Plus Sized Fashion Crisis

So I’m having a bit of a fashion identity crisis lately. I’ve spent the last 7 1/2 years home with the kids and have been pretty much living in Old Navy jeans and shirts, which I do love because of their price and versatility. Problem is, I don’t seem to have any ‘grown up’ clothes anymore.

I have been trying very hard to be good about anything new that I am buying. Does it look nice and make me feel great? Is it not black or grey? But here’s where I am finding the dilemma. I am a plus sized woman but I am also 5’8″ tall, so I can get away with a lot of styles and shapes. If I could find them. I am not getting down on the amazing plus sized stores here in Toronto at all. They do have some fantastic clothes and when I find something that I love, I scoop it up (thank you Addition Elle fall line!). I just happen to be a bit hard to fit. Apparently, according to most plus sized clothing, my boobs are too small for my shoulders and my hips are too big for my top half. Oh, and my legs are too skinny for plus sized pants and  jeans.

Now, I happen to think that I have a perfectly lovely, curvy body which is well proportioned but clothing manufacturers would beg to disagree. Which drastically narrows down the number of clothes available to me. I have had one business suit in my life where the jacket and skirt both fit. It was like some kind of shopping miracle.

I think the solution would be to have my own personal designer and dresser. How expensive could that be? Anybody out there feel up to the task. All I’m asking for are clothes that fit me properly, are suitable for work and a night out, are not black or grey, do not make me look like a teenager or a matron, and are affordable. Shouldn’t be too difficult, should it?


Must Own Addition Elle Fall 2012 Collection!!

I opened my mailbox today and lo and behold, what awaited me made my heart go all aflutter. It was the fall 2012 Lookbook from Addition Elle and it would seem that almost every piece in there was tailor made to make me one happy happy girl. I don’t know about you, but I find that there are some seasons that I just don’t want to buy a stitch of clothing because the prevalent styles or colours just aren’t ‘me.’ The whole empire waist, tie behind the back blouse and dress phenomenon was a good example of that. No woman who wears a size 16, is over 40 and has given birth (twice) needs a shirt or dress that makes her look pregnant. What could be less flattering than a blouse that ties right under your boobs and puffs out over your stomach? Seriously?

So, when I opened the Lookbook and saw this…

I mean WOW. I can totally rock this look. I have been looking for several years for a pencil skirt of any description and then this year, it’s like my wardrobe prayers have been answered.

Then I flip a couple of pages and find another!

I wonder if I can find out which day these items will be delivered to the store nearest me so that I can camp out and beat off other shoppers with a stick if need be. Hmmm.


Refinding My Fabulous

Is that even a word? Refinding? Well, it is now. This is serious, people. It’s lost and I need to take some drastic measures to get it back. It snuck away in dribs and drabs over the last six months or so, undetected by me, and suddenly I looked in the mirror today and realized it was almost totally gone.

Working from home was a choice I made several years ago, but the thing is that it’s hard to find a reason to change out of your Old Navy jeans, t-shirts and birkenstocks when you spend the majority of your day running errands, sitting at your kitchen table on a laptop, or walking kids to and from school. So, while I really want to look like this…

Ishiko Top in Star Ruby

What I usually end up looking like is this…

I used to get compliments on my style, my hair, my ability to always find the time to put on a bit of makeup or earrings. I like to look nice and while I am no fashionista, I like to wear clothes that fit me well and accentuate my curves. I would paint my nails and make sure my hair looked nice.

I was always the first one agitating my girlfriends for a ladies night out, drinking and dancing at our favourite bar. I was funny and fun and alwasy up for a good time. I loved to dance and we would hit up a local gay bar that played uptempo Latin music and was full of guys who wanted nothing more than a dance partner who could shake their hips and keep up. Those were wonderful nights, full of laughter and fun and friends.

But then Muppet’s work hours started to get crazy and I found myself single parenting 2-3 nights a week. When he was home on the weekend, he was wanting to sleep until noon to try and bank the sleep hours he was missing during the week. The kids’ classes needed volunteers for field trips and bake sales, and it seemed like there was alwasy something that was causing me to struggle to put in enough paid hours of work. Add to that an argument and stress between my sister and I, some ongoing issues with a once-close girlfriend, and WHAM!, my fabulous disappeared.

I fully acknowledge that it’s completely my own fault. I haven’t been making time to visit the gym this summer and I can feel my muscle turning to jiggly flab. I haven’t been eating healthy, because when I get stressed, I tend to want comfort foods that are higher in calories. I haven’t been getting out because sometimes it’s just easier to invite a couple of friends over and just sit on the porch with a bottle of wine. It has changed my frame of mind, sucked my energy, and make me crabby.

But, maybe it’s feeling September looming so very close now. I am starting to feel the urge to put earrings on again. I have a hankering to revamp my fall wardrobe. I want to put on a bit of makeup and go out. Could this be the first glimmering of my fabulous coming back? I’ll let you know.

Confessions of an ’80s fashion fan

Almost two years ago now I celebrated my 40th birthday surrounded by a bunch of wonderful women who all bit the fashion bullet and trawled their local thrift shops, accessory stores and (some sheepishly confessed) their own closets, to dress like they had in the ‘70s, ‘80s or ‘90s. As we bopped all night to the karaoke machine that could be heard for blocks in my downtown Toronto neighbourhood (I was later told by the disgruntled husbands who were left at home while their wives partied) I couldn’t help but notice that, given the choice, almost all of us had on some form of ‘80s fashion. Oh sure, we were decked out in neon and really bad hairdos but fundamentally, we all looked pretty hot for a bunch of almost-middle-aged chicks.

Then a couple of weeks ago I was slipping on a new little ensemble that I had put together and I thought to myself, ‘Oh my god, I think I wore this outfit in 1985!’ And yet, it looked great. So this got me thinking about what had changed between then and now to get me into the kind of outfit I had sworn I would never ever revisit outside of wild, drunken, themed karaoke parties, and to convince some of you ladies out there that you can do it too.

First off, it’s a matter of cut. Back in the day, we were buying men’s shirts and sweaters, throwing a slouchy belt on it or maybe a pair of tights under it and voila.  Today, we have beautiful knits made to come down to mid-thigh. They fit in the shoulder and the sleeve. There’s room for a bust and not as much bulk at the waist. Try on a long sweater with a pair of leggings. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Second, I have to sing the praises of undergarments. How many of us owned a thong in 1985 (okay, never mind, I don’t want to know).  But really, get rid of the panty lines with some good undergarments either of the skimpy or of the substantially elasticized, holding it all in place variety, and you’ve got a lovely silhouette.

Third, is the wide elastic belt. This little accessory is enough to make a doubter into a believer.  There’s nothing better for concealing a muffin top, and they’re comfortable to boot. I would take a nice stretchy elastic around my waist any day over those horrible faux leather wide belts of the ‘80s that cut into your side every time you moved. My biggest tip would be go get a belt that fits generously though. Don’t try to use it to suck anything in because the belt will double up and fold on you. Not a good look.

Next, we must sing the praises of leggings and fitted skirts. The fabrics and styles we have to choose from now are staggering.  The leggings are thicker, the elasticization is not as extreme, the skirts are cut properly to come just above your knee instead of the ‘80s ‘just covering your bum’ style. Skinny jeans are infinitely forgiving as well. They give you a slimming silhouette while the denim smooths lumps and bumps and doesn’t cling as much as a legging would.

And lastly, the boots. Oh, the boots. They’re everywhere this year and they’re gorgeous. Modernize the look with a knee high black boot with a bit of heel. Face it, pixie boots and skirts are for those sweet young things we see at the mall. But pixie boots and a hot pair of leggings? Why not?

I think what I learned by looking at myself in the mirror is that I can take a look that I rolled my eyes at even a month ago and make it my own. Even something ‘80s inspired can be so very flattering when it’s done right, with a modern twist, and with all the knowledge of fashion and our bodies that we have gained since back-in-the-day. So give the ‘80s a bit of a whirl. But please, ditch the neon. That was never right!

Too Much ‘Plus Size’ Not Enough ‘Fashion’

I always have mixed feelings about plus sized fashion. I find that there’s still way to much ‘plus size’ and just not enough fashion. Not that I’m any kind of fashionista by any means, but I am trying to keep up appearances.

With two kids, a mortgage in Toronto, and being a stay-at-home mum, I really need to look for deals where I can find them. I will fully acknowledge that I am one of those lucky women who can ‘walk the fence’ between so-called standard and plus sizes, so I can find clothing in stores like Old Navy which carry a size 16/18 while my slightly curvier friends can’t even walk in the door unless they’re shopping for scarves or earrings. But when it comes to nicer quality clothes, business, formal or (gasp) swimsuits, I am at as much of a loss as any gal who wears over a size 12/14.

I know that the plus sized clothing market is opening up, but I am finding that in Canada, we still have such a long way to go and while there are many fantastic online retailers which I promise to talk about in later posts, I am hesitant about ordering my clothes online. It’s not that I don’t embrace cyber-shopping. (Online booksellers can vouch for me there),  it’s just that when I think about how many pieces of clothing I have to try on before I can find one that fits, the idea of having to ship clothing to my house for the privilege of trying them on seems daunting. I want to spend an hour in a store and try on a dozen possibilities just like my less curvy friends.

So I want to use this blog to feature some of those great plus sized finds which make me hopeful that someday a size 6 and a size 26 woman will have the same access to great clothing. But, because I am also a born critic, I am going to call out some plus sized fashion crimes. Let’s go…

Kudos to MXM at Addition Elle for these two fantastic outfits for spring 2011

I mean, how awesome is this? Can’t you just imagine going out dancing or for a night out on the town? The shirt is long enough to hide any problem areas around the waist and it balances nicely the skinny leg of the pants. Of course, Iwould probably kill myself if I tried to go out in those shoes, but maybe some slightly less death-defying wedges?

And best of all, this is a silhouette that you see everywhere this season.  It’s just adapted for us curvier gals. Bravo.

Now this one I love because it’s sexy without being clingy. For a figure like mine which is thicker at the waist, but with long legs, this is a great look. I also like the fact that I don’t need to have an undergarment dilemma to wear this top. You can wear a bra with straps and you’re good to go. And those skinny jeans or leggings cling like a second skin while still look incredibly comfy and moveable. Very very nice.