Through the rabbit hole
On Sunday I met the most amazing Mary of So Outrageous who had come to York for the weekend. Well, we met on Saturday as well, for drinks but it was on Sunday that we took these photos. May I just say how refreshing it was to meet a lovely, intelligent, awesome woman I could really talk to, after the string of underwhelming guys I have been meeting here since I came back! I had really really missed female company. We talked about a lot of stuff and we bitched about a lot of stuff. It was brilliant.
One of the things she got me to think about was our aesthetic. We share a very similar aesthetic, as you can see. It’s super femme, lolita-inspired in many ways and girly to the point of being childlike at places. In fact, it is very childlike. I haven’t seen anyone apart from her and Georgina who has adopted this aesthetic. One of my main gripes with plus size fashion is the emphasis on sexiness. I can sort of understand why this happens - after all most fat women go through a lifetime of being told that they can’t be sexy. But is this the only option? I see so many fat fashion bloggers who have adopted the ‘sexy’ aesthetic - lots of bling, high heels, bodycon, short hemlines and low necklines. Very trend oriented too. I will probably make a ton of enemies by saying this but I feel that it all gets a bit same-y after a point. Apart from the two people I have already mentioned, I find it hard to draw inspiration from my fellow fat bloggers because my style is just so different from theirs. In this, I find a lot of straight size bloggers to be far more inspiring, and it’s always such a bummer when I find them wearing clothes I want to wear but can’t because they just don’t come in my size. I would always prioritize ‘cute’ over ‘sexy’. I wonder why this is. In my case, part of it might come from how I engage with my sexuality.
I think I can pinpoint the time my style changed from ‘sexy’ to ‘cute’. It was with this outfit for my former blog (man I used to look so different then!). Delving into very personal matters, I was obsessed with S&M at the time, especially the Daddy/little girl dynamic. I liked how that made me feel. And I wanted to feel like that in every sphere of my life. And so I dressed in ways that made me feel little, without going into full blown loli territory. With time, the S&M part of it changed, but the way of dressing remained there. I found that the way I wanted to dress started getting more and more influenced by the books I had read as a child.
I grew up reading books written for little English boys and girls from a time when the world order was still very much colonial. That majorly influenced who I became and it wasn’t until I went to university and studied postcolonialism that I had the tools to analyse and unpack what was going on. In many ways I am the typical postcolonial subject. Lots of anxiety, and a lot of trauma, dosed liberally with a big helping of guilt. It’s the reason I study it as an academic now, because I engage with it on a very personal level.
That aside, though, I grew up wanting to dress like the pictures I saw in those books. I even did an inspiration post last year when I found an old copy of Ballet Shoes while doing a module on Children’s Literature. However as a child, due to some very personal stuff, I was kept dressed as a boy. A late 80s/early 90s boy. But the way I really wanted to dress was like a little girl from the 40s. Lots of cute dresses, peter pan collars sticking out of jumpers, sailor dresses, plimsolls and t-strap flats. It was a desire that remained unfulfilled for a long time. But sometime in 2010, I realised that I had the means to fulfil that desire. And so slowly I began to gravitate towards that. I spent my childhood drawing pictures of blond haired, blue eyed children in the clothes I wanted to wear. Now that in itself is worthy of some major analysis, but now I could be the black haired, black eyed, much older girl in those very same clothes.
Now, I realise the dangers of favouring an aesthetic that has youth at its core. It makes ageing a scary process and gives rise to a lot of ageism. I have been consciously trying to avoid that. I was really really tempted to Photoshop out the laugh lines around my mouth and nose and my dark eyebags that show up in poor light in this post. In fact I edited this batch of photos four times before I finally decided to be honest. I hate it, I hate how I am showing my age. I hate how my makeup process needs to be more elaborate with every passing day to pass me off as youthful. There’s that pitfall of trying to cling on to that youthfulness with everything you have and dreading ageing. I’m trying to strike a balance though. I’m trying to be honest with myself while being true to my aesthetic. It’s a difficult line to tread. I wonder how I will feel 10, even 5 years down the line. Will I have to remake myself dramatically? Or will I become even more of a curiosity?
So there you go. That’s why my aesthetic is ‘cute’ rather than ‘sexy’. It’s the reason I am so into vintage. I know it is true that if you are beyond a certain size, vintage clothing is really hard to get hold of and this is something that stops a lot of fat women from wearing vintage. I myself have to do a lot of hunting through Etsy and eBay to find pieces I want to wear, and I am kind of on the smaller side of fat. Even then it usually is an agonizing process. Plus size stores don’t make this easy either. So much of what they have to offer is ‘sexy’ instead of ‘cute’. Straight size fashion does not have to rely on ‘sexy’, so why should fat fashion? If there are straight size brands like Dahlia and Dear Creatures and TBA, where are their plus size counterparts? Answer : there are none. Fat women are given one and only one script to follow. I believe that even if any fatty wants to explore ‘cute’ instead of ‘sexy’, the fashion world makes it very very hard. I have found that there are very few options from exclusively plus size stores that I would personally wear. The Clements Ribeiro collection from Evans is one of them, even though it is wholly out of my budget.
Another plus size store that has been doing some interesting things is Simply Be. I was contacted by them recently, and they asked me if I wanted to do a review. I thought about it and went to the site, expecting to find nothing. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. They had a few things I was very much interested in, including this bird print blouse and this sequin t shirt. Infact I am still dreaming of the sequin t shirt. But what really caught my eye was this bobble heart jumper I had seen on Bethany earlier. Bobbles in the shape of hearts in peach! So cute! I decided that it was totally my style.
It arrived a couple of days later, packed beautifully with a white ribbon tie. I loved it at first sight. What made me really sad though was that it was too big for me. I got the 16/18 as I wear a 18 but I was just swimming in it. I am just not used to wearing oversized things, but if that’s how you like your jumpers, get the size you normally wear! Otherwise size down. I wanted to send it back and get the 12/14 but it was sold out. More sadface. My original intent was to wear it with my sequin knickershorts but it enveloped the shorts completely. In the end I paired it up with this skirt which has pink roses on it to go with the colour of the jumper. Despite the sizing issues though, I really really love this jumper, and I am not being paid to say that. I would pay for it gladly if I hadn’t got it for free. Simply Be - I am really impressed!
Jumper: c/o Simply Be// Skirt: ASOS (similar)// Tights: Levante, c/o Tightsplease// Coat: New Look (somewhat similar but more awesome) // Bag: Cambridge Satchel// Hat: 50s vintage hat from Dalena Vintage// Shoes: M&S via eBay
Mary and me. Aren’t we just so adorably retro?!
Her outfit. I loved the skirt and the collar!
A photo I took in the fog after I dropped Mary off at the station.