With the advent of Big Beach Bums (which, by the way, there is a facebook event for here. Please RSVP! I’ve been a bit quiet on it since the initial post, this is because I’m busy looking around trying to note down options for the day. I have nearly three weeks off approaching (!) so there will be many a finite detail approaching then), I’ve had a few requests for a how to thrift post.
Thrifting in size fat is always hard. I so wish the UK could have anywhere as amazing as Re/Dress or Fat Fancy over in America, but, bar wonderful events such as the Big Bum Jumble, for the main part there aren’t any places to go specifically for plus size vintage. Finding good stuff is really hard, and if you don’t have the patience in you (or the time) to rummage, then it's really hard going. I hate to start off negatively, but there are always disappointments, and what is available in plus sizes inevitably depends on what stock is in. This is hard to deal with when compared to high street/online shopping, when generally you know what is available and there is normally a way to source the items you want in the right size.
Thrifting for me is embedded in my history. It comes from an upbringing with a “make do and mend” attitude, and spending my teenage years in a suburb with 10+ charity shops and very few friends and/or ways to occupy myself in my spare time. For me thrifting is inspiring, because it’s all about possibility, imagination and re-envisioning. It’s about making something amazing happen out of a finite and limited amount of resources. I don’t have magic fingers, I don’t always find something, and sometimes there are weeks on end full of disappointments. Others are so full of surprises and finds thatI almost can't believe my luck. I understand that the disappointments are maybe too much for a lot of people, but for me it's all part of the challenge.
- Always look. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve sworn off a store for being too pricey or never having plus size items in, then I’ve been in with a friend and found something perfect. Vintage for fats isn’t in ready supply, you can’t ever count on finding anything, but at the same time I’ve not known any places refusing to accept plus size stock, so it is available.
- Never pay attention to size tags. This goes without saying really, but vintage sizes =/= modern sizes. Earlier items size up as significantly smaller than their modern equivalents, and also, as with a lot of contemporary stores, some straight size items will fit much larger than they might suggest. I put them up to my body to get a sense, but you could take a tape measure to get more accurate estimates.
- Persist! Dig through bargain bins, through all the rails and take your time looking. Thrifting isn't really something you can do in a flash - it's something that takes time and leisure. Don't get put off if you don't immediately see anything that would fit - most vintage dresses are teeny tiny, but the options are out there.
- Take a friend! Take someone who is a different size to you, preferably, so you can hunt for each other as well as yourselves. Some of my best dresses were found by thinner friends with similar taste in clothes. A second pair of eyes always helps when rummaging.
- Look for stretchy fabrics, elastic waistbands and oversized dresses - these all fit differently on fat bodies, so you might find something intended for a smaller sized person fits you like a glove when otherwise it would be a baggy fit.
- Try things on! Pile yourself high with possibilities, and take chances. Try on ridiculous things. Have fun with shopping. It's harder to tell what will fit and what won't without sizing, so the dressing room is definitely your friend.
- For bargain hunting recommendations, check out jumble sales, car boot sales and local charity events close to you. These are my favourite haunts - as charity shops have now upped their prices (and sometimes jumped on the vintage wagon), car boots/jumbles seem to have maintained a budget ethos which I find really comforting. Go along to an event with a budget - I used to take £10/sometimes £20 in change to a car boot and just see what I came out with. Often a tenner would get me bulging bags of things, clothes and otherwise.