Just because we happen to be plus-size (not necessarily as “seen” by ourselves but most certainly by others) too often we are also seen to be pretentious or snobbish if we dare to dress according to style and in many cases, OUR choices.
Take for instance office wear. There is a fierce debate on what is today’s corporate wear. There are those who stridently and extremely loudly at that, claim the right to dress as they please - scruffy jeans tired and worn tee shirts and stiletto heels that badly neet a repair job. On the other side of the coin are those who see corporate wear as an expression of their own personal “professionalism”. Many plus-size career women fall into this second category.
Frequently, the plus-size carer women is seen to be trying to imitate the young corporates. This is an unfair assumption as quite often she is only young herself, but somehow “size” is an issue with many employers and colleagues and they get the whole picture distorted by assuming that the plus size woman is older than she really is. This is quite ridiculous but it happened to me too often for me not to accept this as a common occurance. It’s only as I’ve grown older that people now submit the opinion but you look younger now than when I first met you 20 years ago. All I’ve done is grown older, as indeed have they, but let me say this (with a smile), I have far fewer wrinkles than they have!
Quite apart from the “age” factor, plus-size career women are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to attractive corporate wear. This has been a bone of contention with me for many decades, although Maggi T and many of my favourite American suppliers and a few from Europe, occasionally come out with separates that can be combined to make up nice outfits.
Often, not being able to buy business-suits (whether with pants or skirts) presents the plus size woman with a problem. However one way out of this is to utilise what is available in the stores.
Here’s where basic colours can come into their own. Choosing a basic colour and then building upon it can open up all sorts of pleasing looks. Even though Black,which remains the new black whatever that means - what a funny way to describe it!, is the most popular basic - grey, navy blue and chocolate come in as popular alternatives. Of course denim blue (not always in denim) remains popular with the younger set. I’m not a great lover of beige myself, but for some women they can look great in it. It’s not MY colour, whereas white is! And I’ve been known to wear white on many occasions at corporate affairs or in my own personal choice for day/evening wear.
It’s when we come to accessories that magical changes can be performed to our wardrobe, and might I suggest that you open your minds to your definition of accessories I’ll explain a little later.
Well designed, well cut and well sewn pants re a must for every girls wardrobe. Slimming lines from the thighs to the ankles will help make you look taller, and will certainly give you a nicer profile in the mirror. Well designed, well cut and well sewn jackets or suit coats at the length your prefer - I personally go for either hip length or even longer as I frequently wear my jackets or coats unbuttoned and allowed to float - in the same fabric as the pant will create an outfit that you can wear on all occasions.
Given a third piece, perhaps a long-line pencil skirt (which seems to remain a popular choice) then you have a mix-n-match outfit that can take you from corporate office, to exeutive meeting, to socialising in the evening.
It’s what you wear with your outfit that can make a difference. I don’t believe those who tell me I shouldn’t wear ruffles on my shirts - either at the throatline or down th two front sides. I love feminine clothes and I believe the plus-size woman should be encuraged to think of herself as a feminine person, rather than just a “plus-sized” woman. I love chiffon and silk scarves - my collection has far exceeded the space I gave for it in my wardrobe and now it has its own special chest. If you don’t care to wear scarves arund your neck, or your shoulders, or pinned on one shoulder and allowed to flow down, then why not consider tucking one into a pocket in your jacket or coat. Another well-worn idea but still popular is to tie one through the handles of your favourite handbag. Spoiling yourself with a small collection of handbags is also another idea! We don't touch the subject of shoes, because it seems collecting shoes is a common fad.
Brooches are still “in” (whatever some of the so-called trend fashion commentators say), and I believe the bigger the better! Costume jewellery pieces, which always sit on the buxom bosom beautifully, soften the neckline especially if you’re “bold” enough to show a little of your decollegé.
Consider some of those things we don’t always think of as accessories. Take hair for instance. So many plus-size women have lovely long hair, or haven’t you noticed? They often wear it in a pony tail or loose. But take time and sweep it up, o be held in place with some of those lovely sequinned clasps and you’ll be the talk of the town for those evening courses or meetings! Your face will be defined and allowed to glow in its beauty. Young women (and many women in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond) do invest in wigs these days - and you thought they'd gone out with button-up boots? Quite a few though don't admit to owning one or even two, until someone - even in their family or close friends, notice something a bit different between a hair style one day from another. It's all good fun.
You’re perhaps not feeling brave enough because you haven’t mastered make-up? Take your courage in both hands and visit a Beauty counter at one of the major stores, or visit Body Shop and ask them to take you through the steps of choosig and applying the right make FOR YOU. You’ll be thrilled with the experience. And don't be put off by the fact that the staff in these stores are young (and probably thin and very attractive - that's why they're employed!), but I've found them to be very knowledgeable, and very willing to share that knowledge with you as a client. And you don't have to buy any of their products (unless you want to), because it's the skill you're after in the first place.
Don’t leave all the laces and baubles, bangles and beads to the "beautiful young slim people”. We deserve to enjoy the same fruits of indulgences as our younger and slimmer sisters. I love bangles and I love the sounds they make as I move my hands.
For a nice selection of conservative corporate wear, visit this website of Corporate Uniforms of Dandenong (Victoria, Australia). Many of these specials I see go up to a size 20 and some even to 26.
The human heart, at whatever age