fashion · personal · plus size · travel · Uncategorized

A learning curve – Featuring The Curve Fashion Festival.

Hi all!

 I wanted to save writing this post until this The Curve Fashion Festival 2019 had been announced and then I decided to give myself a little break over Christmas so I apologise that this is almost two months after the event but here goes.

I was lucky enough to be gifted two tickets last minute for The Curve Fashion Festival 2018 in return for a previous blog post. Having only attended one previous TCFF (whilst heavily pregnant) I was super excited to attend and quickly made travel arrangements. I was quite apprehensive about travelling 3 hours on a train alone (and then 3 hours back) so soon after my op but I thought I’d bite the bullet and attend as I really wanted to go! I booked my train tickets and started to plan what I was going to wear. I was really lucky that Matalan were interested in dressing bloggers for the event and so I was kindly offered an outfit to wear for the day. I looked through the plus size offerings with excitement and settled on a boho style embroidered blouse and chunky cleated boots which I decided to wear with a high waisted button up denim skirt and a suede tassled shoulder bag which converts into a backpack.

All laid out!

Trying my outfit on!

My cousin kindly came over the night before and pincurled my hair for me and so I wrapped it in a bandanna to keep it covered and went on the train like that. In fact, the night before I went car shopping like that – zero shits given! I took my tangle teaser with me to do my hair on the train as I was heading to the train before 8am and didn’t want my curls to drop! I also took my makeup bag with me to do my makeup on the train so I didn’t have to get up even earlier!

 

I got a quick snap of my outfit (with added tassel earrings) and got in the car. Adam was dropping me at the train station before he headed to work so we were out nice and early.

I worried about my trains because of the strikes but my first one came on time and I found my reserved seat easily and got comfy for the journey. Once we were going I started applying my makeup and got it half done before it was time to swap at York. I used the stop over to grab a quick coffee, facetime Eleanor who had slept at my cousins house and I boarded my second train. Unfortunately on this journey I encountered an older couple who were taking the mick out of me putting my makeup on and making faces. I promptly called them out on it and they didn’t dare look at me for the rest of the journey. Half an hour before we arrived I took my pincurls out and gently brushed them in to place. They came out beautifully and I was in awe of how well the pincurls worked.

I arrived at Liverpool Lime Street and set off to find my friend Dawn. I met Dawn on the Team Topsy group which is a group linked to the Topsy Curvy business – however it has became a place of body positivity, friendship and self love. We have been chatting/facebook friends for quite a while and so I mentioned that I had a spare ticket and Dawn kindly agreed to accompany me.

The venue was literally over the road but there was slight confusion over how to get in but we eventually found a red carpet and a balloon arch. We actually thought it was a different event at first but I asked the security guard who told us it was the entrance. Of course I needed a picture in the balloon arch!

Once inside we were quite excited, but started to notice how the venue was quite restrictive. Straight through the door was a big set of steps to get in with only one lift. We were able enough to walk up but for those less able it must of been a bit of a struggle or they would of had to queue for the lift. We gave in our tickets and found our way to the main hall.

Inside was super overwhelming. The first row of stalls was completely packed with a tight walkway which was made even tighter by one retailer deciding to put their stock half way into the aisle which made a tight space even tighter. It took us quite a while to get through the first row and it was an uncomfortable squeeze to get through so many people. I felt like I couldn’t really stop to look at the stalls because there was constantly somebody pushing past or shoving me out of the way.

We eventually made our way to the middle of the rows which was wide and open however a lot of the retailers stalls were small and hard to access. They almost packed too many clothes into the spaces which made viewing really hard. I went with the intention of buying clothes but I came home with a set of underwear and a belt.

I made a beeline for the third row to find our babes at Topsy Curvy. I was so happy and proud to see their stall super busy with loads of people buying their beautiful stock. I of course got a picture with Jo & Nat and we had a good chat and I also chatted with some of the people shopping at their stall.

I also got this beaut picture with Nat and the lovely Dawn who was just a wee babe all day. I kept getting tangled in my bag and she kept rescuing me and also took photos for me too.

I then headed over to the River Island stand to ask why plus size clothing was being taken out of stores. I was told this had happened much earlier in the year due to lack of purchasing. I told them that their plus size range is poorly advertised as being available in store and not many people knew it existed. I was eventually fobbed off with a “it may be returning soon” and a free goody bag.

After a look around the stalls me and Dawn headed for some dinner at a Wetherspoons over the road. We had our lunch and headed back hoping it would be a bit quieter. We came into contact with a few people on our return who were fed up, upset and disappointed with the access in the venue. We learned that there was only one lift which was super busy and a bit out of the way and that the catwalk seating was small and uncomfortable. I was stopped by Georgina Grogan who was actually leaving TCFF early due to the poor accessibility. Georgina had spent a fair bit of money on hotel/travel etc but was leaving as it was just too much. She has written a post on the day  which highlights a lot of the issues she faced.

I was starting to feel a bit more comfortable at this point as the crowds had thinned a bit. I kept heading back to the Topsy Curvy stand which became my safe space but I also browsed the stalls too. Here’s some of my highlights!

I met up with the gorgeous Kirsty who is just a wee babe!

Before/After

I braved the first row and got my boobs measured by the wonderful Weir Wonderful Fit. She measured me at 2 back sizes smaller and 2 cup sizes bigger than I was wearing.

I found the most beautiful rose wall at the Pink Clove stand!

I met Gemma Collins at the Boohoo stand who is a total sweetheart in person!

After a final look around it was time for me to head for my train home. My Matalan boots remained comfortable all day which I was super surprised and glad about! I settled in for my train home which would take me all the way to Darlington and I would only have a short train back to Thornaby after that. Unfortunately the strikes caught up with me and they cancelled my second train and Adam had to drive over and pick me up. It was a cold and annoying way to end the day but thankfully the wonderful Team Topsy ladies kept me company as I went live in the group to keep me occupied.

Finally home, I curled up on the sofa and unpacked all my goodie bags to see what I had gained. Most confusing was the random mash pots given by one brand – however I have eaten them when I was poorly and couldn’t be bothered to make food and so maybe they were a genius idea. I also loved the free mirror from Pretty Little Thing! I love a little pocket/handbag mirror and I’ve already used this loads.

I opened my free goodie bag from River Island which I later found out was given out when people made a purchase rather than just given out. I feel like she gave me one to silence me when complaining about lack of plus sizes in store – however I’m not complaining. I’ve worn those hoops loads and I’ve worn the necklace and even used the eyeshadow palette. There was also a green lipstick but I rehomed that to Jo who took a shine to it.

I actually did an online order or something I’d seen at TCFF. I ordered this totally boujee and beautiful robe with matching romper from Boohoo. I got it 25% off and I was glad I swooped in when I did because they sold out super quick. I like to swan about my house in the robe or just sit looking at it hanging in my bedroom. ROBE. OF. DREAMS.

Final thoughts?

I am extremely lucky that I had no physical accessibility issues this year however if I had attended in a wheelchair like I did previously I would not of coped at all. The first row of stalls were hectic and busy and I was super annoyed at that brand for causing an obstruction with their clothing rails which was most of the issue. I kinda hoped there would of been more brands and I felt there should of been more refreshment options. The cocktail bar was a cute idea but it was super busy and so we didn’t get anywhere near it and we had to leave the venue to find somewhere to eat.

THAT BEING SAID.

I still had an amazing day. It was just wonderful to be around so many inspirational, beautiful, unapologetically plus sized humans and I loved seeing more and more trendy clothes filtering in. I was in awe of some of the gorgeous outfits that people were wearing and got inspiration from so many people. I went home wrapped in a self love bubble with excitement for the next year. After all the complaints/comments/posts about the accessibility this year the TCFF have already confirmed a venue change and have promised they will be working hard to make sure it is accessible for all. I have so much faith in the team and the fact they have already addressed this and the fact that they are working so hard to make the appropriate changes is amazing. The venue for next year is The ACC at Liverpool docks which I have previously been to for a huge conference and can confirm is a really excellent choice for the venue. I’ve already booked my hotel for the weekend and I’m hoping to take Eleanor and Adam with me and make a weekend of it. Loads of the Team Topsy members have booked the same hotel which is so exciting – I’m hoping for an after party, maybe dinner with friends or just a hang out! TCFF18 has left me wanting more and I’m already counting down the months for TCFF19.

If anybody is considering going to TCFF19 – DO IT! It’s such a positive day full of the best people and with all the changes being made this year I feel like it’s going to be the best/most accessible one yet. Tickets are already on sale and can be found here ! I’m waiting to buy mine as I can’t decide on regular or VIP. There’s more to be announced about VIP so I’m waiting to see if that sways my decision.

I wanted to finish this post with a few thank yous. Thank you to Dawn for coming with me! Thank you to Jo & Nat and everybody who stopped and chatted with me on the day and took pictures. I love the community that Topsy Curvy have built – it’s truly amazing. However the biggest thank you has to go to The TCFF team for all the hard work that goes in to putting on such an incredible event. It must take so much organising, so much effort and must be exhausting in both the run up and on the day. You are amazing and should be so proud of yourselves!

Are you going to TCFF19? Let me know below!

Thanks for reading.

Hannah x

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fashion · music · plus size

Be Quiet – Dress Loud! Teesside music meets fat fashion.

Hi all!

When I was a lot younger I was a massive fan of the local teesside music scene and enjoyed going out to gigs and shows when possible. For me it died down a lot and I stopped going to as many local shows as bands I followed tended to settle down, move away or just fizzle out.

One band I’ve followed now since my late teen years is Teesside’s finest funky electro synth tribe – Be Quiet! Shout Loud. I’ve always enjoyed them for their incredibly catchy, disco influenced toe tappers and I’ve made a firm friendship with their bassist who is lovingly known as “Big Dave”.

BQSL have been on a break lately whilst they broke in new Guitarist Jamie Donnelly. This hasn’t been the only lineup change however as keyboardist Chris has now upgraded to the keytar, which I thought was pretty cool when I saw them live. After a 7 month hiatus, I heard that the newly structured band were coming back to support another local band at their final show! I figured it would not be a show to miss and made sure I was going to be free.

I asked my friend Claire to come along with me as she is massively into the local music scene and is even a fantastic artist herself! She actually sang at Eleanor’s Christening as she is a vintage style singer and she’s just amazing. Claire came to mine for a few pre-drinks (ended up drinking gin in the car whilst Adam dropped us off as we’re so classy) and I’m so glad I did as I needed a little bit of liquid confidence with my outfit!

As ever, I tried numerous outfits on and eventually decided to go for something a bit more “edgy” as I was going to a gig.

I ended up in a mesh top from Boohoo (which actually comes with a dress), and a skirt from New Look which I bought at Christmas  – sadly sold out now.

The bra is from a two pack I bought online at Simply Be and I really liked how the lace looked against the mesh. It gave it a little “something” rather than being just plain.

On my feet I wore these super comfy flatforms I found on ASOS. I thought I best boost my height so I could see better at the gig! I’m not that great at wearing heels, or most shoes in general for long periods of time but these are so comfy I actually managed to stand in them all night with only a few rests between bands in the bar.

We arrived at The Georgian Theatre which has recently been renovated and I was majorly impressed with the new glass frontage and the general decor in the bar. It has a really cool industrial look and has long tables with benches as well as some smaller intimate tables. The first band Serinette were already partway through their set when we arrived and I wish we’d of gotten there sooner as I really enjoyed them.

Next up was the band I’d gone to see, BQSL. I made sure I was right up front as frontman Jake Radio always puts on a show with his endless dance moves.

BQSL came onto the stage to a great reception from the audience and began their set which was a mix of some of their old classics, new songs and even a pretty amazing cover of “You Spin Me Right Round” which was unexpected but well welcomed.

Also keen to put on a good show was new guitarist Jamie who was full of energy and really looked like he was having a great time.

One thing I really enjoyed with the retro synth notes coming from Chris on the “Keytar”. I’ve never actually seen one in person and thought it was actually really interesting and it gave a different dynamic than a keyboard. I was enjoying seeing all the band dancing and actually enjoying making music, and to me BQSL have always been a band I’ve enjoyed visually.

He’s Dave, a man after my own heart on bass. In case you didn’t know I actually played bass for most of my teenage years and loved it. Sadly that fizzled out and I never really got the chance to play when I started working etc. I have been thinking lately how much I would love to be in a band making music again but I can’t see that happening anytime soon with the other things I have going on in my life!

  

The show seemed to be over in five minutes as every song flowed effortlessly with a bit of chat and banter from Jake in between. Me and Claire took it in turns to hit the bar and soon we were merry on cherry rum and tiki rum which we didn’t realise was 70% proof – oops!

We of course took some time out between bands to take some selfies!

We bobbed in and out for the last band The Purnells and also spent some time in the bar before calling it a night after all the acts. We both thoroughly enjoyed the evening but knowing I was on mum duty the next day I didn’t want to make it too late of a night – too sensible for my own good!

I really enjoyed getting out and hearing some live music. I really want to get out into the Teesside music scene more often as there’s some serious talent around here and shows seem to be picking up and there is an actual scene again which if I’m honest, seemed to lag for a few years. My friend Claire always has her ear to the ground about great shows and so I have no doubt that we will be heading out again soon…so I best get finding something to wear!

BQSL are continuing their comeback with a gig at Scarborough Tattoo Show  so make sure to check them out if you’re heading up there, although they’re also working on something secret so keep an eye out on their Facebook.

Hannah x