Finding fashion.

I told you that I would write more about my trials and tribulations of attending a wedding this March and I'm committed to do it! For some background: Em, my partner, has a brother, Matt. Matt is engaged and will soon marry his girlfriend of four (plus) years, Adrienne, in a country club wedding in Houston, TX. I have no particular part in the wedding aside from being Em's date and part of the first tier of important family members. The past six weeks have been full of angst and frustration when it comes to fashion and what I should wear to the wedding. While I often pretend to know what I'm talking about when it comes to fashion, the reality is that it often overwhelms me. I watch Project Runway and What Not to Wear, I understand terms like bodice and bias and empire. But I don't actually get it...for me, especially.

When I was in my cousin's wedding party almost eleven years ago, I was given explicit instructions about what to wear from my toes (nail polish color) all the way up to my hair (couldn't cut it). I appreciated this as it allowed me not to think too much. I just put on my uniform and participated as needed. Since then I've been a guest at two weddings. One took place, both ceremony and reception, at a semi-rural church and had a dress code of "try to look nice". The other took place at a church and then a local restaurant and also had a dress code of "try to look nice". I tried, both times, and wound up wearing a black dress and a loosely-interpreted pant suit, in that order. This wedding is both fancier and an opportunity for me to step it up a little when it comes to looking nice. I am most comfortable in a t-shirt, jeans and a loose-fitting cardigan/sweatshirt/sweater. I wear Earth shoes most of the time, never wear make up and I feel overwhelmingly girly when I do things like get a manicure or wear earrings other than my standard tiny silver hoops. This is just a lot for me, and more often than not I'm fanning my face or whining about how hard it is. So, I need your help.

I have three dresses I'm pretty much settled on. I have a few requirements...sleeveless dresses must have substantial straps, the dress must hit at or below the knee, there shouldn't be too much cleavage, and it can't be brown. These three seem to fit the bill. Then, there's the shoes. I have also included some of my top considerations with each dress. I would like to wear heels, though I never do, and would prefer something 2.5-3.5" with a slight platform to offset the height. I have a wide foot, so some shoes just won't work at all. I also like a more substantial heel if for no other reason than I want to feel stable.

DRESS 1

I like the color, which is apparently more of a deep gray versus a taupe/champagne color, I like the tidy pleating at the waist, I like the empire cut, the v-neck on front and back, the length, the subtle detailing on the skirt and the wide straps. I don't necessarily love the fact that it doesn't have sleeves, but I could handle a wrap or a lightweight cardigan. I would most likely go for a solid black shoe, but depending on the shade I suppose I could try the choice in the middle (if the color matches). Then again, too matchy-matchy?



DRESS 2

I really love how easy this dress looks. I like the cap sleeves, the pleated skirt. I think the ruching at the waistline is flattering as is the v-neck. It is something I'm definitely likely to wear again and it would bring some color to the party, but it might be too casual (?). The shoe options are more varied with this dress, but not overwhelmingly so. I could pull off a black heel, even patent, or I could go for the nude/sand heel look. Many fashion sites recommend gold shoes with coral dresses, but I am deeply concerned that people will think I'm going for a Baby a'la Dirty Dancing look.


DRESS 3

Igigi dresses have a reputation in the plus size/fat lady world of being expertly constructed, comfortable and universally flattering. While I have never owned an Igigi dress, I have dreamt of it. This dress is a lovely taffetta sheath with an interesting bodice, fitted empire waist and an appropriate length. It has straps that can be removed if that's your thing, too. I am somewhat wary of the bodice being too big as my bodacious tatas are not, by comparison, as big as the plus size industry would like them to be for my size. But overall, this is a high end look that is both modern and classic. For shoes, I could wear anything, right? Here are some choices. I generally loathe red and black together, but I would do it for some color. I also love the teal/aqua choices. 


If you can believe it, this small list has been narrowed down from a 20+ list of dresses running the gamut from Saks Fifth Avenue to David's Bridal. I created a document and sent it to my most trusted advisers, people who truly know my body well (and not like that, pervs...ok, maybe one of them), and people who know what it sounds like when I whine about being uncomfortable. The entire experience has been positively overwhelming, but I truly feel like I've graduated from lazy femme-nist tomboy girlhood to actually being concerned about first world lady problems like FASHION. Where's my diploma?!

This experience has also illuminated some of what I heard muttered in fat fashion communities and from some of my more feminine friends...plus size fashion really blows, people. What does exist is either cut poorly, constructed from cheap and unflattering fabrics, or completely unattainable price-wise. The colors are boring, the styles are often matronly and it's next to impossible to find a variety of sizes in the store. This means that fat women need to have things like credit cards to shop online, we need to have the time/financial flexibility to wait for things to ship to us and be credited to us when we return them. We have to trust the way the various department stores and labels measure their brands, we have to sift through endless amounts of ill-fitting and tasteless "juniors" clothing to find something remotely demure and conventional, and we will all have to settle at some point in our lives for something that fits and falls within our price range rather than something that's perfect. It's frustrating and dehumanizing and I wish it wasn't so painful. If I can come out of this experience looking and feeling fabulous, I will consider it a great victory. Bodies are so complex and we are being clothed by a fashion industry that hardly cares about us.

That being said, your two cents is highly prized. Please share it in the comments!

16 comments:

  1. Dress number one is absolutely the best of the bunch. Looks fancy and comfortable and that same time, I love it! It is super stylish and wedding appropriate. Dress three is very nice as well, but I think it doesn't look as comfortable to move around in... those kind of styles make me feel like a sausage... but that's just me!

    As for the limitations in plus size clothing, of course you are absolutely right. However, I think the limitations and difficulties start in sizes below the plus size range. I think a big part of the issue is dimensions/proportions. My size is at the high end of the "regular sized" range, and NOTHING ever fits me in terms of pants or anything else that goes below the waist. I have big old hips and butt, and a small waist. Even sizes that are too big in the waist are way to small in the hips. The message: regardless of your size, you are not meant to have hips or be so curvy. If you are, you can forget buying clothes of the rack in a store. Okay, sorry for the rant, but I am definitely on board for dress number 1! No strong feelings about the shoes. All of the styles seem nice.

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  2. My vote is for #3: it's a classic shape with interesting details, and you could wear it for other things with a cardigan or something else to make it less eveningwear-y. And I love all three shoe colors.

    For years and years I was on the borderline between "normal" and plus, and it was SO HARD to find anything that was flattering and not matronly. It's like the fashion industry doesn't care about larger women until they're ready to look like someone's mother-in-law. Who am I kidding? That's exactly the way it is. And that sucks.

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  3. Meghan! I love the black dress you selected. It's timeless, flattering and very pretty! In regards to shoes, I would advise you to skip the shoes that have the cut out mid foot. I made that mistake a few years ago and got blisters on my arches and was in agony. I like the black patent leather peep toe. Add color with accessories like bright jewelry and purse. :) Can't wait to see the outcome!

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  4. I love all three looks but I think the 3rd is my favorite because of the shoes! You can really wear any color you want with that dress to give it some dramatic impact.
    My next pick would be the first dress. I love this dress: the detailing, the fit, the pleats. And I would go with the black peep-toes. This look says "I'm classy and whimsical."
    The 2nd dress is really pretty, but I think you're right that it may be too casual.
    Having said all this, you should try them on and take photos! I can't wait to see what you choose!

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  5. I like number 2. As you say, it's easy. It looks extremely comfortable yet elegant. And, I think the color would actually look pretty awesome with your hair.

    Number 3 is beautiful, but would you feel comfortable in it? I know that I personally feel utterly RESTRICTED when I'm wearing a pencil skirt shape (er, yeah, I'm wearing a pencil skirt today and every time I have to walk up stairs, it's a challenge). Though this dress appears to have quite a bit of room in the hips!

    Whatever you choose, I bet you'll look great!

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  6. another vote for number two! it is beeeeyoootiful, and totally versatile - it looks like it can be dressed up real fancy-like for a wedding, or dressed down for a casual stroll in the park on a day you wanna look extra-cute. love it, love the color. i also like it with the sand-colored shoes! good luck!

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  7. i vote for number one. i think it will create a beautiful silhouette and really flatter you. plus, the color will look awesome. oh and for shoes i think the black peep toes are cutie. let me know if you need a shawl or hot clutch to borrow. i have had to dress up for waaaaaay to many weddings.

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  8. Number 2 is my favorite, but number 1 is also very nice. Maybe get both, try them on, and see which feels better? Jewelry could really dress up number two. I like something along the lines of what the model in the pic is wearing. I'm sure you'll look AWESOME whatever you choose!! Work it, own it!!

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  9. Coral! Plus nude heels (I like the ones with the stacked wooden heel, myself, but either pair would look great). That dress is gorgeous.

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  10. I always ask my friend Tracey for help b/c I suck at this stuff http://fattyfatfashionblog.blogspot.com/

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  11. You didn't give us the time of the wedding (is it an all day affair?) or when exactly in March. Given that it's in Houston, I'll lean towards the warm/springtime weather to bolster my preferences.

    #2!!! Stunning color for daytime and great for evenings in warm Houston. You don't mention if you'll be dancing, but this dress has so much energy. It's a "I'm here, fun and lively" dress. Go have fun!

    #3 is pretty, classy and versatile. Good for the country club.

    (Argghh #1 - These eyes thinks it looks like someone pulled it out of a box it's been shoved in all winter.)

    Remember to walk knowing you're stunning. Forget the "concerned that people will think" thoughts. You're there to have fun.

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  12. NO QUESTION - #2 is by far the best! Flirty, fun, easy for dancing, less restrictive and a great color for you! I like it with the light colored shoes - esp since it's warmer weather down there, but the black patent leather is very sharp too! NO QUESTION - #2 is the BEST!

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  13. Love dress one with black shoes, great choices... dress 3 is also beautiful and would be so cute with the teal shoe :)

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  14. I too love #2, but i'm not sure i could find a way to dress it up for a country club wedding... #3 just looks uncomfortable, thus my favorite is #1, i think if it was steamed it would look AMAZING! i just love the lines and the way it is cut, just so flattering! i too love the "Ramona by Sofft" because of the platform and larger heel, if they come in nude i'd go with them, supposedly nude shoes make your legs look longer or something (doesn't help if you are super pale like me though) i can't wait to see what you pick!!!

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  15. so, i've been really interested in this whole fashion search and have been eager to help out, so feel free to ignore this if you don't like it :)

    i love the second and third dresses. the second one definitely looks for comfortable, fun, and, like you said, you'd probably wear it again. the third dress is more dressy and absolutely beautiful, but i'd definitely go with the second one. now, for the shoes...i like either black shoe with the coral dress, and the first pair of teal shoes with the black dress. maybe even the teal shoes with the coral! well, i'm just getting into my crazy contrast colors obsession now, so i'll leave you with that. i know whatever you choose, you'll look beautiful!

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  16. Ok, finally had time to look for real, even though I know you already chose. One is fabulous! And sounds perfect for this event. I LOVE #2, too, but agree that it is probably too casual. You need another event! And you should totally wear the gold shoes with it just to see if anyone else can make the D.Dancing connection :)

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