Sunday, 17 May 2015

Shopping for plus-size vintage; 5 tips and tricks

Hello once again lovelies! 
Hope you're all feeling fabulous and being kind to yourselves; as I've mentioned over on my facebook page  this week (11th - 17th May) is mental health awareness week in the UK. This means a great opportunity for plenty of self-care, mindfulness and looking after number one- yourself! One of my favourite forms of self care when i'm feeling blue is pampering. This can take many forms: whether it's a long soak in a Lush bubble bath, painting my nails, taking some empowering selfies or simply doing a bit of retail therapy. 

Bearing this in mind, today's blog post -as promised- is all about one of my favourite things- shopping for vintage fashion!

I've been a big lover of vintage ever since I was in my early teens. My first vintage clothing experience is one that will stay with me for the foreseeable- I was 15 and searching in Edinburgh for something fun to wear. I'd been looking all day and hadn't found ANYTHING to take my fancy; I was despondent but driven to find a magical garment to transform me into a queen (can you tell I've always had a flair for the dramatic?!) Finally, after hours of traipsing my poor mum around the high street there it was! In a box hidden deep at the back of a little Miss Selfridge shop hosting a vintage collection: The dress. Not just any dress, but the vintage dress of my dreams. Layers of peach and duck-egg blue tulle, internal corseting, floral print with delicate straps, a soft sweetheart neckline and the lightest of ruffles to accentuate the neckline. It was perfection, and as it transpired was also an absolute steal at only £25! That dress was the start of a life long love affair with vintage clothes and accessories which is exactly what I want to discuss today. 

A literal vintage Valhalla 

Unfortunately, not all vintage clothing is well sized. As a girl who can often be found rushing around vintage fairs looking for a bargain or endlessly searching the rails in my local vintage emporiums I know from experience there aren't nearly as many plus-size options as there are straight sized ones. Good quality plus-sized vintage isn't something that is always easy to come by, and it's quite easy to feel let down by the lack of options. 

Despair not however! I am here to tell you that there are options out there for you big and beautiful ladies. They might require a little extra sleuthing or thinking creatively about your clothing but you should not give up. Vintage should be accessible to everyone and my five little handy tips and tricks should help to make you realize that vintage clothing can work for you.

Searching the rails in "Beyond Retro" in Brighton

Bearing all of the above in mind, without further adieu here are my top five tips when shopping for plus-sized vintage: 

Tip number 1: Try things on! I honestly cannot emphasize this point enough to all of you beautiful voluptuous ladies out there. Vintage sizing is in itself a bit of a mystery; From personal experience I have personally been able to fit into vintage clothes marked from a size 12 (which I am most definitely not) up to a size 20. In short, vintage sizing is all over the place. If you see something beautiful at a vintage fair but it's marked as a size 16 when you're closer to a 20 - try it on! If you see a lovely blouse but it doesn't look like it'll contain your ample bosom- try it on! If you see anything at all that you fall in love with- try it on! Try it on, try it on, try it on!! You'll never know how an item looks on your body until you physically put it on and see yourself in it. Vintage clothes often don't look all that spectacular when on the hanger, but once on the body they transform and are brought to life which can be quite a magical thing to see! 

A 1940's vintage tea dress (size 14) circa 2011

Tip number 2: Elastic is your friend. Elastic is quite a marvelous creation, isn't it? Even more so when found in vintage clothes. One of my favourite items of vintage was picked up at a Judy's Affordable Vintage Sale that I attended whilst on holiday in Brighton last year. This item is a bright, colourful 80's style pleat skirt that has a pattern reminiscent of the opening scenes of "Saved by the Bell" and is more than likely handmade. There are no distinguishing markings, patterns or labels on this skirt aside from it's elasticated waistband which really was the cinch for me when making this purchase. There is nothing worse than a case of vintage regret (see tip number 5 for more details) and I really didn't want that happening with this skirt, I wasn't able to try it on at the time of purchase due to being in a rush but knowing that the waist was elasticated I was certain it would be a good fit. Was I right? Of course I was! Chances are, if an item looks to be similarly sized to you and has an elastic waist or empire line, you'll be able to make it work for you. 

My favourite vintage skirt, quickly styled with a Noel Fielding t-shirt & alternative normality hair piece

I just love how colourful this pattern is!

Tip number 3: Outerwear. Coats, Jackets, Blazers, Cardigans....never underestimate the power of a good piece of outerwear. For many plus-size women, finding well fitting vintage can be quite the struggle, however the great thing about outerwear is that it fits a far wider range of sizes than say blouses or dresses. Even if you can't find a beautiful vintage 1950's ballgown in your size, chances are you will still be able to find a beautiful faux-fur coat or astrakhan jacket that will suit you wonderfully- jackets and coats do not need to be worn done up either, which gives a bit of variety when deciding now to style them. 

If you're new to the world of vintage clothing, investing in a nice jacket or coat can be a brilliant way to revamp your style without going full 1940's or 50s. If you're a fan of the vintage aesthetic i'd suggest anything leopard print to make an instant statement (see below!)

My favourite vintage coat (circa 2010)

Tip number 4: Shop online. Unfortunately, not everyone has instant access to vintage shops, vintage fairs or even good quality second hand shops. I am fairly privileged to live within a stone's throw of both Edinburgh and Glasgow, meaning that when Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair comes to town it isn't any trouble making the pilgrimage through to raid the rails of vintage goodies. I'm also blessed to have easy access to huge vintage emporiums such as Mr Ben's and Armstrong's however I am aware that not everyone has this advantage. Luckily we do live in an online age where everything we need (well, mostly!) can be purchased at the click of a button. Buying vintage online is obviously a risky game, however sometimes it is the only port of call and the payoff can be immense. If you aren't able to get to a vintage store locally, I've added some hyperlinks to some lovely shops that sell beautiful and great quality plus size vintage!

Here are a few of my favourite online stores to find beautiful plus-size fashion:

1. Size is just a number 
2.Thrifty vintage kitten
3. Doll face Productions

Tip number 5: Don't get vintage regret! Vintage regret is a horrible phenomenon that occurs when you find a one of a kind beautiful piece of vintage clothing and don't end up purchasing it. This item of clothing then proceeds to haunt your dreams with you imagining every possible scenario in which you could wear it and the variety of ways in which you can style it but unfortunately, it is not yours. 

I can't count the amount of times that this has happened to me - most often when I put something down hoping to return to it later or spend time swithering over if it's worth the financial investment. Let me tell you - it is! There are few things more annoying that vintage regret and if you find a beautiful piece of clothing that fits you well and is one of a kind you should take the plunge and make that purchase!

Channeling my inner Nancy from "The Craft" in a vintage button-down tea dress 

Paisley princess 

Hopefully this information has given you a little bit of an insight into the world of plus-size vintage shopping. I hope that if anything this post will have given you a bit of hope to  explore the world of vintage- it isn't just for the straight sized gals amongst us! It is a wonderful cacophony of vivid prints, beautifully cut, well made and above all else, unique pieces of clothing. With a little bit of searching and creative thinking, vintage clothing can absolutely work for a multitude of plus size figures. 

Are you a fan of vintage clothing? Let me know what you think in the comments section!

Yours until next time, 
Lovelustloves x0


  1. Fantastic post!!!!! I concur on the trying on, for my first vintage piece from a fair, said 18 on it but I got my size 22/24 in it and it looked amazing.... Lots of stretch! Going to check out those online options for sure! x

  2. Hi,
    You look unique with that dress. My sister also loves to wear new and fashioned trendy dress. Recently she ordered an "Asymmetric Hem Loose Blouse" dress for her from yeytrend store. Now she looks great as like you with that dress.