As a plus size woman, I am well versed in Torrid. My closet is dripping in Torrid. My instagram is full of Torrid features. I have Torrid pieces going as far back as 2002 – which are vintage at this point. Needless to say, I have been around the block a few times when it comes to browsing the usual offerings. For the holiday season, Torrid teamed up with ICONIC designer Betsey Johnson and I expected the boldest, most playful, colorful collection yet, however, I was a left both overwhelmed and underwhelmed.
Torrid began operations in 2001 as the sister store and plus size spinoff store to Hot Topic. The goal was to allow plus size girls the goth and punk options they so desperately wanted. The logo was black, yellow, and moody, the stores were dark, and the plus size, outcast, finally felt like she belonged. Tripp pants, Lip Service, faux fur lined coats, chains, straps, spikes, it was all there. Torrid was the kind of company that wanted to grow with its customers and around 2005 the logo lightened to a pink flame, and embraced a more retro, rockibily, vintage style attitude. Thrown in the mix were beachy, so cal inspired pieces, lots of plaid, corsets, and swing dressed. By the time we reached 2015, Torrid had become more trend based and multi note. Gone was the punk vibe and in its place a more standard selection with a few unique finds and gems. It was enough to keep me hooked.
Currently, Torrid offers a selection of graphic t-shirts, casual wear, well fitting jeans, office friendly options, special occasion dresses, fandom items, and even bridal. Truly, they have extended their offerings to a wider range of women but we have to accept the more punk attitude died when they retired the pink flame heart. Through the years my love for Torrid never really died but rather matured with it. I would get excited for their lunches, their rewards program, and their collaborations like with actress Rebel Wilson. So, when Betsey announced a new collection, I couldn’t wait to empty my bank account. According to Forbes, the collection is “inspired by Johnson’s 1988 and 1989 runway shows”. Personally, I see I less of an 80’s influence and more of a early and mid 90’s influence. Johnson choose all the fabrics and lent her funky esthetics to the torrid team who ultimately designed the pieces we see online and in stores.
This line feels incredibly… Torrid. I have to remind myself that this isn’t Betsey designs being sold at Torrid but rather a fusing of the two. We see lots of button down shirts, a body con dress, Moto jacket, a blazer, and tulle and a lot of it reminds me of what I saw at their 2018 Runway show during NYFW. The few pieces that scream Betsy include the combat boot choices, Silver Tulle Dress, fur lined velvet jacket, and of course the baby doll dress. I secretly wished this was more Betsey and less Torrid, but I can’t say I hate it. I yearned for more harmony between the two. The pieces that really pushed the envelope were overwhelming and too over the top to really wear anywhere practical while the casual pieces remind me of their usual offerings with Betsey patterns and left me underwhelmed.
I wanted to love this whole line as it felt like torrid tapped into its roots but I couldn’t bring myself to purchase more than 5 items. Given that this is a designer collab, no promotions could be used on these items and the prices were a bit steep. Even with Klarna, pay in installments, as a new option, its not exactly budget friendly. If you are still on the fence about what to pick up and what to pass on, I am here to make it easy for you. I want to share with you what I loved most from this collection and what I fell you won’t miss!
Black and Pink Lace Mesh Tulle Skater Dress
This dress screams Betsey Johnson! It is playful, flirty, and just a little sexy. The animal print is edgy yet chic and perfectly aligns with other Torrid designs as well. The zipper in the bust section does remind me of the Rebel Wilson Fit and Flair Dress. My only complaint is that I wish it came with the Fishnet Top – which is selling for nearly 50$!
Betsey Johnson Dress vs Rebel Wilson Collab
Red plaid is something we see yearly from Torrid, but this, this had something just a little special to it! The upper bodice is formed in such a way that it almost resembles a corse so it reads just a tad more edgy than their usual offerings. I am not sure I see much of the Betsey influence in it though. I know she loves plaid, but so do many other designers. I have seen all shapes and sizes try this on, and I am familiar with their Ponte material being very comfortable. It is ultra flattering and sterchy for many different body types. I picked this up and figured even if I don’t attend underground punk shows any more, it will look great for the holiday season.
Betsey Johnson Leopard Tulle Skirt
I own quite a few Tulle skirts from Torrid (see below), but it isn’t something I have seen them offer in the last couple of years. Betsey’s shows in the late 1980s had lots of volume and tulle – It was the era of Madonna after all ! I did purchase this and I am hoping its as full as it is on the model vs the stand alone pick. Either way, for an authentic Betsy look, you need tulle!
Comparison to past Torrid Tulle Skirts
Betsey Johnson Rhinestone Combat Boots
I have never been a fan of combat boots but these are badass! Betsey has always had some amazing foot wear and these match MANY of Torrid’s designs as well as Betsey’s designs. While I didn’t purchase these because they aren’t my style (plus I own rhinestone boots from Torrid already, see above), but I absolutely think they are a must have. These boots are available in white with a Tattoo design, as well as black with a floral design!
Betsey Johnson Floral Fur Trim Velvet Coat
This is such a fun piece! It truly represents the fun Betsey, eccentric and electic style. I feel this design is way more 90’s than 80’s. It was very popular to have your collar and wrists covered in fur or even feathers. You can see a similar design or esthetic in the movie Clueless which I will show below. I think if you’re looking for something truly different from whats normally offered at Torrid then its something you need!
Betsey Johnson Floral Jacquard Baby Doll Dress
You can’t even utter Betsey Johnson’s name without thinking about the iconic Baby Doll Dress. The fabric, the cut, the entire feel of this dress is Betsy. Just like the other pieces, I am hoping that this dress has the fullness as shown on the model. It is a great way to wear Betsey’s signature florals in a fall and edgy way. I will say that this also has a very mid 1990’s vibe to it even though the collection is supposed to be inspired by her 1988/89 shows.
Betsey Johnson Printed Boyfriend Cardi
These are the punk roots I came for! The tattoo like design, the ease of wear, the obviously Betsey influence. It’s all here and it looks super cozy! It would be easy to dress casually in this or pair over some lingerie like the model shows! Would pair well with lots of other pieces in the collection including the tulle skirt, the plaid skirt, and even the matching combat boots!
All the plaid! As mentioned above, plaid is something we see every season with Torrid. While yes, we do see some of the edgy Torrid past with these pieces (I will share some vintage and non vintage for reference), we have access to it without a Betsey collab. If you don’t own anything plaid like this, go for it! It can be perfect for that punk rock look or if you’re trying to channel a red version of the classic Clueless look. I do once again have some issue with their point of time reference being 1988/89 since these are very mid early and mid 90’s. The blazer leans a little grandpas PJ’s for me, and I wish the skirt was cut shorter but I’ve seen other bloggers make it look super cute. Skirt – Blazer – Pants
Comparison to past Torrid plaid offerings:
Betsey Johnson Shiny Silver Tulle Strapless Dress
This is the most outrageously fun piece I’ve ever seen on Torrid and it screams Betsey – HOWEVER – getting something that you will never wear anywhere, not a great choice. This dress alone is 228$ and looks like it is worth every cent from the amount of tulle it seems to have! Its quintessential 80’s and yet, doesn’t look dated. I just had to ask myself, where am I going in this? Will I wear it to a party once? Will I be wearing it to Target? Is it something that will just hang happily in my closet like many other impulse purchases? I had to really search deep for this one, but the answer for me is, its good in theory, just not good in my closet. I also do wish that so many of these looks came with their fishnet and sleeved underlays.
Betsey Johnson Black and White Plaid Pixi Pant
I would never have known this was Betsey unless I saw that her name was on the tag. While the label says plaid, this print is more commonly known as Gingham and we’ve seen this many times from Torrid before in dresses, leggings, and skirts. At 68$ this was an easy pass as we’ve seen it before in different colors, fabrics, and forms.
Some past examples of Torrid Gingham:
The Leopards and (some) Florals
This isn’t a slight against Betsy but rather one against Torrid. Torrid has had one consistency – Animal print, it has always offered it in some way, shape or form. Even this summer, I bought a button down blouse with giraffes on it! I have leopard dresses – swing, body con, shirt style etc.., pants- jeans, leggings, slacks, shirts- button downs, t-shirts, crop tops, thank tops, cami, swing style, peplum, sheer, corset style, lingerie, jewelry, head bands, socks, shoes, really, seriously, nothing off the table, Torrid offered it from its punk roots and it still does. More importantly, they have always offered florals, especially after departing from their darker days. In fact, it was one of the biggest complaints I found while researching for this blog entry. Florals and plus size design tend to go too hand in hand. While Betsey has been long known for these prints, so has Torrid and I can’t help but find myself bored with this esthetic. The only offering that really caught my attention in these prints were the pink Leopard and the tulle leopard as well as the subtle floral babydoll dress that I shared above. Everything else, pass.
BETSEY JOHNSON FISHNET LONG SLEEVE UNDER-IT-ALL CROP TOP
I am 100% for fishnet. I think it is sexy, classic 80’s, super Betsey, and brings us back to Torrid roots, however, nearly 50$ for a cropped fish net top, no way. Punk is all about being a little rough around the edges. In the 80’s girls would pierce their ears with safety pins and then wear them as earrings, buy cheap dog leashes for studded collars, and even jelly bracelets started in the plumbing department. I am all for spending money on quality clothing, but fishnet is very inexpensive to make regardless of size. Buying this would have Joey Ramone rolling in his grave! I also want to make a note that the lingerie set that it is shown over, has panties that cost 28$ and we’ve seen this look before.
Heres what Torrid has offered in the past:
Torrid tunics are a staple in my wardrobe. Just like many other things I’ve mentioned here, Torrid does these a lot. There is no lack of options. I wasn’t even surprised when I saw three different options for these, after all, this is a collab and there needs to be a Torrid based influence. My issue with these is that they don’t feel Betsey. It feels like her designs were thrown on them just to have that Torrid influence. They are super easy to wear and style, so I do understand their inclusion. I even bought one myself! I just would like to advise that if you were looking for something different and something thats a harmonious pairing, this may not be what you’re looking to pick up.
A look at Betsey!
Whether you loved this collection or hated it, there is one thing we can’t deny- Betsey is still badass! I took a look through some of her shows throughout the years. I focused mainly on the 80’s but have found some 90’s gems as well! So enjoy these and be inspired!
The Betsey Johnson x Torrid collaboration is currently live and will be 63 items in total. Items are still being added to the site and are all part of their holiday collection. This is part one in a two part series. Be on the lookout for a spring 2021 collection as well!
Before I wrap this up I want to share with you nearly 20 years of my torrid style! From tulle zebra pink skirts to sequin tops and dresses, mad for plaid, love for Britain, leather, lace, velvet and of course LEOPARD!
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