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.

 

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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.

Angry Skinny Chick

Wow, that sounds so weird, doesn’t it? I mean, try typing ‘Angry Skinny Chick’ into a Google image search engine and what you see is pretty innocuous. A lot of pictures of Amy Winehouse, some sadly anorexic looking models, but for the most part just a diverse grouping of photos with no real overarching theme.

Now type in ‘Angry Fat Chick’ and see what you get. I’ll wait… you go ahead…

 So, what did you see?  I came up with a shocking number of women, many considered morbidly obese by traditional medical standards, many naked or nearly naked, in various unflattering and degrading poses. One woman sits on a bed eating a whole cake, another is giving the middle finger salute with a scowl on her face. Two queen sized women sit on a bed in sexy lingerie feeding each other French fries. And of course there’s the obligatory unflattering photo of Kirstie Alley.

And then there’s this photo

 

Which, for some reason, linked back to a blog that seems to not only register football statistics, but also serves as a racist and sexist forum disparaging candid bikini photos of celebrities such as Penelope Cruz, with such gem-like comments as “She doesn’t appear to have a huge vagina like most latin women.” WTF??? I wasn’t able to find out where or why the lovely, smiley plus sized lingerie model ended up on this site or what was said about her (and really, maybe it’s better I never know) but considering the rest of the site, I’m assuming that’s for the best.

Now let me tell you the story that got me on this rant to begin with…

I have to confess that with two young kids, I’m as guilty as the next mum of schlumping around in my ‘mommy wear.’ Jeans, comfortable sweaters and tops, clunky shoes, shapeless coats  – you know the uniform. But with the promise of a new job in plus size fashion (more on that in another post), I made a promise to myself that I would try to step up my fashion game, even when I was in mommy mode.

So, off I go to the local office supplies store to get some photocopies done. It’s a beautiful fall day, cool but sunny, and I’m wearing my hot new brown biker boots (thank you Payless), some skinny jeans and this awesome coat that comes to just above my knees and fits me to a T. It’s grey and black, with just enough fitting at the waist to give it shape and best of all, it was $30 at Walmart. I had put a cute scarf around my neck, some sunglasses, earrings and off I went. I was looking pretty hot and feeling pretty confident, if I do say so myself.

On the way home, I’m walking down a major Toronto street, shopping bag in one hand, trusty large Timmies in the other, and I notice this girl who is walking towards me has her flip phone open and extended in my direction. I’m not paying too much attention to what she’s up to other than to notice that she’s pretty young and dressed in that early twenties uniform of the year, with a demin skirt over footless leggings and little flat shoes. Then the strangest thing happens. She starts to yell at me. Honestly it took me a second to realize that it was directed at me at all, except that I also suddenly realized that she had taken my picture. I can’t remember everything she said because I was so shocked and I frankly didn’t stop to lend her an ear but the parts I really remember were…

“Oh my god, you are so derivative. Everything about you is so derivative.”

“You are just an angry fat chick”

This went on for about 30 seconds tops, basically the time it took for her to pass me and for me to keep walking out of her shouting range, although she did continue shouting at me once I had passed her by. I almost felt sorry for the poor guy just behind her who looked horrified and stunned. Being me, and always wanting to make everything okay, I gave him a little smile and said something to the effect of ‘Wow, that girl is crazy.’

Still, what she did to me stayed with me for ages. I was so upset that day. I think only twice before in my life have I had somebody make a negative comment to me about my weight. But then I got thinking and I started Googling (Well to be honest, the Googling came the next day because I was curious to see if my photo was going to turn up  in some rant piece by this poor disturbed young woman). And what I started thinking was that her tirade had nothing to do with me seeming angry (because who could be angry in a brand new outfit, carrying a large coffee?). It had to do with me being visible and proud and put-together, and fashionable, and confident. I wasn’t trying to fade into the scenery. I think that more than anything else is what the whole ‘Angry Fat Chick’ thing is about.

In our diet obsessed culture, those of us who do not conform to the ridiculous standards set forth by high fashion and the media are supposed to be ashamed. We are supposed to remain invisible, skulk around on the periphery of life. And that made me kind of sad for that young woman who was so obviously taken in by everything the media had fed her that she felt she needed to take out her rage on a complete stranger. It made me realize that she was the one who was so sadly derivative. How many other women out there are just like her? So taken in by all of the convoluted messages that they have received since childhood that they feel the worst, most horrible thing you could ever be is ‘fat.’ Don’t get me wrong, the fact that she felt she could take out her delusional rage on a complete stranger still pisses me off. The fact that she could put such a dent in my day and affect me enough that I still feel, months later, that I need to comment on it makes me a pretty angry fat chick. But then I take a deep breath because I simply refuse to give her the satisfaction and in fact, I think I’ll  wear the very same outfit today in her honour. Timmies here I come.