Shopping for your holiday wardrobe is stressful, but having been forced to do so, Billie Bhatia learnt this important fashion lesson.
To say I have a reputation as a lover of holidays, is to say it has been warm on our commutes in the past couple of weeks. (Actually, I wouldn’t know… I was on holiday).
I can’t help myself, I just love them. I love the crack-of-dawn airport journey, the promise of a bed so tightly made not a single crease can be seen (until you jump on it), the glistening water of a perfect-temperature pool, and the concept that you can eat/drink/do anything that you like at any time of day because ‘it’s my holiday’ is a perfectly suitable excuse.
There is, however, one part of a holiday I have not always been so in love with, and that’s shopping for a holiday. It fills me with dread. As a plus-size woman the idea of finding a swimsuit, a cover-up, even a cool dress is nauseating. I’ve never been excited by any of these prospects, I’ve been nervous about them.
Will I find a swimsuit I feel comfortable walking around in? Will I find a cool cover-up that doesn’t sport a strange geometric print and isn’t scattered with misplaced sequins? Is it too much to ask for a holiday dress that won’t make me look like the manager of the girl group when my best friends and I hit Mykonos?
Instead, I have curated a holiday wardrobe over the years, one that consists of much-loved pieces I roll out for every occasion. I feel lucky to have them. While they were incredibly difficult to find, they have been the guardians of the most fantastic memories – making sure I am enjoying the moment and not worrying about looking the part.
ASOS Curve has been the backbone to my holiday wardrobe (and indeed my every-day wardrobe, my out-out wardrobe and every other variation you can think of). Dress brands Merlette and Kalita held the positions of ‘most-loved’, providing my suitcase with the glamour it deserved.
But at the beginning of the summer when I dragged my holiday clothes down from the very top of my wardrobe, I was horrified to find holes in my favourite holiday dress from over-wear, and my swimsuits visibly disintegrating due to heavy doses of chlorine (and pool games).
The time had come to face up to my fears and do some holiday shopping. To my surprise, the results were better than I could have ever imagined.
As it turns out, brands have clocked on to the fact that everyone – whatever their body shape – wants to look good on holiday. Rather than size-inclusive collections worlds apart from their mainline counterparts, providing women with nothing more than a sack of frump, these brands are making clothes cut so everyone can partake of the joy they bring, regardless of the size on the label. And that’s where the trick in all of this comes: forget what the label says, don’t even look at the size, just give it a go.
With that in mind, here’s what I wore.
The Cover-Up: Loup Charmant
In the words of Tyra Banks: easy, breezy, beautiful. Not specifically for plus-size women, Loup Charmant (which means charming wolf) creates pieces that flow over the body to look elegant, chic and cool in one swish. Don’t believe me? Ask the three women who chased me down the beach to find out where my dress was from.
The Swimsuit: J Crew
The swimsuit is probably the only part of your holiday wardrobe where you might have to abide by sizing, and this year I went rogue and steered away from my usual haunts in favour of J Crew. The offering was cool and diverse, with a broad range of styles and sizes to suit everyone from the directional (one-shouldered cut-out one pieces) to the conservative (a red frilled swimsuit was just the ticket).
The Day Dress: Lee Mathews
It’s hard to find a day dress that is both practical enough to shade you from the sun, and also cool enough so you don’t combust as you explore your destination of choice. The answer? Australian dress brand Lee Mathews. With directional details such as rope tie waists and exaggerated proportions, looking good never felt so cool (no, really. So cool).
The Evening Dress: Three Graces
This love affair began when I slipped on a dress with a neckline so flattering it made me believe I actually had a neck. And the rest of it flowed over my body like it was bespoke. It wasn’t, it wasn’t even my size (honestly, I don’t even bother looking at the size anymore, I go by eye) and yet the result was one that I never wanted to take off.