Meet Ann Petlow, Student. She laughs in the face of fashion danger. She’s unafraid of wearing bright, bold colors and body-conscious frocks. I hung out with her at her apartment recently and we chatted about the challenges and joys of being an incredibly style-driven person who happens to be plus-sized.
What goes into choosing an outfit?
My philosophy is to always be put-together. The thing about being plus-sized in the Midwest is that it’s the best place for shopping. You just have to be more vigilant. It’s harder to dress yourself properly when you have things that society wants you to hide or that society tells you aren’t beautiful. You have to work really hard at loving yourself.
You certainly don’t hide yourself. Everything looks really flattering. How did you discover that you
didn’t have to hide? What are
your go-to items?
I always hated jeans, so they were eliminated from my wardrobe early-on. In college, I became almost exslusively a skirt and dress girl. I felt more ladylike and more comfortable. I looked different from everyone. You know, in school everyone’s sort of casual. That’s where it all started and that’s when I began making my own clothes.
Why did you start making your own clothes?
I couldn’t find anything that really spoke to my personality. Also, I wanted to make money! I would literally make two or three of whatever I was wearing, go to a bar and try to sell it out of my backpack.
What would you tell the frustrated, plus-sized girl who thinks her fashion options are limited?
You do have a waist, you can find a way to show it off. You can’t think of yourself as needing to hide. It’s hard, but it can be done and confidence can be built. It is a skill to love yourself at any size. And then, there are the designers who give up. When you walk into a Lane Bryant you can see that they fall into this rut. Like, “Let’s just put her in a big, busy pattern!” and not give any kind of pin-tucking or darting or any kind of shape. Everyone is plus-sized in a different way, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress well.
Who do you admire style-wise?
In terms of brands, ASOS knocks it out of the park. I’m embarrassed to say this because I hated them for a long time, but Forever 21 does great things with plus-sizes, but you have to know how to put those things together. Leggings are only pants for SOME people. Also, Christina Hendricks (from AMC’s Mad Men) and a lot of the fashion blogs are making more of an effort to include plus-sized stories and plus-sized women. Refinery29 does a really good job of that. I can always find something on that website (www.refinery29.com).
If you’re bored with your wardrobe as a plus-sized woman, you go to your accessories. They are your friends because you’ll never get too fat for your shoes. And, shave your cat like a lion so you don’t have to vacuum twice a week.