If finding clothes to support a High WASP style can be difficult for all of us, it is even more frustrating for those in plus sizes. High WASP clothing style is characterized by respect for the social context, clean lines, classic proportions, high quality materials, and subtle, original details. Plus size fashion? Not so much.
But Queen Victoria, who ushered in the era of the High WASP in America, was herself plus size. We cannot let an entire segment of the deserving populace go unserved. Those who wish to follow this aesthetic should be allowed to do so. However, I can say that all I wish, and if the resources are not available it’s an empty statement.
So I went hunting. Some general observations. First, the industry does not, very often, show plus size fashion on plus size people. No surprise there, I suppose. They don’t show standard fashion on standard people. But those in the standard segment have many, many retail outlets at which to translate photos of 5’10” women who weigh 110 pounds wearing photoshopped dresses into actual selves in actual dresses. Plus size? Not so much. Hard to find large quantities of plus size clothing assembled anywhere a High WASP would be happy shopping.
Second, I am puzzled as to why the industry assumes that plus size women prefer what appear to be, to High WASP eyes, undignified colors and patterns. We don’t wear bright lavender much, nor dusty rose in shiny fabrics. We don’t like large, irregular patterns with a lot of white space. Perhaps, as has been suggested, the assumption is that the plus size demographic has a culturally determined, and different, aesthetic.
Third, I am guessing that the rule for dignified clothing choices is universal. Your clothing should treat you well. The part of your body that most pleases you? Show it off. Have a defined waist line? Define it, then. A nice line to your legs? Underline them. I could be a little off base. But the high level principle of approaching style with affection for one’s being cannot be wholly wrong.
No matter. What does matter, if you suffer from the High WASP allergy to over-ornamentation, large prints, and colors not found in nature, is what you can find to wear. Let me quite humbly submit my suggestions. For casual wear, from Artsy Cousin, (in her urban, black-is-queen guise) to the Sturdy Gal, (quite happy in khakis and a soft t-shirt), to the Grande Dame (never in jeans without heels).
Coats & Jackets – Workwear – evans, 50 GBP
DKNY Jeans – Plus Size Soho Bootcut in Rinse 32 (Rinse) – Apparel, $63
Le pull en maille fine Sara Lindholm, col rond
Le chemisier imprimé fleurs
Christian louboutin shoes, 375 GBP
I include the item list because in this case, while you may understand the idea of High WASP style, actually implementing it is a problem. And what showing the list makes clear is that one may have to go to Europe to find what one is looking for. And even learn how to speak French. I’m still trying to figure out if any of these sites ship to the USA.
Moving on to the office. Did any of you watch Drop Dead Diva? I didn’t much like the show, writing was too sentimental for my astringent soul, but found the star’s clothing to be spot on. And have looked here for work wear in that vein.
La veste stretch, idéale pour le bureau ou la ville
Calogera Suit (2 Piece) by Marina Rinaldi – LaGrandeDame.com
3/4 Sleeve Boat Neck Knit Dress by Melissa Masse – LaGrandeDame.com
Christian Louboutin Simple 70 leather pumps, $595
Salvatore Ferragamo Varina Ballet Flat, $215
The High WASP credo, “Good bag, good shoes, good look!” does not change when we enter the plus size realm. And that Brooks Brothers bag? $350. I haven’t seen it in real life, but it appears that The Brothers are right in there with Talbots for mid-range, well-designed bags this year.
And finally, dressing up plus size. I have only one thing to say. They don’t call her Queen for nothing.
A shade of lavender that might be found in many a well-proportioned English garden. Simple but rich ornamentation, not too geometric, not too anthropomorphic. (Really, Charlize, what were you thinking? No matter how svelte, how tall, how golden of skin, we do not wear rosettes that look like bosom targets. Don’t even get me started on Carla Bruni. My pique is not caused by any general fear of breasts, I promise. Dignity and respect for a bone fide social context has nothing to do with body type.)
And now to you. Perhaps you know more than I in this area. Please share, if you will. Goodwill and navy blue to all.