I am feeling reasonably foxy these days. Let’s not even mention the stinking scale, because everything else is trundling along. Inches melting, muscles appearing, fitness increasing, skin a-glowing, blah blah blah.

So with this in mind I went for a wander round the shops the other day. Just to check out the new summer stock, I said. But really more to check out myself in a range of different mirrors. Mwahaha.

It started out well — I tried on a nice flippy skirt (size 12!) and some nice linen trousers (size 12! (only if I sucked in my guts!)). But when I tried to find a top it all became completely rubbish.

I don’t know what it’s like anywhere else in the world right now, but over here it’s all these voluminous, floaty, 60s-inspired smocks. The fashion mags are crowing how they hide a multitude of sins — perfect for summer holidays as you can stuff your gob without worrying about a bloated tummy. Hurrah!

Well they just ain’t working for me. First there’s these dinky little puff sleeves which hit my arms at the most unflattering point, so they look all strung up and strangled like a leg of lamb. Then the fabric just spews down straight from the shoulders, or somewhat less ghastly from under the bust, completely covering the waist and hips.

Perhaps this flattering for some body shapes but it is completely hideous on me. I’ve always had wide shoulders, but if I wear more fitted tops that come in at the waist, everything more or less balances out with my hips. But this smock-o-rama shite hides my decent bits and points red flaming arrows to my worst. I look either 8 months pregnant or like a big brute of a rugby player, all lardy shoulders and meaty thighs.

And I’m sure the lurid 60s patterns look beguiling and Twiggy-esque on less sturdy lasses, but on me it just adds to the over all dumpy old granny effect. It’s worse than the dreaded Peasant Hooker Shit debacle of 2002.

YOOHOO, fitted tops! Are you out there? Somewhere? Anywhere? Make yourselves known, or I shall have to waddle the streets looking like this:


The onslaught of spring also brings the annual shoe dilemma. I seek pretty summer shoes that can be walked in for miles and miles. I need decent support and a good sole due to honking huge feet and a dodgy knee. Last year I found a nice pair of mules that felt dead comfy in the shop, but I think I need a shoe that is actually strapped to my foot. All those slip-on-y shoes that you have to kind of work to keep on your foot end up killing me. Ballet flats don’t work either, I need a wee heel otherwise I look like a drag queen.

Does such a shoe exist? Supportive yet stylish? Or should I just go straight out and buy some orthopedic clonkers that will work a treat with my matronly smock? Bah.

56 thoughts on “Frump-o-Rama

  1. It’s not just you – smocky-type tops don’t flatter anyone! They make slim girls look fat, and fat girls look fatter. I’m sticking to my fitted tops, thanks.

    And I sympathise on the shoes – I’m on the hunt for anything that will fit my orthotics, but that doesn’t look ‘sensible’. Impossible? I’m beginning to think so.

  2. I always look pregnant and ready to deliver in those smocky things. Hope you find something better, even if you have to shop online or cruise the thrift stores.

    I hate shoes too!

  3. Yes, it is all smock-o-rama crud here in Oz too. I didn’t whittle 20 bloody kilos off my frame to walk around in a psychadelic bin bag thanks.

    As if we needed more proof that these fashion types hate, hate, haaaaaaate women.

    Hmmm, maybe hold off on the comments until after the Codral kicks in…..

  4. I like the smocky tops because they work on me but it’s rubbish how something comes in and that’s ALL you can buy in the shops.

    I dunno if you have them there, but we have a lot of pinafore style skirts out here atm, very fitted in the waist and more of a 40s style than 60s. Very cute (and very wanted by me).

    Another good option is to just eschew fashion altogether and find some funky shops that do there own thing.

  5. Kumfs were always a nice comfy yet funky summer shoe, can you get them over there?? Love the fact that you are looking in mirrors instead of hideously avoiding them.

  6. I feel your pain Shauna! I think that no matter how small we get, some styles will just never suit us. The smock, or anything that is fitted under the bust and then flares out (empire line), has never suited me – I look pregnant, regardless of whether I’m a size 8 or a size 20!

    Let’s hope the smock craze has evaporated by the time I’m on the shores of the United Kingdom….


  7. Not a bit fan of the smocky shite either… I put on the shirt and feel like I am either a.) Maggie T – which isn’t exactly a great look for a 28 year old! or b.) about to stick my legs up in the stirrups and pop out a sprog. Hurrah. Thank god for t-shirts… slightly less frumpy but teams up well with good old aussie pluggas.

  8. It really does seem like the smaller I get, the uglier the damn clothes get. And now that I wouldn’t mind wearing something fitted, the “look” is big and baggy. Argh!

  9. I hated the smock also until my sis turned up in one with a belt around her hips. tadah! It actually looked really good.

  10. Size 12! Awesome! How different are UK to Aus sizes? 12 is awesome in any currency though 🙂

    I think the best fitted tshirts i’ve found are from but you kinda need to be proud to display your geekness to the world (and be prepared to answer ‘who is schrodinger?’ on a regular basis. Or Bonds still have semi-fitted shirts but you have to get a variety of primary colours (i like patterns).

    Otherwise, I’m no help. Empire line suits my small shoulders/boobs and wide hips. If only I had money, I’d be in heaven! 🙂

  11. Cap sleeves are causing a great deal of angst amongst my mid-forties age group in Oz. The consensus with smocks and cap sleeves is that if you hold a full drivers licence then forget it! Footless tights too, leggings by any other name still do not suit short pear shapes.

    I like Colarado’s mary jane style shoes. They’re stylish but sturdy and don’t make my feet ache.

  12. OK I can’t believe I spent a whole bunch of time shopping for shoes for you, but what about these? I recently bought these: which are comfortable, and I love, but they are lacking a certain.. sexiness, maybe?

    There was this gorgeous summer (maybe 2001 or so), when I was at my goal weight, was super fit, and I found the most perfect pair of black sandals. They were super comfortable, too. I was living in New York City at the time, and I walked everywhere. Well, with those shoes, I actually got compliments from strangers on the street. Wild, eh? I was also pedicured all the time, too. Alas… what once was. So, hope you find some great shoes that make you feel that way, and hope you find some blouses that make you feel unlike a fashion victim!

  13. Those floaty tops look worse if you’re a lardarse too. They make me look pregnant still, and they always assume that cos you’re large, you’ve got huge tits to fill the top bit – WHICH I DON’T!!

    I hope you find a nice top dude. Happy Thursday! xxr

  14. Just seconding everything above – they don’t suit anyone except twig-like 18 year olds. Forget them. Anyway, I read the other day that more structured looks are about to replace them, so all the smocks will vanish and you’ll be glad you didn’t buy one!

    It is really, really hard to get nice fitted tops, I agree, especially if you don’t want funny lacy bits round the neck. It drives me a bit mad. But they must be out there somewhere!

  15. cheers you guys! nice to know i’m not alone, but sad to see the smock disease has gone international 😛

    i tried the belt-cinching trick too, but there was just all that extra fabric piling up beneath the belt so made my guts look enormous… i cannae win, hen!

  16. Hush Puppies. Try them! They are supportive, have amazing soles, and now they come to girly designs too!

    Im so with you on the tops! Tis cos they are all anorexic and need volume…blah!

    But I know shops with perfect tops 😉

  17. As soon as I saw that illustration I was certain you had been in my neighborhood secretly observing me.

    I can’t help with the shoes, that’s the impossible dream for me too.

  18. Go the whole hog and join a nudist colony! It will save you money and how much more figure hugging can you get babe?

  19. Girl, you’re seeking the impossible. Comfy shoes where you can do a lot of walking….. With a heel… that are cute?? You’re pushing the envelope! =) I’ve decided to wear dainty, feminine tennis shoes and then to carry a large purse containing my sex kitten stiletto heels for a switch-a-roo when I reach my destination. (a.k.a. I’ve given up on finding this elusive type of shoe!)
    As for the shapeless blouses, yes, they’re all the rage in the US too… which is suprising seeing as I typically find that we’re a year or two behind Europe when it comes to most trends. I’m big on belting almost everything to emphasize the positive.

  20. Try Tesco for non-patterned, non-smocky, tops-with-darts-and-stuff-to-make-them-more-fitted; they’ve been keeping me going on a budget through each dress-size drop!

  21. Oh yes – I hear you! My daughters wear those little smocks and look like a million bucks. I, on the other hand look absolutely hideous! Last time I wore one I was asked if I wanted a boy or a girl!

  22. Thanks for the laugh, today was a day when I really needed it … and for the inspiration, I could use that too. Looking forward to the rest of the “story” …

  23. marla marla marla… tsk tsk 😛

    argy mou – i checked out the HP site and they’re not half bad!

    wilma – i quite like those skechers! i used to have red skechers. they didn’t make me go faster tho.

    tesco, eh bex? i might have mosey on up there! well in my price range too 🙂

    HTC – i think the shoe swap could be the way forward. as long as giant handbags remain in vogue there’s plenty of room to carry ’em!

    and cheers brandi 🙂

  24. Hi! I actually have totally bum feet and have found the only summer solution is Dansko sandals (the Lolita, specifically). They are insanely comfy and I think they look cute with skirts, though they are definitely kind of a bulkier shoe – not kitten heel slides or anything!! But you’ll be able to walk for MILES in heavenly comfort!

    PS. I detest the voluminous smock tops, too!!

  25. Those smock tops make even my 75-pound, 5′ tall 12-year-old look beefy. She good-humoredly refers to them as her “maternity gear”.

    The fashion industry really does loathe us, doesn’t it? Hope you find some nice clothes eventually. Hope I do, too. You’re right; pants are easy- it’s the cursed tops that are the problem!

  26. You know what tops work well? Tees from The Gap. Now, I’m not a big Gap person, but I tripped across these wonderful t-shirts that were not-too-tight / not-too-lose and look great with everything. I got one in black and one in gray and both dress up or down quite nicely.

    As for comfy shoes, I aim for a smallish heel (1″) and arch support. I hate to say it, but I’ve got a fairly subtle pair of cowboy boots that look good under jeans and are pretty comfy. Actually, now that I think of it, I almost always have better success with boots than shoes.


  27. I know the feeling of trying to find decent clothes. Clothes that aren’t made for 80 year old women ( bless their hearts!)and fashionable but are actually long enough to cover my “puddin” and flabby arms! What Id like to know is what fashion designer put a short cropped shirt ( meaning a shirt that does not cover your belly) and capped short sleeves on a fat woman and thought….”Hmmm, now that’s fetching!!!” UGH! Im long wasted, long legged and fat. Most of the shirts I try on ANYWHERE are to short to cover anything properly and then there’s those stupid sleeves. I mean I know they are trying to keep up with trends but lets be real here folks. No one wants to be knocking people out with the flying arm flap because their sleeves aren’t long enough to rein it in!!!
    I just think that “fat clothes” should me modeled and made for “fat people” and its obvious they aren’t. I feel bad enough most days about the way I look without having to go through the agony of finding a decent fitting shirt that’s not a “moo-moo” but is also not made for Britany Spears!
    Cheers to those out there that wear what they want, devil may care, but I just cant do that.

  28. Hi Shauna,
    Yes the 60’s are back in clothesracks, and like you they don’t work for me either. They make me look absolutely huuuuuuuge and more like wearing a tent because of my big boobs. So i’m trying to avoid them, but as you said, all the fitted tops seem to have vanished…. I do like the 3/4 length sleeves tho, they are flattering on my chunky arms, have u tried them yet? Well shoes are a big dilemma for me too, as i have a job where i have to stand for long hours, so stilettos are pretty much out of the picture 🙂 this season i particularly love wedges, they come in all heights and are really comfy to walk in…. Congrats on the size 12 hon, thats amazing!!!
    wink from luxembourg xxx

  29. Oh nearly forgot, a good idea is to wear the nice and fashionable shoes and just carry another pair that is more comfy in ur bag 🙂 As HTC already pointed out, it is near to impossible to find nice shoes, with a heel and that are comfy… So long as ur wearing your oversized handbag this will work pretty fine, i do it quite often at work.
    cheers xxx

  30. Okay, I’m visiting for the first time today and I just have to say – you are fabulous!

    Hope that doesn’t come across creepy/stalkerish.

    I had the exact same experience as you two weeks ago. I was near to tears as I left the mall. The pouffy sleeves were the worst though. Ugh!

  31. Okay, I’m visiting for the first time today and I just have to say – you are fabulous!

    Hope that doesn’t come across creepy/stalkerish.

    I had the exact same experience as you two weeks ago. I was near to tears as I left the mall. The pouffy sleeves were the worst though. Ugh!

  32. I’ve previously found H&M to be good for having a wide range of different stuff, although you usually have to paw through a lot of racks to find the ones that suit you. I haven’t been in for a month or so, though, so sorry if you’ve already tried there.

    I can’t do the smocky things either. My waist is my only good point, anyway…

  33. Dansko sandals are definitely the way to go. I am on my second pair – they last really well and don’t look too clunky skirts. I don’t own a car, so I rely on them to get me through the sweaty summers here in DC!

    Also, peasant tops are evil!!!!!!!!

  34. Dansko sandals are definitely the way to go. I am on my second pair – they last really well and don’t look too clunky skirts. I don’t own a car, so I rely on them to get me through the sweaty summers here in DC!

    Also, peasant tops are Satan’s own shirts. I have exactly the same problem with the shape. I’ve been buying fitted short-sleeved button-down shirts instead. Structure=good. They have some cute and cheap ones at Old Navy….

  35. Wrap tops, like that lovely green top you wore to the Grazia photo shoot, look great on you. (And on me.) Max Studio does some GREAT ones. Layer them with something in a different color every day and you’ve got a handful of outfits!

    And shoes….my passion, my one and true love (see my blog, too)–boy, do I have recommendations for you! Unfortunately, I am mindful that you live in the UK and Zappos, for instance, doesn’t shop there (yet) (boo). As someone with plantar fasciitis who has to wear orthotics, I am in a permanent pursuit of pretty, comfy shoes. Summers are hard because most (cute) sandals offer no support. HOWEVER (you knew that was coming, right?) try the following:
    – Cole Haan G-series. Nike Technologies. Plenty of arch support. Cute, sporty models.
    – Taryn Rose. You’ve got to save up for those, or alternately, find good sales or find them on eBay (that’s what I did), but oh boy, are those puppies ever comfy. Still not worth the full price (somewhere around $400-500), but perhaps worth a third or quarter of that (which is what I always end up paying).
    – Think. Cute models, plenty of support. Comfy. Mmm.
    – Oh! Shoes
    – Paul Green. Fantastic support with a bit of heel, just like you wanted. Highly recommended.

  36. I love 60s looks, but by and large, the smock don’t rock – I have virtually NO boobs, but I still look like a roving one-woman circus tent in most of those frocks I’ve tried on. I have purchased one, on account of the very cute fabric, and got a tailor to slim it down to a baggy a-line (even so I could make another dress out of the cut-off bits! Mad!)

    For quality fitted tees in an array of excellent colours, I think you should go to American Apparel (they probably have a UK website). They have lots of trendy cuts (which I’m not fond of), but the classic tees or v tees are the best. Not exactly cheap, but top quality and keep their shape forever.

  37. Re: shoes. Dansko, Born, Easy Spirit. (Do they have those in Scotland? Probably not, but they’re my summer sandal of choice. I like the two inch wedge-ish w/ ankle strap and plain front.) I realize we’re talking about shelling out serious bank for shoes here, but you only get one pair of feet, so I see it as a worthy investment. I’m vegetarian, but I’ve largely come to terms with killing cows for shoes, because I can’t *find* wearable non-leather shoes. For a heel, I like Dansko Roxy best. Born has a number of workable casual and not so casual shoes. Timberlands are good hiking/walking boots, though maybe slightly narrow in the front on my wide feet. I don’t drive and travel extensively, so consider these recs city-tested.

  38. yeah i got that prob to with the smock tops, had one on last night and my adorable 21yr old son said “mum you look absolutely huge in that take it off” had just bought it and his girlfriend was with me and she said it looked great, not be taking her shopping with me again, i will take my son!!

  39. Over here in the eastern US, we are being inundated with baby-doll dresses. Yikes! No sleeves (usually spaghetti straps), about 4 inches above the knee, AND empire waists. Though I’ve recently lost quite a bit of weight, I know not to go anywhere near those things, no matter how cute the mannequins look in the window 🙂

  40. So I totally recommend Dansko brand shoes. I have a pair of their strappy dress sandals (with a decent heel) and wore them when my husband was campaigning (days of walking standing and walking, I had almost broken down to tennis shoes when I found these awesome shoes (they look completely uncomfortable, but they are completely lovely) if you look at the shoes with the same sole and similar heel as the “Raquel” then I don’t think you can go wrong, seeing as we are tennis shoe twins!

    They are wee bit costly but they have worn very well and 1 year later can still be worn without feeling like a slob. I am totally trying to get another pair (or maybe more) to round out my closet and so I can throw out (give away) any and all uncomfortable shoes. (Though please note that they do have some old lady looking shoes I would avoid them!
    Some other similar styles

    They also have flatter sandals (still with a heel) but I can’t recommend them since I haven’t had them, though I have thought some of them have good potential.

    Smocks are only good for night/lounging clothes! And they all make you wonder if the woman wearing them is pregnant.

  41. Click the link cunningly hidden behind my name for my own diatribe on the Flocks of Chicks in Sacks. It’s dreadful but take heart – fashionistas are a dreadfully fickle lot and if we give ’em a few months, the sacks will be just a distant, regretful, voluminous memory…

    I also second the Kumfs recommendation. They still do awful granny shoes but among them are a few gems. They go up to a size 44 – something like a 12.5 in Aussie sizes.

  42. Hi Shauna, try Naot, they are really good quality shoes made in israel, some of them are frumpy but there are some funky ones too. Only prob is they tend to be expensive. Ooh, reading back through I see someone else mentioned them too, so I will second that.

  43. I am a huge fan of Camper shoes – I cannae believe that they have not rated a mention. See: (it was a bit technically challenged when I tried – but I love that site)

    I am now up to 10 pairs – some of which are 7 years old and I bring them out each season and they look cool, feel fab and make me smile. They can get a bit X-ey but well worth if you can find them on sale.

  44. The best, cutest, strappy, most comfortable shows are San Miguels…comfortable with a heel, not slip ons, I own 7 pairs! They are the U.S. distributor for the company which is in Mexico. Don’t know if they ship to the UK…..

    Really they are super fantastic!

  45. 3 months pregnant and just getting a bump so smock tops in fashion is the business.

    But I spend my days checking out everyone else who wears them to see if they are pregant too. The most unflattering fashion style to hit the shops in a long, long time.
    Why would you want to look pregnant unless you actually are? Even then who really ever wants to look pregnant?

    Wallis and Principles are always good, havent been in the shops for ages though.

  46. The last few years when short t shirts were in, I had a fat belly… now my belly has shrunk but what’s the new style? LONG t shirts! I just can’t win either in the clothing department! That’s why I wear vintage 50s and 40s all the time… Long pencil skirts and twin set sweaters look good on EVERYONE!

  47. I can’t stand smocks (I refer to them as preggo dresses) either! They are so unflattering and horrible looking. I’d rather flaunt whatever waist I have than cover it up and get the inevitable “when are you due?” type questions. Hoping this season in fashion passes soon as well.

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