The Art of the Selfie, and Why Plus-Size Fashionistas Should Embrace Them

Posted by on September 24, 2013

Love it, hate it, selfies have gone legit. In August, the Oxford English Dictionary officially added “selfie” to its virtual pages, along with a variety of other pop-culture-heavy, conversational gems like fauxhawk, jorts, and twerk. According to the good ‘ol Oxford dictionary, selfie is defined as:

• selfie, n. (informal): a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary. 

With all due respect to the ladies and gents running things at Oxford University Press, I’m  a firm believer in daily selfies. While I don’t necessarily feel the need to post pictures of myself everyday on my various social media, I think that taking daily selfies can be helpful, inspirational, and even therapeutic.

Here is a collection of some of my various selfies taken the last couple of months. When I take a selfie, it is often for purely personal use to double check my outfit.

Here is a collection of some of my various selfies taken the last couple of months. When I take a selfie, it is often for purely personal use to double check my outfit.

Sites like Instagram, with their flattering and vaguely artistic filters, encourage selfie culture.  The New York Times even ran an article in September about how Instagram is inspiring the fashion world by serving as an eclectic, virtual look book. According to the article, “In the broadest sense, Instagram functions as a crowd-friendly extension of the traditional trunk show, in which clients could order variations on a design.” Many designers and brands like IGIGI, Michael Kors, Jason Wu and Diane von Furstenberg use Instagram as a way to connect with their fans and allow shoppers to actually inspire their collections through direct comments and occasional contests. Those same designers are not shy about posting their own selfies: last week, Diane von Furstenberg herself posted a selfie lying in bed after a long day at New York Fashion week.

Selfies allow people to connect and inspire, but for me and for many like-minded fashion addicts, selfies are a way to share our design aesthetic and the cool details in our “outfits of the day,” or to use the popular Instagram hashtag, #OotD. They’re also a great way to check your outfit. Have you ever put together an outfit that you thought was perfect and then cringed when you saw the photos appear on Facebook? Selfies are my own personal cure for outfit remorse. By snapping a quick mirror pic, I can see the entirety of my body through another lens, look at how the fabric is laying, and inspect an improvised cuff before going off and facing the day. As a plus-size woman, I frequently find myself improvising looks from various thrifted and altered pieces that I rig up, and selfies give me a way to test these looks and feed my narcissism just a little bit  - and honestly, couldn’t we all use a small ego-boost every now and then?

There is even an argument to be made that selfies might become as popular and as much as a fashion staple as street style photography. Nanette Lepore mentioned in the same New York Times article that her most recent resort collection, which premiered at Fashion Week, was influenced by girls taking selfies on Venice Beach. “‘We were inspired by how these girls just go out in the street and take pictures of themselves,” Lepore said.

Vogue is also jumping on the selfie train. The magazine staff posted this selfie of Anna Wintour reading Vogue on the official Vogue Instagram account as part of a promotion about Vogue’s famed September Issue, encouraging readers and fans to upload their own selfies with the hashtag #voguestagram, to create more commentary and connection.

Unfortunately, there is still a decent amount of criticism when it comes to selfie-culture. Critics claim that the act of taking a selfie is annoying, insecure, and self-obsessed. Yet, I think that there is something inherently brave in posting a selfie. Everyone who views the image can tell that you took the photo and clearly felt comfortable enough to post it online, meaning that you obviously think you look good. What could show more confidence than telling the world that you like how you look and this is how you’re choosing to present yourself? So no more selfie-shaming! Be brave, be confident, be creative, and embrace all of your angles.

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An Interview with Allie Krystal, the Curvy Canadian Bombshell Blogger from “Ailurophile with Style”

Posted by on September 23, 2013

There is a definite lack of visibility of plus-size bodies in the entertainment industry. Very few confident, plus-size women appear on popular, mainstream TV shows and movies. And even when plus-size women are depicted, their size is often a major plot point rather than their personality (thank goodness for Retta’s unapologetically fabulous portrayal of Donna Meagle on the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation). Due to this lack of representation, many plus-size women with an interest in fashion often take to the Internet via blogging sites like Tumblr, or other social media sites like Instagram, in order to give both their bodies and their fashion sense the attention and visibility they deserve. One such blogger is Allie Krystal, a 23-year-old political science undergrad at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, who blogs via Tumblr and Instagram at the handle “Ailurophile with Style.”

Allie Krystal

Allie feels that all plus-size women and men have faced size discrimination at one point or another while shopping. Credit: Allie Krystal

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Day to Night: IGIGI’s Mara Dress and Our 5 Top Tips for Finding the Perfect Plus-Sized Versatile Dress

Posted by on September 19, 2013

Every once in a while you slip into a dress and immediately feel awesome. That happened today when I put on the IGIGI Mara dress in Imperial Blue. Whenever I’m at home online shopping, there are a few specific key words that I constantly search for: dresses with pockets, oversized crop tops (child of the 90′s) and dolman sleeves. So I was too excited when I found this gorgeous dress with dolman sleeves on IGIGI’s site and it was *gasp* on sale. The dress is fully lined so it slides perfectly over the body and it has a really interesting knotted drape detail on the side which I had not been expecting, but it is incredibly helpful in hiding my tummy. The draping pulls across the waist and made my body look long and statuesque, which at 5’6” it is decidedly not. I did not feel like this dress needed a wealth of accessories, so I just threw on a layered pewter necklace and a pair of black suede heels.

I wore the Mara dress to a lunch meeting at a friend's country club and I felt perfectly dressed. The heels might have been a bit much, but high heels always give me a huge burst of confidence. 

I wore the Mara dress to a lunch meeting at a friend’s country club and I felt perfectly dressed. The heels might have been a bit much, but high heels always give me a huge burst of confidence. 

Part of what makes this dress so great is its versatility. I wore this dress with a blazer and flats for work and got a lot of compliments on it at the office. The bateau neckline runs right across my collarbone and it makes the dress even more elegant since it adds that whole Audrey Hepburn look to any dress.

The length of this dress is truly knee-length, but the skirt of the dress closes in the front which serves as a slit and adds a little bit of sexiness.

The length of this dress is truly knee-length, but the skirt of the dress closes in the front which serves as a slit and adds a little bit of sexiness.

When looking for a dress that can easily transition from work to day to night I have five details that I always look for:

1. Fabric: Unfortunately, there are very few fabrics that can transition easily for any situation or event. Jersey is one of the only fabrics that is appropriate for both day and night. It’s also wrinkle-free which is a huge bonus for me. Cotton is ideal for day only and materials like rayon and spandex tend to be better for evening looks.

2. Color or pattern: If I’m truly looking for a transitional dress, I rarely choose a patterned dress because I want total variability. However, certain basic patterns like polka-dots and stripes are simple and uniform enough that they are essentially solids and therefore easier to adapt. The simple, but rich royal blue of the Mara dress is good for both day and night and the rich color gives a real vibrancy to my look instead of another little black dress. Solid hued dresses can be just as slimming as an LBD.

3. Neckline: For night, I tend to look for deeper necklines, but a bateau, or boat neckline, is incredibly elegant and creates a frame around the face to draw attention. For day, I would wear my hair down with a bateau and allow my hair to close the frame, but for night I would put my hair up and add a little extra eyeliner to make my eyes the center of attention.

4. Length: Length can be tricky when seeking versatile pieces, but it never hurts to play it safe with a knee-length dress. The layered skirt of the Mara dress gives the visual effect of a slit which will be even more apparent and allow me to show a little extra skin when dancing at night.

5. Comfort: In my mind, if I’m not comfortable in an outfit – it’s not worth it. The jersey fabric, with the dolman sleeves and the flattering draping makes this dress supremely comfortable and I would be able to wear it all day and well into the night.

The Mara dress also comes in "Majesty Purple."

The Mara dress also comes in “Majesty Purple.”

Edith Head once said, “Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.” I think that the careful draping, but slinky jersey of this dress fits the bill. Where did you find your first “perfect” plus-size dress? Tell me in the comments.

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Peplum Novice: Making Any Trend Work For You

Posted by on September 18, 2013

When they made their comeback about a year ago, I did not understand the appeal of peplums. The peplum was first seen in Ancient Greece on both male and female togas, but the trend as we know it with the more sculptural aesthetic, appeared in the 1930′s when women’s suits started to become very popular, as seen on celebrities like Joan Crawford. After fading away in the 1960′s and 1970′s when loose, draped silhouettes returned, the peplum came back with a vengeance in the 1980′s complete with the obligatory shoulder pads to create a “balanced look.” (See: Sue Ellen Ewing of Dallas). Last spring, the peplum once again made a reappearance and I simply decided to sit back and watch it die out, just like I did with the velour sweatsuit craze of the early 2000′s. Lately, however, I have started to notice some more subdued peplums in tops and jackets that piqued my interest and I thought that it might be worth a try so I picked up the IGIGI Florence Peplum Top.

The IGIGI Florence Peplum Top comes in cobalt with a green tank or in black with a purple tank.

The IGIGI Florence Peplum Top comes in cobalt with a green tank or in black with a purple tank.

Don’t miss out on peplum style

As soon as I tried it on, I knew that I had been missing out. Initially, I was not overly enthused with peplums because I knew that the style is designed to make your hips look larger and add a bit of volume and my hips are large enough as it is. However, I completely underestimated how small the peplum would make my waist look. A peplum, even a relaxed peplum, can give you a perfect hourglass figure and the Florence Top did not disappoint. I paired it with a pair of jeggings and black heels to balance out the vibrant cobalt and green. I wore this outfit for a movie date with some friends. Ironically, I decided to go with a pair of skintight jeggings instead of some wide-leg jeans or trousers because I liked the super curvy affect that the Florence top gave my hips.

I would also wear this top with a pencil or a body conscious (body con) skirt to play up the shape even more. If you wear a peplum skirt try it with a fitted top for a similar silhouette.

Part of my initial issue with peplums was their tendency to fly up and therefore look shorter than they are intended to. However, the Florence Peplum Top comes with a detached, layering tank which erases that problem completely.

Part of my initial issue with peplums was their tendency to fly up and therefore look shorter than they are intended to. However, the Florence Peplum Top comes with a detached, layering tank which erases that problem completely.

All peplums are not made equal

After I had such a success with this top, I thought that I would give a more structural jersey, peplum dress a try. I did not even make it out of the dressing room. The peplum started too low on my waist and the jersey bunched oddly, looking almost like a napkin. For a peplum to be truly successful on a plus-size frame, it is vital for the cut above the peplum to hit you at your natural waist (i.e. the smallest part of your body) allowing the flare to float away from your midsection. Otherwise, the peplum can make you look twice your size, which is a look that no one is interested in. The peplum creates an utterly feminine silhouette so feminine fabrics, like lace, or floral prints really play up that femininity and can be demure while still be sexy especially since lace and florals can make your bust look larger. For an edgier look, try a leather peplum skirt or a studded peplum belt to vamp it up and add a biker chic look to your wardrobe.

How do you like to wear peplums? Tell me in the comments.

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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.

maxi5

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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