When it comes to the accessibility of sustainable clothing within plus-size fashion, we know that a lot more can be done in that arena. I’ve written before about navigating the sustainable world when you’re size fat and since then, I’ve seen quite a few positive changes made within the industry in a bid to be a bit more inclusive, which is great!
When it comes to shopping slow fashion and sustainability as a fat person, however, we are still yet to achieve the perfect balance of finding fashionable clothes which come in size fat yet is also still affordable, especially for those who live within tight budgets. I know that for me, I’ve found it difficult at times to find pieces that speak to my personal style, despite being in my size. I come across pieces that are either too niche and specific, or too plain and – dare I say it – matronly.
And that’s the thing. I think it’s a reason why a lot of plus size women tend to opt towards the fast fashion route, not only because it’s cheaper, but because the style of clothing we are afforded in these spaces are vastly different to the offering we are given in sustainable spaces.
Anyway, in a bid to try and be as sustainable as I can, I tend to try and buy evergreen pieces that I think will stand the test of time, and restyle them as and when I see fit. I’d probably wager that about 70% of my clothes are pieces bought more than 3 years ago and so far, it’s been something that’s been working for me. So while I do own pieces from ASOS, H&M, and other fast fashion brands, I buy them with the intention of making them last as long as possible.
For instance, take corduroy. When you think of corduroy, what first pops into your head? I envisage a sepia filtered world of 70’s fashion, kitchen lino, and the kind of fabric your least favourite Science teacher would consistently wear. It’s one of the world’s most aesthetically divisive fabrics for sure but there’s no other fabric that screams ‘AUTUMN WEAR’ than corduroy. An excellent A/W transitional piece, cords have been given a complete makeover, becoming available in every colour, style and size available.
Cords is one of those fabrics that never goes out of fashion (whether you love it or hate it) and in this guide, I’m showing you how I style this two-tone corduroy shirt dress – currently on sale – three ways.
Casual Daywear (living my best 90’s life)
(Photography by Kaye Ford)
As you can see, just little swaps and adjustments here and there can change a whole outfit. As a fan of 90’s fashion, the cord cross-colour shirt dress gives me major nostalgia vibes and will be a solid staple in my closet for years to come (as long as I keep it on a light wash!).
Anything else we can do in the meantime?
First and foremost, don’t let anyone guilt or shame you for buying fast fashion clothing if you’re a larger fat person, especially if they have a privileged body and can shop anywhere. You don’t know what it’s like to only have 0.2% of brands make clothes in your size, Karen!
I know looking online can be exhausting, but there ARE a few sustainable and ethical brands that can create clothing made to order. Plus Equals is a FABULOUS Brighton-based plus size brand whose sizes start from a size 14 and go all the way up to a size 42!! Another Brighton based brand (look at Brighton, being ahead of the curve!) is The Emperor’s Old Clothes,who create made-to-order garments from vintage and dead-stock garments which I think is such a sick idea! They create everything from dresses, shorts, trousers and skirts, to their signature dungarees, and you can also create your own dungarees too like I did with these mustard ones that I’m wearing above!
In extreme cases, buy men’s clothing in vintage shops. Sorry men! I bought this blue shirt from The British Heart Foundation charity shop in Croydon a couple of months ago from the men’s section and I am completely in love with it! Obviously don’t go mad when it comes to buying men’s clothing, but also – fuck it. If it fits, it fits.
ASOS Curve have started introducing their Recycled range which is amazing. Now, you can buy recycled denim jeans, trousers, tops and specific bras from their range, which is a start!
Levis also have strong commitments to sustainability, with several initiatives such as the Water < Less initiative (using production techniques that use far less water, which to date has saved 1.8 billion litres of water), and their Better Cotton Initiative, which trains farmers to use less water, less pesticides and synthetic fertilizer when growing cotton, and the Authorised Vintage demin initiative, where they sell reused denim jeans (obviously after being cleaned and fixed up of course!). Levi’s also do plus size clothing, so great times all round!
Follow your favourite plus size influencers and keep alert to see if they do any clothing sales on their Instagram!
Be more thoughtful when buying pieces. Yes, organza sleeves are all the rage now, but will you be wearing it in 3 years’ time? Investment buys are the one – and investment doesn’t automatically mean it has to be pricey! If I come across a mid-length camel trenchcoat that costs £60, I’d consider it an investment piece as camel trenchcoats NEVER go out of fashion – Burberry made sure of that! Maybe start trying to curate a capsule wardrobe featuring pieces that you know will never go out of style?