27 April 2014

The Fortune Lady Came Along, She Walked Beside, But Every Word Seemed To Date Her

Day two in Sussex county consisted mainly of over-sleeping and struggling to leave the house. When we finally did, Brian (my in-law-uncle?) took us to Lewes, a small town about 10 miles outside of Brighton. It's one of those places that makes you acutely aware of how much more architecturally beautiful Europe is to the states. The color, the detail, the old castle. I grew up primarily in Forked River, New Jersey -- an old town, as far as American towns go. It's all gray concrete and plain buildings spaced unnecessarily far from each other. Patrick once said that a lot of America looks like what you'd get if you asked a small child to draw a road or a house or a building: all straight lines and square rooftops and nothing in between. I know not ALL of it is like that (it's a massive country and I've yet to see half of it), but in my U.S. travels, his observation has proven pretty true.
It was a lovely day of antique-ing and window shopping and getting mildly drizzled on. Like a true English day, the rain drifted in and out. But it fit in so nicely with the setting, that I could hardly complain.
That being said, this rain mac has proven extremely useful this spring. I love a clear jacket in theory, but never seem to pull one off. This one is coral, though, and that seems to help matters.
A note on dungarees/overalls. They're one of those things that are supposedly very unflattering on plus-size women. Something about cutting up our proportions all wrong, shortening our legs and bunching at our bums. Though it does slightly irritate me when these Primark dungarees ride up too much at the front (though at the same time, I don't feel I can expect much from $10 overalls purchased at British Walmart), they are extremely comfortable and a little quirkier than a plain pair of shorts. To be honest, if your are into finding "slimming" pieces, dungarees are probably not the way to go. But if you like to wear things for comfort and cuteness, then I definitely suggest investing in a pair for summer.

Get the Look:
Hibiscus Wide Strap Cami, $52, Topshop
Clear Rain Mac, $56, ASOS
Denim Dungarees, Primark, Similar here and here

And some Gillian Welch for a rainy afternoon:


26 April 2014

Ever Since I Was A Young Boy, I've Played The Silver Ball. From Soho Down To Brighton, I Must Have Played Them All


Sometimes you just need a weekend off. A weekend off of everything. I've been feeling really stressed out and anxious as of late -- see grim explanatory post -- and a weekend in Brighton seemed like the perfect remedy. My partner has a major deadline for work, and is to be spending the weekend locked inside his studio, so I figured I would take the train down and visit his cousins in this lovely seaside city. The girls are 11 and 13, and to be honest, it's been great to just leave all the grown-up concerns aside and have fun being a kid again (not that I ever feel like much of an adult). We spent the day eating saltwater taffy, shopping The Lanes, going on sickly fast rides on the pier and buying the funkiest sunglasses we could find. And soon we will be crashing for an evening of Edward Scissorhands and Spaced

Note: I'm supposed to wear glasses all the time, but never seem to remember to. My eyesight isn't horrible by any means, but today I realized just how much clearer the world is when I do. It was exciting and eye-opening (literally).


One of the best parts of the day was seeing this original Banksy mural - often called "The Kiss", which was spray-painted on Trafalgar Street in 2004. 


Brief art history lesson: Banksy is a UK-based graffiti artist whose been on the scene since about 1992. He's known for combatting the idea that street art is vandalism, as well as spreading anti-war, anti-capitalist and anti-homophobic messages through his work. He taps into the often less-than-ideal human condition, portraying poverty, greed, alienation and monotony in the most realistic, beautifully despairing kind of ways. He's satirical and dark and comedic and all-around-awesome. In case you guys didn't know, Brighton is actually the gay capital of the UK (Hebden Bridge, where I live, is the lesbian capital!), so this particular piece has been embraced and framed and preserved perfectly. Here are some of my other favorites:




And here is me again, mildly sad at not being able to afford any of the vintage clothes in The Lanes. It makes sense to me that thrift shops be affordable, and yet so many of them are more expensive than new clothes at Topshop.


I did indeed purchase my handbag in the kid's section of Cath Kidston. It has outer space on it, and reminds me of my favorite sci-fi shows. Since moving to the country of perpetual rain, CK bags have been alluring because of their waterproof PVC coating. I highly recommend them.  

Get the Look:
Bright Floral Blouse, $47, ASOS
Linen Mini Skirt with Scallop Hem, $38, ASOS
River Island Chunky Platform Gladiator Sandals (Similar), $75, ASOS
Cath Kidston Space Kids Satchel, $45, Cath Kidston 
Sweater, Urban Outfitters (Sold Out)
Hat, Thrifted

Song of the Day:
"Pinball Wizard" by The Who


19 April 2014

They Paved Paradise, And Put Up A Parking Lot


I've been meaning to try out Collectif for some time. Though not a plus-size company, they actually have a slightly extended size range in comparison to what you find at most shops. Their U.K sizes go up to a 22, or 18 U.S, as opposed to one or two sizes less.  I just want to note that in the past, I've sometimes been criticized for calling myself "plus-size" or even "fat" in my writing, mainly because I can often fit into the larger sizes of mainstream brands. While I acknowledge that this fact gives me a certain amount of thin privilege, it has always amazed me just how quickly people are to jump at the chance to call someone too big or too small. Through my life, I've been told both things repeatedly, and neither results in a particularly enjoyable experience. Why humans can't just let others be is a question with no feasible answer to my mind.

At the end of the day, I usually wear a U.S. 16/18, U.K. 20/22, and for most designers and brands, that classifies as plus-size. I myself have no qualms with using the label to describe myself, my 50-inch hips or my jiggly tummy. However, I always encourage plus-size readers to experiment with sizing, and not just rule out a brand because they technically don't stock your size. With that in mind, I think Collectif is a great place to try said experimenting. Specializing in recreating '40's and '50's fashion, it was an inevitability that my eye would be drawn to this brand. Think cigarette trousers, Marilyn-silhouettes, Jackie Kennedy-esque skirt suits and Grease-appropriate polka dots.


If I could wear ensembles like this every day, I would not hesitate. The blouse has the perfect grandma-ish-vintage-vibe, while the cigarette trousers are wonderfully flexible and made of a delightfully stretchy poly blend. I'm actually thinking of getting them in burgundy as well. It's rare I find pants I like, so I'm thinking I should probably take advantage of the fact that they're on sale.

Though a U.K. brand, Collectif does ship internationally in case anyone's interested. AND they have an incredible sale section for those on a budget. Both the top and bottoms I'm wearing are on a mega discount! I stole Paddy's old folk hat for these pictures as well, and although it's technically a "newsboy" hat -- and those have never really suited me in the past -- I'm kind of really liking it.


This is Benson. He belongs to the in-laws. Though something of a goof, and not very clever, he's a sweetie.
Get the Look:
Patricia Secret Garden Floral Blouse, £18, Collectif
Bonnie Cigarette Trousers Plain, £22, Collectif
Bertie Locket Mix Material Monk Shoes, £75, House of Fraser
Vintage Racing Green Watch, £22, ASOS

I don't know if y'all have noticed, but I've been including links to the songs I quote in my titles. A while ago, the lovely Sonya of Fashion Fragile made a joke about how the only song lyric she'd picked up on was a Madonna one. Sometimes I wake up with a piece of music stuck in my head, and it has absolutely no connection to the post I'm quoting it in. But citing it just seems like the best way of getting it out into the world, where hopefully others will find it and listen and enjoy.


16 April 2014

One Of These Mornings, You're Gonna Rise Up Singing

In my feeble attempt at making up for the grimness of my previous post, I decided I'd create a seasonal wish list. I made a promise to myself to try to shop less this year, but can't shake the feeling that I will inevitably cave. Shopping therapy and all that. As usual, my weaknesses lie predominantly at SimplyBe, ModCloth and ASOS, but also at Eloquii -- the brand that has totally re-vamped and is doing wonders for plus-size fashion this year. AND Black Cat Bikinis, whose plus-size collection by Tess Munster satisfies my inner Allie Calhoun (if you haven't given The Notebook a chance because you think it will be just another romantic cheese fest, please re-evaluate and put on your to-do list. It's nothing like that other Nicholas Sparks story that ended up starring Miley Cyrus in the film adaptation, I assure you).


From Left to Right:
  1. Delighted All Day Romper in Fruit, $75, ModCloth
  2. Diamond Dancer Tights in White, $25, ModCloth
  3. Cherry Bombshell Ruffle Underwire Top & High-Waist Bottom, $140, Black Cat Bikinis
  4. Joe Brown's Wild One Wrap Skirt, $60, SimplyBe
  5. Maxi Dress with Bird Print, $103, ASOS
  6. Soft Shorts in Elephant Print, $47, ASOS Curve
  7. Down to a Fine Art Dress, $130, ModCloth
  8. Swedish Hasbeens Black Haga Flat Sandals, $167, ASOS
  9. Floral Flounce Skirt, $68, Eloquii
  10. Joe Brown's News Cafe Dress, $80, SimplyBe
I leave you with Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder singing George Gershwin's "Summertime."


This Is The Mystery Of The Quotient - Upon Us All A Little Rain Must Fall.


Jimmy Page and Robert Plant circa 1994, with full orchestral accompaniment.
Hauntingly captivating.
Emotional-whirlwind-inducing perfection.

Sometimes a piece of music comes like a force -- a force that serves to get you out of your head. A force that, in tornado-like fashion, makes it so there's nothing else you can think about. It's just you and that song. You and that singer. You and that guitarist.

I was in need of something like this, and want to thank my friend and former roommate Camila for sharing this video on Facebook. Camila is one of the few people I've met close in age to myself who appreciates the same music I do. When I suggested around midnight two autumn's ago in New York that we go to my boyfriend's friend's apartment all the way in Jersey City to hear/play music and drink and talk, she didn't hesitate for a second. She is one of those people with the beautiful capacity to do what feels right and fun and good in the moment, without even a millisecond's thought to what it will mean for the amount of sleep she'll get or how exhausted she'll be at work the next day or how silly it is to go all the way to Jersey-frikin-City on a rickety PATH train in the middle of the night.

I used to think that I was like that. But recently the ghosts of self-deprecation and doubt have re-emerged. From before I even knew how to write, I knew I wanted to be a writer. It was just this thing inside me -- this thing that echoed, "You need to tell stories." I didn't go through the motions kids tend to go through. I didn't want to be a singer or a trapeze artist or a doctor or a jet pilot. I just wanted to tell people's tales.

Though I'm technically freelancing and writing for a few places (and profoundly grateful for these opportunities), I'm so far from where I want to be and what I want to be doing with my writing. The goal was always immersive journalism/creative nonfiction. And I got a taste for it. I spent a few weeks shadowing buskers in Prague -- learning about their lives and passions and fears. I hung out in color pencil artist Marie Brozova's studio for a few days, watching her work and hearing her talk about fairies and goblins and ghouls as though they were real entities in her backyard (And to her, they are; I don't doubt it for a second.). Recently, I got to interview the Hartheim lads and talk music and celebrity culture and drugs and David Bowie. And that's the sort of stuff I love. But it's not the sort of work I'm getting. Whenever I pitch such pieces -- whenever I write them on my own and try getting them out there -- the dreaded but seemingly inevitable rejection email (or worse, no email at all) isn't far off.

It's funny, but I spend a lot of time writing fashion-related material on here and on Bustle. And that opens up some dichotomies for me. While I enjoy outfit posts and slideshows and roundups very much (especially when I can apply them to discussions of size acceptance and body confidence), I don't want to get to a point where that's all people know me for. I don't want to be a fashion journalist. That's not to say I have anything against fashion journalism. Unlike a lot of critics of the industry (and fashion in general) who perceive it as a vapid, materialistic practice, I find intrinsic value in it. Fashion is a form of self-expression. It can most definitely be an art. It is the one of the most straight-forward ways of saying something about yourself without having to say anything at all. But it's not my dream.

I still -- like always -- want to tell people's stories in a long-form, narrative kind of way. The problem is that recently, I've been doubting my ability to do so. I've had this same goal for so long that I'm starting to wonder whether it's even something I can do -- whether it's even something I'm good at -- and subsequently, whether I should be re-evaluating the future I carved for myself so long ago. At the same time, I have this idea for a collection of essays that will probably, when finished, be long enough to fill a book. I fully intend to cultivate and pursue this idea, because I think the idea in and of itself is good (and luckily, people are willing to help me with it). But whether I'm the person to do it... that is something else entirely.

Perhaps this sort of doubt is inevitable for us introverted types. I don't know. I've grown to see self-doubt as a favorable characteristic in people. I gravitate toward those who are humble and awkward and constantly questioning themselves. Normally I wouldn't load readers on here with all this, but I think of this blog as an outlet for expression, and that can manifest itself in various different ways. Including, it seems, in excruciatingly ranty complaints and questions and worries.

04 April 2014

It Just Seems So Funny How I Always End Up Here, Walking Outside In A Storm While Looking Way Up Past The Treeline


Back in January, I introduced Livi Rae Lingerie, the Georgia-based boutique that specializes in helping its customers with bra-fit whilst producing some really stunning products in all sizes. I was very intrigued when I got an email from them, because in my experience, lingerie companies never seem to really care about whether your bra fits properly as long as you're spending money in their store (thanks for all those horribly-fitting bras, Victoria's Secret). Though I've tried getting away with not wearing one at all, because they are so often constricting and uncomfortable, as any woman with a C-cup or larger knows, it's even more unpleasant not to wear one.


Thus why Livi Rae is the perfect antidote to contemporary bra shopping. They were kind enough to offer me a customized item of my choice for review (achieving the perfect fit by taking my dress, pant and cup size), so of course I had to select the Parfait Bustier. The pinstripes remind me of both candy-canes and candy-stripers, and the lace accents in combination with the primary rose color give the piece a vintage feel I couldn't resist.


As of late, women have been embracing lingerie as day-wear. And I really admire that. I think it's empowering and bold and often looks incredibly striking. This bustier was ideal for me because it allows a lot of experimentation. It can be worn under a main garment for extra bust support, but it can also be paired with a cute H&M skater skirt and Cache vest for a pretty cute, smart/casual ensemble. I love that this piece offers enough support, while not being too ultra-push-up. If it were too push-up-y, I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing it out. I have this thing about not wanting my boobs to be too in-your-face.


Normally, I'm not really into anything too reminiscent of shape-wear. I suppose you could argue that a bustier is essentially a corset and a corset is essentially an old-fashioned form of shape-wear. But I actually don't think this counts. Of course, anything fitted is meant to highlight your shape, but this particular item isn't that tight, which is great because I was a little worried it would cause a Kira Knightley circa Pirates of the Caribbean type situation. And I didn't fancy losing the ability to breathe and falling into the ocean (or down a hill, in my case). Rather, it hugs the shape you have, showing off your curves without sucking them in so tightly that your body is transformed to unrealistic proportions. And that's absolutely perfect for me.


Side Note: I've decided to try to get my hair to an orange-state, like Hayley Williams's here. It's in an early, patchy stage, obviously. I'm really against bleaching my hair, because I actually like my curls and don't want to fry them, so the process takes a little longer, but is probably (hopefully) way healthier.


This post was sponsored by Livi Rae Lingerie. All opinions expressed are my own.
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