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/

 

Everything’s Coming Up Roses – For Me

There’s no denying it, I have a huge weakness for Vintage Roses whether on clothing, bedding or even the inspiration for my next tattoo. They are better known as English Roses or Cabbage Roses, both featuring stunning large blooms in soft pastel colored hues. As soon as I laid eyes on the Vivien of Holloway 50’s Halterneck Floral Dress in Cream Tea Rose I was in love! Sadly at the time my size was out of stock but I anxiously stalked their site waiting for it to return. Needless to say, it landed in my cart the moment they were restocked.

Available in sizes UK10-UK24 in a variety of colours & prints ~ MSRP £79

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Photo by Dana Brushette Photography.

The 50s Halterneck Dress was my very first order from VOH, so I had to do some homework to know how their sizing ran in comparison to their charts. Originally when I was looking to purchase, my measurements were 36-29-42; I was a little worried the size UK14 (b36-w28) would be too snug in the waist. A few of my trusted vintage gal friend’s said they found the waist to be on the generous side and didn’t need to size up. Well I took the plunge and ordered the 50’s Halterneck Dress in a size UK14 hoping for the best. Nervous when it arrived, I tried it on only to find the waist was quite tight even after losing weight and now having a 28″ waist. I would highly recommend ordering up if you are in between the chart measurements as there is little to no stretch in the floral cotton fabric. The 50s Halterneck Dress features well constructed boned bodice with a soft sweetheart neckline with gathers, perfect for women of all bust sizes. The wide halter strap is not adjustable and may require minor alterations depending on your torso length. That being said, I had to alter the strap as it was gaping at the sides and base of my neck since I have a short torso with narrow shoulders. The most incredible feature is the traditional vintage full circle skirt, perfect to pair with the fullest petticoats. At 5′-4″ tall, the skirt falls a few inches below the knee.

VOHCircle2Since this was my very first experience with built in boning, I was a little weary of the fit initially. It was a little tricky to find the right strapless bra to match the natural shape of the design (a soft bullet style is better than the round seamless cups) but once I did, it looked perfect. The matching burgundy elastic belt is a little big and I could have easily sized down to a small for a more cinching effect. Originally I had ordered the 50s Halterneck Dress for our wedding reception as it was the perfect excuse to buy such a breathtaking dress and this also helped convince my hubby-to-be that I had to have it. Although I ended up wearing a more traditional wedding dress, I was so happy that I took a chance placing an order with VOH. Their service was impeccable and they even managed to locate the matching belt in my size that was out of stock on their website. My order arrived all the way from the UK in less than two weeks and thankfully with extra no duty.

VOHCircle3The 50s Halterneck Dress is perfect for almost any occasion or setting. Add a little cardigan or bolero to wear it to an afternoon gathering or in my case, to the office. If you choose to pair it with one of your own belts, make sure pick a wide style in a contrasting color to accentuate your waist. The circle skirt looks amazing with any volume of petticoat, seen here with the Hell Bunny 25″ in white. It looks darling with a pair of Mary-Janes or comfy ballet flats and a classic pearl necklace.

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VOHCircleI am blown away at the quality and style from Vivien of Holloway and will surely become a repeat customer in the future. That paired with excellent customer service, you cannot go wrong! Now I have my eye on the Grace Circle Dress possibly in a beautiful emerald green…