Loz wave

A couple of steps to help you on your Body Positivity journey

I had a piece in mind recently, but just couldn’t get it written. It would have been alright but it didn’t inspire me and I’m painfully aware of how infrequently I’m writing or being creative at the moment. Part of it is that my head just feels so full and I don’t know what direction I want to be heading, but part of it is also just not knowing whether I have anything of value to say. But the subject of Body Positivity- put simply, just accepting your body exactly as it is- has been on my mind so much over the last few months, and I feel like I’ve gone too far on that journey to go back now. And with all this Tess Holliday Cosmo controversy, the subject has been right back at the front of my consciousness.

I’m certainly not there yet. I wouldn’t wear a body-con dress- even if it were my style, and who’s to say it isn’t?- and I don’t like anything that clings to my stomach. Which clearly is because I’m paranoid about how prominent it is and that might rightly lead you to ask what I know about Body Positivity if I can’t even wear a tummy-skimming t-shirt. But everything is a process, dear, and these are my thoughts on how to start your own BoPo journey.

Curate your social media

Instagram is not the root of all evil, and there is a lot more on it that dramatically-carved eyebrows, Facetuned photos, and cosmetically-enhanced behinds. There’s cats, for a start. Social media can be horrendous for your self-esteem for three main reasons: approval, comparison, and dopamine. Put briefly, we compare ourselves to others, we crave their approval, and we’re addicted to the dopamine hit that comes from a post that gets more Likes or a positive reaction.  Instagram and Facebook aren’t the enemy but they provide an excellent way for the enemy to get its point across. And in this case the enemy is whatever narrative ties into the things you already (erroneously) believe about yourself and how your worth is connected to your appearance.

This isn’t the time to go into how commercialism- and by extension capitalism and the patriarchy- has taught us these lessons, not least because it’s been said elsewhere by people far cleverer than me. But suffice it to say that it suits clothing and make-up companies, many parts of the media, companies claiming to offer cures for your fatness, and all of the other places that get your buck when you believe you’re less than, for you to carry on thinking that.

So change the narrative. There’s nothing you can do to change what a person walking down the street thinks of you and your face and your shoes and your weight, but you can start to re-programme your own thinking. Curate your Instagram so that when you absent-mindedly tap to open the app, you’re confronted with things that don’t make you feel shitty. Follow Tank’s Good News, pick the animal you like and follow a bunch of them, and most importantly start following Body Positive role models. Megan Jayne Crabbe (aka Body Posi Panda) is an obvious- and wonderful- one to follow,  but there’s plenty of phenomenal people out there with a positive message.  Grace Woodward- she of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model and former X Factor stylist- is doing fascinating things on  Instagram dealing with body issues. And Jameela Jamil’s I Weigh project celebrates what is wonderful about us that has nothing to do with our physical appearance. Surround yourself with positive things, and those messages will start to seep in. Even if you can’t believe it yet, even if the sight of fat rolls secretly revolts you and you can’t quite believe someone with wobbly fat has confidence, make sure they are the things you’re seeing. There is something to be said for faking it until you make it.

And make sure you follow people of colour and differently-abled Instagrammers, even if you fit into those groups. We are constantly bombarded with messages othering different communities so if you are starting your journey with body positivity and hope to accept yourself and be accepted- or to care less either way- then do your part by seeing people who aren’t always in the spotlight. The Tess Holliday commentary is incredibly important, but she’s also an above-averagely pretty straight CIS white woman.

The point is that filling your feed with images that have been filtered and edited and represent unattainable ideals is not the best way to buoy your self-esteem. By all means follow Kardashians and Jenners if you can appreciate the images as a kind of populist art, but the minute they make you feel bad about yourself: unfollow.


loz body pos
This is from a photoshoot we did at work. I hate this picture; it makes me look big and my contour is terrible. So I’m including it!


Learn more, as and when you’re ready

It doesn’t make you a bad feminist not to have read Gloria Steinem, and you don’t have to tackle academic texts on body image and self-esteem in order to understand and internalise Body Positivity. But integrating more media that deals with this subject into your life will help to focus your thoughts, and provide a source of strength when you’re feeling like it’s all too bloody hard.

If you have Amazon Prime- or know someone who will share their log-in-  then I would heartily recommend Dietland. It’s a little surreal, a little unpredictable, and it’s well worth a try. Dietland follows Plum, who is a talented writer and a funny, awesome woman, but is fixated on losing weight and how much better her life will be when she has. Set that against two rival feminist factions, with bodies falling out of the sky, and you have an amazing series that is dark and funny and thought-provoking without ever being preachy. I heartily recommend it but don’t take my word for it, find out what The Guardian thought.

There are more Body Positive books available now than ever, and more coming out all the time as publishers scrabble around for ways to try to make money from online movements in this era of new media. The upside of this is resources and representation; books from fabulous women about their journeys, and fat women selling well on Amazon. I haven’t actually read recent releases like Megan Jane Crabb’s Body Positive Power- often a bargain on the Kindle!-  or Virgie Tovar’s You Have The Right To Remain Fat, although I aim to. But one book I have read is Lindy West‘s phenomenal, hilarious, tear-inducing and life-affirming Shrill. I have loved West’s writing since Jezebel, and this book exceeded all expectations. I couldn’t recommend it enough, and FFS ask your skinny friends to read it too.

My final recommendation is that you follow plus size bloggers. I’ll list a few below whose output I enjoy but the point is to understand that while you are absolutely not defined in value or as a person by the size you are, or your appearance in general, you also absolutely have the right to give a shit about how you look. If a man or woman chooses to wear make-up or not wear make-up, that’s wonderful: but never don’t make the effort because you don’t think you’re worth it. You can find clothes that suit your personality- even if it’s a little harder folks, and rarely in a bricks and mortar store if you’re over a size 18-  and you absolutely should dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable, however bright or muted the colours are. Not every fat woman must wear a nipped-in-at-the-waist 50s style dress and heels to create the silhouette of an ‘ideal woman’. But I also recently wore that style to a wedding and loved it! So you do you.

Recs: Crystal Coons – Sometimes GlamCallie Thorpe, Your Size Your Style, and just search ‘plus size fashion’ on Instagram and find what speaks to you.


Full body pic of me- almost never happens! But I loved the dress and had a great night, so why not?
Full length pic of me- almost never happens! But I loved the dress and had a great night, so why not?


Take the leap: you’re worth it

It makes no sense that you are less valuable because you weigh more. Think about that for a second. Put aside thinking clothes look better on slimmer people, or fat is unhealthy, or a slimmer waist with a bigger (higher) arse and large, pert boobs is the feminine ideal. Park all that for a second no matter how strongly, truly, deeply you believe it. Think for a second about how you would feel if you just looked at the world through the eyes of someone who didn’t have to fight through a fog of disappointment and self-judgement before they put a t-shirt on, or walk into a pub. Then consider whether you deserve to feel better than you do now. Then remember that everyone does.

The first step to even starting to think about being positive about your body and other people’s is to understand that this is a radical notion, but to give it the oxygen of consideration. What if there was nothing wrong with being skinny, and nothing wrong with being fat? Would you eat differently, dress differently, exercise differently? It can feel huge, and that’s ok. It can also feel like a lie: that voice inside will tell you that you are embracing body positivity because you can’t lose weight so you’re somehow pretending it’s ok to be you because you’ve failed. Your inner mean person will catch sight of yourself in an outfit and ask you who the hell you think you are for standing tall and walking with purpose. How dare you think you have every right to stand on a bus or queue in a shop with that bulk, that height, that fat?

Sali Hughes wrote a good piece on the Tess Holliday controversy and it made a point that I have long felt deeply is true: shaming overweight people does not make them lose weight. Making overweight people feel that they are less valuable than thin people results in an obesity epidemic. Because when are you more likely to move your body more and fuel it better than when you think you’re worth that? Let people be themselves and it is far more likely that their bodies will settle where they are supposed to, based on genes and heritage and hormones. If your attitude to food is unhealthy then you’re shit out of luck because you’ve still got to eat to stay alive. It’s really bloody hard! And of course we have corporations creating food in order to make it more addictive, and CIS women’s bodies are evolutionarily programmed to store fat for baby-making. But the concern trolls don’t care about you- there are many ways to be unhealthy and it seems an amazing coincidence that overweight people get whacked with this stick so often. Yes, you should exercise: everyone should. It’s not easy. But being a size 8 does not mean you can run up stairs two at a time. And even if it did, that doesn’t mean the smaller person deserves love and respect more than anyone else. More than you.

You will also have to learn to accept that ‘flattering’ is a problematic concept because while the definition might be “enhancing someone’s appearance”, we as a society have broadly taken this to mean ‘enhancing someone’s appearance to conform to a societal ideal’, and when it comes to weight that means looking slimmer. It is almost impossible to explain how hard it is to not think about ‘flattering’ and conforming if you put something on that looks particularly good or bad to your own eye. If it skims your tummy and you like that are you trying to conform to a patriarchal ideal? Or do you just like the jumper? Or both? I don’t have the answers to this and I’m still trying to wade through the quagmire of my own thinking to try to know who I am if I’m not paranoid about my body all the time.

And some days I still am paranoid about my body. I pull my top self-consciously away from my stomach, and I worry that my clothes aren’t fitting the way I want them to. But just the very fact that I have introduced into my thinking the possibility that ‘fat’ does not equal ‘awful’ is so freeing. And I’ve started going to the gym, which I haven’t done for more than five years, but the effect on my mental health is already demonstrable. And I don’t give a shit that I look bigger than most in the gym because I’m doing something good and positive for myself. And of course sometimes I do care that people might think I look big and that I sweat so damn much when I’m on the treadmill walking at an incline, but I give myself a break. You can’t undo years (and years and years and years) of conditioning instantly, but you can just let your mind wander for a moment and think about how it would feel if you judged yourself on how you behave as a person, rather than the number inside a pair of trousers.


Category: Life

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
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
Too much of a bargain! Neoprene bomber jacket: £23 in sale

Kin by John Lewis- how have I missed this?

Over the last year, I have been trying to evolve my style a little, investing in pieces that are better quality and carry a timeless element of design with them, and which fit in with existing pieces that I own. I love adding in elements that are ‘of the moment’ and ASOS is my absolute go-to for a quick fix, but my aesthetic has been changing from the bright-and-garish of my 20s, to a more Scandinavian-influenced, monochrome look. As a tall woman I really feel that buying good quality trousers is almost impossible; far too often they’re overpriced, with underwhelming fabric, so I tend to stick to Next and ASOS’ tall ranges and then spend a bit more on tops and dresses from COS. My uniform is usually a boxy or oversized top, with skinny trousers or ASOS Ridley high-waisted super skinny jeans. In the winter I throw some Uniqlo heat-tech tops on underneath and a Whistles coat on top, in the spring it’ll be a military or Gap jacket and a voluminous scarf.

Evidence of me wearing voluminous scarves, and also being really quite tall...
Evidence of me wearing voluminous scarves, and also being really quite tall…

I think COS is well worth the money in most cases as the design element is just brilliant, the fabrics are lovely, and the only real downside is that you have to have a good knowledge of COS’s product to buy from their website as the plain nature of the clothes tends to make it a little bit tricky to know what you’re buying sometimes. I would also argue that the sizing is quite unforgiving- I’m eternally thrilled that their clothes go up to a size 18 but it’s not generous, and I couldn’t fit into certain styles in an 18 as a size 16, since the cut is very androgynous. That’s fine for my small chest, not so great for my womanly hips.

Anyway, I am utterly amazed that a range of clothes that evokes a similar reaction in me to that of COS, that I can see fitting in to my existing wardrobe, and that is affordable in a ‘considered purchase’ sort of a way, has escaped my attention for over a year. But googling leather backpacks today, I came across Kin by John Lewis and it’s magic. Fair warning: I haven’t bought anything yet so I will report back later on the quality, but it being John Lewis, I don’t foresee any issues. And I have high hopes for the John Lewis size 18.

One of my favourite things in the collection is this Reverse Seam Jumper, which I can really see with blue jeans or cigarette trousers. It’s effortless, tasteful, and at £49 it doesn’t break the bank for a beautiful bit of design. I don’t love it in black or green, but the charcoal looks great.

This is just timeless. Reverse Seam Jumper, Charcoal (£49)
This is just timeless. Reverse Seam Jumper (£49)

Two pieces I love that are currently in the sale are this neoprene bomber, which is £23.00! If I didn’t have a whole host of birthdays coming up and a nephew about to spring forth into the world, I would be buying it right now and frankly I still might.

Too much of a bargain! Neoprene bomber jacket: £23 in sale
Too much of a bargain! Neoprene bomber jacket: £23 in sale

This oversized textured jumper is also an ace piece on which to build, and is £48 from £69. It works in spring, autumn, and winter- which is exactly what I want if I’m spending fifty quid on one jumper.

A great all-rounder. Oversized Textured Jumper (£49 from £68)

A great all-rounder. Oversized Textured Jumper (£49 from £68)

I also like that Kin does splashes of colour to cut through the neutrals and darker winter palate. I don’t think this dress would suit me at all, but I like the fact that it nods to Whistles but would be double the price there. With a blazer and ankle boots you can go from meeting to drinks, and that’s another requirement for my purchases, when I’m not in Nike and a boyfriend-cut sweatshirt. The print is available in a top too, which is kind of cute.

 Artwork Print Dress (£89)
Artwork Print Dress (£89)

Finally my favourite item in the current collection: a diamond print jacket. Part smart, part off-duty, quite a lot impractical: I love it! I’m unlikely to spend £79 on something I couldn’t fit under my coat but I can also imagine about 40 different outfits this would go with, and navy is so ridiculously 2015 that it would update everything.

I COULD NOT LOVE THIS MORE! So versatile.  Diamond Jacket (£79)
Diamond Jacket (£79)

The range’s big selling point, according to The Guardian is that it stretches across men’s, women’s, and children’s ranges, selling neatly to middle class families who want to co-ordinate presumably. A quick look confirms that it’s a very nice range all-round, but that means bugger all to me. The women’s range is clean, vaguely Scandinavian-looking, and has great everyday pieces at less than you’d pay at the shops it’s directly competing with for customers. It’s only a matter of time before I’m clicking-and-collecting my first item of Kin.

Category: Style
French Connection

Wearing cheap clothes well

Some people have an eye for a bargain. Kathryn is one of those people; she can see the one item in Primark that will go with a bunch of stuff she already owns, and the whole outfit ends up being way more than the sum of its parts. Whereas I am the sort of person who picks through the dregs of the Next sale wondering why nobody else loves this burnt orange polyester shirt that I have taken a shine to (true story).

However, even I have managed to pick up a few tips and tricks for choosing items that look more quality- and therefore expensive- than they actually are. And I will share these in just one moment but first, a disclaimer. I realise that some people feel very uncomfortable about ‘fast fashion’, that hurry to get catwalk-inspired pieces into shops that can lead to the very real concern over the pay and working conditions of people manufacturing them. Buying clothes from the high street is the only option for a lot of people and this is a complicated issue for another post. But the tips and tricks I mention below can just as easily be used if you’re buying from a charity shop, having a wardrobe organisation, or swapping clothes with your friends.

Take out the vest that comes with your blouse!

I realise that this is a very specific tip to start on but it does have wider application. I’ve bought a number of blouses that come with a vest-type layer underneath (for decency’s sake), but so often I’ve found that the shirt or blouse is great, but if you’re buying from a cheaper shop, the layer underneath is either without any stretch and so is really restrictive, or is a funny length, or makes you sweat. So throw it away and invest in vests! Primark vests at £2 each are a good buy but I also go for Uniqlo Heat-Tech camisoles (£9.90) when it’s a bit chillier, or even a Spanx vest for a smoother silhouette. Or appropriate the layer from another piece of clothing. The point with this is that a vest with the right length and fit will sit properly under your shirt and often looks much smarter than the crappy cami it came with.

You don't have to pay Spanx prices, but a smoothing vest can provide a great under-layer for blouses
You don’t have to pay Spanx prices, but a smoothing vest can provide a great under-layer for blouses

Abandon ballet flats!

It’s really difficult to buy reasonably-priced shoes that look quality, but the first mistake so many women make is to reach for the ballet flats. But these devil-shoes give little support, tend to look knackered quickly, and undermine the smartness and style of everything else you’re wearing. If you’re happy to buy it and can afford it, leather always looks better and your shoes will last longer. But this isn’t always an option so my advice is to steer clear of ballet flats at all; try brogues instead, or loafers. The heft of them looks better and they are still available at all the places you’d probably buy your ballerinas from. However, if you can’t go cold turkey….

…Go patent

If all else is lost, faux patent leather is much more convincing than faux leather. This goes for handbags as well as shoes. And there’s a smartness to patent that lifts the rest of your outfit. Patent finish, t-bar, a pointed toe: all good ways to go smarter with flats.

Leather isn't always accessible, but one pair of more expensive boots is worth more than three pairs of cheap ones...
Leather isn’t always accessible, but one pair of more expensive boots is worth more than three pairs of cheap ones…

Tight looks cheap, and so does short

Blatantly not all tight looks cheap, just ask Roland Mouret. But in general, considering your hemline and the fact that cheaper shops (or vintage clothes) can sometimes come up a bit smaller will take you a long way. Going up a size can look luxe and sexy, allowing the clothes to skim your body. And while a very short dress in a 60s style can look ace, that length may look like the manufacturer has skimped on fabric in a different style. Consider wearing (good quality) leggings with dresses that come up short, or avoid items that come up too short altogether. Honestly, even if you love it, sometimes it just isn’t worth buying if you end up having to tug at it all the time, lest you flash your frillies.

On the size thing, this is simple: if in doubt, go up a size. Cheap clothes usually don’t look better tight as the material is less forgiving, so just ignore the label and trade up.

This dress cost about a tenner from Primark but it's got a thickness and drape that looks edgier and pricier
This dress cost about a tenner from Primark but it’s got a thickness and drape that looks edgier and pricier

Think fabric, through thick and thin

When you’re sifting through rails of stuff, the quality of the fabric is something well worth bearing in mind. So much is a matter of taste, and opinion. But if you take one rule with you when shopping, think ‘thick or thin’. Fine knits and jersey can look way more expensive than they are, flowing over the body and looking v classy indeed. Equally, I have a shift dress from a very budget high street retailer that lives and dies on the fact that the material is thick enough to avoid showing bulges and underwear lines. So think about thicker-than-usual, and thinner-than-usual fabrics to fool the casual observer.


As a tall woman (about 5’11” to be far from exact) I struggle with trouser lengths, among other things. Our office is very casual, but when I go to conferences, I often choose a dress, which I’m afraid for the most part I can’t get super-cheap. But one cheap item that makes all the difference is the quality of your tights! I hate these damned leg prisons but they finish off a smart outfit and opaque tights hide a multitude of sins, so a necessary evil they remain. I like M&S when I’m near one and can afford their tights, but otherwise I will usually go for Primark. My absolute, 100% top tip is to go for control top tights- they don’t really control anything, but they tend to come up higher on the body, creating a smoother silhouette and making your clothes fit and sit better.

And a serious point on leggings: they are not trousers and they won’t give you the coverage you need, so cover the majority of your bottom, and your mimsy, please!

And finally, be a canny sale-shopper

I ask you to cast your mind back to the beginning of this article- I know that seems a long time ago but bear with me- to my reference to an orange polyester shirt I once bought in the Next sale. As a terrible magpie up until fairly recently, I used to love lairy, loud clothing that I thought reflected my personality. These pieces can be fun but if you’re getting them in a sale then often they’ll be coming to the end of their fashion life and probably don’t have longevity on their side. Instead look for classic bits that you’ll be able to wear later, even if you put them away for now. This is a blog post in itself but here are a few ideas to whet your appetite: faux fur jacket; camel coat; brogues or loafers; Breton tops; a denim shirt; plain jumpers; any kind of neutral basic. Sales are a great time to get slightly better quality items for less, but you still have to be clever about it. Lots of shops act like they have the right to charge more, but the quality isn’t really there. A grey fine knit J Crew vest for £18 though? Why thank you very much!

Cashmere on a budget, why yes please! (stolen from Kathryn)
Cashmere on a budget, why yes please! (stolen from Kathryn)

Have you got any tips for snazzy dressing on a budget? I WANNA HEAR THEM!


Category: Style