Tuesday 22 December 2015

What's in my Wardrobe with Kathryn Kaupa

Saturday 21 November 2015

Sparkle and Lace with George at ASDA

The Christmas Party Season is one I love and fear in equal measure. I have a rather 'Don't Keep For Best' attitude when it comes to my day to day wardrobe, which means when I need / want to go glam, I have to pull out all the stops!!

When the team at George contacted me to review their Christmas Sparkle range, I had high expectations of full on shimmer!

I surprised myself, by not going for a skater dress number, although if this had been available in my size (UK24), I would have snapped their hands off:

My aim for my outfit was all hinged around one piece, this blazer:

With a jacket that made this much of a statement, I wanted a black dress to let the jacket do the talking! In choosing this lace number, I've accidentally created a powerful combination:

I teamed it with this simple bag (similar here) with a hint of sparkle, and I had also picked out a pair of gorgeous sparkly brogues, which sadly didn't fit my wide size 8 feet. I wanted to tie all the sparkle in together, without being obviously feminine (with heels) but I did want to try to make an effort with tying the shoes into the outfit as a whole!

 The fit of this dress is perfect on me in a size 24, and a good length on my 5'10 frame:

I wanted to team this dress with some 100 denier tights, but then the lace scallop hem detail would have been lost against the black - so bare legs for the win with this dress!

The deep v neck at the front of the dress is rather nicely mirrored at the back, so it's a shame to wear the blazer the whole right, right?!

And a cute little out take from a self timer fail! Makeup wise I didn't want to go overboard, so I went for pale coral lips, and a double eyeliner on the eye!

I was lucky that I was able to get all the items from ASDA George, but the main item - the blazer, could have been added to any dress in my wardrobe, to bring the dress kicking into the Christmas Party Season! I'm actually looking forward to teaming it with jeans and a top for a completely different look!

Check out how the lovely Sarah styled her blazer here.

Much love my lovelies, 

K x

These items were sent to me for review, but the comments and views are my own

Wednesday 4 November 2015

When dresses become tunics...

When Dorothy Perkins released their Curve range (size 18 - 28), I scoured their range out of interest, and found the usual plus size staples of skater dresses (and I love a good skater dress), and muted colours. 

There was one piece that piqued my interest, and that is the houndstooth tunic dress. I liked that it wasn't the 'flattering' cut you'd expect, and who doesn't like houndstooth!

And I did what most probably did, and mentally filed the dress away in the 'maybe, after pay day' folder of my brain, and got on with my day. 

The delightful Charli messaged me to say she loved the dress tooo, and wondered if we could do a 'same Dress / Different Size' kinda deal. YEAHA! I was up for that! We're both on the tall side (I'm 5'10), and with Charli an 18, and me a solid 24, we were pretty much at both ends of the size spectrum. 

After coming to this agreement, DP had a conflicting message on their IG account, given that they had just launched a plus size range. 

I took to twitter, and the team behind Shame Body Shame, to question how this was appropriate for their brand to share, given what they had just launched. 

Over DM, we discussed the message this gave to the new followers, and I made a few suggestions on how to resolve this moving forward. As a thank you and apology for the posting, I was gifted a voucher which was swiftly dispatched.

Now, a brand who not only apologised, without opting for the 'sorry you're offended' cop out, but also listened to thoughts and recommendations of how to improve - are given a second chance in my book!

Coupled with a website promotion, this dress was then covered as part of their apology / thank you:

A perfect addition to my attempt to smarten up my work wardrobe!

I teamed it with leggings, because, as I predicted, it is just  a fraction too short to rock with tights (bum on display level of awkwardness!)

Charli, wearing the same dress, had made it look like a different dress! Teaming it with a belt was a goods move, as I saw it without, and the 18 was just a little to big for her, and so opted to cinch in the waist! Curves for days that woman!! 

The shift in this is less roomy that some might expect, but just what I was going for! VBO be damned, I feel really cute in this dress, and am looking forward to teaming it with biker boots and leggings for the office.

Much love my lovelies,

K x

Monday 2 November 2015

Newcastle's Best Kept Secrets

When the team at Travelodge asked me to put together a list of Must See / Must Do places in Newcastle, I knew what would feature! There are two events that I am proud to have happening in Newcastle, one of which happened this past weekend.
ScreenageKicks offers an immersive theatre experience for movie goers – their past screenings of the Shining and Reservoir  Dogs. For Halloween this year, they opted for the classic Ghost Busters, with clips from your favourite (or scariest...) horror films!

There were also appearances from Freddy, Chucky, and It (perfectly made up / costumed / in character!) and not for the fainthearted!

After being vetted by the various horror characters at the entrance, we were met by the MARSHMALLOW MAN:

The event started at 8, but the screening wasn't set to start til 10, so what to do with this expanse of time? You mean, other than stare adoringly at all the amazing 80s costumes? Or count how many ghost busters were in the audience? Or try to guess who were actors and who were wearing really really good costumes?

Well, there was new Screenage Kicks merchandise to look at (their tee shirts are on my wish list!), drinking BloodBombs (Jager and Cranberry RedBull), and enjoying the burger in a brioche bun combo, the time flew by! There was also a band belting out Halloween classics, like Highway to Hell, and a montage of all the horror films I've never seen because I'm a wuss, along with the actors showing they're hired for their skill, as well as their lookalike-ability!

The screening of Ghost busters was as expected, and I do wish we'd been closer to the action to be able to watch the actors a little more, but from what I could see, the effect was perfect - they complimented the screening, rather than distracted from it. The main three characters were well cast, with Kyle leading the troops gallantly, just as Dan Ackroyd would have wanted it!

Screenage's next venture is Batman returns, and instead of being in a 700 capacity venue, there are only 150 tickets or so available this time!

If Batman Returns is right up your alley, you'll need to find a hotel - and what better place to stay than a Travelodge, with a good selection of inner city locations, perfect for a quick city break for an event like Screenage!

I mentioned that there are two events that make me proud to be from the North East. If Screenage appeals to the movie fan, then Newcastle:Soup appeals to the charitable and sense of community. 

Newcastle:Soup is base on the Detroit model - which I happened to see profiled on a BBC News programme and loved the idea of it immediately. I was really proud to see that someone from Newcastle had put the leg work in and set up our own Soup.

Soup is an evening of community, where you pay £4, get a bowl of soup, and a vote - throughout the evening 4 charities pitch why they need the pot of funds raised that night, and the winner is the one with the most votes. But it also helps raise the awareness of your charity, or cause to a wider audience. 

If you wanted to set one up yourself, come along to the next event, or follow the team on twitter.

Newcastle has a lot to offer off the beaten track, and with Travelodge, it's not that expensive to stay in the city with so much to offer!

Much love my lovelies, 

K x

* Sponsored post, but my views and the event's awesomeness are not influenced by this 

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Role Models with Rolls WANTED

Girls today have a plethora of role models available to them, from pop stars, athletes, sports stars, and now bloggers. Ask any tweenager about their role model these days, and I'm sure Zoella and her ilk will be high on their list.

Which is great for the youth of today that they have a wide variety of bodies, to admire, to compare themselves to, to aspire to be.

But where are our, us Grown Up Women, role models? I've carved a path for myself without a shiny beacon to light my way. But others aren't so lucky - they stumble through a world filled with media shouting that their body type is wrong, their body hair is wrong, they are wrong. 

Brands like to pitch role models to us, presenting 'collections' with so call plus size role models. Ladies we should admire and aspire to be. 

We've had Gemma Collins, the Reality TV Star, bring out a number of collections with plus size retailers, before starting her own store (now in a shroud of controversy over an alleged 300% profit margin).

Gemma, however, is no role model for me. She is often lauded as a role model, and brought out at plus size events and awards to show us how happy and content she is as a plus size woman. And yet the next week the press with have her showing off new latest exercise plan, or diet regime, and she'll be talking about how ashamed she was, how much she hated being fat. Seems she's happy to make money from being fat one minute, but then ashamed of it the next. 

I can't imagine how having your weight discussed nearly every month in the glossy magazines must effect your esteem, your self worth. 

But I want my role models to be made of better stuff than Gemma Collins.

There hadn't been much in the world of collaborations, not until the Sprinkle of Glitter collection hit our screens (I've blogged about some of it here).

I wasn't really aware of her as a YouTuber, but I was happy to see someone who clearly appealed with a young audience, having a clothing collection with the plus size brand, showing that you can be fat and successful, plus size and someone to aspire to be. 

I wore my SOG dress to a Brownie meeting, and a few of the girls there said they had seen a few of her videos, and certainly knew who she was. I was over the moon to hear that my girls, aged 7-10 had someone to admire as they traversed their teen years. 

That was until I read this article, where Louise said she didn't like the term plus size, and felt her range should span to lower sizes as it's unfair that those a size 8 - 12 couldn't buy her collection. **sigh**

"I don’t actually like the term plus size. I don’t think I’m “plus” size, I just think I am a size. You wouldn’t look at Zoe and say she’s minus size. Zoe is just Zoe size and I’m just Louise size."

I think it's dangerous to do away with the term plus size - it increases the level of confusion, where you trawl through racks of clothes looking for those in your size, seeing what you 'could have won', but are relegated to the corner. And then you see Zoella wearing the clothes you were admiring. "Why can she wear that and I can't?" - that is when doing away with plus size becomes an issue. 

I am plus size, I have excess fat. I can't wear the same clothes as Zoella, or even SoG (who is a size 18) and it has taken 31 years to come to this realisation. I want more for the younger generations. I want them to know that while their fat doesn't define them, the term plus size does help them. It helps them find inspiration, and feel like they belong. 

The only role model I'm willing to accept is Beth Ditto. It's telling that the Beth Ditto collection for Evans from 5 years ago is still such a sought after collection, and my red and black chevron dress is source of envy for most!

But we deserve more. So I urge you to look at the plus size blogging community for your role models. We deserve role models with rolls, so we should become role models, for those still traversing the slippy mountains of body acceptance, to reach the summit of body love. 

Much love my lovelies, 

K x

Monday 19 October 2015

Pinafore Wars

You know the old addage - you wait for one pinafore, and a few come along at once? No? You've not?

Well, it should a saying because that seems to be what has happened in A/W15 collections!!

When I first spotted this pinafore in plain black, I hopped to it, teaming it with my hot pink, lip print shirt for full impact!!!

I love the adjustable strap detail, meaning you can adjust to different bust sizes.

My one criticism is that it is rather short - a definite 'wear with leggings' category!

But the cuteness level makes it very worth it!!

The pockets are a great touch too. 

I opted for the 24 (so my size), and found the waist to be snug, and it sits directly on my waist, so if you're not as hourglass you might want to size up. 

I'#m looking forward to wearing this with shirts and tshirts alike, with leggings and my biker boots in the colder months.

I was rather content with this addition to my wardrobe, until the denim, skater skirt pinafore dress came out!!

I work in an office where there is a slightly more casual, casual Friday. I have found this to be my go-to basis for my 'casual Friday' outfit if I'm having a crisis of casual proportions! 

Again, I've found this to be a little short, but remember I'm 5'10 so short comes with the territory. The straps aren't as adjustable as the previous pinafore, and have had to cross them over at the back to make them a little bit shorter.

Again, I'm wearing a size 24 here, and the waist doesn't quite sit on my waist, but I feel the fit 'works' okay. 

One word: POCKETS.

My wardrobe has gone from being lacking in the pinafore department, to now having two! 

It's a shame that the first one can only be worn with leggings, as I would have liked it as a 'business dress' appropriate option, whereas I feel they are both casual, weekend pieces.

Much love, 

K x

Thursday 15 October 2015

Shaming Body Shaming

It seems that not a week goes by without a brand (plus size or otherwise) dipping their toe into the world of 'motivational' posts which end up perpetuating the idea that you have to shame one body type to praise another. We don't need clothing brands to preach at us with 'motivational' posts - just show us clothes!!

I'm not one to just roll my eyes and walk away, because it's not explaining WHY I unfollowed. And what's the point of talking about a brand (or a person) behind their back, if you're not willing to say it to their face? So yes, I do call out brands who share the body-shaming content in the guise of a 'funny meme', in the hope that they realise their mistake, and learn from it. 
Which is what led me to call out Pink Clove, when they shared this:

Shaming because it perpetuates the idea of 'good fat' - the hourglass figure, and that the boobs and the bums of the world are better than the stomachs and thighs. 

It was some time ago, but I still refuse to shop with Pink Clove because their response was to block people from their Facebook page, not to tackle the core issue with this post! I don't do this because I like an argument, or because I want to shame them into apologising, but because I want them to BE BETTER!

Next on the 'Kathryn's No Shop List' is Taking Shape. As if their Skinny Bird Watching wasn't enough at London Fashion Week, they then posted this, which gave me a headache, I eye rolled that hard!!

Some would say, the issue isn't with these images themselves, but with how they respond to them:

This is why I got involved with the awesome @radfatfeminist, and her brain child @shamebodyshame (called such because we couldn't think of a succinct name!). Because it takes more than one voice to comment and get behind a campaign.

And I really don't need to explain as to why my eyeliner game is struggling right now do I? (read the post here). We both might have taken the step to boycott the brands who we feel haven't redeemed themselves, but it's something we both came to the decision to do separately!! And we don't judge others who do continue to patronise those stores, but would like people to be aware of who they're buying from or working with. The rest is to settle with their own conscience. 

While Sharon and I are working on the finer points of @shamebodyshame (such as our name!) - our efforts aren't going unnoticed. Just this week, after a dozen or more RTs, Dorothy Perkins got in touch to let us know they're keen to improve and will take our comments on board. Sculptresse also stated they thought it was a funny meme, but will think about what they post in the future. It proves that calling brands out on mistakes like this is a team effort - it can't just be one acting alone.

We now have brands tweeting products from their Curve range, RTing posts from the psblogging community about the curve range, and I'd like to think that was a little down to the work of @shamebodyshame and the work Sharon and I have done, and will continue to do. 

Much love my lovelies, 

K x

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Curvissa Takes 5 - Knitwear

I'm a big fan of cardigans. They just have a way of sneaking up on you, unassuming and twinset-and-pearls-y, when suddenly you're wearing a cardigan with an ice cream on it and thinking  -  this is ME!. 

**ahem** Sorry, I get a little carried away when on the subject of cardigans. The lovely Maxine Delicious named me her Cardigan Queen!

Thanks to Little Miss Delicious for the collage
So when the Curvissa team contacted me about reviewing some winter knits - I felt like saying yes only if there are cardigans involved!! 

And of course there were! Their plus size knitwear collection is rather varied, but I finally settled on this Shawl Collar Cardigan:

As you can tell from the collage, I'm a fan of the short cardigan, but I was really looking for something a little more relaxed and slouchy:

Which meant it was perfect for dressing down my Junarose dress for a relaxed Sunday doing chores, and then heading out to dinner with my Grandma!

It then made a poorly feeling me feel a little less icky in the office on Monday - where the comfort levels needed to be much higher than normal!

In fact, it is now hanging on the back of my chair at work, as I don't know about you, but my office fluctuates between the heights of summer and the depths of winter in one day - so there is no way to dress accordingly other than layers! So this cardi is a great way to counteract that as it's a neutral colour (although I'm not usually one to let colours clashing stop me!).

I opted for the 22/24, and found the fit to be perfect for the oversized look! My only criticism is the material is a little scratchy, but I get the idea that it would soften with washes. 

Overall, I'd give this a 5 * rating! The roughness of the material really isn't something I would mark them down for!

A perfect piece for the transitioning wardrobe from Summer to Winter - and if you have an office like mine!

Have a look at what my fellow Knitwear Reviewers make of their pieces:

Much love my lovelies, 

K x

 I received this item in exchange for writing this review, however, all opinions are my own

Monday 21 September 2015

Opinion: The Importance of Plus Size Blogs

You know, when you're headed to a fashion event, and you hope against hope that no one else is wearing the same as you? That Primark special, or that Zara must have, it's a major headache when deciding between shopping your wardrobe or popping out for something new!

Imagine then, just for a moment, having less than 10% (it's a guess mind) of the stores to shop at. Ha, I hear you puff, how is that even possible? There is eBay, online shopping, and charity shops galore!

There may well be, for the glorious size 14. Or the wonderful size 12. Or even the heavenly size 16. But for us fabulous fats out there, we have a struggle. We have far fewer PHYSICAL stores to touch and see and try on clothes at. I live near Newcastle. The high street has one fat friendly store now - New Look Inspire. It has about 20 pieces in it. However, the Metro Centre has an Evans, a Simply Be, and a Yours Clothing. This makes me a very lucky northerner indeed – and I’m aware of my privilege from that perspective.

We might be limited by the high street, so much so that for some the only medium for shopping is online, but that doesn’t mean we don’t look, and wander, and fondle the clothes hanging on the rails. I certainly look at the prices and wonder just how much I could buy at the cost of one dress from one of *our* stores. You see, it’s not just that fatshion is inaccessible to us in the physical form, but quite often it’s priced well out of our price range too.

Now, please don't come to me with 'Well, Weight W****ers worked for...". No. Don't. I love who I am, and what size I am. I do not, for one second, want to change that. I want to celebrate diversity and all body types, no matter the shape or size.

I was at an amazing event last month in Birmingham, called Style XL. There were about 200 amazing women there during the day. I only spotted 2 people in the same outfit. TWO! How? How did we manage this with so few retailers out there? Through sheer style and determination. Which is why, FATshion blogs for me, are more varied, more interesting. Because we have to make styling choices, keep clothes from year to year, or customise them, or wearing a dress under a skirt to create a whole new look!

Over the years of only shopping in Evans, and a little bit from DP, has taught me my STYLE. I think mainstream fashion has a lot to glean from the plus size fashion blogs, because mainstream fashion is handed to you on a plate. You can buy the complete look in one STORE! Plus size fashion hunting involves multiple websites, multiple postage costs and the headache of returning items through the post only.

Finding that perfect outfit is a struggle; looking like you’ve stepped out of a fashion magazine is a struggle. That is why plus size blogs have more meaning, more weight (no pun intended), and more to say that most mainstream fashion blogs, in my opinion.

Much love my lovelies, 

K x

Thursday 17 September 2015

Brands and Politics

It's been a ranty few weeks for me, if you follow me on twitter that is! It's also been a while since I turned to this space as my opportunity to expand upon the 140 character limit. But here I am, writing this before work starts, with my latte in my hand thinking 'where do I begin'!!

It all started with UK Plus Size Fashion Week, coupled with Evans, taking to the streets of London with the banner of #styleissizeless

Top photoset courtesy of +Lolly Likes 
Bottom photo courtesy of +Toodaloo Katie 

Now, if UKPSFW wanted to show that style was indeed sizeless, then why not engage with the vast number of wonderful plus size bloggers (including the US names which joined the FROW) to create a number big statement?

My sister in body politics Sharon, has blogged about this in more detail here.

And after the dust settled on that battle ground, the team behind Lane Bryant (a very expensive plus size fashion brand in the US) started with their campaign, questionably called #plusisequal.

Now, first off, to what? To each other? To straight sized fashion? What Lane Bryant, WHAT? 

The lets look at the models chosen to represent this rally cry, shall we?

According to this then, #plusisequal to curves, hour glass figures, with a flat stomach, and Amazonian in stature. The 'pretty' end of the plus size spectrum, if you will.

Okay, so they're professional models, and you don't get many models signed to an agency that are outside of the 'normative' fats. But again, use bloggers, use smaller model agencies. In the UK, we have the UGLY model agency - which caters for those who don't want the standard model. Therefore 'it's model standards' is no longer a good enough answer when looking at a campaign who is trying to show that plus size bodies matter. 

But I might have given then the benefit of the doubt, hey, they're trying right?

Oh, but no.

Lane Bryant also brought out a tee shirt, to allow the general population to show that they support this body positive (sic) campaign.

Photo courtesy of +Debz A 

Erm... The people who are meant to be empowered by this, end up being marginalised. Again. Like we're not marginalised enough. 

And so, I took to twitter, along with Alysse Dalessandro's (@readytostare on twitter) hashtag #ifpluswasequal, to express my concerns with this campaign:

Photo taken from Bustle's article on #Plusisequal

With it being a US campaign, I wasn't expecting much interaction or commentary - the joy of twitter is throwing the tweets out there and watching to see if it makes any ripples in the water! The #ifpluswasequal tag was filled with examples and reasons that the campaign was exclusionary (which Sharon also covers very well here) - not venting at the brand, but taking their anger to a place when it was phrased around educating why it was problematic, instead of just shouting it from the rooftops. 

I know prominent bloggers were asked to take part in the rally in Times Square, or join in with selfies in London, and that's okay - but we also need to listen to the criticism, and listen to our inner voices that whisper "I've a very bad feeling about this" - and which Virgy covers in her article here. Don't judge us for getting involved - but judge us if we don't throw the critical view on the situation. 

Now, if you're a brand, and you've read all this and thought - HOW CAN I DO THIS RIGHT?! Take a look at Murder of Goth's post here.

In summary, I'm not sure if brands have a place in body politics - I think they can support existing campaigns, existing hashtags - but if you're setting up your own in order to drive traffic to your site, or for people to pay over the odds for a statement tshirt: you have no place in the political arena. 

Much love my lovelies, 

K x

Friday 4 September 2015

Sprinkle of Glitter for Simply Be

The Sprinkle Of Glitter for Simply Be
 collection hit the (online) shops recently, and I'm not going to lie, I really liked the collection. 

It fits in with what I would class as my 'go to style' - while I may flirt with other looks, I know that a good full skirt is waiting for me at home!!

Yes, I would like to have seen some variation with the silhouette, but this is Louise designing clothes she would want to wear! It's an interchangeable capsule collection!

When my order arrived (not of the whole collection, just my favourite pieces) I took to instagram to share my immediate thoughts, including those styles which didn't quite work!

And that reminded me how I used to share what was going back, as much as I did what I was keeping - and I missed that. I miss explaining why something doesn't work, or isn't what I was expecting.

Now, lets talk material - the top is a lovely cotton feel - and has some stretch, although not much difference between the 22 and the 24 in the top - and while this is the 22, I've opted for the 24 in the top so I can wear it with the bib!

Now, lets talk about this dungaree dress shall we? 

The skirt is a short skater number, which means (for me and my 5'10 tallness) it's leggings only. The waistband does have some give in it, and the pockets are good, deep pockets. There is a side fastening (zip) but I just pull it over my head!! 

Now, the bib. The bib itself just doesn't seem wide enough - like it's not been sized up with everything else. However, I do like that the straps have two lengths available to allow for varying bust sizes!!

Again, I wasn't expecting it to be this good a quality skirt - the heavy nature of the material means it hangs well, the netting puffs it out, and the lining means your tights don't get clicked by the netting! Win! 

I ordered it in two sizes (again, a 22 and a 24) as depending on the give on the waist I may have needed the smaller size. There is no give in the waist band. So if anything, you might need to size up in this. 

The ballerina wrap top was a last minute decision to be added to my basket, so I stuck with the 24 - and as we can see, the bust area doesn't really fit me!! 

I'm tempted to size down and see if that improves the fit at all, but anything like a stitch or a pin would ruin the way the top lies. 

I do, however, really like how these colours go together and may just have to look out for this in a smaller size! 

The Sprinkle of Glitter collection is a slice of femme joy, and I get that it only speaks to some style aesthetics, but me and my wardrobe are very happy with the pieces I'm keeping: Dungaree dress in a 24; rose coloured skirt in a 24; breton top in a 24 - and I can't wait to see how I can incorporate them into my corporate dress code!

Much love my lovelies, 

K x

**Disclaimer** Please remember that these photos were taken as part of the immediate trying on session!