Last year I discovered the awesome UK plus sized clothing brand State of Mind, who design and produce quality sportswear for women size 14-28 here in Britain.
Luckily for me, they've recently sent me some new clothes to review - perfect timing as I'm desperate for some better fitting sports clothes as my current workout gear is getting a bit loose (hurrah!)
There's been a lot of talk in the news recently about the term 'plus size' after the clothing brand Mango announced that they are going to launch a 'plus size' clothing brand starting at UK size 12!!! In my opinion, there's no way a 12 can be 'plus size' when the average size for women in the UK is a 16. Some people really hate the term, but for me, 'plus size' isn't a term that worries me - I'm a firm believer that if the clothes fit, flatter and are comfortable then who cares what number is on the label? I'd rather wear a plus size, look good and feel comfortable than squeeze myself into an ill-fitting garment.
When shopping for sportswear on the high street I regularly find that their 'plus size' range is a dreadful fit - the clothes seem to be designed for a 'perfect' version of the size rather than a curvy one. The fit on a size can vary greatly between shops: I can fit into a size 16 in some, and in other's it feels restricting and uncomfortable, especially over my ample bosom! Step in State of Mind. What I completely adore about their ranges is that they are clearly designed with curves, comfort and practicality in mind.
The first item sent to me was this hooded fleece jacket - I'll be totally honest - I have a long standing issue with fleece - usually, I would never choose to buy anything made from it - I don't know why, it's just a material I tend to avoid - but, I'm now eating my words … I love this hoody, and have worn it out on so many walks over the past month.
I've found the fleece to be perfect for the spring when its no longer cold enough to wear a big winter coat when outdoors, but there's still a chill in the air. The fleece inside is soft and it's got a ribbed effect on the outside, which makes it look more like a hoody material, and less like a conventional fleece. What I love most about this garment is that the back is lower than the front, which provides a bit of bottom cover up! I'm always pulling down my hoodies - and don't tend to buy tops or jackets that are short - I feel exposed and uncomfortable, so this ticks all the boxes for me. The sleeves have thumb holes, which is a fun novelty, and practical when its a bit nippy - great for keeping my arms covered when I'm pushing the buggy on one of our epic weekend country walks. The hoodie also comes with a zipped pocket on the arm which would be perfect for storing some money, mp3 player or a locker key if you were wearing it in a gym.
The hooded fleece also comes in navy or black as well as the plum: although the plum colour isn't usually one I'd choose to wear, I really like it. It's a bit more fun that my standard dark colour palette - and nice to see a splash of colour in plus sized clothes for a change.
Cue the awkward posed photo on one of our family country walks...
Hooded Fleece in Plum - I'm wearing a size 18 - priced currently at £35 in the sale (was £55)
I'm also wearing my trusty State of Mind joggers here from my last review which I wear for almost every workout I do - they're a great fit even after losing weight, and have washed so well over the past 6 months.
The second item I was sent is this black Swing Top with Bell Sleeves. It's made from an incredible quality heavy Lyrca fabric, which really helps keep my temperature controlled while exercising - I don't seem to get really hot like I have done in other Lycra wear. The 3/4 length sleeves are ideal for me as I hate wearing short sleeved t-shirts to workout in as I'm so conscious of my upper arms: this top is functional and flattering, and feels as if it will last me a lifetime. The square neckline is different from anything I've worn before, and took me a while to get used to, but having now worn it on multiple occasions, and looked at photos of myself in it, I'm growing to like it a bit more. I think a round neck option would be really popular too, if they decided to make one. I think this top would only be suitable to wear with a tracksuit bottom, jean or trouser - it comes down to my hips, but not over, so I wouldn't be comfortable pairing it with anything of thinner material such as leggings, as it's a bit short, and wouldn't really protect my modesty!
The A-Line Swing top with Bell Sleeves is currently in the sale at £20 - a bargain for such a good quality versatile piece. I've worn it here with my burgundy slim fit jeans from F&F at tesco, in a size 14.
What I really like about State of Mind as a brand is how they listen to the feedback of their customers, and actually act on the points made by reviewers like myself. Based on feedback from the A-Line top (above) they have now developed a new version which is 3 inches longer - hurrah! This means it can now easily be teamed with leggings for a yoga-style look, and feels more comfortable when working out - especially for pilates/yoga type workouts when you're likely to be in some compromising positions!
State of Mind sent me this top in their signature plum shade, and I love it - weirdly, I find the plum to be a more flattering shade than the black, and much prefer it's longer length.
The A-Line Flared Swing Top with Bell Sleeves (Longer Length) is priced at £44. I'm wearing a size 16 here and find it to be a really good fit.
Lastly, I was sent the summer version of their joggers in a 3/4 style capri pant. I'm always a little dubious about capri-style pants as I have quite short legs, and tend to find them a little long on my short frame - worried I'll have the "trousers-that-shrunk-in-the-wash" look, I would usually avoid these altogether, but I found that paired with my jelly shoes, flip flops or bare feet that they don't look too awful at all, and are certainly a much cooler option for the nicer weather. For my 5 foot 5" frame I'd probably still prefer them to be an inch shorter if I were to wear them with trainers, but if you're average height they would probably measure up perfectly!
The Kick Flare Capri Pant is currently priced at £39.
Although State of Mind's clothes are definitely on the pricier end of the sportswear market, you are definitely paying for quality and fit that I'm yet to find elsewhere. To feel this good in clothes that you're going to work out in is a really cool thing, and a new phenomenon for me. In all honesty, some of these clothes feel too good just to workout in and have made their way into my day-to-day wardrobe as well!
What do you wear to workout in? Do you have the same fit issues as me with high street brands?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!
You can follow State of Mind on Twitter @StateofMind101
Disclaimer: I was sent these clothes for the purpose of this review - however, as always all opinions, photos and words are my own.