I’m having fun with this fashion thing so I may continue offering unwanted fashion advice today, just because I can. Also, because the alternative is cleaning the floors.
I’ve instagrammed yesterday’s bargains and today’s ‘look’ over @thevoiceofboo if you’re not bored rigid yet.
Thanks for all your comments, which were excellent and which prompted today’s post.
I totally appreciate the fact that it is way easier to shop charity/vintage if you’re a smaller size. I also appreciate that bosoms are a total fecker and a game changer for many. Despite my runty size I have a 32F bra size which is an utter pain in the tits, frankly and means that I have to be creative around the bosom area. I know your pain.
Someone suggested Oxfam online in the comments. A wider range of sizes and free returns. What’s not to like? Also look at EBay. I have a particular love for Gudrun Sjoden clothing, which comes in a vast array of sizes, is spectacularly generously cut and is available in absolutely beautiful colours/patterns. It’s also really expensive, but really not so much second hand. Check her out. Also, for layering looks, on Ebay search ‘lagenlook’ which was a thing a few years ago. There are some glorious things there. You will not be sorry.
However, I will reiterate the whole ‘ignore sizing’ thing as a keep searching, pom pom waving encouragement. Example. One of yesterday’s bargains was a cotton/t shirt dress by Sandwich in navy. It claims to be a size 36, which is a UK 8. I tried it on. To say that it’s generous is an understatement. I could probably get me and one of the kids in there. In my opinion it could easily fit a UK 14 if you’re comfortable with a clingy fit.
Also, think about how you’re going to wear something. For example, the Sandwich dress would look fab on a taller/bigger sized person as a tunic with jeans or leggings. It doesn’t need to be worn as a dress just because it says it is a dress. I very often wear small dresses as t-shirts/tops. I also wear very large dresses with huge belts, or narrow belts, or ties or scarves which I sometimes utilise when I can’t find a belt I actually like.
Be bold in how you think about wearing stuff. Not only can you wear dresses as tops, but you can also wear shirts that you can’t do up, simply as shirts you can’t do up, over t shirts/vests etc. I often do this due to my unruly bosom issues. I also do this with coats. You do not have to do the buttons up. Your world will not end if your chest gets a bit breezy. If it’s bothering you, cover it up with a ruddy huge scarf. Problem solved. Try not to die in an Isadora Duncan style incident if you do go for the huge scarf resolution. My mother worries about this daily.
I bought a magnificent shirt recently. It’s white with huge bell sleeves and some kind of flared, bustle type detailing that sits on the hips. It’s basically a bastard massive pirate shirt and I lusted after it. Sadly it was a tiny size and I could not get it done up over the acreage of bosom. But I still lusted after it. I carried it around the shop while I browsed other stuff and then hit upon a genius idea as to how to wear it and promptly parted with my £3 and carried it home. I wear it with a waistcoat over the top, which does button up, and a vest underneath which you can’t really see, but which will save me should the waistcoat buttons give up. It makes it look even more swash buckling and piratical and it’s excellent fun to wear. Although big sleeves and soup eating should be avoided at all costs.
Top fashion tip there, re soup/sleeves by the way.
Other ways to make stuff fit include not bothering with doing up zips/buttons on things like pinafores. I simply whack a t shirt on underneath and throw the pinafore on top and leave it totally undone. If someone comments I just say something like ‘Fashion.’ very darkly, or if pushed will look wise and tap my nose and say: ‘Autumn/Winter 17’ or whatever the coming fashion season is about to be. Turns out most people know much less about clothes than I do, and I know fuck all. This always works.
Ballgowns work brilliantly with jumpers on top. Who knew? I have a particularly daring scarlet ball gown which I love, but is a bit Nell Gwynn on the tits front. If I want to wear it in the day I pair it with a navy Gap jumper and it looks fab. Try it. Honestly it will revolutionise your life. Ball gowns are the way forward. Waistcoats and shirts/blouses also work to normalise more glittery offerings in the day. Pairing evening wear with Doc Martens or Converse also works hugely well.
With skirts, employ the time honoured pregnancy tip of doing stuff up with safety pins/knicker elastic and then hiding it all with long tops. You can also use safety pins when skirts are too roomy, by creating a new ‘pleat’ and just folding the material until it fits and safety pinning the whole lot together. Of course, you could always get stuff altered, but it depends if you think it’s worth it and you’ll wear and wear the stuff. If, like me, you’re probably going to give it back to the charity shop in six months, safety pins rule.
Also think about wearing skirts as dresses. Tilly often does this. Sometimes she uses a belt to gather it in at the waist. Sometimes she just goes totally A-line. Basically a skirt worn as a dress is simply a version of the classic Vivienne Westwood tube dress and if anyone tells you any different point them at Vivienne, scowl and walk/waddle away, depending on how tight the skirt is. Seventies wrap skirts are pretty excellent for this kind of dressing, and also fit anyone at all, as each skirt is made with roughly seventy metres of material and could be turned into a family sized bivouac at a push. Take note for the coming zombie apocalypse.
Layering is something I do a lot with clothes that don’t really fit. I have a vast array of very long vests in every imaginable colour and I use these as the foundation of all layering experiments. I have to layer a lot as many t-shirts are cut too high and show my collapsed parachute of a stomach, which is no fun for anyone. Also, I tend to buy beautiful wool jumpers, forget I have beautiful wool jumpers and then shrink them. I never say never, so I simply stretch them with my super human strength and wear them as weeny jumpers over a vest. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that jazz.
With layering I have rediscovered leggings, which I cast aside once I’d had children. I have stout, lycra leggings in basic colours which I actually do buy new as a rule due to the fact that I hate it when the knees on leggings blow (whilst doing ninety on the M6). I wear these instead of footless tights (which I snag to buggery), and wear them under skirts, under shorts etc. I also buy crazy leggings from charity shops on occasion because I just like to upset the children. I have some stained glass patterned ones they all find particularly offensive and which I wear when I have a ‘fuck my life, why didn’t I breed chihuahuas?’ moment. It’s a tiny revolution, but it’s very satisfying.
Other layering genius involves harem pants and wide legged linen/cotton trousers which are usually one size fits all and brilliant with all kinds of things you wouldn’t necessarily think to layer them with, i.e. shirts and huge jumpers (menswear section is your friend), tunics and of course, dresses. I know it’s a bit All Saints (the pop group, not the fashion emporium), but if you like the look, then wear it and remember that most ‘youth’ think Shaznay is a swear word and are too young to remember anything that makes you feel old.
If you’re trying to hide stomach areas, using huge beach scarves as a kind of skirt/sarong malarkey and pinning them with huge costume jewellery brooches works well. Also the layering thing. If you wear ninety layers of contrasting cloth people will get so confused as to what you’re wearing they will give up worrying about whether you’re fat. Not that it’s any of their fucking business in the first place anyway. People who do that just need jabbing in the eye with a sharp stick anyway. Fuck em.
I’ve also used huge scarves as tops, being creative with safety pins and belts, head wraps, and as actual scarves. Amazing but true.
Another trick I use a lot is to wear incongruous things together. Like huge skater combat trousers with too small t shirts under the ubiquitous vest, and then a very formal jacket on top. People get so confused about what the hell you’re doing they just fail to comment as their head spins round.
Beachwear is brilliant for ‘unstructured’ clothing for layering/belting etc. I am not talking about bikinis, although I sometimes buy bikini vests as regular vests because they tend to be more supportive. I am talking about sarongs, kaftans and beach coveralls. Nobody said you had to only use them on the beach.
Also, if you live in an area with a large Asian population you might be lucky enough to find salwar kameez, which are basically gorgeous tunics and harem pants, which you can split and use for all kinds of things. See also pyjamas. I wear pyjama tops as blouses. I wear nighties as dresses. It’s all good. A particular favourite is a nightie with a denim or leather jacket on top.
Also remember menswear. Men’s shirting is usually superior to women’s and there is an increasing range of width fittings for men these days. And, you can pick up shirts that need cufflinks and buy cufflinks, which are a joy. Also if, like me you have the bosom issue, unfitted is good, and I just whack a waistcoat on top if I want a more fitted look. Waistcoats are fantastic. I have a selection from mens and womenswear. They have these little cinch in bits on the back panel that means that they’re fantastically self sizing. They’re an absolute essential for me. Mens jackets are also good and are cut more generously, and generally better than women’s suit jackets. As an aside, if you like a suit jacket or trousers but not the other half, charity shop suits are so cheap you would be mad not to buy the suit, keep the half you want and give the other half to a different charity shop so they can sell it as a separate. Job done.
Final tip. Wear hats. Hats are excellent. There are not enough hat wearing people in the world. Also fascinators are good, and you can get them ridiculously cheaply in charity shops. Don’t wear them for posh. Wear them every day. I wore one covered in pearls and feathers last week to a meeting about cuts to the NHS. It cheered everyone up, including me. Go hats.