A Dissertation on Plus Size Style
While it may not seem like it, this is photography adjacent.
When the pandemic initially hit in March of 2020, I was working for an non-profit during the week, and doing photography primarily on the weekends. We moved to a completely remote way of work like many companies and organizations, and slowly but surely I started wearing a uniform of sweatpants and sweatshirt (or t-shirts depending on the weather). Prior to this upheaval of daily life, I enjoyed dressing up, but as a plus size person struggled to find things that were cut for my body type and in keeping with current trends.
A lot of the big-dog plus size retailers don't actually produce clothing pieces that are in keeping with current trends. In fact, many of the silhouettes, patterns, and design choices are based on things that were popular 10 or 15 years ago. Think about it- how many plus size tops do you see with unnecessary cold shoulder cut outs, weird 80s reproduction designs, or strangely placed "corset" cording on the sleeves or chest? What could have been a sleek and on trend basic, turns into a caricature of a design that would have actually dressed a fat body well. What does this tell fat women about their body and it's place within the fashion community? And what does this tell us when our main retailers such as Lane Bryant and Torrid serve us these same blocky, unflattering designs that do nothing to highlight the glory of our corporal forms?
I've been living in sweatpants almost exclusively for 2 years. Recently, I felt inspired to upgrade my personal wardrobe and I'd thought I'd share my discoveries with you all, as well as some brands that I love carrying in my client wardrobe because they are size inclusive. When I started to really build my client wardrobe, as a plus size woman myself it was important that I found lingerie pieces that were luxurious and visually interesting. As many of my other plus size babes will know, lingerie made for our bra sizes in big box stores and even specialized lingerie stores like Victoria’s Secret are significantly under designed compared to the more straight sized sets. I think we've all walked into the lingerie section of a store looking for that beautiful, lacy balconette in our cup and band size only to be met with a beige monstrosity with a bow tacked to the middle to make it "pretty". Disappointing to say the least. So here are some brands I’ve been loving:
AveryRobe by Dottie Delights Bodysuit from Playful Promises
Playful Promises- This is my general go to for some beautiful and unique lingerie pieces. They carry a slew of different brands with decent size selections, but their Gabbi Fresh, Playful Promise brand, and Felicity Hayward collection have the best selection for plus size women. I LOVE lingerie which is why it’s my primary offering in my client wardrobe, and I can almost always find something spectacular at Playful Promises. Other brands that they carry that I love are Dita von Teese, Bettie Page Lingerie, Rigalia, and Wolf and Whistle.
What Katie Did- I don’t shop here very often for lingerie or clothing because they only go up to a size 22/40F which isn’t truly size inclusive, but they do have the best thigh highs I’ve ever worked with. Their “curvy” size is actually great for larger thighs! My legs are exceptionally thick, so generally if it fits my thigh than it will fit anyone. Not only do they have a relatively durable design with a great plus size option, they also do a long version which has been great for my super leggy clients. Also their color selection is really impressive.
Catherine D’lish- Okay I know, super expensive, but my god is it worth the price. The quality is unparalleled, and I can’t tell you how many of my clients instantly feel like a goddess as soon as they throw on one of these lux dressing gowns. They are definitely investment pieces, but if you need a little pick me up while you’re working from home, wearing a D’lish robe is kind of the way to go. The coveted Cassandra dressing gown made of high quality maribou feathers and sheer english netting have literally fit every person that I’ve put in them. The satin Beverly’s, which are honestly my favorite, are pretty roomy, but go up to about a 4xl.
Corset Story- because of the sale they do pretty much all the time where you can buy 3-5 for one, I have a ton of corsets in a plethora of sizes because of Corset Story. I don’t think they’re the most high quality of corsets, but they’re certainly great for a photoshoot, costume, or just wearing as a fashion piece. I also love using them for special crafting projects! I probably have at least a 100 or so corsets in my wardrobe from this store and I’ve found them super useful. If you’re looking to break into corsettery, this is a great first step.
Dottie Delights- oh how I love these delicate beauties! I have a couple lingerie pieces in my client wardrobe from this vintage reproduction company, and a couple tulle robes. When I say delicate, I mean it, but it doesn’t mean they lack quality by any means. Their pieces look like they came straight out of a Gil Elvgren painting, which is what makes them so stunning. Again, the robes have fit everyone that I’ve put them on, and because of the material they use with most of their pieces there has been a reasonable amount of stretch. They go up to a size 5xl according to their website.
AveryRobe by Catherine D'Lish Lingerie from Playful Promises
Now if you’re looking for more everyday fabulousness, these are some places I’ve been purchasing from to curate my personal wardrobe. Now, please bare in mind that I don’t wear pin up clothing. Circle skirts are not my thing, but some of these places do carry that type of thing if that’s what you’re into.
ELOQUII- Excuse me, why hasn’t anyone told me about this website? I would see ads for it all the time on my social media, but only just recently checked it out, and I’m so very excited. If you want trendy, edgy clothing cut for a plus size body, this is your place. I’ve been trying to take more risks with my fashion choices, and this site has really helped me get inspired. So far, I’ve only had to return one item. Tragically it was a pair of slim fitting, olive green pleather pants that were just too small in the calves. That said, everything else has fit like a dream, including skinny jeans which can be a problem for me with my thick calves! Even Torrid would fail me constantly in the jeans department, but I’ve been so pleased with ELOQUII. Other highlights from this brand have been a boned, velvet, puffed long sleeve crop top, a pair of super flair high waisted jeans, a brown pleather top, and the softest, sleekest knit black turtle neck ever. They go up to a size 28 according to their website.
The Bombshell Boutique- I found this shop via a plus size influencer on Tin Tok of all places, but their giving me life! If you want bold prints that aren’t skulls and stars, this is your place. I’m also pretty sure this is a black owned clothing brand. Many of the patterns are African inspired, and so far the maxi skirt and wide legged pants I purchased are stunning. I look forward to buying more statement pieces from this super fun brand! According to their website they go up to a 3xl.
Unique Vintage- I considered adding this to my client wardrobe suggestions, but honestly I purchase mostly things for my personal wardrobe from this website. They go up to a size 5xl I believe in their UV collection. If you want something more vintage inspired, this is a great go-to of mine. Yes, they have your classic pin up dress silhouette, but I’m a big fan of their pants and tops.
Pin Up Girl Clothing- Another one I thought about adding to my client wardrobe suggestion, but I really mostly buy stuff for myself from this old classic. Again, I don’t buy their pin up dresses, but I am obsessed with the Clarice Coat and Amalie Ballerina maxi dresses. While they do sometimes offering basic colors, they’re mostly known for the bold prints that they offer. I actually wore an Amalie maxi dress for my engagement photoshoot last year. Most of their dresses and skirts also have pockets, which is pretty awesome! According to their website, it looks like they go up to a 4xl.
And that’s pretty much it for right now. My hope is that as plus size bodies become more main stream and accepted we’ll see even more offerings for us in the fashion industry. If you are plus size, I hope this list was helpful and inspires you to take more risks with your fashion. If more of us create a demand for actually on trend clothing options, we’ll sway the fashion industry to listen to us as we are huge market opportunity. If you have a brand that I didn’t list that you love, let me know! I’d love to discover new places to shop either for myself or clients!
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