Miss Plus Size International finalist Marie Southard dishes fashion tips
By Brittany Anas
Marie Southard — a New York college student who has a penchant for vintage styles, science fiction and folk music — will be reppin’ the United States in the Miss Plus Size International contest.
The November pageant, which takes place in London, is considered the Miss Universe of the plus-sized world, attracting more than 1,000 entrants which were whittled down to 30 finalists. Southard, one of two women representing the United States, also is the first-ever Hispanic contestant in the pageant.
Entrants in the contest must be a UK size 18 or over and take part in pageant events that include modeling casual wear, swimsuits and evening wear. Finalists range from age 18 to 50 and size 18 to 32.
A student at New York University, 22-year-old Southard is set to graduate in May with a degree in journalism and Spanish literature. She’s also busy blogging about fashion and beauty and interning for Marie Claire.
Leading up to the pageant, Southard chatted fashion with us and dished plus-sized style tips. We love her retro, pattern-mixing style — and her philosophy that one shouldn’t dress in clothes simply because they are “slimming.”
Marie Southard: I first heard about the pageant through research for my blog. Aside from doing photo shoots, my blog is also about plus-size news along with my musings on current events. I came across a story on last year’s winner, Gemma Cruickshank, and started reading up on the pageant. I figured I may as well apply — it seemed like a great opportunity for my writing and efforts with plus-size fashion.
As for prepping, I will be starting burlesque lessons soon to prep for the performance portion of the pageant and I’m in the midst of trying to find my perfect gown.
MS: My style is a kind of vintage/retro. I’m in love with thrift stores and the feel of antique looks and pieces.
MS: I adore the fashion of the 1920s and 1960s. Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe are probably my personal fashion icons. There’s just something about those two decades that catches my eye. Everything from the music to the fashion to the artwork that was produced in those 20 years connects with me more than anything today does.
MS: I’m very pleased that stripes are in this season. I love striped tops, dresses and skirts — it’s one of those supposed “plus-size fashion no-no’s” but I’ve never much been into following these rules. Statement sunglasses and sporty dresses are also in this spring, and I’ve already started my online shopping spree for both.
MS: Bermuda shorts and beading! I really hate Bermuda shorts with a fiery passion. I just don’t think surfer meets Grandma works as a look. As for beading, I’ve always had problems with beads and sequins. There’s something I find tacky about bedazzling your outfits with plastic.
MS: ModCloth, ModCloth, ModCloth! I live on this site — every day they have new plus-size choices that are really perfect if you’re like me and love vintage and retro pieces. ASOS, Forever21 Plus, the new Lane by Lane Bryant Collection and Domino Dollhouse are among my favorites, as well. They all cater to the plus-size 20-something who loves fashion and wants to be just as trendy as straight size ladies.
MS: Don’t restrict yourself. I think my biggest piece of advice is to stop following the “plus size do’s and don’ts” and wear what makes you happy. If you’re into stripes, wear stripes. If you love mixing patterns, go for it. Also, experiment with sizes. My closet ranges from sizes 10 to 20 because you never know what’s going to look good.
MS: I’d love it if someday the separation between straight and plus-size would cease to exist. As plus-size women, we have to find shops and lines that carry sizes 14 and up, and there aren’t many as of now. It would be amazing if some day all clothing had to come in a range of sizes, as opposed to stopping at size 12. The average woman in the States is a size 16, and yet the average woman needs to find specialty stores to shop in. When it comes down to it, this really needs to change. Not to mention, it’d be a good career move on designers’ parts to incorporate a larger selection and thus create a larger clientele.
In sum, I want couture, I want Alexander Wang and Adrianna Papell to carry my size and up. I want plus-size women to have the same options straight size women have.
Photos courtesy of Marie Southard.
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