Thick Thighs & Thrifting: My Style Story & Why I Secondhand Shop
Hello and welcome back to the Friday portion of our week my friend!
Now, we usually do a "listicle" on Fridays, but because we did one on Wednesday, I thought that today we would mix it up a little and talk about fashion! Let's visit the "style" portion from the big pot of "thoughts and opinions" which I keep warming on the back-burner of the stovetop of my mind.
Now, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this to you before, but when I was 12, I was CONVINCED with a capital "C" that I was going to be a fashion or costume designer when I grew up. I would spend hours drawing fashion sketches, watching Project Runway, and strong-arming my friends into playing "fashion show" for the day.
It was my dream to design sweeping dresses, sew steampunk-inspired outfits, and in general, help women harken back to the days before every single style blogger on Instagram was pushing leopard cardigans and "adorable" lace-camis from the cough* cough* Nordstrom sale...
Now, I must include the PSA that I do not hate the look of modern casual fashion: I just hate the way it looks on ME.
It seems that the modern "outfit recipe" of a loose top, paired with skinny jeans was created for women with a VERY different body type than me.
The modern-day loose shirt (that seems to be reproducing at a rate faster than bunny-rabbits,) was designed for women with petite busts and slender legs. Because when you have a small bust, the loose top just kind of skims off your chest and down onto your belly, revealing a waif-ish and whimsical silhouette. Gorgeous!
But for busty girls? Oh man alive, does that style look unflattering. A loose top does NOTHING for a woman with a big chest. It just drops off the "girls" and floats into outer space, adding an extra thirty pounds to the mid-section.
And don't get me started on "off-the-shoulder" shirts. Um, excuse me, where are my bra straps going to go? Do you think that a strapless or stickies is going to cut it? These girls need SUPPORT!
It can honestly be really difficult to have a good wide set of thighs and calves these days when all anyone wants to stick you in is a fitted pant. The combination of tight pants and loose shirts has certainly set me over the edge into full-blown paranoia about the conspiracy against hourglass women in the fashion industry.
I personally believe that the onslaught of loose shirts in fashion has come from the laziness that is modern "fast-fashion." The designer no longer has to worry about darts, the fit, or even the concept of BREASTS when designing a loose top. All they do is lay some fabric flat out on a table and snip snip into whatever boxy shape they desire.
"What about WAIST EMPHASIS" I scream from the depths of the Midwest... "What about the WAIST!?"
The designers in L.A hear my cries. They look towards me and say:
"Oh the waist?"
"You want to show your waist?"
They come close and peer up at my figure suspiciously. They reach down into their bags and hand me a garment from their bag of tricks.
"We have just the piece for you!" They smile with an air of self-congratulatory happiness.
I unwittingly become excited: have they finally heard my cries? Will I finally be able to wear a nice fitted shirt that is not from a thrift store? I excitedly take the garment and hold it up in the sunlight only to reveal...
they have given me...
a CROP TOP.
Okay I know I'm being overdramatic, but I told you... I have an entire pot of thoughts and opinions brewing on the stovetop of my mind about the concept of style and body type.
And let me tell you designers, a CROP TOP is not a viable solution for waist emphasis. Not if you're over the age of 21 or if you live in a cool climate! Stop giving me Kardashian-reflective clubbing clothes as a solution to waist-emphasis. I just want a tasteful dress!
Oh, and don't even get me started on trying to shove a thick mountain-woman calf into modern boots. You know those pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge prancing around in boots that actually wobble around her calves because there is so much ROOM left? Yeah, that's not happening over here in calf-city.
I've often wondered when I'll see the day that I can try on an over-the-knee boot that actually GOES OVER THE KNEE.
In high school, I DID try to fit in with normal fashion for awhile. I told my mom I wanted Hunter rain boots for Christmas. We went to the store just to try some on, and I kid you not my friend, the boots got STUCK on my calves and the store-person had to yank them off, while quietly offering her selection of Hunter rain boots that cut off BEFORE the calves.
Yes, I was mortified, and yes, I did cry in the mall that day. #teenhormones
But have things changed for the better since high school? Yes and no. We have more hourglass inspired clothing, but a lot of it is very revealing: bodysuits, crop tops, plunging wrap dresses, etc. And if they're not pushing club wear on us, it feels like the only other option is a legging and puffy sweater. Sigh.
Now this style of casual clothing (that I hate) came out when I was in high school: just figuring out my style formula, trying to look cute, and trying to figure out my body too. So what does a busty young teen do when every single shirt available at a Target, Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, and even WALMART, is loose, baggy, and so unflattering?
Well, she learns to thrift shop!
Yep: I learned how to thrift shop not out of monetary needs, or a serious love for the environment, but from sheer desperation to look somewhat presentable in my clothes.
It was in the thrift store that I found vintage or even antique styles that seemed to be MADE for my figure.
Fitted dresses, waist-focused trench coats, and long maxi skirts danced off the racks towards me! I began to eat up A-line skirts, dresses, and even high-waisted pants, realizing that they tucked at just the right places. Kitten heels and fitted tank tops began populating my wardrobe, alongside vintage dresses and wide-leg pants. I finally found clothing that worked on my body, and I haven't looked back (or in a Target) SINCE!
I have to say that my mom was a huge encouragement to me when I was growing up with a curvy figure. She encouraged my unique style, and even indulged my costume-inspired clothing in high school. She bought me large coffee-table-books filled with vintage fashion, the history of costuming, and all other topics of fashion design.
She brought me to the vintage stores and scoffed along with me at all the loose shirts, (even though she looked good in them herself.)
And although moments like the horrifying Hunter rain boots fiasco DID slap my confidence, I can truly say that now as a full blown adult woman, I feel happy with my body in clothing.
So looking back at my fashion evolution, I can confidently say that I now know that my body is NOT the problem!
My calves aren't even the problem! I eat healthy, walk frequently, and stay in shape. My calves are just fine, thank you very much Hunter rain boot company! But to be fair to Hunter, I think it's kind of ridiculous that I, a curvy woman, would ever try to fit into a fashion brand inspired by the heroine-chic look of Kate-freaking-Moss, who is in EVERY way, my style and body opposite.
And that's the problem my friends.
When we try to fit into a style of someone with a completely different body shape and look than us, we are going to be left crying on a dressing room floor, hating our calves, our thighs, and our double D's.
And to that I say, forget it!
Forget trying to fit in with whatever clothes the style bloggers recommend.
Forget trying to wear whatever is in style.
Forget shopping at Target, and forget shopping at Nordstrom!
Forget trying to look good in clothing that was made for someone else's body.
Wear what you feel beautiful in, and wear what looks best on you, even if it's a milkmaid inspired dress from the 50's. Wear a dress even if it makes other people think you're "too dressed up," (oh the horror,) and wear a high heel if it makes you happy!
Stop forcing yourself into clothes made for someone else. You're never going to feel good about your body if you're constantly using your body-opposite as your style icon.
Sure Audrey Hepburn is GORGEOUS, and yes, I would agree to have her looks if a mad-scientist propositioned me with some weird experiment to switch bodies with her, but at the same time, I would never turn to Audrey Hepburn as my style icon because we are TOO different!
Now can I take subtle inspiration from her!? Absolutely! I have to put all my coffee-table-books to good use of course. Audrey is actually the inspiration for my strong brows!
But will I copy her style altogether? Absolutely not.
Instead, I will hop on over the the Brigitte Bardot, the Grace Kelly, and even the Marilyn Monroe section of the vintage-fashion book to find women that rock a good bust and some thighs.
I will peer on over to what my curvy friends are wearing on Instagram and Pinterest, but most of all, I will STOP hating myself for not looking good in modern trends.
As I like to say, fashion is here to serve YOU, not the other way around.
Am I telling you to box yourself in and only look at similar fashion that would work on your body?
No, I think we can all have fun ,and not every outfit needs to be flattering. But I think many of us are often fighting our bodies and trying to be the opposite of how we were created, instead of just embracing the unique attributes that set us apart.
I used to wear sports bras every day to try to minimize my chest and look more slender until a few months ago, I realized that I just need to embrace what God gave me and stop being ashamed. I started wearing my normal bras again, and I am so much happier and confident!
I encourage you today to begin embracing the things you think are "flaws." The things that prevent you from looking cute in modern fashion, and the things you deem as "too feminine."
Show off those juicy thighs in a good skirt! Wear a high heel even if you're tall! Forget the loose shirts if they make you feel like a planet, and never feel bad for rejecting modern style.
Don't box yourself in with trends unless you love them: get inspired by vintage style and even WORLD style! Learn from our international sisters and incorporate some different ideas into your own look.
I look towards fashion that celebrates the waist, disguises the hips, and in general, plays up a feminine and girly shape. Now I am known for my dresses and skirts, but you can blame that on my need to avoid thigh sweat at all costs. I am now choosing my comfort and confidence over what's "trendy" and I have never been happier.
It's okay to look slightly out of place in the fashion world, or even just the world in general.
We have too much homogenous style and a total lack of creativity.
I say we embrace our style and collectively pitch the concept that we need to fit in.
It's more fun that way anyways...