Autograph

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Sell Us the Clothes – Don’t Judge Us On Them

Published April 22, 2014 by Fat Heffalump

Ugh, when are these plus-size retailers going to get it?  Check out these screen shots I took from a post Autograph Fashion made today:

photo 1

photo 2

Now I *LOVE* Autograph.  I really do.  They’re one of the few brands that actually cater to my size (26AU) and I love that they’re presenting a lot of great colours, prints and styles that aren’t your usual black and boring boxy fare.  They’ve come so far in the past few years, from when they used to be full of peasant tops and capri pants and nothing else, to a range that is bold, colourful and full of variety.  In fact I’d pretty much wear that outfit above as is (maybe not the black tank, too many layers for Brisbane!)  I’m currently wearing an outfit entirely made up of Autograph pieces, including a pair of their leggings, which I am wearing as pants, and rocking the sh!t out of!

But when I saw this post today, I saw RED.

My objections?  Two things.  Firstly, the statement that “leggings are not pants”.  I’ve spoken about this before.  Leggings are pants if that’s what you wear them as, and none of us need anyone else, particularly not a retailer who is supposed to be marketing to us, lecturing us on how to wear clothes.  We’re fat, we’re not babies.  We’re able to determine what we want to wear and how we wish to wear it.

Secondly, a constant bugbear of mine in plus-size fashion – all the rhetoric about how to “hide” or “flatter” our “problem areas”.  I’ve actually been in store, browsing the products at Autograph, when a staff member remarked on a top I had picked up “Oh that’s lovely, it will hide all your bad bits.”  I responded very firmly “Excuse me?  I do not have any “bad bits”, thank you very much!”  It’s so entrenched in plus-size women’s wear, that it’s seen as acceptable for a sales person to actually say something like that to their customer and not think for a second that it would be offensive.

The assumption that every customer of a plus-size retailer must by default wanting to hide, disguise or minimise any parts of their bodies simply because they are fat women, has to stop.  The assumption that we even HAVE any “bad bits” or “problem areas” has to stop.  We don’t pay these retailers for body shaming and lectures about how we should dress to “flatter” our bodies.  We pay these companies for clothes, not body shaming.

For too long, this kind of marketing has been used to try to get us to purchase their products, and they wonder why it doesn’t work.  Women who feel bad about themselves are not going to spend money on themselves.  All it does is create more arbitrary policing of how fat women dress.

Now I’m not saying that they can’t give style advice.  Definitely tell us what pieces look great together, how to layer for changing weather and what colours and prints are hot this season.  This is helpful information, and all part of good marketing.  I love to hear new ways of wearing things, and it helps me think of outfit ideas that I may not have thought of before.  The thing is, it’s not difficult to keep body shaming and judgement out of marketing copy.  Look, I’ll have a go:

“The Printed Legging

A  hot trend this season is the Printed Legging, no matter what size or shape there’s a style for you.  The trick to wearing leggings is to ensure you have the right fit, so that they hug your body.  The right fit will ensure your leggings are comfortable,  not see through or do not roll or bunch at the knees or ankles.

Printed leggings look fantastic with block colours, and we have a range of fabulous tunic tops that work perfectly.  Pair this seasons animal prints in black and white with bold purple, and add some silver jewellery for extra punch.  This asymmetrical tunic in royal purple looks great and is floaty and feminine.  If you want to add layers for cooler weather, a black tank can be worn underneath, or add a long line cardi or jacket for those chillier days.

Give them  a try today!”

But time and time again we see the same old loaded copy, full of body shaming and judgement.  Is it any wonder the comments threads are full of “But big women shouldn’t….!”  In fact, right after my comment a woman declared apropos of nothing that women with big thighs “shouldn’t wear stripes” – as though what other people wear on their bodies is anyone’s business but their own.  This is the kind of attitude that the negative marketing creates.

If you make women feel good about themselves, empowered and positive, they are very likely to spend money on nice clothes for themselves.  I know that’s when I spend the most money – when I’m feeling fantastic.  I want more nice stuff when I feel good.  When I feel crap, there’s no way I’m going to spend money on clothes.  It is not that fat women don’t want to buy clothes, it’s that we are so often made feel bad in the marketing, that it puts us off buying them.  So many plus-size clothing companies shoot themselves in the foot by using such negative marketing.

What I’d like to see from a plus-size clothing company is positive marketing that shows off their product with pride, and says “We love our product and you’d look great in it!”

Your job is to provide us with great clothes, it’s not to tell us that we should be hiding, minimising or disguising our bodies as though there is something wrong with them.

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Holy Crap – What a Roller Coaster!

Published April 27, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Hey!

I know, it has been awhile since I blogged last.  But this post is going to be all about what has been going on in my life since the whole Hoopla debacle and I want to clear a few things up too.

So, things have been kind of chaotic for me.  The big thing is that I’m moving house in a week’s time.  Which for me is a seriously big deal – I’ve lived in my little place here for fourteen and a half years – the longest I have lived anywhere in my life.  But I’m also moving across the city, not to mention doing almost everything on my own (but I do have a couple of awesome friends who have been really helpful – love youse!) and I’m moving because my current landlord is kicking me out, not for any negative reason, but because I no longer meet their criteria to rent one of their properties, which really sticks in my craw.  So the whole thing is really massive for me.  That said, I have a lovely new place lined up to move into that has lots of fabulous things that I don’t have here.  My own private laundry!  An east facing balcony!  A lock up garage (lots of storage for me because I don’t drive)!  Proper wardrobes, linen cupboard and kitchen pantry!  Just the storage alone is making me excited.  But best of all, I will be living by the sea.  I am moving to a bay side suburb, and my new flat is only metres from the foreshore.  I can’t wait to be able to ride my bike and walk up and down the waterfront at any time I choose.  Not to mention those gorgeous sea breezes.

Yeah, so that’s the biggest upheaval.

But as well as going through a full residential relocation, I’ve had so much else on in the past few months.

There’s the shiny new library we opened at the end of March.  I always think bringing a new library into the world is somewhat like bringing a new baby into the world.  There is a long, uncomfortable gestation, then a difficult labour and intense birth, but then you have this beautiful newborn that you love like no other and are already beginning to think you might like another one!

I also sprained my ankle a couple of weeks ago.  Walking to my bus stop, moved aside to let a cute little old couple that looks like Santa and Mrs Claus by on the footpath, hit an uneven bit of concrete and turned my ankle.  Went down like a sack of spuds, landed on my right knee and sprained  my left ankle.  I’m healing ok, was very limpy for a couple of weeks there and am stuck in a compression bandage for another two weeks yet, but I’m thankful I’m strong and in robust health so that I can heal well.

Y’all know about the Hoopla drama.  And in the thick of all of that, an interview I did back in January was published in the Sun Herald (Sydney).  I had seen the online version, but when a friend left me a message to tell me that there was a “huge” photo of me in the print version, I was kind of “Oh yeah, that’s nice.”  Then she sent me the paper copy:

That’s a library card sitting on top of the paper to give scale (same size as a credit card).  I’m about half the page!!  I sent it to my Grandma, she was tickled pink.  I like how it shows off my gold We Love Colors tights and the leopard print Chucks my friend Kylie found for me in the UK.

And then there has been more media interest… Kelli Brett from ABC Radio Melbourne’s The Main Ingredient interviewed me for her programme.  The podcast hasn’t gone up live yet but I’ll share when it does.  Plus a news editor from the Australian Women’s Weekly interviewed me a couple of weeks ago, for a piece that I think will be in the June or July edition.  More on that in a minute.

I do just want to clarify something.  There has been some suggestion from several people that The Hoopla publishing my piece some weeks ago is the reason that these media gigs have been coming my way.  I would just like to make it very clear that this is not true.  I was interviewed for the Sun Herald back in January (on Australia Day, January 26th, to be exact, and photographed in the first week or so of February) and any subsequent media contact has come from either this blog or that Sun Herald article.  One of the recent interviewers had never even heard of The Hoopla, the other wasn’t interested in it.  As much as there might be people that would like to claim that they are the reason for my “overnight success” (after over 3 years of slogging away at this stuff as a second, unpaid, full time job), it is simply not true.  The Hoopla did not “discover me”, I contacted them and asked if they would publish my writing.

Right, now that we’ve got that out of the way!  I am very lucky to get these opportunities, but that luck is coupled by my own hard work.

As well as being interviewed by the Australian Women’s Weekly, they have set up a photo shoot on Monday, which I am both nervous and excited about.  They’re going the whole kit and caboodle with a studio shoot, with fashion stylist, make-up and hair and Autograph Fashion are kindly loaning us the clothes for the shoot.  I am so excited, because what fun is it to get all dolled up!  But I am very nervous and anxious, as I’m suffering some impostor syndrome about it all.  I’ve been labelled the “ugly fat chick” my whole life, and it’s just bizarre to think that I’m doing a photo shoot with AWW, a magazine that I read my mother’s copies of as a kid.  As I said on Twitter this evening “I’m in your magazines, smashing your beauty standards!”

And the other big, exciting news for me is that I’ve found a way to wangle the finances to attend the Massey University, Palmerston North Fat Studies: Reflective Intersections Conference in New Zealand!  I am SOOOO excited, not only am I taking a holiday (two beautiful weeks) to New Zealand, but I’m going to be able to get all fab fatty at the conference.  I’ll get to see friends I made at the last conference, and hopefully make some new friends.  It’s worth putting myself into hock for!  Of course I promise to blog all about it, take lots of photos and I have also submitted an abstract for a paper I am writing.  Cross fingers it gets accepted so I can present it.

So, there you have the absolute roller coaster of chaos that my life is at the moment.  I’m knackered, a bit sore, sneezy from all my allergies stirred up by packing and cleaning, and in desperate need of a decent night’s sleep and a couple of days relaxation.  But I’m also  excited, challenged and happy.

Hope you are all in positive places in your lives too!

These Boots Were Made for Fatshion – Boot Review

Published March 20, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Hey hey!  I know, I’m not blogging as much as usual, but with the new library project I’m working on coming to fruition next week (shiny new library, so close to opening it!) and the fact that I have to move house in the next month to six weeks, the old energy levels are low.  But I’m back here with you tonight to do another of my blog reviews, since Autograph Fashion were so kind as to send me two pairs of their new season boots.  Plus I know you all love some outfit posts right?

So, remember last year when I bought the tall riding boots in brown from Autograph and I was SOOOOOO excited because it was the first time in my 38.5 years of life that I could find tall boots to fit my fat calves?  I wore those puppies until the soles wore through.  I still reckon I should just go and get them resoled, as the rest of the boot is just fine.  They also sent me the brown buckle boots, which I love even more and wore right through summer, and will continue to wear this year right through again.

Anyway, Autograph sent me through two pairs of their new season boots to review – the black tall riding boots and the tan suede ankle boots.

First the black riding boots, check ’em out:

I like bright colours, what can I say?

Autograph got a lot of feedback last year that the soles of the tall riding boots weren’t the best of quality.  I did wear mine out, but I also wore them a LOT when I first got them, so I wasn’t sure if it was the quality or the frequency of wear.  But this year they have apparently improved the construction of the boot, reinforcing the sole.  It certainly feels sturdier than those on the brown ones.  I also like the addition of the buckle detail, it just gives them a bit more detail than last year’s boots.  Now I have 19″ calves (48cm for metric) and they fit me well, with room to spare.  I can actually slide my arm down inside the back of them.  So those of you with plus-sized calves – these are going to fit you, I promise.  The price is $99.99, which is actually at the lower end of the boot scale.  CityChic are offering a very similar thing (though there was some debate about how much leather is in each pair) for double the price.  I haven’t found any other wide calf boots anywhere else in Australia to compare the prices with.  Regular calf size boots in places like Payless or Target are about the same price as far as I can see.

There was a question on one of the Autograph Fashion Facebook page threads about whether or not “big women would want to wear chunky boots – they wouldn’t be very flattering” (paraphrased).  Well, here I am at a size 26 in the boots:

Dress and boots: Autograph Fashion
Leggings: We Love Colors in "Scarlet" - yes, they are hot pink!

Dress and boots: Autograph Fashion (my favourite black dress ever.)
Tights: We Love Colors lycra blend in "mint"
Flower brooch: Sussan

Y’all know I don’t care about flattering, but seriously – these add NO bulk to my legs at all.  They fit all the way up close to the contours of my leg.  Don’t believe me?  I wore them again today:

See, even goofing off for the camera they’re still firm and close to the contours of my leg.  Folks – don’t let the fashion “rules” stop you from wearing the things you love – just work them into your wardrobe however you like, and rock the hell out of them!

Oh wait, here’s a detail shot of them with my mint green tights from We Love Colors:

Mmm… minty!

Now, onto the tan ankle boots.  I’ve been holding off on this post for the past two weeks for one reason – the ankle boots are faux suede and I needed a non-rainy day to wear them… and we haven’t had one in WEEKS!  I don’t want to ruin them by getting them wet or muddy, and I don’t think even water proofing treatment could protect them in the current squelchy weather we’ve had here in Brisbane.

So tonight I came home and whacked them on my feet with the mint tights and took some photos indoors, and walked around with them on for an hour or so.  Here, have a look:

I tell you what, it’s REALLY hard to photograph your own feet from the side.  I wanted to show off the heel and snub-toe shape of these cute boots:

I wasn’t really successful, was I?  Let’s try another angle:

Well, you get the idea right?  They are very cute, a great colour and style, and they would fit a wide foot really well (I have a standard width size 10 foot and there is width to spare in them) and very comfortable.  The only real criticism of them is that heel.  It’s super tiny and I did feel quite teetery on them.  Other fat women might be more successful with them than I, but I wonder if they’re going to be strong enough to support this fatty.  But I’ll have to wear them out and about a bit to get a real indication of how they’ll hold up – if it ever stops raining!  I also think they’re going to crease up a fair bit with wear (you can see the beginnings already) but I personally like that kind of body-formed look.  I know other people hate it though.  These are $89.99, which I wouldn’t pay, because I don’t need wide fitting shoes and can buy ankle boots anywhere and have them fit me.  But if you’re struggling to find boots to fit you, these might be the ticket for you.

So – how do you feel about wearing boots?  Those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, I know you’re on the downward run out of the cold months now, did you wear boots much over the winter?  And my fellow Southern Hemisphere buds – are you looking for boots for winter?  If so, what kind are you looking for and have you found any fab ones that fit fatties?

*Again, these boots were gifted to me by Autograph Fashion but all opinions are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Fab Fat Fashion Feedback Session

Published February 20, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

I am a very lucky fatty.  I do know that.  I was invited again by Autograph Fashion to spend some time in my local store reviewing their new product lines and giving them some feedback.  Of course I leapt at the chance – what’s more fun than trying on clothes and playing with fashion?  Not to mention getting to share them with you all once I have too.

The kind folks at Autograph gave me a list of garments they wanted me to try on, and then let me go nuts with whatever else in store interested me.

I tried on a LOT of stuff.  I lost count with how many.  We didn’t photograph all of them, but here are the ones we did.  The first item they asked me to try on was this half sleeve foil print top.  I knew before I even put it on that it wasn’t my cup of tea, but the girls gave me a pair of jeggings (also not my cup of tea) and I had a go anyway:

Definitely not me.  I’m not one for slogans or anything on tops, and I wear almost no t-shirts at all.  It was made of a really soft fabric though.  The same goes for the jeggings – well made and a nice fabric, but not my cup of tea.  I felt really naff and uncomfortable in this outfit.

I then went on to try a floral print button through top that I had been eyeing off online for a bit.  I love a floral print, and anything loose and breezy has my vote in summer:

I found it super cute, but it just didn’t fit me at all.  It was kind of loose around the armpits, but sat weird on my hips and tummy.  A pity, because I just love that print.

Another outfit that the folks at Autograph asked me to try were the snakeskin print leggings and this frill hem voile tunic.

This top fit WAY better, but I wasn’t fussed on that hemline – it just hung all weird.  It’s a gorgeous colour though and a lovely soft, cool fabric.  But I can’t tell you how much I love those leggings.  They’re awesome!  Soft and comfortable and breath well, and y’all know how I love snakeskin print.  Those went on the “Yes” pile straight away.

I also tried on this black shirt:

It wasn’t really my cup of tea – it’s a bit plain for me.  But again, another great fabric, and if you’re looking for a wardrobe basic, it would be a good one.

Then it was time to try on some dresses.  This one jumped out at me straight away because of it’s blue print – blue is one of my favourite colours to wear:

But sadly, it didn’t work.  It looked frumpy and bland once I put it on, and the slip underneath was actually longer than the dress.  It’s a pity because I do love blue.

The ladies in store asked me to try this mono print one on, as they wanted to see it on a body rather than just on the hanger.  The print didn’t appeal to me at all (a bit old lady feeling for me) on the hanger, but it was better when I put it on:

It hung really nicely and was beautifully soft as well.  I think if it had been a different print I would like it a lot more.

Another one of the garments the Autograph folk asked me to try was this peplum dress:

I love it!  I love it!  I love it!  I’m going to change the belt up for one in red or bright yellow, to bring some colour into it.  I would LOVE one in the same blue as the top on the wall behind me in this photo, and I’d wear that with a yellow belt too.  Or red would be awesome.  Or purple.  I put this one on the “Yes” pile even though I have a dozen plain black dresses.   It’s such a cute style.

There was also this zip detail dress, which I really liked on the hanger:

I really liked the look of it, but it just wouldn’t sit right on me.  I think I would spend all my time adjusting it – and you know how annoying that is.  But I love the style and the print.

Now you know I’m not so much of a corporate wear kind of woman, but I thought I would give this dress a try (no longer on website):

How cute is that dress??  I love the just on the knee length, and the splash of colour in the top half.  It’s made of a beautiful weighty knit in the skirt and a light viscose in the bodice.  Since the dress was such a hit, I thought I would try a couple more of the garments from the workwear range.  There was this lace print tunic:

Love it.  I think I will go back for this one.  I love the soft peach colour and the pretty lace print.  I wear a lot of tunics and leggings, so this one would integrate into my wardrobe just nicely.

I also tried on this fluttery bow print top, and liked it so  much, it came home with me!  I wore it to work today, check out how I wore it:

Yes, I did have a hair cut over the weekend!

And this apricot spot top (with grey maxi skirt):

Despite the squinchy face I’m pulling, I really did like it.  I may also go back for that maxi skirt, I love that it’s straight through, no tiers or frills or fuss.

Leaving the skirt on, I tried this pretty floral top:

Which I really did love (I’m a sucker for a floral), and this gather neck print top:

Which didn’t quite work for me, though I love the colours in it.  Looking at that maxi skirt again, I REALLY like it.  I think I’m going to have to invest in that one!

Finally, I tried on a few more tops, from this rust coloured stripe top:

Which to be honest, I didn’t feel at all comfortable in – you can probably tell by the photograph!  I don’t really do t-shirts, but this colour and the stripe really called my name.

Then to this red and grey top:

Which really didn’t work for me at all (it felt like a pajama top) and finally, to this striped top with pockets:

Which I absolutely loved to bits, so much that it also came home with me!  It’s so soft and comfy and I love the pockets.  I am such a sucker for stripes too.

Finally, there was this awesome zigzag print tunic, which also came home with me, and I wore it to work on Friday (pre hair cut!).  Check it out:

I think that’s my favourite piece of the whole day.

There were a WHOLE lot of other things I did try on, but for several reasons they were rejected.  Some were just sold out in my size, some didn’t quite fit, some I didn’t like the fabric and some just weren’t my taste at all.

But overall I’m really impressed with how far Autograph have come in the past year or so.  I always find something I love, there is always something in on-trend colours, there is now some really good variety and mostly, it fits, even my size 26AU super fatty body.

1. In the interest of openness, Autograph Fashion gifted me 5 garments of my choice, but all opinions are my own and are not influenced by this gift.
2. Thanks to Lauren Gurrieri who took all of the in store shots for me.

 

An Afternoon at Autograph

Published November 19, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Sometimes being a bolshy fat activist blogger means I get to do some pretty awesome things.  For anyone who has been reading Fat Heffalump for awhile, you know I’ve had quite a regular blog review relationship with Australian plus-size clothing retailer, Autograph Fashion.  Being the only brick and mortar dedicated plus-size store that actually have clothes that fit me (most only go to 22 or 24 AU) and that I can afford (MySize – $90 for a t-shirt, fuck that!), I am pretty vocal about how they’re doing with serving the mega fatty like myself as far as price, quality and style are concerned.  In the 12 months or so since they first contacted me and asked me to review some of their clothes, I’ve watched a vast improvement in the quality and style of their stock and the look of their stores.  They’ve gone from this to the outfits I’m going to show you below.

I’ve been really, really lucky that they’ve sent me so many pieces for free to review, and I really appreciate that they are working to get it right – and of course, I’m the kind of bolshy fat activist blogger who is going to be honest with them if they don’t.

Earlier this week they contacted me and let me know that some of the marketing folk were going to be here in Brisbane today, and asked me if I would like to come in and meet with them, have a look at the new stock and give them some feedback and discuss how they’re doing with their product and service these days.  HELL YES!

Being on holidays at the moment (back to work Monday, sob!) meant that I had plenty of time to spare and could relax and just enjoy talking with the ladies and trying on clothes and letting them see how they work on someone at the upper end of their range.  I’m a size 26AU in most garments (though often lower sizes in pants/skirts) and therefore definitely at the upper end of their 14-26 range.  I also have a body that is not a traditional shape – no hourglass or pear here… I’ve said before I’m more of a barrel with legs.  We know as fatties ourselves that our bodies are diverse in shape even though we might take the same size garment, so it’s important for the folks from a plus-size clothing company to understand the mechanics of our fitting garments to our diverse bodies.

I did make sure I was wearing a mostly Autograph Fashion outfit today, because I also want them to know that I certainly do buy their clothes – boy do I buy a lot of their clothes!  So this is what I wore:

This dress originally came with a belt, but because I’m round in the middle, it looks better on me unbelted.  The sandals are from Payless Shoes and earrings from Ritual.  I also had an Autograph Fashion bracelet on, but my hand is behind my back so you can’t see it here.

So I met the Autograph ladies and we started out by having a discussion about what I liked about the store and the current stock.  The Myer Centre store looks great at the moment, inviting and as if they’re proud of their stock and their customers.  Compared to a lot of plus-size clothing retailers, who either shove the plus-sizes in the back, or they fill the windows with something other than their clothes on plus-size mannequins (why put something other than your stock in the window??), I like how their stock is highly visible from the front of store, and they have plus-size mannequins right there in the middle of the front of the store, highlighting the plus-sized clothes they sell.  It looks like any other clothing store, just with bigger clothes.  Their stock has some great colours that are bang on trend at the moment, and some really fab on-trend prints and styles too.

We also talked about the stuff that I’m not so fond of.  Shark-bite hemlines anyone?  I HATE those things, though I’m stuck with several in my wardrobe because options are so limited for my size.  They actually don’t have much that makes me go “yuck” at the moment.   I also told them about some horrible things other companies are doing, like cutting off at size 20 or 22, offering only casual clothes, charging exorbitant prices for t-shirts and capri pants ($90 for a t-shirt!!), or the worst practice – having lower quality fabrics for the upper sizes, ie 22 and 24, than those that are 14-20 in the exact same garment.

We also talked about how clothes fit on “everyday” fat bodies, as opposed to their current “face” of Autograph Fashion, plus-size model Fiona Faulkner – who is gorgeous but is a bit of an Amazon – very tall and hourglass with long legs.  That’s not the average Australian plus-size woman’s build, and so we talked about the practicalities of fitting clothes to women with bodies like mine that aren’t shaped like the current cultural beauty ideal.

They also asked me if I could buy clothes from any other plus-size retailer, if they had my size, shipped to Australia and were affordable, who I would buy from.  Dorothy Perkins got my main vote – I love the styles they have but they simply don’t cater to my size and I mentioned that I like Asos Curve but they also cut off before my size as well.

Then we got to the fun stuff.  They let me loose to just try on a whole bunch of stuff and see how it fits, which ones I like and which ones  didn’t work.  I selected a HUGE pile of clothes, I really wanted to get in and put stuff on my mega fatty body and show them how it looks.

And yes, I have photos for you all.

The first one is this print maxi dress that they actually posted on their FaceBook page today and I liked the look of.

I like the super long length and that it has little cap sleeves, which cover my tattoo enough for work.  It’s lovely and cool and the neckline is really pretty.  This one got a total thumbs up from me.

The next one was this glittery lurex stripe maxi.

I liked the look of this one, especially as the fabric was all glittery and sparkly, and the cut and length were great for me, but unfortunately the lurex was kind of itchy and prickly.  I’m sure it would drive me nuts here in the Queensland heat.  It does look cute though.

Another dress next, this time a shorter length one in blue (not available online):

I love this dress.  The intense blue colour, the just-on-the-knee length, the slits down the sleeves and the soft fabric.  Total winner, one of my favourites of the day.

I did try on a few other dresses next, but they didn’t work on me or there wasn’t one in the right size.  This one clung in all the wrong places despite being a gorgeous colour and print, a pretty frilled one (available in red or black, not on the website) that just wasn’t suited to my shape, and a sleeveless one in a gorgeous pewter satiny fabric that gaped all weird around my armpits.

On to a few tops next, and the first I tried on was this black and white sleeveless tunic (not available online):

I absolutely love the starry print on this one, and it was a delicious cool cotton fabric, but there was that damn shark-bite hemline!  However it was softened by the little frill around the bottom (I do love a frill) and there are slits up the sides that make it fall nicely.  I may even go back and buy this one, I love that print so much.

Then there was this one in a taupe with frill neckline and pockets:

I liked it much more on the hanger than on my body.  I think the blue would have been a nicer colour on me too, but they didn’t have one in my size.  It was soft and comfortable, and I LOVE the pockets, but yeah, it just didn’t work for me.  It gaped a bit weird around the armpits, which seems to be a bit of a common theme for some of the garments there.

Those of you who know me know that I love leopard print like only a fat lady can, so it will come as no surprise that I had to try on the sheer leopard print shirt.

This one was my other firm favourite of the day.  I was in love the minute I put it on.  It has a dipped hemline (very on-trend this season) and tiny gold buttons, and cutouts in the sleeves.   It’s quite sheer so I just put it over a plain black tank top.  Gorgeous and floaty and perfect.

I did try a bunch of others that I didn’t take photos of in the tops too.  A cute one with a lace frill in apricot that was really lovely (I may go back and buy it), a watermelon peasant blouse that was lovely but didn’t fit me right, and a ruffly one in the most gorgeous bird print in black birds on midnight blue (not available online) that wasn’t available in my size.  Oh and I also tried on this striped maxi skirt, which is beautiful and soft and cool – yep, might go back and get that one too!

Finally the Autograph ladies brought me a bunch of other things they wanted me to try on just to get a look at how they were on my body.  There was this top which was really quite cute, I may go back and get that one too!  Their new sandals which are a wide foot fitting and super comfortable, and a little denim vest that I absolutely fell in love with but didn’t get a photo of!

But there were also these two dresses, which demonstrate the power of trying things on before you buy, and to get out of your comfort zone.  First there was this black one with cutout detail (not available online) that I totally would have picked out for myself but left on the shelf only because I already have a zillion black dresses.  But looking at it on shelf, it would have been one that I would have bought without trying on because it’s a style that usually suits me.  But when I put it on:

It just didn’t work on me.  It clung, it rode up in the back, and just wasn’t right.  Which is a real shame because I love that cutout detail and it’s a great length too, just below the knee.  It would have been a dress that I’d bought and never wore.

Then they brought me this floral one (not yet available online) that I had looked at and thought was pretty, but totally not me.  I never would have even tried it on, had they not asked me to.

I am so glad I did!  I love it to bits!  It’s so femme and retro (it feels like a vintage piece) and is such a cute length on me.  It was also really useful to show the Autograph folk the dress on a super fat body.

By that time I was quite over trying things on and I was getting hot and sweaty!  But it was lots of fun and we had some really useful conversation about fit, fabric, construction, the politics of fatshion, marketing to fat women and body positivity.  It was interesting to talk about the diverse types of customers they have, from those who are looking for “flattering” clothes that they can feel comfortable wearing, and those of us who are more fat positive and are looking for fashion, fun, colour, and visibility.  It’s hard to make such a diverse group of people happy when there is currently so little available on the market – but women who want to cover their bodies and dress in a “flattering” manner have as much right to choose that and have product available to them, as those of us who want something more fashion forward and visible do.

We also had a good talk about the practicalities of garments for plus-size bodies.  Things like garments needing to cover plus-size bras (which are by default, big and ugly), of lengths of dresses not getting longer as the sizes get bigger (they sadly often do, which means larger sized women who are not taller end up swamped), how necklines work differently with large breasts and chins, the fit over different shaped breasts, hips, arms, bellies and thighs, and the different climates Australia has and what is practical in Melbourne may not be here in Queensland.

Once we’d finished up there, they very kindly gave me the first print maxi dress, the blue shorter dress, the sheer animal print shirt, the floral dress and the denim vest (not pictured) as a thank you for my time and feedback, which has me very chuffed.  I can’t wait to style them myself with my existing wardrobe and do outfit of the day photos with them when I wear them later.

All in all, all of the women from Autograph that I met this afternoon (and the effervescent Michelle and lovely Sue who are my local Autograph ladies) were friendly, genuinely interested in conversation with me about their product, the industry and the politics of fat fashion and were a lot of fun.  Other plus-size fashion retailers could learn a lot from them.

Another Fatshion Review!

Published July 24, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Remember my excited post of a couple of weeks ago about the new fashion range from Autograph Fashion?  Well, they sent me a whole swathe of stock from the collection to review!  I am a lucky, lucky fatty.

Unfortunately, my camera has died.  I have a couple of not so great quality photos for you all, but it will give you a general idea.  I hope to get a new camera in a couple of weeks, and I’ll take new OOTD shots then.  But I want to tell you about these new clothes!

So let’s start with the first piece I wore, which was the midnight spot print smock dress.

The first thing I noticed about this whole collection is the vast improvement in quality.  Not only in the fabrics, but in the construction of each garment.  This dress is made of a lovely heavy jersey-style stretch fabric that feels great on, and drapes really well.  I love how comfortable and easy-to-wear this dress is, and it’s nice and warm in this winter weather too.  I kept it simple with a pair of leggings and denim ballet flats, but I also tried it with a wide belt and tights that looked really cute too.

The next dress I wore was the flutter sleeve dress.

What can I say?  I love this dress.  It’s made of a light, fluttery polyester, has pockets (oh how I love pockets!) and the detail is just gorgeous.  From the ruffle cap sleeves, to the ruched belt with gold buckle, to the gold exposed zipper down the back.  I love this dress because it has shape and style and isn’t the usual guff for plus-sizes.  It’s light enough to be summery, but I added tights (We Love Colors in orchid pink) and a jacket (see next pic) and it works for winter too.

This dress also comes in midnight blue, and I want it!

The same day, I wore this jacket:

It just wasn’t me.  It’s a lovely crepe fabric, and is well made, but I just didn’t feel right in it.  I felt like I’d stolen it out of my mother’s closet circa 1987.  Several people told me they liked it on me, but I just couldn’t warm to it at all.  The colour and style are just not my cup of tea, you know?  This one is dry clean only too, which I’m not a fan of.

But then, the following day, I wore this one – the animal print drape dress:

I love this dress so much too!  Now y’all know I love leopard print like only a fat lady can right?  So the fabric alone won me from the first picture I saw.  But when I got it, the style of the dress is so cute I fell heartily in love.  It has a kind of wrap/draping across the skirt that just gives it a really lovely fall, and of course, pockets win brownie points in any garment for me.  I also love that this dress doesn’t have the usual surplice neckline (in fact, none of this collection does!) and has darts to give shape to the bust.  It’s made of a soft, stretch fabric that has enough weight to hang just right, without being clingy or pulling at all.  I got so many compliments for this dress the day that I wore it.

They also sent me some other garments, but sadly my camera died and I didn’t get to photograph them on me.  But just to tell you about them, I have:

Mesh print tank top

This one was a winner when I wore it to work.  Everyone liked it.  I teamed it with some plain black dress pants and a black cardigan, and black pointy-toed shoes.  It’s a kind of swing-top style and is lined, so it hangs beautifully.  Comfy and cute.

Lace ruffle top

I liked the look of this one in the catalogue, but was disappointed to find that the lace and ruffles were only on the front.  The back is just black tank top.  That said, it is well made and the ruffles and lace are really cute.  I wore it with a black long sleeve top underneath (it’s winter here) and black leggings.

Black jeans (no photo sorry)

These jeans have changed my opinion on jeans.  I stopped being a jeans wearer when I found some self esteem, because the only jeans I could find before were baggy and shapeless and didn’t fit my body properly.  I tried these on and was instantly converted.  They fit.  Perfectly.  They fit my belly, my butt, my waist, my thighs, my legs.  And when I say fit, I don’t mean they go on over those parts of my body, but they actually FIT my body.  I can sit, kneel, squat and bend in them without them scooching down, or riding up, or pinching.  They are really good jeans people!

Midnight blue sparkle tunic

I wore this one with the jeans.  I love a bit of sparkle.  Another one that is well made, the sequins stitched really well.  It’s just a plain sleeveless tunic, but worn with all black just gives a bit of glamour to simple garment.  This one also comes in black too.  I took the tie belt off it though, it just didn’t sit right on me with it.

I’ve also got a very cute white denim jacket on lay-by that I should pick up in a week or so.  It’s just a plain, classic cut white denim jacket, but of a good quality denim and made really well.

All in all I still think Autograph are doing great things with their current ranges – they’ve also got a new corporate collection, and plenty of casual things for weekend wear or anyone who works at home or in a casual environment.

Keep up the good work Autograph, bring us MORE please!

*Disclaimer* Autograph Fashion sent me these clothes for free in exchange for reviewing, however all opinions are honest and my own.

Clothes! (I’m Excited!)

Published July 3, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

It is a rare thing that plus-size fashion promos make me really excited.  Don’t get me wrong, I love clothes, and every now and then I find something that I really love, but it’s not very often that I see a whole story and just go “I love it!”

But I got a sneak peek earlier this week at the lookbook of the newly released July range from Autograph Fashion and almost all of the collection was something that I would wear, and several pieces were really appealing.  I asked the crew at Autograph to send me some images so that I can share them with you all, because I think we’re seeing something quite significant with this collection.

So let’s take a look!

My favourite piece from the whole collection is this animal print dress:

Now I love me some animal print like only a fat lady can, but there are a lot of things I love about this dress.  Firstly… pockets!  Darting at the bustline, pleating and draping along the skirt (a bit hard to see in this photo).  I love the black, white and silvery grey too – I can see it with a jewel colour cardigan and tights, or fishnets and heels.  I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

Then there is this midnight spot dress:

I love a lot of things about this one too.  The smocking, the indigo colour and the generous gathering.  I think it will look amazing over black leggings or tights, and I am going to find a black belt so I can wear it like this too.  And the people who feel they need sleeves are catered to with this one too.  I love that it’s a different take on spots as well.

How about this snake print skirt:

More animal print (yay!) and I love tulip wrap skirts, they hang so well on many different shaped bodies.  Not too long either – I find they look frumpy on me if they go past the knee.  I am really loving the black, white, indigo and silver of this range too.  I can keep it as is for a wintry look, or jazz it up with more colour.

Another favourite of this range for me is this shoulder top:

Love the cutouts, love the studs, love the drape over the bodice!  I’d wear this one with the snake print skirt.  This is a style that you NEVER see in plus-size fashion, it’s so refreshing to have something that’s different.

Ok, I know that a lot of you love sequins, so check out this tunic:

I confess, I love some sequins myself.  I’d love to see this one in red too, but the black is lovely.  I like the length too.

For another black dress, we have this one:

I love the ruffles on this.  I do love ruffles.  The ruched belt with this one is really cute too, and it’s a great length.  Another one I would wear with bright accessories (but you could leave it monochrome if that’s more your style).

Now this one is listed as a block print tunic:

But you know what?  It’s the white jacket I’m in love with in this shot.  I bought their denim jacket a couple of months ago and wear the hell out of it, and this one is even cuter.  The tunic is nice too, but that jacket… love it!

Next is the satin placket top:

 

There’s that indigo colour again that is really hot this season, and I love that this one is another new style that I’ve not seen repeated everywhere in plus sizes.  It looks like a spring and summer top, but with one of the jackets, leggings or a long sleeved top underneath, it works for winter too.  I’m a big fan of sheer fabrics as well.

And then we have the lace print tunic and drape cardi:

 

 

These two are a bit more traditional of plus-size clothes, and I have something similar to both already.  I still like the silvery-grey with black and white though.

So there you have the bulk of the collection.  You know what I love about this collection?  There are none of the usual fat-lady tropes that show up in SO much of the plus-size clothing we see.  No surplice necklines.  No shark-bite/handkerchief hems.  No “embellished” pants or bustlines.  Not even a baby-doll/empire waist!  Now I happen to personally like surplice necklines and empire waists, but I don’t want EVERY garment I own to have them.

It’s great to see a collection that is modern and fashionable, that is aimed at women with careers and adult social lives.  That’s been the biggest gap in the plus-size market in Australia (though the whole market is a gap in itself still) – clothes that women can wear to work, and to the kind of social life that is outside of nightclubs.

Now I know this collection is not going to be to everyone’s taste (no collection is – we’d all be boring if we liked the exact same things), but I do think it shows that Autograph Fashion are trying to bring in something more fashionable and on-trend, while still providing clothing that will fit a plus-size body with practicality (every garment here will cover my giant ugly “rack of doom” bras that I have no other option but wear!)  In the face of other brands completely ignoring their customers (I am looking at you City Chic, you can keep ignoring us but it’s only going to do you damage in the long run) or cutting the larger sizes out altogether (I’m still here City Chic, and I’ve still got money to spend on clothes, at size 26.)

I’m really looking forward to seeing these garments “in the flesh” so to speak, and I hope that Autograph continue to work towards fashion forward ranges that cover the entire size range (14-26).

To see the collection and prices – click here.

*Disclaimer: I am not paid by Autograph and these are my genuine opinions on this range and Autograph’s customer service.