Monochrome with Joanie Clothing

This week I received my first Joanie Clothing order and I was soooooooo excited to try out some of their vintage pieces! I recently discovered the brand when I saw a few blogger babes reviewing some of their knitwear and liked their style. I love a vintage-inspired brand so I was keen to take a little look! 

Their website offers a cute selection of vintage style or kitch clothing all in sizes 8-22 with some pieces going up to a 26, which is a reasonably good size range. But when they claim they’re ‘inclusive‘ and for ‘every body‘ it’s a little disappointing …particularly if you’re above a size 26! I’m a size 24/26 depending on the cut or style so I was a bit worried about the fit if their sizes ran small.

After several online “window shopping” sessions I finally took the plunge last weekend to place an order! I was looking for a black and white outfit to wear to my sister-in-law’s birthday party and their sale had a couple of bargain outfit options I thought were far too good to miss!

I opted for the Betty Monochrome Stripe Dress as my first outfit choice (and a bargain for £12 reduced from £40) and also thought I’d try a Phoebe Polka-dot Blouse with a Lula Skirt as a back up (totalling £22.50 for both). I ordered everything in a 26…

I liked that the Betty dress framed my back tattoo and that it was a good fit. I was also impressed that the bow detail belt actually fit – which sadly isn’t always a given with plus size garments so this was a solid plus! On the other hand, I was a bit disappointed that the pleats hadn’t been pressed very well and it sat crumpled and uneven (this may have been because it was a return item as the bag it came in looked like it had been taped up a few times). I’d also planned to wear the dress with my frilly petticoat but even when I had it pulled up to my boobs it sat too long under the skirt (above, right) and looked a bit silly! To be fair to the dress, though the fabric is quite firm so it has a bit of shape to it without the petticoat (above, left) so I would probably be happy to wear the dress without it. However…the whole reason for buying this dress was because I wanted to wear a petticoat with it so it was different to this one (below, right) from Everything £5… Without the petticoat and the neat boxy pleats they’re a bit samey… 😟 so, regretfully I’m thinking of returning it.

So I had high hopes that my back up selection would be a winner!

I really wanted to love this outfit, but I didn’t. The pleats of the skirt weren’t crisp enough, yet again! In fact this time they weren’t even very evenly spaced. The shape of the skirt didn’t look very A-line on my body because my hips seemed to mess up the intended silhouette (I have other skirts and dresses that don’t do this so I know I’m not expecting the impossible!). The blouse is kind of cute, though. It fits nicely (although there is some bra peep-age at the arm holes) and was a steal for just £7.50! The pussybow is detachable (I think) which handy because the way it sits under the collar pulls the collar out of shape so I think it will look better without it. I might even make a little bow out of the fabric that I can pin at the collar if I fancy… I’ll have to keep an eye out for a skirt to go with it now.

So, my first Joanie Clothing experience was a bit of a mixed bag. I love the way the clothes look on their site. The pieces I bought all fitted OK and we’re made of good quality fabric. Sadly the creases in the pleated items have put me off a little so I might be more selective when shopping with them in future. I haven’t been put off yet – mainly because they offer sensibly priced cute, vintage-inspired fashion in a size that fits me and I believe everyone deserves a second chance! 😊

…and I’m still on the hunt for my perfect black and white party dress! 

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Health is More than Just a Number

A few weeks ago I shared this image on my personal Facebook timeline:

To which my Facebook friend replied:

​This particular friend happens to be a health professional, although not my health professional! So here is my response:
Basically I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been in terms of body and mind – strong, more resilient, more positive sense of self, able to enjoy high impact exercise regularly (for years now). But I’m fat. Very fat. ‘Morbidly obese’ fat. I shouldn’t have to justify my fatness by saying “but I exercise and eat healthy food”. I’ve been lucky enough to have no medical conditions linked to my weight, 2 healthy pregnancies and births. I’m reasonably well educated and have always had a job since leaving school. Yet society sees my body shape as a problem. It urks me a little.

Before my wedding I was not in my current body confident mindset and I did what I thought was the standard, socially expected pre-wedding diet to drop a few dress sizes ahead of my big day. I can’t even remember which diets I did but I had some success and lost a stone or so. My doctor then offered me some (now banned appetite suppressant) to give me an extra boost. I took these for almost a year, I dropped about 4 stone and was the thinnest I’d ever been in my adult life at a size 16/18. 

Me at my thinnest and on my wedding day

I thought I looked pretty good but emotionally I was a mess. The pills made me anxious, stressed, unable to sleep – they were making me ill! When I came off them I joined an NHS weight loss group and followed their programme but was unable to maintain the weight and managed to put some back on before I got married. It had little bearing on how happy and amazing I felt on my wedding day.
Both mentally and physically, I was definitely less healthy when I was thinner. Not to mention the risks attached to the medication I had been taking. I appreciate that there might be a time in my future when I may be healthier AND thinner than I am now but that will not come from society telling me that I’m a fat, ugly, lazy, worthless, unhealthy human being. It will not come from a crash diet or from excessive exercise because all of those things will have an overall negative impact on my emotional wellbeing. If it were to happen it would be from a place of self-love and self-care…and if it doesn’t I will make the most of the body I have now. I’m not going to hate it any longer!

I guess my Facebook friend is right – it probably is just as inappropriate to suggest fat is healthy as to comment on someone’s health without knowing their medical history, just the same as it can be wholly inappropriate to comment on how healthy someone looks if they lose a lot of weight. I recently overheard a conversation between two breast cancer survivors who were commenting on how their weight loss as a result of their gruelling chemo and surgery was in some way a benefit of having cancer. It’s great that they’ve found a silver lining but seriously – surely society should see that’s a terrifying way to think! 
It’s not just the cancer patients either. I have friends or acquaintances who have lost weight due to depression, bereavement, stress, eating disorders, excessive drug or alcohol use and other illnesses who have had comments made about how ‘well’ they look because they no longer inhabit a fat body. These are just more examples of the fallacy that fatness equates to poor health.

My point is that you cannot judge an individual’s health by just looking at the skin they live in. Good health and wellbeing is made up of lots of different factors and it’s not as simple as thin=healthy and fat=unhealthy. For some people this may be true but for me and many other people it certainly is not. 

If I’m looking for advice on my health I will go to my GP who knows about my overall health. If I don’t ask then I don’t need you to make an uninformed comment. You cannot tell by looking at me how healthy I am so don’t even try to.

The point of the original post wasn’t even really about ‘health’ for me. It was about it being OK for fat girls to feel comfortable in their skin. To be confident. To dress how they like. Regardless of their health, the number on the scales or the label in their clothes – surely everyone has the right to feel good?