Friday, May 12, 2006

On The Street……..Color #3, New York

I love that the first thing you notice about this lady is the beautiful color combination of her look or her accessories but it takes a while to recognize that she is a big woman. I had a conversation about this the other day with a woman who was very frustrated about her lack of choices in designer clothing for a woman over a size 12.

She is absolutely right but until the stores catchup with the demand(if they ever do) then don’t make it about the clothes, make it about the accessories. If you can’t buy a Dries Van Noten top in a size 14 then buy the Dries Van Noten scarf and keep the clothing as the backdrop. To me, that is what the woman in this photo is doing (although the dress is very beautiful) -she is making her look about print, color, accessories and exotic drama.

I used to live in Murry Hill , the Indian section of Manhattan, the woman there use a very similar method of color, wrapping and accessories and they often look amazing.


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  1. k. cooper

    May 12, 2006 at 8:47 am

    i’m a “plus size” woman and what you are describing is precisely what i do. high end/unique accessories and shoes mixed with well-cut basics from a variety of places i’ve managed to find.

    it does make me sad that much of the industry ignores women like me. there just aren’t that many options out there for women larger than a size 12.

  2. fiftyRX3

    May 12, 2006 at 9:33 am

    bravo, on posting something different. an older woman, a black woman, a heavier woman, a woman who isn’t hanging out in Nolita. obviously, it is your blog and you can post whatever you want, but I find diversity adds a bit of texture and humanity to your site.

  3. Anonymous

    May 12, 2006 at 10:47 am

    This lady reminds me of my cousin’s wedding in London when we were all wearing traditional Nigerian garb and suddenly a bus load of Japanese tourists stopped and started snapping away!

  4. Gina

    May 12, 2006 at 11:11 am

    I love “ethnic dressing”, which is what this woman is doing. But let’s be honest, it’s rather disconcerting to see a Caucaisian woman sporting West African or Indian dress. Unfortunately, it smacks of cultural appropriation.

  5. CL

    May 12, 2006 at 12:37 pm

    Why does it seem that African American women pull off larger sizes so much better than everyone else?

    I think it’s confidence and beautiful accessories.

  6. SwanDiamondRose

    May 12, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    to cl: i think it is because african-american culture is one of the cultures who are more supportive of plus size women, not supportive actually loving would be a better word.

    and to Gina: i think n. america and really the whole world is so layered with “cultural appropriation” now, that that in itself is part of our identity, in as many good ways or even more than bad.

  7. a.

    May 12, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    to even call this “ethnic dressing” (as gina did) suggests cultural bias. to you this may be “ethnic dressing”, but to her it’s most likely perfectly normal.

    i think the sartorialist’s point was not that (caucasian) women should wear clothes or prints from other cultures, but rather that they can utilize the successful techniques embodied in this outfit: using print, color and accessories to one’s advantage. the photo from several days ago showing a caucasian woman in a black suit with a beautiful grey wool wrap demonstrated the same idea.

  8. Anonymous

    May 13, 2006 at 4:58 am

    To eetraveling: I agree. Why would I want to buy something from a designer who clearly doesn’t think I’m worth a fabulous dress? Also, I don’t want to cover myself with a huge scarf (no matter how nice it looks) but to wear a dress that actually fits and compliments my figure.

  9. The Sartorialist

    May 13, 2006 at 6:55 am

    To A,
    thanks that was the point i was making but also I don’t think it is bias to refer to it as “ethnic dressing”.

    I think “ethnic dressing” would refer to any mode of dressing not common in a certain area. I would be “ethnically dressed” if i were in Africa or the Middle East – being from Indiana I love the idea that I could go somewhere and be considered exotic!

    ps don’t always blame the designers – if there were a demand for larger sizes by the stores they would cut them plus anyone could create a collection today and (if it is good enough) be the Armani of the plus size set

  10. ngozi

    May 13, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    @the sartorialist LOL…you won’t be ethnically dressed in Africa. LOL

    to be honest wearing the traditional outfit the lady has on, isn’t done everyday in many parts of Nigeria, but rather it is reserved for ‘dressing up and going out’ occasions like weddings for example.

    so nigerians will refer to her outfit as ethnic or traditional.

    thank you so much for taking this pic. it is a nigerian/african traditional outfit. and it can be found in so many different styles and colours. when worn properly, it’s elegance is stunning.

  11. bolotavoadora

    May 14, 2006 at 4:04 am

    One of the most interesting and beautifull blogs i’ve ever seen, keep up the good work. I’m from Portugal, land of beautifull people, but in need of learning more about fashion, clothes and design. Do you travel a lot? Ever tought of expand the idea to Europe and Africa, or at least out side the Big Apple.

  12. rettchen

    May 14, 2006 at 3:35 pm

    My mother’s Nigerian and so I know these kind of traditional clothing very well ♥ but there it often is the other way round. I look kind of ridiculous wearing traditional Nigerian clothes (for some special occasions), because I am far to thin and tall ;-)(born and raised in Europe with a tall blonde Northern European father!) My relatives keep calling me skinny and used to ask my mother why she doesn’t feed me properly. In many parts of Africa “plus-size” women are ideal and skinny women are seen as sick, poor and simply ugly. “Unfortunately” this is slowly changing and depends on the arey you’re at.

  13. rednikki

    May 16, 2006 at 12:45 am

    if there were a demand for larger sizes by the stores they would cut them plus anyone could create a collection today and (if it is good enough) be the Armani of the plus size set

    I’m not so sure, Mr. Sartorialist. Did you hear about the gasket Karl Lagerfeld blew when he heard H&M was making plus-sized versions of his clothes? Apparently the designers don’t want fat people wearing their clothes either. (And, as a size 14, I’m one of those fat people.)

    I’d love to see you have a few more people in here who are a little bigger than normal. I’m slowly but surely starting to get a sense of what to wear, and a lot of it is from looking at your blog. However, I can’t wear this whole long skinny tank-top thing that’s in all the stores this summer; they make me look about 30 pounds heavier. Looking at stylish larger women helps me figure out how I can make myself presentable – because it’s a certainty I’ll never get down to a size 6.

  14. LBellatrix

    May 16, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    Wonderful picture! For the record, I like (almost) all of your pics.

    With regards to the African-American appreciation for/of larger forms…unfortunately that’s starting to change as more and more AA young women are being poisoned by the media’s obsession with the skinny.

    I say “unfortunately” even though, as a skinny AA kid, I was teased for not having enough meat on my bones and wished I could gain weight. That’s not a problem for me now! ;) But girls and women of all sizes should learn how to feel good about themselves, and it would be nice if our society really encouraged that.

    (And no, I’m not saying that having an unhealthy weight is okay…but what some might consider unhealthy, others consider NORMAL. I love NYC but some NYC’ers have a really skewed idea of what constitutes a healthy weight…and that applies to both men and women in my experience.)

  15. Hilde

    May 19, 2006 at 7:55 am

    Did you ask where her outfit is from? Her dress looks like a semi-traditional Nigerian one (I have a friend who wore just such a dress to my wedding).

    I am straddling the line between sizes 12 and 14, but I find that I can find plenty of good stuff in the US (not designer though, but that’s not in my budget anyway). It’s Europe that needs to catch up (or, ehm… maybe I just need to lose some weight?) Hmm.

    I don’t do the giant accesories though – I find that I can still look attractive if I emphasize my good points (even though I’m plus-size, I still do have the hourglass thing going on).

  16. Anonymous

    March 12, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    her daughter went to my boarding school. I see her at alumni events – she always dresses this way; in fact, this is the first time I’ve seen her dressed in something other than purple & gold.

  17. Simone Fraser

    October 29, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    You know, Scott, I first saw Colour around a Wonderful face. Then – WOW! as i took the whole photo in.

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