You Can Look Cute in Outdoor Gear

Mellie DavisFYPx
Mellie Davis smiling with Great Sand Dunes sign behind

When I first thought about fashion and the outdoors, I was a bit hesitant.

How could I possibly connect the two?

My thoughts on hiking and outdoor gear were based on what I have seen on television and in outdoor magazines. That is lots of camouflage, grey, black, and khaki. What made this journey even more interesting is that I am plus size. What could I possibly get that would:

  1. Be colorful
  2. Be cute
  3. Fit (Plus size women don’t go camping, do they?)

Well, suffice to say I had my apprehensions but I ventured on.

Mellie modeling some clothes in mirror

One of the first things I did with the National Park Foundation’s Find Your Park Expedition was visit my local REI store. The huge store, in the old Puck Magazine building, is located in SoHo which is any fashionista's dream shopping neighborhood. In Soho, there is all manner of fashion shops from Prada and Bloomingdale’s, to Zara and Victoria’s Secret.

REI, being one of our sponsors along with Columbia, had some items already pulled for me to try on. But before I headed to the fitting room, I wanted to look around and see what was available in the store. To be 100% honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see so much color. Of course, if you are going deer hunting you probably don’t want the bright teal or peach layering piece, but I wanted to look cute and be prepared for my first hiking experiences.

Mellie with a sandboard

REI’s private label items are warm in chilly weather and look stylish. Their collection includes sweater fleeces, jackets, shirts, various tops, and pants. The pieces are functional, stylish, and have tons of technical features that can transition into a daily style. I especially love my layering bottoms that I sometimes use as yoga pants. I’m all about repurposing!

Mellie on the Sand Dunes

Columbia also has a great line of outdoor gear and a plus size line of clothing. I was surprised at first that there was a plus line. While it’s a small collection, it exists, which is a statement in itself. I was able to get a couple of cute layering pieces that had colors and stripes, which I like. One of the best things I found in the Columbia collection was the pants. Any woman of any size knows that shopping for pants can be a disaster, or at least a slight cause for anxiety. The bootcut and straight leg styles were so great and spot on in sizing! I also got my first pair of hiking sneakers from Columbia!

Mellie with dunes in the background

I have to say we were a pretty good looking bunch hiking through Great Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde in Colorado. More than that, I have been able to transition a couple of the pieces into my day to day looks as a teacher and woman dashing around New York City.

Find your park group together

Tori looking down at Mesa Verde

Grace on edge looking out over mesa verde

I hope these photos give you an idea of how we styled a number of the pieces we received – we’re proof that you can look cute in outdoor gear!

Mellie Davis participated in the National Park Foundation’s 2015 Find Your Park Expedition. She is an educator, currently teaching fourth graders, and blogs about plus size fashion, NYC living, restaurant reviews and so much more on You can follow Mellie's adventures and connect with her on TwitterInstagramEpicurious, and Facebook.

Photo credits: Mellie Davis, Grace Cortez, and Victor Wei

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