Tess Holliday: ‘It’s hard buying vintage when you’re fat – this kaftan made me gasp’

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The look I love Dresses Tess Holliday: ‘It’s hard buying vintage when you’re fat – this kaftan made me gasp’

The model says she is known for showing a lot of skin, but her favourite outfit is a flowing 70s dress that makes her feel confident and beautiful

‘It’s really effortless and comfortable’ … Tess Holliday in her beloved kaftan.

It’s hard when you’re buying vintage clothes to find something that fits your body, especially when you’re fat. So I gasped when I saw this 70s kaftan in a Los Angeles vintage store a few years ago, because it was so beautiful and unique. The woman who ran the store had saved it for me – I live nearby and she knows I love vintage kaftans.

Then, of course, a negative voice crept in, saying: “It’s not going to fit you,” because it’s very rare that I can wear anything off the rack – but it did. It was right after I had had my second child; when I tried it on, it instantly lifted my spirits. Since then, it has become my favourite outfit. I’ve worn it in Palm Springs with big earrings and fun accessories; I wore it to the series premiere of Queer Eye; I’ve even dressed it up and donered carpets in it.

This photo was taken at a dinner party hosted by my friend Janet Mock [the writer and transgender rights activist]. We had gone into the yard for a group picture and the lighting was so beautiful, so I got a photo by myself, too. Every time I post a picture online of me wearing this kaftan, people always want to know where I bought it.

It’s an amazing piece of clothing, but I think that when you wear something you love, it shows. I always feel really confident and beautiful wearing this dress – and people can tell. I save it for special occasions now – because it’s vintage, it’s a bit more fragile and if anything happens to it I can’t replace it.

With kaftans, there is usually a seam that is a little bit open, but with this one the seam is now open to about my bra line from me wearing it so much. So it’s subtle from the front, but as soon as I turn to the side, or if there’s a breeze, you’re going to see my bum – which I kind of like, but I do need to take it to my tailor …

It’s funny, because I’m known for showing a lot of skin, but this outfit really covers me up. It’s just really effortless and comfortable: I don’t have to wear shapewear with it, I can just throw on my bra and underwear and go. It makes me feel like myself. It’s definitely one of my most-prized possessions.

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