Dress your curves

Wrap Dresses for the Plus-Size Woman

Dresses.

Some women brag they haven’t worn one since the Reagan administration. Others embrace them.

And, really, what is better than a dress? Throw it on, easy breezy, and you are ready to go. Make it casual with a jean jacket and Converse sneakers or glam it up with pearls and heels. Usually I pair it with flats and a cardigan, and I’m good to go.

Have you ever considered giving a wrap dress a try? You actually have two options:

  • A wrap dress usually has a front closure made by wrapping one side across the other, tying the sash at the back or at the hip, and hidden buttons may be involved. They almost always have v-necklines.
  • A faux wrap dress is very similar, except that it made to be slipped over the head. There is no opening in front, and usually has an empire waistline.

They reached icon status in the early 1970s with Diane von Furstenberg’s designs. While many people hailed her wrap dress as revolutionary, the design is actually an old one. British-born designer Charles James created what the christened the “taxi dress.” While it looks innocent enough, he cheekily suggested he called named it so it could be put on and taken off in the back of a taxi.

Take a look at it and decide what you think:

Diane von Furstenberg certainly popularized the look, and it’s easy to see why the wrap dress is a staple in many women’s closets:

  • They were created to hug the curves of every woman, no matter if she is hour-glass shaped or has a rectangular silhouette.
  • Faux wrap dresses are even more flattering because they accent the chest and the empire waistline ensures the stomach and hips aren’t an issue.
  • Bright and bold patterns and vibrant colors make the wearer stand out in a crowd.
  • Lengths can suit any desired hemline, from mini- to maxi-skirts.
  • It is favored by famous women from Michelle Obama to Kate Middleton.
  • It is seen as a symbol of feminism and women’s liberation because it is easy to put on and even easier to take off.

Unfortunately for us plus-size women, DVF only goes up to a straight size 14 in her couture and ready-to-wear line. So where does that leave us?

Never fear.

If this article has whet your appetite for wrap dresses, there are several plus-size designers who offer beautiful wrap dresses:

  • My personal favorite is Igigi. They do mostly faux wraps, and I have one I live in during the fall and winter months, as well as my LBD. Made in San Francisco, I can personally attest to their quality and excellent cut. $128-$180.
  • Kiyonna probably has the largest selection of plus-size wrap dresses. They offer both classic and faux wrap dresses in a wide variety of patterns and solid colors. I have never worn one myself, but one look at the reviews of the dresses on their site will tell you how much their customers love them. $60-$118.
  • ASOS Curve also has most faux wraps ranging from casual to formal/wedding guest quality. $24-106.
  • Ashley Stewart has a lovely selection of mostly faux wraps, many on sale as of the time of this writing (July 2017). I really like the variety of patterns they offer, from python to bold, tropical colors. $26-$60.
  • Retailers such as Lane Bryant, Macy’s Saks, Neiman’s, and Nordstrom’s carry wrap dresses as well, but it depends on their stock.

Because it hugs your curves and is so easy to wear, why not give a wrap dress a try? With such a large range of price points and styles, add one to your capsule wardrobe. And who knows? You may have found yourself a new fashion addiction!

Have you ever worn a wrap dress? Comment below!

Photo credit: Glamour magazine

6 Reasons Why You Need to Go Bra Shopping Every Year

Bras. Swimsuits. Jeans. Bridesmaids dresses.

What do all these things have in common?

They’re all things most women would rather get a root canal than go shopping for. (Full disclosure: I’ve never had a root canal. But I can’t imagine they’re fun.)

I used to work at Lane Bryant and was a certified intimate apparel expert. (Second full disclosure: I watched a video and took an open-note quiz. But I was actually known as a pretty damn good bra saleswoman.)

I can attest to the fact many women only shopped for bras every two or three years. Other women I know—specifically ones who gave birth to me—do it even less often. (Full disclosure: I love my mom.)

Trust me: I get it. I understand the many reasons to put off bra shopping, from cost to the time factor to the stupefying number of choices.

But the reality is you need to go bra shopping at least once a year.

I have a list of six reasons to consider why you need to go bra shopping. You’ll be doing yourself and “the girls” a huge favor:

  1. Chances are very good you’re wearing the wrong size. Depending where you read it, anywhere between 65-85% of American women are wearing the wrong bra size. And having worked at LB so long, I believe it. No store charges for a bra fitting, so at the very least, it costs you nothing to find out how far off the mark you are. Because of hormones, weight gain/loss, and many other factors, you are probably not the exact size you were five years ago.
  1. You’ll boost your fashion IQ. I am amazed at all the different types of innovations bra designers and manufacturers come up with. Back smoothing. Moisture wicking. Bralettes. Demi cups that fit a DDD. Lace that doesn’t show under knits. Hundreds of gorgeous patterns. You’d think such a simple garment would be pretty dull, but there’s a lot you can do with it!
  1. You will find a new best friend. Once you are properly fitted and find a comfortable bra with good support—yes, they do exist—you will seriously wonder how you ever lived without it! Imagine being at work without having to adjust your bra at a staff meeting. Or if you went running without pain because you had a proper sports bra. Did you just improve your quality of life? Yes, you did!
  1. Your clothes will look stunning on you. I see so many shirts or dresses that don’t look quite right because of an ill-fitting bra. I see boobs that are pointed up and down. I see uniboobs. Quadriboobs. And other types I can’t even mention. When you are fitted with the right bra for your frame, I cannot even tell you how well your clothes fit. You can be proud of your figure and wear clothes that are sleek or tailored instead of boxy and baggy. Believe me, others will notice.
  1. You could get the chance to treat yourself and your SO. Hell, I don’t even date, but even I occasionally splurge on something lacy and/or oh là là for myself. Why not? It’s fun! And if you enjoy something black or sparkly or with ribbons, I’m guessing your SO does, too!
  1. It will save you money in the long run. A good fitting bra is an investment. Stop throwing your money away on cheap bras that don’t fit. And definitely stop buying expensive ones that don’t fit and you don’t take care of! A quality bra will last approximately 180 wears, or even longer if you wash and store it properly.

The next time you put on a bra, ask yourself:

  • Does the back ride up?
  • Are the wires rubbing scabs into my skin?
  • Do I spill over or under the cup?
  • Do I often fiddle with the straps?
  • Is it cutting red marks into my shoulders or chest?
  • Does it hurt so badly that I take it off right when I get home, even before I take off my shoes?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to go get fitted for a new bra. Block an hour out over lunch, after work (Mondays and Tuesdays are typically the slowest nights in retail), on a Saturday morning, or when the mall opens on Sunday. Take a sister or a trusted friend. It doesn’t have to be torture.

You deserve to be comfortable and look great. With a bra that fits great, you are ready to conquer the world like the amazing curvy goddess that you are!

Be honest…when was the last time you had a fitting? Comment below!

Carmakorma: A Review of a Danish Plus-Size Retailer

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Plus-size shopping. Blech.

If you’re not confined to Lane Bryant, Avenue, Torrid, or the hidden plus-size section of major department stores, you have to go online to find gems that you want to wear. (Please note I am not knocking the above-mentioned retailers, but let’s face it…our straight-sized sisters have it a lot easier!).

Being your crash-test dummy, sit back, relax, and let me tell you the story of one e-tailer I found and my opinions of their clothes.

I was reading a recent article of Glamour magazine online. It’s not a magazine I habitually read, but it was really well done article entitled “Finally, There’s Good Fashion for Everyone! Here’s How to Master Plus-Size Style.” I read about a Danish retailer named Carmakoma, who the article called, “cool, of-the-moment pieces.”

I was game to try. After all, I am a sucker for all things European and I wanted to try a new brand. Carmakoma brands itself as “Luxury Fashion for Curvy Women.” Armed with a 15% coupon for signing up for their mailing list, I ordered two black-and-white tops for about $120, which included taxes. They offer free shipping and handling from Denmark for orders over $100.

I was pleasantly surprised that the shirts got here in less than a week from Denmark. I wish I could say I was just as excited about the shirts.

The first was their Gemma top. I am looking for a summer-weight Breton t-shirt, and the website branded it as “…a summer top in a soft and heavy jersey fabric. The fabric is very flattering because it shows the curves, but without revealing too much. The top has a ‘tight fit’, without being uncomfortable. The short sleeves are flattering and the top can be styled in many ways…”

Well, here it is:

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Unfortunately, this top did not live up to the stellar write-up. I did like the color and the interesting way the material met at the neckline for a twist on a classic silhouette. However:

  • The fabric is 87% viscose, 10% polyester and 3% elastane. It was hot, heavy, and it clung mercilessly to my spare tire.
  • I think the worst thing about it is that it is unforgivingly boxy. I can’t stand boxy clothes, and there is no way I would feel confident wearing it. So up on eBay it goes.

Next shirt was called their Avi top, which is, “…a flattering sleeveless top featuring a V-neck at front and back, and a button closure along back. The top has vertical stripes. Its a soft fabric with a little bit of stretch and a perfect top for springtime use under a blazer.”

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I liked this one better. It had dart seams that ran across the bust for a more tailored look but it didn’t cling. The vertical stripes were very cute and I loved the cream color. However:

  • I didn’t like the 92% polyester, 8% elastane material. It was a heavier, stretchier, and cheaper version of a crêpe de chine.
  • The material is doubled up over the neckline and it doesn’t sit very well. I kept having to adjust it to make it sit flat.
  • The neckline was too plunging and the armholes too low to wear without a cami.
  • I know buttons on the back are “in” right now, but it just looked weird on this shirt.

So, it’s a nice enough top, but I don’t adore it enough to keep. Up on eBay this goes, too. Why eBay? Because the returns form is in Danish, I am not paying to ship them back to Denmark, and there are a lot of horror stories I read on their Facebook page about trying to get refunds or exchanges from America and Canada. At least on eBay I can recoup a little of the money I spent.

I don’t think I will buy from Carmakoma again. They do have nice things, fast shipping, and the prices are mid-range. But the bottom line is that they are simply not my taste. The material is too heavy, the clothes sit funny on me, and I wasn’t impressed enough to want to make their items part of my capsule wardrobe.

Have you ever ordered from a new brand and been disappointed? Comment below and share your story!

Glamour’s Special Plus-Size Edition: Worth the Cover Price?

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Would you plunk down $12.99 for a newsstand magazine? Most of us probably wouldn’t.

But when I heard Condé Nast’s Glamour magazine was doing a 96-page special summer edition for women size 12 and above called Chic at a Any Size!, I happily shelled out the hefty price for my own copy.

I want to share with you my thoughts on this expensive magazine before you get your own copy. Was it worth the investment?

 

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Yes and no.

For the most part, the magazine is has pretty standard, run-of-the-mill photo shoots with the lovely models Ashley Graham, Precious Lee, and Iskra Lawrence. Plus-sized bloggers, designers, and models offer style tips. There are good interviews with Zac Posen on the importance of tailoring and Lena Dunham about not giving a rat’s ass what you look like no matter what size you are.

The content is evergreen and besides the good style tips, the best piece in the edition is the article “How Do You Feel About Your Body?” Sadly, American women surveyed feel worse about their bodies than in the 1980s. Social media makes it harder for women to stop comparing themselves with images they see of their friends and celebrities. I was interested to see:

  • 47% of women think they don’t need to be skinny to attractive (down from 80% in in 1984).
  • 76% of American women hate their stomachs the most. The thighs were the most maligned body part in the 1980s.

The most buzzworthy piece was a reprint of an insipid 2015 interview Amy Schumer written by her own sister. Schumer addresses sexism in comedy, rules for hooking up, and muses about her size, “…I think it’s good to see someone saying: I have a belly. And I have cellulite. And I still deserve love…And not to apologize.”

While that sounds nice, Schumer went on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last week to address that. Sitting in an awkward, unladylike pose, she proclaimed, “What I learned is that people don’t really like being classified by plus-size. We don’t need these labels. It should just say what size you are, right?” To which the sheep in the audience burst into applause.

While this issue is geared to women size 12 and up and Schumer claims to be a size 6 or 8, I think she does women a disservice by calling for an end to labels.

I cannot think of a single store where plus-sized clothing is identical to the straight-sized ones. Schumer needs to realize that labels do exist. I wear many labels in the day: I am a woman, plus-sized (or even fat, I don’t mind the word), white, Midwestern, single, childless, an employee, single breadwinner, pet owner.

Labels describe me and help paint a picture, but they are not the essence of who I am. Words I use to describe myself like funny, generous, intelligent, and loyal are closer to the core of who I am than the words that pigeonhole me into categories. I’m fat. So what?

And it actually took me the first 22 years of my life to be comfortable enough in my own skin to embrace the “plus-size” label. So why is Amy Schumer knocking the term, which the issue of Glamour never uses to describe her? They say she is a “Woman We Admire,” right there on the cover with the hilarious Melissa McCarthy, eternal Adele, and the beautiful Ashley Graham (who has also been known to eschew the term “plus-size”).

If you want a pretty coffee-table caliber magazine, I think the $12.99 is worth the price. If you want some good style tips, learn about a few new clothing lines, and see body positivity in action, I highly recommend this edition.

However, almost everything here is prettily repurposed content. You probably don’t need to spend the money, but sneak a peak when you are in the checkout line at the grocery store.

Whatever you feelings, my hat’s off to Glamour for this magazine. I am excited to see their collaboration with Lane Bryant for a fall collection!

Have you seen the magazine yet? What are your thoughts on Amy Schumer? Comment below!