I love fashion.
I admit, my own personal style has a more classic vintage edge and, the older I get, the more reinforced that becomes, but I still love new clothes, new trends, textures and fabrics. That doesn’t mean I always follow it, but I love it anyway, even when I disagree with it.
When it comes to being plus size, however, it can feel a little like you’re sidelined. I admit, I’m lucky as a size 16, I have a little flexibility in clothes ranges, but we’re still a bit of an afterthought. And I remember what it was like in my larger days, trying to find clothes that were comfortable, fashionable and didn’t make it look like you were wearing a tent.
I don’t know anybody who would like to be referred to as mumsy at any age, let alone under thirty, which at my largest I was.
Oh and for those curious, size 28.
So when I heard about Curve, I got excited. Not only was there going to be plus sized fashion, plus sized models – Tess Holliday, Hayley Hasselhoff and Nicolette Mason – but it was going to be in Manchester.
On my bloody doorstep. No way I was going to miss it.
Of course, being somewhat older than all these glamorous model types, I pulled out the big guns. I deployed anti-wrinkle cream, contouring, eye-shadow and false lashes.
And then hit the wardrobe.
Suitably attired, confidence reinforced, I wandered over, met the gorgeous Michelle and we began our tour.
Clothing from stalwarts Simply Be, Evans and Elvi, new kid on the block Studio 8 (the plus size range from Phase Eight, of which I am already a fan), as well as a new range launched by Lisa Riley, Just Be You, in collaboration with Figure Eight.
And I spotted the Big Tights Company who not only do tights (obviously) but also do stockings for ladies like me, with thick thighs. I must confess to owning a pair or two (this may be an understatement).
I was like a child in a sweet shop.
So Fabulous from Very were there, and my eyes were immediately drawn to a sequinned red dress (not available til November sadly). At Simply Be, it was a faux fur coat that has a hint of Cruella de Vil about it.
There were also a host of new brands I hadn’t heard of, but was very happy to discover – Studio Untold (I might need that net skirt), Apples and Pears (where I did invest in a blue peplum jacket), and Lavitta who had a to die for wrap and a gorgeous jersey dress with my name on it.
And just when I thought all the brands were from out of town, I spotted Miss Something a local Manchester brand that has a plus size featuring lots of gorgeous jersey dresses and jackets.
It was a sea of familiar faces. From Pamper and Curves and Nicky Rockets, to Callie Thorpe, Georgina Horne to Georgina Grogan, Debz – a leading voice in the plus-sized community fighting body shaming and size shaming. Love that lady.
It was hard not to wander over and just talk to people as if you know them, as if you’re friends, because it kind of feels like you are.
Before we knew it, it was time for the fashion shows – and as we all crammed until it was standing room only, I was obviously not the only one looking forward to this bit.
Some of the biggest ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhs’ were reserved for New Look, Simply Be and Miss Guided, who despite their adverts on the TV only showing slender girls in their early 20s, actually have a very good plus size range.
The one thing that did seem to disappoint, given the range of sizes in the audience, was how slender and how young some of the models were. As long-term readers of this blog will know, I’m slowly edging towards the big 4-0, and I know that many in the audience were older too. It’s hard to get an idea of how something will look on you when they are a) much more slender than you are and b) much younger.
After some lengthy discussion (over Prosecco naturally), we felt that some of the ranges would have been better modelled by older ladies and we’d have felt happier with a range of sizes – it seemed at one point that the audience mentally switched off. Perhaps that’s something the organisers can look at longer term.
The biggest cheer, of course, went for Tess Holliday‘s range of t-shirts, featuring her slogan ‘Eff Your Beauty Standards’. It’s hard not to love someone who makes no excuses for who she is, and is a spokeswoman for plus sized ladies everywhere.
Though we didn’t stay for the Q&A sessions (time was not on my side and we had wine to drink), I had a fantastic time. With Marie Claire and Buzzfeed in attendance, it’s clear that plus size is no longer about hiding away, but being happy being you. And not being ashamed.
And to help you understand the impact this has, it was after the event that I had the most important piece of feedback I’d had all day.
I was once that young girl.
And this is why we keep doing what we do. #Effyourbeautystandards #weareplussized #wearethey.