The header at the top of Unruly’s website declares itself “your everything guide to plus-size fashion.” Furnished with plus-size finds from every brand fit to wear plus styling tips, outfit ideas and a powerful culture of love, confidence, and inclusion, this claim is more than fair. Unruly started as Maggie Griswold’s dream for a place (and an Instagram account) where plus-size style could thrive, a home for anyone who’s ever had a hard time shopping for their body type at the mall.
Maggie believed that her commitment to creating bold, interesting looks even when plus-size options were few and far between combined with years of trawling shopping sites as a fashion writer put her in the perfect position to start creating a community for plus-size folks to feel and look their best. In August of 2019, Maggie reached out to one of her oldest friends, Lindsey Lanquist, to help the site grow and thrive; since then they’ve created a name for themselves in the plus-size space with their expert commitment, stunning aesthetic and undeniable sense of humor.
We sat down with Maggie to ask her a few questions about her inspirations and influences, as well as her hopes and ambitions for Unruly.
Where did the idea for Unruly come from?
The idea for Unruly came from several different aspects of my life. One, years of not being able to find clothes in my size in my favorite stores. Two, the lack of representation of plus-size folks in digital media. Three, working as a fashion writer and having to deep dive into the Internet just to find a few trendy plus-size pieces.
What if there could be an online community where plus-size folks could find their ideal wardrobes (without having to worry whether or not an item was available in their size), ideas on how to actually wear these pieces, and a community amongst other people who have had similar battles with fashion? Those who are deemed “unruly” by a fat-shaming society deserve a place to find solace, friendship, and fashion—and I could (I hoped) provide that.
Can you describe what your journey has looked like as a plus-size person who is passionate about clothing and personal style?
The availability of trends in extended sizing has played a huge role in how my style has developed through the years. I can still remember shopping at Urban Outfitters as a teen, where I’d always seek out the oversized looks. Typically, the “one-size-fits-all” pieces were some of the few items in the store that ever fit me—and I still look for clothes that “run large” in reviews or are meant to be oversized. It was the only way I could shop at most retailers growing up, so I guess the habit just kind of stuck.
With more and more brands launching plus-size collections, it’s been great—though it’s taken far too long—and we see so many new trends available in sizes larger than a 12 or 14. Obviously, the numbers pale in comparison to what’s available in sizes 0 through 12, but it’s a small win I’m willing to take (for now).
Unfortunately, a lot of the damage has already been done to those of us who grew up with fewer options. I still shop for a size larger than I am—even if a piece is available in my size. I guess I’ve just been conditioned to believe that nothing will ever fit me. I’m hoping that my work with Unruly helps to keep others from ever feeling this way.
Have you ever felt excluded from mainstream brands or fashion trends due to the sizes and shapes they market towards?
When brands don’t carry my size in a trend or an article of clothing I really, really love, I used to just… give up. That sounds kind of sad, but I didn’t want to spend hours searching for something everyone else could pick up in any store. That’s one of the reasons I started Unruly—to help people find actual trends in their size. And not just one piece, either. Curated shopping guides filled with as many pieces I could find in as many sizes I could find.
Huge brands saying they’re adding inclusive sizing and then releasing a collection of 10 pieces (out of, say, hundreds on their site) just doesn’t cut it. I knew there had to be other plus-size folks who wanted a place where they could find anything they wanted to wear in one place—so I made it.
Do you have any practical advice for plus-sized folks who are struggling to find their style or feel attractive within the limitations of mainstream fashion sizing?
Until we erase fatphobia from society—or, since it’s nearly impossible to eradicate something so pervasive, at least create a kinder society that isn’t so focused on thinness equalling beauty—the best advice I can give is to find other fat friends. I love all my skinny friends to death, but the experiences are different. If someone knows how it feels to walk into a store and find nothing in their size, there’s a bond there. It’s a sad bond, but a bond nonetheless. So if you surround yourself with people who have the same battles, you can lift each other up in a way others can’t.
How would you describe your personal style and aesthetic, and has it evolved at all as you’ve been working on Unruly?
I wish I had a tried-and-true aesthetic. I really do. I like too many different styles of clothing to stick with one. I will say that I’m fond of the oversized look (as I mentioned before), but also find myself leaning into trends in a different way than I have before. Maybe it’s because of the widening availability of sizes, or maybe it’s because I work as a fashion writer. Either way, I really enjoy keeping up with street style and the latest trends more than I used to.
Since working with Unruly, I pay so much more attention to which brands actually carry plus-sizes and which pretend to be inclusive. A lot of places will carry up to an XXL or XL and call it “extended sizing,” which is, quite frankly, insulting. It’s changed the way I shop, too— now I tend to only give my money to brands that carry an abundance of sizes.
What is the biggest thing you hope that Unruly accomplishes?
One of the biggest things I hope Unruly accomplishes is something we’ve already started to see a little—and that’s being a go-to resource to plus-size folks. Whether they’re people who love fashion and want ideas on how to shop and style the latest trends or people who just want a pair of jeans that will fit them properly, we want to be able to give everyone a place to find it all. And not only that, but provide a sense of community as well. People who get it, and can commiserate (or laugh) with you.
Too many digital media outlets are so focused on making money that they forget what readers—especially online readers—actually want and need. There are so many places to find information and so many ways to find clothes, but our goal is to make Unruly a stand-out addition to the Internet that’s actually helpful and adds value.
Are there any influencers or brands you would point plus-size readers to if they’re looking for tips for styling and curating their wardrobes?
There are so many amazing plus-size influencers out there. There are some, though, who really got me into plus-size fashion, and inspired me long before I even started Unruly: Jessica Torres (@thisisjessicatorres), Nicolette Mason (@nicolettemason), Kellie Brown (@itsmekellieb), and Alex Michael May (@alexmichaelmay). I kind of consider those to be the OG plus-size influencers, and I’m so grateful to have had them on my Instagram feed for the past several years.
When it comes to brands, there are far more than there used to be. We all love fast fashion, and brands like ASOS and Fashion Nova have a lot of trendier pieces that aren’t expensive. Sustainable brands like Reformation and Christy Dawn (which just released their extended sizing) are great options, too, if you want something a little better for the planet. Honestly, though, you can find some really great pieces from brands like Anthropologie and Madewell, along with Target and Walmart. There are more collections added each day, and it’s truly a heartening thing to see.