I’m excited to share with you the final post in my series on larger lady fashion. While the first to posts were quite practical, this one provides you with some excellent points to ponder as well as some handy tips. Her writing is in response to the New York Times Article Plus-Sized Fashion Moves Beyond the Muumuu. Enjoy and feel free to share your own thoughts!
While reading this article, several things stood out for me, like the usual “ooh, a designer used a plus-size/curvy model!” who turns out to be size 10! But the part I’m still processing is the suggestion that larger women subscribe to clothing rental services (WHAT??) because high-end designers believe that “When you’re taught to look at your body as a work in progress, you’re not going to spend $1,000 on a coat to last forever because you’re not hoping for it to last forever.” We’ve been talking about this for a year! This is precisely what self-acceptance is not. The very thought of women renting clothes, as though their bodies are some sort of extended-stay hotels they don’t really live in but are just passing through! I may need to write a letter to the editor about this….
One really good point the article makes is that “there’s no Vogue for the plus-sized.” This is what troubles me the most about plus-size fashion. There was a gorgeous, short-lived magazine years ago called Mode. Most of the clothes were very expensive (e.g., Marina Rinaldi, Anna Scholz) but beautiful and edgy. And the models were stunning and photographed like high-fashion models, not cheesy catalog posing. It was a revelation, that there could be such a beautiful, high-quality, high-end magazine for plus-size women. Everything about it was fine: the photography, the copy, the paper, the ads. My heart broke when through several editors and then finally went out of print.
Which brings me, I guess, to why it’s been so hard to think of plus-size blogs to recommend. Most of them don’t inspire me; my style is changing, but it is nothing like what most of the bloggers like, especially the younger ones. A lot of it looks cheap and disposable. The best two I’ve found are Stephanie Zwicky’s Blog and And I Get Dressed, but what I really love are the French “street style” blogs and posts I find on google or Pinterest. I’ve always gone for “investment” clothes–buying a few well-made, classic versatile pieces I can mix or match and wear for years (as in decades, sometimes, like my winter coat and a few sweaters). My best style revelation happened in the mid-1990s when I lived in London and needed an outfit to wear as my friend’s “best ma’am.” I went to Liberty and met an amazing sales assistant named Nora (or Norma). We hit it off because she had family in NY and she was of West Indian descent. She introduced me to designers like Issey Miyake and Shirin Guild, whose clothes were sculptural and inventive–they suited me perfectly and made me feel beautiful and chic. Liberty’s women’s department isn’t large but it’s amazingly curated–clothes as works of art, dressing as adornment and self-expression, not trendy and also not particularly youthful (I was always the youngest and poorest woman there). I couldn’t and wouldn’t wear most of the clothes, but I learned a lot just spending time looking around and studying the clothes and how they were put together on the manequins–and also studying the other shoppers’ style and confidence.
The Nordstrom website has a huge, excellent plus-size section with very good sales (over the holidays I cleaned up on some Eileen Fisher sweaters). Ebay is also really good. I can’t afford paying retail for Issey Miyake, but a lot of his stuff is available practically new from Japanese sellers. His Pleats Please line is amazing–stretchy, comfortable, and colorful (though there are plenty of neutrals, too).
One issue that I’ve been thinking about over the past week or so is internalized self-hatred–and whether that’s part of my not liking most of the plus-size blogs. I’ll look at them and think, oh god, do I look like THAT? And I hate that in me…. Much to discuss, I guess….
I hope this series has each of you thinking about your own relationship to your bodies- how you treat them, how you invest in them, and how they do or do not reflect your own feelings of worthiness. I hope this evolves into a meaningful thought experiment for each of you. Clothing and fashion is incredibly personal. For some it matters very little. And for others, it is a representation of how you feel about yourself. At the end of the day, each of you are deserving of self-love. And how you choose to make the manifest in your life is a journey I how you will embark on thoughtfully.