The rise of vintage in a plus size world

A couple of months ago, I had a lovely email from the amazing Betty Pamper asking about my opinions on the rise and popularity of Plus Size Vintage styling. This was for a seminar she was hosting at LondonEdge, and she wanted to get a range of peoples thoughts and advice to the companies out there selling this style of clothing.

Well, After quite a waffling email from me, I asked if it was OK to develop the idea into a blog post. And here it is!

As an owner of a lot of vintage inspired clothing, I love the increase in availability for us plus size ladies. When I first started wearing vintage, there were only a couple of companies that went up to the larger sizes, however, there are more brands than ever out there now. This is great as I have more choice and more places I can spend my money.

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However, there are companies out there that advertise themselves as being plus size, but once you hit a size 22, that’s as good as they get. This means a lot of these brands are unavailable to me and many others.

We have money, we have style but we don’t have all the choice that ladies under a 22 have. I don’t understand how, if you can make up to a 22, that it would be any harder to make a 24, 26, 28 etc. Whilst I appreciate it is a risk to make those sizes, if you don’t know that there is a market for it. However, I hear plus size ladies voice these same complaints every single day. So there is a demand for it!

I also get frustrated that there are brands like Lindybop that have hundreds of dress options, most up to a 26. But try and get a wiggle dress from them, and nearly every one stops at a 22. I love wiggle dresses, and I think I rock them. But I have to import things from the USA i.e Pin up Girl Clothing, in order to satisfy my needs.

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One of the best things that Pin Up Girl clothing also does is show Plus Size Girls modelling their clothes on the website. They are all shapes and sizes, with tummies, or large arms, or big bottoms. They look like I do, and so I can see exactly what I will look like in that dress. If you are going to sell plus size clothes, there is no use modelling it on a size 8, as I can’t begin to even tell if it will suit me, let alone if my body shape will get into it! Lady Voluptuous use the beautiful Georgina in their campaigns and design process, and this is a massive improvement.

I do feel that some companies like to use the “plus size” tag as a bit of a gimmick – “ooooh look we do vintage for big girls” well, yes you do! Up to a 22. Going onto a website to find they have 30+ products, yet when you get to the plus-size section, you have a choice of 5 or 6, really isn’t acceptable.

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Many times I have gone onto a website to look at their products, with money to burn in my pocket and I cannot purchase anything because they are not all-inclusive.

Another question I have, is why make a totally different range for plus size ladies. Can you not make the same clothes in all the sizes? For example Lady V London have a range for  size 8 -22, then a totally separate range (Lady Voluptuous) for 16-32. Aren’t you defeating the object?

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Whilst I appreciate there is a range that fits majority of us, why can’t we have all the other ones you do too. And why can’t smaller ladies have the same beautiful dresses that us plus size ladies can.

Whilst that sounds like I am moaning that I am being given a separate line of clothing, I don’t wish it to seem ungrateful. My question is more why make two totally different collections, with an overlapping size section? I see the beautiful things in my size, and I want them. I see the beautful things on the same website that I can’t fit into. And I want them too! I am sure I am not alone in this. Those size 8 ladies who want that beautiful Phoebe, but are too small, for example.

So, what makes Vintage Styling so attractive to the Plus Size Female?

I think there are  several reasons.

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The style is classic and timeless. It is quirky and original. But most of all, it is flattering.
I believe this is because vintage style clothing involves more tailoring. Darts, pleats, wide belts, longer sleeves can all hide problem areas, and highlight positive points.

I love how vintage dresses make me feel feminine, even at my larger size. I feel graceful and elegant, and can dress them up or down for any occasion. When wearing vintage I feel fabulous, and happy. This happiness is projected outwards, and people notice the confidence/happiness that looking good can give you.

I wear my dresses everywhere. To London, to the pub, to restaurants, even to the Supermarket when doing my shopping. Yes, I do get some strange looks, but more often than not people come up and make a lovely comment, or ask a question about my style. This would never happen when I was wearing jeans and tshirts and hiding away.

By feeling good in what I am wearing, it makes me smile more. Makes me more receptive to life, comments and I hope, more approachable.

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When I do my hair, my makeup and put a pretty dress on, everything feels right with the world. If I don’t do these things, I feel as if I have “forgotten something” I enjoy the process of getting ready, of finding that perfect brooch, or bag, or scarf to add to my outfit of the day.

I look out for items in charity shops and vintage fairs to complement the huge wardrobe of vintage reproduction dresses I have.

I enjoy the feeling of wearing a new dress out for the first time. Whether it is to a vintage fair, or dancing, or lunch… I make the full effort. It makes me feel great and in control.

Some could say this is a by-product of poor mental health. When I am dressed and everything is right, then I am alright. When I stop caring and start to not make that effort, it is a sure sign that things are going downhill.

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But it is also a solution. Because dressing this way makes me feel happy and good about myself, this means my Mental Health is much better too!

I spent years in jeans and baggy t-shirts, hiding away. But vintage style clothing makes you stick out. Makes you different to the rest of the crowd. This is a good thing.

I love how I can change my style at the drop of a vintage hat. There are some that say Plus Size Vintage is overpriced. This could easily be said of any plus size clothing. I however, choose to pay a premium because I know I am getting beautiful clothing, that fits and flatters me. Real vintage is never going to happen, as back then the ladies, and their waists were tiny. I am not. Therefore, I will buy reproduction and pay for the quality I prefer.

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Whilst I am happy with the improvement and increase of companies offering me clothes of a style I wear every single day, I still think there are things they can improve on. Becoming more inclusive is possibly the biggest bit of advice I could give.

There is money out there to be had… Offer us pretty girly things, in our sizes and we Voluptuous Vintage Vixens will love you forever!

Leave a comment

  • Beautyqueenuk

    So many beautiful dresses and being a larger than average big bosomed girl, I think these designs would suit me too x

  • It’s so good that a lot of brands do these designs in a variety of sizes as everyone deserves to have nice clothes. Lovely dresses x

  • I love a vintage look but lately I have been coveting a more 60’s aesthetic and I find finding pieces with a 60’s vibe a bit harder, although this season it seems to be fashionable and Simply Be have some but I don’t want swing dresses I want funky little shifts but outside heart of haute and Mod Cloth which are US based I can’t find much.
    However, I hear you on brands stopping at 22 or 24 I find it so annoying

  • Beth

    I totally understand what you mean about some stores having a totally different range for plus size. New Look does this too which I hate. You look so lovely.

  • I sometimes with the ranges would cross – I often see things in the “normal” range I would love to have.

  • Kitty Wood

    brilliantly written honey! You forever look incredible in your vintage dresses and really inspire me to glam up more xx

  • Harriet @ Toby&Roo

    Such beautiful dresses – you look stunning. I hate that there is a separation for plus size – I often see things I like in that section and I am on the other end of the scale. It’s unfair to everyone!

  • Melanie Edjourian

    Wow you have an amazing dress collection and they look great on you. I really should dress up more.

  • I agree that sizing isn’t great with vintage repo with so many cutting off at a 22 – but I also feel it’s actually more inclusive than 99% of the fashion stores out there (which is more than disappointing). I think it’s also telling that the stores that do stock the bigger sizes in these dresses (in the UK) sell out in minutes … perhaps the others will start to take notice!

    C xx
    CurvyGirlThin.com

  • Kira L Curtis

    The vintage style definitely looks amazing on you! I’ve tried it myself a few time but can’t quite pull it off.

    • I have to admit, I started small… a few flowers and the odd brooch etc. It’s something that if you just don’t feel comfortable in it, it’s hard to pull off 🙁

  • BixxBoxx

    Here here! I love my vintage wardrobe! And keep your eye out for genuine vintage – I’ve found a few pieces that are gorgeous and fit me (although they’re not 50s style dresses!). I love your style and I’m pleased to be the new owner of one of your beautiful dresses! 😍😍😍

    • I’m so glad that you liked it! I tend to stick to my vintage bags and hats for the real deal, mixing with my beloved Pin Up Girl clothing xx

  • Bex Smith

    Its such a shame that the styles don’t cross over more often – why should we be denied a certain style because of size? However, I adore your vintage style, you really suit it!

  • Hayley Ann Stewart

    Great post! I agree babe! And you look gorgeous in everyone one of those! Truly the vintage queen!
    http://www.curvesandcurl.co.uk

  • Elizabeth

    I absolutely love your style. I think you look fantastic and I admire the confidence you carry. Love it. You rock. 🙂

  • KGR

    You looks so beautiful! The shaping of the dresses really suit you x

  • Love this style of clothing on you! I need to get myself some vintage dresses, they’re so stunning.

  • Lovely dresses you have on. I don’t shop vintage dresses but I think I need to start x

    • They really are a lovely dress to wear, and there is so much style and choice out there…give it a go! x

  • Oh I love vintage style stuff, I think it was made for plus size women!

  • Those outfits are fantastic and you look absolutely stunning.

  • Oh you rock those dresses – You are an amazing advocate for looking amazing as a plus size woman! Gorgeous!

  • It’s a shame that a lot of brands seem to stop at 22. As you say, if a lot of plus sized women are complaining about this then evidently there is a market for bigger sizes!

  • ah these dresses are amazing- i absolutely love vintage!

  • Kacie

    These dresses are so cute, I love vintage tea dresses!

  • Lydia

    Great writing and wonderful aesthetic. I have that same wiggle dress from PUG and it is a dream! Where did you get the turquoise/fuchsia dress in the third picture?

    • Tanya Brannan

      Thank you so much! The turquoise/pink dress is the discontinued sea siren dress by Pug xx

      • Lydia

        Well if you ever get tired of that dress (yeah right!) you let me know and I will buy it from you in a heartbeat 😉

        • Tanya Brannan

          I have to admit its highly unlikely… but you never know x