As a way of getting to know my readers, I ask e-mail subscribers a series of questions and I’ve noticed a pattern.
When asked, “What do you struggle with most when it comes to racing fashion?’”
“How do I dress a curvy, fuller figure?” hits my inbox A LOT!
So, this blog is dedicated to all the non-stick-thin-waif-like-model types out there who have trouble finding beautiful, flattering race wear.
Thank you to all the plus sized women from the Field Fashion Community who provided valuable input on this one, together we are going to help you look your curvalicious best at your next race event!
First, let’s look at shapes and styles.
Fabrications and Silhouettes for Larger Sizes
If you are a plus size woman, the most important lesson is to not be afraid of figure fitting clothing. Curves are in (Thanks Kim, Khloe and all the other sisters). There’s no need to hide your body, and covering up with a boxy shape is unflattering anyway.
Try choosing a thicker fabric with some stretch in it. These fabrics will mould to your body and hug you in the right places. Even scuba fabric is fast becoming a favoured option among many.
Fit and flare shapes are also widely popular, as a lot of curvy women have an hourglass figure. Use a belt to accentuate your waist.
If you are pear shaped, you can opt for skirts and tops that define the waist. A skirt that has a thick waist band, or large pleats, looks great too.
Ruching is flattering, as well as dresses that drape over the waist.
Plus Size Dressing Tips
- Don’t be scared to try new things. I hadn’t worn a full dress to the races before this year- now I love them!
- Feel comfortable. This is of utmost importance to enjoying yourself. Don’t put fashion before comfort, or you’ll have a bad day.
- Shop for your shape. Sifting through a bunch of size 8 lycra numbers is not going to make you feel good. Know what suits your shape and enjoy the shopping experience.
- Show off your best feature. Focus on what you like most about your body and accentuate it.
- Work with your height. Don’t choose a length that cuts you off at the wrong point.
Dressing for Your Body and Staying on Trend
When dressing a curvier figure, being comfortable is important, however, part of the judging criteria in a FOTF event is the element of fashion. If you’re going to enter the competition, you need to consider trends.
If you are short and curvy, a midi length full skirt may not suit you. Luckily, current trends are not just about the shape and silhouette of clothing.
Trends can be incorporated through colours or fabrications, prints, textures and through your millinery and accessories. Wear an outfit that suits your shape, then accessorize with an on-trend piece of millinery or earrings, clutch or necklace.
Dahyna opts for a fashion forward bag and halo to complement her outfit here.
If you do want to wear a trending outfit, grab a trusted friend and hit the fitting rooms. Try a bunch on. If you fall in love with something, it might just need a bit of tweaking and tailoring to better suit your figure.
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The Importance of Undergarments
Think of undergarments as the foundation of your outfit. They create a nice smooth line in dresses and can hide underwear lines. The right undergarment can give you an hourglass shape, hide lumps, bumps, dimples and make you feel that little bit more secure.
When choosing undergarments, it is important to get the right fit. Your local bra store will be able to fit you, so that your bra holds you in and without leaving you with nasty overhang.
Undergarments don’t have to be expensive either, it just depends on where you shop.
The favourite brands for shapewear are Target, Simone Perele and Nanzy Ganz.
Shoes for Comfort and Style
Nothing puts you in a worse mood and makes you want to go home quicker than having sore feet caused by uncomfortable shoes. It is important when choosing shoes, curvy or not, to find ones that are comfortable, have a sturdy heel and are slimming and suit your look.
The favourite brands for shoes with a little extra support and comfort are ASOS, Shoes of Prey, Wittner, Long Tall Sally, Nine West, Zara and Diavolina.
Look for a padded sole and wide toe option, which many shoes brands have and if you find a super comfortable pair that you LOVE, then why not buy it in another colour or two.
Heel heights vary from 2cm to 20. The taller heels may be more appealing as they elongate your legs, but for the sake of walking comfortably and for a long period of time, shorter heels are always best!
A Quick Note on Millinery
Millinery is important when considering larger silhouettes because you want your overall appearance to be balanced. All styles will suit curvy women of course, but having a larger piece will help keep everything in proportion. Halos, wide brim hats, crowns, tall perchers and structural pieces work well.
Hint: if you have put an outfit together and are not sure which millinery would suit, take a photo of you wearing your outfit and use PicCollage to help you ‘try on’ a number of different styles. You can see a variety of hats from different milliners and race enthusiasts on Millinery Market.
5 Instagram Accounts to Follow for Inspo
One of the best things you can do for fashion inspo is to follow some savvy fashionistas on social media. Instagram is my platform of choice as I love scrolling through hundreds of images and being able to search hashtags or check out different brands.
If you look at a brand’s tagged photos you can see photos of every day people wearing their clothing and styling it in their own way.
Here are 5 great Instagrammers you can follow for some inspo.
Dahyna is one of the lovely curvy ladies who helped provide me with some great tips for this blog and most of you would recognize her from FOTF events. Dahyna has a great sense of style and puts together beautiful outfits from head to toe. She has won many FOTF events and has taught herself to make millinery for the past few years.
Sally has a love for beautiful, unique millinery and racewear. She posts a variety of different outfit inspo and collages of ideas throughout her feed. She’s always trying out new millinery from different milliners, which can help you get an idea of which milliners you would like to work with in the future.
Hayet Rida @hayet.rida
From going through Hayet’s feed I really admire how she styles her outfits and takes fashion risks. She loves bright colours and prints and accessorizes beautifully! Definitely a must follow.
Suzie Stevens @suzie_stevens
Suzie is an Australian model. She loves a beautiful piece of millinery and often wears cute turbans with her street style looks. Suzie has some great inspo for curvy ladies wanting to try new styles and shape, she wears it all!
Thamarr has a keen eye for detail and the cutest new accessory trends. She’s often seen wearing the newest style bag or earrings and shops from affordable places like Target and ASOS.
Customizing Your Outfits for a Better Fit
Whether you are curvy or not, not every dress purchased in store or online is going to perfectly fit every body shape. So it’s a good idea to have a local seamstress on hand.
Some dresses may need a slight alteration here and there, a skirt could be shortened or sleeve lengths might need lengthening.
You might want to change the whole look of a store bought dress by adding a flounce to the end of a skirt in a contrasting fabric or adding sleeves and embellishments. Especially if you’re worried about someone turning up in the same dress as you!
Anne purchased two blue lace dresses and cut down the sides of one to add extra to the sides of the other to make it bigger. She then took on the tulle trend and added black tulle to the hem to also increase the length.
I have also noticed a lot of plus size dresses are shorter in length. This is because most hems are best finishing at the smaller part of the legs. The calves are sometimes the widest, so it’s not always a flattering length.
In racing fashion, a longer length is favoured, so having a few sewing skills up your sleeve (no pun intended of course) is helpful. That way you can pick up a current trend (example, tulle) and work that into your outfit.
It could be worth investing in a sewing lesson or two- maybe a friend’s mum could teach you.
It’s also a great idea to invest in some standard blocks that are fitted to your body which any dressmaker or patternmaker can do for you. That way with the templates made to perfectly fit your body, it will be quicker and cheaper to get garments made.
Dahyna purchased this dress from the Salvos for $12.25. She made her own modifications cutting up an old top from Boohoo that didn’t fit her and added the sleeves onto the dress.
Liz struggles with dresses that lack adequate bust room and are too short in the torso and length. Liz unpicked the zip and waist seams to add a contrasting fabric waistband to extend the bodice length as shown in the photo below.
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A Good Mindset
One of the most important parts about putting an outfit together is how you feel in it. Never wear anything you are totally uncomfortable in, as you will be uneasy on the day and it will show. Wear something that makes you feel confident so you can enjoy the day.
Remember, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you’re doing this for yourself to show off your styling and to have some fun! So hit the stage, strut your stuff and feel a million bucks, winning is just a bonus.
Where to Shop for Plus Size Racewear
When attending a race day (and any other day), women should be able to look stylish and feel great, no matter what size they are. Unfortunately, not all brands cater to a curvier woman.
The average size of women in Australia is a 16, although it’s hard to say what that actually is. Have you noticed that there is no standard sizing within Australia? You may be a size 12 in one shop and a size 16 in another and it’s not unusual for women to have a range of sizes in their wardrobe from different brands. This, of course, makes it very difficult to shop online.
One of the biggest struggles when finding on-trend, stylish, curvy wear is finding brands that cater to a larger size. A lot of brands in Australia don’t even cater up to a 14/16 and even then, their idea of a 16 could still be quite small.
Then there’s the abundance of really daggy designs in the plus size stores. Sadly, there is a lot of outdated fashion out there.
My research into this dilemma resulted in the following info, hope it helps.
In Australia, there aren’t many stylish brands that cater to a curvier woman, especially when it comes to racewear. As opposed to shopping online, the benefits of shopping at an actual store is that you can try things on, compare sizes and mix and match to see how things look on.
So, it’s frustrating to find the range of boutiques in local shopping centres very limited. Department stores like Myer and David Jones, however, do offer a few labels that have their own range of plus size dresses.
David Jones carries a few brands that stock up to a size 18. In particular, Anthea Crawford has some lovely dresses priced between $300 to $700.
Myer stocks a few different brands that stock up to a 16/18. Estelle, Basque Woman, Leona Edmiston were my top picks. The prices range from $150 to $500. They also stocked Athena Crawford, but a different range to David Jones.