French model Clémentine Desseaux recently approached me about a topic she was interested in discussing. “I wanted to talk to you about plus-size clothing in association with French-girl style,” she told me. “It’s hard for plus women to find something that even closely resembles French fashion,” she explained. This inspired her to collaborate with Parisian brand Almé to create très chic styles available in a wider range of sizes. “It’s the first time in my whole life I can finally dress like any other French girl I looked up to growing up, and it’s now available to women worldwide, so I think that’s worth being talked about.”
I couldn’t agree more. As a fashion editor for Who What Wear, I’m always mindful of body inclusivity and am constantly on the hunt for plus-size pieces to include in the stories I write. But to be honest, I feel like the plus-size clothing options aren’t nearly as plentiful as they should be, so I was intrigued to hear more from Clémentine about her shopping experiences and how she’s able to develop her personal style within the limited retail landscape. Keep reading to find out more about how Desseaux has struggled to master French-girl style and see her favorite pieces from retailers who are doing things right.
WHO WHAT WEAR: What is your experience finding plus-size clothes that allow you to show off your personal style?
CLÉMENTINE DESSEAUX: It’s very, very rare for me to find plus-size clothing that reflects my style accurately. I always feel like I have to settle for less, whether it’s because it’s too loose or too tight, too girly or too sexy—the plus-size market has a tough time offering real variety. It’s been getting better and better thanks to a multitude of new brands that are jumping in the industry and trying things out. Unfortunately, most of them claim to be “changing the game” while mostly doing the same thing. Few actually are innovative. I also find it hard to find quality products in plus. I am not sure why, but most plus-size clothing is cheap looking and cheaply made—lots of stretchy fabrics and material. It’s hard to find the perfect blend of quality, style, and fair pricing.
WWW: How do you go about curating a French-girl closet using plus brands?
CD: I would say start with French brands. There aren’t many that ship internationally, but they do exist. Almé Paris, for example, is new and fresh, and it was created by French girls for French girls (and the ones who love their style). Then look for classics. French girls usually have three to five classics (think black dresses, striped tees, boyfriend jeans, button-downs, and slippers) that you could find pretty much anywhere that sells plus, like Eloquii, Levi’s, ASOS Curve, Castaluna, and Zizzi. Then add a funky twist to it via red lips, leather jacket, shiny boots, or funky tights. We are effortlessly chic, but that’s because we only pick the right pieces to sit in our closets.
WWW: What’s your take on mastering Parisian style?
CD: I also think style can’t be bought. It doesn’t matter how much you spend; if you ain’t got it, you ain’t gonna get it. Style was taught to us growing up—the icons we looked up at, our mums’ clothes, and the women around us. Many women spend all their money on French designer brands but still have no style. French style is minimal and for sure does not include many labels. I grew up thinking that brand labels were vulgar and displaying them was a lack of style. To this day, I avoid anything with logos on it.
Go on to shop Clémentine Desseaux’s shopping picks.