Who says trends are only reserved for size-2 teenagers? Thanks to a slew of fashion-forward plus-size stores, women of all sizes and shapes can partake in the latest styles. We asked the experts for their tips on how to translate runway trends for real figures. Truth be told, some of the current looks are challenging, no matter what your size.
"I think this season is one of the trickiest for plus-size women," says Clinton Kelly, co-host of TLC's What Not to Wear. "For crying out loud, skinny jeans can make a size 6 look like a size 12." Here, the pros offer their secrets on how to adapt trends for a curvier shape:
Skinny Jeans and Leggings
Although the boot cut is still a universally flattering classic, slimmer silhouettes are the look du jour. Fran Kauchner, style expert at plus-size retailer Silhouettes, says slim jeans and leggings are popular this year, despite the fact that they can be hard to wear. She recommends a denim legging that marries two great trends and looks modern tucked into a high boot. But Kelly counsels caution. "Skinny jeans put all the emphasis on your hips, thighs, and butt. Some women don't mind that, but most women I know want those body parts to look smaller," he says. If you do want to wear skinnies, "make sure you're doing them in a dark wash, and emphasizing your waist somehow."
Today's tunics are a godsend to those of us who love comfort dressing, but be careful with the cut. If your top is too roomy, you could look like you're wearing a tent. "The last thing a plus-size girl should wear is a shapeless tunic that covers the butt. She'll look top-heavy and bigger than she really is," says Kelly. "Tunics are great if they narrow a little at the waist and have darting at the bust." Kauchner recommends embellished and bohemian styles, or a "tress" -- a dress/tunic hybrid that will have the tailoring and the length in one piece.
Cinching the waist is an easy way to create an hourglass -- and to capitalize on a huge trend. "Wear a chain belt so it's not hugging tightly," says Kauchner. "Wider belts can break up the top half of your body." Should you position it at your hips, natural waist -- or even higher? "Most women are smallest under the bustline, so raise that belt higher than your natural waist -- right at the bottom of your rib cage," says Kelly.
Tucking pants into knee boots has been a big look for several years now, but now even those who don't have twig-like legs can pull off this style. Silhouettes, J.Crew, Lane Bryant, and Ann Taylor are among the retailers that offer extended-calf boots. Booties also look chic this year -- and fit everyone, regardless of calf size.
Big, bold prints -- especially animal-inspired -- have made a huge comeback and can help distract the eye from a problem area. Kauchner says a "bold, statement-driven top" with a dark bottom is a no-fail look. "Remember to keep your prints proportionate with your frame," says Kelly. "Just as a petite woman would be overwhelmed by gigantic prints, a plus-size woman can be underwhelmed by itsy-bitsy Holly Hobby florals." This daring tress from Silhouettes (pictured above) offers look-at-me swagger.
I find that for many of the ladies out there with a curve or two (or in my case three, four and yes, five,) the most difficult thing is not exactly finding clothes that fit – it’s finding clothing in general. For this installment of Friday Fashion Finds I thought that the best place to start is to show you that there are places to find clothing that fits and surprise surprise may even be trendy!!!
Once you find somewhere that sells clothing in your size the fun starts. Now keep in mind this very important point – take a chance! Fashion isn’t just about what is stylish right now, it’s about classic lines, colors and items that FIT you the way you want them to!
I understand that many retailers are only selling items in larger or extended sizes online only (the why is another discussion entirely), but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to blacks and grays or cardigans and baggy shirts. Take a chance and worst case - return it! I’ll link to some strategies for shopping online but in the meantime start looking at these places which carry beautiful clothing in our sizes!!!
One thing to remember is this – in plus-size clothing you don’t always get what you pay for. Many retailers take advantage of using cheaper, thinner material so mind some classic guideline when purchasing clothing. Most well known designers sell extended sizes. If you’ve never ordered plus size clothing online try to stay to clean lines, classic styles and basics. As you get more and more comfortable with the retailer you’ll feel more confident trying other styles, cuts, colors and fits.
Below is a list of plus-size retailers that don’t break the bank along with their links. They are alphabetized below. A higher-end fashion list will be given later this week. If you’ve purchased clothing from the retailers below feel free to share your thoughts. These are a few of my favorites but there are tons out there. I tell people to start at places like T.J. Max, Ross, Marshalls and Gabes when trying something new. Hell – I’ve gotten some nice things from GoodWill too!!!
$ - Least Expensive
$$ - Less Expensive
$$ Alloy – http://www.alloy.com
$$$ Ashley Stewart - http://www.ashleystewart.com
$$ B&Lu - http://www.bandlu.com
$ Deb – http://www.debshops.com
$ Dots – http://www.dots.com
$$ Faith21 by Forever21 - http://www.forever21.com
$$ Gap – http://www.gap.com
$$$ Lane Bryant - http://www.lanebryant.com
$$$ Macy’s - http://www.macys.com
$ Old Navy – http://www.oldnavy.com
$$ Sealed With a Kiss - http://www.swakdesigns.com
So just the other day I was thinking that I’m a lazy piece of crap and I need to tighten up this body of mine. I of course began by outlining the diet that I was going to do – of course I would think that diet alone will help me or anyone else in ship shape condition. I started with the normal debate if I starve myself, eat only lettuce and tomatoes, go organic or attempt the whole diet-pill meal replacement thing – what is best I wonder? The answer? No fricking clue.
Now, I’ve counted calories before and have been successful at it. The best resource I’ve found (and that my doctor has recommended) is a site called http://www.thedailyplate.com. You are able to not only search and count calories but keep a running track of the number of calories you take in and how much you use while exercising (or in my case breathing).
So I choose counting calories (as usual) and as I make this decision be rest assured that I’m stuffing my face with mashed potatoes and decide to take a trip out to the local outlet mall. I saw a commercial for the Reebok EasyTONE shoes and a magazine ad. Hmmmmm... I wonder – does it work. Apparently the shoe is supposed to tone your leg and butt muscles by creating instability that you compensate for. I don’t know about all that, but I figure I’m just lazy enough to give it a try.
I buy a pair, which for some reason seems silly as though I’m going to have a rock-hard toned ass through what Reebok calls “balance pods.” The show cost me 90 bucks after a discount and I’ll tell you what - those shoes are comfortable as all hell. Your tush is supposed to have increased muscle activation up to 28% and 11% for thighs and calves. (I’ll let you know in the review section once I give them adequate time to use them). I’m not sure that my rear will ever look like the ads but what a great marketing campaign!
(Hey, for those girls who love flipflops apparently there is eaven an EasyTone Flip Sandle!!!)
I work in a company where everyone is visible. There are very few walls and even fewer doors so any attempt at privacy is a failed one. In general I find that many people just seem to give up because of the lack of style in clothing.
In a professional environment you often hear “to be the part you have to dress the part,” but it’s so hard to do as we balance our everyday activities. EXCUSES EXCUSES PEOPLE! Come on now; let’s get our most basic attempts at getting ready for work in the morning together. When you think of the views that society has on fuller-figured women (men too!) none of them are positive. This isn’t early America or another country where a plump woman shows wealth and the ability to carry children. A plump woman can mean that she likes her double cheeseburgers, Facebook and lots of sleep. Society doesn’t care that birth control made you gain 12 pounds, that you’re bloated or that you have a thyroid problem. YOU ARE NOT BIG BONNED and who wants to sell themselves that way? Listen, let’s not bullshit each other, lets be honest. Society thinks we are sloppy, lazy and care very little about ourselves or we wouldn’t be big. This is not true of the situation so ANY attempt we make should be one that breaks the stigma. I know you ladies are beautiful, smart, wonderful caring people - but WE have to show it.
Even if you are a plus-sized woman there is no reason to look sloppy. We all have our bad days, lord knows I do too, but let’s attempt to follow some basic guidelines on care.
I know right, who needs to be reminded to shower? Surprisingly LOTS of women are looking crusty at work. A washed face and fresh deodorant is not an equivalent to showering. You wonder why people say big people smell… this is why. What the hell are you gonna do if you didn’t shower, it’s mid August and the air goes down at work? Stink is what the hell you’re gonna do. Come on now ladies. (And please don’t act like you are surprised by this, I hear women all the time making comments like “I didn’t even shower this morning I was running so late!” It happens. Maybe not to you, but it does). Perfume can’t fix it and you may be the last to smell yourself.
2. Toiletries are created for a reason.
Listen, if your leg is itchy and you lift your dress pants up to scratch it and a male or female coworker sees a hairy leg – he/she is gonna talk. Now, maybe I’m making it worse then it needs to be but WHY THE HELL AREN’T YOU SHAVING YOUR DAMN LEGS?! If you have a medical reason fine, but that’s the only reason it would be acceptable. We are not in France – this is NOT acceptable. As much as I giggle, if you don’t shave because no one sees your legs no one will want to see any part of you if they think you are covered in hair. If your hair doesn’t grow fast – it must if people could see it. Armpits – if I’m making such a stink about your legs imagine what I’m gonna say about your damn pits. Use deodorant. Brush your teeth – multiple times a day (wisps and gum don’t count), clean your ears; brush your hair, USE LOTION! Whatever it is that you do, make sure you do it.
3. Hair should always have something done to it
You don’t need to wear an updo. Wash it, brush it and if need be pin it up. It doesn’t have to be fancy but at least make an attempt.
4. You don’t wear makeup? Maybe you should.
Makeup doesn’t need to be the entire paint pallet – not at all. If you naturally don’t wear makeup make sure that your skin is moisturized and apply a little Chapstic. If it’s a night out or a special meeting at work add a little mascara (no eyeliner) and a less shiny gloss. Chapstick offers a roller ball gloss that has a slight sheen or SoftLips has one that has a slight tint.
5. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOUR NAILS!
If you bite your nails file them. If you have dirt under them – clean them. Clean nails are must ladies!
6. Make sure you match! And why are your clothes wrinkled?
If you are unsure if something matches it likely looks stupid. Change. If you wish you would have ironed your shirt – change. If you do not feel confident –change.
7. What the hell do you have on your feet?
Wear nice shoes. No holes, no crocks at work (why do people do this?!), do not wear heels that are to thin to carry your big booty or heels so high you look even bigger. I recommend kitten heals for those women who like to wear a heal since they elongate the leg by adding subtle height without having you tower. If you like a flat try a small pointed flat as they will draw the eye out from the leg making it longer and leaner. Rounded shoes stop the eye and square chunky shoes give you Frankenstein short stalky legs – even if you don’t have them.
Are you like me and go barefoot while sitting at your desk? No dirty feet ladies, manicured toe nails and smooth feet. If you don’t have those keep a pair of trendy slippers under your desk!
When you smile it tightens the muscles in your face – you look slimmer, happier and more pleasant. Life is too short to be miserable ladies. You are beautiful – smile!!!
While browsing and researching my next blog article I ran into something very interesting, something I've never seen before. It seems that, despite my continual complaining that there is a lack of resources for real life plus-size women I ran into an upcoming event in New York next week. Apparently there is a Full Figure Fashion Week sponsored by Sonsi a new networking site from the face of Lane Bryant. More information will follow but, if you're interested definitely take a look.
The more I search for something basic and profound about beauty, health or even lifestyle of the plus size woman I find that there is nothing out there that is even remotely realistic. I look through stacks of magazines, books, articles and even through channels on the tube only to be continually disappointed by their lack of – well – truth. Granted, I’m full of as much bullshit as the next woman figuring out who she is and what the heck I’m gonna do (or what excuses) I can find in regards to my body – BUT this isn’t going to be the place for it. Not at all.
If you don’t like it – change it. If you don’t want to change it figure out how to make it work!!!
This is the first blog that will touch on a number of different weekly posted series. You’ll find that my goal of this is basic and simple – I don’t even know if anyone reads blogs anymore these days but I’m willing to put it all out there for whoever is willing to take the time to read it and be involved, if they wish. There is a lack of resources out there for women who have bodies with bumps and curves and even some jiggle so my goal is to provide real resources for women of all sizes, who just want to cut through all the bullshit and get to the good stuff.
Random fat fact -The average size of a woman over the age of 18 is a 14. Too bad the manikins are usually a size 4-6 or in plus departments they are a 12-14 where the most popular size is a 22… no wonder things don’t look as good on me as they do on the manikins.
Got a suggestion? Just tell me. I’ve got it covered!!!