I’ve felt unrepresented by my size/shape on the highstreet for years, and it was reassuring to see on twitter that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way after a short convo with some fellow people struggling to find where their places were in the world of fashion. The word inbetweenie was coined by Queen Beady and finally I found a word that felt appropriate to how I feel about my shape.
I’m 5ft 11, I have the height of the supermodel, but not the figure of one – my legs are even longer being the average length for someone who is 6ft 2. I have 36G boobs which sounds massive, but they don’t dominate my frame (actually 35 if I’m being specific which makes finding bras as much of a chore as clothes). 36G’s make it hard to find things that stretch or button over a difficult task in itself. I have a naturally big bum which has always been the case which most of the women in my family are blessed with, even at my skinniest size 12 (I went straight from wearing Tammy teen clothes into size 12 – where I stayed between the ages of 11 & 16), my booty rivaled Beyonce’s. Thanks to spending a lot of my teenage years lugging around compost bags, and pushing heavy trolleys on my parents nursery I’ve got muscly but not toned arms and legs which have never gone away, even when I was doing the Body Confidence Program the inches on my legs and arms barely shifted throughout. My stomach is getting flatter, and it’s the only place where I feel like I do drop weight. For the first time in years I feel like my sides are actually flat to my natural curves and there’s no unwanted muffin top making me feel even weirder about my body shape for the first time in years.
I’m a size 16, edging into the plus size category except for am I for my height? Being a size 16 at 5ft 11 is very different proportionately to being a size 16 at 5ft 4 (not that there’s anything wrong with being that size either BTW). Size 16 clothes on the high street are often cut to accommodate a bigger stomach, which is one of my smallest parts in proportion to the rest, needing to find clothes that fit over my boobs, size 16, 18 or in some cases 20 – can mean that the rest of the garment can look like a tent on my arms and belly.
I don’t know where my body and shape belongs in shops. The only shop I can generally rely on for a good fit is Dorothy Perkins, I have 20 pairs of their Eden jeggings as they’re the only trouser I’ve found which are long enough for me, stretch over my bum but don’t gape when they reach my waist. But can’t rely on Dorothy Perkins for everything all the time, most of the time their more ‘non basic’ stuff just isn’t really my style with the patterns and fabrics they use. New Look has a tall range, but their selection never tends to extend past about 20 items, and they never actually have it in stores. Topshop is the only other shop on the high street that do a tall section and finding something that’s a size 16 and tall is near on impossible. Especially if you’re like me and want to see stuff in person so i can see how it’s going to button or stretch over my various body parts.
(Photos are from my engagement shoot with Charlotte Maddison Photography, Thank you Charlotte for making me like pictures of myself for one of the first times in about 5 years)
Shopping in “normal” sections built for the Average Jo (proud of that one!) would normally not have been a problem until 2 years ago, and WHAM BAM, cropped cuts and the reincarnation of the mini cut started appearing everywhere. Cropped and Mini cuts do not work on someone who is 5ft 11 and everything is already shorter than it should be, let alone taking the rest of my body’s curves into consideration. I used to love going shopping for clothes, but I’ve had times over the past few years when I’ve “had to” find something and have ended up on the dressing room floor distraught in tears that nothing, anywhere seems to fit me.
I now hate going shopping for clothes on the high street (shoes and makeup are clearly fine though), but I’m a person who loves to see things in person. I can generally tell from how something is on the hanger if it’s going to stand a chance of fitting. Despite its recent bad press in the blogosphere over the past week, ASOS has been my savior over the past 2 years. Their tall section goes all the way up to a size 18, and even when I was a bit bigger their curved range was cut actually long enough for me to not have to have a mental breakdown about the combination of curve and tall not existing. Their Premier service has been worth every penny, £9.99 for a whole years next day delivery is amazing when it’s a total pot luck for you as to whether things will fit, I can order from ASOS 3 times in a week if I’m hunting for a perfect dress or skirt and still have it in time for the weekend when I need my shiny new garment.
I am DREADING going wedding dress shopping in a few weeks. My whole reason for joining the Body Confidence program was to feel better for going dress shopping as quick as possible, and do you know what I’ve got more body confidence than I ever have done before. But that hasn’t stopped me thinking stuff is not going to fit me correctly. I know shops order you the dress in your size and they can work wonders in alterations, hell I’ve watched enough episodes of Say Yes To The Dress over the past 6 months to know that for sure. But I hate the idea of taking such a big leap of faith that when it will arrive in 6 months time it will be what I hoped for and fit as it’s meant to. Wedding dress shopping is meant to be an exciting milestone event and I’m not 100% looking forward to it. Pray for me next Friday, I’ll be having an anxiety breakdown.
If you don’t fit in the average bubble, I feel you. Welcome to the Inbetweenie Club, most of the time it sucks here – but remember it’s not your fault that there’s no box you can tick where you belong.
Update a year on from writing this: I still get a lot of comments on this post, I leave it pinned to the top because I get thank you emails about it and it makes me realise saying this has helped some people who was maybe thinking the same. I’ve thought about unpinning it, but I don’t want to for now. I did go wedding dress shopping and loved it, and infact I’m now married as of June 2017. My dress was wonderful and I felt like a princess (not long grass friendly though!).