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

Quick Fix! Fake nails

Quick Fixes - things that make you feel good cheaply and easily!

My first experience with fake nails was about 25 years ago, trying the kind that have a sticker on the back. They were not a total success. After that I’m pretty sure I tried the ones that come with glue but they weren’t terribly stylish when I was a youth, often too long and some fairly vicious reds and pinks. And I got the nail glue everywhere.

I go through phases of trying to paint my nails and keep them looking smart but they smudge or chip almost immediately and I can never seem to get them to dry really hard, no matter what products I use. I have had gel manicures before and that, I love. Glossy, long-lasting, cool colours: just awesome. But I really can’t justify the cost of the upkeep.

Imagine my delight then, when I stumbled across the fake nails in Primark- in blue, purple, matte! And a practical length. Me and my big sister both bought some with a view to applying them before dinner that night, and apply them I did- with a glass of wine in hand and in a very slapdash manner. And they came out pretty alright, with the exception of at least one slight size mismatch. After two and a bit weeks, I’ve had to do running repairs- at least one nail per day- but the 36 in a pack has meant that I have plenty to replace the lost ones with. Being in Amsterdam for a few days with my best girls, it was fab to have ‘finished’ nails even as the balls of my feet screamed in pain. Then my lovely lady P suggested that I buy more expensive glue for longevity and it’s been a genius idea.

I look like a lady!
I look like a lady!

And that ‘more expensive’ is still only about four quid. You just have to be a tiny bit more careful with it as there’s much more room for sticking fingers together, so I would definitely start with the Primark glue until you get the hang of it.

Currently transitioning to this purple-y raspberry colour
Currently transitioning to this purple-y raspberry colour

So I went to Primark and bought lots of other colours! They’re all £1 a pack, but some of the fancier ‘Design’ ones have 24 in a pack instead of 36. Either way, I doubled up so that I had plenty for replacement nails. Yes it won’t be doing the nails underneath a tonne of good but I can’t find it in me to care- I have glossy, pastel nails!

So many options…

Things I have learnt

- Be decisive: if you wait too long or are too cautious about placing the nail, you will get it stuck halfway on. This is not a good look.

- Buy nail varnish remover pots: Wilkinson’s do such things for £1. You don’t want anything fancy and I doubt the cheap pots are much good for nail polish. but they will dissolve problem nails (which is very handy when you’ve stuck one halfway up the nail instead of at the cuticle)

- The matte ones don’t stay matte.

- The nail sizes are really good, so I think most people could probably find these to fit, even if larger-handed ladies might need to buy a couple of packs to get as many larger sizes as they need. If you have unusually-shaped nails, they might not work tho (sorry Kathry..)



Category: Style

My week this week (if you wanna know) + shopping picks!

  1. My poor little pup has faced a double whammy of being without me (some would say this is a blessing… some would need to shove that somewhere rude) as I return to work and of having a really-and-truly nasty cold. His coughing fits shake his whole little body – imagine an actual puppy in a tumble dryer and you have an inkling. Thursday was truly horrible with me having to come back from work, my husband having an uber crappy day, even without a poorly boy at home, and that general feeling of ‘holy f*ck, we’re screwed’-ness. We tried to restore our spirits with a KFC and the Downton Abbey Christmas album on the stereo which worked a treat until pup had a coughing fit and vomited THE LARGEST AMOUNT OF VOMIT I HAVE EVER SEEN onto his father’s shoulder. Seriously. Sometimes it is not better out than in…….
  2. The aforementioned return to work has meant a reprisal of the dreaded commute. Ahh, the shouldering of others out the way and stomp towards the ticket barrier…. Such halcyon days *sarcasm klaxon*. Anyhoo, the commute demands a suitable soundtrack and for me that has been Andy Burrows’ Company, Florence & the Machine’s Ceremonials, and the Dirty Dancing soundtrack on shuffle. What I lack in musical kudos I make up for in complete randomness.
  3. On the subject of music, cult mag NME is now being thrown at commuters along with Stylist and the Evening Standard. This is my new favourite though as the Katherine Ryan column is complete and utter class (sorry for the fangirl-ism). The current issue features a review of the year’s music, film and TV and I would be lying if I said that I don’t feel like a terminally uncool person as a result. Who is Grimes? Or Wolf Alice? Or Swim Deep? I have seen none of the ten films featured (not even Jurassic World which has ‘suitable for a sleep deprived parent’ written all over it) and am only just holding onto my credibility by having consumed the epic Channel 4 sitcom Catastrophe which features in the mag’s TV chart. With this seemingly comprehensive list of what I’ve missed, I might just have catch up by the time next year’s review is out. Mebbe.
  4. I have been living in a very cheap and somewhat cheerful coatigan this week, courtesy of the sales in Primark. I’m not sure there’s anything more depressing than buying from the SALE in PRIMARK but at £7 for a camel coloured oversized cardy-thingy, I’m not complaining too much. The colour and slouchy fit have meant that I’ve worn this in lieu of a coat this week, which has proved foolish for several reasons: first, it is entirely manmade fibre so way too warm in the mild December mornings, and second, it is, essentially, a big ol’ cardigan so in no way warm enough now that proper December temperatures have descended. I wish I could say I am suffering from fashion but I fear Wintour herself would smite me if I dared align myself with the F word.
  5. Want to do some shopping? Me too! I still have loads of Christmas pressies to buy but who cares? Let’s shop! Top picks for a rather girly state of mind and all under thirty quids:


Uniqlo Disney Project Knit, £14.90 (love the grey and yellow)


They All Hate Us ‘girl gang’ bangle, £15 approx. (plus shipping)


Gola floral high top trainers, £28


 Duwop rose eyes palette, £21ring
Diamonique rose gold sterling silver ring, £24.96

Category: Cute, Life, 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