Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eco-Chic Styles for the Full-Figured Woman

As a fashion stylist, I have had the pleasure of dressing women of all shapes and sizes over the past five years. Many of them seek my services because shopping conjures feelings of frustration and anxiety over fit. Others simply don’t have the time or stamina to search for those quality pieces. I step in by providing a roadmap to finding styles that complement their figure and lifestyle.

However, what tends to present the greatest challenge is the client, male or female, who wants to invest in an eco-friendly wardrobe. I actually get quite giddy when I receive such inquiries because conscious fashion is at the heart of my styling business. I embarked on this journey with the intent of educating consumers on the source of their garments, to present eco-styles that are equally innovative, chic, and modern without compromising the planet and the garment worker who produce them.

Despite my intentions, I am disheartened by the limited options for sizes greater than a 10 and found in a store near you. With the exception of Eileen Fisher (and I am fully aware that not every woman is an Eileen Fisher woman), the Internet holds the best chance for scoring a custom-made and/or full range of sizes. Green blogger, Green Gretchen, offers a comprehensive list of online designers. Search eco-fashions for plus size women and Etsy delivers a plethora of options.

Just for sake of clarification, “eco-fashion” can mean the type of material (reclaimed, organic cotton, tencel, soy, bamboo, hemp, and milk, yes even milk!) to vintage (preferably custom-made rather than a mass-produced item 20 years ago) to custom-made using high quality fabrics by an independent designer who applies a no-waste policy.

Another point of clarification is that eco-fashion caters solely to loose-fitting, yoga-inspired, loungewear. There is definitely a place for such styles such as actually doing yoga but pioneers in eco-design such as Linda Loudermilk, Stewart + Brown, Stella McCartney and Organic by John Patrick prove otherwise. Their vision opens the market for a breadth of styles that speak to your personality.

For the woman who seeks comfort in a loungewear-inspired style, go no further than Indigenous Designs. The fair trade, all organic collection puts the comfort in ready-to-wear. On their Website they have a helpful size chart to take the guesswork out of it.

For the professional woman who needs a bit more structure in her wear, check out collections by Canadian designers Diane Kennedy and Chloe Angus, and Rawganique. Their attention to detail combined with eco-luxe materials yield a message of self-empowerment and sophistication.

Of course, clothes account for part of an ensemble. Vegan shoe designer Olsen Haus and Neuaura include up a size 12. Accessories and handbags add panache to any outfit. My favorites: Jewelry designers - Calamarie, Monique Pean (Website to be relaunched soon!), AK Vintage and handbags by Matt and Nat, Gunas, and Susan Nichole.

If you have a favorite plus size eco-designer, I would love to know. Please send me your suggestion to Katherine@mysignaturelook.

Image: Dress by Chloe Angus

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