» Staying Stylish!
  • Staying Stylish!

    Jun 26th • Posted in fashion, personal, travel


    I’ve been wanting to write this post for a very long time, but haven’t had the means to do so until now. As a plus-size woman and a chronic overpacker– it was extremely difficult for me to hone down my suitcase to fit into a tiny rolling suitcase and a 40something L backpack. For most backpackers and travelling minimalistas, this would be easy… but I wanted to be fashionable, yet retain enough room for all my clothes, and pack “lighter” than I normally would. (Seriously, when I moved into my apartment– I lugged around two full check-in sized roller suitcases, plus my roller suitcase, PLUS a backpack full of crap. That wasn’t accounting for the extra full sized roller suitcase that my mother carried with her when she helped me move in.

    Now, I’m not saying that it’s hard to be stylish while travelling– but it’s difficult to do so while being a plus-size traveller! We’re bigger, our clothes (unfortunately) take up more space, and ultimately will weigh more. However, here are some tips to stay stylish, maintain a light pack, and also some suggested items for travelling– things that would be multi-use, etc.

    First of all, stay true to your own style and adjust accordingly. When attempting to pack for my one and a half month European backpacking trip (which really doesn’t seem like that long– and honestly, I could probably do with a lot less if I did it for a month and a half) I looked at many packing lists and their suggestions. Most of them involve jeans, a simple dress, shorts, and a lot of tee shirts. Now, maybe for other women that works– but for me? I’m a true to life dress girl who (admittedly) doesn’t like to show a lot of skin (or, perhaps due to the frigid Chicago weather– wasn’t used to showing a lot of skin.) I adjusted accordingly: I foregoed the advice to bring a lot of teeshirts and tops, and instead brought more dresses (instead of one or two, I brought three to four) that could be dressed up or down, a skirt, and some tights and leggings. While I mostly mention that I wore dresses (as my necessity,) you might decide you’re more of a jeans and tee traveller, and bring more of those. This list is for women who want to look stylish, but still travel light and concise. You’ll note that I didn’t add dresses on this list as they’re a given for myself, but I know other women may not wear them as often as I do.

    However, I’d suggest bringing enough “basics” to mix and match.

    basic tees

    Featured (L to R): Plus Size Vintage V-Neck Tee (Old Navy,) Dove Marl Classic T-Shirt (Topman,) Plus Perfect V-Neck Tee (Old Navy)

    Moving on– when travelling, bring cheap quality tee shirts. The tees featured above are similar to the ones I brought with me to Europe. And not only that– if you’re going to buy something? Pick something that you can throw out or give away/donate. That way, you’re not adding more stuff to your pack, you can buy and give away! This is why I would suggest bringing cheaper clothing. I ended bringing (and donating) some basic tees in different styles from Old Navy, because I could just as easily part with them if I ended up buying new gear (which I did.) I’m partial to v-neck tees, but you can choose anything you want. I’d recommend them in basic colours. I ended up bringing shirts in heather gray (speckled,) black, and white– neutral colours so that I could mix and match clothing. That being said, as a plus-size woman– do not discount men’s wear! Some of my favourite tops have been on sale at places like Topman or Urban Outfitters’s men section. On the flip side, I’d also recommend bringing one or two dress up tops. For me, these were two Peter Pan collar tops that I bought at Primark (a budget clothing store in Europe.)

    That being said, also bring a scarf with you! Any scarf will do, but I prefer to travel with a thicker, printed scarf. As you can see in the pictures above, I brought a floral carpety looking burgundy/purple scarf that actually seemed to match with the majority of my clothing items! Scarves can be used for anything– and you’ll see that a lot of people wear scarves every day in order to keep chic! (Especially in France.) I like bringing a scarf with me in case I want to jazz up an outfit. I ended up actually bringing two or three scarves with me, but the majority of the time I only used the purple one. I like thicker (not too thick!) scarves because you never know when you’ll end up being cold!

    My next must is a black skater/circle skirt. Trust me when I say this– you can do literally anything you want with this skirt and it’ll look fantastic. In two of the above pictures, I am wearing my Ann Taylor jersey circle skirt (similar here or H&M’s version here, pictured to the right.) I’d recommend bringing a high-quality jersey skirt with you as it won’t look too cheap, and it’ll be versatile enough to match any outfit with. I love bringing my skirt with me because with certain tops it can look like a dress! It can also look professional– provided that the skirt is below the knee, of course. With the right top, you can turn this skirt and bring it out with you to the club! For a Skype interview, I wore a cute Peter Pan collared shirt with this skirt, and then went out, and no one could tell the difference. I honestly recommend this skirt because you could wear it multiple days in a row (without washing– especially if you have leggings or tights underneath… that way it won’t get gross) with different tops and no one would be able to tell the difference. With an item like this in your arsenal, you can be stylish and a light traveller! If you’re going to get a skater skirt, you’ll also be pretty trendy, as skater silhouettes are in. I like to hike my circle/skate skirt up as a high-waisted skirt, as most people think I’m actually wearing a dress. For plus size travellers with big bellies– the skater/circle skirt hiked up as a high-waisted skirt provides coverage to hide the belly, and also accentuates your curves while you’re at it. smile It’s one of my favourite things to wear while travelling.

    One of my other essentials for travel is a good pair of walking boots. As a traveller, you’re going to want to bring a nice set of walking shoes with you, with all the walking that you’ll eventually end up doing. I prefer bringing a pair of boots along for the ride, as I find them a lot more stylish than sneakers, and you can eventually dress them up or down. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough on my travels to bring a comfortable pair. I ended up bringing a pair of black combat boots that I bought from Urban Outfitters a couple years ago that were stylish– but definitely weren’t comfortable. Mid-trip, I had done enough walking to wear the soles down, and my feet hurt for days on end. I couldn’t do enough sightseeing in a day with them. (The boots are pictured above– black, versatile, etc.) I broke down, and ended up buying a pair of dark brown Timberlands (which unfortunately, aren’t available online) that weren’t as versatile as the black boots, but still worked and felt more comfortable at the end of the day. I would recommend a black, leather ankle boot or combat boot to bring with you on your travels. Make sure the soles are comfortable enough to walk, and you’ll be OK. My recommendation would be the classic Doc Martens in Black Nappa (pictured to the left.)

    Leggings, leggings, leggings! One of my favourite items to travel with to “keep stylish” are leggings. Black leggings are the classic style, though this time– I also brought jeggings (“jean leggings”) which were more lightweight than regular jeans. I’m not really a “jean” person, but jeggings were much easier to pull on and muchmore comfortable throughout my travels. On days where I wanted to keep it simple, I threw on a basic tee (remember my advice above?) and jeggings. They work as pants, and also work as regular leggings, under dresses and skirts. I didn’t want to bring yoga pants or sweatpants, despite their comfort, because they weren’t “stylish” enough, and I might look too “touristy.” I like leggings because it provides the comfort that the latter two items would bring, but hugs curves and has a sleeker “fit” than the other two items. Plus, leggings don’t look too sporty, and depending on thickness, can add a layer of warmth, or be lightweight enough to withstand the heat (especially if you like hiding your legs like I do!)

    A classic jacket is the last item on my list to keep things minimalist, but stylish. You’ll notice I’m wearing a classic black leather motorcycle jacket in every picture of myself in the title image. It is my ‘go-to’ jacket for pretty much everything. If you choose to go the black leather moto jacket route, you’ll want to get one of superior quality so it doesn’t fall apart while you travel! I’ve had my leather jacket for the past four or five years and it’s just starting to break down into this wonderful, buttery leathery goodness. ASOS Curve has two leather jackets that I want (but are out of my budget– the cheaper one is located here.) But you might decide that you want to wear a classic blazer (Pink Clove has a fantastic jersey blazer,) or a sleek trench (ASOS Curve has a beautiful updated trench coat here.) Whatever you decide to buy, a classic jacket is the perfect thing to bring with you. Just know that when you travel, you’ll have to wear it everywhere, or else it’ll be too heavy to lug around with you.

    Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what you want to bring and your style. Like I said, I’m a chronic overpacker– so I brought many things that I decided to later trash, or ended up regretting. However, the items I listed are ones that I think are minimalist essentials for plus size travellers (or regular travellers, though as a plus-sizer, I’ve added my suggestions.) Ultimately, it’s up to you and your sense of style. These are just suggestions on my part!