate.

And FINALLY, someone has done plus-size blazers in a variety of cuts and styles– traditional, open, collarless, notched collar, the list goes on. And their signature pant is available in short, regular and long inseams, saving you a trip to the tailor. Eloquii isn’t perfect, but it is improving. While still plagued by  polyester (is it just because scuba fabric is the new hot thing and it’s always a polyester/spandex blend?), I’m seeing cotton, rayon and silk pop up in the new items. This is excellent because in Houston it doesn’t get below 75 degrees for 8 months of the year. (Wearing polyester on top of polyester in dark colors is not what you want here. Ever.)

In the past month, I’ve purchased some version of all the items below and have my eye on several others. I love all my new pieces and feel great wearing them! The color blocking, fit and seaming details really make all the difference in elevating these from your plain old boring work clothes. I hope that Eloquii continues to put out great quality fashion at affordable prices.

Eloquii workwear

Dress
eloquii.com

Blazer
eloquii.com

Eloquii
$69 – nordstrom.com

The Return of Eloquii

Well, the wait is over.

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The new Eloquii has arrived and it’s completely different, but in a good way! Even though I don’t have a heavily trafficked blog in general, “Dear Eloquii” continues to get multiple hits a day and is by far the most popular post on my site. So I thought it only fitting that I blog about their return to plus-size retail. My first impression? I was blown away. The new Eloquii is sleeker and more daring than before. There wasn’t a single frumpy tunic top in sight! Instead, there are lots of beautiful, unique pieces that look exquisitely tailored. The attention to detail is key: lace insets on an otherwise typical floral blouse, a faux leather bodice that edges up a tulle dress, an asymmetric peplum hem. I love that there are a variety of hemlines and sleeve lengths, including a sexy crop top sweater. Eloquii knows that thick girls like to show skin too! 😉 The fashion is seriously on point in this resurrection and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of their new stuff.

The only potential  downside is that the improved quality and styling naturally mean higher prices. Shipping rates are now set according to how much you spend, and the markdowns are (smartly) not as deep nor as frequent as they used to be. Of course, everyone has different budgets so this may not matter to you. But since husband and I are moving back out on our own next month, we’re pinching pennies. I’ll have to wait until our next paychecks in order to responsibly indulge my shopping habit at Eloquii. But judging from the new pieces that dropped this week, I’ll still have plenty of goodies to choose from.

Stay tuned for an after purchase review within the next month! Meanwhile, some pics of my favorite pieces below.

Continue reading

Dear Eloquii

 

****Hey guys, today I’m using the blog to write an open letter to one of my favorite online retailers who will be closing their doors. Plus sized shoppers are an under-served, largely ignored demographic, and instead of just complaining I’m doing my part to let the fashion world know that we’re here and we want real fashion choices!****

Dear Eloquii,

Last week you announced that you would be closing your plus-size concept store operating under The Limited. I’m not a fashion blogger, much less an influential one, but I’m writing this on the off chance that you or another plus-size retailer will read my thoughts as a plus-size shopper.

I’m 25 years old and an “in-betweener”: at a size 16/18, I can shop straight size for most things but some things I have to go plus size for (namely dresses, suits, and bras). I’m  finishing grad school and will soon be joining the work force, so I’m trying to develop a wardrobe appropriate for a young professional. Eloquii has really helped me develop my personal style this past year by offering chic blouses, classic dresses, and cute, well-fitting (!!!!) suiting separates that can take me from a job interview to a dinner date. Frankly, Eloquii filled a niche for the young, fashion-obsessed plus size customer who lives in the real world. Your target demographic remains massively untapped, and I can tell you why. ASOS Curve is great, but overall skews edgy and doesn’t have a lot of pieces that work for me every day (in addition to being above my price point). Lane Bryant caters to an older demographic, and Avenue works better for women on the larger end of plus size. Lines like Rachel Pally White Label and Igigi have great products, but as boutique labels they a) are out of many folk’s price ranges and b) can’t offer a broad range of styles that appeals to the mass market. Eloquii, as part of The Limited brand, has a huge advantage here, and you capitalized on it by not only offering many The Limited styles in Eloquii, but by going beyond being a copycat line to develop your own aesthetic.

The bottom line is, I am a loyal Eloquii customer because the concept is great! The designers clearly put some thought into what looks good on full-figured women. You acknowledged that plus size women are not all hourglass or pear shaped! The Shape My Style feature allows shoppers to find styles that are most flattering for their body type, and can choose from 5 different shapes (top heavy, bottom heavy, hourglass, boyish, and full waisted). Pants and skirts come in curvy fit (waist smaller than hip) and classic fits (waist larger than or equal to hip size). You focused on designing clothes that fit different body types, rather than trying to make every style fit every body type (which results in shapeless clothing, or spandex overkill).  Second, the clothes are fashionable. If I see a particular style in magazine, I cango to Eloquii and find a chic, plus sized version of it. Military, peplum, leather, prints- it’s all there! No more looking like grandma.

Unfortunately, there were many things that could have been done better from a branding perspective starting with the name. Distancing yourself from The Limited was a huge mistake. For example, I’ve never referred to your brand as “Eloquii by The Limited” to any of my friends, so you voluntarily divested yourself of a lot of social capital. Second, there was no advertising to speak of. Not once have I seen a print ad for Eloquii! The Limited only carries up to a size 14, so I would never have gone to your site to see the Eloquii tab (and neither would 90% of your other potential plus size customers). I never would have heard of your brand, in fact, had I not been a subscriber to The Curvy Fashionista blog. Speaking of bloggers, sending out gift cards or sample clothes for a social media campaign would have been the way to go if you were trying to drum up business through word of mouth. And while the durability and style of your clothes was on on point, a little less polyester and a little more natural fibers would have been great. As a practical matter, we thick girls get a little hot under all that non-breathing polyester!

You also shot yourselves in the foot by keeping the concept online. Online only is NEVER going to work if you are trying to go mainstream and your demographic isn’t solely the under-30 crowd who accept online shopping as part of their lifestyle. Forever 21+ remains profitable (despite lower quality and inconsistent sizing) because it is available in Forever 21 stores across the country, and it’s available in far more stores than you can count on one hand. I’m past the Forever 21 phase of my life, but I appreciate that they at least make their aesthetic available to a wider range of sizes. Target and Old Navy could definitely stand to expand their in-store plus offerings, but a customer can at least try something on to get a feel for the sizing so they can order online with some degree of confidence.

A few final thoughts. First, a glance at the comments on your Facebook page revealed many complaints about fit and pricing; I hope you take these with a grain of salt because consumers who really care about fashion will pay more for quality. Moreover, your pricing was right in line with comparable mainstream retailers like The Limited (of course), Gap, New York & Company, Ann Taylor, and White House|Black Market.  As for the complaints about fit, that will never be perfect. It’s impossible to make off-the-rack clothing that will fit every person perfectly. Proportions are different on every woman and some designs are simply meant to fit looser or tighter. However, that could have been mitigated with more in-store retailing.

Although I’m deeply disappointed in your decision, I will continue to shop Eloquii until the site closes down. However, I hope that you will do your best to put the brand in the hands of someone with the fortitude and foresight to give it a real shot of succeeding.

 

 

UPDATE 12/5/13

Eloquii will be back in spring 2014! More details at The Curvy Fashionista. I’ve definitely missed the brand and look forward to seeing what they do differently this time around. And I’m glad that the fashion industry is finally noticing that plus size women are not to be ignored!