I have been thinking about this post for quite a few weeks, and about plus size fashion for significantly longer.
Back in January 2015, I wrote about my New Year’s Resolutions. There was every chance that none of them would stick for more than a couple of weeks, but two of the three have: I make an effort to hot-cloth-cleanse my face every night, and I have read lots of fantastic non-fiction books since pledging to do so. I have not, however, lost weight. Quite the opposite.
The fact is that I love our life together, mine and M’s. We go to gigs, and comedy, have weekends away in Brighton and random Northern cities where there’s a Strongman event on, eat great food and have too many beers at the fighting and the wrestling. I can’t imagine making the sacrifices I would need to in order to get back to where I was two and a half years ago. And I am sad at my wardrobe of COS tops I can’t quite fit in, and I don’t love that I can’t shop in mainstream high street stores anymore, but not quite enough to feel bad about it. I have made the decision to look straight ahead, mindfully and intelligently, and not waste my days obsessing over my weight. As long as I can still find items to wear that I feel represent me and my personal style, I’ve resolved to accept myself as I am.
[As a side note, I do realise that all these beers and fun times have to be balanced with sensible, positive changes. More walking, more vegetables, better sleep are all being tackled. I just refuse to conflate being healthy with being skinny.]
So, over the last few months I’ve been supplementing my wardrobe and beginning to follow some truly inspiring plus size bloggers. I particularly love Georgina Horne’s Fuller Figure Fuller Bust blog, although she’s well worth a like on Facebook too. I enjoy seeing what bloggers have found, how they style the items they wear, and how unafraid they are to try things that aren’t automatically considered ‘flattering’. Is pretending to be slimmer than you are what nourishes the soul? The problem for me is that I don’t have their figures. Georgina Horne looks incredible but I’m a B-cup athletic apple- if you can imagine such a thing- and skater dresses, belts and a retro pin-up look suit neither my personal style or my figure.
There is no easy way to be a woman in the world, let alone one over a size 10. I am not for one moment suggesting that Ms Horne doesn’t get abuse and lewd comments- Christ, does she- but there is a traditional, curvaceous, sexy femininity to the way she styles herself and the way most of the plus size bloggers dress in their posts. They embrace their curves and enhance them, but I barely have them at all! At almost six feet tall, my limbs are long and slim (at least to mid-thigh). I have a high waist, and my weight is carried in the tummy (and the arse, but the tummy is what shows changes in weight immediately). My hips are rounder at the moment, but when I’m slimmer the weight comes off the hips while the stomach remains. At a 14-16, I look long and trim, but with a tummy. An athletic apple.
So I’m carving out my own style: plus size but not curvy. I’m taking the elements of my slimmer style that I still love and adapting them for my new figure. Clean, Scandinavian-influenced lines; an abundance of fabric worn with super-skinny jeans, leggings, or close-cut trousers; architectural lines and texture. Buying a size up for style but also so the items look better quality. Flowing dresses with statement jewellery and striking make-up.
More clothing than ever before is offered in size 16+, and the rise of online shopping has meant that companies don’t have to play it so safe, providing much greater competition. Navabi offers a wide range of high-end plus size clothing and my love of Carmakoma is well documented. ASOS offers over 1300 items in its Curve and plus size brand section, offering safer items alongside bodycon dresses and fashion-led pieces not traditionally considered flattering or acceptable for fuller figures. Evans hasn’t been able to rest on its laurels when River Island brings out a plus-size range, although I am yet to be entirely convinced on the latter. I can get the silhouette I want- I’m just learning that it might mean buying every top in three sizes to see what works. I shall report back soon.