Plus Size Partywear: Black Tie

This week, UK department store Debenhams have announced that they are displaying clothing instore on 12 new size 16 models in their flagship London store, based on the dress size of the average British woman (that’s size 14 in US sizes and size 44 in Europe, in case you’re wondering).

Of course, it didn’t take long for the trolls of the internet to turn up, shrilly protesting that making mannequins larger was encouraging obesity and that being a size 16 was horribly unattractive and unhealthy.

Of course, it’s plain silly to judge a person’s health by something as arbitrary as store clothing sizes without taking into account their diet, lifestyle or even BMI. And even if being a size 16 was an indicator of suboptimal health, well actually, it’s not the job of clothing retailers to restrict customer purchasing decisions in this way.

Personally, I think that all women, plus size, regular size and smaller size women, deserve to have access to comfortable, stylish clothing, and should not be discriminated against, or have their buying decisions made harder. Whether we’re big, small, or somewhere in the middle, we all have lives to lead, jobs, families, sometimes volunteer work or other commitments, not to mention social lives. Nobody should be made to feel bad about themselves, or be limited on whether they’re “allowed” to buy certain clothing based on appearance, weight, ethnicity, gender-identification or any other measure.

With this in mind, I thought it was about time for another plus size style post! Christmas and the party season is fast approaching and while some events are smart casual, two events in my calendar in the next couple of months are posh black tie affairs, so I thought it would be worth focusing on this angle.

Plus size partywear: black tie options for apple and pear shapes

For up close views of garments and accessories, check out my Pinterest page!

If you’re apple-shaped…

This means you probably carry weight around your tummy, may not have a defined waist, but you probably have great legs, so your outfit works around showing off your good bits (flashing a bit of leg!) and creating a bit of waist definition.

Dress: The Velour wrap dress from M&Co £45 has jewel detailing to one size and the wrap style will draw the eye to where your waist dips in.

Cover up: This sequin shrug from Marisota (from £28) comes in three colours and the slight cut-away effect at the front will also enhance curves.

Shoes: These peep toe shoes from Viva La Diva (£35) are available in black or gold. The low front will make your legs look longer and the diamante gems on the bow pick up the jewel detailing on the dress. Plus these shoes are wide fitting, so less chance of having squashed toes at the end of the night!

Jewellery: The collar-style necklace from Marks & Spencer (£15.60 on sale at the moment) and the Accessorize chandelier earrings (£10) make a simple but strong statement, tying the look together.

Total cost for this look: £133.36

If you’re pear shaped…

Your top half is slimmer than your bottom half. You probably have an impressively tiny waist, flaring out to wider hips and thighs. Your outfit plays up your good upper body and the dramatic detailing emphasising your top half draws attention while the longer skirt on this dress skims over hips and thighs.

Dress: This embellished maxi dress from Simply Be (£75) is the quintessential dress to impress. The floral embroidery round the bust draws the eye to a flattering v-neck, but the panel underneath allows some modesty for the less daring and a high waistline will show off your slimmest parts.

Cardigan: Jacquard is a big trend this season and this cardigan from Simply Be (£40) gives the trend a sparkly evening twist. You could also dress this down with a smart pair of jeans and a nice top for Christmas day or a less formal evening out.

Shoes: With the amount of detailing on the dress, there’s no point going for subtle with this outfit, so why not add some sparkle-effect strappy heels from New Look (£19.99)? These are part of the wide fit range at New Look and are available in gold as well as black. The height of the heel will make sure you don’t trip over the floor-skimming maxi dress.

Jewellery: Keeping it smaller, but still sparkly with these Accessorize jet teardrop earrings (£8). The teardrop shape of the earrings is subtle but the diamante keeps things interesting. This silver and diamante stretch bracelet, also from Accessorize (£15), will help to balance out all the embellishment on the dress as well as setting off the earrings to bring the outfit together.

Total cost for this look: £157.99

Need some tights to go with your outfit? Check out my review of plus size tights from last Christmas!

Would you wear either of these outfits for a holiday season party? If not, what would you wear? Let me know.


I love all things fantasy, from fiction to films to games. Mostly books though. I also love cooking and plus size fashion. Find recommendations for great fantasy reads and general fangirling here! If you want to get in touch with me, the quickest way is by Twitter @dorristheloris

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