The gorgeous Kerosene Deluxe - Plus Sized Pin up.
I recently received an email from a reader who is wanting to put a little more sassy in her step. After having children however, she now finds herself wearing a somewhat larger clothing size and is faced with a dilemma.
"I really love your blog, your style and your approach to life, which is why I'm writing for some advice re vintage/50's vamp styles for women bigger than a size 6...all the retro shops I can find supply basically nothing over a size 12, with *very* rare finds in size 14...I *would* like to dress in a way that has a distinctive style and pizazz of my own. Are there shops that sell gorgeous retro/psychobilly/50's vamp style clothing in other than uber skinny sizes?"
Size and/or weight is not an issue I have discussed on this blog before. But perhaps it is time to remedy that, after all I wasn't always this small and I know first hand the dilemmas faced by many of you when it comes to putting together a unique look.
Firstly, the silhouette is key to a great retro look. This means that even if you don't have a waist, create one. If you want to go really retro you could go in for a girdle or even a corset. Although corsets are somewhat restricting they can be very sexy for a special occasion. In the absence of period appropriate underwear, I suggest getting hold of some of the Nancy Gantz shapewear, or Spanx for my USA readers. It can be purchased inexpensively, is easy to move in and has the added bonus of helping you to improve your posture. Being able to stand tall with our shoulders back, strips kilos before your very eyes. Even better, it gives you a nice smooth line to work with.
Make the most of your womanly assets and wear a good supportive bra that does the lift and separate job well. If you are really looking for a vintage vixen look, you could always source a bullet style bra on Ebay or other online vintage stores. You'll find these over at What Katie Did too.
When it comes to vintage and retro styled clothing in larger sizes, there are two major problems. With original vintage, people were generally smaller in those eras, so the chances of finding something to fit is not high. With reproduction vintage, the bricks and mortar stores cater to the 8 - 12 market, so pieces made in quantities like this are somewhat cheaper to find. However, the good news is that there are some great reproduction makers out there who will custom make to your measurements for a reasonable price. When I say reasonable I mean that, should I be making these for myself, the price they are charging would cover my time and materials but wouldn't be looking at serious profit.
If you sew this will be your savior. There are vintage patterns galore on Ebay and you can also find some great resources here on A Dress a Day. You don't need to necessarily find patterns in your size, just Google - "How to resize a pattern" for loads of links to find the one that explains it to you best. I learnt to sew fairly recently for this express reason, as the stores never had anything I wanted.
Additionally, you can always look for clothes that work for this look in your regular stores. The trick is to pick things with the right silhouette ( circle / flared skirts, single button cardigans, lots of red and black etc), and pair them with retro accessories to translate something ordinary into the extraordinary. A great elastic waist cincher belt, that can be found everywhere from Supre to Myers to Ebay, and is one of the tricks of the trade to turn your look into Retro Goddess.
So much of what I wear day to day is not authentic vintage ( I can't bare to see them ruined by the children), but I style them in such a way that they take on a retro flavour. It is about injecting the right stylistic elements into your look to create the overall image you want. For instance; the classic pin up look relies on a smaller waist to hip ratio, utilises lots of curls and flowers in the hair, and is nothing without the ubiquitous red lips. You can achieve this at any size, and even if your waist isn't usually visible, create it with the help of undergarments, belting and cross over styles.
Adding this Retro Goddess flavour to your look can be achieved in two key ways that don't rely on clothes at all. Hair and Makeup. For simple hair go with high ponytails and a rolled fringe. When your skills advance a little more, check out the great range of vintage hair tutorials on You tube for more inspiration. (Yes, you'll find mine there too). The basics for the vintage goddess look are windged black eyeliner and red red lips. Check out this tutorial for a great starting point. What you do outside of that is up to you. You may want to add a dramatic beauty mark, heavily penciled brows or something else to make it your signature look.
Links for your looks
Daddy O's Retro - a gorgeous range of all sorts of reproduction vintage styles and dresses up to 3XL!
Hey Viv! - Stocking Vintage and reproduction vintage wear including XL sizes.
What Katie Did - Super Sexy, super glamorous lingerie with some bras up to a 42 DD
Mode Merr - As their slogan says "Dressing every girl from XXS to XXXL!"
My Baby Jo - Fabulous collection of pin up style clothing and vintage styled accessories. including things for your pad. Some styles in sizes up to 16.
Whirling Turban - For classic pin up looks custom made to your size - this is the place to be. Very very reasonable prices too!
Etsy - For a fabulous range of accessories, just search for your favorite style. eg: rockabilly, psychobilly, goth etc... Support hand made and look killer to boot!
Pinup Girl Clothing - Skip the clothes and go straight to the shoes. From hoochie to down home, these girls have your look covered.
I've kept this as short and sweet as possible for you all (as with most things I could ramble on forever), but I'm happy to answer any other questions. So with all these secrets to add to your kit, you're ready unleash your sexy self on the world.
*** I'm off to the seaside for a little pre Christmas respite, and with the internet connection here being on holiday speed too, posting may take a hiatus for a few days. But don't go away, more tantalizing reads are soon to come. **