We all buy clothes, but no two people shop the same. It can be a social experience, and a deeply personal one; at times, it can be impulsive and entertaining, at others, purpose-driven, a chore. Where do you shop? When do you shop? How do you decide what you need, how much to spend and what's "you"? These are some of the questions we're putting to prominent figures in our column "How I Shop."
We're at a pivotal moment within the fashion industry as more models are using their growing platforms to speak out and take stands on important issues, like transgender rights and visibility, mental health and the #MeToo movement. One particular face leading the charge is Charli Howard, who, in 2015, took to social media to call out her former agency which had dropped her for being "too big" at a size 2. She's happily signed with Muse Management now, and her career is thriving as a curvy (and healthy) model.
Howard continues to be vocal about her body, as well as the societal pressures that come with it. She fuels her passion and advocacy for body positivity through The All Woman Project, an inclusive organization she co-founded with fellow model Clémentine Desseaux to push for more size diversity in the modeling industry. Howard is also using her voice for good through writing, too, with Misfit, a memoir available now in the U.K. that captures her personal experience with eating disorders and anxiety while modeling.
"It's been quite therapeutic for me to do and I hope it's therapeutic for them," said Howard, on the writing process and her readers. "I love writing and I really want to continue and create strong characters for girls."
If this means we'll be hearing and seeing more of Howard in the future, we're all for it. In between photo shoots in London, we managed to chat with the model and author on the phone about her current obsession with dresses, always buying makeup and the Adam Selman pants on her wish list.
"I dyed my hair blonde for a job a few weeks ago. It feels very fresh and I'm still getting used to it. It's certainly changed the things that suit you because the minute you dye your hair you have to change a lot of your wardrobe, and certain colors and foundations don't suit you. That's been a bit annoying having to do that, but on the whole it's been fun.
Lately, I've been wearing a lot more dresses and becoming more confident with my figure. I'm also starting to wear more form-fitting clothes that show off my figure without too much skin. I used to not have anything close-fitted on me even at my thinnest. I used to think, 'When I get down to a small size, I'm going to wear clothes I want to wear.' And you never do because you're never going to be thin enough. You just really have to learn there's nothing wrong with curves, and being a woman is really special, and there's a reason we've got boobs and maybe no boobs, and why we're all designed that way.
Fashion should be fun and show off your personality. I don't want people to wake up when they're 80 and be like, 'Why didn't I wear that dress because I thought I was fat?'
I still think there is a long way to go in terms of size inclusivity, and I think some brands that are great for body positivity are lingerie and swimwear. Phylyda, a luxury swimwear label, allows women to mix and match tops and bottoms based on their shapes. We need more of that on the high street and in high fashion.
When you're shopping, if you see something and you get a race of excitement, then you should buy it. I've never been the type of person who just wants to buy clothes for the sake it. I always like to get quality stuff and I'd rather have one quality thing than lots of cheap stuff. I try to find things that make me happy and more confident and sexy.
I also love accessories. Sometimes I like to really go out with the accessories and layer jewelry and keep that going. I love a good handbag. I always said that when I get a big job, I'd treat myself, so when I got a big fashion campaign, I went to the Chloé store and bought a bag. It's a crossbody and it's literally a walking suitcase. Honestly, I have so much stuff in it.
I've got a weakness for makeup, too. All I ever do is buy makeup every week. I actually just bought a top-up of Glossier cherry lip balm, concealer and the eyebrow gel. It's brilliant.
I honestly find online shopping a lot easier. If I don't like something, I can send it back and it's not a problem. I love Reformation. The fabrics are ethically sourced and have a bit of personality to them and a bit of character. I do love Topshop and I love going in and seeing the clothes. With those high street stores, you have to be more on it and try and go in there and see the fabrics because they're buried inside. I recently bought a Topshop plaid combo that I'm wearing for when my book launches. It's a skirt and a long, '80s-style jacket with kind of prominent shoulders in lavender or lilac purple, like something from 'Clueless.'
I like to find new brands on Instagram, like I Am Gia and For Love & Lemons. You can find a lot of brands that you have never heard of and they're independently owned. There's this one called Lace by Tanaya, and she makes these crystal garters and sexy stuff but she does it all on her own. She's a cool designer.
On my wish list right now is Adam Selman. He's got these pants — they're embroidered with planets and I'm obsessed with space. They're so cool and they're see-through; I don't know how appropriate they are, but I really want them. I probably should save my money.
I'm definitely a hoarder when it comes to keeping clothes, but my boyfriend and I donated a ton of clothes to a vintage store the other week, so I am getting rid of things. To be honest, I don't have much room for clothes because I have drawers filled with makeup!"
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Homepage Image: Charli Howard for The All Woman Project. Photo: Heather Hazza