When it comes to buying clothes, the focus often seems to be on the young and slender. This unfortunately means that mature women can feel sidelined – and mature women who wear plus-size clothing, doubly so.

Thankfully, the goalposts are changing and there’s increasing awareness of a need for inclusivity, with many brands finally beginning to cater for women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities.

While some labels have long designed clothes exclusively for plus-sized women, others are now including sizes beyond what’s traditionally been considered ‘standard.’

Whether shopping in-store or online, women of any age should be able to find clothes that serve a double function. Firstly, the basic need for climate-appropriate coverage and secondly, the ability to feel happy and confident.

This shouldn’t mean having to wear shapeless clothes either. Instead, in the same way that the lines between what younger and more mature-aged wear have been blurred (jeans and sweatshirts are cross-generational, for instance), so have the lines between sizes.

Here, we take a look at the brands doing it best.

1. Seasalt Cornwall

With styles available up to size 28, Seasalt offers a range of designs made from comfortable fabrics in feel-good colours and prints. Their stated purpose? “To inspire women of all ages and shapes to dress with creativity and confidence.” Sounds good to us!

Tunics are always a popular wardrobe item for the plus-size dresser, as they skim the body and provide flattering coverage of the often-tricky arms and rear areas for those who want it. Seasalt seems to have nailed the style, with one size 16 reviewer saying of the Arusha Cotton Jersey Tunic “I love this top and have it in several patterns and colours.”

Another, who gives her size as 20, has written “I am very pleased with my tunic. The design and colour are very pretty. It’s a joy to wear it!”

The brand’s range of trousers and jeans is also a hit with customers. For instance, Sarah, a size 18, gives the Blake Wide Leg Jeans a five-anchor (five-star) review.

“I have tried so many pairs of wide-leg jeans and should have just started with Seasalt,” she writes. “These jeans are fabulous. Well cut. Lovely fabric – structured but not thick. Perfect length. Back of the waist is elasticated so it fits! I’ve just ordered another pair in another colour. Please keep this pattern for future items!! I love them.”

Designed in Cornwall and ethically manufactured in a variety of overseas locations, the range also features dresses, knitwear, outerwear, shirts and skirts, as well as jumpsuits and nightwear.

2. Live Unlimited

“Effortless Dressing” is the idea behind the ethos of this female-founded brand, which is available in Marks & Spencer, and online. The brand prides itself on its fit process which, unlike other labels, doesn’t simply make a larger version of a smaller piece of clothing.

Instead, Live Unlimited makes sure that its 16 -24 range fits and flatters by trying each piece on an appropriately sized model, so that curves are enhanced, rather than concealed.

The brand also features a petite range, which runs from size 12-28.

Across all of the ranges, you can expect quality fabrics, signature prints, and bold block colours. Designs crafted from body-skimming jersey aim to flatter your shape, and also make for effortless holiday packing. Take this midaxi length t-shirt dress, which offers an easy day-to-night style with the right accessories.

Workwear is also one of Live Unlimited’s strengths, with pieces such as this chic tailored jacket elevating your office look, whether worn over trousers or a dress.

One reviewer on Trustpilot named Live Unlimited her “new favourite shop”, and also remarked on the fact that the clothes arrived beautifully wrapped in tissue paper, not plastic.

“… the fabrics used feel luxurious and every item that I have purchased has been finished beautifully,” she writes. “The sizing is accurate, too. Everything that I ordered arrived very quickly, fitted perfectly, and looked good on. No returns yet from me.”

3. Simply Be

With sizes ranging up to 32, Simply Be has long been a popular go-to for its wide selection of plus-size options.

Their mission statement demonstrates their passion for size-inclusive clothing, saying: “For too long in our industry the diversity of women’s body shapes has not been embraced — and it’s time that changed. Fashion made for all proportions needs to be non-negotiable.”

The brand is fantastic for wardrobe staples. This t-shirt, for example, features a dipped hem at the back, which gives bottom coverage, and is made from a comfortable stretch jersey fabric.

“Favourite tee,” writes one happy buyer. “So comfortable … material feels lovely, stretchy, cool, relaxed.”

If you have a special event coming up, simply be is also fantastic for occasionwear, whether it’s sparkles for an evening or a print for a summer wedding.

For example, the full length and beautiful lily print of this maxi dress makes it a gorgeous choice for a garden party, while the delicate sleeves cover the upper arm area and the tie waist adds shape and definition.

Beautifully embellished dresses can be found too, such as this Bardot style example. The cold-shoulder style accentuates the elegance of your shoulders and gives the appearance of a lengthened neck. Meanwhile, the upper arms are covered and further length is created with a long skirt flowing from the sequinned top.

“I felt and looked a million dollars,” says one happy customer, who bought it for her wedding reception. “What a beautiful dress that complimented my curves.”

4. Marks & Spencer

British high street stalwart Marks & Spencer has long been a go-to store for mature women and, even though they have endeavoured to make their range more appealing to a younger clientele, they still deliver, season after season, to a more sophisticated age group.

Their plus-size clothing range can be found under the ‘Curve’ option online. Yet, one of the somewhat offputting features of the site is that it shows clothes modelled on ‘conventional’ body types, which may deter some customers.

Push past this fact, however, and the clothes themselves are good quality and available in a range of colours, prints, and fabrics.

Marks & Spencer is especially useful for everyday wear such as denim, with jeans in a range of styles, including high waisted wide-legged jeans. These are especially flattering on curvier women because the high waist helps to prevent a ‘muffin top,’ while creating a nipped-in shape.

Heavier fabrics like denim are also a useful wardrobe addition, as they hang well without clinging. The range of lengths offered by Marks & Spencer is also a win for plus-sized women, as choosing a longer length that passes the ankle, can create a longer, slimmer silhouette.

As one happy customer writes: “Great quality and good fit for a curvy person. Recommend.”

Simple knits are another one of the retailer’s strong points, with affordable cashmere a best seller, offering a luxurious feel and a range of colours.

A favourite is this crew neck jumper, which has a beautifully relaxed fit and ribbed trims – perfect for pairing with jeans or workwear.

5. Marina Rinaldi

An Italian brand with a presence in London’s Mayfair, Marina Rinaldi excels with plus-sized activewear and work staples, as well as red carpet-worthy eveningwear. As an exclusively plus-size label, the website features models in a range of sizes, making it even more accessible and welcoming for the online shopper.

The price point is undeniably higher than you’d pay for clothing from a high street retailer. But, as one the many brands owned by luxury brand Max Mara, you can expect a Marina Rinaldi garment to combine quality fabrics, excellent construction and meticulous attention to detail.

Luxe knitwear is one of the label’s particular strengths, with garments draping beautifully over fuller figures. A prime example is this Milano-knit cardigan, which features a contrast inlay detail on the arms, elevating it as an everyday staple.

Equally chic is the monochromatic appeal of this blazer. With its contrast black section along the fastening, this is a particularly flattering piece, as it draws the eye inwards and contributes to a slimming effect.

For special occasions, Marina Rinaldi is guaranteed to make every woman feel her glamorous best, with full-length frocks. Examples include this one with a dramatic cape detail or this rhinestone-embellished example, which can have long sleeves added if desired.

There’s often an assumption that plus-size women are better to wear black, which is generally considered more slimming than colour or print — but Marina Rinaldi puts that myth to bed.

Just look at this ombre georgette dress. Available in two colourways, it features flatteringly billowy sleeves, as well as a length which just exposes the ankles. It also has a tie-waist, which helps to create an hourglass shape.

6. Evans

With sizes up to 32, and branding itself as the “world of curves”Evans is known for its plus-size clothing and wide-fitting shoes, as well as boots designed to fit curvaceous calves.

The high-street retailer has a strong online presence and accessible prices. Jeans – a staple in contemporary fashion but a notoriously difficult purchase for plus-size women – are one of Evans’ strong points, with styles ranging from straight leg to bootcut.

There’s also a handy online denim fit guide, which helps customers find the denim best suited to their needs. The brand also has an enormous range of casual tops – some of them with design details that make them a little more special, while still fitting and flattering the curvier form.

It’s not just everyday staples that Evans excels in. The brand has a glamorous range of occasion dresses, designed to fit, flatter, and enhance.

Bright colours and gorgeous necklines? This midaxi wrap dress has you covered. Wedding guest-worthy colours and style? This floral puff sleeve midi is low-key perfection – while this Fleetwood Print Maxi Dress recalls 70s glamour with its bell sleeves and perfect print.

As one Trustpilot reviewer puts it: “Fast and efficient service … Great products that fit well in all the right places. I love Evans and will definitely recommend to all my curvy ladies.”

Final thoughts…

Modern plus-size clothing tends to take the approach that all styles can be worn by all bodies, with an emphasis on clothes that fit and flatter – and many brands now include sizes beyond the traditional 8-16.

Even so, some labels are doing it better than others, acknowledging that there’s more to plus-size clothing than simply making standard clothing in a larger size. These brands are paying attention to how garments sit and fall differently on plus-sized bodies, and tailoring their offerings accordingly.

As with all clothing, there’s likely to be variation between brands. In the same way that a woman who’s usually a size 12 may find herself fitting a 10 in some stores and a 14 in others, plus-sized women may need to size up or down, depending on where they shop.

But, thanks to the web presence of many brands offering plus-sized ranges, it’s easy to shop online and try clothes on in the comfort of your own home. This also allows you to try new pieces with ones you already own, and to create a capsule wardrobe that works for you and your lifestyle.

The popularity of online shopping also means that the returns process is usually free and simple to take advantage of, only requiring you to visit your local courier point or Post Office. Returns periods are usually generous, too, so you can take your time deciding whether a garment is right for you.

Ultimately, women of all ages and sizes deserve to wear clothes that make them feel happy and beautiful. Find the garments that achieve this for you, and wear them confidently!

What’s your favourite plus-size clothing brand? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.