30 December 2014

December Song

As body positive as I am (and fat positive at that), there are still certain styles I avoid when it comes to my fashion. I know: Blasphemy. I don't necessarily avoid them because I think I will look fatter. It's more like I avoid them because I think my shape will be lost completely. I like my curves, so... naturally... I want to be able to fit them into clothing that highlights the bits I like most. It all sounds rather petty when actually written out. But I'm only human. And the fact is, I (like so many plus-size women) spent most of my life being told to hide. So I guess now that I don't feel that way, I'm skeptical of clothing that might potentially be too loose.
A couple of months ago, I was able to connect with Aimee Cheshire, co-founder and president of Hey Gorgeous -- an online boutique that sells quite a variety of higher-end plus labels. Within the company's manifesto, I found this:

Nothing about us is shabby, only chic. We will not drown you in fabric to hide who you are or dress you like your grandmother’s couch so you blend into the scenery. We are not wedded to empire waists or color-blocking because we think it makes you look thinner. We will make you two-piece bathing suits. This is you coming home. This is you coming home to the closet that loves you as you are. This is clothing for women by people who love women -- not people who want to change them. Here, you will not be forced to buy whatever fits you, you will be able express yourself through your style. You will get to show the world what you are all about, just as we have told you what we are all about: Making women of every race, size, humor, and style look and feel as awesome as they are.  
Suffice it to say, I was intrigued. And more than that, I was thrilled to find views that so closely echoed my own within the retail industry. Because whilst things are changing for the better when it comes to size representation in fashion and acceptance of the plus-size figure, we have such a long way to go that truly getting there sometimes feels impossible. I was also intrigued -- and thrilled -- to find this unique and sufficiently-quirky-for-Miggle Diana Applique Sweatshirt Dress. Everything from the leather trim to the heavy fabric (ideal for a New York winter) captivated me from the start. Everything except the fear that I would be lost within its fabric: My curves hidden beneath a poly-cotton blend.
I will admit that the first time I tried on the dress, I thought it was too baggy at the waist and stomach, and too tight at the hips. Until, of course, I realized that I was doing exactly the same thing I always fight against (in theory, anyway). I was conforming to this idea that because I am plus-size and not ashamed of it, I must always show off my curves in traditionally "beautiful" ways so as to instill that message that a bigger body is a beautiful body. But the thing is, the only rule I believe should be followed when it comes to fashion is this: Wear what makes you smile. And this Line&Label dress made me smile from the get-go.
Just to make the ensemble a little more me, I accessorized with a miniature pearl pouch necklace found in the very bottom of my jewelry box at my mom's. Being home for the holidays has thrown me into the pit of nostalgia, and I've been exploring every photo album, memory box and closet and drawer in my childhood bedroom. Amongst the old school notes (largely consisting of "I THINK I'M IN LOVE WITH [INSERT NAME OF TEMPORARY CRUSH THAT LASTED ALL OF A DAY) and the old Victoria's Secret undies that I bought in secret at age 13, there was this little gem. I'm not sure if it was my mother's, and passed down to me. Or if it was something gifted to me as a child. But I kind of fell in love with how delicate and soft it is, and felt it provided a nice juxtaposition to the leather-look of the dress.

The final touch to the ensemble was my new pair of custom-made DUO Somerset Boots. I didn't know tailored shoes would be this revolutionary, but they are. You can read all about my adventures in that department on Bustle, though.

So I guess the moral of this particular story (or #ootd) is simply not to create unnecessary boxes for yourself. You don't always have to wear a sexy bodycon co-ord set, with a crop top on the top to prove that you love your fat body. Nor do you always have to wear slouchy PJ-esque ensembles to prove you don't care. Basically, the whole "you do you" thing is pretty on point (even if we're sick of hearing the phrase).

Get the Look:
Leather Applique Sweatshirt Dress/courtesy of Hey Gorgeous!
DUO Somerset Boots/courtesy of DUO Boots

09 December 2014

Big Red Riding Hood

So that was probably the longest absence in the history of absences for me. This last month has been a bit of a whirlwind -- emotionally, geographically and otherwise. For those of you who don't already know, I'm back in New York! The decision to return to the "city of dreams" wasn't an easy one. But it was certainly the best. I could bore you with the qualms of acquiring an international visa to stay in the U.K., but that would require an essay. So I will just say that staying in England was pretty impossible, even if I would've liked to. It all happened very quickly. One day I was biting my nails over my possible deportation [no, it wasn't actually going to happen, but my anxiety told me it would], and the next I was trying to pack the majority of my lifetime possessions into three suitcases [I failed -- and most of my things remain nestled in my bedroom in Hebden Bridge].
That being said, New York has been lovely. I started a full-time position at Bustle as Associate Fashion & Beauty Editor, and it's been rewarding, to say the least. Patrick came with me, of course, and after a few weeks of the most intense and disheartening apartment hunting EVER, we managed to find a cozy, comfortable, mold-free place in Brooklyn [90 percent of the apartments visited had bad, BAD mold]. I was worried that after 18 months of countryside living, being surrounded by humans would be difficult at best, hideous at worst. But it's been OK. It's been fun, even. Perhaps I've just learned what kind of people are good to be around, though.
One possession I couldn't bear to leave behind was my Hell Bunny Sarah Jane Coat, a brand I discovered via the mystical and wondrous Georgina of Cupcake's Clothes. As a child, I had a coat much like this one. Firetruck red with black velvet accents and a hood as the cherry on top. I remember thinking it was my very own invisibility cloak. As long as I was wearing it, no one would see me. I would be safe. It would be magic. As an adult, I have no delusions that I will be invisible in this ensemble. It's big and red and cupcake-shaped. But I'm OK with being seen, now. I'm OK with being myself, and feeling like myself and wearing something loud and "childish" and fun. And in a way, I still feel pretty safe with it on. And when embarking upon a new adventure, in a new [per se, as I've lived here before] city, feeling safe is nothing to belittle.



07 November 2014

Fairy Dust

Usually autumn is my favorite season. Even though the fall brings the death of many things -- the leaves, the grass, the long, sunlit days -- something about it has always seemed so alive. It's probably the same reason I gravitate toward heroines in dystopian or post-apocalyptic tales.
Death breeds life. It's the main thing I took away from Charlotte's Web when I first read it at 8-years-old, and it's definitely something I try to remind myself of as an adult. This autumn has been coated in a dreariness that I'm unaccustomed to, however. I don't know why. Something about it has just seemed a little darker. A little less optimistic.
With the changing of the seasons comes the changing of fashion. Pastels and neons get replaced by black-on-black everything. I'm guilty of doing this myself. When the weather is gloomy, I tend to put on something that replicates said gloominess. So I though the perfect antidote to the whole predicament would be to finally share these photos I took in Majorca back in September. There's nothing gloomy about this picturesque Spanish setting. And there's definitely nothing gloomy about a princess dress.
When I first spotted this Pinup Couture dress on Pinup Girl Clothing, I did worry that it would be a bit too little-girl-y for me. Though I love Lolita fashion, my own fashion preferences tend to be some kind of hybridized version of vintage and Lolita. That being said, my fears were pretty much quenched when I put it on and was transported back to some of the innocence of childhood. Some of the fun of childhood. Some of the lack of responsibilities and seemingly perpetual (often self-absorbed) woes. It's a very summery dress. But the happiness it bred -- if only temporary -- will definitely make it a recurring item in my wardrobe through the seasons.
Get the look:
Pinup Couture - Aurora Dress in Pink Castle Print/Pinup Girl Clothing
Swedish Hasbeens Gustava Sandals in Old Pink Nubuck/Surfdome

06 November 2014

Diamonds And Rust

Things with any kind of glam to them used to feel off limits to me -- like magical, twinkling wonders reserved only for pretty girls. Only for thin girls. Despite having something of a fascination with constructs of princess-hood, I never used to feel worthy of sequins, sparkles or any other such bedazzled thing. I used to tell myself that someday, when I lost weight and became the "real" me, I would allow myself to buy a sequined pink dress, or maybe some glimmering, fit-for-royalty kind of shoes.
As I grew older, I learned I wasn't alone in this. I wasn't the only fat woman who convinced herself she simply didn't deserve to wear that dress or those heels. The notion of being "unworthy" of beautiful clothing permeates the very being of so many plus-size women -- and it's sort of because of that unfortunate fact that I started my "Yes, Plus-Size Women Can Wear..." column on Bustle a few months back.
This month's theme was "sequins," for which I wore an amazing Yours Clothing dress -- a gem I discovered back at Plus North. It's exactly the sort of thing my 16-year-old self would have turned the other cheek to: would have deemed too short, too low cut, too tight to the body and far too loud for someone of my size and shape. These days, when those (quite frankly) boring and absurd notions are usually so far from my mind, it's exactly the sort of thing I gravitate toward. I love how it hugs every curve. I love that its somehow playful and sexy in equal measures.
The "real" me isn't lurking behind some corner or under 50 pounds of fat. This is the real me. And I truly never want to hide again.

03 November 2014

Two Cousins

I've been in England for a year and a half now, and my time here has brought many things -- both good and bad. But mostly good (the only real bad was contained within the walls of the university I shan't speak of again). One of the most wonderful parts about coming over has been getting to know these two girls -- Paddy's cousins (who are now my cousins). I come from a big family, and am used to having vast quantities of people around most of the time. One of my greatest fears when making the decision to move was whether or not I would be lonely. I knew, of course, that I would be with the person I love. And that no matter what else happened, I would be ok for that reason. But I wondered whether the solitude of the British countryside would get to me.

Paddy's family is small. And the few relatives he does have are spread out across the country. But even the knowledge that these two human beings are only a mere six-hour drive away (though granted, the drive can seem eternal at times) has been a gem. Whenever I have craved the comfort of girlfriends -- the amazing feeling of solidarity and fun that comes from being with young women you intrinsically click with -- I knew they were there. They've become an amazing part of my life. They've become my family.
Lucky for me, Lucy and Olive enjoy vintage shopping just as much as I do. When strolling through Brighton, I wonderfully discovered a Collectif location right before my eyes. Suffice it to say, I had to introduce them. And this resulted in these here pictures (shot, of course, by the lovely Paddy).

We all agreed that the wonder of Collectif lies in its perfect, seemingly effortless blending of vintage fashion with a modern aesthetic. The brand caters to so many ages, and so many styles. We had a blast, as you can see. I almost didn't leave their arms.










 And a big thanks to the best photographer and my [cheesy warning] truest love:
 THESE McCLAVE'S STOLE MY HEART:
Get the Looks:
Me
Virginia Long Sleeve Shirt/Collectif
Olive
Martina Boat Neck T-Shirt/Collectif
Lucy
Flared Dress/Available at select Collectif stores

28 October 2014

Speakeasy

Whenever people ask me what my favorite things about New York are, I never have an answer as easy as the Brooklyn Bridge or the Natural Museum of History (although both are pretty stupendous). The things I miss are the way you can smell everything from hot dogs to Chanel No. 5 on every street corner; how absurdly ridiculous cab drivers actually drive; the effortless availability of any international cuisine you could dream of, and only within a five-minute radius; independent book shops like Housing Works that make you feel like you're in literary heaven. And the fashion. Oh, the fashion.
Regular readers on here know that Fashion to Figure is one of my favorite plus-size brands. I know a lot of people associate it with a very urban look and feel, but recently FTF have been coming out with items that speak deeply to the Old-Hollywood-Glam-Lover in me (and just wait until their holiday collection is released; then you'll really see what I mean).
Earlier this year, I was able to connect with some of the folks at the FTF headquarters and we've maintained an awesome relationship ever since. So when I got back to the city, we knew we wanted to collaborate on something -- and that collaboration manifested itself in some lovely photo shoots in the West Village, shot by none other than my beautiful and inspiring friend Rachel Crittenden (who you may remember from some FTF shooting back in February!).
This was a lovely chance to work closely with a brand I love for its fearless use of the bodycon/silhouette-showing/curves-galore approach to plus-size fashion, and with a photographer who I feel really gets it... really gets me and my love of the body-pos/fat-pos worlds. I feel like a sad truth about editorials or photo sets of plus-size women is that often brands or photographers will do their best to conceal double chins and visible belly outlines and anything too wobbly (or sometimes even the subjects will make those specific requests to the brands or photographers). But neither FTF, Rachel or I had that priority. And so taking these photos, and just being able to feel like myself, was so, so fun.

Please make sure to check out the Fashion to Figure Blog for a closer look into the shoot :D

Get the Look:
Shimmer Lace Dress/Fashion to Figure
River Island Faux Fur Collar/ASOS

22 October 2014

A Classic

If you asked me to describe myself in a couple of words, "sultry," and/or "mysterious," probably wouldn't really come to mind. I wear my heart on my sleeve most of the time and am far too clumsy, uncoordinated, introverted, nerdy and awkward to ever be sultry. I don't say this negatively. They're traits I've kind of grown to find endearing -- even if they don't facilitate social grace and eloquence. But I guess part of why I so love things like Halloween and fashion as a whole is that they allow you to embrace aspects of your personality that you don't normally think about... or aspects of your personality that are actually totally non-existent.
When I saw this dress at SimplyBe, I was instantly interested in it. I love velvet... I love the texture and romance and classic beauty it possesses. For most of my life, people said things to me like, "You're just a classic beauty -- people would've found you gorgeous 100 years ago." These comments were usually faux-compliments. What most (not all) of these people really meant was, "There's no way your fat body and round face would be considered attractive now by the mainstream, but maybe a century ago that would've been different." The thing is, I kind of get what they mean. I have soft features and a soft body and maybe when those traits were considered signs of wealth and grandeur, I would've had a bunch of suitors lining up and handing in a bride price to my "loving" papa. But I'm actually quite glad I don't live in that time. Maybe fat acceptance was more common, but being a person's property has never sat quite right with me.
Back to this dress, though: I guess I love it because it does remind me of the whole "classic beauty" thing. I used to think of that as a bad thing, because it was so coated by sizeism and bullying undertones and I didn't like being associated with a time when women were so often sold and exchanged. But these days I embrace the "classic beauty" thing, just as I embrace my inherent awkwardness and nerdiness. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. It can relate to the soft-featured women of the 50's, like Marilyn, for instance.
I also love that this dress kind of juxtaposes a more overt sexiness (bodycons, velvet, red) with a more subdued and "classic" femininity (soft velvet). Though I wouldn't have wanted to be a woman in the Victorian Era, I certainly appreciate delicacy and gracefulness and traditionally womanly things. Often, I find myself experimenting with one or the other. My style tends to float more along the side of traditional femininity, but I do love a good bodycon or fancy lingerie set. It's kind of fun to play with both spectrums and think about the fact that they don't always have to be separate
Get the Look:
Velour Bodycon Dress with Floral Side Burnout/SimplyBe

Photos by Lucy Cartwright.

20 October 2014

Silver Cupcake

One of the best parts of taking pictures with someone you get along with is feeling like exploration and experimentation are completely possible. I find myself wanting to explore and experiment with a lot of things, but often letting my anxieties or my "sense of responsibility" get in the way. Or, simply, my laziness paired with perpetual fatigue after a work day (which leads to wanting to do nothing more than watch Netflix and take bubble baths). It's definitely something I want to change. My mother just plucked a white hair from my head. So I guess there really is no time like the present.
I've been in New York the past few weeks (thus my lack of posting). Since moving out of the city, every time I visit is filled with snippets of maybes and what if's. Like, "Maybe things would be like this is I lived here." Or, "What if I had stayed and was now working here and doing that and living there." I don't mean that I am desperately wanting to move back, or that I am remotely unhappy in the U.K. England has become home. Paddy is home. And I love where we live. It's more like my imagination just gets the best of me, and I start picturing an alternate reality filled with Brooklyn brownstones, daily fro-yo at Pinkberry or Whiskey Sours at the KGB bar amidst indie poets and secret girl crushes. 
When I shot these pictures with Lucy Cartwright a few weeks before coming over, she kept saying the outfit called to mind Vivienne Westwood (after we discovered that Lucy's light shade doubled as a matching cape, that is). Westwood is the quintessential experimental figure in fashion. Her basket hats from the S/S Gold Label embody what I mean perfectly. But I chose to post the pictures now because I think they also make me think of change. I don't know why that is exactly. Maybe it's the futuristic quality of silver and metallics, paired with the comfort of something like cupcakes (because duh). New York doesn't quite feel like home anymore, but it does feel like possibilities. It always has. It just makes you think of all the things you want to do. All the places you want to travel to. All the hobbies you want to allow to let flourish, both independently and with your partner. It feels like the start of something. Or, more accurately, like the start of a lot of somethings.

Get the Look:
ASOS Curve Pleated Midi Skirt in Metallic/ASOS
Cupcake Bodysuit (sold out in this pattern)/Similar H&M
Swedish Hasbeens Gustava Sandals in Old Pink Nubuck/Surfdome
Metallic Light Shade/Your friendly neighborhood photographer
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