This Must Be Thursday. A Public Wishlist – Episode 2.

I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

That being said, I have decided to no longer try to get the hang of Thursdays, rather take Thursdays as a day to mention what I’d like to hang in my closet. That way, I make the hang of Thursdays.

Which totally makes sense, right?

Just go with me here. Welcome to This Must Be Thursday.

In my travels through tweets, I bumped into a user who joined me in Extolling The Virtues Of A Certain English Actor Who Is In The New Star Trek Film, and I couldn’t help but like her. Turns out, I was tweeting with Fiona England, she was using her account for the Get Cutie Co., and her company makes lovely vintage-style dresses!

emily-peacock-lrg

They proudly proclaim on their site that

If we haven’t got it in your size or fabric then we’ll make it.

Now that’s a wonderful attitude!

Their designs and sizing have cup sizes taken into account! (up to a UK G-cup, which is a US I-cup; Doesn’t help me much as a UK K-cup, but it’s a damn sight better than most companies!)

They have designs inspired by every era rom the 40’s to the 70’s, and they have fun prints I’ve never seen before! Browse their fabric gallery to have a look, but here are some finished dresses in unusual patterns:

In modest necklines as well!

Modest necklines? You might think that’s no fun, but if you’re trying to rock a vintage look and have certain hurdles, appropriate wear can be difficult to come by. What if you work in an office setting where showing three inches of cleavage is no good? What if you are uncomfortable with showing your cleavage altogether? What if you are pre-op transgendered and dressing as such? Low-cut items are incompatible with the fashion constructions required to have that work properly. Same for women who are post-op breast cancer survivors with masectomies, who must wear special bras with a padded cup to balance out the removed tissues. What about ladies with skin conditions such as psoriasis, which perhaps they want to hide. No one ever seems to think of these things!

The vintage style revolution often seems to only reproduce outfits worn by Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, or burlesque gear like Bettie Page might have worn. Most of the higher necklines seem to be made by companies which tend to run smaller in size, and that doesn’t help ladies like me one single bit. One could do the sweater girl look, but come on, I live in the Southeastern United States. “Hot As Balls” doesn’t even begin to cover describing the summer temperatures here. Sweaters in July are a no-go. However, I live in a very conservative town, and I need compatible clothes.

So, modest necklines located; Yay! Options for Epic Proportions; More yay! Brilliant women designing vintage style dresses, and they also love Benedict Cumberbatch?!?! Ultra yay!!! How can you go wrong?? (Pro tip: You cannot.)

I like the look of the Slouch Dress best, and that is the only dress that comes in a stretch fabric. However, that one appears to run too small for me. Their sizing page indicates that we should most likely order a size larger than we usually do, probably due to the tailoring on these items. I’ll have to chat with them to see what would work best for me.

They have skirts also!

A little more digging on the site gives me more reasons to like them; their dresses cover sizes UK 8 to 26, and in cup sizes A through G. Their site reflects this range of sizes more than many other clothing lines I’ve seen who make the same claim; there is a some size diversity to the models wearing the dresses. Everything is made without sweatshop labor on the South Coast in the United Kingdom, and they are committed to ethical trading standards. Even better! The only flaw I see is that they are not based within a twenty-mile radius of me! Of course, that could be my fault; England is lovely. Why don’t I live there, again? (sips Earl Grey, hot. decaf.)

The Get Cutie Co. suggests that you start here at this page on How To Shop The Get Cutie Way. Their sizing and fabric selection means a bit of a different order process than you may be used to.

What are you waiting for? Go shopping! Don’t forget to sign up to the newsletter! Definitely don’t forget to send in photographs of you in your purchases to my twitter or Facebook page!

Make it so!

(Pardon me as I cringe for mixing my fandom references.

At least they’re both English.

Ok, English people are involved in both.

Ok, they all speak English.

Ok, I’m lame.

Just go buy dresses and feel pretty, and we’ll all forget this ever happened.

See you next Thursday, since I still won’t have the hang of them.)

-MG-0842-2

The Label Says to Stop Staring! But It Just Isn’t Possible – Review of the Billion Dollar Baby Dress

Not too long ago, I won a dress from Jessica M’s blog Pin Up Persuasion; she had a blogaversary giveaway, and I was the lucky winner of the Billion Dollar Baby dress from Stop Staring!.

You can get the Billion Dollar Baby Dress from their website by clicking here!

Based on what the lovely Ashley at Stop Staring! told me, and based on my measurements, I selected the size 18 in black. By the numbers, it should have been a bit teeny on my boobs, about right on my hips (though possibly largeish), and about two inches too big on the waist. I expected a tailoring bill, but hey, free dress! And stretchy sexy bengaline as the material! It’s always so forgiving!

Anyway, I had heard of Stop Staring! clothing several years ago. My gorgeous friend Dawn had lost quite a bit of weight (she looked amazing before and after the weight loss, so that isn’t the point of the post, thank you very much! Women of all sizes are beautiful, and no one need take this as an impetus to skip lunch), so she needed new clothes, and bought some dresses from Stop Staring! and I was taken aback by how gorgeous they were. Most of what she bought was a strappy or halter variety, which is frequently an incompatible style with my body. Don’t get me wrong, Dawn is a busty woman, but The Rack of Doom™  is kind of like that friend who sucks all the air out of the room when he/she speaks; kind of all-consuming and suffocating. Because Dawn was so long and lithe and curvy and gorgeous and I was a big fat heifer who couldn’t hope to find good clothing to fit (my mentality of then, not now, thank goodness!), I got the name of the clothing company but never bothered to look them up. I mean, who would make dresses that awesome to fit me?

After I won this contest, I was pleasantly surprised that I could find dresses which suited my measurements, and I’m larger now, due to still retaining a few pounds of post-pregnancy weight.

So the dress arrived.

I tried it on.

Poke me with a pitchfork, it fits like a dream.

SS! BDB Blk 18 Header

I don’t have to take it to the tailor at all! Something about the shaping tightens the waist, although it certainly could stretch more.

I love the square neckline on the back! The sleeves are puffy but a balanced sort of puffy, not that kind of puffy that adds 15 pounds just by putting on the dress. My arms aren’t the tiniest, but the sleeves were comfortable and not tight.

I tried this originally with a Freya Deco, but the straps showed a bit at the back. I’m wearing a Curvy Kate bra in these shots, and don’t have that problem, but Freya strap placement may be an issue in this dress. I didn’t have any band showing, so a strapless bra should work just fine. The dress is snug enough to where I don’t think slippage is a problem, which is so often an issue with strapless bras.

SS! BDB Blk 18 shadow pose

This is a wiggle dress, but so many times, I buy a wiggle dress and the skirt is not tight enough to induce the signature wiggle, and I have belling of excess fabric near my knees. I think that’s because my hip/butt/thigh area is so much larger than just above my knees is. I may have to do some research and get most wiggle dresses tailored in that spot. Buying a smaller size may sometimes fix that issue, but I’m almost certain that I would not have fit the 16 in this dress, and certainly not the 14! Typically, one sizes down with bengaline dresses, and I am between the measurements for the 14 and the 16 on the waist. I’m glad I went with the 18, since The Rack of Doom™ most certainly would not have fit in the smaller sizes.

I should note that I am not wearing shapewear with this. Not a damn thing.

I’m wearing my trusty Fluevog Listen Audrey pumps in black patent leather, and I actually managed to get a reasonable style from my hair. Color me stunned.

Meanwhile, I’m in love with this dress. Stop Staring? Naaaaaah. Not possible.

So, I never win anything, but apparently I won something.

I certainly hope this is the beginning of a new trend! Me? Winning? YESSSSSSSSSSS

Ok, now I’m trying to remove Charlie Sheen memes from my noggin.

Moving on.

The lovely Jessica M at Pin Up Persuasion recently had her 1 year blogaversary, and decided to have a contest to celebrate. There were fabulous prizes from some very generous and groovy sponsors, and one of the sponsors was Stop Staring! Clothing.

I won a prize from the draw, and it was the Stop Staring! Billion Dollar Dress in a choice of red or black!

Billion Dollar Dress in red or black

Holy cow! Now that’s a difficult choice, not to mention a delightful thing to win! And I must admit that excited texts and Facebook posts from friends first thing this morning certainly made my horrid day much better (Note to self; do not ever have severe PMS while your baby has severe diaper rash and severe teething. End note.) so thank you Pam and Jessica for your parts in that. You both are just so delightful!

The red version is the dress that Nigella Lawson wore recently on TV here in the states on a show on ABC called The Taste , and the Daily Mail in the UK then wrote an article talking about the dress, how it sold out within hours after the airing of the show, and then the DM put it on 5 different women to see what the fuss was about with this dress. I will have some specific comments, and perhaps an entire post on my reaction to the article in the Daily Mail (not for nothing is it popularly called the Daily Fail). I would advise you not to read the sizeist, fattist, elitist, and hateful comment stream on the article, that is unless you have some specific reason your blood needs to boil.

Nigella also wore this dress in the photo shoot for the ads to promote the show, and told ABC that, no, they couldn’t airbrush out her tummy.

“Although it was very thrilling to think of being up on a billboard in LA and around the States, I was very strict and English and told them they weren’t allowed to airbrush my tummy out. Wise? Hmmm. But that tum is the truth and is come by honestly, as my granny would have said.”

I can’t imagine why they’d want to anyway, since she is absolutely stunning, but that’s frigging Hollywood for you. 

So, on to business: apparently, I’ll be doing a review of this dress in the future (oh noes!), but I have to decide which size to procure. This is super-stretchy bengaline, but I’m going for the black, and black is usually less stretchy (Note to self, part deux {another Charlie Sheen reference! Stop me, please!}; work on that post about why the same fabric has different amounts of stretch in different colors. End note.). Aside from that, I’m all over the place in the sizing chart. Due to the stretch, the site says to size down – that puts me in a 14 for the waist, 16 for the hips, and the 18 is still too small for The Rack Of Doom™ [Ok, I’m typing that so much lately that I might have to change my blog name to The Rack Of Doom™. It has a nice ring to it. Thoughts?]. I have serious concerns about wedging my top-full 47″ bust into a dress which measures 44″, despite the existence of ease and stretch. Going for the 18 would mean an absolute requirement of this dress going to the tailor to take in the waist and possibly the hips and legs. The 16 is a big possibility that it would still need tailoring in the same spots. The 14 would be fine on the waist, likely too tight on the hips, and probably way too small on the bust. I’ve asked for help picking a size on the Stop Staring! Facebook page, so we shall see what answers I get.

UPDATE: Stop Staring! responded on my Facebook post with this response:

“Most customers end up having to exchange this dress because the size they ordered is too small. Because the fabric has a lot of stretch, it can tend to fit tighter than expected (versus hanging loosely)…almost like an elastic band. It will stretch to fit but also shrink back down when take it off, if that makes any sense.. I would suggest that you order a size 18 since it should fit your bust and your hip measurements and just have the waist taken in.”

I’d love it if anyone who has this dress would give me fit feedback on this post on my Facebook page as well.

“But, Jenna! Why not get the red?” I hear all of you screaming at me.

My answer will astound you.

Horrify you.

Make you sneer with disdain or recoil in shock.

I discovered while I was dressing for my Papa’s memorial service about a month ago that I do not own a black dress. Not a frumpy one, not an LBD, not too small or too large, nada. This dress shall cure my closet of such an atrocity.

I guess you might want to stay tuned?

Lane Bryant and the Empty-Handed Customer, Part One

So, I went to Lane Bryant. Again.

I say this with a fair amount of angst. Why, pray tell? After all, this is a plus-size shop, yes? Good things there, right?

Too bad I couldn’t find any to fit. Again.

Despite wandering in there for years, despite numerous visits, I have never actually purchased a thing from Lane Bryant. I could rant on plus size shops in general (I’m looking at you, too, Avenue), but I’m going to be specific here, and talk about my experiences with Lane Bryant.

I’ve been lured in by nice jackets in the window, lovely lingerie on display, pretty colors, nice cuts, the works. Every time, I end up disappointed.

The jackets are pinned in the back at the waist to make them appear more tailored on the display, but are actually cut far too large for me in the ribs and waist. The lingerie on display is labeled in dress sizes that cover more than one size – for instance, I noted an 18/20 and a 22/24 – but have actual formed bra cups that need to be labeled with an actual band and cup size. This also ignores the fact that a woman may be plus-sized and all boob in the chest as opposed to being plus-sized and all ribcage – this lingerie is designed for the latter, and I swear the 18/20 would have fit a 44C. Nothing wrong with that, but it certainly won’t fit my 36J/K boobs. The colors are great, but these are not accessories; I need to wear these items and have them actually function on me as garments. The nice cuts still balloon on me. I usually leave dejected, likely never to return, until my hope builds again. Then, I go into one on a whim, thinking ‘just maybe this time will be different.’

It never is different.

This time, I went for bras.

Oh, foolish, foolish girl!

I suppose you can guess how that went, but I’m not sparing details. Sorry, not sorry.

I went in specifically for the French Full Coverage bras. They’re supposed to be available in much larger sizes than your average store. In the US, that generally means topping out at a US H cup, but a 40H or 42G can work for me, provided I alter the band down to a 36.

The Lane Bryant bras are made by Cacique, so it’s a known brand. However, I’ve never found a bra of theirs in a size to try on, so I thought I’d mosey over to the Lane Bryant store and pray for a miracle. [Note: to me, a miracle is defined as: finding something lovely that fits in the cup and I won’t mind paying a$20+ premium to get the band altered down to my size.]

Oh, they’re even pretty! Blue with black dots! Black and pink tapestry design! Chevron stripes. Chevron. Stripes. And every one had a special tag which said “Available in F, G, and H cup”. Hallelujah! A miracle!

But where were those larger cup sizes? I searched the rack for the particular style, and nothing. I searched to see if there were a different rack specifically for the larger cup sizes, and still nothing. I asked the lovely saleslady where those bras might be. I was stunned by the answer.

“Oh, you have to go online for those.”

Wait, what?

The feature that is specially tagged on these bras is not available at the location of said tags? I have to go online to buy what is advertised in the store? Let’s go through that step by step.

To buy an item from this store, due to its size I must:

  • Pretend to have an understanding of how the product is sized
  • Decide that I want the item
  • Leave the store
  • Go home or go to a place with a computer and internet connection
  • Find the online store
  • Find the item I desire (which means having noted the item’s name, or else I’m just hunting endlessly in the catalog)
  • Order by that size I’m supposed to hope works.
  • Pay for delivery.
  • Wait for delivery
  • Hope it fits.
  • Deal with it if the item doesn’t fit.

I’ve done a lot of retail work, and if you want a customer to do this when you already had them in the store, ready to buy, you’re just about guaranteed to lose the sale. Personally, it makes me feel like this:

I don't have enough Middle Fingers

Because your larger-busted customers wouldn’t actually want to, y’know, try those bras on before buying, would they?

The last time I dealt with this was at Abercrombie; They used to have some amazing low-rise flare leg jeans and cords, but the last time I set foot in the store, the corresponding rack had a little sign on it which stated that size 12’s could only be purchased online. It might as well have said “WE HATE FATTIES!” and certainly delivered the impression that they did not care to have women who were at the top end of the available sizes but still smaller than the average American woman wear their items.

I can expect that sort of opinion and treatment from an elitist and sizeist chain whose signature ad look includes buff boys and teeny girls, all white of course. But from a store for plus-sized women? Sizeism has no place there. None.

The salesperson was lovely, and also helpfully said that I could purchase in-store, that they would ship to my house for free, and I could return items to the store directly. I thought I’d go online and have a look at a size chart, select my best sister size option and order the next time I was in the area.

Surprise! I find that my two favorite prints – the pink and black tapestry and the blue with black polka dots – are not available in F, G, and H. The size chart is grayed in those sizes for these items.

Apparently, this bears repeating:

I don't have enough Middle Fingers

I don’t have enough Middle Fingers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lane Bryant has failed to make me their customer. Again.

Frugal Pinup – An ongoing discussion on looking great affordably

My whole life I’ve been utterly broke. First, it was when I was a child and had no choice. Then, it was when I was a teen, and I had little earning power as an unskilled worker. Now, I’ve just been in the habit of being broke for so long that I assume that I’m still broke, and deserve to be. That last bit just isn’t helping.

I’ve always been frugal, because of the brokeness. However, quality items are worth every penny, and I’ve known to grab quality where I can.

We’re plenty broke right now, but that’s going away. I’ve been a jeans and cheap shirt girl forever. I think that’s time to change.

I used a budgeting calculator recently, and it asked what kind of  clothing purchases I made. The quiz asked me to say if I am a designer-only purchaser who had to stay on-trend, an on-trend woman who buys more classics in less prestigious brands with one or two nice designer pieces a year, or someone who doesn’t follow trends, shops sales, and rarely buys designer anything. I qualified as the last option, and the budgeting tool said that I needed to allot $2500-$3000/year on clothing.

Ha.

haha.

Ahhahahahahahahahaaaaa!

Yeah, I don’t often spend $250 per year, let alone $2500.

So, I decided to tally my purchases this year and came up with approximately $210 for the year to that point. And I started the year pregnant. And $110 of that was work shoes. And $40 of that was one bra. That leaves $60 for tops, undies, jeans, skirts, socks, dresses, and anything else. For the year. The year I’d had a baby, and should therefore have excessive change in size. It became obvious to me that I am not keeping up with clothing well.

I dug into a few drawers and cataloged my wardrobe. My favorite skirt is seven+ years old, and originally cost about $15. Two pencil skirts on hand are four+ years old. I found a vest that actually fit my shape for about $20 three years ago. There’s a great black button-up that I bought for some function that required it, with rhinestone buttons and it doesn’t actually button over my boobs – I have to wear a tank under it – and that is at least five years old. I found a bunch of shirts that don’t fit, skirts that I feel I should no longer wear due to the short length, socks with holes, and underwear I’ve had since before I moved into town with my ex-husband back when he was still my husband. That divorce was final over seven years ago, which means that, until recently, I possessed nine- and ten-year-old underwear.

There’s frugal, and then there’s ridiculous. Wearing undies that make me feel ugly, with holes, shot elastic, and a decade’s worth of age qualifies as ridiculous.

I threw out old socks and undies, and found a home for two bras that were practically unworn but far too small for me. I long for the time four years ago when I cashed in some work stock and was able to drop $500 on bras and matching undies. I need to be able to do at least that annually, because an average bra for my size runs over $50 each. I haven’t done that since.

I’ve discovered the blind spot that is my wardrobe, and realize that I need to fix it, but here’s the problem: clothes for me are often ill-fitting, ugly, or expensive due to my shape and size. A good fit also often requires alterations.

I wear a 36 or 38 JJ bra (UK size 36H or 38GG-H). L, XL, or 2XL, depending on the item. For jeans, the brand I wear most often is a US 14 in their curvy line. These can pose some difficulties, but I’m tackling them anyway. I’m going to work on these problems and build my wardrobe with a pin-up aesthetic. Even better, I’m going to do it affordably. Best, I’m going to share my experiences here with you! I hope you’ll give your input.