In the past, fashion was generally created with a smaller frame in mind. For years larger women were made to feel uncomfortable with fashion houses cruelly promoting the unrealistic image of thin being beautiful, and only outdated fashion brands offering unflattering plus size clothes.

Today, however, it is not easy, nor profitable for plus size women to be segregated from mainstream fashion, and for designers to exclude them from their campaigns. According to a recent survey, 1 out of 4 women in the UK and fashion capital, France, are a size 16 or above; furthermore the UK's plus size clothing market has grown by 50% in 5 years. Fashion retailers such as La Redoute are embracing this new opportunity and creating stylish, on-trend collections tailored for larger women. Their social media channels have proved to be the perfect platform for the evolution of a fashion focused digital community with plus size bloggers such as Stephanie Zwicky of ‘Le blog de big beauty' heightening awareness and changing attitudes of what is deemed to be acceptable in terms of fashion styling. And with artists such as Adele gracing the covers of fashion magazines, there's no denying that big is beautiful.

No matter what their body shape, if a woman is healthy, her size and individuality should be celebrated. Style is not about being a fashion victim, nor is it only applicable to a certain dress size. Dressing in clothes that suit your body shape is what makes you stylish. Here are La Redoute's style tips for dressing in plus size clothes:

Identify your body shape

In order to identify your own shape, study the following and chose which one best represents your body:

- Hourglass: your hips and bust are slightly wider but in proportion, with a smaller waist

- Boy: straight up and down, with very little or no waist

- Apple: wider on top with narrow hips

- Pear: wider hips and narrow on top

Highlight your best assets, while play down your least favourite part. If you have an hourglass figure, for example, you should definitely highlight your wonderful curves by opting for fitted trousers or a pencil skirt.

Colour and Material

Choosing the right colour and material is crucial in ensuring that your clothes are flattering.

It may be cliché but dark colours are proven to have the most slimming effect. When putting an outfit together, aim to wear no more than 3 colours which are complimentary rather than clashing. Colours that complement each other make your frame look longer and leaner; the longer the sequence of colour, the taller and slimmer you will appear.

Lightweight materials are generally more suited to a plus size frame, as bulkier ones will make you
appear heavier. It is also best to avoid clingy fabrics, as they tend to emphasis all of the wrong places - this is true when worn even of the most petite of figures.

Women should be proud of their bodies whatever their size and should definitely not be categorised or stereotyped. Embrace your individuality and start getting creative with fashion!