Gosh, all this jetsetting makes a girl thirsty…for indie plus size fashion! (Eh? Eh?)
As many of you already know (because let’s be real, there are like 4 strangers who read this thing), I just came back from Portland! When I was deciding where to go for vaca, one of the big draws to Portland originally was their immense culture of DIY/indie plus-size fashion, which I go nuts for all the time. I ended up finding much more than that too – most notably lakes, food, and queers, each one more breathtaking than the next. And, of course, some killer plus size fashion of all stripes– Sock Dreams for lingerie and socks, Fat Fancy for vintage, and Size Queen for gutsy indie handmade.
Size Queen, created and run single-handedly by the inimitable Bertha Pearl, has been stomping all over the queer fatshion scene for ages. Bertha grew up in Brooklyn and began sewing from a very young age. She began designing for fat bodies simply from being a fat person and loving other fat people. About her process and inspiration, Bertha says: “In Size Queen Clothing I can meld my Fat Activism, love of fabric and love of the dramatic into fabulous clothes that show off all the curves, and fit the body with comfort and ease.” Yeah, I dig that. At Size Queen, luscious and powerful size is celebrated. Their sizes go up to an 8X, or an 85-inch hip. In true indie fashion, she also does custom sizing so you can find clothes that fit impeccably in truly any size.
What Bertha has neglected to mention is that Size Queen also provides one of the most affirming and joyous in-person shopping experiences I have only ever experienced at community fat clothing swaps and the Big Fat Flea (and SmartGlamour when we have pop-ups, obvi). Shopping is by appointment at her studio (a space that is amazing in itself – an immense facility that is home to artist studios, rehearsal spaces, and storage units). Here is a bit of the tableau that greets you upon walking into the studio…
You get what I mean, right?
Without further ado, let’s get to the pretty and sparkly.
Let’s start with two shades of the same cut of dress – this mini with a blousey neckline in this amazing hot rod sparkly red, and in a sweet nerdy pink polka dot.
I think we are going to quickly learn that I have VERY LITTLE to say about any of these clothes other than jumping up and down screaming YES YES YES YES YES 100%. I often love a blousey neckline because it makes my tits look 100% luscious, and this neckline interestingly walks a nice line between cowl and not-cowl. Also, like most of Bertha’s clothes, they are stretchy and so they show off the bangin’ shape of your individual bod in a totally flashy way that I really dig– in my case, lots of round belly and ass. A+.
Same hot red minidress, but styled with two fine jackets. This health-goth (is that what the kids are calling it nowadays?) sporty-ass bomber situation: see-through, zip-up, hooded GAYMAZING. I don’t have to utilize my imagination nearly at all to easily envision beauties of all genders romping around in this naked at the beach, or with some really short cutoffs with big hairy bellies hanging out. Mmph.
And this GORGEOUS cropped shrug that Bertha adapted from a straight-size vintage pattern. (You bet I bought this and then promptly gobbled it up.)
I mean, what can I even say about a jacket like that. The tailoring is finicky and amazing with not one, but THREE darts to shape the sleeve. Vintage rules in terms of stunning and fussy shape, and Bertha knows this. I love myself a good finicky garment, especially because there is such a serious lack of delicacy in plus-size fashion. I want to be FAWNED over by my clothes, thank you very much. This is the weird Auntie of vintage jackets, and I absolutely cannot wait to court it on the reg.
Next! Mermaid unicorn looks. You bet if I was ever invited to be in a Leslie Hall music video, this would be my go-to (now taking offers).
And, okay, fine, here you go– donut midi pencil skirt and ruffled crop top.
Sorry, I just kind of threw this in there like it was nothing… I think this might be one of the more perfect skirt concoctions I have ever seen in my life. I think the dichotomy of the covered up, no nonsense, business-like cut and the ecstatic and luscious donut print is really working. Also, I am a sucker for my body busting the seams of 1950s/60s silhouettes and fucking up the culture of alignment, structure, and control that ruled those decades by putting it on my queer fat body. It’s not my every day look, but I can certainly applaud the hell out of it.
Speaking of the 1960s…
Did you catch that slow progression of UTTER JOY there? God, doesn’t Bertha know how to really show off a fat body? This dress was a complete treat to try on, I could not resist it. The fabric is an amazing heavyweight velour (if you believe it). I fully intend to be living in this dress all through the fall and winter. I have nothing else to say about it, because my whole being has inflated and floated away on happiness.
Okay, we’ll do one more slutty piece before moving onto some swimwear:
This is Bertha’s tank dress with some v v sexy cutouts. That print is not to be believed, and once again, I have nothing negative to say. I love showing off a side roll as much as the next person (probably much more, actually, if we’re being realistic).
And now SWIMWEAR.
I couldn’t bother to take off my tights because Portland was being very hot and sticky (have you ever tried to take off a bathing suit when it was wet and then…put it..back on? Yeah, that.), so you guys get to experience this bikini in all my weird stockinged glory. Sorry (I ain’t sorry). But um….whaaaaaaaaaat. This. THIS. Shockingly (nope), I ended up buying this. Bertha agreed to make the booty shorts with a higher rise, though– which brings me to a VERY important point. One of the great things about buying indie, among many, is that the people who make the clothes actually have a passion for the folks they make clothes for and therefore want them to be as happy as possible wearing their clothes out in the world. This often means that designers are willing to work with their customers to give them exactly what they want out of a garment, which means customizations. Which means– literally made for you. Fast forward to me anxiously bouncing in my chair waiting longingly for the mail to arrive with my high-waisted booty shorts. End scene.
And now for something completely different, also in the swimwear realm!
This amazing one piece!
This piece is comfortable and full-coverage (you can’t see with the photo quality and my tights, but this piece has shorts that come to about mid-thigh). I’m really digging the fact that this suit can be both really straightforward and also flamboyant. I don’t know if those two adjectives have ever been put together before, in fact. Flamboyantly straightforward. Really amazing option for babes who wanna be more covered up at the beach, too. Love it.
Okay, and now, as all delicious things have to end sometime, get ready for the coup de grâce.
Okay. Ta da.
So you might be wondering what you’re seeing here. Let me help you – that’s a roll of fabric draped over a dress form. The story is that Bertha was gifted a couple yards of this fabric and was wondering what to make out of it. It’s vintage and obviously one of a fucking kind, THAT’S A STRETCHY WAFFLE TROPICAL FLORAL THERE, and she really felt like she needed to let the fabric speak to her so she could do it justice and make the most perfect garment that it possibly could be. Obviously, I freaked upon seeing it, and me and the two other gay-mazing fat femmes in the shop (yay new fat babe friends) made short work of brainstorming an idea. And, folks, Bertha is now making a cap-sleeved wiggle dress for me. Literally, for my goddamn body. SEE WHY BUYING FROM INDIE DESIGNERS IS NOT ONLY IMPORTANT, BUT IT BENEFITS YOU TOO?! I will literally be waiting with baited breath, trying not to pee from anticipation here. And you bet there will be lots of pictures once it makes its way across the country to my sweet loving arms.
And that ends my roundup! If you see anything here that you want to buy, and you’ve checked the website and it isn’t available there, simply email Bertha at firstname.lastname@example.org and just ask. Again, could indie be more of a joy? Not possible. Also, go follow them on Facebook and Instagram, obviously, because all our feeds need to have more fat babes in them.
And as always, utilize the comments or whatever and feel free to tell me all about your faves, your childhood, your crushing fear of intimacy, you know, whatever!