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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.


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Aaaaaaaaargh. There’d been rumblings for a while about reigning supreme fat babe Beth Ditto designing her own independent collection, but I didn’t let myself believe it. I just couldn’t deal with the disappointment if it never happened, you know?

BUT IT’S REAL. It’s happening! In February! There’s a website and everything! The collection was announced today with pictures of Beth looking incredible in her limited edition t-shirt with Jean Paul Gaultier (more on that later) and I’m so excited I think I might be sick. Also, please can we get the lowdown on that make up look as soon as?

I know that Beth has mentioned in interviews about the limitations of her Evans collections and how she wasn’t 100% happy with the process. Evans are a giant retailer, so it’s understandable that some amendments had to be made. What blows my mind is that Beth’s two Evans collections pushed SO MANY boundaries for plus size fashion, even with those limitations. Can you imagine what will be on offer now that she’s got full creative freedom?

The fact that she’s reached out to fat activists to be part of the team is also awesome. Specifically Jessica (Tangled Up In Lace, and the inventor of the fatkini), who remains an inspiration for when I’m getting dressed each day. I can’t think of many people who are more deserving of a gig like this. As it says in i-D magazine, the collection is “by us, for us” and by getting the fat community involved, it really feels like it.

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As for the t-shirt itself, some have talked about it being problematic and/or boring, which, I mean, okay, but I don’t see why some are writing off the entire collection based off one t-shirt. This is a PR move and a savvy one at that. With a Proper Designer(TM) on board, the collection will be taken more seriously by the fashion press. Maybe I’m just bamboozled to see a genuine collaboration with an A+ fashion designer, I don’t know.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: the t-shirt (and, I’m assuming, the collection itself) fits up to size 32. In an age when every new “plus size boutique” launches with their backs turned on our size 26 and over sisters, this is a bold move. I’m for it.

What do you reckon? Have any of you gone and bought one? If so, TELL ME EVERYTHING.


I mean, bloggers are the new celebrities, right?

Recently, everyone’s been talking about Essena O’Neill, who turned around and called out her hugely successful social empire (and truly, it was an empire – her following rivaled populations of modest cities) as a sham. Whatever your thoughts on her epiphany – I’ve seen everything from celebration to outright derision – it’s opened up a lot of dialogue among bloggers and those in the industry which can never be a bad thing.

This story hit a little too close to home. I’ve spent much of this year taking time out from Pocket Rocket, a project that had previously been the best thing that ever happened to me. And a lot of it was for similar reasons.

Back in 2009, blogging and plus size fashion were burgeoning sub-cultures, both of them in their own ways on the cusp of something amazing. I wasn’t sure what, but I knew I wanted to be involved. So I set up this blog, and for four amazing years, it was the biggest positive force in my life. I can’t tell you, as someone who spent her teen years reading glossy magazines and wishing desperately to be among them, how freeing and powerful it felt to have my own voice, to show off my own style, completely outside of mainstream media. I was entirely in control of my own narrative, as was everyone that I was fortunate enough to meet and become friends with. I even met up with plus size fashion brands, speaking to them about their products and acting as a spokesperson for plus size women who actually wanted fashion (at the time I was the only plus size blogger within reaching distance of London, where most companies were based). I was wined and dined, and yeah, I did really enjoy it!

It was around 18 months into Pocket Rocket that I began noticing changes, as what had been a grassroots community evolved into something monetised, competitive and, well, capitalist. In hindsight, I realise I was witnessing the transfer of that incredible editorial control from the bloggers themselves to the fashion and advertising industries. Suddenly, it wasn’t enough to just write about fatness and show off what you wore. It was a means to an end: a modelling contract, or a job in the fashion business. It was no longer about defying a fatphobic culture but about fusing together body positivity and consumerism. It became a numbers game. Why would a brand want to work with someone who can’t sell their products to more than a handful of people?

The most important thing O’Neill said in her video was “To put your work out there, to share a part of yourself… And a number on the screen dictates that success, or that value? It’s ridiculous. [When I was 12] I thought because I had no followers, I meant nothing.

I have never, ever, thrived in a competitive culture. And I’ve been coming to terms recently with the fact that I am not efficient with my time. Nor am I particularly productive. So I was forced to stand back and watch those who could survive – whether through sheer-willpower, phenomenal talent, efficiency or having the luck of looking like a model to begin with (I would like to point out that lots of bloggers are blessed with all of these qualities in spades!) – sprint past me in terms of success. I hit the so-called jackpot – getting a job in advertising – only to see ridiculous demands put on bloggers for little more than a free product, day in, day out.

Experiencing both sides like that, as well as the downturn in my own blog’s audience, how could I not feel sad? How could I not feel ashamed and embarrassed, considering that the free lunches I’d enjoyed believing I could help make a small difference in plus size fashion (Ha! How ridiculous that sounds now!) actually accelerated the capitalist takeover of blogging and social media? My blog had gone from something that boosted my confidence every day, to yet another avenue of reminders that I was insignificant. That I meant nothing.

So, I quit. And I lived happily ever after… For about a week.

The fact is, without my blog to turn to, without Twitter to document those silly things I think to myself but don’t feel are important enough to text my friends about, without Instagram to take a photo of the trees outside my mum’s house or The Shard looking particularly awesome, I feel lost. This year without blogging has felt like the bottom of my world has fallen out. And I’ve realised that, no, I’ll never get on TV or a columnist job, or a modelling contract, or a book deal. But that’s okay, really.

This is my blog. It owes nothing to no one, and in this day and age that is so, so powerful. It makes me proud.


lane bryant's #imnoangel campaign. Their actual customers don't look like this.

You may meet people who wistfully assure you the plus size blogging community hasn’t always been like this. “It used to be so nice, until the drama queens showed up!” Pay them no heed. They’re liars.  All blogging scenes, and especially the plus size fashion niche, have always found themselves embroiled in a constant fliration with drama.

Even so, the past couple of weeks have been more tumultuous than usual, with two hashtag campaigns – #DropThePlus and Layne Bryant’s #ImNoAngel inciting a lot of heated debate.

I don’t need to explain what these campaigns were about, why they are ultimately wrong, and how the ways they reacted to criticism is a huge slap in the face to plus size women everywhere: Bethany and Amanda sum it all up brilliantly.

I guess what I want to add to the discussion, my small offering, is to reiterate that you do have the right to question, you do have the right to criticise, you do have the right to call to account.

This is so important to keep saying. Sometimes it feels simpler to turn the other cheek when someone or something in the plus size industry fucks up. The plus size world is so small that chances are you directly interact with the party responsible – in some cases, they might even be a friend. How do you confront a friend without upsetting them? Or it could be a brand you’ve had positive dealings with. What if you get struck off their PR list? Not only more superficial reasions such as those: what if you’re at a truly systematic disadvantage, e.g. a woman of colour who speaks up, only to get dismissed as an ‘angry black woman’?

Right now there are more options, clothing lines, events and initiatives for plus size women than ever, but it still accounts for small change compared to the luxury of choice afforded to our thinner pals. That makes it all the more important that as many of us as possible who are able (those of us who are free of stereotype and bold enough to speak out) to keep a critical eye on things do, and to highlight anything that we feel could be improved. Even more importantly, we support each other when people in the community are feeling disenfranchised and listen instead of dismissing them as mere haters or ungrateful.

We’ve pushed hard for change in the plus size fashion industry and slowly, it is happening – but it’ll never become the utopia we want if the only feedback heard is an enthusiastic thanks. And if we do speak out and are dismissed, the way we were by the folk behind #DropThePlus and #ImNoAngel? Then we can start to think, collectively, about ways to shop elsewhere.

You aren’t limited to feeling grateful. You are absolutely allowed to demand better and ask for more. We’ve got your back!


missguided plus red velvet wrap dress

Woah woah woah, what’s happened here then? Here I was, plodding along, and suddenly everyone starts tweeting about a new collection!

It turns out that Missguided have launched a ‘plus’ range, having previously only run to a 16. I’d always seen their items on straight sized pals and bloggers, and mentally ticked it off as one to pass on unless for accessories. Until now, at least!

Grumbles first: it’s not perfect – certainly not the size range, which stops at a 24. I find this quite a worrying trend among new brands, if I’m honest with you. Yeah yeah, I’m being a spoilsport, but you know what? There are so few options available for plus size fashion that when a new one does pop up, I want to celebrate it, and I want to celebrate it with my wonderful plus size pals who are larger than a 24! Is that really so bad?

I’m holding out hope that this is merely a dip of the toes into plus size waters, and should the collection be a success we’ll see an increase in sizes offered. Crossing my chubby fingers and toes this is the case!

So, on to the good stuff! I had a peep and picked out my favourite pieces from Missguided’s plus line – what do you think?

missguided plus top 5 items

1. Velvet wrap dress, £39.99 (also seen on the model above in oxblood, gah!) // 2. Lace peplum party dress, £34.99 (yes, peplums have been done to death, but if you can’t go bold: GO BIGGER!) // 3. Paint splash print crop top, £14.99 // 4. Checked crop top, £14.99 // 5. Mirror floral midi skirt, £19.99

Have you had a look yet? What do you reckon? I’m counting down ’till payday, I must admit!

 


A social life? Is there an app for that?
Digital me in digital London

Well, in recent months I’ve found myself succumbing to the craze of the Kim Kardashian game app. It’s allowed me to explore the less earnest sides of myself, to put it lightly. I absolutely DID NOT DO THE HACK* meaning all my hard earned cash goes straight into funding my pixelated #luxurybitch lifestyle. I am everything I despise in real life: all I do is party, spend money and do photoshoots. I taxi/fly everywhere (UPDATE: since beginning this draft I have bought a private fucking jet!) with little regard for the environment. I own ghost apartments in cities around the world that I only inhabit every now again, and occasionally throw a party at (although Daniel, I always invite my urban planner friend, Ava. Gotta keep you guys on side). I have pets in some of them although I have no idea who looks after them when I’m not there. Pretty sure my version of Boo the dog in Miami is dead by now. Shit, even the fur collars I wear are probably real. I didn’t ask. I just dropped those K-coins like they were pennies in a jar!

But hey, at least I’m not Willow Pape.

I’ve even got a husband! Picked up either in a club in Vegas or a restaurant in Paris, I dunno where. Sometimes I put hipster glasses on him and hate myself for it because really, I probably do want a hot hipster douchebag with chiseled cheekbones and NHS specs who says shit like this IRL:

me and my digital husband

*digitally swoons*

But, back to the most important (IMPORTANT!) aspect of the game: those clothes. They’re pretty sweet. Handily, there’s no diversity in body type in the game: you’re automatically given one of those pesky athletic-yet-booby ones, which means unlike in real life, everything fits! That last sentence was presented entirely without comment, by the way.

Guess what though: I only went and found some actual clothes that evoke the clothes from the game – and in plus sizes! Are you ready?

Kim Kardashian: Hollywood dress vs similar dress from Boohoo

Bodycon dress on the right by Boohoo.

Kim Kardashian taupe and lace dress vs pink and lace dress by Boohoo

This is a little bit inverted, lace-wise. Although in my humble opinion the real life version by Boohoo is actually nicer!

Kim K game grecian dress on the left, and a similar real life version on the right

The colour of this Little Mistress gown is more of a royal blue than the game’s green, but it’s still pretty lovely.

Kim K game red and black strapless dress on the left, real life outfit on the right

I am SO in love with this Boohoo bustier even though I don’t really have the ta-tas to fill it paired with a red PVC pencil skirt? Not for the faint hearted!

Black lace bodycon Kim K game dress on the left, with a real version on the right

To be fair, there are hundreds of versions of this dress online – especially when you discounted the floral lace. But I like this one from ASOS – and the model is making the same pose! (I taught her everything she knows.)

Kim K version of Willow Pape's white and coral dress on the left, with a real version on the right

So you really want to dress like Willow Pape, huh? Honestly. Look how mad I am at having to wear her shitty dress! But if needs must, Boohoo’s got it. The skirt is a darker colour than Willow’s coral but, given Pape’s a bit of a lush, the actual dress is likely covered in merlot stains anyway.

So there you go: you too can be a vacuous and well dressed celebrity! Anyway, must dash, have so many parties to attend and dates at expensive restaurants with husband.

Shame they’re all pixelated.

 

*I totally did


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?


Well, that whole “hey I’m back blogging” thing lasted, didn’t it? Since my last post things have gotten quite hectic in all areas of my life, plus a lack of internet meant Pocket Rocket had to take a back seat.

However as of yesterday I am fully wi-fi-ed up, and I can finally get back to bloggin’ business! First up: my take on New Look Inspire’s floral trend, with pics taken by one of my best pals and now housemate, Charlotte!

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Image: Me, wearing a leather jacket, black and white floral shift dress, red shoes and a chartreuse handbag, standing in front of trees. It’s all very green.


Dress
: Ax Paris via New Look Inspire*
Headband: ASOS
Necklace: a birthday gift from many moons ago
Shoes: Primark (again, many moons ago now)
Jacket: Forever Unique
Bag: Pieces via ASOS (2013)

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Image: me, as before, this time sans jacket! You can see my heart headband a little better here!

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Image: Me, with the outfit as in picture one. This time I have my hand on my hip and am pulling a silly face. BECAUSE I’M HILARIOUS.

New Look have been looking to bloggers for ways to style their spring looks, and I was given florals. I actually went for something less like my usual style – I was tempted to go full on romantic but I thought, why not try to do something a smidge different? Florals don’t necessarily mean “pretty”, and can even be kinda badass depending on your take on it.

Browing the dress section for the millionth time, I loved this 60s vs 90s shift dress. In person it’s really sweet and fits well (I got the size 22), however the length might not be as kind on those of you who are taller, which is a real shame. The armholes are also very big, but I find that with almost every plus size top/dress ever, so have gotten used to it over the years. If you’re between sizes I’d advise sizing up as it’s a thin cotton material and so doesn’t stretch.

I was hoping the sun would be out so I could wear some snazzy sunglasses, but alas the weather just didn’t wanna play ball. Harrumph!

There are some other dresses that I totally love, especially this one which I’m still hunting in my size – one day!

Thank you my lovelies, let me know what you think! xx


Hello my lovelies! Thank you for your lovely messages after my last post – I didn’t realise anyone had noticed my absence or anything. I’m really touched, you’re all so nice!

As it’s event season, I popped over to Anna Scholz‘s office along with other members of the blogging crew to check out her Black and White label collections, as well as her first lingerie collection with Simply Be. While we were there, a few of us got vox-popped for a wee BBC News documentary on plus size fashion, which you can see here. G’wan, Claire!

I’ve always had a huge appreciation for Anna Scholz. Her store is the first place I look if I’m after something extra special (and in a position where I can put some extra money towards clothes) – the price points are high, but it’s worth it if you are able. And even if you aren’t, her regular, more affordable collaboration with Simply Be always has standout pieces (still not over missing out on the maribou feather jacket *SOB*), and her sample sales have to be seen to be believed!

Anna Scholz for Simply Be lingerie

Anna Scholz’s first lingerie collection for Simply Be on the rail.

This season Anna launched her first lingerie collection with Simply Be, and it’s gorgeous. The chocolate & chartreuse pieces are my favourite. I mean, I doubt I’ll look as hot in them as Ashley Graham does, but I can pretend yeah?

Plus bloggers in Anna Scholz SS14

Myself and Gemma posing in some gorgeous Anna Scholz creations

Everyone was treated to a high afternoon tea, with petit fours, quiches and champagne, but the most exciting aspect of the night was being able to try on whatever we wanted, as all of the stock was right next door. Queue me trying on everything in sight in various sizes!

Anne & I in AS Black Label

Myself and Anne pose in matching Anna Scholz Black Label dresses

Bloggers try on Anna Scholz white label SS14

Ms Bartoz and Patricia: A vision in green!

Fat Pink Ladies in Anna Scholz

Anne, Rosie and I wear the Anna Scholz versions of the Pink Ladies jackets.

The embroidered bomber jackets were a huge hit with everyone – I have to admit they’re not my personal cup of tea, but that didn’t stop me feeling like a BAMF when trying it on with Rosie and Anne. Reckon we can start a girl gang a la Grease?

Anna herself was present and wearing her own gorgeous White Label dress.

fuller figure fuller bust, anna scholz & pocket rocket fashion

Ladies in red (and teal). I’m with Anna herself and George here wearing SS14 designs.

Ah, I’m so small!

Thanks so much to the Anna Scholz and Simply Be teams for letting me come along, I had an awesome time!

Anything you’re gonna start saving up for? I’m torn between the red and the green…


Hiya.

How are you all? It’s been a while! I unplugged from the blogging world for a bit to recharge my batteries and rediscover my love for it all.  I was beginning to get lost among all the politics and favours and competition, when really all this is just an outlet for me to talk excitedly about clothes. You know? Of course, I’ve chosen completely the wrong time to bring it back, as work has gone absolutely mental (in a good way), so we’ll see how it pans out. But for now I’ll talk about some cool stuff that happened this week.

First up: Cut For Evans. I saw a video floating around on twitter a few months ago and nearly fell off my chair. I’d practically been counting down the days until it launched since then! Evans had run a competition with fashion students to design a capsule collection, before eventually choosing print specialist Alice Farrow and knitwear designer Rebecca Partington.

Alice Farrow designs at Evans

Alice Farrow’s jumpsuit and shirt on the rack. Gorgeous.

The result is possibly the freshest, most imaginative – and, let’s be honest here – polarising – collection that I’ve seen in plus size fashion for a long time. The shapes and fabrics are fairly simple: tank tops, tunics, shirts and tube skirts. But in terms of colour and print? The shock factor is off the scale. People really like to be a debbie downer on Evans and what they offer but Cut shows how they CAN take risks, they CAN be bold, and they CAN show everyone else what’s what. It’s brilliant, and so exciting!

Cut for Evans designers and Brix Smith-Tart

Rebecca and Alice pose with Brix Smith-Start, who gave a rousing speech AND is putting the collection into her swanky boutique. Awesome.

To celebrate they had a launch in their Marble Arch flagship store, and we got to see the collection in situ and try it all on. I ended up buying three pieces, the Rebecca Partington skyscraper top and skirt, and the Alice Farrow tube skirt. All three have been worn in the following days (in fact I’m wearing the skyscraper top as we speak!).

I wasn’t invited to the launch but I was really cheeky and asked Bethany to see if I could tag along with her. If not I would have gone down to Marble Arch to see it anyway, but they kindly let me come down and I had a great night! It was so lovely to be back with the blogging crew. Now, to photos!

Three plus size girls in bright dresses.

Myself and two statuesque blondes, Ms Bartoz and Margie, test run Alice Farrow’s amazing tropical shift

Evans Marble Arch staff

The staff at Evans’ Marble Arch flagship store. What a bunch of stunners.

UK plus size bloggers

Too much babeliness for one image – almost. From l-r: Caroline, Rosie, Debbie, Isha, Hanna, Charlotte, Rivkie.

Designer has a giggle

Knitwear designer Rebecca gets manhandled by one of the Evans staff before her Now magazine shoot

Me and my heart print dress

It’s me, showing off my new heart print dress, replete with my dorothy-wannabe red shoes.

Dress: Alice and You, via ASOS Curve
Shoes: Primark (very old)
Rings: ASOS Curve
Brooch: Tatty Devine (sample sale)

And finally, here’s what I wore – a little bit girly and plain considering the subject but I had to be a bit businesslike for work! You know me, I’m all for cutesy prints so it was only a matter of time before I bought this. Didn’t realise it was quite so creased on Wednesday morning, though…

Me, twirling in my fancy dress.

An obligatory twirl shot, and we’re done.