Today’s post is written by fabulous forum member Marianna who hails from San Jose, CA, but lives in Chicago. Marianna is a recent college graduate who works as a part time television production assistant and retail sales assistant at Anthropologie. She wowed us with her flawless style when she won our TJ Maxx competition and continues to impress us with her knowledge, generosity and kindness on the forum. I asked Marianna to impart some of her wisdom and this is what she had to say.

MariannaI won’t sugarcoat it: dressing my plus size body is a daily challenge. My weight has been a lifelong struggle and only recently have I started the process of size acceptance. The first step in my size acceptance journey has been coming to terms with the fact that I am indeed plus size, that my clothing options are comparably limited, and that I have to shop in a segregated section of the store. Stepping foot into the small “women’s” department and figuring out what clothes flatter my apple shaped body is a never-ending emotional journey of trial and error.

I have been overweight my entire life and I have always loved fashion. From infancy my elegant plus size mother dressed me in the cutest clothing – she prided herself on having a well-dressed daughter. Naturally, my mom’s love of clothing passed down to me and as I grew up we bonded on frequent shopping trips. My mom has never let her size get in the way of being successful and dressing beautifully. Always immaculately polished, with gorgeous clothes, funky specs, and stunning jewelry, my mom is the epitome of a stylish plus size woman.

Despite having such an amazing role model, as a stubborn teenager and young adult I insisted on wearing what I wanted to wear and what I thought looked good. Prior to stumbling upon YouLookFab I had never truly succumbed to shopping in plus size departments. My weight has fluctuated from fat to fatter, but regardless of weight, I always shopped in straight size stores and squeezed myself into ill-fitting clothes. I had absolutely no idea how clothes were supposed to fit. If it looked pretty on the hanger and fit over my head, I would buy it. I was clearly in complete denial about my weight. My mom would kindly voice her opinions on my less than fab ensembles, but my stubbornness got in the way of listening to her insight. For years my clothes were clearly too tight, showcasing my belly instead of hiding it, and doing absolutely nothing to flatter my shape. I came to YouLookFab feeling frumpy. I knew I had stylish clothes in my closet, but I didn’t understand why I didn’t feel fab. That’s when I discovered the world of proper fit and dressing according to body type.

The absolute first step in overhauling my wardrobe has been realizing that I am apple shaped. It has been a humiliating and humbling experience learning my true size, yet it has also been eye opening to see how much better I look and feel in clothes that actually fit.

It hasn’t happened overnight, but slowly I am figuring out what styles look best on me and what clothes I feel best in. I would label myself as a true modern classic – my style incorporates simple classic garments with updated prints, colors, cuts and fabrications. I also adore statement jewelry and am rarely seen without a statement necklace or long earrings.

Marianna Outfit 1Marianna Outfit 2Marianna Outfit 4Marianna Outfit 3

I am no fashion pro, but I do feel I have learned some very valuable lessons while overhauling my wardrobe. Here are some of the important ones:

  • I can wear everything Angie blogs about, including bright colors, bold patterns, stripes, skinny jeans, leggings, boots over skinnies, and fitted clothes. Just because we’re a little bigger does not mean we have to ignore current styles and trends. We just have to search a little harder for the items, make sure they fit well, and then style them correctly. I wear my skinny jeans all the time – but only with a tunic on top!
  • I shouldn’t be afraid to be stylish or draw attention to myself. I wear gigantic statement necklaces that are impossible to miss and I feel fab.
  • Plus size items are virtually identical to their straight sized counterparts. They’re just bigger! This is especially true at stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s where you see some of the same items in the plus size department as you see in the straight size sections. The plus size items simply have a little more fabric and are sometimes cut to accommodate a larger bust.
  • The size on the tag does not matter. Recently I went shopping in Macy’s women’s department and had to buy one sweater in a 2X while I bought a different style in a 0X. I usually do not wear 2X, but this particular style fit better in the larger size, so I got the larger size. I am not stressing over it.
  • There is a large Internet community of “fatshionistas” and “fatshion” bloggers. These women are an incredible source of inspiration.
  • The plus size department is not so bad. It may be tucked away into a small corner of the store, and you may be the only one there, but at least you have a peaceful shopping experience and there is less competition for sizes!
  • I should follow Angie’s mantra and leave no retail stone unturned! Plus size departments may be small, but they are in almost every department store. I am very loyal to Nordstrom, and Macy’s is great too. Torrid is one of my favorites for trendy pieces. Forever 21’s new plus size line Faith 21 is another fun venue for trendier options. Talbots has an amazing women’s selection and their quality is unbeatable. Lane Bryant has stunned me with their recent collection. JC Penney and Sears have plus size departments with good basics. Target is also great for basics and trendier pieces. The list goes on and on.
  • There are a multitude of online plus size shopping resources. When brick and mortar stores are leaving you disappointed, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for online.

Most important of all, there is no rule stating that only thin women are allowed to dress well and enjoy fashion. Plus size women are women too! We are allowed to be as girly and stylish as we want to be!

I am so thankful that YouLookFab came into my life and gave me a much needed reality check. I still have a long road ahead of me with accepting my body and learning to dress it, but now I welcome the challenge with an open mind. I feel empowered knowing that I am plus size and look fantastic.