If you are anything like me, you have a passion for fashion and a love of vintage clothing. I love when I come upon a fantastic piece and can dream about the woman who wore it and where she was going. I will admit, SOME of that passion banks to a smoulder when I realize that the piece will have to be sold because I am your average girl with extra curves, like a vast majority of "real sized" women today. Ah, but never fear, my dear; if you traipse through the aisle of thrift shops or cruise the internet stores for great items to add to your collection of fine vintage wear, never fear, I am going to give you volumptuos misses a few tips on how to purchase pieces that will flatter your curves just as you see on your fellow smaller vintage loving divas!
1: KNOW YOUR TRUE SIZE. - Clearly, this sounds like a no brainer, but for many they understand the basics i.e, "size 14-16" or "XL". Take the time to grab a vinyl tape measure and get your true measurements. This ensures that you are buying vintage garments that you will be able to fit properly. The further you go in clothing history, you will find that in the forties, around war time, many women made their own clothers and thus you will not have a sizing label to let you know if you found yourself a fitted winner. Here is a great 2 minute tutorial I found for basic measuring: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsBczjU4uaI . I would only add that for we plus sized divas, to measure your upper arm as well. I cannot tell you how many heart breaks I have saved myself by knowing this measurement, hahaha! I have fleshy arms, so if I see a piece I'm interested in on Etsy, etc., I simply send a message asking the seller to give me a measurement on the upper arm of the sleeve (the circumference) and they are usually able to respond with an aproximate measurement. I say aproximate because most sellers usually measure garments by laying them flat then doubling the measurment. As a rule of thumb I always bank that the measurment may be off by up to one half inch or so.
2. INVEST IN SHAPEWEAR: Dresses from the 1940s and 50s and 60s were often labeled with vantiy sizes, which were the use of smaller number sizing than the actual average size of the dress wearer. This practice is why some people think that Marilyn Monroe was a modern day size fourteen (she was not; without the use of vanity sizing, Marilyn was a size 8.) During that day and age, while corsets were not in wide practice shapewear was common place and thus when clothing was taolored to fit or even purchased off the rack, it was frequently done with the knowledge that shape wear would be used to pull in the waist, perk up the bust and smooth the sillhouette in general. When purchasing your vintage clothing, know your measurments with your shapewear garments on as well, as you will no doubt be using them if you are shopping for a killer wiggle dress or slim fitting 1940s day dress. Spanx , Body Magic and the like are popular body smoothing/reshaping tools that will help get those awesome sillhouettes we saw in movies and advertisments back then.
3. KNOW YOUR BODY TYPE: I love you and you love me, so lets' be real; we all have a body type whether its pear shaped, Coke bottle, Top heavy; we know if we suffer from muffin top even while standing in our panties, so know what LOOKS good on you! The celebration of curves cannot happen if we present them in dresses that accentuate our flaws and dont' celebrate our curves, which is true of all sizes. For us, however, the wrong dress can change us from "Brick House" to "Out House" in the length of time it takes to zip up our dress so be careful! If you are pear shaped (thinner on top and then spread out on the bottom, rockabilly styles, with full skirts and a blouse with a chunky belt will be a great look for you. If the use of shapewear can pull your lower half in to mostly porportionate sizing, but you have large arms, try a pencil skirt with a HIGH waist and a blouse with cardigan for a pulled together look. If you are volumptuous all over, and shapewear can define your curves and smooth ot the silhouette, then celebrate your entire body by wearing a sexy fifties wiggle dress. Remember there is a fine line between concealing and HIDING your form; that's how we got the sad invention of the tent dress, HA!
4. CONSIDER FASHION REPRODUCTIONS: There will be times when no matter how hard we look, we may not find the perfectly sized wiggle dress, or the poodle skirt of our dreams. Luckily, there are amazing companies out there that have heard the voices of our plus sized vintage divas and have answered the calls with gorgeous fun plays on vintage styles! HellBunny is a fantastic manufacturer of rockabilly and alternative clothing that offer a GREAT selection for the plus sized vintage enthusiast! While my heart is with true vintage, you WILL find me wearing Helly Bunny repros because they are amazing well made pieces that add fun and spice to my wardrobe, along with the fact that you don't always want to hunt for an entire day looking for that one amazing find. I strongly suggest that you check them out.