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Getting That Goddess Look: Maxi Dresses For Plus-size Women

Posted by on September 16, 2013

There is nothing quite as dramatic or flattering as a good maxi dress. There is a small part of me that really wants to believe in the whole lost princess fantasy and that I will eventually be ferried away to rule my own small kingdom à la Mia Thermopolis of The Princess Diaries. Until then, I will wear my princess-esque maxi dresses and keep my plans for castle renovation to myself. Luckily, I found the IGIGI Jordan Maxi Dress to help me live out my fantasy a little bit.

I wore this dress to a dinner out with my family and I paired it with wedge sandals and a cropped denim jacket since it finally seems that Fall weather is starting up a bit.

I wore this dress to a dinner out with my family and I paired it with wedge sandals and a cropped denim jacket since it finally seems that Fall weather is starting up a bit.

I cannot get over the fluidity of this dress. The fabric, a chiffon overlay with a full jersey lining, is absolutely divine. The geometric, chevron pattern on the skirt is current and elongates the legs while creating a lot more visual interest than simple stripes and the hem cuts up in the front giving a soft, petal-like look while eradicating any fears of accidentally stepping on the hem. The chiffon sleeves are also customizable and the drawstrings can be pulled tight and tied for a tank look or loosened (like I wore them) to create true short sleeve. The chiffon is still semi-sheer so you get a touch more coverage while still looking sexy. The wide neckline cut across my shoulders and showed a decent amount of skin so I added a chunky, vintage gold necklace to balance it out while still emphasizing the sweetheart cut of the neckline. The thick band hits me right under the bust for an empire waist that is flattering on every body type.

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When wearing a maxi dress, it can be fine line between looking like a Greek goddess or looking short and dumpy, so cut and structure is incredibly important when picking out your maxi. Look to the five tips below when finding your perfect maxi:

1. Look for a thick strap or a sleeve. If you have a larger bust, wearing a good bra with straps, is a necessity so strapless maxis are usually not an option for most plus-sized women and spaghetti straps can just make your top half look larger.

2. Find an empire silhouette. Sack or swing maxis are out if you are looking for a strictly flattering cut since they will fall directly down and make you look a little larger and shorter than normal. Granted, they can always be belted, but if you’re looking for a completely effortless look stick to empire.

3. Stick to a sweetheart of v-neck neckline. Since your legs are covered the deeper neckline will show some skin and add balance to the maxi dress while elongating your neck and making your entire figure look leaner.

4. Don’t size down. When you’re wearing a maxi dress, part of the appeal is the flow of the skirt and the swing of the fabric around your legs. If you’re wearing a tight tube dress you lose this goddess effect and it takes away from the majesty of a good maxi look. A loose, flowing dress with a cinched waist is the most flattering for a plus-size figure.

5. Pay attention to prints. A large, oversized print on a maxi can be really overwhelming and take away from the dress. On the Jordan Maxi Dress, the exaggerated chevron works so well because the vertical print starts at the skirt allowing for a more flattering look, instead of completely covering the dress from neckline to hemline. If you are interested in a completely patterned maxi dress, a plain belt around the smallest part of your waist will cut the pattern and make you look slimmer.

Some people believe floor-length dresses are inherently formal, but if you have the right accessories a maxi can be perfect either for a daytime or nighttime look. What is your favorite style maxi dress? Tell me in the comments.

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The LBD From Coco To You: How To Find and Rock The Perfect Little Black Dress

Posted by on September 16, 2013

If I had to pinpoint one dominant color in my wardrobe it would undeniably be black. There was a time when essentially the only colors I ever wore were black, onyx or obsidian, with the occasional silver or gold accent. I even had a mild goth phase in high school complete with the necessary Doc Martens and obsessively applied matte, black lipstick.  Thankfully, I grew out of my color-phobia and now my closet is a veritable treasure trove of patterned, rainbow delights. But, I still find nothing more effortless or chic than the famous little black dress. The IGIGI Veronica Dress has all of the classic elements of a well made LBD with a certain added elegance thanks to thoughtful detailing like a dramatic keyhole neckline and a hidden, mid-skirt slit for an extra injection of glamour.

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When shopping for an LBD, it is important to remember to steer clear of anything too trendy. A little black dress should be timeless, elegant and therefore free from the limits of trends, after all, the little black dress in it’s modern incarnation is attributed to Coco Chanel herself. In fact, the first published fashion image of a little black dress was an illustration of a Chanel dress in an October 1926 issue of Vogue. Vogue called the dress “Chanel’s Ford,” in reference to the reliable and omnipresent Model-T’s that Ford was turning out in the 1920′s:

The Chanel “Ford” the frock that all the world will wear is model 817 of black crepe de chine. The bodice blouses slightly at the front and sides and has a tight bolero at the back. Especially chic is the arrangement of tiny tucks which cross in front. Imported by Saks.”

This revolutionary garment only earned 51 words in Vogue, but it laid the groundwork for a stunning overhaul of the fashion industry. The color black, until the 1920′s, was most commonly associated with nuns, widows and, of course, witches. Now black is thought as much more of a seductive and alluring color thanks to associations with pop culture icons like Betty Boop and the great Edith Piaf. Actually, the true explosion of LBD lust hit in 1961 when Audrey Hepburn sashayed across the screen as Ms. Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. For an extensive record of the LBD check out Amy Holman Edelman’s book “The Little Black Dress” which traces the black dress from John Singer Sargent’s painting, Portrait of Madame X, to the music video of  Robert Palmer’s song “Addicted to Love.”

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Ideally, the perfect little black dress should last from five to ten years. I know, that seems like a long time, but the very nature of the dress means that you should be seeking an economical, practical garment with structure. My ideal little black dress has a simple formula: the dress is made from a comfortable and worry free material like jersey, it has two to three interesting, but not overly trendy details, a thick strap or sleeve so I can easily wear a bra and a knee-length hem so I can go from flats to heels with no worries. Happily, the Veronica Dress hits all of these targets for me perfectly. Obviously fit is an incredibly important issue so make sure that your LBD fits you like a glove. It is definitely worth a trip to the tailor if you are intending for your dress to be a true wardrobe staple.

For more LBD inspo check out IGIGI’s Brooke Dress, the Virginia Dress, the Paola Dress and another personal favorite of mine, the ultra sultry Francesca Dress. Remember that simplicity and versatility are key when choosing your LBD because a good dress of any kind is designed to bring out your true beauty.

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The Plus-size Shopping Experience and the Influence of Fashion Bloggers

Posted by on September 13, 2013

Four years ago, I collapsed in tears on the floor of a Macy’s changing room while trying to shimmy another too small prom dress past my thunder thighs. As a 16-year-old high school student and at a U.S. size 14, I sat on the cusp of the plus-size spectrum and was already frustrated with my pathetically limited fashion choices. That much was evident in the heap of discarded dresses on the floor of my changing room ranging from a cheap-looking, puke green, rhinestone-covered monstrosity to an ultra-conservative tan gown, which was probably more appropriate for a mother of the groom. Eventually, I found a strapless, red & yellow printed silk dress with turquoise detailing that fit and adhered to basic fashion standards, but it took more than a dozen trips to the mall, an all out tantrum in the basement of a thrift store and, of course, full-body Spanx.

I am still a U.S. 14, but I have not had the same struggles with my shopping selections since my discovery of online retailers like ASOS, a U.K. based company, and ModCloth, which both carry extended sizing in addition to their standard lines. However, these relatively new plus-size fashion ventures exist purely online, forcing plus-size women to shop from their homes and denying them a physical shopping experience.

Visual art graduate student Torey Akers, 23, who operates the fashion blog Mall-Goth-A-GoGo, says that she hates the poor options available to plus-size customers. “There’s something incredibly insulting about the fact that most plus-size stores exist exclusively online; I feel as if I’m being told that my dress size renders me unworthy of a brick-and-mortar customer service experience,” says Akers.

Torey Akers from the blog Mall-Goth-A-GoGo believes in making clothes work for you. “Always remember that it’s not your moral duty to fit into clothing. If the pants don’t button, you haven’t failed, the damn pants have,” says Akers. Credit: Torey Akers

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Plus-size Style: Confident, Curvy and Finding the Perfect Night Look

Posted by on September 12, 2013

When putting together an outfit for a fun night out, whether that is a date night, a club night or just time out with the girls it can be really challenging to find an outfit that fits and flatters while showing the right amount of skin. I recently headed out for a fun night of drinks and dancing for a friend’s birthday and I had some minor anxiety when it came to picking out the perfect outfit. I am probably the heaviest person in my close group of friends and the only plus-size woman, which occasionally makes me a little self-conscious when we are out together in a group. I always feel some pressure to look and dress more like them instead of keeping up with my own rad style aesthetic. While none of my friends have never been anything but supportive of me, there is always a little voice in my head that tells me that I should be more covered up and conservative even when I’m trying to be more adventurous with my nighttime or club looks. But last Friday, I decided to throw caution to the wind and I pulled out my shortest skirt and highest heels.

This sequined collar necklace adds the right amount of sparkle to this top without distracting from the great pattern.

This sequined collar necklace adds the right amount of sparkle to this top without distracting from the great pattern.

A long-sleeve, high-necked top balances out a short skirt and a simple black heel draws the outfit together. When I tried the IGIGI Greenwich top, I knew that it was going to become one of my staple going out pieces. The jewel-tone pattern in the top is perfect for a fun night out and the different blues, reds and purples in the pattern are great for any skin tone. Plus, the front of the top is lined which camouflages any troublesome bra lines or bumps.

Built in lining on clothing is a huge selling point for me. I can’t stand wearing too many layers underneath my outfit because I end up feeling constricted and a good lined top  gives you the same clean, bump free look as a a tight fitting cami. I wore my top tucked into my leather skirt for an edgy look and my sequin collar and medium-height black pumps juxtapose the severity of the leather skirt nicely.

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A short leather skirt can be a bold choice, especially in the winter because it’s a lot of skin, but a good pair of tights can be your best friend. When the weather changes, I will be wearing this same outfit with tights for both warmth and some additional coverage.

In my experience, however, most women do not shy away from short skirts because they are insecure about showing too much of their legs, but because they worry about their skirts flying up when they’re out walking about. There are a few ways to preserve modesty when baring those gams that I have have found incredibly successful. Check out my five top tips below!

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1. Seek out heavier fabric for skirts. This leather skirt (pictured above) is heavy and stiff enough that I am not in any fear of having a “Marilyn moment.” Wool, tweed and suede all have comparable thickness and can keep a short skirt grounded.

2. If you’re not into heavy fabrics a pencil skirt is a good alternative since it is naturally cut closer to your body and will not have the same flippy effect that an a-line skirt or a skater skirt will have.

3. Sew weights into the hems of your skirts. It requires a little DIY magic (I recommend using large, heavy buttons as weights), but it is super effective.

4. Throw on a pair of bike shorts or tights underneath. Depending on my activities for the evening, a pair of Spanx can be all the coverage I need. However, if you want a cute peekaboo length, the shop Allihalla on Etsy makes cute bike shorts in all sizes with adorable lace trim.

5. Throw caution to the wind (literally). There is nothing wrong with strutting your stuff minus the safety net of any shorts. If you’re comfortable, just remember not to worry about it and have a good time. Although, it doesn’t hurt to have one of your friends be on booty patrol!

When you’re rocking a short skirt or venturing outside of your comfort zone for a more revealing nighttime look, it is important to remember to surround yourself with people who are supportive and will make you feel comfortable even when you’re feeling self-conscious.

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Catching Up with Stylist and Plus-size Model Audrey Lea Curry

Posted by on September 11, 2013

Hollywood in general, has a reputation for being less than supportive of plus-size fashion and by extension plus-size women. However, in the last several years, body-positive celebrities like Tim Gunn, Kelly Osborne and more have made big strides in plus-size fashion and more importantly size acceptance in the media. Stars like Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy and Christina Hendricks have also spoken publicly about creating plus-size clothing and swimsuit lines to help fashion forward plus-size women. With the fashion industry exploring their options, it makes sense that other outlets like television and film are exploring this new cultural preoccupation.

There are many reality television shows marketed to plus-size and weight conscious viewers. Several of these shows include Biggest Loser, More to Love and Dance Your Ass Off and relatively few that give plus-size bodies a positive spin. Currently, We TV’s series House of Curves is chronicling the life and struggles of Atlanta-based Kenyatta Jones as a plus-size designer.

One of the first fat-positive, fashion-centric shows was the miniseries Big Sexy on TLC that aired on August 30, 2011. It was the first reality show that attempted to show the many connections between the fashion industry and plus-size women.  The series consisted of only a three-episode arc, yet it still gained a devoted following averaging 1.13 million viewers an episode.  The premise of the show was to chronicle the struggles of five plus-size women living in New York trying to succeed in the thin-centric fashion industry. Leslie, Tiffany, Nikki, Heather and Audrey, the women of Big Sexy, allowed viewers to see a snapshot into their lives and give some insight into the struggles that they face. These five women want to embrace their curves, redefine sexy, enhance their careers and find love.

Audrey Lea Curry, 26, one of the former stars of Big Sexy, is still heavily invested in the fashion and beauty industry. She works as a makeup artist and body painter while modeling on the side in New York City, but it’s her dream to have her own plus-size clothing line. She is also a beauty ambassador for Nigel Barker’s “Beauty Equation” website.

Some of Audrey Lea Curry’s favorite designers are Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and The Blonds. Credit: Velvet D’Amour

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