16 QUESTIONS WITH PLUS SIZE BLOGGER NANCY WHITTINGTON
First of all, tell us about yourself! What do you do for fun? Any interesting hobbies?
Well let's see, there are lots of things I like to do for fun! It sounds kind of cliché being a girl and all but shopping is one of my favourite things to do, even if it's just window shopping, especially at vintage fairs! I love to read and watch movies, but painting and drawing is another of my passions - I love designing clothes and have done it since I was a little girl, I just wish I had time to do more of it! I'm also very lucky in that I live in Leicestershire which is one of the most beautiful counties in England and am just a few minutes' drive from Charnwood Forest which is full of gorgeous woodland walks and scenery.
Describe your personal style in your own words.
I wouldn't really say that I have a style as such... I'm a bit of a chameleon, you might see me with a Marilyn-esque curl set rocking a wiggle dress and a fur coat one day and the next I'll have on jeans and a biker jacket. I also really like to have fun mixing classic glamour with contemporary trends in the same outfit. I think the only constant to my style is my platinum blonde hair, cat eyeliner and bold lips, a look that I've worn since I was about 14 years old!
Are there any style icons you admire?
Oh, so many! I think the women whose style I admire the most are Dita Von Teese, Daphne Guinness, Micheline Pitt and Hayley Hasselhoff but there are also so many bloggers that inspire me like Nicolette Mason, Dani Vanier, Isabell Decker, Jasmin Rodriguez, Fashion Hayley, Gabifresh... there are too many to list really!
What drew you towards old glamour and vintage fashion?
I think it was mainly the movies I used to watch with my dad when I was younger and looking through my parent's book collection which included lots of photography books of screen starlets and classic movie stills. I just love the feeling of control that emanates from a glamorous woman - that concept is such a contrast to the modern world where messy hair, natural make up and casual clothes are the norm. I can't do that, I'm not a natural beauty. My image is manufactured with hair products, make up and carefully selected outfits which is how it was back in the day. It took time to look your best, a lot of work was put into it. I think it's part of basic courtesy to look clean and presentable, just like it is to say please and thank you and I think we've lost a bit of that in the modern age which is a shame - I mean people go out shopping in their pyjamas these days, what's that about?!
What inspired you to become a fashion blogger? What are you hoping to accomplish through blogging?
I've always loved fashion since I was a little girl. I wanted to be a fashion designer and a model when I was younger, but I always had it in my head that I could never accomplish that. I've always been 'plus size' even as a child and so I grew up thinking that I could never enjoy clothes and wear them as well as a thinner person could. Then I started reading fashion blogs and eventually stumbled onto some gorgeous ladies who were the same size as me, rocking it in amazing clothes and sharing their love and knowledge of fashion with the world. It took me a few years to start doing outfit posts myself but as soon as I started I was addicted. I think it's kind of scary that it took me until my mid twenties to realise that there was nothing wrong with my body. Although I've never shied away from wearing the clothes I wanted to its only in the last few years that I've made peace with the fact that I have never been and will never be a size 10 and that that's ok! That's what I want to accomplish through blogging, I want other women to know that just because they aren't the currently accepted image of beauty it doesn't mean they aren't gorgeous as they are. It doesn't mean they have any less right to be happy, any less right to wear that crop top/body con dress/pair of skinny jeans that they want to wear. Being fat doesn't mean you can't look amazing!
While we’re on the topic of your blog, what is your favourite look that you have posted?
Argh this is so tricky and it changes all the time. Two looks that I've loved because they were trying something new for me were this one wearing an oversized tunic top and leggings and this one featuring a gorgeous shimmery midi skirt and novelty handbag, but I think my all time favourite was this post where I wore a PU crop top and jacket with a lipstick print pencil skirt. This is the sort of outfit I always wanted to wear but never thought I'd be able to find in my size so it was a dream being able to put together this sexy and fun ensemble.
What are your favourite places to shop for clothing, shoes and accessories?
Right now I'm loving ASOS for clothes, bags and jewellery. I think they're offering such a wonderful mix of pieces for us plus size ladies - basics, classic styles, trend led pieces, work wear, formal and party pieces... the works! Simply Be also have some great pieces in their SS15 collections and I've been constantly impressed over the last few months by what Evans has had on offer, they're really nailing it not just with the brands they're selling but with their own designs and of course the Design Collective pieces which were debuted at London Fashion Week and will gradually be becoming available over the next few months. As for footwear, I need wide fit for most styles and I'm currently heading to New Look and Simply Be to get shoes and boots as they're introducing lots more on trend styles in EE and EEE width fittings which is just wonderful!
You have a mobile vintage hair styling salon, what’s that like? Also, what is your favourite vintage hairstyle to do on customers?
It's great fun! I have my bag full of tricks and I travel around styling up beautiful ladies around the country. Unfortunately I just don't have as much time as I'd like to devote to it at the moment but hopefully this year I'll be able to get back to doing a few vintage fairs and some more private appointments. My most asked for style is victory rolls but I love doing super glamorous curl sets or just being let loose to create an up do full of pin curls and rolls! I also love doing my little classes teaching ladies how to recreate the vintage looks that they love in their own home!
You’re a self-taught hairstylist, how difficult was it to learn out of the typical setting? What materials did you use, and how long did it take until you were proficient?
Well I don't cut or colour hair, I just style. I practised mainly on myself but also on my little sister and kind friends that didn't mind me playing with their hair! I have quite a collection of old hairdresser's trade magazines from the 1940's and 50's which are packed full of tutorials, information and gorgeous illustrations - this was my main source of instruction but I also watched a lot of tutorial videos that I found only and also just tried to recreate looks I loved on movie stars and from old glamour magazines. I've been recreating vintage styles on myself since I was about 19 but I didn't start up my little business until I was 25 when I felt confident that my skill set was good enough, and even then it was because someone that ran a vintage fair asked me to do hair at them as she loved how mine was always styled!
While we’re talking about hair, what products do you use? What I’m most curious about is how you get your hair so blonde?
Unfortunately to get your hair this light you'll need to use bleach which as we all know can be really damaging to hair if not used properly. I'm actually just about to start having mine done at a salon after doing it myself for the last 8 or so years with box dyes. The main thing with platinum hair is to only put bleach on the parts that need to be lightened - the first time you'll put it all over but after that only ever do your roots or you'll end up with breakage and frazzled, dried out hair. The other main thing is to use the right products afterwards and to try and avoid heat styling. I use a special shampoo and conditioner range which is designed to strengthen fragile hair. I also mix in a little purple toned shampoo to keep away brassy tones and when I condition I use half regular conditioner and half hair mask and leave it on my hair while I finish up in the shower so it has times to do its work. Always use heat protect products before you blow dry or heat style, but if you can find a way to style without heat like pin curling or rag waving that's always so much better for your hair!
What is a typical day in your life like? Spare us no details.
Well my week days aren't that exciting as I have a full time office job but my weekends usually involve waking up and reading a little in bed before hopping in the shower and then sharing a cup of coffee with my fiancé and playing with my little Sphinx cat Cleo - my other half is a bit of a coffee buff and makes a great cappuccino! Then I'll head into my little town for a little bit of shopping and sometimes a spot of lunch with my parents or a friend and then come home to start working on blog stuff for the week ahead. I have to do all my photography at the weekends as I work Monday-Friday which can be quite a task when I have a queue of things waiting to be photographed! After I've got some work done I'll make Pete and I a tasty dinner and we'll sit down to watch a movie or pop to the pub to see some friends. I don't spend many weekends not doing anything, I get stir crazy if I don't leave the house or have a plan of things to do at home!
On top of blogging, and running a hair salon, you can also cook. What is your favourite thing to make for your friends and family?
Well I just love Christmas because we have my family over and I cook a traditional Christmas roast dinner with turkey or cockerel and all the trimmings! I really like making Southern American style foods like gumbo and corn bread when we have people over and I adore treating my friends to homemade cakes and pastries, but I think my absolute favourite thing to make is a pavlova!
What item in your closet could you not live without?
I think a well fitting simple black dress and cropped blazer are essential to any wardrobe! I can't say how many times I've been stuck for an outfit and decided to put on this combo and jazzed it up with whatever accessories and shoes I'm in the mood for.
Quick, what’s on your iPod right now? Have any favourite musical artists?
Right now as I write this I'm listening to Foxes. I have a bit of a crazy music taste, kind of like with fashion I like a whole range of things! My absolute favourite band ever is The Bouncing Souls but I'm also a big fan of Pokey Lafarge, anything Brody Dalle does be it solo or with a band, Florence and The Machine, Clutch, Bad Religion, Portishead, Caro Emerald, Alexisonfire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Descendents, Lana Del Rey, Deftones, Johnny Cash... Eclectic is the word I think!
Another interest you have is in old movies: what is a must watch for the Volup2 readers?
Some of my all time favourites are What a Way To Go (1964), The Big Sleep (1946), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), Blade Runner (1982), Morocca (1930), Barbarella (1968), La Dolce Vita (1960), North By Northwest (1959), Monkey Business (1952), Gone With The Wind (1939), Belle Du Jour (1967), Marie Antoinette (1938) and pretty much anything with Audrey Hepburn is a delight to watch!
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Well I'd absolutely love to take my passion for fashion into a career of some sort. I've been designing clothes since I was small and it would be a dream to start making and selling them, but how to get started with that I don't know! I'm getting married in May and although I like it in pretty Leicestershire I'd love to move down south so I was nearer the hustle and bustle of London; so in a few years when my fiancé has finished his degree we might start looking more seriously into relocating. For the time being I'm going to keep developing my blog and hopefully start doing YouTube videos very soon. I've been asked a lot about a personal stylist service so I may start looking into that too!
DANIELLE SIDHU is a current student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities pursuing a degree in fashion and writing studies, and hopes to eventually work in the field of fashion journalism. She is an avid fan of science fiction, red lipstick, and winged eyeliner. Find Danielle on Facebook!