Plus-size fashion

An Interview with Hackwith Design House

(photo credit: Hackwith Design House)

I am so excited to bring you Plus One Woman’s first interview with a fashion line! Founded by Lisa Hackwith in 2013, Hackwith Design House is a leader in minimalist design and sustainable fashion. Best of all, they carry plus sizes!!!

Every piece is a limited edition, handmade at their studio in Minneapolis. I love their high-quality fabrics and durable wear. Each item really is a wearable work of art.

Enjoy the following interview with Erin Husted, their Director of Operations!

  1. What is your definition of slow fashion?

Slow fashion is about creating pieces that are meant to last and sustainable. At Hackwith Design House, we strive to use natural and sustainable fabrics as much as possible, and we make every single piece in our Minnesota studio. You can read about our whole team on our website, and you’ll know that one of those women made the clothing you buy from us.

  1. Many of us are on a budget but would love to embrace slow fashion. What would you suggest as one or two key pieces she should consider investing in for her capsule wardrobe?

We believe that women are as diverse as their skills, talents, and accomplishments, so what I might want as a key piece will be different than what someone else might want. But I’ll give my two cents, anyway J. Any piece from our HDH Basics line (which is sized through XL right now) is a great first start to a capsule wardrobe. We also have a beautiful Trench Coat that will work with anyone’s closet, and it is available in HDH Plus.

  1. What was the catalyst for launching HDH Plus?

Lisa and I both have friends who consider themselves plus-sized, and they are beautiful, fashionable women. It didn’t make sense to us that there weren’t more lines catering to these accomplished women who wanted to buy sustainable, well-designed clothes. As soon as we had room in our budget, we decided to launch HDH Plus. We hope to be able to expand the line over time as our budget allows.

An Interview with Lottie L’Amour

 

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For Plus One Woman’s first interview, I want to introduce you to the fabulous Lottie L’Amour, a fabulous British plus-size blogger who is based in London. Lottie has been blogging for nearly two years. Her bright affinity for patterns is what initially brought me over to her site, but her articles on living as a plus-size woman, body positivity, and unapologetic confidence reeled me in, hook, line, and sinker. I can’t be the only one – she has thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. As if that weren’t enough, she has also branched into the world of vlogging!

Enjoy this interview where Lottie shares her insights on British designers, mixing trends with classic pieces, and being at peace in her own skin.

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PoW: More and more UK designers are offering shipping to the States. For those of us who are completely uninitiated, how would you describe the styles of: River Island, Simply Be, Lovedrobe, ASOS Curve, Evans, and Elvi?

LL: It’s funny because this side of the pond, we’re jealous of places like Society Plus and Torrid! UK fashion is pretty progressive for plus size women, we’re getting more choices than ever before but unfortunately these choices don’t always reach all the way down the larger end of the plus size spectrum. Places like ASOS Curve, Evans and Simply Be do fashion all the way up to a UK 32, so they are leading the way in offering a wide range of sizes, but newer brands like River Island, Boohoo and Elvi are adding more sizes as time goes on (those three do up to a UK 26).

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ASOS Curve is second to none for fashion forward pieces, closely followed by River Island and Boohoo, who’s curve ranges are basically an extension of some key pieces from their straight size ranges. For girls needing workwear or occasionwear, Evans, Simply Be and Elvi are perfect to find those high end pieces mixed in with some regular staple items. Just make sure you read a few UK plus size fashion blogs to check up on the fit of the items – some of them can come up small, so it’s worth reading up so you know when to size up!

(PoW note: ASOS has a good size conversion site here. But remember to always, always check measurements & ask if you aren’t sure!)

PoW: You wear such fun, bold patterns! How do you like to mix up the trends of a season with classic staples like the little black dress, a white button-down shirt, skinny jeans, Breton stripes, etc?

LL: I love to mix in elements of the past with outfits that I put together – whether it’s going full hog and wearing a 1950’s dress, or just a little nod to the 90’s with a choker, I constantly take inspiration from bygone eras and make them into something trend-led in a street style. For example, if I’m wearing a plain black dress, I’ll always rough it down with a giant novelty clutch bag or a pair of biker boots and a glittery bomber jacket! Skinny jeans go with absolutely everything – my black ripped skinnies are a staple in my wardrobe. I often wear them with a cute breton stripe bardot off-the-shoulder swing top and a pair of metallic trainers for when I want to make a little bit more of a subtle statement.

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The beauty with using plain staples is you get to choose how much you want to stand out that day – life isn’t all about making a statement all the time, it’s perfectly cool to tone it down and have a little nod to your love of bright prints and sparkly things with your accessories if you’re not feeling it that day.

PoW: What is the best advice you ever gave or was given to help you love the size you are?

LL: The first thing you need to do is make the decision to not give a crap about how anyone else views you. The minute you decide “actually, I’m living my life for me, and I’m happy as I am” is the minute your whole perception will change. That’s a decision that only you can make – there’s no magic formula or guidebook on how to get there, you just need to decide to be kinder to yourself. For me, I decided that I’d spent too much time attributing my worth to my size, and that was wrong. One of the most radical things I did was actually just looking at myself in the mirror – and I mean really looking at myself. Not skimming over the chubby bits I used to. Not focusing on what I thought were my best bits. I focused on every single part of my body and I told myself that I loved my body, every inch of it. My body has done wonderful things for me – it allows me to hug someone I love, it allows me to explore the earth, my soft stomach protects my organs, my wobbly thighs help me to walk… it really is an amazing, beautiful thing, just as it is. All bodies are deserving of love, yes, even your own!

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To find out more about Lottie, visit:

Note: All photos (c) Lottie L’Amour and used with permission.

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!

8 Key Pieces for Your Spring Capsule Wardrobe

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WINTER IS OVER. I’m done scraping my windshield, I can actually turn off the damn heat, shaving above the knee is a reality, and I can finally open the windows to let some fresh air in!

With the change of season goes a change of clothes. Bulky sweaters, knits, jackets, and boots give way to t-shirts, pastels, shorter skirts, and sandals.

It’s high time to go through your closet and rotate in clothes for the warmer weather and longer days. As you go through your closet and get rid of old items that either don’t fit or you no longer love, think about what you can do to cultivate a capsule wardrobe and keep only the pieces you really, really love.

I’ve opened my closet doors to give you a sneak peak of what I am rocking this spring to inspire you to examine what would work best for you.

Keep in mind I work full-time in an office, and what I like may not be your style. Feel free to use this as a guideline or template as you decide what you will wear this spring:

  1. Two dresses. I have two dresses for spring—one is all black and the other is this delicious Eliza J shift dress I purchased from Nordstrom’s.

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  1. Skinny jeans. I have worn everything from mom jeans to flares and everything in-between. Nothing fits me so well as my Silver Suki skinny jeans. The 2% stretch is just enough. And being apple-shaped, it sits on my stomach well while showing off my comparably thinner legs.
  1. Two pairs of trousers. I have one pair of long black trousers and a pair of navy cropped pants to wear at work. My blouses and the Breton shirt are neutral enough they look great with both pairs of trousers.
  1. Two pencil skirts. I confess to having no less than four pencil skirts because I like the way I look in them, but for the spring, I prefer my grey and khaki-colored ones.
  1. A blazer. I am utterly besotted with this piece I picked up at Lane Bryant in February. It will be light enough to carry me through June and a colorful cami underneath just makes it pop.

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  1. A Breton nautical t-shirt. These are fun shirts, usually cream-colored with navy or black stripes and a bateau neckline. They are an iconic piece to most Frenchwomen’s wardrobes. They can be worn under a blazer or paired with jeans for the weekend. I dare you to find a chic-er, more versatile top for your wardrobe.
  1. Two blouses. One of my spring blouses is from Igigi, which is a favorite label of mine for both dresses and tops. After years of searching for The Perfect White Button-down Blouse, I actually found it at CJ Banks, of all places! I just love it.

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  1. Two light cardigans. The ones I am rocking this spring are both from Lane Bryant. I usually wear camis underneath, but I also do wear them with t-shirts.

Of course there are other things I have that I rotate into my capsule wardrobe: camisoles (I have a serious cami addiction), t-shirts, colorful flats, and scarves.

Even if you don’t buy into the idea of a capsule wardrobe, it is definitely empowering to go through your wardrobe and take stock of what you own. If you can edit your wardrobe to a few key pieces that you love, I guarantee you will never play the “I have nothing to wear” game this spring.

What’s in your closet this spring? Have you purchased anything new this year? Let me know by commenting below!

Title image credit: Aussiegall @ Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lots_of_Blossoms_(6021502431).jpg.

The Lane Bryant Ad That Was Banned & Why You Should Care

Size discrimination. The final frontier.

From mainstream media to how people treat us in everyday life, far too many people still judge us women by the number on the scale and our clothing labels.

You would think in the tolerant 21st century we would have to put up with less and less of this crap, but sadly, this is not the case.

This became sadly evident in a recent 30-second Lane Bryant commercial that was banned from the airwaves by both ABC and NBC:

Starring SI cover girl Ashley Graham, new mom Tara Lynn, Denise Bidot, Georgia Pratt, and Precious Lee, this ad features plus-size models, rolls, curves and all. They boldly proclaim what their bodies allow them to do while they nurse babies, kick box, do yoga, and sport denim in stiletto heels. From wearing flowing dresses to nothing at all, these women are celebrating Lane Bryant’s #ThisBody campaign.

It should be a celebration of all bodies, but instead, ABC has flat-out refused to run the ad. NBC won’t air the spot either, citing that the ad doesn’t meet the FCC’s “broadcast indecency guidelines.”

What’s the big deal? Why should you care?

This just goes to show that size discrimination continues to be real. OK, I get this ad isn’t appropriate for daytime TV. But let’s face it—network TV has thrown us far worse. From Paris Hilton or Charlotte McKinney selling Carl’s Jr. burgers to famous vegans stripping down for PETA, advertisers always use women who wear less than these five models to hawk their wares. But a size 16 woman?! Apparently the double standard is very real. And very not cool.

The commercial depicts very normal-sized women just like us. Lane Bryant does still have a long way to go in diversity (all the models are 14/16 and hourglass shaped), but since the average American woman is a size 14, what is it specifically that ABC and NBC object? Why shouldn’t all bodies be celebrated? Are they trying to alienate a key demographic?

What does your body allow you to do? I love this ad’s message because it celebrates our bodies’ victories no matter what the size. My size 18/20 body was made to run 5Ks, do yoga, and love this one life I have.

You have the power to make your voice heard. There are a few things you can do to make your voice heard on this subject:

  • Contact your local ABC and NBC affiliates via social media to voice your opinion.
  • Thank CBS for keeping a more open mind and allowing the commercial to air.
  • Get in touch with Lane Bryant to let them know you support their message of love at any size and their #ThisBody campaign.
  • Support Lane Bryant with your business.
  • Don’t let this be a one-and-done headline. Keep this topic of discrimination in advertising alive by discussions with your friends and family.

While this may seem like a trivial topic, it is sad two of the major three networks have intentionally decided not to air this commercial. It shows women whose size is very much the norm and it carries a message of empowerment. However, ABC and NBC have decided to cite vague obscenity laws to mask blatant size description. In the end, we, the plus-size community, lose out because our voices and images continue to be underrepresented and ignored altogether.

What do you think about the video? Are NBC and ABC being discriminatory? Comment below!