If summer is about wearing the bare minimum, then autumn is when my desire to accessorize properly kicks in. I’m feeling quite inspired by accessories and makeup at the moment, so thought I would do a quick post with my current fave bits that are either mine or soon-to-be-mine!
Top row- Monki beanie with veil: Monki’s accessories are just outstanding at the moment. I want them all. I picked up this net veil beanie in Gothenburg and am sad it hasn’t been cold enough here for me to wear it yet. It merges practical and interesting in a way that I feel very enthusiastic about // ASOS faux fur collar: I’m completely obsessed with fur collars, both on jackets and coats and on their own on top of other outerwear. This particular one was snapped up at the end of a recent ASOS sale, but there are loads around. This one feels quite masculine somehow and I always feel like Henry VIII when I wear it // Olivia Burton watch from Twisted Time: This is the most perfect and autumnal watch of them all, isn’t it? It feels like dead leaves and Silence of the Lambs (crime thrillers are what I look for in all my accessories, obviously) and I am just so into it. It’s a subtle statement, and one that works well with my other nature-inspired jewellery bits like my Alex Monroe necklaces.
Middle row- Rimmel Exaggerate eyeliner: My black liquid eyeliner quest was turning into a bit of a saga. I tried and I tried, I swear I did. I tried cheap ones and expensive ones, felt tip ones, inky inky ones, skinny brushes, thick brushes. And then I did what I should have done all along: asked someone with a deep commitment to eyeliner. My buddy Grace has some distinctive eyeliner going on, and they’ve always recommended Rimmel Exaggerate on top of some primer or foundation. And I am converted // Pink faux fur collar: What can I say, you can’t have too much of a good thing. I became possessed by the idea of a fluffy, feminine pink fake fur collar so I ordered this cheapy cheap one off Ebay which is winging its way towards me. I’m planning on wearing this with my more femmey coats and the browny ASOS one over my leather jacket // Hair scarves: Proving an essential part of my hair growth process, covering up bad hair days (or dirty hair days) with a scarf has been a total blessing. This Monki one I got in the sale a long time ago is the perfect size, shape and texture for tying up. And it has eyeballs on it.
Bottom row – MAC Russian Red lipstick: I tossed this into my little ziploc bag for my Copenhagen trip this weekend on a whim, and discovered what an excellent shade it is for me. I know everyone loses their shit over Ruby Woo but I find it’s just too cakey and dry. MAC Red and Russian Red hit the spot, though. I see this becoming an old new favourite // Leopard print tips: a DIY job that I’m really enjoying doing on myself now I have these excellent talons. I put on an episode of something silly like The Blacklist that I don’t have to concentrate on and I get to work. I think I even prefer just the tips to a full nail of leopard? // Monki pale blue scarf: Because I can’t afford an Acne Canada scarf, I have this baby blue Monki edition instead. Look how sweetly it works with my bright pink coat and bag. What a dream.
I feel like gold, orange and leopard print is a genius combination. I don’t know if it’s a known classic but it certainly enthuses me (yesterday i was wearing a bright orange wool swing cardigan under this coat, with jeans and sneakers). And besides, it’s the first outing of my absolutely fabulous Look magazine for Simply Be dress. I sung the collection’s praises when I posted the outstanding coat that gets me so many compliments, and there are still some items I’m properly pining for (both the maxi dresses must find their way to me), but today it’s the turn of the orange-red shirt dress. It’s so comfortable, it’s just the right length, the buttons at the neck is a sweet detail, it’s sensible but not too worky. I adore it.
And this is what happens when the wind blows…
Other new fave: my new Swatch from the Watch Hut. I’ve been wearing my chunky rose gold watch for the past couple of years but recently it’s been looking a bit tarnished and scratched, so when the Watch Hut offered me a new watch, obviously I said yes. My old watch was a beautiful beast, but it was extremely heavy, so when I would sit at my desk at work I’d have to take it off when I typed because it made such a loud noise whenever I moved my hands. Not ideal. But I love metal strap watches, so the obvious choice was a lighter metal one! This is just perfect, a shiny, bright gold, a readable face, a date section (that I need to set…). Satisfying.
Whichever queer scene I’ve been in, I’ve often felt self-conscious about my femininity. It’s only recently that I’ve found myself in a queer community that centres itself around challenging masculinity as the queer default, and celebrates femme identities. I’m feeling super empowered by my fat femme image at the moment, and deriving a lot of power from ‘femininity’. It’s not just about being ‘girly’, it’s about saying that your queer identity can’t be reduced or erased. As a femme who’s also specifically attracted to femmes, it’s powerful to me to know I’m not alone in that. Someone who’s always stood out to me as a shining beacon of fat queer femme energy is Nicolette Mason, whose style I’ve always revered in its own right, but also in relation to the fact she’s queer. People have written reams of interesting stuff on image and fashion in relation to queer identities and presentation so I’m not going to say too much about that, but I just wanted to tip my metaphorical fedora to someone who inspires me in how she lives her femme ID.
This is why Nicolette’s collection with ModCloth is so exciting to me. According to the size chart, the 4X which the styles go up to works out as a size 32-34, which is higher than I’ve seen pretty much any plus size range go (assuming it’s accurate).
Obviously the swishy, pretty prom dresses are super inspiring but this jumper just warmed my heart in a deep and meaningful way. I don’t know if it’s meant to be a pun, but I’m reading it thus.
This dress is such a showstopper. I absolutely adore the twisted-bow front and the length of the sleeves and feel like it’s those kind of details that elevate this dress beyond your average plus-size prom dress. That’s what happens when you get a fashion femme to help design your clothes [insert sassy lady emoji here].
This piece is genius because it speaks to the chic femme and the stylish butch. I’m particularly enthused by how the inimitable and decidedly non-femme Dannielle from Everyone Is Gay is wearing it in that outfit photo on the page.
My final fave is this teal prom dress, which, like the polka dot creation, is firmly in the list of ‘things I would love to own if only I had someone to wear it’. The sheer décolletage, the shape of the bodice, the bow, the colour of the material, the shape of the skirt are just divine. I want to wear this dress to stroll the streets hand in hand with a beautiful babe, swishing my skirt as I go.
In the time that I’ve been blogging about fat fashion, the industry has improved greatly. Where once it was a bleak wasteland of hanky hems, butterfly prints and a lesson on how to blend in, there are now brights, prints, sequins, hotpants, bodycon and all the rest. One area, though, where the plus size fashion industry is quite clearly failing is in basics. Amid all of the fun and froth, where are the staples that are always cited as the foundations of a woman’s wardobe? I decided to do an experiment to see just how easy (or otherwise) it is to come by these supposedly essential items if you’re fat. I chose five, to start with: white shirt, Breton t-shirt, black cigarette pants, grey marl t-shirt and black leather biker jacket.
I searched for these five items on one straight size retailer’s website (I chose Topshop, the most ubiquitous of all high street chains), just to prove to myself that they are perennially available and easy to come by if you’re a size 10. All five were there. I then looked for the same item on the websites of three major plus-size retailers: Evans, ASOS Curve and Simply Be. So what I’m saying is: you can buy all five of these items in one single high street shop aimed at slim women, of which there are many high street shops where you can get the same or similar items. Will I be able to find the same items in any of three of the biggest plus size retailers? Let’s find out!
The white shirt
My criteria were: no front pocket (pockets on white shirts remind me too much of ugly school shirts), long-sleeved, with a collar, made of cotton. Here is what happens when you search ‘white shirt’ on Topshop. That’s how many variations there are. Not all of them fit my specifications exactly, but there’s a massive variety to suit pretty much all tastes and needs. Satisfying!
How many on ASOS Curve? 1. How many on Simply Be? o. How many on Evans? o.
Only one out of a possible three plus-size retailers are currently carrying a similar item. ASOS Curve have what they call a ‘girlfriend shirt’ that meets all my specifications, and are the only brand to have one that does. I don’t really get what ‘girlfriend shirt’ means… surely there are no special design qualities related to making clothes in the proportions and style expected of the gender you’re marketing the clothes at? Oh well. It’s a nice shirt.
The breton t-shirt
I was looking for a jersey t-shirt with sleeves of any length, horizontal navy stripe on white, with no other pattern or design. No random Eiffel Towers, a straight hem, just, you know, a white t-shirt with blue stripes. Here is a serviceable version on Topshop.
How many on ASOS Curve? 1, if you’ll buy it in a two-pack with a navy blue t-shirt. How many on Simply Be? 1. How many on Evans? 0.
This was Simply Be’s offering. It’ll do.
The black skinny trousers
I was looking for a pair of trousers that are black, full-length or slightly cropped, and made of a heavy, matte material (not jersey or pleather) like crepe or polyester at a push. I’m not looking for the moon on a stick, right? Just some sensible but sexy trousers that you can wear with heels and feel trop chic.
How many on ASOS Curve? More than 1! In fact, ASOS Curve had several different skinny black trouser styles. How many on Simply Be? 1. How many on Evans? 0.
I adore these ASOS Curve trousers. They’re maybe not as skinny as I would want them to be, but the shape and the material are spot on.
Simply Be’s version are great too. Well done Simply Be!
The grey marl t-shirt
No specific criteria here, just a grey marl t-shirt. Comforting, easy, oddly sexy. Shouldn’t be too hard to find, right? I mean, it’s only a t-shirt, and Topshop’s is lovely. I wasn’t even looking for a cashmere tee but I won’t turn down luxury bitch vibes. Now, can we find a basic bitch t-shirt in fat sizes? Can we heck.
How many on ASOS Curve? 0. How many on Simply Be? 0. How many on Evans? 0. You can’t buy a grey marl t-shirt in cashmere, jersey or any fabric at all from three major plus-size retailers. Bad times. This is precisely why I thank my lucky stars that I fit into Topshops M/L or size 16 t-shirts. All my favourite t-shirts come from there. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t wear t-shirts at all.
The black leather biker
A black leather biker jacket. When I moved to Montreal in 2010, I got to autumn and couldn’t figure out why none of my outfits looked right. I realised it was because I’d chosen to leave my beloved All Saints leather biker in England, deeming it non-essential. Turns out a black leather jacket makes 90% of my outfits feel more coherent, more satisfying and more me. I’m now wearing one I got from ASOS Curve last winter, which is perfect. But what’s around at the moment?
This is exactly what I’m looking for. Gently cropped, black, real leather, biker shape.
How many on ASOS Curve? 2. How many on Simply Be? o. How many on Evans? 0.
ASOS Curve have two at the moment, which is the same as they did last year- one for £100, and another, slightly nicer one for 120. If you want a leather jacket and you’re above a size 16/18, you pretty much have to go to ASOS. I’ve been super happy with the style, fit and quality of my leather jacket, which I’ve worn endlessly since I got it.
So, all told, how did the stores do? Did any one store offer one single version of all five wardrobe staples that you can easily buy from Topshop? Nope. The scores are thus: ASOS Curve with 4/5. Simply Be with 2/5. Evans with 0/5. This is a problem! The thing I hear my fat compatriots saying more than anything else about the macro trends in plus size fashion is “I just want what thin girls have, but in my size” and nowhere is this more obvious than in basics. I’m sure I would suffer the same fate if I did the same experiment with a black blazer, a coloured cashmere sweater and a sharp-pleated midi skirt, but alas these things are quite labour-intensive and I have neither the time nor the inclination. This serious gap in the market only serves to make dressing difficult. These items aren’t extraordinary feats of design, they’re just clothes that make getting dressed easier and serve as good backdrops for other, more frivolous items. Please, fatshion retailers, hear our prayers?
What item of clothing do I love more than any other? Outerwear. I just can’t get enough of coats and jackets. They pull an outfit together, they can make a statement, they can conceal a lazy ensemble underneath. I just adore them. So when Simply Be were kind enough to let me road-test two items from their new collection with Look magazine, naturally I went for the coat as one of them. That said, I actually had my heart set on the skirt and the shirt, but when it came to it, and when I saw the collection in person at an event at the new Oxford Street store, I had a total change of heart. I’ll post the other item I was sent next week when my regular photographer is back from New York (I miss her painfully), but for now here’s one excellent item from the Look collaboration.
I’m not exaggerating when I say this season’s Look // Simply Be collection is my favourite single plus-size offering ever. I would wear each and every piece they’ve made this season, and it’s the most cohesive, design-led selection I’ve seen marketed at fat women. Every item is perfect, and I don’t feel like any of them are compromises to please fats at the expense of pattern or shape. I got so many compliments on my coat this weekend, and I feel so comfortable in it. It’s chic, wearable, well-made, not too heavy, no polyester lining, big square pockets that I can fit a book in (currently reading: Victoria Glendinning’s biography of Vita Sackville-West). I just love it. Maybe that’s why I’m smiling so much. Or maybe it’s because my friends Laura and Leah were doing sexy dancing behind Ellie while she was taking my picture. Maybe.