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…

 

manifest

 

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.

 

 


  • Samantha

    I wholeheartedly agree with this piece. I never used to wear skinny jeans or leggings because they are apparently not “suitable” for someone my size. But after discovering plus size blogs and seeing all those confident people out there just wearing what they like (instead of what others think they should wear) I have decided to do the same; and it’s so liberating! I see something I like, I buy it – regardless of it being brightly colored instead of black, or having horizontal stripes, or being tighter than what I’m “supposed” to wear.
    I hope more plus size ladies will “see the light” and have some fun with clothing; it’s done SO much for my self-esteem.

  • http://blogtobealive.com Blog to be Alive

    I really hate all these makeover shows. Trinny and Susannah are particularly awful. My dad watches it for fun and even him is shocked at the advice they gave and how they behave: grabbing someone’s breast, the comments,… I also think they never take into consideration the life of these women. You’ll see a mom with kids and they’ll try to transform her with 4-inches heel. Super realistic when you are around kids.

    Your advice are really good. Hopefully it’ll inspire some people. :)

  • http://www.fat-aus.com bronny

    yes yes YES!

  • http://curiousfancy.com Ragini

    This is incredible. Thank you, Lauren!

  • http://www.biggirlsbrowse.com Gemma

    I’ve done loads of talks about this exact thing (how body shapes are essentially useless) and the saddest thing is that after ten to fifteen minutes of me going “stop relying on body shapes as a magic fashion fix-all and just start trusting your eyes wearing what you LIKE” someone always corners me afterwards to ask me what I think their body shape is.

    I always say ‘straight up and down’ just to piss them off.

  • http://curvatini@blogspot.com Amanda

    Lauren,
    great post, I so agree. I am an oval and all of the so called rules don’t work on me. It is paticularly frustrating the whole turn yourself into an hourglass advice. My pet hate is the create a waist wide belt one, on me it just emphasises my roundness. What does work is the thing that shouldn’t a skinny belt worn high.
    My jeans shape is skinny, not wide (the short wall on castors look) flares or most bootlegs. The frustration is most plus retailers follow the rules too. I long for slim tailored silhouettes which suit me. Great sharp jackets, cigarette leg trousers and slim 7/8 length. Yes I am an oval but this suits me.
    So I do shop everywhere. Today I had a topshop kimono and skinny jeans on, which my mum really liked but wnted to know how I got my size in Topshop.
    I do wish there were more high st options as I miss being able to try stuff on. Please Forever 21 carry your plus line in the London flagship store. Ladies can we all email them to press! Although I love Asos and Carmakoma I do sometimes resent the “fat” tax of always having to pay postage to try on and experiment.

  • http://poetryafterink.blogspot.com/ Sarah

    Really enjoyed this post – it’s definitely not just a plus size issue.
    I’m a “pear” and hate a lot of the clothes that are supposed to suit me. A-line skirts and dresses make me feel huge – I feel much happier in pencil skirts and shift dresses which are apparently wrong on me. Also, Gok Wan thinks I should never wear flats. Lol.

  • http://thestate-iamin.blogspot.com Elizabeth

    Awesome post, Lauren! :)

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  • http://www.slinkmagazine.co.uk Rivkie

    Great piece! We were discussing this at work the other day. I never dress a piece of fruit (Apple, Pear etc) I dress the woman standing in front of me at that given moment, as a stylist that is my job. I take into account, her confidence, her lifestyle and her own body. I hate people that style according to ‘colours’ and ‘fruit’ – this makes no sense!
    Rules are made to be broken and you have to feel confident in what you wear!
    I dress for me and no one else!

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  • http://30dressesin30days.blogspot.com/ bloomie

    Lauren I just think that you are the bees knees. I hope next time I’m in London we can meet up for a fattty shopping trip and follow your updated rules.

  • http://fatheffalump.wordpress.com Kath

    HELL to the YES!

    No longer do I consider my body the wrong shape for a garment, instead the garment is the wrong shape for MY BODY!

    Off to share the hell out of this one.

  • http://eyestimesfour.blogspot.com/ Ohamme

    *clap clap clap* Brilliant post :D

    This is all sooooo true. I remember when all this fashion TV began, we were told to wear vertical stripes, wrap dresses were uber flattering, wear a belt to bring in that waist for the holy grail hour glass figure. Its all about hiding, disguising, illusions. Well you know what? All that just makes me look larger then I actually am!!! Teenage me was like: WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! Maybe I’m like super huge and I’m doomed. :( I should just go join the circus or something.

    But now all my friends never believe me when I tell them I’m a size 16 and I say, its because I don’t dress like a stereotype size 16. We are all told to dress the same when you know what, we all have different body STYLES!!! But they made it seem like there is only 1 way for us to look beautiful and 1 style suitable for us larger ladies. WRONG. I hate going shopping with other people and they say, oh this will look very flattering on you… O_O Yeh but who cares about flattering I prefer to look AWESOME.

    I wear whatever I want and I don’t care about looking skinny, or having a hour glass figure (which I hate btw) I wear clothes which I think are awesome. As long as I look awesome I’m happy. And who says that you need to look slim to look awesome?!?!

    I ♥ HORIZONTAL stripes!!!!!

  • http://www.handmadereviews.net Katherine

    I LOVE this! This is brilliant. I wish people would speak up about this more often. A lot of stylists advice are crap and actually make people feel like they don’t know what they’re doing. We can all dress the way that suits us. Because who knows me better than myself?

  • http://none Robin

    I have listened to many stylists over the years.I am so-o-o tired of all the disguising and illusion..I am 53 and have decided to wear what I want when I want.Most of the styles that are supposed to be flattering I don’t like.So ladies,free your mind and your body will follow.