With 57% of the UK and Ireland’s female population now categorised as ‘plus size’ (size 16 and over), the demand for fuller figure frocks is clearly on the rise.
Yet virtually none of Northern Ireland’s bridal boutiques stock dresses above size 12, and for the larger lady looking forward to her big day, the fat-shaming doesn’t stop there.
Visit any boutique in Ulster and you will be faced with an array of dietary pills, posters advertising Slimming World classes and a clear insistence that skinny is best.
And for those women who cannot fit into one of the many size 10 and 12 dresses on show, the options are few and far between – expensive, dowdy gowns from China are really the only alternative.
In a bid to tackle this obvious commercial prejudice and provide women of size with affordable, designer dresses which they can try on and fall in love with in-person, entrepreneur Rebecca Bryson has launched Curvy Chic Bridal, Northern Ireland’s first bridal boutique catering exclusively for plus size women.
“At Curvy Chic Bridal, we believe that every woman deserves a joyful and fulfilling experience when shopping for her wedding dress” said 30-year-old Rebecca, herself plus size woman, adding: “The curvier bride too often faces disheartening challenges when shopping for a dress in this country, and we’re determined to change that.”
Located in East Belfast, Curvy Chic Bridal is the first designer bridal boutique in Northern Ireland to feature a complete collection of full-figured and one-of-a-kind wedding gowns sourced from all over the world in sizes 16-44.
Rebecca – a well-known hair and make up artist who returned to Northern Ireland from New Zealand two years ago – launched Curvy Chic after regularly hearing full figured brides’ horror stories of searching for wedding gown in a size 16+. Turned away for being too ‘big’, described as ‘fat, difficult’ in boutique diaries, or humiliated into trying on dresses clearly too small for them, these women prompted Bryson to research the industry further.
“After working in the bridal industry for nearly 11 years, I have heard countless tales of horrendous experiences in bridal stores, from brides being told to lose weight, being called fat, or simply being told they were too big for any wedding dresses” said Rebecca.
“Being plus size myself, I visited a few local bridal stores and couldn’t find a single wedding dress that fitted me. I even had one bridal store put my arms through a dress, hold it against me, and then try and convince me to buy it! I decided something had to be done, and with the support of my amazing family and partner, Curvy Chic Bridal was born.”
In 2015, surveys across the UK and Ireland showed that 57% of the female population were categorised as size 16, making them officially ‘plus size’, yet with over 4,000 bridal stores across the region, only 7 of these catered specifically to the plus size population.
Curvy Chic Bridal are thrilled and proud, therefore, to add to that number and be the first of boutique in the country to stock plus size dresses exclusively.
Rebecca said: “We are fully committed to celebrating curves and eliminating negativity surrounding being plus size by offering fashionable bridal wear at affordable prices, fit for curves”.