The 6 women changing what fashion means for everybody

Finding a new community of bloggers made Bethany Rutter feel included in the fashion landscape. Here, she explains which women are changing the game – and why it’s so important

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By Bethany Rutter on

My life changed when I found plus-size fashion bloggers. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true – discovering an online community of women who looked like me and who openly and unashamedly cared about clothes was a turning point in my life. It made me realise that I could participate in fashion, I could be interested in the way I looked, rather than ashamed of it, I could cultivate a personal style and I could share that with the world – and people might respond to it. What really changed my life was starting a blog of my own, but I would never have thought it possible, useful or important without those already doing it, who had inspired me so much.

The plus-size fashion industry has changed so much since I started blogging in 2011. There’s now more variety than ever and the public are increasingly vocal in asking for more, which is really important. As well as the big brands that remain stalwarts in the industry, like ASOS Curve, there are many independent brands thriving on the strength of great products and a personal touch. Brands such as Premme, which is run by Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason, two of the best-known bloggers in the field. No wonder there is such a range of incredibly stylish, plus-size women around the world – there has never been such a range of clothes through which we can express ourselves.

When I came to edit my book, Plus+, it was my own experience in the plus-size fashion world that guided me. I wanted to create something that honoured the people who came before me, while also creating something that might inspire people to be bolder and more forthcoming with their own style. The book itself follows in the footsteps of Rachelle Abellar’s Little Book Of Big Babes. What was most important to me, though, was to make sure that the book represented the diversity that exists within the plus-size community – there is simply more to us than the plus-size models, who often tend to all be size-16 white women with hourglass figures. So many of the most interesting plus-size women are from the global south, are not white, do not speak English as their first language, and it felt of paramount importance to me to be faithful to that fact.

Discovering an online community of women who looked like me and who openly and unashamedly cared about clothes was a turning point in my life. It made me realise that I could participate in fashion

I wanted the contributors to go beyond just traditional bloggers and to represent stylish plus-size people with no real public-facing fashion content as much as bloggers with huge followings. I had a long list of people in mind to approach as contributors to the book, but even that long list wasn’t quite long enough. My editor wanted more and that was when my fun began – I had to go digging. I asked contributors for recommendations, I trawled hashtags on Instagram, I looked for coverage of plus bloggers in niche, online publications. The people I found during this process have become some of my favourite contributors to the whole project and I feel like I’m making up for all the lost time in which I hadn’t encountered their style.

6 women who are changing the fashion game:

Mo Handahu, @misslionhunter

If Mo told me it was cool to wear plastic-bag shoe-covers this season, I would probably do it. I’m absolutely obsessed with her style – she’s probably my favourite plus-size clothing expert in the world. I feel like Mo really sets a standard for creative dressing, especially with her incredible use of accessories.

Stephanie Yeboah, @nerdabouttown

For me, Stephanie straddles a really important line between fashion and activism. I really love her clothing choices and the way she wears them, but I also love the way she’s a really vocal advocate for issues that matter, such as racism and mental illness as well as issues around size and fatphobia.

Danielle Vanier, @daniellevanier

Danie takes style to another level. Her eye for fashion is second to none and the way she selects and combines different pieces keeps me in a state of permanent delight. There’s also something quite gratifying about the fact that, although she’s plus-size and frequently collaborates with brands in this space, she often works with brands outside the sector. Maybe it’s her assertiveness with her style that demands to be recognised on the same level as non-plus-size women.

Kellie Brown, @itsmekellieb

It’s not so much that Kellie is the only plus-size influencer who makes YouTube videos (she isn’t), it’s more that her videos are the perfect combination of charming, funny, informative and packed with great fashion. She sets a high bar for plus-size video content, always coming up with fun ideas that are also informative and genuinely useful.

Adriana Convers, @fatpandora

Something I really wanted to do was highlight influencers from the global south, but even if I didn’t have that specific goal in mind, I would always have wanted Adriana on board for her style alone. She’s chic, with a playful way of mixing clothes that I find compelling. She’s also great at highlighting amazing Colombian brands (especially handbags) that I can’t help but covet.

Virgie Tovar, @virgietovar

Virgie Tovar is a real inspiration to me. As well as her deliciously carefree style, her writing on fat bodies is radical but compassionate. She’s constantly fighting so hard for plus-size women and creating genuinely useful work that we can apply to our everyday lives, so I’m just fizzing with anticipation for her book, You Have The Right To Remain Fat, to be released this year.

Click here for the inclusive spring wardrobe edit

Plus+ is available to buy now from Amazon


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