If, like me, you walk into a clothes shop and think to yourself “I’ve got no idea what I’m doing” and come out feeling a little overwhelmed by it all, then don’t worry because Kirstie from Carva Clothing in Evesham is here to help.

Kirstie is Evesham’s go-to for fashion advice and can often be found pulling off colours that you would never think to put together. When I first met her, she was wearing yellow and two different shades of pink! “I just chucked it on” was her response to the beautifully coordinated outfit that stood before me.

The 52-year-old body positivity champion has been instilling confidence in women through clothes for seven years – from humble beginnings with a market stall in Pershore to a well-established and popular store in Evesham’s charming courtyard, Market Place.

She was walking across a different courtyard, a pebbled one in sunny Spain, with the Mediterranean breeze flowing through her hair, when she was inspired to set up her shop.

“I’m a plus sized girl and for years I could never find anything that fitted me well whilst also being stylish and unique. That was until I found a little place in Spain that stocked a style of clothes I just fell in love with. As soon as I returned home Carva was born! “

From jockey to jumpsuits this is Kirstie’s story:

“When I was a child, I was horse mad. I worked with horses for many years and was a point-to-point jockey – when I was thinner! I absolutely loved it, but there comes a point when you get older and suddenly you stop bouncing! I think that is part of why I take so much pride in my appearance now. I spent so many years in the mud not fussed about clothing and make up now I like to be full glam!

“I would describe my style as ‘posh-hippy’. I stock clothes that make me feel good and they are the only thing I wear. I never shop elsewhere.

“My clothes are different and unique, and I love that because we are all a little bit different, aren’t we? My clothes cater to plus-sized women. They are flattering and feminine without being too ‘mumsy’.”

Everything at Cara Clothing is handpicked by Kirstie and each item is one size (aka free size) as she doesn’t want her customers to worry about what size they are.

“What I get most from my shop isn’t the sales I make – it’s the difference I make to other women.

“Some ladies come into my shop quiet as a mouse, apologetic in their existence, hiding away from a world that doesn’t accept them – when they leave, they are ten feet taller.

“That is the thing that puts the biggest smile on my face – the confidence my clothes can give to other women is something I will never get tired of. One lady came in to buy a dress and came practically skipping down the road the next week to tell me how many compliments she had had.

“Another one came out of the changing rooms and just burst into tears, she told me she had felt lost for years and this was the first time she had felt good about herself.

“I always say to my husband, this is what clothes can do for women, and if I could inject the confidence my clothes give to people to every woman in the world I would.

“My customers come back in, and they get braver and braver, their confidence just grows and grows, and I love to see it. I am so passionate. I could talk about this for hours.

“I remember once, I was wedding dress shopping, I was 27 at the time and a few months pregnant. Despite being a lot thinner than I am now – the woman in the shop looked me up and down and said ‘Nothing will fit you here’.

“I replied, ‘Well I don’t like anything in here’ and walked out. I have a very thick skin and I don’t allow other people’s comments to get to me. But it angers me when women put each other down.

“I see it all the time. Women being spiteful to other women. We are our biggest critics. I suppose with the way the media is and society is always telling us we must all look the same, we must all be thin.

“But it’s nonsense – All women are fabulous. You have to look like you. I am all about body positivity. It has taken me years of chocolate and cake to get this figure and I love it!

“We need to embrace our bodies and learn to love ourselves. We can’t change it. We are supposed to have curves. We are what we are. We are all different shapes and sizes and that’s amazing! It’s fabulous!

“I have made some great friends through my shop. The one who has been coming to me the longest is 83 and she’s the most elegant and trendy person you’d ever meet.

“Once you have met me you don’t tend to forget me – I am very honest and shopping with me you get the full old-fashioned service that most places don’t tend to bother with anymore.

“I pride myself on making the perfect tailor-made recommendation for each individual woman who comes to see me.

“Quite often they will choose some clothes and I will suggest something else that I think would look great on them that they would have maybe overlooked.

“It is not often they leave without my suggestion once they have tried it on! Making women shine is what I do!”

If you’re looking for an outfit to impress or want some advice on what to wear, be sure to check out Carva Clothing. Before you visit the town have a read of our ‘top 10 things to see and do in Evesham’ blog and take our £5 challenge. Discover more local businesses’ stories on our blog page. For information on how to get to Evesham, visit our ‘How to find us’ page.

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