Plus Size Ethical Fashion With Sydney of Oh, Honey!
Sustainable and ethical fashion is a narrow yet growing market, but something that is often left out of the sustainable fashion conversation is plus sizing. Many small ethical brands claim that accommodating sizes beyond XL or 12 is often too costly for them, which creates the same issue for plus sized customers in the sustainable fashion realm as it does with fast fashion: very few options.
Today, I’m talking with Sydney, who runs the Instagram account @ohhhhhhhhhoney, which she describes as “The group chat of your dreams and an honest convo about inclusive and sustainable fashion + beyond.”
Sydney is a 19-year-old marketing and digital media student from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her day job involves managing social media, writing grants, creating print media, and designing mobile app content as a communications intern for a college access nonprofit. Aside from fashion, she loves to ride horses.
To provide context for her statements, Sydney is a size 18/2X in clothing and 8.5 in shoes. I asked Sydney about her interest in fashion and what it’s like to navigate ethical fashion as a plus-sized woman. Check it out!
When did you get really into fashion and clothing?
I first started reading Man Repeller when I was in 7th grade, so I guess I'd say since then! I really dove in head-first when I started reading Man Repeller, Who What Wear, and The Zoe Report. Albeit, this was also when I thought H&M was the end-all be-all of style, but still! In high school, I really embraced curating my style because I went to a private school where we had a strict uniform code, so I saw the weekends as my chance to express myself.
Who are your style icons?
Francoise Hardy has always been a big one of mine, I think she's the reason I will never quit the habitual cycle of bangs. Caroline de Maigret is definitely the messy-but-expensive shrug-of-the-shoulders aesthetic that I have always chased after. Harling Ross of Man Repeller has mastered Prairie-Maximalism, which I love her for. And of course, I'm constantly making attempts to rip off the laid-back style of Laurel Canyon era bands.
How would you describe your personal style?
I always say my personal style is “a milkmaid that went to the disco,” but in the summer I heavily lean toward the “vacationing dad” aesthetic with a hiiiint of California folk.
When did you shift to ethical fashion?
In high school, I got into the bad habit of getting a paycheck, and then immediately spending it on ASOS items I'd only ever wear once. This never felt quite right, but I didn't really know how to act on it, or know what I should be doing instead. Once I got into college I had the resources to start buying more sustainably and I've been working on transitioning my closet ever since! It's definitely harder being plus-sized and recovering from years of disordered eating. I still buy from fast fashion brands every now and then, but I make sure that they're items I know I'll get 50+ uses out of so that they're still sustainable purchases in some sense.
What are thrifting options like for plus size people? Where do you thrift the most?
Is "practically nonexistent" an answer? Haha, but really, in Louisiana, the thrifting options for folks above a size 8 are basically nothing. I try to shop on Depop and Poshmark, but my main sources of second-hand are LuvSick Plus and Berriez on Instagram since they specifically curate for plus sizes!
What inspired you to start an Instagram account that is “the group chat of [your] dreams” and “an honest convo about inclusive and sustainable fashion”?
For years I have tried to start a blog, Youtube channel, you name it! Nothing has really stuck because I get bored or feel like there's no connection between me and the people I'm trying to reach. I started Oh Honey ironically at a time where I was very burnt-out by social media, and about to ask my boss if I could quit managing social. I love plus-size bloggers and influencers, and I love sustainable bloggers and influencers, but the crossover between those two are rare. Trying to be sustainable and a size 18 is really hard, and I wanted a place where I could talk about the tough stuff I don't feel is talked about enough. There's too much "perfect" on Instagram! Plus, I wanted to connect with women who are on the same boat, which is when I started calling it a "group chat" - I wanted Oh Honey to feel like a safe corner of the internet where anyone could chime in on whatever it was I was talking about.
Which Instagram accounts do you follow for both plus size and ethical fashion inspiration?
@laurenmarigold has been a pillar in opening up the conversation about brands "doing better" so-to-speak for plus women, and she helped me name Oh Honey!
@thebeaologist always has such cute outfit ideas and her conversations about social issues are so important and needed! I really admire Bea.
@jazminvegaz has the closet I aspire to have, and always knocks it out of the park with her outfits!
What are your favorite brands for clothing, underwear, shoes and jewelry that are size inclusive?
Clothing: Made By Alex, The Perennial Closet, Alice Alexander, Warp and Weft, Beyond Yoga, Madewell (not super sustainable but they have great plus-size clothes!), and Reformation (despite my love-hate relationship with them).
Underwear: Jonesy NYC is the best! She only goes up to a DD/XXL right now, but the stuff is very forgiving and stretchy and SO comfy.
Shoes: I love Zou Xou, but I have yet to find any good ethical shoe brands for wide feet!
What are three brands you wished carried your size range?
Ganni, Lisa Says Gah, and Doen. All three have incredible pieces that I WISH I could shop! I'd love to throw my money at those brands!
What can the ethical fashion community do to support you and other people with non-straight sized bodies?
Advocate for others and understand size-privilege! Just because a brand offers an XXL or a 2X doesn't mean we should stop there! Also - being understanding of plus-size women that have a lack of options is really important to me. I feel like curvy women are often seen as the "cherry-pickers" of the sustainable fashion community because we sometimes have to resort to less-ethical brands. Hopefully, if we continue to advocate and work towards size inclusion, this won't be an issue one day!