Because You Can: Big Fat White Winter

Because looking awesome is the best FU to society.

From Elena Mirò’s Fall 2012 runway collection

By now pretty much no one (except our adopted uncle John Waters) observes the old “don’t wear white after Labor Day” rule—we know it’s outdated and silly. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of “don’t wear horizontal stripes if you’re fat” and other rules that imply our only goal when getting dressed is to look 10 pounds thinner. Body-shaming under the guise of fashion advice is gross, and it’s so ingrained in our culture that you can miss it if you’re not paying attention. Bigger girls are conditioned to wear A-line skirts, “slimming prints,” boot-cut jeans—and god forbid we don’t belt every dress we try on. Look, I get it: certain colors and cuts can enhance your favorite features and draw attention away from the parts that you don’t want people staring at. But I think we need a real change in the way we talk about fashion for plus-size women. Fashion should be fun, not limiting. Stripes, miniskirts, body-con dresses—none of these should be forbidden just because of our body types.

The same goes for wearing white. Fat girls are told over and over that we should avoid light colors at all costs, and white is the ULTIMATE light color, but you know what? FAT GIRLS LOOK AWESOME IN WHITE, and I don’t just mean gauzy cover-ups on the beach. I propose that we should all be the iciest ice queens ever this winter and give society a big FU by wearing head-to-toe wintery white. Since this is my first article on Rookie, I should probably pause here to note that I am not using the word fat in a negative way. As a fat girl, I think of the word as an accurate description of my awesome body.

If you’re still not convinced, allow these two flawless creatures to change your mind:

Clockwise from top left: Mama Cass’s solo album cover Bubblegum, Lemonade and…Something for Mama; the poster for Cass’s 1969 television program; Beth Ditto at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival

Cass Elliot of the Mamas & the Papas is legendary for her gorgeous voice, but the fact that she was so stylish at her size in the 1960s—when Twiggy was all the rage—is also a huge freaking deal. And she wore white all the time—onstage, on TV, on album covers. Does she look skinny? Nope. Does she look awesome? Yep. The same goes for singer Beth Ditto (all-around fatshion hero). She is workin’ it in that ruched number. Given that Beth has posed nude multiple times and has been known to wear little more than a bra on stage, I will bet you my entire bank account (which is, like, maybe enough to buy something at the vending machine) that the ruching wasn’t some stylist’s executive decision to conceal her rolls. She probably just liked the dress, so she wore it! That’s the way it should be.

Cee Lo Green in concert via Just Jared

I have nothing really to add here, but I wanted an excuse to gush about Cee Lo. I mean, the dude is so outrageous, how can you not love him? And he wears white all the time—even his cat is fat and white.

Liz Taylor, clockwise from top left: at a premiere in 1956; with Richard Burton at the Plaza Hotel in 1968 via Daily News; at a press conference in 1968 via Corbis; on her 75th birthday

I have two favorite ways to rock winter whites. The first is by going full-on glam. The goddess Liz Taylor will forever be known for this look, and rightfully so. She looked seriously stunning in it at every age and size, and her over-the-top style inspires me to hold nothing back.

Left to right: beaded dress, $62, Simply Be; faux-fur coat, $67, Asos; bonded-lace dress, $69, Simply Be; faux-fur hat, $59, Donna Salyers Fabulous Furs; pearl drop earrings, $25, Banana Republic; Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Intense in Satin Brownish Red, $19, Sephora; Snow Cluster Collar, $54, BaubleBar

Getting this look right comes down to finding luxe fabrics (or ones that look the part), like silk, satin, and most important, fur. (If you’re like me and not into the real deal, fake fur is just as glam.) The peplum faux-fur coat above is absolute perfection: a totally modern way to bring a little Liz into your life. And if you do want a more traditional fur coat, but you don’t want to buy new for financial and/or ethical reasons, eBay has tons. Finally, if you’re gonna do this, you might as well go big, baby. Take things to another level by adding a little bling and some red lipstick—the contrast against the white is MAJ (I adore Make Up For Ever’s Rouge Artist Intense collection).

Clockwise from top left: Stella McCartney Fall 2011 via Teen Vogue; Denise Bidot via Debas Photography; Kermit and Miss Piggy as Andy Warhol and Edie Sedqwick via Zink Magazine; Crystal Renn via Harper’s Bazaar

I know dripping in diamonds isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, nor is it really doable on a daily basis, so let’s move on to my personal favorite winter-white style: heavy knits. White knits, especially when mixed with other heavy fabrics like wool, are super chic in the cold-weather months.

Clockwise from top left: trousers, $35-135, Talbots; dress, $28, Asos; wool coat, $46, Wilsons Leather; shearling backpack, $67, Asos; Nars Sweet Dreams lip gloss. $24, Sephora; Butter London Cream Tea nail polish, $15, DermStore; sweater dress, $29, Macy’s; Yokoo hat, $55, Etsy

The best part is that you can play it two ways! You can go comfy, yet still look put-together, by wearing slouchy knit sweaters and dresses. This cable-knit sweater dress from Macy’s is approps for a party or a family gathering, but it also looks super comfy to just curl up in and watch TV. Or you can go sleek, with a tailored sweater/trouser combo or even a full-on pantsuit. These Talbots trousers are amazing—that front crease instantly makes you look sophisticated. Personally, I like wearing barely-there makeup with relaxed looks like this, but do whatever the hell you want, you know? That’s the whole point.

Finally, don’t be afraid to mix whites. I consciously try to mix ’em, because it creates a little dimension. Creams, eggshells, ivories—they all look great together, especially when layering.

I can’t promise that wearing a white fur coat or a big white sweater won’t make you appear larger. In fact, it most likely will. But looking thinner doesn’t have to be your end goal when it comes to fashion—try looking and feeling awesome instead! Be brave, be confident, and wear white whenever the hell you feel like it (except maybe not during your period—I speak from experience). ♦


  • rosiesayrelax January 16th, 2013 3:29 PM

    Mama Cass and Beth Ditto in the same post. SO MANY FEELS!

  • allydoubleyou January 16th, 2013 3:49 PM

    Thanks, Gabi! This article is fabulous.

    On a side note, I found out at the doctor’s office that I gained 10 pounds recently (I started working out with a personal trainer and she told me I’d gain weight because I’m gaining muscle, but still, I was shocked) and I was feeling mopey about it until I read this article. I love that you use the word fat and not overweight or other wimpy terms. Fat acceptance work ftw!!!

  • sootjeelina January 16th, 2013 4:08 PM

    Couldn’t agree more! white is a beautiful colour and no one should NOT wear just because of their weight and/or the season. same thing goes for the horizontal stripe thing, because I personally believe it’s bullshit it makes you look fat.

    • Kathrin Soldner March 23rd, 2013 8:08 AM

      HELL. YESSS. Personally, i´m not so into white, but you´re absolutely right with that horizontal stripes thing. Fashion mags keep telling you what you should never ever ever, like, ever wear when having big thighs/ass/whatever: and they always put on the list my most beloved stripes-pattern-things. As i decided to ignore the wise council of teen magazines and to wear my tightly red-patterned trouses, a friend told me: “you know your ass looks twice as big in this thing?” and i was just like: “and so what?”.
      I felt sooooo unbelievable courageous!!!

  • AnnaH January 16th, 2013 4:14 PM

    well done gabi!!! I think you are 100% right everybody should be able to dress in whatever they find fashinable & no girl should deny herself the pleasures of wearing white just because fashion magazines tell them too.

  • sequoia January 16th, 2013 4:28 PM

    mama cass (◡‿◡✿)
    this article is so good

  • DreamBoat January 16th, 2013 5:28 PM

    HEEEELL YES. I was so so so excited to find out that Gabi was a new staff member and this article EFFING ROCKS. As a fatty myself, white is one of my FAVORITE things to wear! Plus, hmmmhmmmmhmmm MAMA CASS AND BETH DITTO (plus Elizabeth Taylor, duuuhh)? This article was so FIERCE and awesome and had so much inspiration! I’m supa dupa excited to see what other fat-related things Gabi talks about!

  • airplanes.books January 16th, 2013 5:48 PM

    ahhh queen elizabeth

  • Mags January 16th, 2013 7:16 PM

    I totally approve this message.

  • Teez January 16th, 2013 7:34 PM

    so glad you’ve got gabi fresh on board, i love her style blog!

  • Tyknos93 January 16th, 2013 7:41 PM

    Wait Gabi!? As in THEE GABI of I freakin’ love love love her! In a hopefully non-creepy/non-threatening way. I love these clothes! I LOVE her site so much, it really taught me a lot about myself.

    Gawd rookie what is it with you and featuring all these people I admire? allthefeels

  • e squared January 16th, 2013 7:54 PM

    this post reminds me why i love rookie so much. beth and liz taylor? fuck yes

  • llamalina January 16th, 2013 7:58 PM

    this article was amazing, like seriously, everything you said was just so perff. personally i don’t like to wear white because i’m a slob and i just know i’ll end up spilling, i dunno, ketchup on myself or falling into a mud puddle, but i think i’ll go pull out my white sweater in honor of this really freaking awesome article.

  • Lulu January 16th, 2013 8:08 PM

    Hi Gabi! I like you already, and I can’t wait to read your next articles :D xo

  • AReallyNiceSweater January 16th, 2013 9:00 PM

    Gabi! I totally love your blog, and I’m so psyched for you to bring your body positiveness and great fashion sense to Rookie!

  • kelelli January 16th, 2013 10:57 PM

    I am so happy that Gabi writes for Rookie now! I’ve been reading her blog for years.

    I don’t wear a lot of white–not because I’m afraid it’ll make me look fat; I’m already fat and nothing will magically make me look thinner. This post does, however, make me want a big faux fur coat though.

  • Jessica W January 16th, 2013 10:59 PM

    Against what some may believe, thick horizontal stripes are super flattering as you can see where they end more easily (unlike smaller stripes)… FACT.
    I just wanted to say I looooved this. The body positivity movement is so refreshing and I’m glad to see it on Rookie.

    I’d like to see more articles like this, but also for other body types. Not only larger women face issues with dressing themselves.
    I’ll use my own body as an example… I am lanky, but not the bird-like lanky that the media is obsessed with.
    I have a lot of things about my body that aren’t stereotypically considered attractive. I have broad shoulders (over 19 inches across, yip) and can’t fit jackets. What do I wear instead? I also have a thick neck relative to my body (haha that sounds gross) and can’t wear blouses buttoned all the way up. How do I do the cute conservative look? Stuff like that!

    Again, loved loved loved this.

    The Lovelorn

    • caro nation January 17th, 2013 9:43 AM

      I’m also tall and lanky, with broad shoulders, and I’ve just taken to wearing oversized mens coats, they’re very comfy.

      • Jessica W January 17th, 2013 8:13 PM

        Oh yeah, that’s a good tip actually :)
        I bought a mens baseball jacket last winter. It’s massive… I feel so baddass in it.

  • barbroxursox January 16th, 2013 11:20 PM

    I love Mama Cass! And this article rocked. :)

  • Miss ShellFish Beach January 16th, 2013 11:25 PM

    This article has inspired me so much, I’m a HUGE (no pun intended) fan of Beth Ditto for all she stands for and it was read something like this. Xx Daniela

  • Mintvirgin January 16th, 2013 11:36 PM

    I don’t like white at all but the article, in my opinion, is very good.

  • pippilotta January 17th, 2013 12:38 AM

    That picture of Beth Ditto on the cover of Love magazine is kind of awesome.

  • marineo January 17th, 2013 1:18 AM

    this article wins all the awards!!!
    I am so tired of fashion magazines telling me i should wear bootcut jeans and those shirts that are cinched at the waist! I hate bootcut jeans!!! I also hate how magazines always dress the “curvy” girl in some ridiculous ugly print. I want color blocking and solids!

    I rock all white (or offwhite/cream/half of my wardrobe is white or a white variant lol) on probably a weekly basis, mostly because it never snows here and I want to pretend that I am a snow queen.

    and i love gabi’s blog, you should go check it out asap

  • Isabelle97 January 17th, 2013 3:22 AM

    This was awesome, we need more articles about this! XD

  • Helena January 17th, 2013 4:41 AM

    Gabi!<3 This is amazing! :)

  • jillamina January 17th, 2013 9:20 AM

    I was just watching season 1 of Scandal and enjoying all of Olivia Pope’s KILLA white outfits. I also immediately thought of that outfit that Bobbie Barrett wears in Mad Men when she arrives to seduce Don Draper. I mean, come on, shouldn’t we all be wearing more capes and turbans?! Here’s a picture (scroll down to “Three Sundays”)

  • Mary the freak January 17th, 2013 10:31 AM


    amazing article!

  • Tihana January 17th, 2013 11:27 AM

    This was really an eye opener. I didn’t realize until now that “don’t wear horizontal stripes” kind of advice is actually…well, as you put it – gross. Now I just can’t find a different word to describe it. It’s limitating and makes people feel bad. Esspecially when you read something like ” if your body type is slim,long-legged, big boobed, you can wear anythithing, but if you’re plump/ boyish/ something else, you should/must not wear…” and then they make a neverending list, wich makes you feel sad in the end, because you really liked the dress the “hour-glass” girl was wearing and now you’re convinced you could never pull it off. And by you, I mean my self, so thanks for showing me that’s all really just a bunch of crap. :)

  • Mimi7 January 17th, 2013 12:27 PM

    I hate how magazines call people “curvy”, I mean do they think fat is so horrible they can’t even say the word? White is so pretty, great article!

    • jillamina January 17th, 2013 6:01 PM

      And not all fat girls are curvy. I have a big butt and thick thighs, but I’m pretty flat chested. Most plus-size dresses feature plunging necklines…that show my navel because there’s no cleavage to fill it out. Curvy does exist, but it’s a terrible euphemism for fat!

  • Abby January 17th, 2013 12:55 PM

    AHHH THIS IS AMAZING THANK YOU. I had to wear all white at my high school graduation because our gowns were white (the boys got to wear blue :(…. ), and I remember having such a hard time finding a flattering outfit because I didn’t think white looked good on me. But you know what? In the end, I ended up not giving a f*ck, because I survived high school, so YEAH. And although I don’t have a lot of white in my wardrobe (now that I think about it, I have barely any), this made me want a lot more!!

  • zombiesockmonkey January 17th, 2013 1:18 PM

    This is just perfect! fashion is about having fun not trying to look good for others, no matter what your size.

  • futheradventuresoflydia January 17th, 2013 1:27 PM

    I love this! It’s so refreshing to read someone talk about fashion in a way that is non-shaming, and doesn’t encourage following a bunch of silly rules that make you feel bad about not being stylish just because you don’t want to follow them. Great Article, I hope you’ll get to write loads more, Gabi :))

  • Jenny January 17th, 2013 5:34 PM

    I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • stephanieaurora January 17th, 2013 6:27 PM

    Okay so at this point I’m very confused, and if you can, I’d like Rookie Magazine to clarify this for me:

    1. Such as this article (which is really good!), Rookie writers seem to embrace all bodies, skin colors, etc. The message you send (from what I read) is that instead of trying to conform or feeling bad about your body (like wishing you were skinnier), you should embrace it instead. All in all, you should learn to accept the body that God gave you. Which is totally great and I agree!

    2. Another message you send (from what I have read), is that you’re tolerant of any sexual orientation. You welcome the LGBT community (another plus!) and including that, you also support sex-change. If you’re a girl and you don’t feel content in a girl’s body, then you should feel free to change that. And vice-versa.

    So my question is, is there a bright line for body acceptance in these two issues?

    • Anaheed January 17th, 2013 9:51 PM

      Hmmm, this is a really good question to think about! I don’t know that we have a hard & fast rule about any of this, but I would start by saying that I think gender identity is a very different thing from beauty standards. Wanting to look thinner is not really a matter of KNOWING WHO YOU ARE. Referring to sex reassignment, you said, “if you’re a girl and don’t feel content in a girl’s body” — but I think most trans* guys wouldn’t describe themselves as girls who aren’t content with the way their bodies look, but rather as BOYS who weren’t content in bodies that identified them differently. So, it’s about identity, not looks, you know what I mean? But go ahead and poke a hole in my thinking if it’s sloppy — I like these kinds of conversations.

      • Anaheed January 17th, 2013 9:53 PM

        (And also, I mean, just speaking for myself, I have nothing against anyone who decides to lose weight or gain weight for any reason — I just don’t like that so much shame is attached to how big or small your body is, and these sorts of fashion “rules” really feed into that.)

  • Old Camelias January 17th, 2013 8:23 PM

    I love fluffy white stuff :)

  • StrawberryTwist January 17th, 2013 9:36 PM

    Fashion is all about making your clothes work for your body, not the other way around. I love this post! It has a great message

  • ToeSocksForever January 18th, 2013 10:51 PM

    I looked at the picture of the runway show at the top and was like, “wow, the model on the left actually looks like she’s not anorexic!”
    …and then I saw it was from a ‘plus size’ show…
    So even the plus size models are skinny? Just slightly less so?

  • Peanutpug January 20th, 2013 4:46 PM

    GABI! I loooove your blog and this article I can’t wait for more from you I’m so happy you’re a writer at Rookie xxx

  • izi February 7th, 2013 11:35 PM

    beth ditto! <3 <3 <3