For me, clothing is an identifier of who you are and how you want to present yourself to the world. If I gave anyone one rule, it would be to dress for yourself and for your needs.

When I was younger and obsessed with fashion, I couldn’t afford too many magazines. So instead, I absolutely lived for fashion and makeover shows on TV. All of them. And over the years I internalized every tip they gave, all the rules, regulations and reference points when it came to the fine art of dressing. I could walk into a shop and instantly pick out the what would look good on me and disregard everything else…

…wait, that’s not so cool is it? Why blinker yourself by arbitrary rules set by people who’ve never met you (and in a lot of cases, probably died before you were born)? Especially if you’re plus size, when there’s so much more to consider – usually boiling down to black, plain, baggy. Where’s the fun in that?!

Perhaps in my own little bubble, I thought myself and my peers were past all this sort of stuff. Trinny and Susannah are long forgotten, Gok Wan seen, rightly, as a misogynistic fatphobe in cuddly stereotypical gay clothing. But recently I’ve seen a lot of posts and articles in body acceptance spaces talking about the rules for dressing, repeating the same old guff without question. And then, eventually, my old nemesis rears its head: dressing for your shape. Nothing sets my teeth on edge quite like a “dressing for your shape” feature, no matter how well intentioned it is. Because ostensibly, as soon as you go over a size set by the person writing, you’re automatically an apple – otherwise known as OH SHIT FATTY COVER UP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. When I first started this blog I was in the middle of a weekly sewing group which I loved. One day our lesson was on body shapes. Apparently, body shape designing and styling works on one premise alone: to make everyone look as hourglass as possible. And, hilariously, apples/ovals have no chance of looking like an hourglass with their fat fatty mcfat waists – the best they can hope for is an inverted triangle. Sexy!

I remember reading Ben Goldacre’s epic Gillian McKeith smackdown, where he talked about how instead of just explaining that eating fruit and veg, getting some exercise (for the most part, and only if you’re able to do so) to people, “nutritionists don’t stop there, because they can’t: they have to manufacture complication, to justify the existence of their profession“. I look at makeover stylists in much the same way. To me, it’s very similar to the patterns and rules imposed on eating. It’s about taking the decisions away from you, telling you that you don’t know how to dress yourself without outside help. And I think that’s wrong! Not to mention the cis-normativity of most makeover shows, which almost always take a woman who wears “masculine” clothing such as jumpers and jeans, and put her in a sexy, feminine dress. But if that’s not who they are, why change them?

Anyway, I am rambling. With all of this in mind, I’ve come up with the different things that go through my mind when shopping for clothes (including online) to get maximum fun and perhaps even surprise yourself. It’s fully optional, of course. I imagine a lot of you think I’m a hypocrite for slagging off sets of rules, then creating my own! But I’m nothing if not a raging hypocrite…

 

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The Fat Gal’s Clothes Shopping Manifesto!

I will forego every piece of fashion “advice” I have been given beforehand.

I will consider, order and try on clothes that I like, not which I believe will fit

I will consider, order and try on clothes that may not necessarily “suit” me

I will consider, order and try on clothes that may not necessarily be my “size”

I will not purchase clothes that make me feel self-conscious or uncomfortable emotionally

I will not purchase clothes as an incentive to change my body in any way

I will no longer ignore stores that I believe don’t cater for me

I will take a trusted friend if I feel self conscious going into a store

I will decide to purchase clothing based on my confidence levels when wearing them

I will dress for my own needs and happiness

I WILL FIGURE OUT MY STYLE FOR MYSELF.

 

So, there you go. Thinking about it, this doesn’t necessarily need to be purely a fat person or gender specific exercise, as I know some of this affects my slimmer friends. But I still think the best thing anyone can do in shopping for clothes is: wear what you want, and what makes you happy. No more, no less.

 

 


I just can’t seem to get my arse in gear with this blog lately. It makes me so sad! I’ve been having another confidence crisis so not been in the mood to take photographs. However, this dress arrived today so I ran out and took some pics:

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image: Me, short, fat, pale skinned with mid length dark hair and tortoiseshell sunglasses, a feather in her hair. I am wearing a brown sleeveless dress with black polka dots and a black peter-pan collar, teamed with a black belt, opaque black tights and black flats. I have a natural coloured bow pinned to my chest, and a brown feather hairpiece. I am standing in a garden surrounded by foliage and ornaments with a garden chair behind me.

Dress: ASOS Curve
Tapestry bow: Stefanie Bezaire
Cat-eye sunglasses: Accessorize (gifted)
Belt: Evans
Feather hair clip: Bijou Bijoux
Flats: Primark

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image: Me, short, fat, pale skinned with mid length dark hair and tortoiseshell sunglasses, a feather in her hair. I have one hand on my hip and one hand up to my sunglasses. I am wearing a brown sleeveless dress with black polka dots and a black peter-pan collar, teamed with a black belt, opaque black tights and black flats. I have a natural coloured bow pinned to my chest, and a brown feather hairpiece. I am standing in a garden surrounded by foliage and ornaments with a garden chair behind me.

Meep, apologies for the creases! My excuse is that it was fresh out of the packet… I went a size down for this dress as I actually have the other peter-pan collar dress from them in a similar colour – but the dots couldn’t be ignored, I’m afraid. I’ve hiked up the bodice to my natural waist. Look how lily white and big my arms are!

I’m still not happy with my photos… hmm. May have to think about what to do!

Until next time, peeps… x


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Image: Young woman with dark skin and long, black, slightly wavy hair against a gray background, leaning and looking to the right of the photo with her right arm outstretched and left arm curled upwards. She is wearing a floor length sleeveless dress that is black at the top and grey at the bottom.

All photos courtesy of Evans

I’m so, so relieved I can finally get this off my chest – I first saw these pieces at the SS11 press day, but it was all a bit hush hush. But now I can tell you! Evans have been working on COLLECTION: a capsule collection that encompasses classic, modernist cuts, tailoring, better quality fabric, and classic staples. There’s been a real demand for clothing that is of higher quality in fit, and I think it’s a known fact us plus sizers are literally drowning in polyester sometimes, so I’m very happy about this!

They shot the campaign photos with Marquita Pring last year, and some of you may have noticed them in the press day photos…

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Image: Young woman against a grey background. She has long, slightly wavy black hair, and is looking at the camera. She is wearing a two part dress: the top is grey marl, the bottom is pleated khaki coloured chiffon. Over this she has a light coloured leather jacket with studs to the collar.

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Image: Young woman with dark skin, with long, slightly wavy hair, against a grey background. She has her left hand on her hip, her right hand rests on her thigh which is outstretched. She is wearing a black floor length dress with peplum detail, and a bangle on her right wrist. She is looking down towards the right of the photo.

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Image: Young woman with dark skin, with long, slightly wavy hair, against a grey background. She is wearing a brown suedette top and a floor length black pleated skirt. The skirt has blown up a little and you can see she is wearing wedge sandals. She is looking towards the left of the photo, with her left hand touching her hair.

Here’s the blurb from Evans‘ press release:

Evans has very much leaned towards the modernist trend for its summer inspiration. COLLECTION offers an exclusive range of soft trend inspired pieces. The cut and the quality of the product is more premium, giving the range a more modern and exclusive feel. From pleated maxi skirts, simple colour blocking and clean cut crochet dresses all in a very neutral colour palette, COLLECTION has a strong contemporary edge that will work with your wardrobe season after season.

And here are all the items that will be available. Because of the emphasis on quality and more expensive fabrics, COLLECTION does have a higher price point than normal. But to me that’s perfectly understandable, because these are clothes that are built to last. I’m always happy to pay slightly extra (well, when I have it to spare!) for something that is better quality and will last me longer.

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Left to right: Black & Cream Pocket Front Maxi, £60; White Maxi Dress, £75; Black Maxi dress, £50

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Left to right: Point Front Top, £35; Suedette Shell Top, £40; Embellished Top, £59.50

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Left to right: Black Pleated Maxi Skirt, £50; White Kimono Shirt, £45, Suedette Trousers, £45

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Left to right (my favourites!): Black & Grey Pocket Front Dress, £50; Khaki & Grey Pleat Skirt Dress, £60; White Dress, £55

The idea behind COLLECTION has nods to both Principles (if you remember them!) and M&S’s Autograph range. Though to me, COLLECTION feels as though it’s in the same vein as ASOS White, albeit slightly more grown up. But it definitely evokes that high quality, clean lined fashion that we all love about White.

Some of the Evans pieces even strike me as avant-garde in their minimalism – the grey and black blocked maxi reminds me of Rick Owens, not something I’d ever imagined I’d say about plus size clothing! Equally I love the simple 50’s shaped white crocheted dress and tan belt, and the chiffon delicately printed maxi dress. My absolute favourite item has to be the black and grey short dress though, it feels slightly futuristic to me and I love it!

This is definitely more of a simple, staple style collection as opposed to a “fashion” one, and I know the more colourful and wacky among us won’t be too keen. But I honestly am a big fan of both the idea of high quality and good fitting plus size clothing, and the execution as well.

COLLECTION launches both in stores and on the web from the week commencing 25th April. What do you think my lovelies?


carmen

Photo by Abbey Drucker www.abbeydrucker.com

For my latest style icon post, I’ve chosen my good friend Carmen. She’s a glamourpuss party girl who manages to be refreshingly unpretentious about it all – equally at home in the best bars on the LES or dancing in her living room to Come on Eileen. Imagine Jayne Mansfield as a Benny Hill girl, or Jessica Rabbit as a klutzy Cockney and you’re on the right track. I’ve been bullying her to try and get into modelling but she won’t. I absolutely love these answers, they really made me chuckle. Hope you enjoy them!

How would you describe your style and what/who are your biggest style influences?
You know when Velma Kelly in Chicago is down on her luck and her stockings are all laddered? That’s me. I’m a low maintence attempt at a glamour girl. I will always be wearing red lipstick and eyeliner, but there will also always be a ladder in my tights. I love lace, silk, sequins, velvet. I like to be feminine but with an edge – cute tea dresses with a pair of genuinely buggered pair of ankle boots that I’ve tried to save with gaffer tape. I look at those girls that always look really ‘together’ and lament that will never be me!

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My style always seems to shift slightly depending on what I’m really into at the time. For example, in 2005 I was massively into The White Stripes and Cabaret, so wore black, red and white exlusively – white cut up tees and red dresses for the day vs black sequins, red satin and pearls at night. Then I went through the whole post-punk NY thing and hipster goth was very much my forte – tailored jackets and pencil skirts with lace tops and corsets. I also love anything from the Victorian era.

I’m not influenced directly by the high street or by fashion magazines. I’m inspired by music, my friends, and my peers. I like people who aren’t afraid to stand out.

Where are your favourite places to shop?
Poeple always assume that I’m a die hard vintage shopper or get my clothes from weird shops off the beaten track, but 90% of my clothes are from the high street, like Dorothy Perkins, or New Look. It’s just about how you put things together. I’m rubbish at ebay or shopping online – I need to be able to touch and feel what I am going to buy.

carmen

What is your number one favourite item of clothing/accessory and why?
My corset from Fairy Gothmother. It cost £120 which is the most I’ve ever paid for an item of clothing. The first time I was laced into it I was unable to pee because I couldn’t bend over to pull my knickers up! With a lot of deep breathing and trial and errors (FYI: don’t wear one during a heatwave in NYC after consuming a lot of beer) I wore it all the time, under and over clothes. There’s just something about an hourglass shape that appeals, and I believe it does look better on women that have some meat on them. Megan Fox in a corset in her latest film just looked wrong to me. If you’re already a size 0 why are you pulling in your waist even more?!

I also have a pair of shoes from Irregular Choice, like little doll shoes. Unfortunately they are so nice that I refuse to wear them out.

carmen

Have you found it more difficult to develop your style because of being a larger size than most stores cater for?
It’s definitely more difficult than for an average sized girl. Vintage clothes for size 16 and up are almost always granny frocks. Although they are nice, it would be better if I could find some variety.

I feel like some shops just can’t be bothered with trying to make things fit well over a size 16. I can never, ever buy anything in Primark because everything is always so tight around the chest. Another bugbear is making everything tent-like – I still have a waist and things constantly bag around there. Oh and while I’m having a moan, they also assume everyone over size 16 must be short – I’m five ten and I am constantly flashing my knickers becuse skirts and dresses just come up too short! It can be done, you just have to use your head and realise that 1.) elastic is your friend,  2.) belts are a lifesend and 3.) you will always always rip the crotch out of the tights from Topshop.

carmen

What’s your favourite piece of fashion advice?
Wear whatever the hell you want to. Its only clothes. Idiot 19 year-old girls in bodycon dresses may scorn, but there are always people who will think you look awesome.


Ooh look, another OOTD?! And this one’s got an awkward amateur model pose, to boot:

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Image: Me, short, fat, pale skinned with mid length dark hair and sunglasses, wearing a black babydoll dress, green sequin trim cardigan and bow courts, standing in a garden surrounded by foliage and ornaments with one hand on hip and legs crossed, looking up at the camera.

Black dress: ASOS Curve (via Big Bum Jumble)
Green sequin cardigan: Evans (2009)
Envelope brooch: Accessorize – part of a set
Polka dot courts: Evans
Prescription sunglasses: DKNY (2004)
Feather alice band: Bijou Bijoux

Because I don’t go out too much any more (Friday night’s Thermals gig was the first show I’ve been to since Jan 1st!) my mum asks me whether I’m going to start dressing “casual”. The sad fact is, this outfit to me is dressing down, even though it involves sequins, feathers and fabric roses. I guess it’s because in my mind casual equals comfort, and this dress is really comfy to the point where I forget I’m wearing it and the cardigan is lovely. Even the headband fits so well that I forget it’s there, unlike most alice bands which dig in and give me headaches! I’ve had my prescription sunglasses for a long time, since my brief and unhappy stint working at a local opticians. I got them because they reminded me of Holly Golightly’s prescription sunnies in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – indeed I did actually use them when I dressed up as her! They’re DKNY glasses, and I think this might be the only designer item (not counting perfume) that I’ve ever owned.

You might also notice I’ve chopped my hair off! Well, not me, but my lovely hairdresser. I was unsure yesterday but having slept on it and fluffed it up I like it. I’ve not had hair this short for years, so I have to adjust!

 


Hello everyone! Not quite sure what’s happened with my blog recently – probably that working from home, I’m normally in my pyjamas and I have no desire to turn this into a stylish pj blog. There have been some interesting developments, however: I have been given my first ever styling project, for a plus size fashion editorial in DIVA. It’s so exciting but I’m also crapping myself as I have no idea how any of this stuff works. Pippa has been a wonderful help regarding styling etiquette and protocol, though.

For you London peeps, I have gotten myself a stall at Jumbleree at the George Tavern on Sunday 10th April – next week! I have so many clothes and shoes I no longer want, and I’m too lazy (at the moment) to set up a selling blog, so this seems perfect especially as I’m a bit scared of car boot sales. Do come down, it’s a gorgeous pub and there will be some fab vintage stalls, live music and djs… really cool!

I’m also attending and REALLY excited about Big Beach Bums, which Kirsty is setting us! It’s taking place in Brighton on 28th May and the facebook event is here if you’d like to come down. I really honestly can’t wait to hang out with everyone again! Anyway, on to the outfit…

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Photo: Me, short, fat, pale skin, dark hair and glasses, standing on wooden decking in a peach skirt and ruffle cardigan with foliage and assorted plants in the background.

Peach skirt: H&M
Black ruffle cardigan: Torrid (gifted)
Black vest (underneath): ASOS Curve
Spot tights: Simply Be
Black boots: Evans
Lace corsage: Accessorize

I bit the bullet and bought the skirt from the H&M Inclusive collection. As you might know I was a little disappointed, but then the best stuff already had pictures released. There was a panic when the two week front page editorial ended and we thought everything had taken off, but actually the pieces are still available just in the relative sections of the site. I’m not the only one who plumped for this: Georgina and Katrin both look stunning in theirs!

I do like this outfit, though wearing it to the station last night in my chav-tastic place of residence got me in an altercation with some sixth form boys in a car. In a strange way, although I was upset by it (I’m incredibly over-sensitive to this sort of thing – luckily I had my earphones in so couldn’t hear what they were screaming and shouting) I feel like getting a reaction like that means I must be doing something right…

Oh oh, before I forget – I have lots and lots of things to giveaway so hopefully will get it up on the blog this week!