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If your bottom is any larger than a peach, shopping in Bangkok for clothes can be a frustrating experience at best and out-and-out humiliating at worst.
Perhaps you’d considered yourself reasonably slender when you first touched down in the Big Mango. That opinion may be challenged when you take your first wander around a night market, or browse the makeshift rails along Silom Road. “It stretches, madam!” vendors will shout if you linger over pretty dresses and skirts. Or hawkers will look in horror as you rummage through piles of their denim hot pants: ‘No, no, no… Not for you!” they may warn, eyeing up your size 10 bottom with alarm.
The good news is that if you know where to go, there are a few “plus-sized” shops around — and that’s anything above a UK size 8 in Thailand. You needn’t resort to wearing the “free size” (read: enormous) Doremon shorts favoured by many locals if you need to replenish your wardrobe while on the road.
If you have plenty of time to wander around, Platinum Mall is one of the best spots in Bangkok to pick up any kind of women’s clothing you care to imagine. While there are no specific plus-sized shops, if you look hard enough, you’ll find the odd dress, top and jeans that will slip over your curves a treat. Be warned though that this wholesale mall is hectic at the best of times, and on the weekend it can get seriously claustrophobic.
MBK is similarly overwhelming when it comes to clothes shopping, but for the dedicated shopper, there are plenty of gems to be found for larger (or not so large) women. Head to the fourth floor, where you’ll find a plethora of stores selling everything from dresses and shirts to the holy grail of plus-sized finds: jeans, which can be purchased from around 300 baht.
More market-priced bargains can be found in Terminal 21. This relatively new mall is packed wall-to-wall with Thai boutiques. The vast majority cater to the local market, with teeny tiny sizes being the norm but among the tiny cave-like shops lie two stores aimed at curvier girls. On Level 1, Lady Phat and Fat by Fat stand out not only for their subtle names, but for their fashionable stock, too. Huddles of Thai women gather around the shops to lust over the lacy dresses, colourful shorts and patterned dresses that you’ll see all over Bangkok. The clothes are pretty, cheap and as well made as any of the throwaway fashions you’ll find for 700 baht a pop.
If you’re looking for a higher quality of merchandise, you have more options. Tailors are abundant in the city, and will gladly run you up some outfits for a fraction of the price you’d pay in the West. You won’t have to walk far on Sukhumvit Road before the offers of made-to-measure dresses will flood in from over-eager salesmen.
Bangkok is also home to a large number of Western chain stores, including Topshop, Zara, Mango, Gap and Marks & Spencer. Sizes don’t tend to go up to the 16s and 18s you may be used to seeing at home, but they’ll certainly cater to size 10–12 girls, and make a reliable (though expensive) place to find bras, jeans and shorts that fit a fuller figure. You’ll find the city’s major malls, including Central and Siam Paragon, are home to many of these chains.
Another higher-end option is Suri by Surivipa. You can buy online at www.suri.co.th or in-store at Siam Paragon or Emporium malls. Expect to pay Western prices (around 1,500–3,000 baht) for jeans, tops and dresses in generous sizes.
By Gaby Doman.