Alexandra

Alexandra

A fully rounded lady providing a fully rounded education one colourful dress at a time.

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TK Maxx – a plus size failure?

I have always loved TK Maxx – rummaging for unusual ornaments and new thermos drinking flasks is practically a hobby for me and I usually find myself in my local store at least once a month. If I’m going on holiday then TK Maxx is where I’ll head for a new pair of sunnies and a beach tote… and if I’m going out or to an event then I’ll hit up the jewellery section. 

What I don’t usually do, is look at the clothes. 

My size varies anywhere from a UK16 to a UK22, depending on where I shop – wherever I go, however, I’m still classed as plus size. I know that TK Maxx go up to UK size 18, but from past experience I also know that the brands stocked usually size up very small – thus I stopped bothering to look at what was out on the rails because it was almost always too small. 

Today, I was rummaging through eyeshadow palettes when I noticed a ‘plus size’ sign out of the corner of my eye. I have no idea how long it’s been there, but I got excited that I might find beautiful clothes to fit me – I headed over. 

My excitement was short lived. 

tkmaxx

Sure enough, there were two rails stocked with plus size garments, but the first thing I noticed were that there were nothing in any sizes above a UK24 – hardly an inclusive plus size section… I found the UK20 section and had a look at what was on offer; I was sorely disappointed. Seven out of the eight items were beige, and all looked like they would be right at home in a nun’s weekend wardrobe. There was nothing colourful or even vaguely exciting. I hoped things would be better when I went to investigate the other plus size sections, but the situation just got worse. The selection of clothes was abysmal and there was not a splash of color to be seen. I found that everything was frumpy and there were no designs even remotely interesting! 

While TK Maxx will always hold a place in my heart for makeup, accessories, stationery, and homeware, it has an awful long way to come in the way of plus size fashion. 

I would love to see the diversity in colour, cut and style that is available in smaller sizes reflected in the plus size section of the store. With so many different brands under one roof, TK Maxx should be an advocate and trailblazer for size diversity – and yet here we are. Fingers crossed that change and improvement are on the horizon. 

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A Swimwear Love Story from eBay

Last August I started panicking because I was about to go on a cruise but had no swimwear. I didn’t know much about Caribbean cruises, but I knew that I would probably be spending a lot of time either pool-side, or at the beach. Swimwear was going to be essential. 

In a bit of a rush, I ended up forgoing actual shopping and opting for the quickest option – eBay. I wouldn’t normally turn to eBay for clothes, but in my mind it would be both a quick and cheap fix. If I bought something cheap and it turned out to be bad quality then I wouldn’t really have lost out. It seemed like a good option. 

If I’d had more time, I would definitely have looked at the gorgeous plus size options available from Simply Be, Evans, or Marisota. While I would have paid more than an eBay purchase, the quality would certainly be much better! Unfortunately, on this occasion I didn’t have the luxury of time on my side… 

I had a quick browse under a ‘plus size bikini’ search on eBay, and after a few clicks and about five minutes of browsing, I had ordered a gorgeous looking bikini. My final choice was China-made so my expectations were quite low, but at this stage something was better than nothing. The picture of my £5.99 purchase showed a pretty, almost tye-dye pink set, with heigh waisted bottoms and a crossed strap back. The real thing had a lot to live up to… 

ebay swimwear

ebay swimwear

My new bikini arrived a week later in what can only be described as a vacuum packed bag – much like what you find sausages in German supermarkets packaged in… I wasn’t optimistic. 

On getting the packet opened, things still weren’t looking too good – the quality of the material felt quite poor and there was very little stretch in the fabric. I had ordered a size 20 and doubted very much that either part of the set would fit. Despite my hesitations about stretch and fabric, there was a glimmer of hope because the pattern was pretty and true to the advertised images!

As I hauled the bottoms up over my tummy, some kind of black magic happened because both parts of the set fit fantastically well. Nothing felt too tight, and generally the set was really comfy to wear! Additionally, when I went to look in the mirror, I really liked what I saw. The cut of the bikini accentuated my glorious lumps and bumps perfectly and once I was wearing the set, I didn’t notice the previously questionable quality at all. 

As a complete bonus, the bikini set actually felt robust enough to swim in in addition to being great beach lounge-wear! The whole experience turned out a lot better than expected and I would definitely consider repeating the process in future. Buying such cheap clothes really does mean that if your purchases are a disaster, you will have lost out on minimal money (or no money if you return!) and you can have a good old laugh about the gamble of buying China-made eBay clothes!

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The Perfect Wedding Dress – Tailored to Fit

 Wedding dress shopping. You love it or you hate it.

For me, the thought of spending hours browsing Pinterest and then traipsing around bridal boutiques looking for the perfect wedding dress simply wasn’t appealing. For many brides, finding THE dress is one of the most important things on the agenda, but I was much more interested in getting other things sorted first. I also knew that my fiancé would find me beautiful if I walked down the aisle in a potato sack, so the dress was low down on my priority list.

The Perfect Wedding Dress - Tailored to Fit

The Perfect Wedding Dress – Tailored to Fit

Nevertheless, when I first got engaged, I started the inevitable Pinterest browsing for plus size styles that I liked. I also looked at some plus size bridal retailers such as London Bride UK and Bonny Bridal, where I found some beautiful dresses but there was nothing I loved enough to buy. I very quickly got frustrated, and then bored. I just wanted a quick and easy fix that would make me feel like a princess on the big day but wouldn’t take up days (or weeks) of my time.

It was a couple of months into my engagement when it occurred to me to contact a dressmaker whose designs I have been in love with for many years. I sent a quick message asking about the possibility of a bespoke gown, and to my delight she responded within a day. All she needed was a rough idea of what I wanted and my measurements.

I flicked through a few wedding magazines and snapped three or four dodgy camera phone photos of the things I liked, which all consisted of elaborate ruffled tulle skirts. Next, I sent these, along with my current measurements along to the designer. Within a month, she had combined the images I had sent with her own unique style to create a draft design of my dress. I couldn’t have been more in love, and I had managed the whole process without leaving my house! What’s more, because I gave the designer my exact measurements, the dress should fit like a glove. I often buy clothes from different plus size retailers and things don’t always fit perfectly because of slight measurement differences between brands, but with a bespoke dress there’s nothing to worry about!

There are now under four months to go before the wedding, and my wonderful dressmaker has finalised the design and is due to start pattern cutting in the coming weeks. I will have a fitting a month before the wedding to make sure everything is in order and then any final adjustments will be made.

I’ve not had to spend large amounts of time searching through catalogues and shops looking for something I like, and yet I am utterly besotted with my design.

While I would thoroughly recommend having a wedding dress made from scratch, there are a few things to bear in mind;

  1. Money. If you approach a well known designer then it’s going to be a pricey option. We’re talking thousands, not hundreds. If you’ve got the cash to splash around then definitely go for it! On the other end of the scale, there are many people who’ve made their own dresses and saved the pennies!
  1. Time. It can take many months for a design alone to be finalised, let alone all the steps taken to turn the design into reality. If your wedding is in six months time or less then this probably isn’t the right option for you!
  1. Size. You need to have a fairly good idea of what size you’re going to be on the day for this to work – I imagine this is the same for any dress you buy in advance! Over the last few years I have bounced around anywhere between size 16 and size 22 which has led me to have a few panics about my dress. My wonderful dressmaker has assured me that there is a couple of inches breathing room either side of my current measurements, so there is room for some fluctuation and the dress will still fit perfectly!

Overall, if you don’t fancy hitting the shops to find the right gown for you, thenhaving something custom made is certainly worth considering. It doesn’t matter what shape or size you are – the dress will fit because it has been made for you, and you alone!

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Being a Plus Size Teacher

What do you wear if you’re a plus size teacher? It’s just office-wear, right?

WRONG!

There are times in my job where I find myself shuffling around on all fours looking for a lost crayon, or trying to retrieve a freshly catapulted ruler from behind the filing cabinet. Believe it or not, smart office-wear does not lend itself kindly to these activities. Trust me, I tried wearing a skirt suit for my first week of teaching… it’s safe to say I won’t be making that mistake again!  It’s not been easy, but over the past year I have managed to find my own quirky teacher style which suits all the needs of both being a teacher, and also being a plus size woman.

After what feels like hundreds of outfit disasters, I have reached a stage where without a doubt, my go-to favourites are bright dresses with a sensible jacket or cardie thrown over the top. These, coupled with a pair of tights (usually black to create an illusion of being sensible enough to educate children) always set me up brilliantly for whatever the day has to throw at me.

My job sees me teaching everything from 6 to 16 year olds, and my teacher outfits are always sensible enough for the older students, and fun enough for the littler ones – the best of both worlds. So with my wardrobe of colourful dresses, I finally feel like I’ve sussed it out.

Crawling around the floor trying to find things? No problem.
Standing on a chair on tip toes trying to put up displays? Cool.
Meeting parents for important meetings? Sorted.
Shimmying up a ladder in the drizzle to collect forgotten footballs from the roof? Come at me!

 

plus size teacher

Whatever the weather and occasion, this staple outfit does the job. I usually pick dresses made from fairly heavy material which means they don’t flap about everywhere. Only once has the wind been strong enough to blow my skirt up and flash my knickers to the whole playground, which is saying something since I live in the North of England where the weather is grey and windy for 99.9% of the year. It’s also worth noting that I love anything with pockets, so I have somewhere to stash a spare red pen and a pack of tissues – which any teacher will know are must haves on a day to day basis.

There is no question that my all time favourite dresses for work come from Lindy Bop. They are all made with beautifully bright, patterned fabric which all the children love, as do I! The other staff always love my outfits too, and I am forever receiving lovely comments in the staffroom about my skirts and dresses. A lot of the designs have pockets, which gets bonus points from me, and I find everything really easy to dress either up or down.

I love having such a versatile and colourful wardrobe which can easily be adapted to make excellent teacher-ware with the addition of tights and a black jacket/cardigan, or even for going out on the town at the weekend if you add some heels and a bit of bling. It’s also worth noting that if your teaching job involves less floor-crawling than mine, Lindy Bop do a stunning range of skirt suits and twin sets that are all absolutely gorgeous!

Despite my undying love for Lindy Bop and constant obsession with their new designs, I am always keen to try out other plus size brands and love hearing other people’s opinions on workwear. For example Lady Voluptuous (featured in the picture above) do bright, patterned and pretty flared dresses up to a size 32. More often than not you can also find something at Simply Be, Evans, or Yours Clothing  within their ranges like Voodoo Vixen and Hell Bunny.

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