Blog / plus size fashion
When I’m not writing this column I spend most of my time working on plus size fashion stuff. Before I did this, I went to school for fashion design and that’s when I discovered Ashley Nell Tipton.
My program, like most in fashion, was not geared towards making clothes for anyone above a size 10, and many of our lessons in pattern drafting, illustration, and clothing construction were based around the notion of dressing to achieve an ideal body shape. Lessons included words like flattering, slimming, and problem areas. When I made my final collection of plus size lounge wear, I learned I was the first to do so in my school, and they couldn’t give me a dress form to work off of because they didn’t have one.
It was comforting to find Ashley because even though she was in San Diego, I could relate to her experiences. She also was the first person in her school to design a collection for plus women. Since she graduated, Ashley has received a ton of incredible opportunities like debuting at Full Figured Fashion Week in New York City. This babe’s rising star isn’t quitting and she’s going to be on the next season of Project Runway! It’s awesome to see the show cast a plus size fashion designer, and I’m really happy that it’s her.
Ashley is consistently a source of happy, positive energy and her passion for making clothing is so inspiring. Her clothes are a perfect reflection of who she is: bright, colourful, fun, and stylish. You won’t find a minimal black dress in her store. Best of luck, Ashley! I can’t wait to watch you kick ass on Project Runway, hopefully repping fatshion all the way to the finale.
I am definitely not complaining, but I have been swamped recently with pop up shops and lookbook shoots, denying y'all of this really great interview I did with the incredible Kate London-James a while back. An (almost!) 25 year old recruitment coordinator from Barry Island, Wales, she is one of my all-time favourite bloggers, one of the sweetest women ever and a huge inspiration to me. I will never get sick of looking at pictures of her and it is a dream of mine to hang out with her and her partner in the flesh.Where do you like to shop for vintage?You know what, where I live, vintage shops are very few and far between and the few there really do not cater to a plus size vintage lover, which is such a shame. So I tend to stick to eBay for the majority of my vintage thrifting! I am really new to the plus size vintage scene, but I definitely have the bug already. It is incredible the things you can find if you spend the time scrolling through endless pages haha. I do think the key to making incredible finds is patience! However, my parents live 3 hours away from me and there is a lovely little vintage shop in their town that is incredible for accessories (sadly, they don’t really carry clothing for the more rotund vintage lover!).What makes you pick out a piece and want to buy it?I do like to think that I don’t have a ‘specific image’ or style so for me, it really just depends on the piece. It has to catch my eye and keep me coming back to it! I have to feel as if, if I leave the shop without it, it will be the biggest mistake of my life haha! But generally, I do love anything with a pleated skirt, anything with faux fur or anything gold.What is your fave vintage item in your closet?My favorite vintage item is definitely the royal blue dress I found on eBay recently for 99p! It has an amazing pleated skirt, a really cool black etched pattern all over it and it also has the cutest bow detail on one of the shoulders. It isn’t designer or one of a kind (as far as I know haha) but I absolutely adore it, it makes me feel fabulous!Do you have a dream piece that you would die if you found?If we’re dreaming really big, I’m going to have to go with a Chanel Handbag. They aren’t especially hard to find, but they are big dollar haha! So in the future, I would love to save to afford one. Chanel (although don’t get me started on the fat hating views of Karl Lagerfeld!) are such a classic, elegant and irreplaceable vintage brand in my eyes! If we’re going for something a little more in my immediate price range haha, I would just love to find some more eye catching dresses! I don’t even own 1 pair of trousers, so dresses make up the entirety of my wardrobe and to be able to add a few more vintage finds would be amazing.Who are your “vintage” style icons?This is such a hard questions because there are so many women that are an incredible inspiration, including you! I have been following your Instagram account and blog for a few years now and you are always so positive and your style is to die for. I think a huge amount of style is how you carry it and there are a quite a few prominent plus size women that I find, frustratingly, seem to feel the need to constantly justify and emotionalize their styles when in fact, why can’t a woman, plus size and straight size, just wear what she likes because it makes her feel fabulous? Rather than wearing it to make a statement! This is part of why I love your blog and Instagram so much because there is none of that, just heaps of positivity and incredible vintage style! I also adore Beth Ditto, although she isn’t consistently in vintage, she makes bold fashion choices and wears whatever she wants, because she wants to! Through the power of Instagram I have had a few brief chats with Beth on various occasions and she is just as awesome as you would imagine.If you could bring any trend back from the past, what would it be?I really love Civil War Button Boots! Sadly, as it stands, they seem to be limited to the ‘Steam Punk’ and ‘Goth’ scene! They are so adorable with the little, block heel and the side button detail – I would die to find a pair in black that I could wear with every day outfits.What vintage look would we NEVER see you wearing?This question is super hard as I will pretty much give anything a go and put my own twist on it but I’m really not a massive fan of the neon 80’s look. I know it’s making a comeback this season but with my complexion and hair color, it just looks downright awful! Don’t get me wrong, it can look fabulous on the right girl but it is definitely not for me! Although I adore 99.9% of the other 80’s fashion trends! I love a cheeky fringed leather jacket and a sweet perm!Big thanks to Kate for her kind words and insight on her personal style (also super envious of your chats with Beth Ditto!!), and if you haven't already please check out her blog, How Kate Does Fashion. You can also follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Kate recommended a bunch of great music but since since it's summer and all, I went with her choice of Iggy Azalea's Fancy. Kate recommended a bunch of great music but since since it's summer and all, I went with her choice of Iggy Azalea's Fancy. Stay tuned for more vintage chats with inspiring megababes!
My #WomanCrushWednesday this week is all about Ms. Shannon Shaw. I fell in love with her a few years ago when she was playing bass with the AMAZING Hunx and his Punx, and was ridiculously excited when she started/fronted her own band Shannon and the Clams. I’m not usually the fangirl type but I am totally fangirling for her always, I’m so into her style and I love how open she is to being a ridiculous person pretty much all of the time. Be sure to check out her tunes if you’re cool or uncool and you like stuff that is awesome.
I would never describe myself as passionate about fitness, although I get plenty of exercise, drink a lot of water, and most of that other stuff we’re supposed to do for our bodies. I’ve tried it all, the gym, team sports, ballet, etc., and over time the only thing that has really stuck is yoga. Here in Toronto fat babes like me can do Yoga for Round Bodies (!!!) but as a living room yoga practitioner, I really draw inspiration from @mynameisjessamyn’s Instagram account. She takes the most beautiful self-portraits while in pose and writes openly about her dedication to daily yoga and her body. It’s so refereshing (and necessary) to see size diversity in fitness — Jessamyn is an inspiration to many and my pick for #WomanCrushWednesday this week.
For #WomanCrushWednesday this week I’m loving up on Amanda Richards (@amandakater), a self-described body-positive social media blogger, humourist, and essayist working out of Seoul, Korea. A lot of Amanda’s work revolves around her inner dialogue about her body and she shares it with sass, tapping her sometimes hilarious, sometimes embarrassing personal experiences. In addition to the pieces on her site, I love her Instagram account because she uses the platform in a different way than most, writing witty mini-essays to accompany her awesome photos. As a bonus side project, she’s selling amazing glasses through her second IG account, @dameframes.
Fat Girl Food Squad is hosting a plus size pop up clothing shop in Toronto!
Find us on Sunday, June 1st above Sneaky Dee's at 431 College Street West.
Second-hand and vintage clothing will be for sale, sizes 14 and up, along with shoes & accessories of all sizes. I will also be showcasing a selection of vintage plus size items and jewellery from the Ursa Major+ shop.
A suggested donation of $5, to support Fat Girl Food Squad's endeavours, is greatly appreciated.
Snacks provided | Drinks available for purchase at the bar
More details to come!
Image via @elizabethwestAn update on what has been going on behind the scenes here at Ursa Major+: a few weeks ago I joined the Fat Girl Food Squad Fashion Team! In addition to creating style content for the site, I am expanding on my weekly #womancrushwednesday posts from the UM+ Instagram account and sharing them on the Fat Girl Food Squad site. I've been doing it for a few weeks now and am really loving publicly supporting creative, kickass women in a way that other babes might discover them as well.My #womancrushwednesday this week is Portland-based photographer Elizabeth West. I first came across her work on Tumblr and have since been loving up on her Instagram. Elizabeth’s subject matter is broad, but her ethereal landscapes and beautifully haunting portraits are my favourites; I always find myself in a state of dreamy yearning for West Coast roadtripping when I look at her photographs. You can find her lookbooks here, check them out!
I have only had one opportunity to hang out with Jessica of Curves and Shit but she really left an impression on me. It was last year at The Big Deal, an event organized by Karen of Curvy Canadian where Toronto-area plus size bloggers gathered to sell items from our closets. Immediately, I felt like we were kindred style sisters and I wanted to buy everything hanging on her rack. There was no shortage of colour, print or texture and it was no secret that this babe has style. Jessica was tops on my list of savvy fashion babes for the "Loving Vintage With..." series and am so pumped that she said yes.Where do you like to shop for vintage?I mostly shop for vintage at Value Village, sometimes Salvation Army and National Thrift. There are a handful of fancy thrift stores that handpick beautiful pieces Downtown but most of them tend to be extremely overpriced. I frequent my local Value Village pretty much every week if not a couple times a week.What makes you pick out a piece and want to buy it?I tend to look piece-by-piece through the racks and anything/everything that's either eye catching, super funny or I've instantly somehow imagined an outfit with it. Which leads to me spending a long time in the change room trying on every piece and figuring out if it's really worth buying (it helps that almost always someone is with me and will give me their opinion on it).What is your fave vintage item in your closet?I have so many! I seriously always find the best pieces whilst thrifting and the best part about it is that there is such a low chance of anyone else having it! My top faves are definitely my shiny gold cardigan, a floral maxi skirt and I have not one, but two amazing floral denim jackets!Do you have a dream piece that you would die if you found?Not necessarily, I always thrift with an open mind and that's how I tend to find really nice pieces. Last May I found an amazing Christmas sweater, and everyone called me crazy for buying it because it was +24 degrees then, this past Christmas all my friends wanted to have an ugly Christmas sweater party…guess who couldn't find any Christmas sweaters in store? Even if things may not be in season right then, I always look forward to wearing it in the future. On a side note, I have been looking for a beautiful hat (that actually fits my head haha) and an amazing belt!Who are your “vintage” style icons?I don't really have any 'vintage' style icons per se, I just love 1950's, 80's and 90's fashion.If you could bring any trend back from the past, what would it be?I'm a strong believer that almost all trends cycle and come back, I've loved almost all the trends that came back so far.. but I can't think of anything in particular that I would bring back.What vintage look would we NEVER see you wearing?Never say never! I actually love to try on fun, weird vintage pieces! You never know how they'll look or you may even come up with some cool new way to alter the piece! When I first started thrifting I'd always laugh at weird shoulder pad tops, or super odd dresses, yet still try them on. After a while I realized I loved these odd, fun things and definitely could alter them to suit me better.As I do in the Loving Vintage With... series, I've asked Jessica to share some of her favourite music. She recommends You're the Best by Wet, Giants by Bear Hands and this lovely song by Lake. Much love to Jessica for chatting with me, if this wasn't enough evidence of how kick ass she is, head over to her blog and be sure to follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr.
January 30 marked my debut as a visual artist, at the opening of the Fat in Public art show put on by the Fat Girl Food Squad. My partner is an incredible artist and together we like to spend a lot of our time being creative, always with multiple projects on the go. It wasn't until the announcement of this event that I really felt a desire to show my stuff, almost immediately sitting down to sketch and work out ideas. The plan was to create a small installation that responded to the common notion that fat bodies are "gross" and should be covered in flattering clothes and the constant messages that plus-size women have to wear clothing cut to make the body seem taller, slimmer. Originally I was going to construct a dress made completely out of chain and have it pinned to the wall. I wasn't totally set on that idea, as I had envisioned something a little more 3-D and a 4 am brainstorming sesh with Ron ended with me shouting "A-HA! Clear vinyl!" louder than my neighbours would have liked (probably).My first sketches for the piece I ended up calling "Sorry, Not Sorry".The first attempt at the underwear, I had never worked with clear vinyl before and it was quite the challenge. I am being too nice by putting it that way, it was a nightmare! In order to achieve the 3-Dness I added steel wire "boning" so the garments could be molded into the desired shape and stay that way.Putting the pattern pieces together for the bustier.This was the night before the opening, Ron is helping me put together the installation while 2186 Dundas Gallery owner Andrew Williamson takes pictures. (Photo courtesy of show co-curator Megan Stuhlberg's instagram @meganstulberg).Carefully joining all of the pieces with chain (Photo courtesy of 2186 Dundas' instagram @2186dundas)Finally the outfit was assembled and ready to be hung!I was so honoured that "Sorry, Not Sorry" was hung front and center in the gallery window for all to see. The opening was a great success for the Fat Girl Food Squad and everyone involved, getting crazy press from the CBC and Mashable (check out the awesome article!).Ron submitted beautiful new paintings, the set was titled "Marriage Barrage" - I wish we could keep them all! More of his work here.So much gratitude for all of my lovely friends to came out on the chilliest, snowiest night for the show.And a goofy shot from opening night. Thanks so much to the Fat Girl Food Squad for including my piece and putting on such an important show for the body positivity movement. It really opened a new dialogue in Toronto and it was so great to see all types of bodies at the show, responding to the art work about fat identity and visibility.
Just wanted to do a quick post about this feminist art show that my partner Ron and I are participating in, opening this Thursday January 30th. Put on by my new friends at the Fat Girl Food Squad, it's sure to be amazing. I have been working on an installation that is one of the most challenging pieces I have ever constructed but I'm maintaining good energy and am confident that I can make it work. I'll share a few progress pictures tomorrow if I don't take a turn for the worst and decide to throw my sewing machine out the window of the studio. Here's the blurb from the facebook event page and if you're in the Toronto area we'd all love to see you there!Fat In Public is an art show that dares to be just that. Art and it's creators that have to audacity to been seen in their ample glory. Fat In Public intends to de-stigmatize the (fat) body and give an outlet for art featuring imperfect and sybaritical characters in equal measure.
ARTISTS ON DISPLAY WILL BE:
Sam Abel: http://
Ronald Caddigan: http://
Derrick Chow: http://www.flickr.com/
Elana Delaney: http://www.flickr.com/
Kristina Groeger: http://
Melody Krauze: http://
Jessica Levy: https://www.facebook.com/
Amarina Norris: http://ursamajor.ca/
Megan Stulberg: http://
Yuli Scheidt: http://yulischeidt.com/