Opening its doors to the public for the first time earlier this year, Graciously Voluptuous is Hull’s only retro reproduction boutique specialising in plus size clothing. Stocking quirky dresses and vintage designs, owner Gracie offers free styling tips and body confidence advice to any lady who seeks it. We popped into the purple shop on Princes Avenue to find out more.
What makes Graciously Voluptuous so different from other boutiques?
I would say that Graciously Voluptuous aims to provide something different for all shapes and sizes. Whilst high street stores have begun to stock a wider range, including plus size collections, it is important to remember that many of these pieces are not specifically designed to flatter curvier figures. This can be so frustrating. A dress designed to fit one type of body may not necessarily look right on a different shape.
The thing with retro-inspired dresses is that they are specially designed to accentuate curves and flatter fuller figures. And that is what marks out Graciously Voluptuous from other plus size stores or collections. On top of this, whilst there are quite a few vintage shops in Hull already, not many stock retro reproduction pieces. Modern clothes that are inspired by the past are usually more practical and suitable for everyday wear, and can be made into a plus size piece.
Why did you choose Princes Avenue for your shop?
I had a letting agency here beforehand, so it was a no-brainer to stay in the same area. It’s a great spot. Now we’ve finished our mini refurbishment, we have a fitting room and more space on the rails. I love it!
I began dressing like this three years ago and I received so many compliments off people, many of them asking where I’d bought certain pieces. There was nowhere in Hull selling plus size retro fashion so I had to buy online or from boutiques in other cities – the idea just came from there really and Princes Avenue seems the perfect place for a boutique.
What would be your advice to plus size customers who are looking for something different?
I always say “Come in and try everything on if you need to”. It’s important to me that they leave feeling 100% comfortable in what they have bought. You need to find out what works well for your figure. It took me a few attempts to get it right without looking a bit frumpy but now I know what I like and what suits me.
Some ladies love the classic prints and traditional cuts, whereas others will want something a bit more edgy. I’m also happy to order from one of my stockists if a customer spots an item she loves in the catalogues. If you find a style that works well, you’ll go back to it time and time again – and plenty of my ladies have become regulars!
What can customers expect to find in your boutique?
I carry a selection of affordable retro reproduction brands in sizes 8-26. We mainly stock the upper end of the scale, as I want to focus on helping larger ladies. Nevertheless, I will continue to carry the smaller sizes too. I understand that all women have issues when it comes to finding something that fits and flatters, and no one should be ashamed or struggle because of their size.
Currently I have brands such as Collectif, Hell Bunny and Lady V London, but I’ve also got some Voodoo Vixen and Banned Apparel for Christmas. I have an array of accessories for sale too, like bags, jewellery and belts. The elasticated wasp belts are a huge hit amongst my customers. Again, they’re really flattering as they nip you in at the waist. I’m aiming to get some more original vintage pieces in here, but they just sell out so fast!
Graciously Voluptuous is open Tuesday-Saturday 10:30am-5pm and can be found at 11 Princes Avenue, Hull.