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River Island is one of my favourite high street fashion shops. I’ve always admired their clothes… From afar. Even as a teen I was always one or two sizes too big to actually shop there. So the news that they will be releasing almost a hundred plus size items got me really excited. And then came their press release, announcing RI Curve. Here are some tweets that summarise the disappointment better than I can:

RI Curve’s development has taken the exact same trajectory as boohoo.com, Missguided, Dorothy Perkins, Mango and Forever 21’s plus size collections before them: initial excitement, puzzlement at the misuse of body positivity slogans/”real women”/references to curves in their teaser campaigns… And finally, the disappointment when the official announcement comes around, because they only service a smidgen of women beyond size 18. Bonus points if it’s only available in a sprinkle of shops – everyone else has to order online (a.k.a. pay the Fat Tax).

In RI Curve’s case, the collection stops at a size 24 (a US20), and will be available in ‘top stores’ only. So, you guessed it, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to waltz into your local River Island with your head held high and try before you buy.

Only time will tell if they complete the set and end up revealing 75 sad, lifeless imitations of their main range.

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Look, I’ve got no doubts that the team are working as hard as they can on this, that they believe in RI Curve and want it to succeed. And I genuinely think the collection will be fairly trendy, given River Island’s brand. Indeed, the working illustration looks great! (Although blazers and jeans are not my thing.)

But this just cements – for me at least – that there is still such a cognitive dissonance between what fat consumers want vs what the fashion industry are willing to give them.

What does a fashion-conscious fat babe want? They want to wear the same cool, on-trend and downright fabulous shit their friends wear. Surely the logical solution for a fashion retailer looking to harness fatties’ spending power is to introduce larger sizes to the clothes they’re already producing?

But, fashion brands don’t. They won’t – and they insist it’s because they can’t. So they dance like fuck around the issue and act like it’s the same thing.

Personally, I believe their resistance has more to do with brand management than any logistical excuses. Fashion-focused retailers have thin women as their main demographic, for better or worse. That is who they’re looking to please. That is who they are: even in plus size only retail head offices, it’s really rare to see someone who is actually plus sized. And as any fat person who’s walked into a mainstream fashion shop will know, thin women do not welcome you with open arms on the shop floor. (Obviously #notallthinwomen, and all that malarkey. But way, way more often than many think.)

With that in mind, is it any wonder attempts at opening established fashion brands up to big(ger) customers has to be kept separate, and dulled down? Think about it. If your brand rests on a very particular demographic who famously do not want to be associated with fat people, are you going to enable those same fat people to parade about wearing exactly the same outfits? (My god, I wish someone would. That’d be brilliant, wouldn’t it?) If you’re a multi-national retailer, are you going to create a PR nightmare and go up against the likes of Jamie fucking Oliver and fucking Jamelia (lol), to create nice clothes for fat people and ENCOURAGE OBESITY?! No, I guess you wouldn’t.

This is exactly why Beth Ditto’s new collection is so important – there are no restrictions like this. No advertisers or industry bods to consider, or market research featuring solely women who hate themselves to base their final designs on. It’s by fat people, for fat people. It makes all the difference in the world.

Straight size fashion brands want fabulous fatties’ money but they want to assuage their core customers’ fatphobia at the same time? Maybe they’d be better off leaving us to it. I’d rather that than one patronising, separate-and-inequal collection after another.

All in, or out.


Via @thecityofjules. Dear whoever is pictured in this photo: you are my hero.

Via @thecityofjules. Dear whoever is pictured in this photo: you are my hero.

Over the years, I’ve developed quite the collection of ironically/unironically proud junk food themed clothing items. Hell, the one time in my life I got involved on a dress that went on public sale, I covered it in 99 flakes.

Generally, the foods depicted on my clothing don’t demonstrate what I’ve been eating – contrary to popular belief. I will admit, though, that they tend to depict what I would like to be eating. Y’know?

Like, for instance, pizza. Ah, pizza. Fun fact: I am a ridiculously fussy eater, and because of this I didn’t even try pizza until I was 14 years old. I just always assumed I wouldn’t like it, so refused all offers. I’d go to a pizza place with my parents and eat chicken wings. CHICKEN WINGS. Oh how wrong you were, little Lauren! Bread and cheese and whatever you like thrown on top, all hot and crispy! It’s almost too distressing to think about all the pizza I’ve missed out on over the years.

While I am doing my best to make up for lost time – mostly at Dominos, to be honest, because of their superior BBQ sauce and meatballs – there’s still a way to go. So when my favourite pizza people asked me if I wanted to combine my fashion sense and my debt to the pizza industry for a project, I jumped at the chance.

Full disclosure: this project is also about onesies. Because we’re cool.

Katy perry in a pizza print onesie

Look how ecstatic Katy Perry is in hers!

In a nutshell, Dominos are hosting an all-singing, all-dancing competition to design the most awesome food-based onesie in existence. And I’m one of the judges. Mwahahaha! Reckon you can do better than the above?

Be as silly or as refined as you like. It could be a million neon pizzas dotted around like a pattern. It could be a giant walking/rolling pizza with all manner of toppings attached with velcro. It could be a love letter to the Dominos pizza delivery guy who you’re scared to slip your number to because you’d feel a bit sleazy.

All I’d ask is that you’re not rude or offensive, and you might well be in with hosting your own pizza party, complete with onesies!

More details, terms and conditions are over here: www.dominos.co.uk/blog/design-onesie-competition

You’ve got until 19th December to get your design to us, and please do share your Dominos onesie competition design on social media if you enter! We’ll feature the best ones over at the Domino’s blog as well before choosing an overall winner.

To celebrate and inspire, here are some of my fave food-based clothes and accessories:

A collage of my fave foodie accessories and t-shirts

1. Fries B4 Guys necklace, Black Heart Creatives
2. Pizza never lies t-shirt, ASOS
3. Strawberry sundae clutch, New Look
4. Good Burger necklace, Black Heart Creatives

Good luck!


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Lingerie: Gorgeous range at Debenhams*

Those of you who have read my blog for a while might know how the biggest obstacle to finding peace with my body has been my breasts. It’s one thing to be fat, but unfortunately I didn’t get the typical fat girl pay-off in the form of big, full breasts. For years, I felt revulsion at the fact that I was a 44AA in a world of 42Gs, strapping up my boobs in whatever 3-cup-boosters I could find and despairing over the fact that I had more cleavage at my back than I did at my front (but that subject is a whole other post). I felt like a failure, and completely undesirable. How could I not? Desirable was a D+ cup and I felt like my own body just didn’t deliver.

When I first got measured by the team at Freya I was jubilant at discovering that a 36D was a closer fit, with their bras giving me as much of a boost and levelling out my silhouette as much as my Sainsbury’s bras held together with multiple bra extenders and willpower. It opened up a whole new world and imbued me with so much more confidence. I was a 36D. I could hold my head up high! I was an average woman!

Of course, nothing is ever that simple. Just as no two size 20s are the same, so too did my bra size fluctuate as I shopped around the high street for a new lingerie wardrobe. After huffing and puffing in Marks and Spencers when bra after bra didn’t fit, I actually cried (I was probably due on, to be fair). Maybe they got it wrong, I thought to myself. Maybe, after everything, I really was just a 44AA. The idea was too depressing to consider.

And then, a few months ago, I read a comment by an owner of a vintage shop who said that she made a point of asking women who entered her store what size they wore, not what size they are. And it blew my mind a little bit. How many times have we said “I am a…” with regards to our clothes or bra size? On the face of it it’s an innocuous piece of phrasing, just part of the english language that doesn’t need to be thought about. But there’s a deeper meaning: we are, literally, defining ourselves by what size we wear. Isn’t that silly?

And then, I thought about how women use their dress and bra sizes as a source of pride or – more often – deep shame. How back in the day men judged women on their “vital statistics”, meaning they would literally get hot and bothered by… three sets of numbers. Sexy. More recently we had the hip to waist ratio, of which Kate Moss is apparently the only living embodiment of perfection. The more I thought about it, the more illogical it became. Why is this a thing?

Armed with this new insight and a kinder attitude towards my body I got measured again, this time by the team at Debenhams as part of their lingerie promotion. A few of us got to see the lovely Freya team give a talk on bras for larger cup sizes before having a nose at all the pretty bras. This time, changes in my body meant that for Debenhams’ own lingerie, I felt and looked best in a 38C. This time, it really IS like a whole new world – I came away with four sets of underwear that are ridiculously comfortable and I that I like how I look in with my clothes on – and with my clothes off.

I don’t feel any shame or apologetic in any way the way that I used to. A bra is something I wear and in some places it’s one size, and in another place it’s another size. There is no magic number that defines me. Maybe we should stop saying “I am” and start saying “I wear“.

Change starts with the small things: I am Lauren. I wear sizes anywhere from 16 to 26, depending on the shop. In Freya I might wear a 36D; in Debenhams, a 38C. And that’s fine. I am not my bra size.

And neither are you.


Dalmatian print skirt for Look x Simply Be
Skirt: LOOK magazine for Simply Be*
Shoes: Simply Be
Vest, Cardigan: Primark

Well, hello! I trust you’ve all been very well? It’s been a pretty crazy time at work recently, but for a good reason: I’ve been helping out with making two cute videos featuring some fabulous fashion and beauty vloggers for Westfield’s #editme site. Check them out: Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City.

As well as work it’s been fashion PR season, with lots of companies events for press and bloggers to have a look at upcoming collections. One of the most exciting ones for me has been the LOOK magazine for Simply Be collaboration, and they had a posh dinner in central London (not far from my office, hooray!) where we got to look at what was on its way. Yay!

A few years back Carla and I went to the Look show (she’d won tickets and took me because she’s the best) and the most celebrated model there was Crystal Renn (before she shed her weight), with Laura Catterall and Hayley Morley walking too. As a result, I’ve always thought of Look as one of the more plus size friendly magazines so it seemed like perfect sense for them to have teamed up with a plus size retailer.

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As for the collection itself I think it’s great, although I will admit the majority of it isn’t my personal style. And that’s okay! Simply Be’s main range are absolutely killing it at the moment, with pencil skirts, multiple shades of pink and whatnot. The Look range is sporty, smart and tailored and while those aren’t words you’d use to describe my style, looking through the collection I could see fellow bloggers looking completely at home in all of it. I can’t wait to see Bets in her Look jumpsuit, for example!

As for me, I had to try the dalmatian print midi skirt. Only problem was, at 5’1″, wearing it at my natural waist would have the skirt hanging around my ankles! So I sized down (to a 20) to wear it high waisted. Very high waisted. And it still hits below the knee!

The skirt is really well made, fully tailored, and the fabric is thick and hangs really well. It’s an a-line shape as opposed to a circle skirt, but you can still put a petticoat underneath if you so wished. I went for a “swanning around the riviera” look – even though I only got as far as my own garden. Haha.

What do you think of the collection?


Oh. My. God.

The dresses went on sale Friday. Some of the sizes are sold out already, and Simply Be are getting more stock in to fill the demand. I’ve bought all three dresses and they’re just divine. I’m so happy with mine, and Laura and Em did such an incredible job on theirs.

Thank you so much, all of you who attended the event in Manchester two weeks ago, who have said lovely things about my dress design, bought it, or just been supportive. Thanks to the AMAZING Simply Be team for being excellent.

This has been the best experience blogging has brought me, and I’m SO damn lucky.

Thank you. x


So Fabulous Event

So Fabulous glitter cupcakes

I really am a lucky girl – on Wednesday I attended a blogger event run by the guys at So Fabulous at Littlewoods. It was the first event they’d done ever, and I think they did a great job! I feel like sometimes I don’t give them their dues when in fact they are one of the shops I purchase from most, and some of my favourite clothes are from either the South or So Fabulous collections!

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One of the SF clothing rails. Peplums, lace, florals and sequins.

So Fabulous Event

Another SF rail, this time with hot pinks and camouflage jackets that everyone loved.

We all had a browse of their latest collection, and I got to try on some dresses I’d been eyeing on site for ages (and which I will probably go and buy now, haha!). They also set us a little team challenge – half of us were asked to come up with a look for a job interview, and the other half – my team – were challenged to come up with a look for a night out dancing.

Becky was on model duties for the team I was in, and here she is working our night out look where we took the “more is more” approach:

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Becky working her “night out in the west end” look! I couldn’t fit in the INCREDIBLE heels she was wearing.

Awesome, no? I also loved the other team’s look for a job interview – I’d never have thought to put a blouse under a skater dress (I’d have just worn it as a casual day dress) but Betty looked so smart and gorgeous:

So Fabulous Event

Becky models her “job interview” look – I loved this!

Afterwards we all caught up and also got into a bit of a debate where we talked about which brands we think are doing great things, what we like and dislike about plus size fashion, the size ranges of plus size brands and also the eternal plus size model debate. I always love a good discussion about these things, hopefully I didn’t get too carried away!

I used the event as an excuse to try out my new camera, although I’m still a total novice and half my pictures are a blurry mess. But I got some gorgeous ones of some of the other bloggers in attendence, yay!

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Love Mel. She looked so good in her dress I had not-buying-regret for the rest of the day!

So Fabulous Event

Callie checking out her photographs

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Becky and Naomi posing for the camera!

I loved the clothes (especially the dresses, as always) and the team were super positive and passionate about the clothes, which was brilliant to see. I have to say I mostly just loved catching up with my blogging buddies seen above and including Kirsty and Hanna, and meeting Betty and Toni for the first time, finally! Bring on Plus North!


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You know how in my post about ASOS Curve‘s autumn lookbook I said that it sometimes felt like I was waiting for a crush to shower attention on me? Well if I’m the Angela Chase in this story, ASOS’ Jordan Catalano really decided to pull out all the stops and make me feel special a few weeks ago. It was awesome.

A few of us got to preview the selection for spring and summer at the amazing Duck & Waffle, somewhere I’ve wanted to go for ages. It was a really lovely evening and the view and food were incredible, but of the course the clothes were the most important thing, as you can imagine.

ASOS spring summer 2013

Since I’ve been blogging I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few different previews for various brands, and while the clothes have always been nice I’ve often felt twinges of disappointment when they inevitably aren’t particularly fashionable or clearly geared for a different type of woman than me. You can probably guess that ASOS Curve’s spring rail was met with a chorus of gasps and oohs and grabby hands. It’s exactly the kind of stuff you find in their main range – but in size fat! I hastily snapped a few pics on my iPhone and twitter and instagram went slightly crazy. Dungarees! Crochet hot pants! Neon-embellished fairy dresses! Floral cullottes! Monochrome graphic print shift dresses! Broderie Anglaise crop tops and chiffon lemon maxis! Satin patterned bomber jackets!

ASOS spring summer 2013

Some of the items we saw are available on site already, with the rest arriving throughout May and June. I really can’t wait to buy up most of it, so chances are you’ll be seeing it on the blog very soon!


Simply Be Shoot

Image: me mid-pose, in my bright prink and yellow ice cream print dress.

This post has been many months in the making, I keep putting it off and putting it off – there’s so much I want to say that it feels insurmountable. But it’s getting ridiculous now, so I’m going to attempt to muddle through what is, pretty much, the pinnacle of my time as a plus size/fatshion/whatever blogger.

In November of last year, I got an email from Simply Be. This isn’t unusual as I’ve been to a few of their events, and am in contact with the team there (they’re all lovely) – but this time, they wanted to know if I was interested in taking part in a blogger collection, and designing an outfit.

SCREAM!

From there, I went up to Manchester for a meeting with the team, which included their buyer Natalie, and Mark the designer. Everyone was so lovely, as you can imagine! They emphasised that they wanted us to be as bold as we could – they didn’t want us to water anything down or worry about whether things would sell, etc. Then each of us (myself, Laura and Georgina) talked about what ideas we had. I brought up a sketchbook I’ve had for years, which I sometimes doodle designs on that I swear I’ll make when I learn to sew. I also created a mood board on pinterest here:

Simply Be Shoot

Image: a screengrab of the colourful and kitsch inspiration I had for my dress.

I wanted something kitsch and colourful. I have a real problem when it comes to prints, as you can probably tell. If anyone hears of a Prints Anonymous group, by all means, let me know! I wanted something that the badass babes of tumblr and in my own real life would be proud to wear and put their own stamp on. At the same time, I wanted it to be accessible and wearable in every day if needs be – a knit fabric (also so it could stretch and those above a size 32 could wear it), light and an easy shape. I considered an a-line shape and initially was against the skater shape – but I suit that shape so much, and so eventually I decided to go for it even if it’s a bit ubiquitous at the moment!

After the meeting, I kept in touch with Mark who sent me over possible print options. We’d talked about heart print, lightning bolt print and lip print, but nothing seemed quite right. And then he sent me this:

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A mock up of the dress shape and possible patterns, including the final ice cream print in pink and yellow.

As soon as I saw it, I knew. As much as I liked the green and pink, the pink and yellow just popped so much more. It was just… perfect! I mean, look at the fabric swatch from later! ARGH!

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Image: a close up of the fabric swatch.

After that was finalised, we were kept in the loop of how things were progressing manufacturing-wise, and later myself, Laura and Em (George sadly had to drop out – we missed her, but it was so she could do the awesome Evans campaign so yay!) for a follow up to try the test garments and iron out any changes that needed to be made before final production.

The next time we all met up, it was shoot day. With the final dresses. Aaaah!

Simply Be Shoot

Image: left to right Laura’s dress; my dress; Em’s dress on the rail.

Each of us was made up then shot individually over the course of the day. I have to be completely honest here: the team were absolutely lovely and wonderful, but I found shooting really difficult. I know that might sound odd since I have a website full of photos taken of myself, but the difference is that when I take outfit photos I’m in my bedroom by myself. My camera’s on a self-timer and that’s it. So to go from that to having a team of people photographing me in the middle of Hoxton was quite a departure! Em also touched on abuse she received, and I also got nasty comments from men in vans, schoolboys and various office workers. I’m not strong like Em, so I didn’t answer back. To the one girl who whispered “you look beautiful” as you walked past though, whether you meant it or not, thank you!

Simply Be Shoot

Image: getting “touched up” in the street by the lovely MUA.

Simply Be Shoot

Image: the crew. Look at all that equipment!

The shoot and how I look in it isn’t really the point, though – what I’m most excited about is seeing other awesome fatties wearing it and how you’re all going to style it! There’s also going to be a launch party that bloggers and possibly customers can attend, so more info on that when it comes. I can’t WAIT!

I really still can’t get my head around the fact that this has happened. It’s SO mind-blowing! Hannah, Natalie, Mark and the Simply Be team have been so, so amazing. I literally can’t thank them enough. And I’m so happy I got to do this with women I consider my friends as well as fellow bloggers: Laura, Em and George. I love Laura and Em’s dresses as well, and I’ve seen their photos and they look stunning! I’ll be buying both of them, for sure.

The dresses will be available in June. It’ll be in sizes 14-32 (UK). I really hope you like what I’ve come up with. <3


Hi my lovelies, I hope you’re all well?

There have been so many wonderful lookbooks popping up for AW12 that I’ll be posting them all on the blog this week, so we can all bask in lovely clothes. First up, here’s a peek at Simply Be‘s AW12 video, with special behind the scenes footage – you can also click through the videos to shop what you see with an added 10% discount as a bonus.

The lovely TV advert, coming to a screen near you soon.
Behind the scenes with stylist Karen – I love what she has to say.
A little interview with the gorgeous Wendy, who possesses the greatest genes of all time. Lucky lady!
A talk with Candice – as Candice Huffine is one of the biggest names in plus modelling right now it’s really cool to see more of her character!
And finally model Justine does a little video diary. She’s so cute!

A photo of me (short, fat, pale caucasian, brunette hair) stands facing the camera in a black dress with white spots and red flower prints, bare legs and black ankle boots.

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a great week. It’s been really interesting reading your entries to the Volup2 competition and you’ve said some lovely things on my 3rd birthday post so thank you! I pick the winners (competitions 1 – 9 will be picked at random, the Volup2 winner will be chosen by me and Diana) on Sunday afternoon, so make sure your name’s down if you want to win.

A slightly overdue review item from me today. I’d had my eye on this dress for a while from Yours Clothing. As you may know I used to work for them, and my old boss there said they’d send me something as a treat (I know, I’m lucky!) and of course I asked for this!

Image: Me, as before, in a slightly different pose – this time with my hand on my hip.

Dress: courtesy of Yours Clothing
Boots: New Look
Necklace: Tatty Devine
Ring: Eddy & Bri

 I was forewarned that the dress runs very small – I was advised to size up twice, so I tentatively took a size 24. I find it a teensy bit snug around the bottom, but that’s ok. I really like the look, although I prefer it without the belt (the belt does fit though!) but that might be because I’m feeling a bit anti-belts at the minute. God, my legs are so pale they’re borderline blue!

My only fault with the dress is that the lining is rather short, so I do worry about flashing my bum a little – especially as I’ve stopped wearing bike shorts as I finally got round to buying Secret Shield and it’s as good as everyone says.

I really do adore the dipped back dresses though, so thanks everyone at Yours for letting me have this! If you fancy it, it’s currently in the Yours sale, although it looks like it’s selling pretty fast!

Thanks loves, and I’ll see you soon.