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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.
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More Autograph Fashion Reviews

Published April 22, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

It’s time to do another garment review post for Autograph Fashion!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, they sent me some more product to review.  I can’t tell you how lucky I am that they do this for me, because they are the store I shop in the most (being close to my work and generally in the right price range for me).  After my post on how much I had fallen in love with their tall riding boots, I counted 13 pairs of boots that were sold because of either that post, or the one I did on Tumblr.  That’s just the ones I know about.  So they’re getting good advertising out of me at least!

In this latest post, they sent me the brown buckle boots, pink buckle ballet flats, sleeveless sequins tank, 3/4 sleeve knit paisley print dress, short sleeve plait neck lace print top, animal print top (no longer listed online but worn with this leather jacket) and another paisley print top with a cami (also not longer listed online).  I have worn all except the paisley print top so far (which I hope to wear this coming week) and have had most of them photographed to share with you here.

Let’s start with the animal print top and brown buckle boots shall we?  Take a look of my OOTD:

I have to admit, I fell in love with this animal print top back when Autograph first posted a pic of it on their Facebook page as “coming soon”.  There was a lot of “fat ladies shouldn’t” around the bold print, but I was like “GIMME!!”  I particularly love the sweetheart neckline (I’ll tolerate surplice necklines a whole lot more if I can have a bit more variety in them) and empire waistline.  Both are styles that particularly suit me.    But what I really love about this top is the fabric.  It is a lovely weighty knit that is super soft and just drapes beautifully.  The bodice actually has a kind of cami lining, so it makes the top fall even better than just with the fabric.  Some months ago Autograph had a run of this very thin, clingy knit that had great colours, but it just sagged and looked sloppy no matter who was wearing it.  It even clung to the lace of my bra and made my boobs all lumpy.  To be fair, I saw that fabric everywhere for awhile there, most retail chains seemed to give it a run.  I’m really glad it has disappeared, because it was a crap fabric.  This top is made of a knit that is everything that the cheap knit wasn’t.  I’m not sure what this one retailed at, I think $49.99 or $59.99.  It is still in store though if you like it.

I’m also wearing the brown buckle boots in this photo.  When I bought the tall riding boots, I saw these and thought they were nice, but didn’t really think I’d bother with them, even after seeing a friend of mine with them in black looking fab in them.  But now that I have a pair, and I’ve worn them a few times, I am SO glad I have them!  They are really cute, super comfy (I ran around one really busy day last week all over the shop all day, for a 9.5 hour work day, and was still standing when I finally got home, having had them on for about 12 hours!) and they fit my 19″ calves with room to spare.  I love the lighter, warmer brown of them too.  These are $89.99 and I would honestly spend that on them.

The boots are still available online, but sadly the top is not.  I think it may have sold like hotcakes.  You might find it in the actual stores though if you’re lucky.

The next garment I wore was the sleeveless sequins tank:

I’ve been longing to wear sequins to the office for some time.  I’ve been inspired by Bloomie, Nicole and Anna all wearing sequins, so when this one arrived I was rather thrilled to be able to fulfill that longing.  It’s a sleeveless top, and only sequinned on the front, but I think they’re probably wasted on the back anyway.  The sequins are sewn on well, and though there was a tag attached saying to expect some to fall off on laundering, only a few did.  This one retails at $59.99, which is quite a bit more than I would spend on it.  It also now comes in red which I am lusting after so much!  Both the silver and red are available on the website.

Then I wore the 3/4 sleeve paisley print dress (it’s finally getting cool enough to do so in Brisbane!):

OMG I LOVE THIS DRESS!  Again – good quality knit fabric, drapes so beautifully, breathes and is deliciously soft.  I adore the print, it has that 70’s feel.  The length is perfect with my tall riding boots, and yes, I’ll even forgive that surplice neckline (I really am getting sick of them though.  It retails at $79.99 and is still available on the website.  I will be wearing the shit out of this dress through winter.

The other two items I have worn, but sadly didn’t get OOTD photographs for are these two:

This is a cute top, a little more sedate than I would normally wear, but I got a lot of compliments on it.  It’s really nice to have something other than a surplice neckline, that’s for sure.  The fabric isn’t as nice on this one as the other garments, it’s a more synthetic feeling fabric, and doesn’t breathe as well.  But I’ll get a lot of wear out of this for work through winter.  This one sells for $49.99 and is still available on the website.

And these that retail for $59.99:

I’m not sure I would buy ballet flats from a plus-size store.  Don’t get me wrong, these are as cute as hell, and fit really well (the only negative is they get this weird camel-toe crease in the toe that I am trying to stretch back out with newspaper), but we fat girls can get ballet flats anywhere.  The boots I understand – we need wide calf boots for fat legs.  But ballet flats are pretty universal.  They’re not specialist wide fit ones either, but then thin people have wide feet (my tall, super slim boss has the same size feet as I do, only mine aren’t as wide as hers so I often inherit shoes that don’t fit her – the only thing I COULD inherit from her – I’m easily 4 of her!) so those should be in regular shoe stores.

What I think I’m getting at is that I really want my plus-size retailer to focus on plus-size clothing and accessories.  Wide calf boots.  Plus-size belts, tights, sleepwear, swimwear, underwear (PLEASE AUTOGRAPH, START GOING ALL LANE BRYANT WITH BRAS FOR US!!)  Rings, bangles/bracelets and necklaces to fit our fatter bodies.  Don’t worry about the stuff that is universal – they only take up valuable plus-size real estate.

All in all, happy with all of the stuff Autograph sent me (though a few tweaks would be welcome), and VERY, VERY impressed with the buckle boots, paisley dress and animal print top.  I am very pleased to see the quality of fabrics improving, the addition of wide-calf boots, and some cute, funky, fashionable things coming through.  Keep it up folks!

Getting it Right; Getting it Wrong

Published April 4, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

How can two companies, both owned by the same mega company, both basically in the same business, have such wildly polarised modes of customer service?   If you don’t know, Autograph Fashion and City Chic are owned by the same company, Specialty Fashion Group.  They’re like big sister and little sister of the same company.  Both are plus-size clothing retailers.  Both are Australian based companies.  Both have an online arm of their business, that will sell overseas.  I don’t know how cross pollinated their staff are (ie whether head office actually covers both brands), but you think there’d be at least some communication across the organisation.

But it seems not.

Both retailers have a Facebook page (City Chic/Autograph), and post pictures of their up-coming stock to the page, where people comment on it.

However, how each company responds is vastly different.

When there were lots of women leaving comments on the Autograph page that they wanted sleeves, Autograph responded with a pre-run search link to all of their tops, tunics and dresses with sleeves.  When there were lots of women saying that they wished that Autograph would style their outfit shots more than to just put a model in the dress and photograph her in front of a white background, Autograph changed their images.

From this:

Lovely model, shows the dress, but a quite dull.  To this:

Styled hair, styled make-up, interesting background, nice lighting, some accessorising.

When the posters on Autographs page responded that they would like more fashionable, modern clothes, Autograph responded.  They introduced cute boots* (someone mentioned wide calf boots on their Facebook wall some time ago too), new styles, some more colour.

When I wrote a blog post critiquing the frumpy nature of a particular season’s clothes, Autograph contacted me, and as you probably know, have been amazing sending me products to review.  I know myself that in the past six months or so, I’ve gone from wearing Autograph clothes that look like this:

Which is from the first parcel of stuff they sent me, to this:


This is from their current stock, a lovely big parcel of such they sent me last week – both those boots and the top/dress I am wearing are available right now.  Let me just tell you, the boots are so bloody comfortable I tromped around in them all day (I haven’t worn ANY heel for almost two years) running through our biggest library with a vendor, walking up to the shops at lunch time, all over the place, and I wasn’t in any hurry to take them off when I got home.  And that top is lined in the bodice which makes it drape so beautifully, and is made of the lushest, soft, weighty knit fabric.  I’m not just saying that because they sent it to me for free either.  I promise, if they send me anything that sucks, I’ll tell you.

When people complained that their fabrics were thin, lost shape and clung in all the wrong ways, Autograph stopped stocking them and have moved to much nicer (and really soft) fabrics like the top above.

The list goes on.  Autograph are listening, they talk TO their customers (as best they can around the ones that one can never make happy at any time) and they make changes when people speak up.

Which brings us to City Chic.  I’ve never seen City Chic respond on Twitter to a negative comment.  They’ve only re-tweeted the positive ones.  City Chic post their stock on Facebook, and when people complain about their high prices… nothing is said.  When people say they’d like garments that they can wear a proper plus-sized bra of ugliness under without it being exposed, City Chic respond “Well, buy a shrug.” (I don’t want a shrug, I want a garment that fits my body and my underwear properly, and besides, I live in BRISBANE).  When customers said their prices were too high, they ignored it, and their prices have got even higher.

Well the straw that seems to have broken the camel’s back happened over the weekend.  When someone noticed on Friday that City Chic had quietly dropped any garments over a size 22 from their website, word travelled pretty quick.  By Friday night, there were several posts on their Facebook page exclaiming dismay at this.  They ignored it all weekend.  By this morning, a lot of people were talking about it, on their Facebook page, on Twitter, on Tumblr and various other places.  There were a lot of angry fatties out there, making it very clear that they were offended at City Chic removing the upper range of plus sizes.  Along with a lot that spoke up and said that their sizing was shoddy as it is, smaller than standard and a fit that doesn’t work for many bodies.

Instead of engaging with their customers quickly Friday afternoon, or even over the weekend (we just saw posts bragging about how they were off to London), they let it brew up, until this afternoon, when they responded with what I feel is a somewhat snarky post.  It’s long, and you can see it here. (You may have to “like” the page – it’s really long so I can’t share it here).  Basically it says that we considered our sizing and because you fatty fat fats didn’t buy enough of our stuff at full price, we cut out the upper sizing.  Perhaps City Chic need to have a wee think about just why people aren’t buying their stock at full price.  Perhaps full price is over priced.  Perhaps their sizing is wrong.  Perhaps their fits are wrong.  Perhaps the garment quality is not good enough (the three garments I bought from them some years ago when they still had some size 26 pieces fell apart very quickly).  Perhaps the styles can’t be worn successfully with a size 24 or above bra under them… the list goes on.

What really galled me is their admission that they use a size 16 fit model.  What??  A size 16 fit model for a range that was going up to size 24??  Ok, find someone who you know is a size 16.  Now look at my body in the picture above.  What the hell are they thinking to use a size 16 fit model for the upper range of plus sizes???  There is a positive plethora of differences of shape and proportion between a size 16 body and a size 26 body (and all sizes in between).  A smart company would have two fit models, or even three for plus sizes, because they vary so much more than straight sizes do.

I actually emailed them on Friday afternoon and left some constructive criticism (and an expression of dismay) at their cutting off their sizes at size 22, and how their clothes were poor construction/overpriced/cheap fabrics/sized strangely.  Guess what I got in response today?  The explanation that they posted on Facebook, cut and pasted into an email.

Great customer service huh?

All this, PLUS I discover that they go to size US28 (about a size 32Aus) and offer cheaper prices to customers in the US.  But customers in their own country don’t get that, oh no.

As I say to all plus-size retailers that I give criticism to – I want to give them my money.  I want to become a loyal customer who tells everyone how awesome they are.  I want to spend too much money on their clothes and complain I’m broke.  I want to hang about their shop on a twice weekly basis, annoying their staff asking when the new stock they’ve been advertising on Facebook comes in.  I want people to see me with their shopping bags, to ask me where I got that cute top/dress/boots/pants/skirt.  I want my straight sized friends to say “Damn, I wish those fit me!”  Again, I want to give them my money.  And lots of it.

But they don’t seem to want me to do those things.  They don’t want to size clothes to my body, they don’t want to provide clothes that last, or are of pleasant fabrics, and the certainly don’t want to offer a price that is reasonable for the product they are selling.  It is very, very clear they don’t want my  money.

So until they prove that they DO in fact want my money, I’m going to give that money, and praise, and word-of-mouth advertising to companies who do.  Like Autograph Fashion**.  Who LISTEN to their customers, make attempts to make them happy, and acknowledge that their customers include those who are very fat, and that they need to create clothes that adequately fit those very fat bodies.

City Chic – learn from your big sister.  She has much to teach you.

* City Chic have almost the same boots as the tall riding boot from Autograph.  Autograph’s cost $99.99.  City Chic have them at, wait for it… $299.95
**I hate having to add this caveat, but there has been a very vocal claim that I am “selling out” by praising Autograph because they send me free products.  If Autograph get it wrong, I am going to say so, free products or not.  Just as loudly as I call City Chic out here.

I’m In Love and You’re All Gonna Hear About It

Published March 25, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Oh dear readers, I have fallen in love.

I follow Autograph Fashion on their Facebook page.  They post quite a few photos of garments that are due in stores soon, and there is always some, ahem, lively commentary on those photos.  Well, really it’s just a whole lot of women saying “Don’t you know big people shouldn’t wear sleeveless/empire-line/bold prints/bright colours/stripes/sexy styles/*insert clothing feature here*!” and me popping up and saying “Don’t tell me what fat women can and can’t wear, I’ll wear whatever I like and to hell with anyone who thinks otherwise!”  Every post.  Seriously.  I get sick of it but I can never leave it alone.  I want Autograph Fashion, the store I shop at the most because a) there is a store a few metres away from my work, b) I can afford their stuff c) they cater to my size (size 26AU mostly) d) there’s hardly anybody else who does, to know that there are LOTS of women like me who want FASHION.  We don’t want them to stop producing the stuff that the “big people shouldn’t” crew want, we want them to ADD fashionable items to their existing collection.  Some of us want leopard print, and bright colours, and horizontal stripes, and body-con shapes, and retro looks, and sexy styles and the list goes on.  There are lots of us who are big mega fatties who want things that look like they might also be worn in the same style by straight sized women.  It irritates me no end that there are only a few of us who speak up on Autograph’s facebook page that don’t buy into the bullshit that fat women should hide away in shapeless black sacks.

But I always speak up.  Or else, how are Autograph, and other women who might feel the same way but be intimidated by the mob, to know that anyone feels this way.

A while back, maybe a month or so, Autograph posted an announcement that they were going to be selling shoes and boots soon, accompanied by this photograph:

[Photograph has sadly been redacted]

The response was overwhelmingly positive – firstly because they’re cute boots, secondly because they offer them in sizes right up to about 12 I think and finally because they fit wide calves.  Finally, a post where nobody got involved in body shame and just went “WOOO!  Autograph you got it right!”

And I fell in love with the tall, dark and handsome on the left.

I never pay full price for anything.  It’s against my religion.  I will wait until things are marked down before I pounce.  I’ll hunt bargain racks, scour eBay and wait for clearance sales.  I will usually go without things rather than pay full price.  But those tall riding boots just had to be mine.

I annoyed the ladies at my local Autograph on a regular basis with “Any news on the boots?” and “When are the boots coming in?”  I told everyone I know about those boots, and how excited I was about them, and how I was going to have a pair as soon as they came out.

Yesterday, Autograph posted on their Facebook that the shipments of the boots had all left for the stores.  Then they put them up for sale on the website.  By 4.45pm yesterday, I was beside myself, and called my local store.  “Are they in yet?” I breathed.  The very tired lady on the other end of the phone said yes, but they hadn’t unpacked them yet.  “Will they be ready in the morning?”

Yes, I was that annoying.

When I finally got to my lunch break, I raced to Autograph.  I ran in the store.  I darted down to the back where I could see the boots all on shelves on the wall, calling hello to the Autograph lady as I dashed past.  She was lovely, and intercepted so that she could actually serve me as a customer, helping me with trying them on, even though I would have gladly just grabbed them and thrown money in the air, dancing a merry jig of happiness.  I put one on, and it fit me like it was made for me.

As I paid, I gabbled on about how thrilled I was to find knee length, wide-calf boots in their store.  They handed me my shopping bags containing MY PRECIOUS, and I danced on out of there.

Back at the office, I took the box out of the bag, and photographed it:

Because yes, I am that pathetic.

Then I took one of the boots out of the box, and photographed it:

Because yes, I am that tragic.  Yes, the boot is on the tearoom table at work.  (Shush, it’s a new boot and I washed the table after I finished!)

I got the brown ones (they also come in black).  And I am still in love.  I showed everyone at work who would stop and look.  I posted excited tweets and FaceBook statuses.

When I got home, I put them on.  I took photos in the mirror:

I took photos from all angles:

I’m still in love with these bloody boots.

You know, I’ve always dreamed of owning a pair of knee length, brown boots.  They’ve always seemed like a true fashion accessory.  Sometimes the shape has changed a bit, or the heel has changed a bit, but ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted a pair.  I’ve never been able to find them to fit me.  I have size 10 feet (Australian sizing), and there are always fewer choices when you get over a size 8.  My calves are 19″ around, so long boots were always too small (these have an elasticated panel up the back, but even on my calves it’s barely stretched, just enough to keep them up my legs).  I’d seen them on overseas websites, but the cost of the boots plus shipping was always more than I can afford. (These were $99.99 by the way, at least half of the price I’ve seen anything similar elsewhere.)

These mean more to me than just a cute pair of boots.  They’re something that has always been denied me as a very fat woman – fashion.  The minute I put them on I felt like I could march out into the world and take on anything.

Sometimes a plus-size retailer gets it very right.  This is one of those times.  Thank you Autograph Fashion – keep doing stuff like this please!