Buttercup's Frocks

Musings on personal style by a fatshionista of a certain age

  • 20th July
    2014
  • 20

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I’m afraid it’s a ranty one today, tumblr, and only tangentially related to my outfit. Four words: Linda Kelsey; Daily Fail. Yes, I know I’m more than a little fashionably late to this party and this piece has already inspired numerous scathing and satisfying take-downs. Nonetheless it’s been gnawing at my gusset and vent I must. Hold onto your hats, (or just look at the pictures, whatever tickles your pickle).

Ms Kelsey, a woman who battled severe depression for three years and who claims she has more compassion for herself and for others as a result of being hospitalised with it; yes, that Linda Kelsey… thinks we fat people aren’t sufficiently ashamed of our fatness – a fact she deduced by witnessing three young fat women not clad in sackcloth and ashes, wantonly sharing a packet of crisps at an airport. The nerve! One can only imagine the censure had they had a packet of crisps each. Still, she gave it a jolly good go.

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I don’t know what it is with sanctimonious fatphobes like Kelsey but there’s something about the fanciful hyperbole they employ when exercising their bigotry that positively borders on the salacious. One or two adjectives will never suffice to convey their distaste for bodies like mine; they have to use every synonym for fat in their lexicon. That they take pleasure in this is self-evident; and I quote: “bulging bellies”, “billowing pillows of back and shoulder stuffing, punctured by flabby arms and lardy legs”, “a super-sized sausage of overhanging belly”. It’s like poetry; lush, splenetic, deeply misogynistic poetry. Though, curiously, slender bodies don’t fair much better with her later references to “self-starving stick insects”, “Keira Knightley’s razor-sharp scapula and fried egg breasts” and “Victoria Beckham’s hand-span thighs and knife-edge hips”. I suspect she may Have Issues but I’m buggered if I know what they are beyond, “My eyes! Take these fat people far away from meee!”  But then that’s what articles like this always boil down to in the end, every single motherfucking one.

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Tirades like this are never about health; they’re about aesthetics and money. And not NHS money either; the untold buckets of dosh raked in by cynical moolah-grubbing wankpots who profit from as much of the populace fearing and reviling fat bodies as possible. Health, as Kelsey well knows, has a mental component that impacts directly on the physical, and comes with its own type of stigma. Forget the fact that her entire argument hangs on the spurious and reductive shibboleth that all fat people are fat because they eat vast amounts of junk food and never exercise; or that there have been several honest-to-gosh scholarly studies that prove categorically that weight based discrimination and stigmatisation not only threatens mental health but increases risk for obesity. What young fat women need, according to Kelsey, is a damn good dose of opprobrium to ensure they feel as worthless as possible. I would say the hypocrisy beggars belief but this is the Mail we’re talking about.

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Like the majority of fat bashing journos Kelsey has, by her own admission, never been fat in her life, ergo she hasn’t a clue that those of us who are have to suffer the same censorious rhetoric numerous times a day from multiple media outlets; that we hear the same sweeping generalisations and negative stereotypes parroted – along with the same patently bogus concern for our health – by every concern trolling knob jockey on the internet. Unlike me she has the supreme privilege of being able to tune it out.

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Frankly this article is so chockfull of ignorant supposition and prejudice I could write a ten thousand word dissertation and still not be done but, it’s the inability to make a connection between eating disorders, which are rising exponentially, and the fat hatred of which Kelsey is so repellently proud that grates my cheese the most. For someone who loves to bang on about personal responsibility, (and don’t they always?), it’s high time she realised that talking shit about fat women’s bodies negatively impacts on the self esteem of all women. It’s time she got off her high horse, stopped assuming she knows diddly about the lives of perfect strangers, and took some culpability for contributing to a toxic culture. Most of all it’s time she took her head out of her backside and realised that nobody owes her invisibility or shame. 

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 …which is kind of what this blog is all about.

Rest assured that thunderstorms permitting I shall be dressing like a brisk poke in the eye to the likes of Linda Kelsey on the morrow. And I very much hope you’ll join me in doing the same. 

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  • 18th July
    2014
  • 18

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Yo, tumblr! Just a quickie this time as I’m in the middle of writing a lengthy and more political post.

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Apparently London was “hotter than Honolulu” yesterday and, despite an epic thunderstorm I somehow managed to sleep through last night, shows no sign of cooling down or getting any less humid. So I’m very grateful for this cool little Evans number I bought a few weeks ago.

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At first I thought it was made of that really crappy viscose which goes like a rag after three wears and falls to bits after half a dozen, but no! It’s cotton, so I bought it as I have precious few items I can wear in this kind of weather. It also, by sheer luck, goes a treat with one of my recent Les Néréides spoils…

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Good grief I’ve got a lot of sun damage age spots freckles. 

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In the interest of full disclosure, these pics were taken last week, which is why I’m wearing tights and a cardi. (At time of writing I’m clad in a thin, short sleeved cotton maxi with no tights and no cardi). But while we’re on the subject of my tights, I dyed them! Unfortunately I did this by accidentally by putting a mixed, non-colour-fast wash on too high a temperature. While I’m not keen at all on what this did to either of my previously aqua bras, I’m delighted these previously  yellow tights came out lime as you can’t get lime tights in plus sizes for love nor dosh.

So, um, yes. That’s pretty much it this time around. But I’ll be back with a snarky response to a recent Daily Fail article soonly. In the mean time…

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  • 11th July
    2014
  • 11

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One of the reasons I invariably plump for a vintage looking frock is because, like many an impecunious teen before me, I discovered charity shops at a formative age. Around 15 to be exact. By that time I no longer received pocket money, but a modest monthly allowance, out of which I was expected to buy my own tampons and Clearasil as well as other teen essentials like Roxy Music singles and tickets to see Sparks at the Hammersmith Odeon, (Kimono My House era; oh yes). As you might imagine, this didn’t leave a lot over for clothes, but occasionally I’d splash out in Etam or Topshop. Even back then my preference was for dresses, and since style revivals take an estimated fifteen years to come around, and this was in the early 70s, they usually had a post-WW2/Utility flavour – though in truth I only knew this because my faintly bemused dad had told me. Hitherto they’d just looked like cute frocks to me; now, armed with the facts, I made a beeline for War On Want – where I discovered that a pure silk 30s dress with a print to die for could be had for 75p and a 50s royal blue swagger coat with a bow on the back for £1.50. I also started rifling through my grandmothers’ wardrobes. 

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Being of the Make-Do-And-Mend generation and fat to boot my nannas, Sadie and Sally, kept everything including the cocktail gowns they wore to my parents wedding in 1957, which were swiftly assimilated into my sartorial repertoire – I still have both sets of matching elbow-length gloves. However, given that Sally was more of a bottom-heavy hourglass and Sadie was shaped much like me, it was her gear I plundered the most. Two 60s shift dresses – one bottle green lurex, the other lime-gold poly sateen patterned with black leaves – became the winter staples of my art school years, usually accessorised with her lined beaded black cardigan, which I literally wore to death. She had a lot of skirt suits – emerald green knit, blue and white striped seersucker, gunmetal lurex, cotton with a jungle print in fab sludgy colours – all of which I purloined too. Lest you think I completely cleaned her out, I should probably say that by this time she strongly favoured a crimplene trouser with matching waistcoat generally made by her own fair hand. Though, speaking of waistcoats she had a great embroidered crepe one, which started life as a jacket in the 1930s. I inherited that, along with her crocodile handbag, after she died and wore it pirate-style over a cream silk shirt.

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Sadly, next to no documentary evidence of any of this exists, though here’s the younger me rocking a jumble sale find that’s pure Sadie. (There was wine in that cup by the way and it’s entirely possible it was Pink Lady).

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And here we are in the late 60s with her wearing an almost identical dress. I was about 9 or 10, sporting my natural hair colour and a ghastly camel cardi which, as you can see, is almost the same colour as my skin. Or why I wouldn’t wear Burberry if you paid me and haven’t seen my natural colour since I was 14.

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As you can probably tell from the Dame Edna specs Sadie was a big proponent of Ooh Shiny! and Too Much Ain’t Enough, (not least in her approach to home decor, which my appalled mother dubbed Early Jewish Renaissance, typified as it was by Venetian glass chandeliers, red brocade chairs with antimacassars, and crunchy gold nests of occasional tables topped with hand crocheted doilies). One of my favourite childhood pursuits was to go through the contents of the ornamental chrome caddy she kept all her bling in. She would upend it on the kitchen table and tell me stories about all the various bits and pieces while I untangled ropes of beads. I particularly treasure her dress clips, diamanté brooches and hat pins, all of which I still wear, and her gilded mirror enjoys pride of place in my boudoir. 

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(Apologies for grotty quality. This is an ancient shot I took before I discovered you can take indoor pics without flash even with a bog standard camera. Don’t roll your eyes; I’m old).

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While Sadie was more drawn to textures than prints she did like a stylised painterly floral. The only flared skirt I ever remember her wearing featured one though, being narrow of hip, she preferred a straight, non-flouncey silhouette. This one has plenty of flounce by the way, due to some integral tulle action going on in the lining; it swings like a bell when I walk. And it’s made of grosgrain, a lovely vintagey fabric if ever there was one. 

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I stuck it out till the January sales for this puppy, having tried it on in September of last year and losing my heart big time. I very nearly missed out too, visiting numerous branches of Monsoon in the vain hope of finding one in my size … only to spot this one from a moving bus as it sailed past the branch I’d tried first. And it was half price. I tell you it was the feelgood stuff of romcoms. I half expected the other shoppers to burst into spontaneous applause as I clutched it to my bosom. 

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The day I bought this I also purchased a gunmetal lurex skater dress, embellished with smokey rhinestones from Evans, again in the sale. I like to think Sadie would approve.

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  • 6th July
    2014
  • 06

Have you noticed that fashion blogs and ladymags are always banging on about finding one’s signature style? One of my very first posts here was a response to a similar meme that was making the rounds at the time, and recently I found myself thinking about it again. Much as I dislike uniforms, I seem to have developed one of my own over the years – retro-inspired dress, cropped cardi, flats, coloured tights, (depending on season), bright lippy and quirky jewellery. Only in my case it wasn’t so much a matter of finding my signature style but reconnecting, post Dress Drought, with a pre-existing one.

Some articles of clothing or embellishment are intrinsically more me than others though. I imagine that anyone with more than a passing interest in getting dressed has some ideal version of themselves. My bestie, for instance, aspires to timeless, understated French chic, whereas I’m never knowingly underdressed and err towards whimsy.

With regard to the latter it all started with this Fiorucci rain jacket:-

Let me colour it for you, tumblr: a shade of egg yolk so vivid it stopped just short of orange, the little skaters kitted out in scarlet, blue and loden green. It was basically a children’s Christmas tablecloth with sleeves and a hood; utterly ineffectual as rainwear goes, but it spoke to me. “Buttercup,” it said, (I like to think it sounded like Donald Sinden), “even though people will laugh and point, it is your destiny to become The Kind Of Person Who Wears Shit Like This. Don’t fight it for you know I speak the truth”. 

I don’t recall how much it cost but it necessitated saving several weekends’ pay from my student job at HMV on Oxford Street. (Why, yes, I was one of their legendarily surly but knowledgable sales staff. My specialism was Australasian rock). I scored the last one in the shop and am proud to say it’s still in the family. My stylist cousin guards it with her life.

I felt the same way when Les Néréides opened their London flagship store nine years ago and I lost my heart to a crazy lobster bangle. This necklace was the second thing I bought from them. When Dweezil was a kitten he brought me in a leaf with a tiny snail on it as a gift so of course it had to be mine – plus, like the tropical island-themed range that preceded it, it has an authentic vintage vibe. The whole range was inspired by little things that thrive in the forest unseen – fungi, molluscs, nuts, berries and birds. Imagine my delight when a ton of it turned up in the most recent sample sale I attended, again in the bargain corner. I bought a mushroom necklace, these earrings, an acorn ring, two brooches, (one of which is for Karen) and a gorgeous bracelet with blackberries on it. It’s a little autumnal though, so today I wore these Monsoon and thrifted bangles, all of which you’ve seen before.

Here’s a close-up of the earrings. I love that they’re not quite identical. I love even more that whatever metal the posts are made of, they don’t irritate my sensitive earlobes, meaning I can wear them a lot, which I fully intend to because they’re ace.

I don’t remember if I acquired the dress – now five years old – before or after the necklace, but I knew they were destined to be worn together. I usually have problems (proportionally speaking) with the John Rocha line for Debenhams, but this time the fit was pretty much perfect. The sweetheart neckline really shows the necklace off to advantage too.

         

Whenever I wear this particular combo I always feel just right; which is to say like my quintessential and authentic self: The Person Who Wears Shit Like This. Guess that’s my signature style then.

  • 4th July
    2014
  • 04

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Yo, tumblr! I really need to get some speed on, given that I have four other outfits to post and plan to take some more pics tomorrow, (assuming we get some light in the shop. According to the weather forecast, it’s going to be Noah’s Flood: The Sequel on the morrow).

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So, yes, this frock is a prime example of why I loathe shopping online. It’s the Days Gone By dress by Joe Brown’s via Simply Be and, had I bought it online, this outfit simply wouldn’t have happened. For a start it looks like this on the website:-

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Compare and contrast if you will. Washed out and insipid, amirite?

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I am so damned stoked London is finally getting an Oxford Street branch of Simply Be this year as I truly wouldn’t have looked at it on the website. But when I spotted it in person in the Manchester branch the print was so rich and vibrant my heart skipped a beat. But let’s assume for a moment the picture on the website had done better justice to it. Alas, this sartorial tale would still have been a sorry one, because I’d have ordered my usual size. And my usual size didn’t fit. Neither, frankly, did the size 24 I ended up buying in order to accommodate my rack, thus necessitating alterations. The fit still isn’t brilliant, which is why I’m wearing a belt on my actual waist, and while this isn’t the most - ehem - “flattering” look on me, I think the print makes it all worthwhile.

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Last year. the exact same thing happened with a pair of floral jeans - looked like washed out dreck on the website and the sizing was mental. I’m normally a 20 and had to size down to a 16. Had I done it by mail order I’d have had to shell out a fortune up front and/or pay return postage multiple times. I simply won’t do it if there’s a bricks and mortar alternative.

Let’s talk about my adorable sailor brooch instead, I’m getting cranky.

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Peeps, if you’re blessed to have a branch of Les Néréides in your city and whimsical costume jewellery is your jam, get on their emailing list pronto. Their sample sales are amazing. They were selling bangles from this particular collection which cost over sixty smackers each back in the day – at two for a tenner; ditto the brooches were a fiver each. I bought four; the parrot’s head that you’ve seen in previous posts, a baby parrot, a crab, and this little impossibly cute little chap with stars in his eyes. I also bought two bangles and a necklace and have been wearing them all to death. 

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For my fellow Londoners, Les Néréides also have a permanent discount shop in Seven Dials. It’s opposite Tatty Devine and next door to Gudrun Sjoden in Monmouth Street. I tell you it’s a veritable minefield of temptation…

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  • 26th June
    2014
  • 26

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Yes, tumblr, I’m finally back – as in properly. A combo of post-academic year burnout and the yearly arrival from Hong Kong of my oldest friend necessitated a wee blog vay-cay; though I have been stockpiling outfit pics throughout so expect a light flurry over the next few days. Be warned, however, that most of the photos are on the grainy side. The light in the shop has been weird lately and I’ve experienced some probs with camera settings. This shoot is probably the best of the bunch.

And while I’m on the subject of this outfit…

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This is a frock (it may even be a tunic but, being a short arse, it’s a frock on me), that I bought from Evans two or three years ago. I loved the punchy retro Eighties print so much I turned a momentary blind eye to the fact it’s basically a muumuu. After all, I reserve the right to wear any style I fancy, and that includes traditional fat-lady garb should the mood take me. Once I got it home, however, the muumuu mood (muud?) proved elusive; until now. I blame ASOS and the recent advent of the swing dress, which even skinny chicks are wearing. Thus far it’s proving to be very versatile. It’s poly but has short sleeves so it’s been perfect for the eratic summer weather we’re currently trying to second guess in the UK.

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Now, while I’ll admit this combo packs a pleasingly dramatic punch, thanks in part to all the black, I don’t think it’s an especially outrageous costume. However, a passing customer quite took exception to it. I knew she was trouble the moment she shambled in, ignoring the blatant fact I was about to close. (I’d covered several displays in tissue paper, dragged in our trademark pots and the tailor’s dummy that grace the doorway and was meaningfully jangling the keys), and proceeded to manhandle practically every item in the shop, muttering a peevish, piss elegant “Oh dear!” under her breath each time she spurned one. She was in search of a gift for a man which, in the world’s girliest shop, basically narrows it down to mugs, picture frames and notebooks if the gentleman concerned is straight. Nonetheless she pressed on.

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She could have been anything from a badly preserved 60 to 80+ and she wasn’t so much hungry for conversation but in need of a passive ranting board. The grumping was prodigious: the price of fish in Tesco, (not a figure of speech; the actual price of fish in Tesco), the lamentable design of a coat hook, (“Don’t you think this plastic looks horrible with the wrought iron?” I told her it was ceramic and I quite liked it); the purpose of a decorative tin wall thingummy, (“But what do you do with it?!” Anything you like, I told her between clenched teeth), the evil of computers, (“Of course writers don’t use them; they mostly use longhand or typewriters”. I told her I used a Mac. “I mean Proper Writers”, she snapped, “Authors”. I told her my book was currently in its second edition). It was only a matter of time before she had a pop at my outfit.

“You’re decked out very colourfully, I must say,” she asserted, as I stepped out from behind the counter to reveal the full horror of my ensemble. “Very bright,” she added in a tone that made it only too apparent that this was Not A Good Thing.

“I usually am,” I told her, “All about the colour, that’s me”.

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you she was practically apoplectic, “But why?!” she demanded, “I don’t mean to be rude but I don’t understand. Why do you dress like that?!”

(Like this, for pity’s sake)

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“Is it to attract a certain type of person? The right type of person? Why do you dress in that way?”

By this time I wanted to head butt the old cow. Or at least ask her why she preferred to look like she slept in a skip. (She was resplendent in a manky mud-encrusted Barbour that was probably older than she was). Instead I pointedly told her I dress to express my personality, adding that I have a design degree and enjoy colour. Eventually she buggered off, entirely giftless you won’t be surprised to learn.

Since then I’ve been pondering that poem, A Warning, by Jenny Joseph. You know, the one that goes, “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple.” Most folks lose interest after the bit about the red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit her, mistaking it for some kind of you- go-girl! anthem for oldsters. I have to say I did but, reading between the lines, it’s not just about pleasing yourself and not caring what others think, it’s about reverting to the childhood self – which, in this woman’s case, plainly includes speaking uncharitable thoughts out loud with impunity. 

So now you know: civility has an expiration date. A warning indeed.

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  • 9th June
    2014
  • 09
  • 7th June
    2014
  • 07

Praise be, my student grading and associated admin has finally come to an end for another academic year. And it can’t come a moment too soon. I have been super stressed for weeks. I’m still running around like a blue arsed proverbial, (just Leeds and Birmingham to go now, peripatetically speaking unless another art school finds a few quid down the back of the sofa before the degree shows go up), but at least my free time’s my own again now.

So here’s the Taking Shape Everglades frock I was lusting after a while ago. Fortunately for me they reduced it by twenty quid so I ordered it online. Although it’s poly, it’s kind of light and gauzy in texture so one doesn’t overheat in it, though I’ve yet to try it out on a scorcher.

An xojane reader said the style reminded her of origami. TS seem to use it a lot, which I’m delighted about as it makes a change from my customary retro prom-dress; it’s also supremely comfortable and compliments a variety of larger body types without looking like an ankle-length sack. Now I know it works for me, I shall definitely be adding to my collection in the future.

The print is also wildly original. Lynne, aka World’s Loveliest Boss®, and recovering fashion designer, effused wildly about the sheer scale of it. And, the cherry on top of the sartorial sundae – the colours look great with my hair and skin tones. I also can’t remember the last time I wore this bracelet but it matches perfectly.

No, I am not ashamed of using the M-word; Matchy Unto Death yo.

As promised I have documented each of the outfits I’ve worn in the shop this week, (this time without hitting the delete button by mistake), and will be sharing them with you over the next few days. Meanwhile here’s Prince Dweezil, fresh from a recent health scare. Long story short: no, that wasn’t a pre-cancerous lesion on his nose, merely a deeply embedded scab that refused to fall off for weeks. That’s another bullet dodged in a fifteen year career of dicing with death then. (Highlights include falling arse first out of a thirty-five foot tree into my arms, walking into and right to the back of a removal van headed for fuck knows where, and having to be yanked out of my downstairs neighbour’s chimney breast – bellowing and covered in coal dust – by the tail).

  • 1st June
    2014
  • 01

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No, I haven’t finished marking my second (and final) lot of student work yet. I am playing hooky, tumblr. Infuriatingly I photographed each of the three outfits I wore to the World’s Loveliest Giftshop® this week, only to accidentally delete two of the shoots in their entirety. Seriously, one minute they were there and I was just about to open them in preview, then I clicked when I shouldn’t have and there they were; gone. This is the shoot that survived so I thought I’d better post it right quick lest disaster strike yet again. Because I’m having that kind of luck this week.

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Just today, for instance, I was sitting at the bottom of my garden taking a well earned breather and enjoying the sunshine, eyes closed, arms stretched along the back of my wooden bench, communing with what passes for nature in the west London suburbs. At the precise moment this tragedy occurred, Miss Izzy, (who, in case you don’t know, is the clumsiest cat ever to draw breath), was sitting on the back of said bench. Since I was chillin’, I have no clue if there were any outside influences but, all of a sudden, Izzy realised she was in the process of falling off said bench and, scrabbling gracelessly like the ill-co-ordinated doofus she is, decided this could be avoided by sticking all twenty of her boathooks into anything within grabbing distance – one  of which happened to be my hand – and then she fell off anyway. That’s twelve pounds of plummeting cat with one claw still deeply embedded in the middle joint of my index finger; not the fleshy underside but the top, bony part.

I’ll… just leave you to imagine what that felt like. 

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So, you’ve seen this ASOS frock before but not for a couple of years, and I’ve styled it differently this time around. I really like the juxtaposition of the floaty girly chiffon and the rough and ready denim. I think I’m the only gal in the fatosphere who doesn’t have a leather/faux leather jacket but this is my take on that tough-but-tender look.

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One of the problems of working in a lovely shop is the temptation to buy stuff, and I’ve been eyeing up this rather unusual necklace for a while. 

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We have it in three colourways, (the others are corals and shades of aqua, turquoise and lime) and I’ve been umming and aahing for weeks. But having seen how great it looks with this dress, I think I might be finally ready to commit. 

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Fortunately I get a very generous discount though I try not to take it for granted.

  • 23rd May
    2014
  • 23

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Hey, tumblr. You’ve probably noticed my posts have become a little few and far between of late. This is because, professionally speaking, this is my busiest time of year and it just got even busier. And not in a good way given I am a) A world class worry-guts, and b) A world class stress-bunny. I have, for instance, been trying to find time to get this post done for almost a fortnight and I’m only doing it now as a short displacement exercise to avoid tackling the teetering pile of student grading from hell I have to get done - um - today. At least that’s the plan. So, without further ado, here it is.

I’ve never really felt this frock. As you know I have a bit of an issue with navy, even though it suits me. It was also a bit of an impulse buy made with the mindset “it’ll be good for work when I don’t want to wear jeans and it’s too cold to wear a summer dress” – and, while it’s certainly fulfilled those criteria fine well, I remain nonetheless unjazzed. A situation not improved by seeing a septuagenarian rocking it in a decidedly non-Advanced Style manner at the Royal Academy the day after I acquired it. But that’s no matter as this post is primarily about the accessories I’ve used to lift it out of “meh” territory. Particularly these shoes:-

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There are no words to describe how much I love them. Sure they’re not exactly the wacko Fluevogs of my dreams, (they’re made by Ara in point of fact),  but they are orthotic friendly and, unlike my customary Hotter Shakes, they don’t look like toddler or little old lady shoes. In fact I think they’re quite elegant. And I can walk miles in them with no ill effects, which is always a plus. They also immediately put me in mind of this old piece on the now defunct Manolo For The Big Girl blog. Miss Plumcake, amusing as she was, always did have a knack for putting her foot in it and, even back when I didn’t have to wear Old Git shoes, her assertion that “cutesy” footwear like this signified professional loser-dom seriously got up my hooter; and Lord knows there’s plenty of room up there.

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Who decided that ouchy shoes with vertiginous heels mark one out as a potential Captain of Industry? Back in their What Not To Wear days Tyrany and Susannah used to bang on ad nauseam about how one simply must wear a heel in order to be taken seriously as an adult. Bitches, I’ve worn flats all my adult life and successfully ran my own company for some years, (an illustration agency, since you ask). I used to go to meetings at big ad agencies and all sorts; nobody gave a flying one about my footwear and they still don’t. Plus, aside from a little arthritis in one of my hyper mobile middle toes, my feet still look like feet, which is a damned sight more than I can say for The Mater, who used to stand for 10 hours a day in four inch stilettos as a young ‘un. No bunions, hammer toes or fallen arches here, ta very much. Suffer for beauty be buggered.

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So, flats righteously defended, on with the show.

In addition to a crapload of university paperwork and lecturing in far-flung places, (Wales! Up North! The Midlands!) I shall be standing in for the World’s Loveliest Boss® at the shop for several days. And while I fully intend to record my my OOTDs for the duration, I probably won’t be posting them till everything else is done and dusted. But, rest assured, I will be thinking of you, tumblr and I have some fine frocks in store for mid June.

Till then, cherish the expression I reserve for shoe fascists.

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Toodles!

  • 10th May
    2014
  • 10

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I’m baa-aaaack! Nothing personal, I promise. I’ve just been crazy busy again. April/May/June is when I do the lion’s share of my peripatetic lecturing and this year’s been no exception. I’m hoping I might even be off to Oslo again later in the year, which I’m very excited about. Since one of my recent visits was to Manchester, you may be interested to know I managed to fit in a flying visit to Simply Be – as their sizing is so all over the place I won’t buy diddly from them online. Now I’m just hoping the weather will settle down so I can take this pretty thing for a spin. Can I just say how chuffed to bollocks I am that Simply Be are opening a London store at last? Not just because anything that adds to the choice available to fats on the high street is a major win, but because I wouldn’t have looked twice at this dress on the website, much less bought it. The colours look washed out and insipid; in real life, however, the print is amazingly vibrant and rich. The fit was craptacular mind; I’ve had to have it taken in a foot around the middle on account of having to size up in order to accommodate my charlies. But speaking of vibrant prints…

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Can you stand it? (Probably not but I’ll press on).

This frock’s about 5 years old and I had it firmly in the sights of my trusty blunderbuss from its shop floor autumn debut to the Boxing Day half-price sale rail. I even cased the joint on Christmas Eve, when they were putting the sale stock out, to make sure I knew exactly where it was going to be when they admitted the teeming hordes. Apart from prices I don’t do things by halves; especially not prints, and there was only one of these left in my size. Of course, according to the Style Police, the whole kit ‘n’ caboodle is a veritable Triumvirate Of Fail: age, adipose and height. Oh my!

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On the age front I caught a handful of older lady bloggers and anons bitching about one of Helen Mirren’s frocks:-

"Floral prints are hard for most women to wear especially as we age", opined one. Another said "prints are so tricky", and another,"I find myself not loving the retro print dress – at our age it seems non-ironic and just dowdy". (Say what? I’m sorry, that print is neither. In fact I wouldn’t even describe it as retro). The blog hostess predictably concurred, “Not only do prints date, they are also memorable: ‘that’ dress again”, to which I say, who gives a toss? If I like it, I like it – and besides, there’s a dozen or more ways one can restyle a garment. Add a belt, change your shoes or your jacket, pair it with another print (or more), pick out a different colour (or more) to accessorize … or, you know, just wear the exact same outfit again an’ it please you. Another commenter brought the bitchfest closer to home, “I see so many oversized prints in fashion magazines, but I’ve wondered how many people can wear them???” Three question marks yet. Lady, anybody can wear them. Anybody. The only thing you need is a fondness for giant prints and a healthy disregard for other folk’s opinions. And, frankly, if you still give a hoot about that at fifty plus, you might as well hang up your sartorial spurs till you croak.

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Now then, tumblr, I’d like you to pay particularly rapt attention to my embonpoint here because, according to Liz Jones, exquisitely irritating Style Editor of the Daily Fail, (from whence I get all my fashion tips naturellement),I’m committing a flagrant faux pas: “There is something about a hefty necklace made up of giant baubles that screams: Crepey decolletage — look away now!” she proclaims, in a piece pointing out classic style blunders perpetrated by those of us who are cracking on a bit. While I’m the first to own I’ve got a bit of mid-life wattle action going on, there ain’t nothing crepey about my poitrine, ta very much. But the scolding doesn’t end there. Apparently I’m committing multiple sins in this picture alone, each guaranteed to make me look a decade older. Ms Jones continues: ”never apply mascara to your lower lashes (it will invariably smudge, making your eyes look droopy)”. Bitch, you cray. Have you seen my lower lashes? They’re one of my finest facial features. As for the smudge-and-droop nonsense, I prefer the term comehither myself. Potato; pot-aah-to. The onslaught continues, “In this day and age, no one should pluck their own eyebrows”. *snort*

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But there’s more. Much more. And arbitrary doesn’t begin to cover it.

No matter how tempted you are, never, ever wear a brooch.

Fabric faux pas by the middle-aged fall into one of two categories. The first makes you look older because they’re too young for you, like most garments in leopard print and dresses made entirely of lace. Anything more than a smattering of red is also high risk. 

Linen will make you look older because no one under 40 wears it. 

If you are too  co-ordinated, you will only look older than your years. This applies to nail polish, too; never use the same colour on hands and feet. 

For someone who thinks she’s doing older women a bunch of favours she’s as short sighted as hell. For a kick-off she thinks everybody’s as loaded as she appears to be…

Don’t stint on quality. Nothing screams ‘granny’ like a bargain basement handbag.

Invest in a pair of 10 denier shape-up tights by Wolford, £39. 

Why the hell would I drop forty smackers on one pair of 10 denier tights I’d be guaranteed to rip a hole in before I even got them out of the packet? For the same amount of money I could buy fourteen pairs of these (or ten pairs of these)in a vast array of pleasing colours that will a) fit me and b) last until the end of time.

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Then there’s these little nuggets of nastiness:

No woman over 50 should wear a block heel. They just look too orthopaedic in your later years: much better to go for a kitten heel or a low stiletto.

Because mobility problems are so ageing, aren’t they? 

Care for a side order of sizeism with your ageism?

To avoid looking like an oldie, make sure your jeans have the right amount of stretch. They must not sit too high on the waist and should be cigarette-shaped. After all, the boot cut went out with the pterodactyl.

Not in the twilight world of plus-sized fashion it didn’t. As usual, mes amis, I saved the best for last…

Most of all, you should focus on your bottom. A pouch of fabric around the bum will only illustrate how your buttocks have collapsed.

A disaster plainly on a par with the Fall of Rome.

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  • 27th April
    2014
  • 27

This little holographic handbag from Aldo has been calling to my heart for the past week. I can’t help thinking it would look like a sartorial non sequitur with the majority of my clothes, but it’s terribly cute, do admit.

  • 19th April
    2014
  • 19

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I’m afraid it’s green two weeks running, tumblr, and a very similar shade at that. What’s more you’ve seen this frock before

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In case you’re wondering about today’s headline, that’s not me being self-denigrating. It’s what a troll told me I looked like in this outfit over on the xojane outfit-of-the-week thread this morning. He passed similar judgment on quite a few of us, having patently mistaken the thread for a beauty contest, himself for an authority, and the community for giving a flying one about his opinion.

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I don’t know why, but whenever someone finds my taste offensive enough to scold, belittle or take the piss out of me for it, my immediate reaction is to feel supremely proud. I suppose it’s an extension of the fashion rules thing, even if the purpose of shaming me for my sartorial choices was, in this instance, to point out that I was sadly out of the running for his sexual favours. (I was gutted as you might imagine, given how my ideal man is ageist, racist, and deeply misogynistic). I’m positively kvelling naches to have offended his eye and his undercrackers. It’s my dearest wish to annoy the living feck out of people like that repeatedly and by any means possible. But after the initial pride wears off I start to feel angry – mainly because the distance afforded by the Internet precludes me from punching the blighter in the face. Ah well, c’est la vie. On with the show and tell.

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I seem to have acquired quite a bit of parrot-themed bijouterie over the years.The brooch, which I loooove, was part of an amazing Les Néréides private sale haul I scored a couple of weekends ago. They were knocking everything out for a tenner or, in some cases, less. The parrot brooch was part of a range they brought out about  eight or nine years ago when they first opened in London. 

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Everything was tropical island-themed – birds, palm trees, sea creatures, sailors, exotic blooms, ladies wearing Carmen Miranda headgear and so on – and it all looked authentically 40s to boot. I have never loved any of their ranges as much as I did that one, and the last thing I was expecting to see after all these years was a whole ton of it at 90% off. The bangles and brooches were two for a tenner!

I may have gone a little mad. 

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  • 8th April
    2014
  • 08

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So, here’s a dress you first saw me wearing here, styled a little differently this time around. I love this Coldwater Creek cardi and don’t wear it nearly enough. (Most probably because most of my dresses have fitted high waists and look better with my customary cropped cardies, boleros and shrugs). One Christmas, Kate (who is the kindest and most generous person I know), sent me a CC gift token and this was one of my purchases. It’s the best green ever and reminds me of a blouse my grandmother, (yes, that grandmother, God bless her), crocheted me to go under my purple bibbed hotpants in 1971). She made it out of something rejoicing in the name of Twilley’s Lyscordet, which, apparently, you can still buy. Not only was it exactly the same colour, it had identical sleeves and a very similar deal with the frills. Now, if only I could find a way of replicating the best dress she ever bought me – a brown mini shift dress with an orange kipper tie and matching vertical stripes patterned with tiny hamburgers. 

Ah, pattern.

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Since it’s been a while since I took the merciless piss out of those who like to lay down the law about the way us fats should dress, and since this is quite the most raucous print in my wardrobe, I thought I’d turn my attention to print and pattern this week. Imagine my embarrassment and shame unfettered glee upon discovering that, according to pretty much everybody, I’m Doing It All Wrong

"Here’s where it gets dicey, "says Jae from nomoremomjeans.com, in her piece 4 Things That Make You Look Fat.Patterns are awesome. But patterns can also make you look fat. Some serious zero in on your trouble areas, like HERE I AM. I have a shirt that I really love, but the pattern makes me look like I just ate Thanksgiving dinner. Not cool. Try on clothes and make sure the pattern detracts.”

Hey, you know what can also make you look fat, Jae? Being fat. Needless to say, Jae isn’t. A bit like the woman who wrote this load of tommyrot, (wow, I really am channelling my granny today).

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Likewise the scale of my print is a honkin’ great no-no. Here’s 3fatchicks.com to put me right: "Fashion experts used to recommend that plus-size women wear clothes with large patterns to mask their trouble zones and keep the attention on the clothes instead of the body. Times have changed! A plus-size body is not something to cover up or be ashamed of." (It’s not? Why are you running a weight loss support forum then? Sorry, digressing; my bad), "While large elaborate patterns may keep people from looking at your trouble areas, you don’t want them to be thinking instead about how your shirt looks like a tablecloth. Stick to classic, bold patterns.

Or, better still…

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According to some rando on that hardy perennial, Whats the Worst Plus-Size Fashion Mistake One Can Make? on about.com, I definitely shouldn’t be wearing plains though: “Always wear shirts with some kind of print on it. It take away the attention from your stomach and the size of your breast”

Quite what I do about my other breast they don’t say.

Reese Armstrong, eHow contributor, on What Kind of Prints Look Good on a Plus-Size Woman? is a fan of the daintier print: "For plus size women, a small print on a shirt is the best option. A large print will be overwhelming and bring attention to a larger frame, while a small print will look feminine and complimentary"

…and whoever wrote How To Select A Plus-Size Wardrobe on wikihow.com avidly agrees: “I have noticed a frightful trend in some variety store plus-size apparel sections – gowns and other apparel with HUGE all over shapes and designs." The horror. There’s more, "Should you be petite, choose less massive prints to avoid overwhelming your outfit with pattern. If you would like to include more decorative fabrics in your wardrobe, my best advice would be to pick one clothing article per outfit to have a pattern, (like a skirt, top or jacket, not all three).”

But, but…

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There are rules about verbotten shapes in print too. Jess Smith, whomsoever she may be, says, "Avoid clothes with too many prints and patterns. It’s a big no-no to wear large polkadots, (but, but…) overly saturated prints and patterns. This will make you look bigger instead of the other way around.”

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3fatchicks agree, "Round patterns – such as those with balls, flowers, balloons, or any other circular shapes – can accentuate the wrong areas of your body. Straight lines and bold cuts shape your plus-size body a lot better and give you the power to determine how your body looks in any outfit."

Orly? What about if your body happens to be round whatever you dress it in? Paint a small room white and it’s still going to be a small room. It’s just going to be a boring small room.

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As usual I kept the best for last. Yet another rando on about.com, “I cannot stand how some large women will wear those shirts that I like to call token fat shirts, they have prints so chaotic they make you sick…”

That sums this outfit up rather well, I think.

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