Costume parties while fat and female
April 10, 2010 4:33 PM   Subscribe

Beach party costume while fat and female? Costume parties in general?

I have to go to a beach costume party later this month (it's a combined birthday party for my wife and two other friends) and most of the group has decided that it would be great to have it beach party themed. I'm fat, and exceedingly uncomfortable with bathing suits. Anyone can look great if they wear the right clothes, and I am pretty careful about wearing clothes that make me look great - however there is no part of "beach party" that I could see as being anything other than humiliating.

I have considered asking my friends to change the theme, but that would mean giving them way more information about my self-esteem than I am comfortable with. Also, it would make them feel bad for me, and I certainly don't want that. Similarly, I don't want to just refuse to wear a costume. Kill joy.

Not going isn't really an issue. I don't think I really deserve to be punished for being fat, and besides, it's my wife's b-day party too.

So: what costume ideas do you have for me? I am not the type to wear goofy or jokey costumes so "beach ball" is out. I want to look good and join in on the fun.

Also: what are some fun fat-girl-friendly ideas I can suggest for next time? There must be some theme-costumes that chubbies can rock.c
posted by arcticwoman to Grab Bag (30 answers total)
A shirt-like swimsuit cover-up, shorts or linen pants, flip-flops, sunglasses, done.
posted by runningwithscissors at 4:36 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sundress/ maxi dress, flip flops, and maybe a lily-type flower in your hair. Or a big silky sarong type thing that kind of flows away from your body while still giving drapey architectural detail. Think "tropical" more than literal beach-attire.
posted by alygator at 4:39 PM on April 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Throw a Hawaiian lei on top of a flowery summer dress. Everyone associates Hawaii with beaches so you'll fit the theme without having to expose more than you're comfortable with.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:39 PM on April 10, 2010

Would a tacky Hawaiian shirt make you look too much like a sofa? (This is always my fat-girl test for big prints.) If no, you could do that with some shorts or cutoffs. A lei is a good idea too. Wear sunglasses and a big straw hat, maybe sunblock on the nose.
posted by dlugoczaj at 4:45 PM on April 10, 2010

I would find a fabulous short [i.e. not floor length] terry robe, wear it with flip-flops, sunglasses on head and light caftan pants if you want. Other additions: towel on hair, sunscreen patch on nose. Really you could wear your normal warm weather clothes and just cover yourself with coconut oil and that would be a great costume. Other thoughts

- any dress with a Hawaiian print is automatically a beach dress. Same for vaguely tiki themes.
- there is, I swear it, a way to rock a muumuu. I'd go for over-the-top with a gaudy hair turban, huge clunky earrings and bracelets and rings, cigarette holder, giant sunglasses and a maitai glass and gold sandals and you'd look like my Aunt Carolyn. Who once dated Howard Hughes, so she was cool.
- Mermaid, of some sort. If you like creative DIY costumes. You can cover up, but still look appealing.
- Squid or Jellyfish

Do not worry, I don't think a lack of bathing suit is going to be any problem at all and you can not possibly be the only person having the sinking "oh shit, beach party" feeling.
posted by jessamyn at 4:50 PM on April 10, 2010 [10 favorites]

1) Big hat. It draws attention up and to your face, it keeps those nasty UV rays away, and it offers endless opportunities for creativity and style (see British at Ascot etc.) You will look taller too.

2) Drapey, light floral fabrics. Billowy and fun, plus even better if semi-transparent around arms. Don't be scared of dramatic statements here. People know you are full-figured. Own it! =)

3) Nice rings/bracelets.
posted by teedee2000 at 4:57 PM on April 10, 2010

LOL I think jessamyn read my mind. Spot on.
posted by teedee2000 at 4:58 PM on April 10, 2010

I agree with the suggestions of a sundress or cover-up, but another related option would be to wear a very bright bikini top under a big, baggy white or light shirt with a bit of bikini strap and/or neckline showing (and something summery on your bottom half). That will make you look beach-ready without your having to expose any body parts that make you uncomfortable.
posted by sueinnyc at 5:00 PM on April 10, 2010

Could you pull together and pull off a early 20th Century bathing costume? Otherwise, I'd go with the Preppy Handbook New England Yacht Club look: white clam diggers, colorful shirt and a cardigan tied over my shoulders, sunhat and huge "Who's That Behind Those Foster Grants?" sunglasses.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:03 PM on April 10, 2010

Dress as a ninja.

When people ask you, you say "What the fuck kind of beach party is complete without a ninja?"
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:20 PM on April 10, 2010 [10 favorites]

I've been debating if you would consider this jokey or not, but... When I think of wearing a costume to a beach party, I think of parrotheads. That is, Hawaiian-print shirt or tie-dyed shirt, board shorts or even jeans, fake-flower leis or Mardi Gras beads, possibly grass skirt (over the pants), big straw hat or a hat with a parrot or even a baseball cap.

Drinking a margarita. And wearing flip-flops. Really. Laid. Back.
posted by Houstonian at 5:23 PM on April 10, 2010

This is where I, once again, mourn the fact that I'm too short to properly rock the awesome maxi dresses that are so stylish right now. Add a giant floppy hat (the bigger the better) and you're good to go. Have fun!
posted by Space Kitty at 5:24 PM on April 10, 2010

Also: what are some fun fat-girl-friendly ideas I can suggest for next time?

Two themed parties I've done are gods (your choice from Loki to Persephone) and Pirates (arrgggh!).

I think a garden party with everyone in white or floral would be pretty.
posted by b33j at 5:33 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

The key here is loose fit. You want to seem relaxed and laid back. Wear a bathing suit, but cover it up. Bathing suit says beach, real clothes say party. But with the right clothes you'll still look like you're in the right place. Try a billowy cotton shirt like this this or this. Wear the shirt with a skirt like this, add some accessories, like hats and sunglasses and flip flops, and you're good to go.

Or, you could just wear a maxi dress. Though I don't know how comfortable you are without sleeves. The first option has sleeves.
posted by shesaysgo at 5:40 PM on April 10, 2010

Hmm, it's kind of hard to answer this without knowing the sorts of clothes you normally like to wear/like how you look in. Do you like girly clothes or more menswear stuff? Do you like clothes to be loose or more tailored? If you like wearing more tailored clothes, you could do sea captain - all you'll need is khaki slacks, a blazer and a hat. You could do a sailor costume with slacks or capris or a skirt. For looser stuff, I saw pirate mentioned already. You could also a turn-of-the-century outfit and be a Titanic passenger. You could make any of these costumes more or less sexy with a lower or higher cut top, or shorter or longer skirt.
posted by Ashley801 at 5:59 PM on April 10, 2010

P.S. - I couldn't find a whole-body shot of this outfit Kate Winslet wore in Titanic, but I think that someone of any size could wear something like this. It even includes the giant hat people were suggesting upthread! Also, you could use the blazer for the sailor costume instead of you decided to at the last minute. For something looser, here's another costume she wore in Titanic that you could do with the same hat.
posted by Ashley801 at 6:37 PM on April 10, 2010

How about a caftan? Put a flower behind your ear, add some flip-flops and you're there!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:47 PM on April 10, 2010

What about those t-shirts that have an airbrushed bikini body on them? For extra jokes, get one of the wrong sex.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:49 PM on April 10, 2010

I don't know if this helps but maybe some online stores listed at:

here is a specific link:

I'm not overweight as a guy but I understand how people might not feel comfortable
in such situations for reasons other than just weight.

Hope you find something.
posted by simpleton at 6:56 PM on April 10, 2010

In my opinion, beach wear is just normal wear without shoes. As a VERY large lady, I vote for maxi-dress, and team it with either a nice little cardigan/shrug (cotton for preference, brightly-coloured if possible) or a shawl/pashmina (which, over the shoulders and tied behind your back does roughly the same thing). Alternatively, wear a nice floral shirt over a plain dress and knot the front to make it more like beachcomber top. Put a flower behind one ear, wear flip-flops and try to snag a drink with plenty of umbrellas.
posted by ninazer0 at 10:46 PM on April 10, 2010

I'm a big girl, too, and I enthusiastically echo the suggestions for a cute, flowy dress, a big beach hat, and some funky accessories. If you've got the sort of body that benefits from clothes with some waist definition (so, more hourglass than round or pear-shaped), tie a scarf or colorful belt over the dress to avoid the caftan look.

If you want to go more costume-y, you can find some pretty awesome plus-sized pirate wench costumes from online costume shops, or you can easily make your own by properly accessorizing a skirt you feel sexy in and a peasant blouse.

Suggestions for the future: gods & goddesses (everyone will be wearing sheets and sandals!), pirates & ninjas (you can be a pirate wench or cover it all up ninja-style), fairy tales (there are lots of great fairytale- and royalty- themed costumes out there).
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:17 AM on April 11, 2010

The best idea is the tacky Hawaiian shirt. Add Bermuda shorts or surf shorts, flip flops. A wrap-around sarong if you're not comfortable with shorts. Bonus points for fluorescent colored zinc sunblock, with floppy hat and sunglasses as accessories.

I worry that anything flowy-dress-like will venture too close to muu-muu-land because they don't have a lot of form.
posted by whatzit at 12:30 AM on April 11, 2010

Amazing. Fantastic. I was so anxious about this party I thought I was going to have to skip it, but no. Thank you all so much.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:01 AM on April 11, 2010

Future party suggestions: good vs evil, robots (or spacemen) vs monkeys, outer space generally, comic books [or whatever book/reading based stuff your gang enjoys], ancient civilization [Egypt, Sumeria, Chinese dynasties, Picts, Easter Island], puns, steampunk, nature/outdoors, color themes [wear all red, wear all green etc], formal dress-up, "come as a character in your favorite joke", decades [70's, 20's].

There are many, dare I say most, ways to have a dress-up party that do not involve skimpy nonsense once you're over college age. Have fun.
posted by jessamyn at 7:29 AM on April 11, 2010

Fake moustache, Hawaiian shirt, baseball cap, shorts... and a Ferrari, preferably red, if you can get your hands on one. A beach party aint worth going to if someone isn't dressed as Magnum.
posted by elroyel1327 at 8:20 AM on April 11, 2010

I love the idea of a beach-y dress, sandals or bare feet, and a floppy hat or a flower in your hair. Old Navy has some cute plus-size dresses, and if you are an xxl (or smaller) in non-plus size, they have a few more.

A skirt or capri pants plus a sleeveless or short sleeve, summery top would also look great.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:37 AM on April 11, 2010

Pele, the volcano goddess?
posted by selfmedicating at 10:17 AM on April 11, 2010

Oh, consider getting some Orange Crush soda cans and cutting them up for jewelry, a-la Joes Versus the Volcano.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:25 PM on April 11, 2010

Dress as the person who works (or used to work) at the concessions stand at the beach.

Or as a cop on the lookout for indecent exposure.

Or a doctor who's on hand to treat overexposure.

How about a peeping tomasina with special devices to peer into cabanas?

Or a lifeguard -- they are often covered up. Just smear an opaque white cream on your nose.
posted by wryly at 6:37 PM on April 11, 2010

In New Jersey, there are Catholic retreat houses for nuns in a bunch of shore towns (Wildwood, Cape May, Long Branch). That said, I would dress up as a nun (but I don't know if that would make sense in other areas??)
posted by WeekendJen at 11:14 AM on April 12, 2010

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