How To Wear My Old Clothes In A New Way How to Dress Your Plus Size Body Shape in Vintage Clothing

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How to Dress Your Plus Size Body Shape in Vintage Clothing

Tired of raiding malls and chain stores to find something new and different? Don’t see anything tempting in the catalogs? Then try VINTAGE! Where almost EVERYTHING is single! Let’s put it this way – you will not meet yourself at a party!

Maybe you think that because you’re plus size, you can’t wear vintage clothing. Yes you can! I’m tall, stocky, broad shouldered and plus size, and my closet is full of great vintage clothes. Let’s put it this way: if a 300-pound drag queen can dress like Cher, you can be whoever you want to be. We’ll start with the basics. Imagine me holding your hand as we walk through Vintage Land!

Finding your own unique vintage style

What have you always wanted to look like? Like a wild rockabilly baby? A blonde sex bomb like Marilyn Monroe? A seductress like Bettie Page? A 20s cap like Clara Bow? A girl with 40 shoulders like Joan Crawford? A ’60s fashionista like Edie Sedgwick? Or an 80s Joan Collins with big hair? All of this is possible when you mix the right modern and vintage pieces.

Think about which era appeals to you the most and why. This is the key to finding your old self.

Some are drawn to the beading, fringe, and velvet of the 1920s. Others love the elegant look of the 1930s. Still others love the ultra-structured look of the 40s, or the bombshell look of the 50s. , there are actually too many styles and eras to list here!

Don’t be afraid to dream! The only limit when starting out is your imagination.

Getting Started: The Basics

First, take a long look at your figure and what you want I emphasize. It could be your torso, legs, booty or face. You should take your measurements everywhere: bust, waist, hips, shoulder to waist, waist to crotch, inseam, thigh width if you’re buying pants.

Yes, this part is probably scary. Many of us don’t they want to know our measurements. We make ourselves what dress size we are. I once had to take my measurements over the phone for a TV suit and after every measurement I was screaming! (Luckily the costume lady was used to it.)

I recommend that you also measure your favorite pieces to see how to achieve your best fit. Not the ones you used to wear, the pieces you wear NOW. Some like it tight, like Mae West; some like it runny. When it comes to establishing your personal style, knowledge is power! And what is it about these parts that you like? Color? The cut? (Sweats don’t count!)

You can go to your local bookstore or look online to see photos of old-time movie stars. In the old days, Hollywood fan magazines encouraged women to identify with movie stars. But who can identify with Nicole Kidman? Or Charlize Theron? This will also give you ideas about styles and eras. Photos of current eras and personalities are much more helpful than those “How to Vintage” tutorials, which end up making everyone look the same!

Getting Started: The Basics, Part Two

Your type of figure

According to experts, there are four to six body types for plus-size women. I will choose the four most basic.

1) Hourglass

Your overall shape is curvy, hips and chest are about the same width. Your waist is well defined and at least seven inches smaller than your bust or hips. You can have a round, full derriere. Your thighs are full but narrower than your lower hips and your lower legs are shapely and proportionally slim.

2) Pear.

Your hips and thighs are wider than your shoulders and chest. You store most of your weight in your stomach, thighs and buttocks. Your hip may widen just below the waist, but it’s usually wider eight inches below your waist at the “low waist.” Kate Winslet, believe it or not, is a pear.

3) Rectangle. You are straight up and down, with a somewhat small bust and little or no waist. You may have a meaty back and slightly short neck, but you tend to have relatively thin arms and legs. Kim Cattrall is a rectangle, but you’d never know it.

4) Apple. You carry most of your weight in your torso, waist and back, with relatively thin hips and legs. You tend to have a somewhat heavy appearance. Catherine Zeta-Jones is considered an Apple!

What body shape are you?

Not every body is exactly like the shapes described above, but choose the one that comes closest to you.

Okay, first of all, anyone of any shape can wear a kaftan or a muumuu, so this is impossible. These are not hard and fast rules, just suggestions.

Hourglass: go for sex! Like Marilyn, you can wear skinny, 50s-style jackets, capri pants, pencil skirts, and flowy dresses. Or like Jean Harlow, you can wear those subtle, sexy ’30s dresses and dresses (although you might have to wear Spanx underneath). You don’t have to wear stilettos, but any kind of shoe that shows off your legs is a good idea. Mix in modern pieces like corsets to show off your chest or shrugs to cover your upper arms if you’re self-conscious about them. You can wear almost any decade, except Mod can look “wrong” on your figure, especially A-line dresses. And too many ruffles can look costumey if you’re not on the plus petite side.

Pear: You often have shapely arms, so you can get away with dresses and other sleeveless looks. Victorian and Edwardian-style long skirts (and their 70s counterparts) are great for your shape, as are vintage high, low and mid boots. Remember how amazing Kate Winslet looked in her ‘Titanic’ dresses? If you want to shop for mid-century dresses, look for dresses on the longer side that will show off the top and skim the bottom. These will be easier to find in the 1950s and 1970s than the 40s or 60s. Avoid new pockets on your skirts and dresses. Also avoid the hip-hugger jeans of the 70s, but look for the dreamy tops of the same decade. Unlike the Hourglass, you can work with the 1960s A-line cut.

Rectangle: Your wardrobe needs curves, but clothes that work for Hourglass won’t work on your shape. Look for circle skirts (not pencil skirts!), cute shoes, dresses with interest in the neck and shoulders (not zippers, but more sophisticated details like darts, pleats, and sequins). You are made to wear 1920s beaded dresses beautifully. Scarves and shawls also add flow and twist to your look. And you can really pull the Mod!

Apple: Depending on the outfit, you too can wear Mod clothes (remember Stacy Turnblad in “Hairspray”?). Show off your legs in shorter dresses, show off your cleavage in modern cleavage, vintage mini skirts! You can also wear 50s beaded sweaters with modern flat front pants. As long as you avoid bulk around the waist and don’t hide in layers and layers of fabric, you can wear almost any decade.

Shopping for your own unique vintage clothing

Start with the basics, just as you would with your contemporary wardrobe. If you like dresses, start there. Same thing with separation. Searching online is a better bet than most thrift stores, although you never know what you’ll find at your local thrift store!

Unfortunately, as with contemporary clothing, a lot depends on your budget. There are spectacular plus size dresses from all eras, but many of them also have spectacular prices. I don’t sell expensive vintage clothing myself, but then, I don’t often come across a famous designer or a silk dress in perfect condition. Dior did not do plus size.

If you simply MUST have that mink coat or taffeta dress, if you have the money, buy it! You won’t regret it for a minute. I’ve spent more than I wanted to once or twice, but it was on dresses that I adore and wear quite often.

But if you’re on a tight budget, look for vintage winter wear in the summer. Also limit the amount of vintage you buy. Vintage accessories are often affordable, and you can get the look you want with the right vintage hat, shoes, bag and jewelry for a lot less than that mink coat.

And remember, part of the cost of your old wardrobe will be maintenance. Unlike today’s clothes, you can’t throw your Ceil Chapman in the washing machine. Most of it should be professionally cleaned or carefully hand washed.

And invest in yourself! If you want a high-maintenance look, like a glamorous platinum blonde, this is part of your budget: hair salon, manicures, etc. You can pull off a great vintage look by carrying around an old microfiber bag and not bothering to do more with your hair than running your fingers through it.

The most important part of all!

Be sure! You are beautiful!

You can pull off any look you choose, as long as you are comfortable and confident in your clothes and accessories. It takes guts (or what they called in the 1930s, “moxie”) to pull off a look that’s meaningful to you. But the more you do it, the more you’ll like it. I promise!

Now, shop! And remember, BIG GALS REGULAR!

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