A Plus Size Pinup’s Journey to Self Love & Guide to Vintage Style Plus Fashion by Sassy Scarlet

Societal ideals have led people to believe that if someone is overweight they are lazy, unattractive and unhealthy, an overeater, and a slob. Bullying has become too common. People do not consider that there may be something underlying weight issues, ignoring that weight could be caused by physical illness or psychological trauma, instead focusing on outer appearance. I have always been overweight; it is something I have struggled with my entire life. I have hated myself for not having the willpower to be skinny; I felt that I must have a fatal flaw, what was wrong with me? I wondered why it was so difficult for me to maintain my weight when other girls seemed to be slim without effort. I was bullied terribly as a child, called names, ridiculed and even physically harmed by my peers. My own parents and grandparents worried over my weight, controlling my food intake, saying the things they thought would help me, but these things only pushed me to hate myself more. I felt as if I was worth nothing, simply because I did not fit into the accepted size standard. I could not find clothing that expressed who I was in sizes that would fit me, so I gave up for many years. I wore baggy t-shirts and oversized jeans, ill fitting shapeless garments, trying to hide my body shape because I was ashamed. I put on a brave face, faked confidence but inside I was filled with pain, self loathing and sank into a deep depression. I wanted change but after years of struggle I still topped out at over 300 lbs, I hated myself. I felt hopeless.

I was at rock bottom. My depression was ruining my health, my marriage and my life; I knew I needed a change, so I began to research. I studied proper nutrition, learned what was in the foods I was eating, what psychological issues were causing my self-hatred and I made major lifestyle changes. My first decision was to love myself enough to stop telling myself lies. I would no longer believe that I did not deserve to live until I reached a certain weight. Life does not begin or end when you reach a certain size. I started to eat healthy foods, to exercise, have adventures and love life again. I have lost 70 lbs so far on my journey and I have found peace in loving the person that I am whole heartedly, this in turn, allows me to love and support others on the same journey! With the launch of social media campaigns like Eff Your Beauty/Body Standards and the groundbreaking success of Tess Holiday, we are finally living in a society that is realizing that we are all beautiful people with individual personalities and something valuable to offer the world around us!

I have always had a love affair with vintage fashion, from the time I was a child playing dress up in my Grandmother’s clothing, through my teen years scouring antique stores in search of unique treasures but the issue I always had was, as a plus size girl, it was nearly impossible to find vintage garments that fit. I have always wanted to dress in these lovely retro looks because I identify with the feminine yet strong 1940s and 1950s era women because I grew up being taught old fashioned values and beauty ideals by my Grandmother. In February of 2014, I was invited by Era Exposures to be part of a whimsical women’s photo shoot, it was an empowering and beautiful experience. Women of all ages, shapes and sizes came together, we were gushing over one another, enjoying each other’s company, laughing and for the first time in my life I began to believe that I was beautiful. This was a big step for me, not only did it start the spark of self confidence but it healed me of the fear I had of being close to other women after years of cruelty. I was invited to a shoot once again, but the theme this time was pinup. This was my first introduction to the world of modern pinup inspired brands. It rekindled my love of vintage fashion and I found myself doing something I never imagined, modeling. Sassy Scarlet was born because of my desire to empower other women, share my experiences and love of all things vintage. I do not have an easy body to fit. I am 5’3” tall, and wear a size 18-24 depending on the brand. Sizing fluctuates wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer and each garment has its own unique fit so while I can wear one brand in size XL, from another company I may have to purchase a size 3xl. I have learned to use measurements rather than size to buy my garments as I have an extreme hourglass figure, for reference my measurements (in inches) are Bust 45, Waist 39, Hip 58. I feel that now is a great time for the plus size community with the wider availability of diverse styles allowing each of us to express our unique sense of style. I have worn garments from many different companies over the past few years and these are the companies I love the best, the brands that consistently produce beautiful styles, lovely prints, quality products and have concentrated their effort on catering to women of all sizes. Style has no size!!

Pinup Girl Clothing is the queen of the vintage inspired brands. A company dedicated from their inception to provide couture for every body, they offer nearly every garment in sizes from XS up to 4XL, making Pinup Girl Clothing a perfect destination for women of all sizes. I recently purchased their Ella dress in lavender Mary Blair lips and roses print. I am wearing a size 2xl and it fits beautifully, I am completely enamored of this dress, it is a shape that flatters any size. I feel like a princess when I wear it and I received nothing but compliments but also several inquiries asking where to buy it, many women had no clue that these kinds of dresses were for sale! Pinup Girl Clothing is made from high quality fabrics, featuring exclusive prints in an enormous variety of retro styles to fit any personality.

PUGellaHell Bunny is the retro inspired clothing brand that I was introduced to first. I wore the Hell Bunny Olive dress in pink polka dots for my very first pinup shoot and I was instantly enamored. In shoots I have worn the Hell Bunny Olive dress in multiple colors, the Motley Sailor dress and I own the Eloise dress and Black Dahlia dresses and I love the way Hell Bunny fits me. The Hell Bunny size 2XL fits me nicely but their 50’s dresses are very forgiving so I can wear a size XL in some styles as well. I consider Hell Bunny to be the most affordable vintage style brand, most of their dresses can be bought for under $75, which is a great bargain for a plus size dress, especially one with a full circle skirt. Here I am wearing the Olive dress in pink polka dot size 2XL, the Motley Sailor dress in size XL, the Eloise in size 2XL, Black Dahlia in Size 2XL.

HellBunnyOlive HellBunnyMotleySailor  HellBunnyBlackDahliaVoodoo Vixen recently expanded into plus sizes and have a variety of fun, kitschy styles available. I have the Kitty dress in size 2X, it fits beautifully and the neckline is very unique, it shows off the bust without being immodest, the slim belt draws you in at the waist and the skirt is quite full fitting nicely over a petticoat. Black cats scatter over a pretty bubblegum pink background accented with atomic stars, I adore this cute print. I wore my Kitty dress to the Freedom Flag Benefit for the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans with Pinups for Patriots and received many compliments; a few people even thought it was an original vintage dress.

VoodooVixenKittyLindy Bop offers an amazingly diverse selection of retro inspired styles for great prices; Lindy Bop is another affordable vintage style brand that carries up to size UK 26. I own the Ophelia in turquoise floral in size 2x (UK18) and the Carola Halter Dress in summer ditsy floral in size 3x (UK20). This is a case in which the size that you wear is based on the measurements of the specific style that you are buying, even buying multiple items from one brand, the cut on each dress determines your size from one style to the other, so be sure to shop according to your measurements if you cannot try a garment on!

LindyBopOphelia LindyBopCarolaVivien of Holloway offers an amazing selection of vintage style clothing from high fashion dresses to trousers and crop tops, everything to outfit the fashionable vintage girl in sizes up to UK24. I’m smitten with my Grace dress in silver lace bust, I am wearing a size UK22 and it fits nicely. It is a timeless and sophisticated design that flatters my frame without overwhelming it, a classy dress to wear to gala events. I am hoping to own one of their lovely rose print halter neck dresses soon! Besides all of the brands I own dresses from or have worn, there are a number of brands that cater to the plus size pinup that I have not mentioned. What are your favorite vintage style brands that offer plus sizes and why?

VivienofHollowayGraceVisit Sassy Scarlet’s blog for more fabulous reads – http://sassyscarletpinup.blogspot.ca/


Novelty Prints! A view into the Plus Size Options by Cat Lady Couture

I have long loved quirky prints, purses and shoes. I have also long identified as plus size, which meant a lot of my options to own said quirky prints in clothing was quite difficult! In the last few years however it’s become a bit easier to acquire quirky novelty prints in vintage inspired clothing-thankfully places like Pinup Girl Clothing (PUG), Heart of Haute (HOH), Voodoo Vixen (VV), reviewed here have listened to the plus-size community and included us.

I wanted to review pieces that you as a plus-size shopper can find now or something similar, since nothing stinks more than absolutely loving something on reviewed or featured on a blog to find it labeled ‘Unicorn Status’ aka impossible, rare and won’t be found. The pieces here are current sold styles with the exception of the HOH items as they were custom made from available fabric (which if you email their sales team is entirely possibly they have it!)

Let’s get to reviewing! First up is the Jenny dress from PUG in their exclusive Neverland Print- exclusive because the art is drawn in-house by Micheline Pitt. The Jenny dress is a great dress that looks so good on every single size from XS-4XL. I am wearing the 3XL- I find myself sizing up in the Jenny dress because of the combination of boning and waist. The waist on this dress just doesn’t stretch, I think I am the non-produced size of 2.5X. I paired this Jenny dress with a wide patent leather belt also from PUG in size 3XL. This is a great print and dress to Disney-bound in! this dress can be found here: NeverlandJennyDress

NeverlandJennyNext up are two dresses from Heart of Haute in the Monique style. I love the Monique style because I can pair it with flats or wedges in the spring and summer, or with tights and boots in the fall and winter. I also like side-zippers as I find them easier to do up when on my own! In HOH items-specifically dresses I am a standard in-house 2XL. In 2014 HOH had a popular print pictured below of black cats with umbrellas and as a self-described Cat Lady I quickly jumped and emailed their sales department to see if they could produce this for me and sure enough they could! I will say the HOH sales department can take some-time to get back to you, but I think that has more to do with them being busy versus anything else.

I paired this Monique with the same patent leather wide-belt from PUG in 3XL. Monique dresses DO come with matching fabric belt, however I personally don’t use them.

HOHRainingKittiesThe next custom Monique from HOH pictured here was also produced in 2014 in this adorable Atomic Kitty print- I’ve seen this print around at a lot of places and I love it! Again my Cat-Lady persona went beeping and I had to see if this fabric could also be styled into a Monique. I just love the Monique! It fits each individual I’ve seen in it wonderfully. The only thing to keep in mind is with HOH Custom Pieces, they are 100 percent final sale and cannot be returned. You can find many Monique dresses here: Monique Dresses

atomickittiesLast up is a new player in the Plus Size Novelty Market! I have long wished Voodoo Vixen pieces included plus sizes, and was pining for their Katniss Dress to be in plus sizes when initially they had confirmed that nope it wouldn’t be- imagine my surprise, shock, and sad wallet when Yep! It’s out! It’s in plus sizes! I was SO SO SO SO happy to see this in plus sizes- I really like the quality of VV- granted I have only two dresses and a cardigan of theirs to go off of, each piece I’ve acquired I really do love. Based on VV’s size chart I am smack dab at the 2XL, which is what I ordered. I have an extra special place in my cat shaped heart for black cats, as we’ve got 2 (Finlay and Watson) who I have had since 2005 (Katrina Kitties).

I like pieces that when I buy them I don’t need to alter them- not because of the added expense (which can make an already expensive item more expensive) but because I’d be without the dress for a few weeks while my seamstress works her magic! This dress has NOT been altered yet- I need to get the shoulders taken in ever so slightly because I have T-rex Arms, otherwise out of the bag this dress fits very well! I paired the dress with again my trusty PUG patent leather wide belt in 3X. The Katniss Dress in Plus Size can be found here: Katniss Plus Size

voodoovixenkatnissWell that’s it! I have more and more and more pieces to feature and review on my fat-cat-lady blog

Cat Lady Couture which is my own little corner of the internet. None of these pieces were given to me to review, or was I compensated for reviewing them. They were all purchased by me, for me. 🙂 Also important to note my measurements are: 46-38-47, a standard 18 in most stores, and generally a 2-3X in Retro Inspired/Reproduction Clothing.