"We Don't Need to Be in the Shadows Anymore": Ashley Nell Tipton on Body Positivity

The designer and Project Runway winner talks to FLARE about self-love, embracing difference and her top styling secrets

Ashley Nell Tipton in Toronto for Torrid's 2018 Model Search.

Ashley Nell Tipton in Toronto for Torrid’s 2018 Model Search

Just running a quick Insta search will fill you in on Ashley Nell Tipton, one of the hottest names in plus-sized fashion rn—she was the first in the history of Project Runway to use full-figure models, which ultimately led to her winning the competition. Tipton’s love of bold colours and patterns—and her even bolder personality—have earned her a cult-like following of fans across the globe, so when she made a special stop in Canada to judge Torrid’s 2018 Model Search,we jumped at the opportunity to chat.

Why was it important for you to be a part of the Torrid model search?

Torrid was that company that I went to as a plus-sized kid. They’re the ones that kind of got me out of my shell and gave me the confidence that I needed to experiment with my wardrobe, and they really inspired me to become a plus-size designer.

What do you think of the body positivity movement happening in fashion right now?

I think that we have had a great start to this body positive journey. And I think that as a community of plus-size women, we need to be stronger more than ever. The biggest thing that needs to be improved on is people being accepted and people accepting themselves for who they are. People need to work on what self-love is and redefining self-love… it comes from within, who you are and how you carry yourself in this world.

You’re the queen of colour. Do you have any tips for women who tend to stick to a darker palette?

I think the best way to welcome in colour is to add splashes into your wardrobe. If you prefer to wear dark shades, start with bright accessories and you’ll see how much it can change things up. But do things that make you feel comfortable.

Are there any silhouettes that you wish plus-size women would rock more?

No, I think plus-size women are doing a great job with what is out there for us. I think that we need to stop whining about what’s not available in-stores and embrace what’s is. To show the public that plus-size women can dress and that we want to be trendsetters—we don’t want to be in the shadows anymore.

What is your go to outfit that makes you feel sexy and confident?

My go-to outfit right now has to be girlfriend jeans with a really cute off-the-shoulder top. I think it definitely allows me to show my shoulders off, especially because my shoulders have been one of my most insecure parts of my body. Now that I feel more confident, I think that’s the sexiest part of a women’s body.

Where do you find your style inspo? Who do you follow on Insta and admire wardrobe-wise?

I follow a lot of the plus-sized bloggers. I love what Nicolette Mason and GabiFresh are doing—their style is amazing, and I love that they have a new clothing line out as well. Mainly I just do what feels right to me. I think about what is out on the runways and how I can interpret that in a plus-sized way.

Do you have a secret weapon styling trick that you can share?

I always try to manipulate the eye when I’m dressing myself or someone else. I don’t have an hourglass figure, so I’m always trying to give the illusion that I have one; bringing the eye to the waistline by adding a belt or having a heavier print at the bottom or at the top helps define your shape.

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