WHAT IT’S LIKE SHOPPING AS A PLUS SIZE WOMAN

If you’ve had a look at my ‘About‘ page, you’d have seen that I normally wear something between a size 18 to a size 22, depending on style, fit, and what store I’m shopping in. You might also have noticed that most of my clothes come from online retailers. Here’s why…

Clothing Racks
The size options available at LOTS of retailers – apparently everyone is a size 8, 10, 12, 14 right?

As far as plus size women go, I’m actually lucky, as I’m what a lot of our community would call an ‘inbetweenie’ (check out this fantastic post by iCurvy where Jo talks about what that term means to her). For me, it means that I can shop in a lot of standard size stores, or at least the ones that go to a 16/18/20 (such as Katies, Crossroads, and Trenery – and weirdly, Gorman Size 14). However I also fall very firmly into the plus size category insofar as I feel MUCH more comfortable shopping in plus size stores, especially for trousers or fitted items.

I want to talk about clothes shopping as a plus size woman for a few reasons. One, I’m a clothes shopping fanatic, and am obsessed with buying new clothes and styling interesting outfits. But beyond just my own selfish enjoyment of buying clothes – I’m part of an beautiful online community of Australian plus-size women called ‘Curvy AU’ (find us on Facebook!) and the most common posts on there is ‘Where can I buy X in a plus size?’ or ‘Has anyone purchased X  from Y store, do they go up to my size?’. It’s conceptually something I’ve found that people just don’t understand if they’ve never been plus size. And I don’t just mean, “I’m bigger than all my other friends at a size 12 while they’re a size 8”. I mean, “Buying the plain undies in Kmart because the cute ones stop at a size 16 but at least I can buy undies here unlike at Bras & Things or Victoria’s Secret”.

Let me explain.


The other day, I really wanted to buy an fitted, but comfortably roomy, white button down shirt to wear to work. I’ve put on a bit of weight and had packed my work outfit without checking that everything still fitted, and lo and behold, when I got changed after the gym my shirt was gaping at the boobs and tight around my stomach. It wasn’t hugely noticeable to anyone who wasn’t me, but I still was feeling pretty uncomfortable so figured I would take an early lunch break and pop out to the city to grab something to wear for the rest of the day. And here’s the issue – in Hobart where I live, there are almost no plus sized stores in the city centre. Most of them are out in a shopping centre called Eastlands, a 10 minute drive from the city. So I try Target, normally a pretty safe bet since they go up to a size 20 and also have an ok plus sized range (if you only want basics); no luck there, the white button down shirts they had weren’t fitting me properly, so there was no point in substituting one poorly fitting shirt for another. I then went to Myer, again, a safe bet for work wear; again, they only had ‘fancy’ white shirts (what is the point of this? I don’t want diamantes on my shirt), nothing that met my ‘plain, white button down’ criteria. Shirts are a tricky beast for lots of women, but I find that being plus size, most of them pull very tight across my stomach and hips, and rarely fit across the shoulders and bust.

And that was it. There wasn’t anywhere else I could go that would have a shirt that would fit me that was also in my price range. (In the interest of transparency, there are two other plus sized shops in Hobart CBD, however they both cater to an older demographic, and have nothing that costs less than $100)

I don’t know how to explain that sensation to someone who hasn’t experienced it firsthand. This wasn’t a matter of me being picky – there was literally no where else I could get to in the Hobart CBD that STOCKED MY SIZE IN A PLAIN WHITE SHIRT.


I (and many other women who wear a size 18 and above) can’t just waltz into any old shop and expect to find things that fit me. I can’t just grab a cheap blazer or pair of jeans in a fashion emergency. I can’t shop for formal wear in the shops that cater to on-trend items or currently popular styles. When helping a friend look for a dress for an event she had to go to, I picked something out for her to try on and when I passed it to her, she said “Oh, I thought you picked that up for you to try on?”. What she didn’t realise was that nothing in the shop we were in would have come close to fitting me. This is the reality of shopping in a world that is socialised to hate fat people – things aren’t made to fit you.

You need to go to a special store, with a limited selection of items, and hope there’s something there that you like. You also need to hope that when you go into a ‘standard size’ shop that the sales assistant isn’t going to look you up and down with that pitying “oh you are SO not going to fit into anything here”. Or wondering if you’re going to rip the seam on pants as you try them on or get stuck with a zipper on a dress. Or worse, having the assistant actually saying to you (and this has happened to every plus size woman I know, including me), “I don’t think you’ll fit into anything here, sorry!”. (Notice how it’s me not fitting into the clothes, rather than the clothes not fitting me? That’s because, if you haven’t figured it out already, society is socialised to demonise fat people. But that’s a topic for another post altogether). Common variations on this theme include “I’m not sure we have anything in that size” and “this is one-size-fits-all so it might work”. Or if they’re really trying to up sell you into buying something, they steer you towards stretchy/loose knitwear, accessories or shoes.

Is it getting better? Yes, I’d argue so. Shops like Crossroads, Katies, Kmart and Big W have extended sizing in lots or all of their items. Online stores like Showpo have started extending their range up to size 20, and using both a ‘standard’ and ‘plus’ model to advertise their clothes.

But to be honest with you? There are few things that make you feel worse, as a plus size, fashion-conscious woman, than to be desperately trying to do up the zip on an item that you know isn’t going to fit you and to hear the sales assistant ask if they can “help you with sizes”. No, you can’t help me with sizes, because everything I brought into the change room with me is in the largest size you stock.  

Here’s what I want to say to all the brands that stop their sizing at a size 14 or 16. You are not doing this whole ‘catering to the market’ thing very well. If you aren’t interested in being a brand with a social conscience, at least be good at your core business of growth and profits and capitalism. Because there are a lot of women out there who make a good or great income, and they want to spend money in your stores – but they can’t. So get your act together and start making things in sizes that everyone can fit into. 

Lots of Love,

Katie xx

WEEKLY ROUND-UP #2

I’m a little late on the round-up post this week, but I feel like Tuesday is still pretty good (once you hit Wednesday do you just give up on the week before)? I missed a few days of outfits this week, plus Monday was a public holiday so I was in pyjamas and painting clothes all week! To account for the missing outfits, I’ve included a few other highlights from my week!

Tues-Wed

Tuesday:
Target – Blazer – Size 18 (unavailable)
Big W – Dress – Size XL (unavailable)
Betts – Autumn Boots (Grey) – Size 9 – $79.99 (unavailable)

Wednesday:
Atmos&Here Curvy (The Iconic) – Ada Wrap Dress – Size 20 –  $79.95
Target – Suede Mules – Size 8 (unavailable)

Thur-Sat

Thursday:
Adrift – Aarna Dress (Salt’n’Pepper) – Size 3XL/4XL – $25 (on sale)
Dr Marten – 1461Z (3 Eye) – $200

Saturday:
Gorman – Curious Ladies Dress – Size 14 – $229
Wittner – Sandals – Size 39 (unavailable)

Desk Project
(L) The desk as a work in progress, with the handles removed. (R) The finished product!

So I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my spare room since I moved into my house, and it has honestly just been a ‘box I can’t be bothered unpacking’ room. However, I recently decided I wanted to do more sewing, so decided to make at least part of the room into a little sewing corner, where I could store my fabric and patterns, and have my machine permanently set up. I didn’t want to buy a cheap and flimsy desk, but I also don’t have the dollars to splash on a super fancy one either – the solution, of course, was scouring the local tip shops to see what gems I could find! What I ended up finding wasn’t very pretty to begin with (and I WISH I had taken a ‘before’ photo) but after a few coats of white paint, it came up an absolute charm for only $25!

Food
(L) French Toast with Pears and Berries at The Picnic Basket. (R) Homemade pizza with 2-ingredient dough. 

Two little food favourite of last week – brunch and pizza! On Saturday I caught up with some old school friends and hit up Taroona haunt The Picnic Basket for a delicious French toast and berries. I’m thinking of doing a ‘Best Brunch in Hobart’ post, so comment below if that’s something you’d be interested in reading. The pizza is featured because I have been OBSESSED recently with this 2-ingredient bread dough that has been going around the internet and sounds too good to be true. To make a pizza-amount of dough (I usually split this in half and eat the other part for lunch the next day), you will need: 1 cup of greek yoghurt and 1.5 cups of self raising flour. THAT’S IT! Just combine and add flour as required while you knead into a dough consistency. Then just spread and cook for about 5 minutes or until brown, and use as you would any other kind of pizza base! I like to mix smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and mixed herbs into the dough to add a more savoury flavour, but you definitely don’t need to do that. It’s so delicious, and super quick and easy!

 

So that’s it for last week! Hope you’re having a great week, I’ll see you next time.

Lots of Love

Katie xx

HOW TO: MONOCHROME OUTFIT TREND

So often when I’m trying to put together a quick outfit for work as I rush out the door, rather than going for contrasting or complementary colours (the classic for many office workers is black pants/skirt and some kind of top – nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s not very me!) I tend to reach for monochrome outfits. For me, keeping everything in the same tonal family is a super easy way to quickly put together an outfit that looks very curated and thoughtful. Since this isn’t something everyone feels comfortable with, I thought I would put together a few tips that I use to make sure the matchy-matchy looks cool not kitsch! I’ve used examples pulled from my instagram, so if you’re interested in more looks like this, go check it out.

For those who don’t know, a monochrome outfit is when you stick to one colour or colour variants within the same tone. And it doesn’t just have to be black and white!

TEXTURE

This is a really nice way to break up a monochrome outfit – introduce texture! This could mean mixing fabrics, a fun earring or necklace, or a fuzzy jumper. I don’t do this one as often as some of the other tips I’m going to talk about, but I’ve included some ways I’ve worn textured monochrome below. On the left, I’ve kept the grey very tonally similar, but gone for this pleated skirt dress and patent grey boots to keep things interesting. On the right (also an example I will be using for my ‘pop of colour’ tip below) I’ve got for a LOT of pink, but added pom pom earrings, a fuzzy cardigan, and shiny-toed shoes in a rose gold. Both very different looks, but still using monochrome as the basis of putting the outfit together.

Texture - Monochrome

PRINTS

This is easily my favourite way to rock the monochrome vibe, as you can tell from how many examples I was able to find from my instagram archive! Sometimes trying to match prints can feel overwhelming and end up looking kitsch or not very together. However, I find that matching prints to otherwise cohesive tones or colour palettes allows the print to do all the talking, but keeps the whole look quite purposeful – these are often my ‘most complimented’ outfits!

If you’ve a sharp eye for detail, you will also notice that this is how I wear a lot of my Gorman prints – 4/6 outfits below have Gorman items in them! But you can see how keeping one piece bold and the others in the same tonal range makes everything look really thoughtfully put together. I particularly like the plaid grey pants in the bottom left and the subtle red print on the top right!

Print - monochromePrint - Monochrome - 2

POP OF COLOUR

This probably isn’t how a purist would recommend you tackle a monochrome outfit, but I find that just breaking up similar tones with a pop of something else can really ‘make’ the look. These are three examples where I’ve stuck to a relatively monotone colour palette, but just added something else to the outfit to ‘oomph’ it up – a maroon/purple skirt for the pink outfit, the grey skirt to the white outfit, and the black pinafore in the pink outfit.

Pop - monochrome

JUST GO FOR WHATEVER MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD

This isn’t so much a tip as it is an encouragement to just wear what makes you feel good! For me, I adore pink and often just want to wear as much of it as I can at one time. So the monochrome look works well for that, as long as I match my pink tones and keep things in the same colour family (ie warm pinks/blue-tone pinks). Find what works for you and wear the heck out of it!!

Just Do It - Monochrome

 

Which look is your favourite? Have you tried the monochrome trend? Let me know in the comments!

Lots of Love

Katie xx

WEEKLY ROUND-UP #1

Welcome to my weekly round-up! Rather than blogging about my individual outfits each day (which normally I post to instagram anyway), I’ve decided I’m going to do a regular Sunday evening round up of my whole weeks outfits. I’ll include links where items are still available, as well as sizes, brands, and prices.

In future weeks, I may expand this to a kind of weekly favourites, covering food, beauty, books or whatever else I’ve been loving that week. I apologise that not all of the below photos are the best quality (I’m looking at you, bathroom outfit selfie…) but I just wanted to make sure I had a photo of each outfit from the week.

mon-tues

Monday:
City Chic – Wild Animal Top – $20 (on sale, no longer on website) – Size M
Atmos&Here Curvy (The Iconic) – Lydia Belted Pants – $69.95 – Size 22
Henk Berg – Catie Bag – $198 – Natural Brown
Wittner – Black Leather Shoes – size 39 (unavailable)

Tuesday:
Gorman – Sugarbush Flannel Dress – Dana Kinter x Gorman AW17 Collaboration – $299 (unavailable) – Size 14
Kmart – Brown Sandals – Size 8 (unavailable)

wed-thur-fri

Wednesday:
Kmart – Striped Shirt – Size 22
Love Your Wardrobe (The Iconic) – Cropped Soft Cargo Pants – $59.95 (on sale) – Size 18
Betts – Leather Boots – Size 9 (unavailable)

Thursday:
Gorman – Stripe Top – Mireia Ruiz x Gorman SS18 Collaboration – $149 (unavailable) – Size 14
Atmos&Here Curvy (The Iconic) – Marie Wrap Pencil Skirt – $59.95 – Size 20
Luca & Marc (Harris Scarfe) – Pineapple Cardigan – Size XL (unavailable)
Betts – Black Velvet Mary Jane Heels – Size 9 (unavailable)

Friday:
Trenery – Blue Dress
Henk Berg – Catie Bag – $198 – Natural Brown

sat-sun

Saturday:
Kmart – Long Sleeve Shirt – $19 – Size 26
City Chic – Denim Bib Dress – $99.95 – Size L
Rivers – Sandals – Size 39 (unavailable)

Sunday:
ASOS – Playsuit – Size 20 (unavailable)
Saltwater Sandals – Classic SWS Silver – Size 6 (Australian Size 9) – $89.95

 

There you have it! Tomorrow is a public holiday in Australia, so my work week doesn’t start until Tuesday. Enjoy your long weekend, if you have it off, or if you’re working I hope the public holiday pay is excellent!

Lots of Love

Katie xx

ONE OUTFIT, THREE LOOKS

One thing I really love about clothes and styling is how an outfit can change with a simple tuck or different accessory. To me, the best pieces in my wardrobe are the most versatile – the ones that go with these pants, and that skirt, and can be tucked in or worn loose, to the office or to a smart-casual event. This capacity to be versatile is what I look for when I’m buying more expensive items, such as this Gorman x Mireia Ruiz top (past season, not available online), which I often wear to more formal events with the matching pleated skirt.

However, on this occasion wearing it with a black pencil skirt and black heels to work, I was struck by the fact that I could really change up the ‘tone’ of the outfit with a few simple changes. So I wanted to show three different ways I would wear this outfit at work, only accessorising with things I had in the office or my handbag. Obviously, these aren’t three starkly different outfits, but I think it shows how you can go from kooky and informal, to colourful and corporate with a few minor adjustments.

Head on over to my ‘About’ page to learn more about my work dress code and fit measurements. Item details and links are at the bottom of the post.

OUTFIT #1

This is how I planned on wearing this outfit when I packed it this morning – the matchy-matchy pink socks and ruffled top countering the stark blackness of the pencil skirt (one of my favourite flattering work staples, with a wrap piece to cover visible tummy lines). I felt work appropriate, but still relatively casual, and the bright stripes and peplum/ruffle made it an interesting outfit for work.

 

OUTFIT #2

It’s still a soft and not-too-corporate look, but just tucking the ruffle into the skirt and adding a simple cream cardigan has upped the formality of this outfit. Taking the ruffle out of the equation, and just tweaking the black-to-colour ratio of the outfit gives it a very different vibe. I also find that tucking in tops always takes your look up a notch, though of course not all skirts and pants look good over the stomach when you’re a plus sized gal. That’s what I love about this skirt, as it’s tight, but the wrap front just gives you that bit of confidence when sitting or going for the tucked-in look.

 

OUTFIT #3

To me, this is how to do colour in a more formal office. I was pinched for time getting this photos, but you could also take off the pink socks and add stockings, and you’ve really taken the outfit from casual to corporate. Again, it’s about tweaking your black-to-colour ratio a little further to the black side, and eliminating distractions from the sleek lines of the top to the skirt. You could also chuck on a black blazer, and really make this look appropriate for any corporate workplace. I love these sunglasses too, they’re so classic that they really tie this outfit together.

 

DETAILS

I went with a strong and structured hammered gold earring from Lovisa, a rosy/bronze eye make-up look, and my classic Bailey Nelson (prescription) sunglasses to finish off this look.

So there you have it! My take on transitioning an outfit from smart-casual to corporate, just by tucking in, adding a cardigan, or streamlining the look.

Lots of Love

Katie xx

Featured items:

  • Gorman – Stripe Top – Mireia Ruiz x Gorman SS18 Collaboration – $149 – Size 14 (unavailable)
  • Atmost&Here Curvy (The Iconic) – Marie Wrap Pencil Skirt – $59.95 – Size 20
  • Luca & Marc (Harris Scarfe) – Pineapple Cardigan – Size XL (unavailable)
  • Betts – Black Velvet Mary Jane Heels – Size 9 (unavailable)
  • Bailey Nelson – Emery Sunglasses – $145
  • Lovisa Jewellery – Earrings