Plus size clothing options are still woefully limited & it’s hard not to be resentful over what you can’t have. Trends often appear in plus size lines months later when they’re barely relevant or over-done. Pieces are over-priced & – with a few notable exceptions – poorly made. Size charts are rife with rogue measurements & vanity sizing, making well-fitting items almost impossible to find. Advertising is full of euphemisms like flattering & curvy.
It’s difficult not to internalise these failings of the fashion market into personal failings. When everyone else seems to have come to the consensus that I don’t deserve comfortable, stylish, quality clothing, who am I to disagree?
Dressing a fat body is one of the least joyful experiences I know. & I don’t think that’s fair.
But I do disagree. So, if this is the the context that we as fat people have to operate in, how can we turn getting dressed each morning into a genuinely enjoyable experience?
A couple of years ago, I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. I bought the book in a desperate attempt to get the trash-pile that was my living space at the time under control & despite being deeply cynical, reading it honestly did change my life – & my wardrobe.
One of Marie’s key principles is that your home should only contain objects that bring you joy. If you’re struggling to weed out the non-joyful items, she suggests holding each one for a minute or two, asking if it truly makes you happy, & discarding anything that doesn’t. I know, I know, but hear me out. I genuinely believe that for items as tactile as clothing, touch is super important, as is ditching the practicalities for a bit of emotive instinct.
When I first used Marie’s technique, my wardrobe was full clothes that made me sad. Jeans that didn’t fit but I was holding on to in case I lost weight; itchy jumpers I hated wearing; skirts that looked great on the hanger but that I didn’t love on my body; & jackets I’d never taken the tags off but kept because I was too embarrassed to admit I’d wasted money on them.
After that first clear-out, I stared at my almost empty closet & wondered if I had made a mistake. I had barely any clothes & very little money to buy new pieces – surely having clothes I was ambivalent towards was better than having nothing to wear? But as I slowly added in new pieces, I realised that the clarity of my stripped back wardrobe was key.
Now, rather than spending money on anything in the ASOS sale that felt okay, each new addition was held to the highest standards. Would I wear it regularly? If not, was the joy it would bring me on the occasions I did counterbalance the fact that it wasn’t an everyday item? Did it fit well? If not, did I love it enough to invest in getting it tailored? & finally, how did it work with the other pieces I already owned? While money was obviously still a limiting factor on what I could purchase & when, I stopped buying items just because they were cheap, instead using sales to stock up on basics & pieces I loved but couldn’t afford at full cost.
Becoming more selective about what stayed also meant returning more – thank you free returns policies, but it was so worth it. Each morning, rather than having to dig through pieces that weren’t quite right – & if I’m being honest, never would be – it felt like I could grab anything, put it on & feel amazing.
When I’ve spoken about my approach to shopping before, a few people have asked if the brings me joy policy just results in a wardrobe full of beautiful but impractical pieces & the honest answer is no. While sequins & embellishments do bring me joy, on cool Autumn days its a perfectly soft sweater that makes my heart sing & while jeans may not be exciting, I love the feel of slipping on a pair that hug my hips like they were made for me.
In a world where many are excluded from fashion by cost, sizing & availability, committing to wearing only pieces that bring you joy is a privilege but I honestly believe that even just acknowledging that you deserve clothing that works for you is revolutionary. & if the style you want isn’t available to you then that failure lies with the system & not your beautiful body.