Remember when I said I had a stockpile of summer OOTDs? Well, given that the weather is threatening to change any minute, I thought I’d do a giant combo post before we in the UK are back in hats, gloves and knitted long-johns for the duration.
Believe it or not I bought this terracotta broderie Anglaise number back in March. I had some Monsoon vouchers for my birthday, (my friends can read me like a book), which combined with a special everything-in-store-is-20%-off-day, resulted in my scoring it for half-price. Since I’d have had to wait till August for that opportunity otherwise I was well pleased. It fits beautifully and the colour’s great.
Also, it transpired, dead easy to accessorise. The shoes, which you’ve seen before, were from the Liberty collaboration Clarks did a couple of years ago, and my lobster brooch came from eBay. Bear with me while this shrug gets another airing…
… this time with a Gudrun Sjoden frock that just so happened to be 40% off on a day Deanne and I happened to be passing. Since their sales are generally a travesty I’m sure you’ll agree it would have been churlish to leave it there. I only wish it had been available in my size in the emerald green and fuchsia colourway but this one came a close second.
Again, it proved e piece of cake to accessorise…
I love these shoes because, unlike my Hotters, they don’t look especially orthopaedic. They actually pre-date my orthotics period and I often scour eBay for the terracotta version. I’m sure they’ll surface eventually. No idea where these tights came from; I think my mum might have given them to me because it would never even occur to me to purchase olive green hose. Oh, go on, have another one….
My third dress is a bit more of a Marmite affair.
Admit it, it’s not often one sees a floaty chiffon muumuu. It came with a crappy tie belt that’s supposed to go around one’s hips Gatsby stylee – something that suits me fine well as long as I only stand up. I still love it though. With the sheer sleeves and the cut-out neck detail it makes me feel demure and sexy at the same time. (Well, just a tad).
Those nails, eh? All gone now. Sadly I can only avoid busting them for so long. I had fun painting them a variety of antisocial colours while they lasted mind.
Yo tumblr! As from next week I have some part-time gainful employment! It’s miles away and it will cost a lot to get there but I can’t tell you how relieved I am.
This is my Brave Little Toaster face. Hopefully there will be additional part-time work to come. Together, they will make up for all the hours I’ve lost at the uni I’ve been teaching at for the past 8 years. I’m still waiting to hear back on various other projects which, with any luck, I’ll be able to do concurrently. However, I’d best warn you now I’ll be knackered with all the travelling, so it’s likely I won’t be posting as often. Though I’ll still be taking pics in the shop for as long as I’m working here.
(I’ll certainly miss all the handy, beautiful props once it’s sold. My bangles may only be cheapo but they look very lovely on this gilded leaf).
This, incidentally, is the outfit I was wearing when my photograph was filched off flickr and used to illustrate fat-woman-attempting-to-camouflage-her-fat-with-a-fugly-print-instead-of-wearing-something-“flattering” – on a supposedly plus-friendly fashion blog. Bleeding cheek.
Needless to say this only makes me love it all the more.
So here’s another outfit from my summer stockpile as the weather grows ever more autumnal. And you’ve seen it all before though not in this particular combination. I first featured this frock three years ago, though my early photographs scarcely did it justice. I was quite shocked to read how much I paid for it though I suppose, from a cost-per-wear perspective, it wasn’t that bad a deal. And it’s not falling to pieces yet which is always a plus.
I can’t help thinking in the light of my mock-flock frock, (my goodness, I enjoyed writing that), and my Sadie-inspired number, that it could probably do with four inches off the hem and a big tulle petticoat underneath. (Why didn’t I buy one from Taking Shape when they were a paltry £15 back in the post-Christmas sale? Why?!)
For some reason I forgot to credit or photograph my 80s bangle – it was 79p from a charity shop in Southgate many moons ago.
In case you’re wondering how the search for gainful employment is going, the answer is slowly but a couple more possibilities have been brought to my attention. Nothing set in stone yet because everything depends on funding. And in art education my subject is frequently deemed less worthy than other disciplines. So we’ll see. Rest assured you’ll be the first one to know if and when anything good happens.
Hey, remember when I said I had a whole lot of outfits stockpiled to post? Well, I still haven’t posted them all yet and now Autumn appears to have arrived a month early, so i thought I’d better get a move on. I don’t know what it is about this time of year, (my biorhythms probably), but, come September, my life almost always undergoes some kind of drastic change – and this year will be no exception.
For reasons that aren’t mine to disclose, Lynne’s going to be selling the shop and moving to pastures new, so as well as my erstwhile regular teaching contract being a shadow of its former self, my days at the shop will be numbered, hence the aforementioned work related hysteria. But…I’ve made some phone calls and sent out some emails and there are glimmers of hope in the gloom. Plus there are many more phone calls and emails scheduled for after the Bank Holiday, and a workshop proposal to write, so watch this space and keep the positive thoughts a-comin’ if you’ve a mind to.
In the mean time, here’s a tee shirt dress with a Pucciesque print that I hadn’t worn in an age. Irritatingly the moths have had a pop at it in a couple of places, despite my wardrobe reeking of lavender and enough noxious chemicals to fell an Atlas moth a hundred paces. But you can’t see ‘em here so I’m not demoting it to a sleep-tee just yet.
I forgot to mention that I scored the frock on eBay, brand new with tags, for twelve quid some years after if had been and gone in the store. Looking at it now I can’t believe it was too warm to wear matching coral tights and a cardi.
OMG, I may be a pescatarian who ate her last hamburger in 1991, but I would so wear these Honeyee stacking bangles, unashamed fatarse that I am. Well, y’know, if I had a spare ninety quid lying around, which I totally haven’t.
Work wise, things are looking a mite grim, playmates. The contract on which I depend to keep my head above water come the start of the academic year has been rather dramatically slashed. So I may not be around quite so much for the foreseeable, engaged as I am with wailing, garment rending, teeth-gnashing and trying to drum up work elsewhere. I’ve a few fingers in a couple of miniature Mr Kiplings but nothing’s set in stone. (Mix metaphors, why don’t I?). So keep your digits crossed for me, tumblr. I could do with some prayers and a break before September’s out.
Tumblr, I am chuffed to bits with this recent score. To be honest I haven’t gone raving mad in the summer sales. Partially because, like so many of my fellow freelancers, I’m not exactly raking it in at the minute. Plus I just haven’t seen an awful lot I really want. There’s the Monsoon frock I posted a couple of months ago, which is sold out online and hasn’t been reduced in store – and a Scarlet and Jo number from Evans that’s scarcely been reduced at all. And the Taking Shape Dalmation dress, which I did buy because it’s currently £29 and I think it has some serious styling potential. But, other than that, nary so much as a shrug has caught my eye.
I certainly wasn’t expecting something from BHS to give me a sleepless night, never mind fit me. For my non-UK based readers, BHS stands for British Home Stores which my mum always regarded as a poor man’s Marks and Spencer. (Apart from their lighting department which is near legendary). Growing up I wasn’t especially keen on either. In fact the only items of clothing I’ve ever purchased from BHS are a couple of half slips and a training bra, (size 34AA, which will give you some idea of how long ago that was).
While it had dimly registered that they’d produced a range of full skirted prom frocks, I’d only seen a couple of designs and, being primarily a straight-size manufacturer, didn’t expect a BHS size 22 to accommodate my waist or my charlies. And, sure enough, none of the others I tried on (just for shits and giggles and because I’m an eternal optimist when it comes to clothes) came anywhere near to containing my magnitude. This one, however…
Like a glove.
It’s not actually flock by the way. It’s good quality, lined, heavy cotton with an incredibly full and swingy skirt thanks to a lorra lorra tulle. It was also missing it’s naff tie-belt, which meant I got it reduced by a further 10% on top of the sale price. I’d originally planned to wait and see if they reduced it even further but I cracked after a few days. And it was just as well as there were only two of these left and praise be the beltless 22 was one of them.
Rest assured BHS will figure a little more prominently on my sartorial radar from now on. I feel like the bee’s knees in this.
When I was a bud, I used to have a loudly striped shift dress, dubbed The Deckchair Dress by my college mates, one of whom used to borrow it on the regular. For all I know I might even have bequeathed it to her when I attained full bloom as I’m not really built for shifts. Although I now think of this Monsoon number as my “current” deckchair dress, it’s seven or eight years old. And unlike its predecessor it’s actually seen its fair share of sand and shingle.
Here I am six years ago with my dear friend and fellow writer, Miss Jude, facing San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, my camera precariously balanced on a wall crowded with seagulls. Jude was my first enduring internet bestie. We wrote to each other for years on end before we met in person, united, among many other things, by my love for her writing, (she’s a poet), and our mutual interest in the same actor. We had a particular interest in seeing him naked and, no, my lips are sealed.
Another time this dress and I ran away to Bognor for what turned out to be a truly idyllic day. My friends and I travelled via Littlehampton, where we ate delicious fish and chips in Thomas Heatherwick’s extraordinary East Beach Café.
The day before had been highly traumatic. Some roofers had done a royal botch job on the temperamental flat roof over my bathroom, which they’d sworn would put an end to the periodic floods I’d been having since moving in. Regrettably it had quite the opposite effect. During the sustained and torrential rain that preceded my flight to the seaside, the ceiling sprang multiple leaks, causing no end of structural damage. My downstairs neighbour and I just stood there, buckets and washing-up bowls in hand, tearfully observing that it was almost like there wasn’t any kind of roof there at all. Sunshine, Mr Whippy and the Bognor Music Festival restored me to the requisite level of sanity needed to get a new roof sorted the following week.
The sea has restored me to sanity more times than I care to remember; from devastating break-ups to full blown panic attacks, wherever I’ve been in the world. It’s freaked me out on occasion, (just what was that Portuguese Man O’ War doing in the chilly waters of Pembrokeshire?), and gladdened my heart on others – witnessing a huge colony of tiny fiddler crabs coming out for their evening constitutional in Savannah Georgia is one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen. Likewise, catching a spectacular sunset in Blackpool out of season, not a soul on the beach but me.
I’m particularly fond of the English seaside in all its faded grandeur and eternal kiss-me-quick tackiness. So it goes without saying I like a seaside-themed accessory or two. I’ve been cruising the interweb to gather some summery trifles for you, should you be of a similar bent. First up some vintage preciousss from Etsy. (Please forgive the lack of design continuity; I had to do one set on Polyvore and the other on Picmonkey on account of Etsy having no truck with Polyvore).
I’m especially loving the 80s brooch and matching earrings on the left.
The Bucket and Spade brooch (1) is from I Am Acrylic, priced at £15.00. 2, 4 and 8 are all by Tatty Devine: the anchor pendant is £15.00, the (I would-sell-my-soul) giant lobster necklace £150.00 – and the Breton Anchor brooch, designed for the Barbican in conjunction with the Gaultier retrospective, is a slightly less heart attack inducing £35.00. The ice lolly pendant (3) is from Les Néréides’ N2 diffusion line and is £29.00, while the adorbs little beach hut bracelet (5) is made by Karen Trezise, and is available on Folksy for £18.00. Also from Folksy are 6 and 7: hand drawn ice cream brooches are a fiver each from Lil Vintage and the boat brooch is £4.50 from Curly and Nibs.
Yo, tumblr! I’m feeling a mite snarly this evening as I’d just finished the original version of this post when something untoward happened with the ol’ internet connection and I lost the whole enchilada – pics, bon mots and all. So I’ll err on the side of safety and keep it brief this time.
Cute Monsoon frock bagged on eBay for fifteen quid several years after it graced their stores. I’m iffy about contemporary embroidered items as I find they invariably start unravelling the moment you wear them and this one was no exception. But I do love it lots and folk often compliment me on it.
It put me in mind of Wedgewood Jasperware, which given its quintessential Britishness and Victorian popularity, probably explains why I think it has a vaguely Lolita flavour. While I certainly wouldn’t go the whole hog at my time of life, it could definitely stand a crinoline petticoat or two, and I quite enjoyed pairing it with my cat bag. Ditto my new mother of pearl bangle, which I’m quite made up with.
It was a goodly week in the charity shops. This was one of three bangular scores – another, wider mother of pearl job in pinks and greens, (£3.99), and a sage green carved number, (£2.00), that I happen to know retailed at over twenty smackers back in the day because I have one just like it in cream, for which I paid the full whack. I also liberated a very nice enamel 60s flower brooch for my ever-burgeoning collection for a princely £2.99. I flirted with a gold Mulberry bag and a Penny Plain dress with a dodgy neck but accessories reigned supreme.
And that’s pretty much it today. I’m afraid I’m too knackered by this infernal humidity to apply my brain to anything more demanding than an OOTD this evening.
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 numerousscathing and satisfyingtake-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.
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.
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 scholarlystudies 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.
Like the majority of fatbashingjournos 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.
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.
…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.
Yo, tumblr! Just a quickie this time as I’m in the middle of writing a lengthy and more political post.
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.
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…
Good grief I’ve got a lot of sun damageage spots freckles.
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…
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
(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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:-
Compare and contrast if you will. Washed out and insipid, amirite?
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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)
“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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fortunately I get a very generous discount though I try not to take it for granted.
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:-
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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*
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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…
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).”
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.”
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.
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…”
As you can see I’ve had a re-style and my roots done, which got me musing about my crowning glory, or rather the lack of it. As a child my mum, who is a hairdresser, (and therefore my hairdresser), would never let me grow it long. Like, not even a little bit. “I’m not having you screaming blue murder every time I have to brush the tangles out of it!” she snarled, every time I was rash enough to mention it. “I have enough of other people’s kids doing that. Besides, it wouldn’t suit you; you’re not a ribbons and frills type of kid.” Nor was I ever permitted to be when she was in charge of the purse strings. As a bud I was mostly dressed in jeans and dungarees, dark, sludgy colours and “smart tailored clothing” (three words that still strike fear into my very marrow). Even my party dresses were austere affairs. Black, charcoal, midnight blue, relieved if I was lucky by a white lace placket or Peter Pan collar. Thank God for my paternal grandmother who not only made me clothes I wanted to wear, (like the pink satin and tulle ballet tutu of my dreams), but as I got older, also bought me clothes from places my mother didn’t approve of – the cheap but fashion-forward C&A instead of the despised and sensible M&S. Later there were bags of childhood hand-me-downs from her friend Vi’s teenage daughter, which also allowed me to exercise my own taste, but my hair, being my mother’s department, remained resolutely short with a fringe.
People often mistook me for a boy as a young ‘un, which really did a number on my self esteem, and I’m pretty sure my mother’s frequent, strong, and arbitrary opinions on what people should and should not wear, while haunting me to this day, are directly responsible for my avowed resistance to fashion rules. Thinking about it now I even wonder if my boyish do was why no one ever asked me to be a bridesmaid, even though I longed to be one and we were forever attending weddings. (Needless to say, the main reason why I wanted to be a bridesmaid was so’s I could wear a long frock, surely the pinnacle of girlieness. At 9 years old I was beside myself with jealousy when a school friend said her mother was going to buy her a load of midi-dresses, something my mother predictably pronounced “ridiculous” on a child). To add insult to injury, once I grew old enough to rebel, boys had started to grow their hair too so I still got mistaken for a boy, even in a cloche hat and loon pants. (Let’s just not go there, okay?)
Much as it pains me to admit it, the Mater was right about one thing – long hair doesn’t particularly suit me and I rarely wore it past my shoulders. For one thing it needed frequent washing and also took forever to dry. Plus, unlike my mum, I haven’t a bone of hairstyling talent in my body, and pigtails, ponies and topknots could all be relied upon to give me a headache and a sore scalp after a couple of hours. Eventually I settled on a flapper bob, which was my signature look for decades.
The being-mistaken-for-a-bloke thing though continued to dog me for some years. At 18, a yob in the street, pointed at me and laughed to his mate, “Look, it’s Peter Sellers in drag!” Since my dad was a little Sellers-esque, this hit me quite hard. Two or three years later, in full slap and one of my grandmother’s finest lamé cocktail frocks, I was asked by a drunk at a New Year’s Eve shindig if I was a “female impersonator” and, when I rebuffed his advances, told I was “a very bad one”.
I blush to say it took the (fleeting) love of a (not terribly) good (for me) man in my late 20s to finally convince me of my own femininity. I’ve never had long hair since. Curiously no one’s ever taken me for a bloke or a drag act since either; which is something of a relief. I still like a tutu mind.
So, last weekend saw me checking out the TS store in Kingston Upon Thames again, this time with my friend Sara in tow prior to a chazza shop marathon. Like me, Sara is none to keen on following the herd – in fact we both take some albeit twisted comfort in the fact that being plus-sized in the UK pretty much guarantees you won’t be dressed like the vast majority of the populace. Granted, it’s because the fashion industry treats us like the perennially poor, halitosis-stricken relation but every cloud, tumblr.
So, any road up, TS – aka Taking Shape, the Australian company that arrived on our shores shortly before Christmas, is apparently not taking off to the degree they’d hoped. And I can sort of see why. Unlike the likes of ASOS Curve, Pink Clove, New Look, H&M and co, they’re not aimed at a youth demographic and most of our higher profile fatshion bloggers are under thirty. (Though, having said that, I did run into Sally from The Human Mannequin in the changing area and rumour had it that Georgina Horne had also visited earlier in the week). TS are also a little pricier, though no pricier than many mainstream high street brands. What really distinguishes them from most other UK plus-size brands though are their shapes and glorious prints.
While I have to say that some of the shapes do mystify me a little and a lot of the garments seem to be cut for women a great deal taller than moi, on the frock front at least it’s not an endless procession of smocks, skater dresses, swing dresses, bodycon and minge-grazer hems – and, more importantly, their prints are da bomb. Unlike your average Brit, the land of Jenny Kee and Ken Done fears no colours and TS is no exception. I put it down to the quantity of the sunshine and the quality of the light and the fact we don’t enjoy either for ten months of the year on our shores. But, whatever it is, TS are definitely on my wavelength.
I’d seen this emerald green and black beauty on the website and really liked the shape. Believe it or not this is an XS, (which I believe is a size 14/16) and, although I would have liked to have been able to size up one, it’s got so much stretch it doesn’t really constitute a problem.
The fabric, while poly, is delicate and extremely light and a slightly looser fit would even be cool in high summer. Sara pointed out that for all my loathing of manmade fabrics they do tend to soak up colours and lend a clarity to digital prints like nothing else, (apart from maybe that eye-wateringly expensive silk. You know the kind).
And it has sleeves. You know how I feel about those. Which means that I don’t have to wear a shrug once it heats up unless I want to. What’s more there are a couple of otherfrocks I’ve got my eye on. The Everglade Dress looks amazing on and does great things for my colouring but they’ll all have to wait for the sales…unless a rather interesting sounding job opportunity that recently came my way turns out to be a goer. Keep your fingers crossed for me, eh?
So yesterday was my birthday and I look a lot less wobbly than I feel. I just turned the age my dad was when I lost him to oesophageal cancer, which is a sobering thought. Yesterday also marks a year since my last period, (TMI? Please, it happens to everyone. This is what the menopause looks like yo). To add insult to injury, a long friendship officially bit the dust at the beginning of the week, (remember that falling out I wrote about last summer? Yeah, that one), and I’m heading for a world of serious uncertainty and upheaval work wise. Things could be better. But, for this Vernal Equinox baby, a birthday marks a new beginning far more than New Year’s Day. Winter’s officially over and soon we’ll be turning the clocks forward. Plus it’s been a good day in the shop today, my mum gave me the complete boxed set of Black Books and Karen’s on her way for a post-birthday weekend of thrifting, film watching and a meet-up at the V&A with Deanne on Sunday arvo. Onward and upward, eh?
Here’s what I’m wearing today.
You saw this dress in a different colourway here. Though, truth be told I slightly prefer this more unusual, muted version. Plus I’m quite into coral and peachy tones at the moment. Annoyingly I couldn’t find my coral lippy. (First World problems).
For some reason my earrings look really orange in these pics but I promise they’re more or less a lighter version of the bangle on the right. They were also £14.00, which I thought was pretty good. They make them in emerald green and royal blue too.
You must be getting pretty sick of these shoes by now. I know I am but the weather’s still too changeable to bring out my navy and brown suede Mary-Janes, which would be my preference if it didn’t keep threatening to rain again.
Much as I really like them I can’t quite decide if these earrings are just a tad too huge…
Considering I’ve had the week from hell work-wise with next to no time for myself, I don’t quite know how I managed to make two outfit posts in the space of one weekend – but hey, they say if you want something done, ask a busy person. So, any road up, there’s a bit of a cat-centric theme this time around, not least since my two were hell bent on photo-bombing the proceedings.
In and out, up and down, on and off like a couple of furry hyperactive pinballs. I don’t know what got into them.
Of course the moment I shut the door after her, she was scratching to come straight back in again.
Anyway, the outfit…
Apart from my re-mixed shoes and my vintage Scandi pendant, the whole lot was thrifted. The ASOS Curve dress is actually a size 26 but I really love the way it fits. It reminds me a lot of the loose, low-waisted dresses I wore in the 80s. The longer length gives it a vaguely 30s feel, especially with the addition of the cardi. I’ve never thought to pair the two together before. I feel like I should be swanning about on a golf course in Le Touquet with a Pimms and a cad in plus fours.
I’m especially pleased with this white bangle which is the most recent addition to my ever expanding collection. I suspect it found its way into the Northampton branch of Mind because it weighs a ton but I love the asymmetrical shape of it and, for a quid, I certainly wasn’t going to leave it there.
I haven’t worn these catfish earrings for a while. They’re a little bit dainty for me but they’re also light and one of my piercings is unaccountably sore at the minute so I’m erring on the side of less-ouchy.
Still on the theme du jour I thought you might like to take a gander at my new bag too…
I was alerted to this by my facebook friend Lena in Norway. She offered to bid for it for me as the seller didn’t ship to the UK so although the bag itself only cost eight quid, by the time I’d paid the postage from China to Norway and Norway to here, it ended up being a hell of a lot more. But I think you’ll agree it needed to be mine and I don’t splash out on bags very often.
So, tumblr, I cracked and bought the Monsoon frock I featured in my last outfit post because it was giving me sleepless nights. And, as I’m sure you’ll agree, a frock that causes one to toss and turn is clamouring to be bought. Even if one is vastly overdrawn. In fact, especially if one is vastly overdrawn. Funny how that works.
I am insanely in love with this print, which puts me in mind of Russian lacquerware with its intricate patterns and dramatic, jewel-like punch. I am incidentally of Russian extraction myself on three sides. Regrettably of the peasant not the Imperial variety, hence my build, soulful eyes and hereditary diabetes. Well, can’t win ‘em all.
(Image cheekily stolen off eBay. Please don’t sue me, eBay seller!)
(Ditto. Actually I tell a lie; I nicked this one off Pinterest. They nicked it off eBay. Whatever. I’m sure you’re getting my drift).
I sized down to a 20 with this one as the 22 really hung off me. So, larger fats, if you fancy it, I reckon a 24 – or even a pear-shaped 26 – could well be in luck. It’s an A-line shift, like a less exaggerated version of the AOS Curve swing dress and is made of medium-weight viscose jersey.
Hah! Not Russian Red! (It would have clashed).
When I was little, my paternal grandmother used to have some Russian lacquerware and I was fascinated by it. I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately, and how much she has influenced my taste, particularly the elements of my taste which some folks might find a little questionable. I have a post about her in the pipeline.
i fully embrace the concept of the fuck-off brooch. i just bought a gigantic rhinestoned dragonfly that im going to use for this purpose. rock on. -lovehateyourskin
I once saw a gob-smackingly chic fat woman waiting for a vaporetto in Venice. I was in my late 20s and still taking baby steps to learn to love my body, and I guess she was late 40s/early 50s. She was wearing a long black coat and a matching turban and apart from her immaculately made-up face, her only adornment was a mahoosive jewel encrusted brooch. Pre-internet, one could go a decade without seeing a positive representation of a plus-sized woman and she instantly became a role model for life. The moment I unwrapped Kate’s gift, I thought of her.
So today’s post is primarily about my side-plate-sized brooch, which was a Christmas prezzie from my lovely friend Kate, who can read me like a book. Kate and I met online on a “fat ambivalent” forum eight years ago, where we were regularly baited by trolls who were anything but ambivalent about the ol’ adipose. In addition to forging a lasting offline friendship you won’t be surprised to learn we gave twice as good as we got. Neener neener, trolls!
Here we are in New York on the roof of the Met Museum, the weekend we posed for Substantia Jones’s Adipositivity project, visited Lee Lee’s Valise in Brooklyn, discovered an amazing Italian restaurant, and bought half of Macey’s.
Best. Holiday. Ever. But I digress.
Kate didn’t know the brooch was going to be quite as huge as it is, (it was an eBay score from China), but if there’s one thing a woman with ample frontage can rock it’s a piece of fuck-off statement jewellery.
…which is kind of what this outfit needs, as I feel it could be a tad frumpy otherwise. This thrifted Chesca number is the only blazer I own. Mainly because I hate blazers with a fiery passion. Not only do they remind me of my school uniform, which I looked like crap in, they also evoke corporate drag, which I despise and praise God I’ve never had to wear. But this one fitted so well and looks great with anything polka-dotted, and it was only a tenner so I cracked. Don’t go thinking it’s the thin end of the wedge though.
My dress is an oldie from Elvi, (worn here over an M&S cami because it’s suddenly freezing again), and my Biba scarf was drastically reduced in House of Fraser a couple of years ago. I adore the print and lusted after it for months. It does however have a design fault, (which I suspect is why it ended up being reduced by so much). The beaded fringe weighs a ton, which means I risk choking to death every time I wear it. I’m quite tempted to remove the fringing altogether because I think I’d get more wear out of it, but it’s so pretty I can’t bring myself to bite the bullet.
The cut of this dress is fab. It’s very elegant and comes in dead handy for formal occasions. I do wish they’d made it in another colour though. Purple or turquoise would be good. Or even emerald green.
My minimalist readers will be no doubt horrified to learn that I’m seriously considering this vintage brooch we currently have in the shop.
Yes, they are almost interchangeable. But I kind of want to wear the two together.
Despite the nip in the air, the sky’s been (mostly) blue today, and I can almost – but not quite – sense spring. I’m sure it’ll be a few more weeks but, frankly, I’m stoked it’s not getting dark at 3.30 any more. It’s going to be a while before I can cast off the ubiquitous woolly though – so, here’s another second-hand fave, courtesy of my mum.
She found this Italian knitted coat in a car boot sale about twenty years ago. I’m not quite sure how I ended up with it and the buttons could do with replacing, but it’s dead cosy and I love it. It’s also got a rather stylish half-belt and a long vent at the back but I forgot to take a picture of those.
In the spirit of re-mixing, you’ve seen my dress, boots and all the jewellery before.
My boots were the only part of the outfit that cost me proper money. The rest of it cost under thirty quid all told.
And, yes, my tights aren’t quite the right shade of blue. I couldn’t be arsed to keep rummaging.
The frock is also a little too big but I loved the print so much I didn’t care. I think it works well enough as a loose-ish shift. Speaking of which, I tried this on yesterday…
I was surprisingly taken with it. In fact I’m rather hoping Monsoon will send me a discount voucher for my birthday again.
And, alas, it’s not the Cut for Evans range. Which is to say I don’t like it on me. I adore the print on Alice Farrow’s blue abstract print trousers but the fit didn’t work on me at all. If this skirt had been available in that colourway I’d have been all over it but the pink just didn’t do it for me. As for the scuba cut-out frock, at my time of life one does not want to be wearing neoprene bodycon anything. Just looking at the fecker gave me a hot flush. This worked pretty well as a dress on me and I love the balloon inspired print on the back…but, cute as it was, it just wasn’t fifty quids’ worth of cute and I didn’t really dig the background colour against my skin.
What I did like, unreservedly, unequivocally, and a whole lot, was this Scarlet and Jo number.
This made me look – and feel – like da goddamned bomb. Seriously those colours just glow like exquisite retro embers against the black. Too bad it’s almost identical to this one and equally dressy. I have no shortage of posh frocks and not enough posh occasions on which to wear them but oh, be still my beating heart!
You are a genius and you should publish a book. Plus READING your posts is so much fun! I genuinely laughed and felt better about life. Found you through a post recommending your blog at LiveJournal's fatshionista community. Spent hours absorbing and then showing your stuff off to others who very much agreed. As an artist, your use of texture and color was blowing my normally monochrome mind. Anyway, greetings from California!
Thanks so much! I would truly love to write a book, but sizeism and stigma is so bad in the UK I doubt I could persuade a publisher to back the project. I keep trying to think of an angle but always fall at the first hurdle.
Re the colour thing I come from a graphic design background originally. And weirdly my design aesthetic is quite pared down with lots of white space! (What can I say? I was taught by folk who attended the Bauhaus). Where clothes and interiors are concerned however I’ve come to realise I was highly influenced by my paternal grandmother, Sadie, who also had a tendency to wear All The Things Simultaneously. My love of shiny and loud prints definitely owes a lot to her – plus I worked my way through all her 50s and 60s clothes in the 80s and love anything that evokes those eras. In the january sales I bought a gunmetal lurex dress from Evans and a Monsoon grossgrain frock with a pouffy tulle petticoat and a huge 60s-style floral print. My mother laughed because I was so obviously channelling my gran.
Keeping it short and sweet this time around. I had my bestie staying for the weekend and we had rather a busy time of it. Attended the Armistead Maupin Guardian interview in Notting Hill on Saturday night, (he’s my fave author), and a friend’s memorial service today. So pretty much ran the gamut of human emotion, and now looking forward to a good night’s sleep.
So, here, at long last, are pics of me rocking my vintage coat/cardi in the shop last week. And very warm it is too. Last time I wore it I paired it with a red dress but I think I prefer it with the black.
I was chuffed to find this skirt in the TS sale - a mere £15.00 and I love it. You can’t really see it properly here but it’s got this weird blistered texture. If you squint you can just see it in the picture on the right below. Please excuse my resting bitch-face, (aka my “cheer up love, it might never happen” face).
Lippy was Mac’s Ruby Woo.
This probably my favourite brooch. It’s made of perspex and sweetie wrappers.
Another shop day, another outfit, heavy on the re-mixing. The only things you haven’t seen me wearing before are my new devoré jeans jacket, scored for six quid in a charity shop, and my fabulous, fine wool scarf, which came from the shop and was a Christmas prezzie from World’s Loveliest Boss®. We have several variations on the theme, some silk, some wool, but all with amazing digital floral prints…
…lush or what? And, in all their sumptuous too-muchery, also a good springboard for a companion rant to my previous one. Yep, I’m still pondering minimalism and bridling over the sanctimony it seems to breed in some of its stauncher advocates. While I’ve never been a fan of the aesthetic, I was hitherto oblivious to this until an (otherwise quite pleasant) lady of my acquaintance clued me in by example.
She’d popped into the shop one day last summer, as she happened to be passing and spied me behind the counter. After a brief chinwag, during which time she revealed that she’d hitherto never set foot inside the place, I said, “Well, now you know where to come next time you need to buy someone a tasteful present.”
"Oh, I don’t do gifts," she said loftily.
"What, never?" I asked, "Not even for your other half’s birthday?"
She let out a derisive snort. They were patently above and beyond such mawkish folderol.
I persevered, “But what about your mum and dad?” (who, incidentally, live miles away and are getting on a bit), “You see them at Christmas, don’t you?”
"I might occasionally buy them a nice bottle of wine, but I don’t buy them stuff. They’ve got enough stuff,” she pronounced, her voice dripping with disapproval, “They don’t need any more…stuff.”
Now, she’s not a minimalist in the classic sense. In fact, her gaff permanently looks like a bomb went off in it, with work-related books and papers everywhere. But the house is utterly devoid of soul. With the exception of a small painting that hangs over one of the fireplaces (a wedding present from the artist), there’s no colour or discernible personality anywhere. Just acres of white woodchip, spartan furniture that looks like it was handed down by someone who hated it, and those shite Habitat paper lampshades you always get in student accommodation. She gets her jollies from being out in nature, which is fair enough if you’re that way inclined, but why not bring some of it inside your house since that’s where you spend the majority of your time? Paint a wall green or a ceiling blue for pity’s sake. Frame some of your travel photographs. Stick some twigs in a vase, some driftwood on a shelf, a handful of pebbles scored on a memorable hike in a bowl. Show the place some love and enhance the quality of your day-to-day existence instead of sneering at lesser mortals’ fondness for “stuff”.
Yeah, I have issues. Quite a few as it goes.
In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m not the hiking type. My indifference to the countryside is as legendary among my family and friends as my loathing of aimlessly traipsing through vast swathes of it. A proud Londoner born and bred, I’m firmly with Samuel Johnson. And on the rare occasions I’m tempted to escape my problems and/or fabulous city, you’ll find me by the sea every time. But I don’t think my preference for art galleries, cinema or combing car boot sales for bargains makes me a more highly evolved life form than someone who climbs rock faces of a weekend. And I resent the inference that my wish to surround myself with things that gladden my eye somehow renders me emotionally stunted or blind to the true meaning of life.
Lest you think me paranoid, it’s everywhere. From Time posing the question, Do You Love Your Stuff Too Much? Maybe It’s Because No One Loves You, to Be More With Less, the site that spawned Project 333, suggesting:-
Give away 50% of your stuff and discover mental clarity to choose how you really want to live your life.
Give away 50% of your stuff so you discover that you are not your stuff.
Give away 50% of your stuff because it will never love you back.
Oh please. I know exactly how I’d like to live my life. Sadly I also have the mental clarity to recognise that reducing the number of ornaments in my display cabinet or digitising my entire CD collection is not going to facilitate it. Nothing, short of winning the next Euromillions rollover, is. In the mean time I choose to live my could-be-better-could-be-a-whole-lot-worse life with my fabulous collection of 1930s china all present and correct thanks. Though I’ll admit if I was the kind of person who was plagued with the urge to dust every five minutes it might be a different story.
Secondly, I kind of am my stuff, or maybe it’s the other way around, especially when it comes to my clothes. In a climate where fat women are expected to embody certain negative characteristics, having the freedom to present myself in ways that confound those is a privilege I haven’t always enjoyed; likewise the ability to dress in ways that certain social or professional obligations may require. I fail to see how recreating a situation that made me miserable for years would improve my life one jot. Ditto this sterling piece of advice, gleaned from Becoming Minimalist:
Wear fewer colours. Most of us already have a few favorite colors that we wear most often anyway – usually because we like the way we look in them. Choosing to intentionally wear fewer colors means less accessories (shoes, belts, jewelry, handbags, etc.). It also makes too much sense not to try.
Yeah, come back to me when you’ve had hell’s own job finding clothes that weren’t black, navy, charcoal, claret or chocolate brown for over a decade - then see how much sense it makes.
Anathema as this may be to the minimalist, I also find expressing myself through my clothing and my environment creatively fulfilling. I’m passionately interested in how other creative people dress and display their belongings too. Even beyond clothes my stuff is still me. The objects I choose to collect are an expression of my taste and my taste is as much a facet of my personality as my sense of humour or ability to string a sentence together. And, while my stuff obviously doesn’t love me, much of it is a warm and constant reminder of my loved ones – which, together with my cats, is what makes my house a home.
Oh, tumblr, I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post! I have been wearing clothes, obviously. The trouble is it’s been so relentlessly rainy and overcast it’s been almost impossible to take decent photographs of them either inside my flat, (which gets tons of light during the summer months but very little during the winter), or outside. Plus I’ve also been having a stressful time at work like you wouldn’t believe. (I won’t dwell; I don’t think my blood pressure could stand it). So a couple of days in the shop, during which the sun showed its face long enough to take some reasonably okay pictures, came as a pleasant, de-stressifying respite.
So, Thursday’s outfit saw a mixture of new and old. Re-mixing my beloved Steve Maddens and my trusty Vicki Vi tube skirt, (which you first saw here), with a couple of newer additions to my knitwear drawer. You’ll see some more familiar items in my next outfit post too. Obviously, in my day-to-day life I re-boot old faves constantly because I’m too old, too arsey, and not high profile enough to be a sponsored blogger and certainly can’t afford to be buying new outfits every five minutes, though I don’t always reflect this on the blog. And I totally should, if only to defend my avowed anti-minimalism stance.
Much as I loathe it, (and because it is so very alien to me), I find minimalism endlessly fascinating. So needless to say I found this a highly entertaining hate read. The interweb abounds with bloggers, (mostly women, mostly eco-types, mostly thin-to-average-sized) extolling the virtues of Project 333 with missionary zeal.
Don’t get me wrong. I can absolutely see the wisdom of culling your belongings if you are traveling, downsizing or making room for an additional person or two in a place where space is at a premium. Likewise I can see the sense in going cold turkey with spending if you desperately need to save, are *running on empty, or repeatedly compelled to buy stuff you inevitably regret. And believe it or not I am utterly brilliant at planning capsule wardrobes for the purposes of travelling light. But, picking thirty-three items to wear for 3 months, just for shits and giggles? Get outta town.
There are a number of reasons Project 333 makes my teeth grind. Firstly, on a practical level, accessories count, and sod that for a game of soldiers. I’d need at least thirty-three additional accessories to make the whole veil of tears even remotely palatable. Secondly, if you only have thirty-three items, they have to be mix’n’matchable, which explains why most of the capsule wardrobes I’ve seen are largely made up of coma-inducing neutrals and feature next to no prints. There’s also the (highly variable and unpredictable) UK climate to take into consideration. A couple of sweaters is not going to cut it in the transition from autumn to winter on my side of the pond.
There’s also the whole eco-guilt trip aspect that comes with this sort of territory. When scrutinising the numerous endorsements I came across in my albeit casual research, there was no end of smugness:-
“I have less laundry, which is easier for me, and better for mother earth”
(Really? because I find that having a plethora of clothing means I can go weeks without having to do a batch of laundry).
"I have better educated myself about the horrors garment industry workers face, and my responsibility to the planet."
(Remember when I said these women were mostly slim-to-average sized? While it’s a highly laudable attitude to have, that stuff goes right out the window when you have a paucity of retailers that cater to your size. Add to that the link between obesity and poverty, and that’s some pretty repellant middle-class privilege speaking. And don’t get me started on the time-honoured mantra, “if you haven’t worn it for six months, give it away”. That’d be thin privilege talking).
"It’s sort of pathetic how much of my morning agonising over my outfit for the day caused".
(Really? I have to say I agonise about what I’m going to wear two or three times a year, tops. The rest of the time I either think about it when I’m in the shower or I just open the wardrobe door and busk it ).
But there was something else that was sticking in my craw and it wasn’t till I came across the following two comments that the penny finally dropped:-
"I no longer think of Project 333 as a clothing diet or even as a “project.” It has become a lifestyle for me".
"Window shopping is like sniffing a donut and thinking you’re not going to want to eat it. If you don’t seek out the donut then it’s less tempting".
Ohhh, so it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. Yeah, count me out.
*(Unfortunately for me I’m not very good at acting on that one but it totally makes sense).
I love the conceit of this Tatty Devine printed brooch. However, since my friend Kate just sent me a fiiiiine sparkly green brooch of Epic Proportions for Christmas, I’ve no pressing need for such a bauble. I was quite taken with the earrings mind until I realised they were comedically huge. Contrary to popular belief I do sometimes think you can have too much of a good thing. Great idea though.
At present I’m sale-stalking a Monsoon frock I saw back in September and want with an all-abiding passion, (it’s been reduced but not by enough for my liking. I’m banking on a further reduction because it’s made of cotton grosgrain, isn’t black or sparkly, and looks like a bridesmaid’s dress), but if I was hankering after bijouterie I have to say Tatty Devine’s definitely doing it for me. Cheap they ain’t, even in the sale, and they’re definitely not paying me to big ‘em up, (if only!), but such fun and definitely in keeping with my current 80s revival kick. How cute would this little Modernist robot brooch look on the lapel of the Striped Colour-Blocked Coat of Awesome?
The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year be bollocksed, tumblr! This Christmas has been an epic disappointment and I don’t enjoy it at the best of times. Right now I should be in Hampshire seeing in 2014 with my besties but, instead, I’ve succumbed to a throat virus which, even as I write, is descending into my chest and giving me Fenella Fielding Voice. This would be miserable enough had last week not been spent running back and forth to my mum’s with Lemsip, throat sweets and nourishing soups owing to her being felled by a horrendous cold and fever. Obviously I offered to cook the Christmas dinner, (we take it turns), but alas she was too poorly to taste it, let alone eat it so, by mutual agreement, we spent the day in solitary splendour – me with Dr Who and Downton and her binge-watching two seasons of Rome in bed. What’s more we even managed to buy each other the same Christmas gift, (the final season of Dexter), which briefly gave us something to laugh about. There was more but, frankly, it’s too depressing a catalogue of disasters to impart. Suffice it to say Dexter just about sums up my mood.
So here’s an outfit from the week before everything went pear shaped…
I wore this to meet Deanne for a gander at the Club To Catwalk exhibition at the V&A which, despite being born a decade apart, was a brilliant trip down memory lane for the pair of us. All the usual suspects were there: Body Map, English Eccentrics, Westwood, Melissa Caplan, Scott Crolla and Georgina Godley, Sue Clowes, Pam Hogg… though, sadly, nothing I wore back in the day. (I so wish we’d had digital cameras back then. Regrettably there are few pics documenting my finer alternative 80s fashion moments).
Do you remember when I was lusting after this dress? Well, this one was part of the same collection but I never tried it on because I thought the shape wouldn’t suit me. Well, blow me down if it didn’t fetch up two years later in T.K.Mxx for £14.99 and, as you can see, it suits me pretty well.
Granted, the lurex-shot tweed is pretty easy to snag, especially if you’re liable to get sat on by one of these…
… but I do have an über-fine crochet hook to rescue pulled threads.
I was dead chuffed with this little rainbow-hued perspex bangle I found on a recent thrifting excursion.
Oh, tumblr, I have missed you soooo much! Although I’ve had some fun times recently, for the most part I’ve just been totally snowed under and super stressed out with work. Hopefully I will have fulfilled most of my most pressing obligations by the middle of next week and will have a little more time to play with clothes and organise some of the thinkier thoughts I’ve been having lately about body image and such like. Because even when I’m stuck on a train to Colchester at some hideously early hour, my mind is still constantly whirring. I’ll be in the shop for a bit after Christmas, so there’ll be some OOTDs to come but, for today, I thought I’d share a couple of my recent charity shop scores.
First up, a frock…
I originally thought this Roland Klein number, (which is proving well nigh impossible to take a decent photograph of), was gin-u-wine 80s, as did the friend I was with when I found it. Turns out to be a recent Simply Be reject – not that I’m complaining; it’s garnered a lot of compliments. I am on a bit of an 80s colour block kick though. Viz to wit this gobsmacking coat/cardi combo…
You’ll either be feeling this or running screaming as far away from your computer screen as possible. It certainly had that effect on Karen. It actually reminds me of a Bus Stop sweater I had in the late 70s, though that had an appliqué of a lady’s hand in a striped fingerless glove holding a smouldering cigarette in a long holder. Contain your horror. Seriously though, I’m going to have so much fun building an outfit round this baby! Let’s hope Margie’s still reading. And warm? Pure wool and thick as a blanket. No label on it anywhere. It reminds me a bit of Paco knitwear but I don’t remember them doing anything this long. I’ve scoured eBay in vain to try to track down something similar but it’s no go thus far.
But back to my faux 80s dress. Here’s how I styled it today to go and see The Book Of Mormon with my ma and some family friends…
Apparently, to quote a not unpopular series of books/TV show, Winter Is Coming: the UK is going to be deluged with persistent snow and icy winds the like of which haven’t been seen for 60 years. Yet, despite the pressing need to stay toasty, my hair continues to get progressively shorter and more pixie-like.
What can I say? I’m a rebel and well served for hats. I have invested in a chunky sweater though, as very few of my frocks are warm enough to last a day in the shop without multiple additional layers.
Being a child of the 70s, I never thought I’d plump for a brown one but I found myself strangely drawn to this autumnal combo of shades.
I regret that I can’t remember the name of the person I bought this adorbs brooch from at the Renegade Craftfair a couple of weekends ago. She had some ace stuff and this little fox only cost me four quid. My friend, Sara, (aka Little Miss Plump), and I did find ourselves wondering why the alternative craft scene is entirely dominated by small woodland animals of late, not that we had a problem with it.
Get used to not seeing my waist or legs for a while, tumblr. Winter dictates it’s all about the accessories.
…and darker lippy of course.
I’m heading orf to the countryside this evening for my friend Karen’s 50th. I expect there’ll be a fair bit of eating, drinking, making merry and trawling charity shops as per usual. Which reminds me, I can’t wait to share my latest chazza find: a fab crepe 80s-tastic geometric frock, that’s begging to be accessorised with the biggest pair of earrings I can find…
Why is is when one is at one’s most impecunious that one sees the most droolworthy clothing, like this geometric A-line Gudrun Sjoden tunic from their new Northern Lights range? The berry-coloured one on the right has my heart in a vise. How perfect would it look with the Orange Coat of Awesome and my Boysenberry Shakes and a Lea Stein cat brooch placed just so.? I’m also loving the grey polkadot tights teamed with the monochrome one. It comes in navy as well but meh.
Freelance employment Gods, I beseech thee to smile upon your humble servant, Buttercup, at the earliest possible opportunity!
I’m seriously coveting this oversized River Island biker coat, which is sufficiently oversized for the 18 to (more-or-less) accommodate my size 22 self. It’s more of an autumn than a winter weight but the colour is so fab I’m not sure I care.
Very, very overdue post, tumblr, for which I apologise. I have been run ragged work wise. I’ve literally been traveling all over the British Isles over the last couple of weeks, (Swansea! Dublin! Stoke!) and am now totally knackered. In fact half an hour after taking these pics I started to feel rather run-down and flu-ish, which takes some doing since I had a flu-shot some weeks ago – but I digress.
Lovingly reconstructed for your viewing pleasure, this is what I wore to Plus London two weekends back. Funky duds in plus sizes being somewhat thin on the ground, I half expected to see several of my fellow fats rocking this Scarlet and Jo number. Indeed I’m pretty surprised not to have seen a single fatshion blogger modelling it to date. But it seems I am alone, though heaven knows why. Unlike most of the Scarlet and Jo stuff, this frock isn’t polyester! Aside from the sheer bit at the top, (which is of course nylon or some such), it’s made of a lovely thick glazed cotton and it has a most satisfying rustle when you walk.
I got some very positive feedback on these tights, which I’m chuffed to bits with. They’re a DKNY Tall and they fit me pretty well. According to their original label they were $25 for two pairs in the US. I’m delighted to say they cost me £2.99. I bought one pair, as is my wont, tried them on then rushed back to buy another two before somebody else snapped them up. They’re a tad more neon than they look in the photographs but still a lot nearer the mark than the Halloween costume glow-in-the-dark comedy tights I ordered off eBay, thinking they were a regular lime green.
I’ve had hell’s own job photographing these hexagonal perspex ‘n’ bling earrings, I don’t mind telling you. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Debenhams Blue Cross markdowns totally rule. These are from their Mood range, and cost me around four quid. I’d originally planned to wear an armload of perspex bangles to match but the print is so bold, it looked a bit much so I stuck to my mirrored one in shades of grey, black and silver instead. On the day, my nails matched my tights but alas I’ve bust three since then. Now they’re all different lengths and I don’t really want to draw attention to them.
OMG tumblr! This is my first review, which is to say a review of something I didn’t buy. But, lest you think I’ve taken the King’s Shilling and joined the ranks of the heavily sponsored to fake-swoon over a dull procession of mediocre clothing, this is more of a bail-out than a sell-out situation. And, furthermore, what follows is my actual honest-to-gosh opinion. So now the disclaimer’s over and done with, how did this even come about, I hear you ask?
Long story short: fellow UK fatshion blogger, Claire, from Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Wearemailed me shortly before Plus London to ask me if I fancied reviewing this here posh frock from Eplissé, which she’d been sent by Australian chain Taking Shape, as she felt it would be a better fit on me. So I thought I’d give it a go…
It’s called the Highland Rose dress and is way prettier than it looks on the website. It’s silk and the print is as amazing as is its placement is unusual. However it’s also an AU 22 which makes it a UK 24 and, much as I loves me some oversized action, I think I probably needed a smaller size. It’s an interesting shape though, (if a bugger to iron), and while it is beltable, (as kindly suggested by Bethany), it’s hard to know exactly where to belt it owing to the unusual way it’s cut.
Also, these days I tend to prefer garments that are slightly more fitted, or at least show off my legs, but I do love its opulence and it was great fun to accessorise.
All this aside however, can I just draw your attention to this?!! Yep, Taking Shape are opening no less than thirty bricks and mortar stores in the UK as I write! Finally, after the predictable demise of the godawful Ann Harvey and the removal of the high street from Elvi, Evans is going to have a proper competitor for my fat favours and there’s even a branch I can get to by bus. Furthermore I was already familiar with the brand and have often wished the TS range was available over here.
While the output is a bit too polyester-heavy for my taste, (but hey, whose isn’t these days?) I really like a lot of their prints and they don’t shy away from colour, even in the winter, which mades a bloody change. From what I can see they’re also catering to a slightly more mature market (which means they make dresses with sleeves thank God) and not trying to spread themselves too thinly.
I have to say I’m particularly taken with these three items:-
So while Highland Rose proved to be a bit of a curate’s egg, I’m very glad I took the gig and can’t wait to check out the clothes in person.