Pinafore Playsuit Playtime [Collectif]

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.

Collectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore top Collectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore top Collectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore top Collectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore top Collectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore top

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
Brooch: Luxulite

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.

talis14

Tigerlily and I say be happy and rock your outfit!

Jenny in Venice [Pinup Girl Clothing]

The Italian Landscape Jenny skirt by Pinup Girl Clothing is not a new piece to me, technically. I first bought this skirt over two years ago, as my first PUG piece, and it still remains one of my favourite items of clothing of all time. It’s saddened me, therefore, that due to my weight gain in the past year I haven’t been able to wear my Venice Jenny either without some incredibly cinched discomfort and/or some serious muffin top that I’ve had to hide with a thick belt.

Pinup Girl Clothing Italian Landscape Jenny Olive Peasant Top Deadly is the Female

It’s such a popular style that when their yearly restock comes during spring/summer it sells out super fast. This year PUG listened to their ardent fans and added pockets to this and every other restocked or new Jenny skirt and dress. So, you know, all things considered, I had to do it–I had to buy the next size up. Doing so would not only mean I could own my favourite print in a pocketed version, practically reason enough, but it would also mean I can comfortably wear it in the next size up without feeling tortured about my weight gain.

Pinup Girl Clothing Italian Landscape Jenny Olive Peasant Top Deadly is the Female

The thing is, sometimes I’m able to keep up a sensible food pattern and regular exercise, and sometimes I’m kind of crap at that. When the latter happens, it’s not my favourite place to be in physically and it’s nobody’s fault but my own, but the older I get the less interested I am in shaming myself for it or guilting myself out. Weight gain happens. It’s not the end of the world. I can slim down again if I commit, or I can live my life just as fabulously with a little extra meat on my bones. In honour of that balance, I’ve been sensible in what items I add to my wardrobe so that I have beautiful things that make me feel fabulous regardless of which dress size my form is currently conforming to. Which brings us squarely back to the Italian landscape Jenny. Even though I wanted to buy it to enable me to feel hot and chic in the next size up, actually sizing up was kind of a headache.

Several of my PUG-loving friends, including, Claudia, the lovely owner of incredible UK vintage-style boutique Deadly Is The Female, indulged me in discussing the widespread sizing confusion related to the recent restock of this skirt.

Pinup Girl Clothing Italian Landscape Jenny Olive Peasant Top Deadly is the Female

The long story made short is that this stock run of the skirt came in smaller than the typical PUG size charts. A size L is normally for 30-31 inch waists, the XL for 33-34, the 2X for 36-38, and so on. In this run, the XL became sizes only 30-31, the 2X 33-34, etc. I wanted to size up for a 34inch waist, so the size charts told me I would need the 2X to do that from this restock. Okay, no problem, I would size up into the 2X; I’ve become a more solid XL than my old PUG L these days, but it’s just a label, so who cares?

However reports began trickling in that ladies were receiving their supposedly-small-running Venice skirts and finding that they were running larger than the newly updated size chart stated. The XL was actually widely reported as being a 32 waist, not the 30-31 on the size chart. And that’s where I began to worry. I wanted a 33-34 waistband. If the 2X I was supposed to order actually came up larger nearer 35+, it would be too loose on me. Was the 2X going to be huge and the XL too small? Would I have to skip this skirt entirely, or buy larger and have it taken in?

Pinup Girl Clothing Italian Landscape Jenny Olive Peasant Top Deadly is the Female

It’s so silly and trivial, but I honestly worried and dithered over what to do. For $98 a skirt plus international delivery, it wasn’t a simple matter that I could order both and return one/both if it didn’t work out for me without it costing me a lot of money and hassle in delivery fees and customs. Sure, I could just write this restock off, but I really didn’t want to. I missed wearing my favourite skirt. Not having access to the larger size was making me feel guilty about not fitting the size I did have, and the shame spiral was beginning to lure me in. I was about ready to feel angry and disappointed with myself when in swooped Claudia Deadly to save the day–and my favoured weekend cake.

Since Deadly Is The Female is a UK store and website, ordering both sizes to compare and potentially return was a much easier and less costly process than ordering from America. Plus, it was a kismet-level, timely moment, as Deadly had only one of each size remaining as of the moment Claudia was due to leave the shop for her honeymoon. She put them both aside for me, left instructions for the staff for my order, and went off to Greece having made this concerned PUG fan very happy, with an additional assurance that she was sure the XL would fit me fine.

She was right. Past iterations of this print have run snug with no stretch, snug with a bit of stretch, and now a little small with much more give. The Deadly size chart for this style is more accurate than the chart on PUG’s own product page, but even so I found the XL still had more give than expected. To test that give, layering up on some fluffy sweaters over a day of substantial bloating, I managed to squeeze this skirt on and still close it measuring at 35.5inches. If you really do have a waist of 35.5 inches, that’s going to feel incredibly snug and likely not comfortable, not unless your waist is squishy and you are comfortable using intense shapewear such as boned cinchers and corsets to cinch down for long periods of time beneath your clothing. So consider that in that scenario, while my skirt can reach 35.5inches around, it’s not really supposed to and you might not feel comfortable in it trying to force the issue. I merely wanted to test the give factor. More practically speaking, I think if you’re 32-34 inches this skirt will work for you in this XL.

Pinup Girl Clothing Italian Landscape Jenny Olive Peasant Top Deadly is the FemaleAll of this sizing confusion, the temptation to feel badly about myself, the wanting what I can’t have and the finding out I could have it after all has really reminded me what a struggle it can be to live inside our own bodies sometimes, even when it comes to seemingly trivial things like clothing it the way you want. It can be frustrating when you’re not even sure of your own sizing, and when you’re tempted to blame yourself guiltily, full of shame, for not fitting into particular size charts or perimeters. Please remember that as annoying as it is to not know what size to order, it’s not your body’s fault and it’s not something you should get down about. I know all these issues are tangled up in much bigger things, all interconnected and dependent upon a dozen different factors within ourselves and without, but it is just clothing. If one particular skirt or top or dress is cut weirdly or sized badly and doesn’t fit you, that is not a poor reflection on you in any way, ever.

Yes, where possible finding a local (or even national, in cases like mine) stockist of your favourite brands will help you ease issues like this, and many stores like Deadly is the Female are more than happy to do everything they can to help. But just remember, at the end of the day, when you’re dealing with sizing and shopping issues, when you’re one inch away from fitting something you love and it makes you want to cry because for god’s sakes, why can’t you just be the right size for once?

Stop. It’s not you.

That’s not what’s happening here. So pause, breathe, wipe your face if you need to. It’s just the dress. Or the skirt. Or whatever. It’s not you. You aren’t trying to find something to fit into, not literally: you’re trying to find something that fits you, your personality and your style and your happiness. You’re looking for something that will make you feel amazing when you put it on, regardless of your size. If something doesn’t fit you, all it means is that it is the wrong size, not you. It’s just an item of clothing. You will find one that will make you feel much calmer, happier and more comfortable. If that means sizing up or buying something else entirely, that’s okay. That’s wonderful. Just remember that your body is a marvel and a magic wand and a shooting star, and breathe. Keep breathing. Because you’re not a size. You’re a blessing.

Pinup Girl Clothing Italian Landscape Jenny Olive Peasant Top Deadly is the Female

Secret bonus butt squeeze for anyone who read this far.

A million thanks to Claudia at Deadly Is The Female for being so helpful, kind and downright wonderful all the time, always.