Beach Body

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Bikini: Surania (designed by moi!)

Shoes: Mel (similar here

Last year during Full Figure Fashion Week I was lucky enough to meet Gabi Gregg, one of the original “Fatshion” bloggers, and whose blog Young, Fat & Fabulous directly inspired me to start Frocks and Frou Frou.

Gabi was quite prominent in the media recently after the release of her two-piece swimwear line – affectionately dubbed the “fatkini” – sparked a movement that led to the creation of an online gallery where plus-size women submitted photos of themselves in – shock! horror! – bathing suits.

The visibility of diverse body shapes and sizes in the media is improving, but coming into summer society’s obsession with having a “beach ready” body (i.e. slim, toned, hair-free and tanned) seems to never lose momentum.

I still remember how enraged I was to read this “article” in 2010 by Natasha Hughes of the Sydney Morning Herald. The gist of the piece is that plus-size women should endeavour to camouflage their bodies in public to avoid repulsing other beachgoers. In it, Natasha Hughes asks: Who wants to be exposed to someone’s rolls? Where is their sense of style, of decency?

That’s why I was so gratified to see that Gabi’s swimwear line sold out immediately; that the gallery of plus-size beach babes received so much positive media attention; and why I said “yes” when Surania invited me to bare my own “beach ready” body by designing and reviewing my very own “Fatkini”.

Surania is a website that allows you to design your own swimwear and lingerie from scratch. There’s hundreds of options for different styles that you can mix and match, and once you’ve decided on a style you can then cherry pick your very own fabrics from a large library of solids and prints.

They custom-make each order to your personal measurements and despatch it to your door in less than two weeks. And the whole exercise costs less than a new pair of togs from Seafolly.

I went with the “comfort” bikini top, because they recommend it for fuller breasts, and the “culottes” for the bottom because I liked the retro style. I chose a pretty rose-print floral as the base fabric, but threw in a polkadot band on the bikini (because, polkadots). I opted to use my own measurements rather than just choosing a general “size”, and was gratified to see that designating cup-size was an option (since finding f-cup swimwear can be challenging).

Just seven days after I put my order in a box arrived on my desk at work, with my brand-new, personally designed bikini safely packaged in tissue paper inside:

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This is what my order looked like online:

Surania

…and this is what arrived!

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Apart from a slight colour difference in the polkadot fabric it’s exactly how I envisaged it, and it fits perfectly too! The quality of the fabric and the workmanship is excellent – both pieces are lined, and the bikini top has both underwire and adjustable straps.

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So here I am, with a body and a bikini.

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I think that makes me beach ready, don’t you?

Pencil It In

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 Top: Asos

Skirt: Lane Bryant

Shoes: Chie Mihara

I’ve been looking for the perfect pencil skirt for a long time now, and I think I finally found it at Lane Bryant a few months ago when I went shopping with my little sister in their Harlem store.

The Zipper Slit Skirt is made from a ponte jersey and has a good weight. It travels well (ideal, since I’ll be doing a lot more interstate travelling for work this year) and is comfortable to wear. There’s a bit of stretch in the fabric, but not so much that you feel like you’re wearing a compression bandage. The midi length is elegant, and just a little bit retro. My favourite thing – and what I’ve found lacking in the pencil skirts I’ve tried in the past – is the fact that the silhouette is tapered at the hem.

I’m quite full in the butt, so pencil skirts that fall straight from the hips to the knee tend to look quite boxy. I’ve tried stretch pencil skirts in the past, but for some reason even if it’s tight around the hips and thighs it seems to kick out at the hem again.

It could be the length of this one that gives it that va-va-voom bombshell shape, and I’d be lying if I tried to pretend that it was easy to stride in; having the hem so tight underneath the knees means that even with the generous stretch I still have to take little mincing steps.

Fortunately, if I really had to pick up my heels and run I could unzip the barely discernible slit to the thigh and just leg it across town.

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(yes, that’s a peek of my Bandelettes BTW. I love them)

I’ve teamed it today with the aztec print top that I bought last year in the Asos sales. The boxy shape, and dense, tapestry-like fabric needs to be partnered with something that plays up my curvy lower half, and I think the Lane Bryant skirt fits the bill perfectly. DSCF4784_2