Ask anyone who shops plus size, and they’ll tell you that the vast majority of their clothes are ordered online because most retailers refuse to stock larger sizes. Certainly many have given with one hand and taken away with the other: launching capsule, more on trend plus collections, but moving all post-size-16 clothes to e-commerce. There are exceptions of course, such as Simply Be going from mail order/online to physical shops, Taking Shape opening around the country, and House of Fraser launching their plus size collection in stores very soon, but for the most part shopping away from their computers is damn difficult.
And if you let them speak for a few more minutes, they’ll also tell you what an absolute pain ordering online is. You pay up front. You can’t tell how anything will fit when you order it. And then they’ll tell you how annoying having to return items are, whether it’s trying to find the one Post Office left within five miles or waiting indoors all day for a delivery pick up that sometimes doesn’t even come. Gah! The emergence of Collect+ has been something of a godsend, but even so the bonding experience of being able to go shopping on the high street with your friends and get a second opinion is kind of denied when most clothes have to be tried on in your bedroom, on your own.
Recently at work I was told that Westfield had opened a CollectPlus lounge in their London centre (at Shepherd’s Bush) where you could have orders from Collect+ friendly shops (the mighty ASOS, New Look, Next among others) sent – it had it’s own changing rooms and helpful concierges who would take care of any returns for you. AWESOME. I really wanted to give it a try, and so myself and a few other plus size blogger pals went down to see what it was like.
As it turns out, it’s a lovely little section and more than a bit luxurious. I particularly liked the offer of water or beer from the concierge team! We all hung out in groups and got to do what I imagine a lot of women take for granted: clothes shopping with your friends, which was really nice.
I took home this gorgeous playsuit by Alice & You, and I was persuaded to keep the bowler hat although I’m scared to wear it out of the house! It is super cute, though. Right?
Of course having a lounge like this doesn’t solve the issue of paying up front, but I found it really simple and quick to use. I don’t live or work near Stratford but if there was a lounge near my work, for example, I’d definitely send orders there and pop in on my way home as it’s so convenient!
The bonus of having the lounge at Westfield though, is that you can really go all out, treat yourself and make a day of it. I was there with both groups and got a stunning hand massage from Jo Malone, champagne cocktails from Searcy’s, an absolutely EPIC Lebanese spread from Shawa (the spicy lamb wraps are so good) and a heavenly meal at The Meat Co. which is definitely in my top 5 restaurants ever now. A tip: get the BBQ beef ribs, but whatever you do, order a half rack. Hollie found this out a little bit too late. My giant steak looked miniscule in comparison!
I genuinely think having the CollectPlus lounge is a brilliant idea and so helpful, especially for those who work nearby. I wonder if they’ll install one in Stratford City?