When you’re a fat woman, you soon come to realise that a lot of women’s media isn’t for you. On the outside, it looks inclusive, with its talk of wonderful books to read, delicious recipes to cook and expensive accessories to buy. But dig a bit deeper and you soon see that it’s designed with a very different (by which I mean ‘thinner’) woman in mind.
I snapped yesterday after seeing an email from Emerald Street which included details of five gorgeous white dresses, none of which I could buy because none of them went over a size 16. For a women’s media outlet designed to appeal to my demographic, they appear to be very reluctant to feature anything that a plus sized women can wear. I asked them about it, and I’m still waiting for a response. I’m not singling out Emerald Street here – I’ve lost count of the amount of clothing edits I’ve seen on major women’s websites recently which don’t feature one item from a plus sized retailer, or an item which goes goes over a size 18. But it all feels incredibly exclusionary – and more than a little depressing.
Fat women aren’t some kind of homogeneous blob which you can appease with the occasional patronising article about how ‘fashionable’ we are. We want to be stylish and wear nice things, and lord knows that many of us are able to spend just as much on clothes as our thinner counterparts. So, inspired by other plus sized campaigns like Debz’s fantastic #hereswhatiwouldhavespent, I’ve decided that every time I see a list of clothing on a women’s website which doesn’t feature one plus sized option, I’ll put my own pick together. And, because I love a good Bullseye reference, I’d call it ‘Look what you could have worn.” In homage to Emerald Street, here’s five of my favourite plus sized white dresses.
You’d be right to exercise a fair amount of caution when you see the words ‘lace’ and ‘maxi dress’ together in a sentence. Get it right, and you look floaty, feminine and ethereal. Get it wrong, and you’ll end up looking like you’re wearing your Nan’s net curtains. This gorgeous dress is lightweight and casual, and the perfect thing for summer. You could easily wear this down to the beach, or to a wedding. The stretch waistband and v-neck neckline is great if (like me) you’ve got mega-boobs, providing enough stretch to keep them at bay, while showing just enough cleavage.
ASOS are the masters of bodycon dresses, and I love everything about this. It’s crisp, clean and minimal, meaning it can be styled as simply (or as OTT) as you like. You can jazz it up with a big statement necklace and heels, or with a pair of chic little sandals. It would also make a great summer dress to wear to the office (just try not to spill coffee down it on the train into work.)
Danish brand Carmakoma specialise in creating beautiful, minimal clothing and I love the unique shape of this Babydoll dress. It’s almost-but-not-quite a peplum, with a really interesting geometric design. If you’re not keen on the idea of getting your arms out, I’d recommend keeping it simple, and pairing it with a simple tailored blazer or leather jacket.
Evans doesn’t always get it right, but when it does, it can produce some really beautiful items of clothing. This is from their Design Collective collection, which is comprised of more ‘fashion forward’ pieces than its usual array of ditsy dresses and butterfly prints. Just looking at this dress makes me think of summer holidays and sipping cocktails on a beach somewhere. The jewel embellishments on the shoulders add a nice bit of bling, meaning you can keep it simple with the accessories. I’d wear this with nothing more than a (big) pair of sunglasses and some sandals. If you’re not as comfortable with the idea of getting your legs out, it would also look great worn over a pair of black leggings.
One of the best things about Modcloth is its inclusiveness – most dresses listed on there are suitable for all shapes and sizes. The price of shipping to the UK can be a bit of a pain in the neck, which is why I’d recommend teaming together with some friends so you can buy a few items at once and split the cost between you all. I love everything about this Bettie Page dress, from the simple 1940s inspired neckline, to the subtle polkadot print of the fabric. It’s so wonderfully femme, and would be the perfect thing to wear to a summer wedding (hey, it would even make a good wedding dress if that’s your thing.)
Do you have a favourite white dress that you’re thinking of wearing this summer? Let me know in the comments!