Plus Size but not Curvy

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.

I like how my lashes look in this pic, even if it is a bit low-res.
I like how my lashes look in this pic, even if it is a bit low-res. And this necklace is exactly the sort of thing I’ll be banging on about from now on

[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.

This H&M + dress is great quality for the money. Full post to follow.
This H&M + dress is great quality for the money. Full post to follow.

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.

Future posts will have actual outfit shots! This is a preview; excuse the monster arm.
Future posts will have plenty of full outfit shots! This is a preview of a top I’ve worn way more than I thought I would; excuse the monster arm.

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.

Category: Style
Skippy Pleated shirt cropped

Covetable brand: Carmakoma

Ok, so I’m in the middle of drafting a way longer piece on plus size fashion from my point of view. Which is to say the point of view of someone who likes new, shiny things, and to inject a bit of life into an otherwise potentially dull work wardrobe. But that’s another story: today I just want to mention the wonderful Carmakoma.

Carmakoma Fine Gauge Knitted Dress with Keyhole Back - £109.00 at ASOS
The proportions of this dress are SO good. Carmakoma Fine Gauge Knitted Dress with Keyhole Back – £109.00 at ASOS

I usually use the Covetables spot for one item that I’ve spotted and has made me swoon, but that’s how I feel about Carmakoma. Just click through to their main website and you’ll instantly see that the branding and the way the clothes are styled not only scream high-end, but they also have an attitude to them. Something that is painfully missing from the likes of Evans and Simply Be, even if the latter has debuted some fairly impressive new brands recently. But that’s a discussion for another day.

I wore this navy dress for my birthday meal this year. It's very COS
I wore this navy dress for my birthday meal this year. It’s very COS - £29.50 in the sale at ASOS

 Available at ASOS and not exactly cheap, you probably also won’t be surprised to hear that Carmakoma is a Danish brand. I wore one of their dresses for my birthday swank-den dinner out and felt fab. I feel that a lot of their stuff channels COS-like minimalist styling and they play with proportions, which I like.

Cute! Carmakoma Sheer Yoke Skater Dress - £25.50 in the sale at ASOS
Cute! Carmakoma Sheer Yoke Skater Dress – £25.50 in the sale at ASOS

I’ve mainly picked examples of dresses here (although they do lots of other fab things too, including sexy-as-eff leather trousers) because I enjoy the fact that the brand doesn’t assume that a plus size woman is desperate to hide every inch of herself. I understand the tricky line that brands catering to size 18+ walk to appeal to all takers, and I like that Carmakoma have positioned themselves as a little rock chick.

I mean, how goddamn sexy is this swimsuit??

Category: Style
Me in a jacket

Let’s look to spring with a new jacket!

I don’t know why we keep writing about coats, I really don’t. I guess it’s because they’re an investment, a considered purchase, so it’s good to know what’s out there and it’s brilliant to see where you can find a style and save a few bob. But I also love the way that a good jacket can really finish an outfit- coats are great but they cover your outfit, whereas a good jacket can complement what else you’re wearing and really become part of the look. Like my beloved military jacket.

One thing I’ve been spotting as the online retailers start trying to sell us spring 2015 are longer styles with a lot of nice movement to them. There’s still loads of beautiful coats to buy too, because it’s still bloody cold at the moment, but thinner jackets that you can layer are making an appearance, and they’re perfect for marrying casual and formal in that way that fashion has been for a few seasons now. The sort of jackets that you can put over a dress and block heels, as well as jeans and sneakers.

I love this & Other Stories Cotton Parka (£125) as I can see chunky jumpers fitting under it as well as being able to sling it over a dress and sandals on cooler summer nights too. Vaguely sporty but the drawstring adds shape: sold.

& Other Stories Cotton Parka (£125)
& Other Stories Cotton Parka (£125)

This ASOS jacket in denim taps in to one of the key trends for early 2015 as denim will be big. Yes, for most of us, denim is less ‘2015’ and more ‘our entire lives’ but this trend is all about layering denim and choosing pieces that showcase the fabric. I don’t know who came up with the awful idea of calling this a shacket but I do like the structured look and longer length- just so versatile in a way that a formal coat just isn’t always.

I refuse to call this a shacket- denim long-line jacket (£75)
I refuse to call this a shacket- denim long-line jacket (£75)

I usually would avoid mentioning J Crew because I love their stuff so, so much but it’s really quite inaccessible for the majority of us. I feel a certain amount of brand loyalty to them in that their clothes are aspirational and very stylish, but the company doesn’t stop at a size 12/14 like so many in a similar position could and would. I have been lurking and lusting after this resin-coated cotton twill jacket for a number of months as it has just the write level of Scandi-inspired cool and a touch of nautical influence. I can see it in April showers and sunny-but-cool spring days.  It’s topped only by my beloved Thorjsa brand, which at €299 is a little bit out of my price range.

J Crew Resin-coated Cotton Twill jacket (£198)
J Crew Resin-coated Cotton Twill jacket (£198)

As things warm up a little, I’ll keep my eye out for other transitional pieces that can work in both spring and autumn, with a variety of outfits as there’s bound to be loads in the shops. But for now, it’s nice to gaze upon some swish new outerwear and believe that there is an end to the rain, cold, snow, and slush…

Category: Style
My pretties

Post-maternity fashion awaits!

Oh God, the guilt I feel at admitting this, but I cannot wait to get back into my old clothes once the bubba has come along. Of course I am excited about the baby himself arriving, please don’t believe that he is in any way secondary. But bubba, naturally, comes along with the other feelings that first time mums are likely to have: fear, trepidation, joy, wonder, terror……

The thought of getting something akin to my pre-pregnancy body back is one of unfettered joy. I know my body works and is capable of great things, hence having been able to carry this baby with the unequivocal joys of fatigue, asthma and gestational diabetes. I know I may not care two figs for clothing once I’m knee deep in nappies and crying with tiredness but right now, knowing that I have exciting things to wear is a quantifiable pleasure because I already know how it feels to feel good in an outfit. I can’t remember the life where I was regularly out on a Saturday night or eating carbs in a laissez-faire fashion, despite being just over 36 weeks ago, but the clothing stuff? A beautiful stamp on my otherwise squishy brain.

I wrote some time ago about the Clements Ribiero Portobello cashmere and cotton jumper, and that is still top of the can’t-wait-to-wear list. Next up has to be the equally as blogged ripped utility trousers from Topshop. Both have been waiting patiently for me in my wardrobe (read: squashed in a drawer under the weight of maternity leggings).

Come to mama!

Next up is a rather fabulous pair of faux leather joggers from ASOS (now in the sale!), a Christmas present my ace sis G. Aren’t they marvellous? These plus my Peter Pilotto for Target sweatshirt and my grey felt skater shoes from Next (as blogged about by The Frugality) and I will feel the very yummiest of mummies.

The ASOS faux leather joggers

An oldie but a goodie next: my ASOS ripped jeans. These have been worn to death, being equally as perfect with a slouchy t-shirt and trainers as with heels and a going-out top (God, is that a thing anymore? Do women have going-out tops or am I relic from the days where being able to go to a bar with some flared jeans, a sparkly top, and heels was a luxury because jeans had been previously outlawed? Wow, I am OLD.). These jeans are simultaneously “Whatever, I don’t care”, and “Look at me, I made an effort!”. Ooh the excitement!

These jeans make me very happy!

And to stay on a jeans theme, my much worn patchwork jeans from H&M are another love of my (trouser) life that I can’t wait to slip into. These with a loose sweater and boots are just calling to me……

H&M patchwork jeans as seen on Wearing It Today’s Laura Fantacci (

I clearly shopped at H&M a lot before pregnancy as their rather famous full skirt is next. This won’t be worn immediately as the waist was a slight challenge pre-bubba bump but the notion of a t-shirt being tucked in with a statement necklace and this gorgeous skirt is such an idea of sartorial excess in comparison to my present state that I can’t quite believe I ever had the opportunity to dress like that previously.

H&M full skirt with nipped-in waist
The inspiration: this silhouette shall be mine again!

Finally, the last item on my list is a bit of a cheat, for it comprises my beloved sweatshirt collection that I have had to relegate for fear of stretching into incomprehension. My little green utility number from ASOS, the aforementioned Peter Pilotto for Target, the little grey marl from the Vogue Festival 2013…. Ahh my pretties, I shall be with you soon.

My pretties

And the best part in all of this? Once I’ve gotten to dress me, I get to dress bubba in his magnificent array of beautiful grows and rompers gifted from his already adoring fans. What a stylish pair we’ll be!

Come on, baby!

P.S. Aren’t these the best baby shoes EVER? A little Christmas pressie from Loz and M, these will be bubba’s first ever slippers. I love them so much I almost can’t look at them. Thanks Loz and M!

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Category: Style
Come to me all you pretty things...

TK Maxx: you rock

Dear TK Maxx, you are awesome.

OK, perhaps occasionally awesome is a better description, but my last haul there was somewhat epic by my standards.

Having met a friend for lunch in a town about thirty miles from where I live, I decided to fill the rest of my time until the next train by having a mooch about the town centre. This is quite a risky manoeuvre these days as the amount of empty stores abounding most high streets leaves little incentive to rock out and have a grand out shopping trip. Nonetheless, England’s oldest recorded town, Colchester, does have one thing that deserves attention: a city centre TK Maxx (my local one is frustratingly on the outskirts of town).

Now, I know that ye olde TK Maxx can be a bit hit and miss, with some stores resembling extortionately priced jumble sales but this store was a scene of serenity and calm. Everything ordered and displayed rather attractively. The toiletries department in particular was home to rather a nice spot of colour coding.

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Anyway, the real point is that not only was I able to snap up a small DESIGNER treat for myself but positively cleaned up in the luxury-health-and-beauty-gift stakes (totes a real thing). With impending birthdays and Christmas, I like to get an early jump on things and pick up gifts that the recipients wouldn’t think of getting for themselves. And, thanks to my loyal readership of A Model Recommends, I think I’ve quite a good eye at spotting a beauty bargain.

So what did I get? Well then………..

Come to me all you pretty things...
Come to me all you pretty things…

First up, a couple of gifts.

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NEOM is a luxury organic range which not only looks rather nifty but smells pretty define too. They have a bath and shower oil that I have coveted for some time so I was familiar with the brand, and the Real Luxury Body & Hand Lotion was perfect for my poor post-op sis. At more than half the RRP, that alone was enough to make me feel smug.

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Also for post-op sis, a rather lovely Rituals Himalaya Wisdom body scrub. With a hit of fresh mint, this will do the job to buff the body before applying, oh I don’t know, maybe a luxury body lotion of some description……. Coming in again at less than half of the RRP, this was genuinely bargainous.

2007-07-05 04.18.04A lesser known brand for our final gift pick but one with a wee bit of cult status: Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps. What really sold this to me was the almost olde-worlde medicinal look of the label, and the smell is amazing.

2007-07-05 04.17.26This hemp and peppermint organic soap is an excellent stocking filler or proper pressie for a cult-beauty junkie. This bad boy had about a third off so still a decent saving, and I’m rather looking forward to dressing it up with parcel paper-style wrap and a homemade Christmas tag.

But nothing really compares to the treat I got for myself. Not to sound narcissistic, but I was preeee-ty chuffed with myself.

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Oh yes, my Clements Ribeiro Portobello cotton and cashmere jumper. Oooh, it’s so lovely!

2007-07-05 04.12.02

In a classic grey with teal stars, this is the gift I will give to myself once baby bump has been born next year. It is so soft, and not totally unlike the gorgeous Chinti & Parker jumper from my Covetables post earlier this week.

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Yes, it’s from a diffusion line and, yes, it’s only 5% cashmere, but it was a mind-blowing £19.99. This is even more mind-blowing when one considers that this is CURRENT SEASON and still available on the website for £86. I would call this a WIN.

And that is why TK Maxx rocks. The end!



Category: Style