“I think the fat-tax is shocking, absolutely disgusting,” said Alison.
“A fat girl has a raw deal at the best of times,” added Jo. “There’s so many reasons why people are bigger, it could be health, medication, it’s not just because you sit at home eating cake all day and it seems cruel. We need to move away from the fat stereotypes.”
“Brides are Ready to Cancel Their Wedding”
The pair revealed they’ve met heartbroken brides ready to cancel their own wedding after failing to find a dress that fits in a regular bridal boutique.
“Until they’re looking for a wedding dress it doesn’t even dawn on them they’re going to have a problem finding a plus-size wedding dress, because as plus-size dressers we know where we can shop for everyday clothes and you just assume it’ll be the same for a wedding dress. That’s when the reality hits you and there’s nothing,” says Jo.
“We’ve had brides come in who say, ‘If I don’t get a dress from here today, I’m cancelling the wedding’. Sometimes the bride has left it right to the last minute because the hurdle of finding a dress is so traumatic that she cannot face it.
“You get brides coming in three weeks before the wedding that they’ve been planning for a year. They’re burying their head in the sands because they want to avoid that humiliating experience.”
“The Fat Pound is Alive and Kicking”
Jo and Alison said that the UK bridalwear market needs far more size-inclusivity and an influx of fresh, new designers.
“We need to embrace the curvy market more. It’s almost like the plus-size community is an underground community that find it really hard to be catered to, but I want to bring it a bit more in line with the high street,” said Jo.
She dismissed the idea that plus-size fashion had any link to promoting obesity.
“You had all the argy-bargy about Marks and Spencer now going up to a size 30 and it promoting obesity. Do you know what? Be real. You’re just dressing the girls for the size they are. No one is going to be rushing out to buy cream cakes because they can now to go to Marks and get something in a size 30. To suggest it would, is ridiculous.
“What we need to understand is the fat pound is alive and kicking. We need to support our own economy so let’s give these girls something to spend their pounds on.”
Jo called on the current high street to “stop giving us tablecloths”.
“Because you’re a big girl doesn’t mean you want to wear a two-man tent. We need to get young fresh designers, designing for the bigger girl, wearing what they would want to wear themselves.”
“There’s No Way You Can Understand the Challenges the Plus-Size Bride Faces”
The Essex boutique owners are attempting to give plus-size brides a different experience as they launch the third series of their TLC show Curvy Brides Boutique.
This series sees the ladies find dresses for brides including one arriving by tractor, another rowing her and her fiancé across a pond, and a bride marrying a groom 21 years younger than her, nicknamed the “sex hamster”.
“When the brides come to us, one of the first things we say is this is a safe space. We don’t talk diets, we don’t talk exercise, unless you want to. Until you’ve walked in their shoes, there’s no way you can understand the challenges the plus-size bride faces. Being the plus-size girl in everyday life is bad enough but, as a bride, it’s magnified,” said Jo.
“The fact they’re getting married means someone loves and accepts them exactly how they are. Generally speaking, these grooms have met their brides in the flesh before the wedding day. Just by virtue of that, they are loved, accepted and adored by at least one person who wants to spend the rest of their life with you. Otherwise you would not be here.
“If we can just tease that bit of confidence out of everyone that comes in, job done. That’s pure job satisfaction,” she explained.
Why Do “Regular” Bridal Shops Not Stock Plus-Size Designs?
Lots of plus-size brides may find themselves wondering why high street bridal boutiques don’t increase their size ranges. However, Jo and Al explain that for many, stocking plus-size dresses is simply not a viable financial option.
“In this economic climate, when you take on a collection of dresses you have to take on minimum amounts so if the majority of your clientele is up to a size 16, then that’s who you’re going to buy in collections for. If you only have a few plus size it’s a lot to invest every single year. Instead you choose a few of the most popular dresses from the collection that size up best,” says Jo.
“However, if you’re a plus size girl and you go to a shop and there’s only two or three dresses, it is a disappointment.”
Their shop Curves and Couture, near Brentwood in Essex, stocks sizes 18-32, with some ranges going to size 40.
Curvy Brides Boutique premieres at 8pm Friday 31st May exclusively on TLC.