"Fall is upon us, which means our closets are turning over a new leaf as well. Depending on your size, budget, and style, some might find it a bit of challenge to build a collection of slow fashion go to's and necessities. As a woman who exists in that weird world between straight & plus sizing (somewhere amidst a size 16/18), I figured I'd hop on the blog with some of my no-regret wardrobe suggestions to hopefully help a girl or two out!"
1. A travel dress I can incorporate into my everyday life
I am quite the little adventurer, and not just in my own backyard! Since starting Nettle’s Tale in 2014 I have traveled internationally to Mexico City, Cabo, Palm Springs, Dubai, and Kenya, to name a few. The perfect dress is something that I can wear to work, but also is an easy dress to pack in my suitcase for a trip. This is a dress I can wear on a hot day to go explore local markets or attractions wherever I am visiting and also transitions nicely to evening dinner or drinks. There are two dresses I own that fit these criteria;
— One is my linen dress from Off On Clothing, based in Lithuania. We carry select pieces from this line at Nettle’s Tale Shop (we try to post a lot of the pieces we have on our online shop as well), but Simona (the owner), also has an online Etsy shop which carries her full collection. The best part is that she designs all the pieces herself and they’re sewn by her family, so you can send her your personal measurements and she will make sure you are getting a dress that fits, even if it means making a custom size for you at a small extra charge.
— The other dress I highly recommend (and it’s why I designed it), is the Lund Dress. It’s nice to be able to own and pack something that can be worn different ways, and this dress comes with an optional belt to give you two style options. As a size 16, I take a size large in the Lund Dress.
2. Great, quality made denim
I have one thing to say about denim as a size 16 woman; my thighs will always find each other and as a result of friction, whether I buy $20 jeans or $350 jeans they’re going to eventually tear in the inner thigh. This is why I have two no-regret denim recommendations;
— Try not to torture yourself too much in the process, but try on as much vintage, no spandex content, raw denim as you physically, possibly can until you find a pair that works for you and your body. I get SO many compliments on the raw denim jeans I bought on consignment for $32CAD from Hunter & Hare in Vancouver, BC. Find a local consignment shop or thrift store and visit frequently until you score the perfect pair, and make sure to not skip the mens section! Keep in mind they can be chopped shorter, cuffed, torn, until they’re the perfect fit for you. Because raw denim is thick and has no spandex content, it will not rip in the inner thigh for a very long time. I have washed and worn mine many times and they still show no sign of giving up anytime soon. If you are a size 16, look for raw denim that is a size 38-42 waist. Mine are a size 40 and fit like a dream.
— Invest in denim from a company that does good repairs! 2 years ago I invested in a pair from Arturo Denim for $165CAD. They exclusively use Japanese denim for materials, and all their jeans are sewn in Edmonton, Alberta. They offer up to a size 40, which is pretty great size inclusivity for a small business. If your jeans rip or wear on you in any way within the first year of owning them they will repair them for free — I had mine repaired and the repair job they did was the best I’ve ever seen!
3. A button up that fits.
I’ve NEVER had a good button up in my closet because I am a size 16 with a large bust (47-48”) and that means things simply don’t button up without gaping on me. This is the exact reason why we designed our Crofton Button Up — it is slightly oversized, yet the cut still allows it to button up around busts of all shapes and sizes (available now in S to 2X). In terms of sizing, I can wear both the Large and the XLarge in this style. As someone on the shorter side however, I opted for the more fitted size and own the Large, but one of our employees (who has a smaller bust than me but is tall) loves the fit of the XLarge.
Did I mention it has pockets? Four to be exact! And it's made out of 100% linen, an investment piece you will not live to regret. I care for my linen by washing it on cold/delicate and then hanging it to dry. If you put it on while wet (right out of the wash) and move around & give it a bit of a stretch, it will fit you really nicely once dry.
4. A reliable, ethically made, good ol' fleece
A fleece or good knit is a necessity for not only the outdoor adventurer but any Northern dweller. I spent $170CAD on this Patagonia zip-up fleece over two years ago and have never regretted it.
It is so easy to throw under a rainproof layer for warmth or to just wear in the fall transition months as my outside layer.
If you’re looking for something a bit more urban for a workday, I love my People Tree 100% wool cable knit sweater I bought from ARC Apparel last season. I spent $180CAD on this sweater, but I couldn't be happier with it! It looks great with so many outfits and is more work-appropriate than my fleece. A sweater like this had been on my 'to buy' list for years, but I could never find one cropped enough before.
If you're looking for something less technical for weekend lounging or every camping trip you will ever go on, I recommend investing in a Camp Brand Goods, Unisex Crew Neck for $90CAD. They are made of a tri-blend fabric, so they are uber easy to wash, do not shrink in the dryer, and they are so freaking soft it's insane (we also sell them online and in our store!).
5. A swimsuit I love, so I feel good and confident in it.
I couldn't not share about my favourite swimsuits (are you really surprised?) Every season as new swimwear stock rolls in, the temptation for me to take home yet another one is very real. But I have learned over the years that your old faithfuls are your favourites for a reason, and just because you like a print one season, doesn't mean you'll feel the same about it the next. This is why we continue to produce our classic styles & colours, and always will.
The swimsuit I have owned for years and swear by to this day is my black and floral Britney top in an XLarge ($75CAD) and my trusty black Heather bottoms in a Large ($64CAD). Why this suit? Whether I am going on a camping trip or Mexican vacation, I know this top fits me like a dream. I’m going to be able to reverse it and tie it a couple of different ways. Being able to tie it different ways helps with style variety, but also means I can adjust the top depending on what activity I am doing. These bottoms are also the #1 reason why I feel confident in a two-piece.
6. Everyday T-shirts
I wasted a lot of my money in my 20’s on poor quality t-shirts. Some readers might think spending $50-70CAD on a t-shirt is not the best slow fashion investment, but stop and think about how many cheap, fast fashion t-shirts you’ve bought and not even been able to get 30 wears out of, yet it's an item we wear daily. Some great quality, ethically produced brands with t-shirts that fit me well are;
I wear our Strait tee or Harbour tee 3-4 times a week. Some of the other brands I mentioned have heavier weighted tees, or a more oversized or reversible fit. The lifespan of a t-shirt also really depends on how you care for it! Here are some tips and tricks that have extended the life of my favourite t-shirts (and even t-shirt dresses):
1. Invest in a wash bag for your good quality t-shirts
2. Wash them on cold, with other underwear or similarly weighted items like tank tops, not canvas or denim pants (no towels or velcro)
3. Hang or lay flat to dry, skip the dryer always
4. Do not wash them after one wear! The less frequently you wash them the longer they will last.
7. Comfortable, durable footwear
(Yes, I know being a size 16 doesn’t impact my shoe size, but it certainly impacts the importance of comfort and quality)
The other thing I did a lot of in my 20's was purchasing a pair of footwear for how they looked, instead of how they fit. Now I try my best to prioritize both. There are three pairs of shoes I have never regretted owning;
— The first is my chisel toe Blundstone boots in rustic black. There’s a good reason everyone is wearing them down the West Coast! They slip on easy, they’re waterproof, they go with all my casual outfits, they provide me with ankle stability, and when you buy them a second pair of insoles are already in the box!
— The second is my Teva’s (I own the universals in black). As a West Coast women I cannot tell you how many times I have been on a rocky beach with other people who only wish they owned Teva’s. When I go camping or on smaller trips, I only need to pack my Blundstones and my Teva’s.
— Lastly, a good pair of heeled, peep-toe or fancier clogs. Clogs are the one kind of heel I can wear all day long with discomfort these days. My favourite brand, as I have a wider foot, is Lotta from Stockholm. I love a clog because I can easily wear it to work, but it will also go with 90% of dresses and jumpsuits I would want to wear to a friend's wedding. I also always keep my eyes peeled at consignment shops for these. I got my last pair of classic, black Lotta’s for $72.00CAD at Hunter & Hare Consignment.