When I was in high school, I was obsessed with vintage fashion. Unfortunately, my plus-sized body made it difficult to replicate the looks I saw on Audrey Hepburn books or Annette Funicello. Even thrift stores didn’t have what I wanted. So I resorted to wearing accessories like gaudy brooches, chiffon and silk scarves, cocktail rings and necklaces with sparkling Swarovski crystal beads. To be fair, I didn’t really like wearing dresses or skirts as much as I do now. Still, it would have been nice to know that the option was out there.
“So why didn’t you just make the clothes you wanted yourself?” you might be asking. Pssh. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
In recent years I’ve noticed the revival of vintage fashions like pinup and rockabilly becoming more prominent among fashion bloggers and stylish ladies on Instagram. More importantly, these fashions are being rocked by ladies with the same or larger build than me, and they look fabulous as hell!
Unfortunately, many of these clothes are pricey. This is mainly because these clothes aren’t “fast fashion” quality like H&M or Forever 21. They’re more like investment pieces — they’ve been designed and constructed to last longer.
I’ve compiled a list of brands and online shops that carry vintage-inspired plus-size fashion:
1. Pinup Girl Clothing (sizes XS-4X)
Pinup Girl Clothing (PUG) was my gateway to the wonderful and stylish world of modern vintage-inspired fashion. Though they have beautiful silhouettes in solid colors and florals, it’s their whimsical novelty prints like their pink castle skirt and their Snow White and Neverland dresses that got me hooked! And don’t even get me started on their collaboration with the estate of Mary Blair (my all-time favorite artist). PUG was also the first company to show that beauty isn’t a matter of what size someone is, using models ranging from XS to 4X to showcase their gorgeous and quirky designs. Couture for every body, indeed (that’s actually their hashtag on social media, so check it out)!
If you ever find yourself in Burbank, California, a trip to their physical storefront is a must.
2. Unique Vintage (sizes 4-26/0X-5x)
While they boast their own brand of gorgeous vintage inspired fashions, Unique Vintage’s online shop also carries an array of brands like the ones mentioned on this list, such as Heart of Haute, Esther Williams Swimwear, Bernie Dexter, etc. Their web store offers styles for all occasions, from everyday to cocktail hour to weddings. They also have some 1920s flapper style dresses that go up to 4x! When would you ever need one? Who cares! I just like knowing the option is there. You can also join their Dress of the Month Club ,where you will be surprised with one of their newest vintage style dresses at your doorstep every month for $50 (you’ll be saving up to 70 percent off)!
3. Tatyana Boutique (sizes XS-4X)
Formerly known as Bettie Page, Tatyana Boutique has a wide array of rockabilly, pinup, and retro inspired clothing. Tatyana Boutique also has storefronts in different cities, so be sure to check out their website to see if there’s one near you. They also sell clothes for men and children, so you can plan coordinating outfits if you’re into that kind of thing!
4. Heart of Haute (sizes XS-4X)
Based in Southern California, Heart of Haute is the brainchild of mother-daughter duo Mandie Bee and Teresa Becker. It went from a being a small home business to a top brand among vintage-loving fashionistas. Their dresses, skirts and tops are designed and manufactured with care and love. They’re pretty damn comfy, too!
5. Bernie Dexter (sizes XS-4X)
Pinup model Bernie Dexter has always had an affinity for vintage clothes and accessories. She started her brand as a way of providing fun pinup style dresses without worrying about the frailty of the ones she’d find at thrift shops, which would fall apart from nights of vigorous swing dancing. Her collection of dresses, skirts, and tops are throwbacks to the style of the ‘40s and ‘50s and come in an array of prints that go from kitstchy to sweet to full-on vamp.
6. Lindy Bop (sizes XXS-6X)
Based and made in the UK, Lindy Bop offers everything — gorgeous dresses for all occasions, solid and novelty print shorts, fancy trench coats, petticoats, trousers and accessories.
7. Voodoo Vixen (sizes XS-4X)
Also based in the UK, Voodoo Vixen’s dresses are made to flatter the modern woman’s body with classic silhouettes that are influenced by pinup, retro and rockabilly fashion. Plus size fashionistas can find fun cardigans embroidered with kitschy designs, and dresses with vibrant prints that range from floral to tartan.
8. Banned (sizes XXS-4X)
Banned’s catalog is full of fun novelty print dresses that’ll make anyone stand out in a crowd! Vintage inspired swimsuits that evoke Annette Funicello’s beach party era are also available in sizes up to 4X too.
9. Cherry Velvet (sizes XS-4X)
“Retro class with modern sass” is the tagline for the Canadian company, and rightfully so! Cherry Velvet’s collection includes everything from pretty florals infused with skulls to a celestial print dress that glows in the dark to an Alice-in-Wonderland inspired collection. Peep their body positive hashtag #StunningAtAnySize on social media.
10. Esther Williams Swimwear (sizes 4-26)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Esther Williams Swimwear (EWS) as it’s now officially the season to constantly be poolside! Appropriately named for the swimming and screen legend, EWS offers up classic one piece and two piece suits in retro silhouettes, some of which are reminiscent of what Williams wore in her films. Their Marilyn Classic suit left me feeling like an uber classy movie star when I went to Hawaii last year.
EWS can also be found on ModCloth and Unique Vintage.
11. Steady Clothing (sizes S-4X)
For those looking for a more subdued (but still stylish!) vintage look, Steady Clothing offers blouses, wiggle and circle dresses, pencil and circle skirts in solid colors and a few printed items.
12. Blame Betty (XS-4X)
Blame Betty is an online store that offers up clothes and accessories that are reminiscent to pinup and rockabilly style. Some brands that curvier ladies can find in their size on there are Hell Bunny, Sourpuss, Heart of Haute, and Steady Clothing.
13. Lady Vintage (sizes UK 8-32)
Made in London, Lady Vintage offers up Lady Voluptuous, which is the UK’s very first clothing company dedicated to plus size vintage fashion. Dresses in different cuts can be found on their site with various floral designs and solid hues.
14. Trashy Diva (sizes 2-24)
Trashy Diva first started as a small vintage shop in Atlanta that sold fashion from the ‘70s and ‘80s, and it wasn’t until owner Candice Gwinn noticed her customers’ interest in ‘40s and ‘50s fashion that she began designing dresses. Now a full-on vintage-inspired clothing company, Trashy Diva offers fashionistas a wide range of silhouettes and prints including kitsch, classic florals, gingham and leopard print.
15. Mode Merr (sizes XXS-3X)
Similar to Steady Clothing, Mode Merr is the perfect place to find more subdued yet stylish pieces to add to your arsenal that can easily be dressed up with accessories. They have some pretty funky pieces, like their topsy turvy skirts that come with either Frankenstein, a pink poodle, or a skull.
16. Queen of Heartz (sizes 2-26)
Designed by self described “plus size chick” Letty Tennant, Queen of Heartz offers dresses in styles influenced by different eras of fashion and various music genres Tennant loves. Her designs have been seen in various print publications like People magazine, and Amber Riley rocked a sateen Brenda dress on an episode of Glee (pictured above).
17. Retrospec’d (sizes S-XXL/6-20)
Based in Australia, Retrospec’d was started by vintage-loving sisters Sharon Hanley and Teena Borg, who both believe that all women, no matter their shape or age, deserve a beautiful dress. Retrospec’d offers dresses inspired by the ‘40s and ‘50s in various cuts and fun prints.
18. The House of Foxy (sizes UK 8-24 — select styles available in size 20-24)
The House of Foxy expands their design aesthetic starting all the way from the ‘20s to the ‘60s. Their regular line of frocks size up to a UK 18, but selected styles from their So Foxy Collection can be found up to a UK 20-24 (if you’re not familiar with UK sizing, all the sites have a size conversion chart for your convenience).
Trends have a tendency to come and go, but vintage inspired style will always remain timeless.