I'd venture to guess that if you looked in any fashion or women's magazine from five to 10 years ago, you would come across some "advice" about plus size women wearing bold prints. Sadly, the advice would have likely been "don't wear them."
For the longest time, the emphasis on plus size women wearing blacks and neutrals to "slim" or "hide" their shape was hard to ignore. Some of us internalized this message and made it our own. I primarily wear blacks and neutrals, but always make sure to choose silhouettes that don't fit the conventional idea of "flattering." Every once in a while, I'll also grab a garment from my closet with a bold, unapologetic print that draws the attention to a body that society tells me I don't deserve. Subverting the antiquated idea that large bodies shouldn't turn heads isn't empowering: It's necessary to the survival and progression of plus size fashion.
That being said, these 28 women aren't afraid to take risks when it comes to loud, bright patterns and eye-catching designs. These aren't clothes you wear when you want to blend in and go unnoticed: They're for the plus size woman who knows she deserves to stand out.
1. Coordinated & Vibrant
Essie Golden is a plus size blogger, model, and founder of the #GoldenConfidence body positive movement on Instagram. She also knows how to coordinate a look, even if it's one that packs a whole lot of punch.
2. Vintage Blue
This vintage-inspired print is amazing on a blue background, and goes perfectly with Dominique Marie Oullette's hair. "I started wearing my own outfits as soon as I could open drawers," she tells me online. "I love wearing bright bold colors and prints because they make me happy, I've never been drawn to plain, basic, or neutral."
3. The Pink Print
"I love pink," writes Annie Waggoner on Facebook. "It's supposed to be 'delicate' but I think it can be used to be bad ass. I'm kind of tall and a lot chunkier than this picture lets on, and it makes me look so powerful!"
4. Seeing Stars
Katti Cernak wears the boldest of bold prints now, but it wasn't always this way. "I wore all black for 30 years," she writes on Facebook. "Got into colors and galaxy patterns just recently, about the same time I fully accepted my body (thanks to the body pos movement) and for the first time in my life felt like I was bubbling inside. I want it to reflect on my clothes and I love being noticed in a mass of people."
5. Bold & Polished
Plus size fashion blogger Cynthia Ramsay Noel knows how to make a statement with a stunning pattern, and she's also not afraid to experiment with eye-catching colors.
6. Vintage Casual
For fat girls, "Drawing attention to problem areas" was always said to be a no-no. However, most of us know that there is no such thing as a "problem area," and we can wear bold prints to draw attention to whatever the hell we want. Ingrid Rachel Taller does this by wearing an amazing print on her lower half, paired with a rich coordinating color on top. "I think half of my wardrobe is bright florals, pinks, and reds," she says. "I definitely love my all black everything, but nothing feels as fun as costumey prints."
7. Throwback Color Scheme
This early '90s-inspired palette is giving me all the feels, and it was amazing enough to make plus size babe Elizabeth West step outside of her comfort zone. "I never wear color but I found this vintage dress and HAD to incorporate it into my wardrobe," she writes on Facebook.
8. The Ultimate Statement
Founder of Studio Mucci Luxury Handmade Goods Amina Mucciolo is a pro at putting together vibrant colors and patterns to create the ultimate look.
9. Rocker Vibes
"I adore psychedelic '60s & '70s prints," writes Poni Melange on Facebook. "This was a caftan that I altered to make a dress. I'm drawn to bright colors paired together because they match my personality, eccentric and wild."
10. Feminine & Floral
An all-over floral maxi is an amazing look, and plus size babe Kim Selling seems to have mastered it. "My style typically defaults to sad-goth-teen-alien," she writes. "So I like wearing a bold print because it throws a wrench in my own plan."
11. Monochrome Magic
Just because a print is black and white doesn't mean it has any less power to make a statement than its colorful counterparts.
12. Bright & Simple
When it comes to bold dressing that stands out, blogger Stephanie Yeboah knows that a popping floral and bright accessories will always be a good solution.
13. The '90s Look
Blogger Amarina Norris knows that a ditsy floral and a statement jacket create the perfect '90s look. Think of this as the bold print for those of us who proudly refuse to acknowledge the new millennium.
14. Big Florals
Because when plus size women say they like florals, they really, really mean it — and the outcome looks absolutely amazing.
15. Mixed Prints
Why wear one print when you can wear two — or three, or four, or however many your heart desires?
16. Boho Bold
Sometimes a great print acts as the foundation for an entire look, like this boho-inspired outfit that will definitely turn some heads.
17. Curve-Hugging Patterns
Because wearing a form-fitting dress with a bright pattern is breaking all the rules that shouldn't have been there in the first place.
18. Classic Cuts
Blogger Rachel GeeBee combines a bold print with an interesting cut-sleeve detail, and the result is an unapologetic nod to plus size femininity.
19. Bright & Seasonal
Because if this look doesn't say, "I'm ready to blow all your minds this spring," nothing does.
20. Floral For Tea
This floral tea dress on Natalie Perkins is a perfectly simple look that you can't miss in a crowd. "I sew for myself and work in a fabric shop," Perkins writes on Facebook. And I can't resist all the bold patterns and bright colors."
21. Blue Royal
This shade of deep blue is stunning, and the pattern is absolutely amazing on Meagan Kissick-Romanchuk. "I don't have a big, deep reason [for wearing bold prints]," she writes on Facebook. "I just like color!"
22. Simple & Sweet
A bold patterned dress over a pair of leggings is a go-to outfit solution, and Elle Hoover has figured out how to do it. "Incorporating patterns I used to think were scary has been a big goal of mine this year," Hoover writes on Facebook. "I still gravitate toward black and gray base colors, but my patterns make me happy."
23. Wild Print Mixing
"I'm finding it hard to choose [an image] because I absolutely live for unexpected pops of color and pattern combos," Rachel Otis writes on Facebook. "I believe this started as my own way to claim fashion growing up when fashion was explicitly not meant for my fat body. Now that I have more choices, I can really go more wild. It feels like one way to truly express and make visible the intersectional and dynamic woman that I am."
24. The No Floral Zone
Plus size blogger Bethany Rutter of Arched Eyebrow shows us that when it comes to bold prints, it's not just about the florals.
25. The Patterned Statement Piece
UK-based plus fashion blogger Kate London-James shows us how bold patterns work for garments beyond dresses.
26. Cool Cut Outs
The bold pattern makes a statement on its own, but why not include a belly cut-out for added awesomeness?
27. Color Pop
This blue and yellow pattern might not seem like it would pair well with black accessories, but it does — just more proof that rules are meant to be broken.
28. Perfectly Printed Pants
Blogger Simone Mariposa shows us how it's done by pairing a printed pant with a solid neutral top for a modern look that can be both casual and chic.
Though I'm pretty committed to my neutral, minimalist wardrobe, I will admit that putting together this list of amazing plus size women in bold prints actually put me in a good mood. It's all the color, great design, and amazing confidence that does it for me. If you're a plus size fashionista in a dressing slump and want to make a statement, why not try dressing as loudly as you possible can?
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And listen to the latest episode of Bustle's The Chat Room, where we discuss body positivity and the reaction to Ashley Graham's Sports Illustrated cover:
Images: studiomucci/Instagram; Courtesy Interviewees