Keeping it real in our City

Above Average - Spring Racing Fashion for a size 12 Plus!

Melbourne Cup.

It is the race that stops the nation.

The reason to get your hair and make-up done, feel a little spesh and get a gorgeous dress for race day. What happens though when you don't fit in the 'normal' sizes of 6-10?

I decided to find out JUST how hard it is to hire a dress in Perth if you are a size 12, 14. 16 or 18 + because you would assume although there would be less options, there would still be some?

So I will run you through the process. Pieta starts looking for race day dresses to hire and realises that there truly is not any easy to find options in a size 18. Pieta realises, there must be so many other women in Perth who are above average wanting to look gorgeous in something a little extra special that probably can't find, nor hire, spectacular dresses in their size. Pieta reaches out to a local small business community (and my online following) for those interested in doing a plus size Melbourne Cup photo shoot.

To be completely honest, finding a size 12, 14 and 16 was not difficult. I was going to look for a size 20 but it was hard enough finding dresses up to a size 18. I did not look at the ladies who put their hands up, I did not see what they looked like as I wanted an honest spectrum of women.

I put the call out for everything that is needed for a photoshoot and with a little help, I found everyone I needed and all from amazing local small businesses. To those who organise photoshoots for a living- my hat goes off to you- there are SOOOO many moving parts and people to organise. What a learning experience that was!

With everything in place so begun the mission of find a dress for us all. As you could imagine size 12 and 14 was super easy. We were able to get two beautiful dresses from - the black and the gold. They are incredibly sexy dresses and even though both the models have completely different body shapes, they looked fantastic on them both. Then came size 16 and 18...

I must say I contacted and looked up many many local designers and businesses who hire dresses out throughout Perth. I was very shocked to find that even a size 16 is not a standard size that is stocked. I could understand the size 18 as this may not be part of a standard run but size 16..

How did we end up with dresses? I found ONE place that had size 16's and had dresses available to borrow for the photoshoot, although this is a store that you purchase from. Hot Bods in Currambine, and pop up in Whitfords, has amazing clothes and do have one range up to a size 24, however it was too formal for Melbourne Cup. It was so discouraging for me to know that even when I lose weight and be a healthier size 16, hiring a dress will still not be easy for me unless I want to go chain store. 

The size 18. I truly wish I could say ANYTHING positive here but I just truly can't. There was no where that I searched for or contacted that has a size 18 available that wasn't more suitable for Mother of the Bride or formal.

I am a young 37 year old woman who still loves a good party and I could not find one dress anywhere. I am being totally serious, there was not one place. In the end I had to go to a chain store - City Chic - and buy a dress for $180! In a size 8-10, you would pay a max of $80 to hire a designer label dress, but I could not find one local designer or business to support. To say this made me feel sad, isolated and freaking angry was an understatement. I do in no way condone being over weight, in fact I am actively working to be a healthier size, but this does not mean that I should be excluded from feeling fantastic right now as I am. Take home message for me- if you are not within the normal sizes, expect to only shop at one store. 

That aside, the purpose of this photoshoot was to show just how beautiful a size 12 - 18 can be. Thank you to our INCREIBLE venue- 21st Amendment Bar in Leederville. What a gorgeous location and place for a sneaky drink!

Our models-

Size 12 - Lindsay from Starlet Concepts was also our make-up artist, and honestly, how beautiful do we all look! Lindsay is wearing a black sleeveless satin wrap dress from Lindsay's hat is from Holly Barker Millinery- another awesome local business with so many options for your race day outfit- all handmade and special. 


Size 14- Carmen. What a serious beauty this lady is! I have never seen someone nail the model face quite as naturally as her! Carmen is wearing a long sleeve satin wrap, also from Carmen's headpiece is also from Holly Barker Millinery - how diverse is her style.


Size 16- The gorgeous Kirsty from Kirsty Mulchahy Beauty who also did our spray tans (I am quite pale so this was an awesome addition to our shoot!). Kirsty is wearing a beautiful navy cocktail dress from Hot Bods boutique in Currambine. Kirsty is wearing one of my fave fascinators from Headonista - handmade locally to Perth.

Size 18 - Well that's me! My contribution was organising and collating all the team members, with the help of Lindsay who found our photographers - F0xf0t0graf and Dejavu Digital Studio. Thanks so much for your help Lindsay!

I was wearing a gorgeous cocktail dress from City Chic with a gold belt and a peach sheer jacket, also from City Chic. When you are plus size, often arms is a place you don't love about yourself so these sheer jackets are a winner, even on hot days. My head piece, you either love or not. I think it is GORGEOUS with Swarovski crystals and so many other pretty features- also handmade by Holly Barker Millinery.

We were absolutely blessed to have hair stylist Jodie from Jodie Hogg Hair and Makeup. We all had our own style and Jodie stepped up to the occasion. We all had such different hairstyles and they all were so professionally executed and creative. I especially loved my hair that allowed the hair piece to be the feature. Jodie will certainly be my go to in the future for everything hair!

Having never worked with photographers specifically before I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea there was SO MUCH involved. Here's me thinking you just smile and shoot! f0xf0t0graf - aka Dave was fab. He had so many different angles, so many ways to make us laugh and gave great direction! He even got a little creative with the behind the scenes below!

Our second photographer (or Tog as I have since learnt they are called) was Adnan from Dejavu Digital Studio. Adnan was such a professional. Quiet and unassuming, giving direction, looking for inspiration and making me feel like I was actually a full on model. This truly was so much fun!

So Perth, you have seen how one small business community can come together to create something pretty amazing. I am excited by how great the shoot turned out and just how I have been able to achieve my goal of showing that you don't have to be a 6-10 to look fantastic. Thank you so much to all the businesses that were involved. It was such a pleasure to work with you.

Fashion industry. Seriously... why are we not able to find anything lovely in a size 16 + that we can feel beautiful in AND support local. I appreciate there is more material and that some dresses look better with no lumps or bumps, but come on, we all look sexy as and we deserve to rock a frock as much as the rest. I pride myself on being real and showcasing everything about Perth Happenings and my own journey in a non fake and edited way, but this has made me feel really disappointed.

I would love to start a discussion on our Facebook page- why is this so, why don't even a small selection of plus sizes get stocked or made? What do you think of our shoot? Where do you find your dresses? Are you a designer who has plus size clothes that I don't know about...

Look forward to hearing your thoughts Perth and I hope you all have a fabulous and confident Melbourne Cup!


Pieta Sharpe

Hi there, I'm Pieta. I'm the boss lady here at Perth Happenings.

I love getting out into the community and asking all the quetions - who, what, when, where, why and how. We have been growing Perth Happenings to support the small local businesses and events that perhaps can't afford large scale exposure and this is my passion.

We work with only locally based businesses so we can keep their families with income, conversely if you work with Perth Happenings you are keeping my children in soccer - it is a win win!
I have a team of amazing bloggers and look forward to introducing them to you - Thanks for supporting us.