If I were to say the phrase ‘Hands up if you think Miss Amy May would wear a playsuit pinafore set with side cut-outs’ not only would I expect nobody to raise their hands, but I would make a huge point of shoving mine firmly and roughly into my armpits, warm and safe in the comfortable folds of my stubborn body.
I’ve worn a dress in the past that had a large cut-out in the midriff and I did a whole enthusiastic blog post about it–I did, here, you can even see for yourself. But, you see, that was a couple of dress sizes and a whooole lot of lbs ago. And that doesn’t mean I can’t wear such items of clothing now that I’m nearer a size 18 than a 12, it just means that, you know, it’s a less comfortable prospect for me right now. Because, absolutely, I 100% still stand by my feelings that everyone should get to wear whatever they want, no matter their size, gender, or anything else, really, that people try to use as an excuse to dictate how and why people should dress themselves to please others and not themselves. I will never not believe that. Buuuut I can believe that while being body positive and also a bit wary of putting my pudge on show. Because it’s all about doing what makes you feel comfortable. Having large swathes of my middle-body flesh on show has never made me particularly comfortable, not even for those brief few months when I was a size 10, several years back. Even my very petite, very slim blogger friend Carly expressed reservations to me about exposing the exact same semi-circles of skin when we were discussing Collectif’s adorable new Talis skirt and top pinafore set.
It’s that aforementioned matching set and the identical set of reservations found in both Carly and myself that has brought us, me, to this post. Because it’s really easy as a chubby woman to look at slim women and think ‘Why are you worried about wearing that? I don’t see an ounce of fat on you. I’d wear that in a heartbeat if I had your body‘ but that’s just…just a thought, really. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s a projection of self-imprisonment. It’s an echo of all the times we’ve heard or sensed or seen proof that we, the chubbier, aren’t supposed to show people how chubby we are.
We have internalized that a million times over, and even if we think it’s unfair and stupid and superficial and gross, we still can’t help but repeat it back to ourselves inside our own heads in the form of misplaced wish fulfilment and frustration. ‘OMG you have a perfect little body, just wear the cool thing!’ It’s something that’s so easy to think, even to say, and it shouldn’t be. Putting on what we want to wear should be the easy thing. It should be. I know it’s not, not always. But it should be. One day, I would like the world to be the kind of place where it really is the easy thing, where no one bats an eyelid at what another person is wearing, except to get a better look at it and to say ‘Hey, that’s such an interesting outfit. You’re rocking it!’
So in honour of that wish, in honour of all the ladies trying their best to be body positive but sometimes still fighting off the demon that idealises their friends’ bodies; in honour of the soft, squashy bits that almost everyone has somewhere on their body; in honour of the hard, sharp parts that almost everyone has as well somewhere on their body; and in honour of this totally cute mix ‘n’ match line that Collectif dreamed up for this season, I give you my squashy middle and the adorable Talis pinafore duo.
Top: Talis Plain Pinafore top C/O Collectif
Skirt: Talis Swing Skirt (coming soon) C/O Collectif
Hat: Old Primark
Bag: White Vintage inspired bag by Lola Von Rose
Hair flowers: Ivory Blossom Falls hair clips by Alternate Normality
Bangles: Splendette Woven Bamboo bangle / Bamboo pack / Thrifted gold bangle
Wedges: Old F&F @ Tesco
I saw this pinafore set and the other matching items in the Talis range previewed at last September’s London Edge. At first I only saw the skirt, mistaking it excitedly for a new colourway of the Jasmine, my not-so-new favourite skirt, and I wondered about the addition of the waistband buttons. It was promptly explained to me that there was going to be a matching top that buttoned on to the skirt, creating a cute pinafore set with a cut-out sides feature. That same top could also be buttoned onto a pencil skirt, shorts and pair of cigarette trousers, with the selection of pieces available in mint green, navy blue or a navy/white pinstripe, creating a plethora of possible mix ‘n’ match outfits sets available. This struck me as genius and just the kind of fun, clever-spirited thing I expect from true vintage. There are plenty of ladies I know who will be dying to buy a selection of these pieces so they can create a bunch of mix ‘n’ match playsuits to their heart’s content. Collectif, you did good.
The Talis top closes with 3 large buttons in the centre of the back, with an elasticated shirred section on each side to give stretch and comfort to the top. The thick shoulder straps mean you don’t have to worry about wearing a strapless bra as they give full coverage. The stretch panels on the sides means my boobs aren’t crushed and it’s super comfortable to wear in general. I’m wearing the size 16/XL, on which the flat measurement of the bust comes in at 41 inches and stretches up to 46 inches. Flat measured the length of the top from the centre of the shoulder straps to the hem of the top is 14.5 inches, with the cut outs being approximately 2.5 inches from the bottom of the top to the waistband of the skirt. I know it rarely gets to be boiling hot in there UK so perhaps the idea of the cut-outs makes you feel a bit nippy, but you can always add a cute cropped cardigan on days that aren’t scorching, like I have above, or take one with you so that your hot afternoon in the beer garden doesn’t turn suddenly chilly when you’re still there at 9 that evening.
The Talis swing skirt has the same fullness as Collectif’s Jasmine skirt, fitting a medium fullness petticoat without any trouble. It closes with an invisible back zipper topped with a hidden hook and eye, and has three buttons in the centre front of the waistband to affix the matching top. If you like the skirt but aren’t interested in wearing the matching top, you can easily wear the skirt alone. If you do but find that the buttons bug you then you can cover them with a belt or just snip them off. Plus, there’s pockets, hurrah! The fabric doesn’t have much give, so my size 16 flat measures 34 inches in the waist and only stretches an inch, max, to 25 inches, making it spot on with the size chart. It measures 26 inches long.
Honestly, when I agreed to photograph this set, I did so fully in the name of body positivity and empowering other plus sized women to wear what they wanted, while secretly assuming it was going to look terrible and I was going to have to creatively pose to minimise my self-consciousness about my very squishy sides. But that didn’t end up being the case. The first time I tried it on I was pleased with how surprisingly okay I felt and looked in it. And by the time I took these photos, I felt sassy as all hell. I’m awesome! I’m so cute and stylin’! And I’m a chubb monster! None of those things are mutually exclusive. So, despite my reluctant and tentative start, if you, too, immediately liked the idea of this set on first glance and then talked yourself out of it–go with your first instinct. You’re a babe, regardless of your size, and a cute outfit is a cute outfit, also regardless of your size. Wear it, whatever it is, with pride.
The Talis Plain Pinafore top in green (sizes 6-22 £25) and the Talis Plain Pencil skirt (sizes 6-22 £30) are the only items from the line currently available. The green swing skirt I’m wearing here, as well as all the other navy and striped pieces from the Talis line will all be available soon, so keep your eye on the Collectif website to check for their release. All items will be carried in UK sizes 6-22 and Collectif ship internationally.