Monday, September 1, 2014

Untamed Style Fall Fashion Trend: Scarves




Oh Fall, how I love thee....let me count the ways. Scarves, boots, layers....sigh... Who isn't ready to wrap themselves up in layers and take walk in the crisp Fall air whilst sipping on their favorite coffee beverage? I, for one, can not wait! When my Untamed Style blogger group decided on Fall Trends for this month's theme I knew I just had to do scarves. What I didn't think about, is that it's still a billion degrees, which makes wearing scarves totally gross right now. The result of this was be procrastinating writing this post until the very last minute. Whoopsie! The bright side is , however, it gave me a great chance to show you how a scarf can take you from train wreck to traffic stopper in a flash! Are you ready? Here we go!

Oh no! I'm late! How can I look fab in a flash?
How many days have started like that? Messy hair, no make up, (maybe some unsightly roots?), and no time to get ready?!?!? In the photos below, all I did was apply lipstick, throw on some fab sunnies and a classic pair of hoops. Now, it's not perfection, but it is a drastic improvement. Plus each look took less that 2 minutes!

The Double Twist


The Rock Star


Double Up

this could be great with patterned scarves, too!

Just a Bow


The Royal



You can never have too many scarves! Whenever I see one with a good price, I snap that baby up! There are soooooo many great ideas out there about how to style your scarves. A quick Google search will open a world of options to you. I also think it is important to store them in a place where you see them regularly. Out of sight, out of mind, right? I keep mine hanging in my closet. The great big ones (my personal favorites) hang on my curtain rod and the little guys are stored in a little hanging pocket thing. Simple!


Here's a few examples of how I have styled my scarves in over the past year.

Sometime silly, sometimes simple, always sassy!
Make sure to check out my fellow Untamed Style sisters blog posts, too! Aarti's talking about velvet, Veronica is layering with plaid, Zadry is getting fierce with animal prints, and Margot is doing edgey layering and blazers!




Monday, August 18, 2014

Battling the Chub Rub: Bandlettes Review


Chub Rub. You know it, I know it, it's the worst. I can not think of a time in my life when my thighs didn't rub together. However, it wasn't until I was about 16 years old that I had my first encounter with the agony that is chub rub. Perhaps it had happened before, I don't recall. One instance is burned into my brain, probably as a result of the incredible pain I experienced. It was July. I was living in Sacramento California and I had just watched a giant thermometer soar from 100 degrees to 115 degrees in less than an hour from my window seat in a local cafe as I sipped on my umpteenth refill of my soda. It was hotter than it seemed possible to be. I knew I needed to leave, but I just couldn’t stand the idea of going outside. Only the power of a teenage crush had enough force to pull me from the air conditioned safety. As I exited the establishment to start my walking journey across town (back in those days I walked everywhere) it didn't occur to me that my long broomstick skirt was a poor choice for such a trek. After about 10 blocks I started to sweat and after 15 there was a definite friction situation starting. It hurt, but I was young and resilient, so I soldiered on. I arrived at my destination after about 30 minutes of walking. I was sore and I was hot, but I had no idea what was to come. As I visited with friends, I discreetly tucked a bit of my full skirt between my thighs for relief....aaahhhhh, better. Until it was time to leave. The pain was real and the walk was long. Another 30 minute walk in the scorching heat and I was home. My thighs were on fire! Curious how my body could be so mad I me, I grabbed a mirror to check the situation out and oh my god! My thighs were not just chaffed, they were bleeding and swollen and angry! I was out of commission (and a bit mortified) for several days. I think it goes without saying, this was not my last encounter with chub rub, but it was one of the worst.


Over the years, I have tried a variety of solutions. Gold Bond Powder, Vasaline, shorts under dresses, giving up dresses altogether, and of course, Spanxx. Spanxx proved to be the best solution for a long time. There's no arguing that those damn things are effective! They are also, in my opinion, confining, hot and very unsexy. So when I read about Bandlettes earlier this summer on xoJane , I was very, very interested. I mean....how had I not heard of these? A couple weeks ago I finally got around to ordering a pair and just this weekend I took them for a spin.

one day I will be comfortable with my photo being taken
Basically, these fabulous creations are the top bit you'd find on a pair of thigh high stockings. They're very soft and have thin bands of silicone on the inside to keep them up. On the day I chose to try them out it was about 90 degrees and I had lots of walking planned. I wore them for about 8 hours and I have to be honest, they are pretty great! Not perfect, but great. I watched their sizing video to make sure I bought the correct size. I had read than buying the wrong size would result in a less than desirable result. My tight measured 28 1/2" so I opted for a size D. Their website says if you are between sizes to go for the smaller option. However, in retrospect, I am wondering if I should have purchased a size E. The reason I say this, is that I couln't pull the up high enough without them rolling down a bit. I felt they were most comfortable resting just under my butt cheek, but they just wouldn’t stay put. I found a spot that worked and set out for my day.


Can I just tell you, these things made me feel soooooooo sexy?!?!? Unlike Spanxx (which I always feared someone might see) I wanted to show these off! Honestly, I felt like a total babe all day, and I think it was largely due to these lil' babies. For most of the day I was in total comfort and had full confidence in them. I will say, towards the end of the night, the top edge in the back was rolling down and the bottom edges right where my thighs meet were rolling up a bit and sticking to each other. That said, I think it may possibly be due to me ordering the wrong size...I am not really sure.

feelin' babe-tastic in my Bandlettes
So, here's what I think: for $14.99 plus shipping, these things are the fucking shit. They work well, they made me feel great and they're practical. Speaking of practicality, they come in a variety of colors and fabrics. Bandlettes, I am a fan! I am curious, what you all use to battle to chub rub? I would love to try out a few more options.





Wednesday, August 13, 2014

City Chic Comes to the USA!


I think it's safe to say that we, as plus size women, fat women, curvy women, (however you feel best referring to yourself), are always on the lookout for a new place to shop. This is why City Chic coming to the USA is so very exciting! For those of you who aren't familiar, City Chic is an Australian brand with a marvellous reputation for style and quality. This past weekend I took a trip to their new location in Brea, and I was blown away. I simultaneously had two experiences. Firstly, as a shopper, the store is beautiful, and the product knocked my socks off! Secondly, as a retailer (this is where my professional history lies) I thought is was so smartly laid out. City Chic, nice job!!!

Image from Getty Images
I walked around for a good 15 minutes just soaking it all in. It truly felt...chic. It feels like a very chic loft nestled into a some very chic city. Sorry to sound so literal, but the just nailed it. With decorative accents such as framed art, little sitting areas and plants, the vibe was very polished and very welcoming. I felt like a woman in this place. W-O-M-A-N, woman.  I love, love, LOVE the layout and fixturing in the store. No ugly rounders taking up space and making it impossible to move. Despite the store being filled with merchandise, it felt very open and free. Note: there is a much wider variety of product online; the store has a 10% of their selection in house.

Photo from Getty Images



Next time, I plan to try on bras!
I could hardly wait to get in the fitting room, but wait I did. There were so many of us just dying to slip into these glorious garments that there was a wait to get in a fitting room! That's to be expected with a new store, so I didn't mind one little bit. Plus, the fitting room is so beautiful and comfortable, the the wait flew by.  I only tried on a few pieces this time (trying to be kind to my fellow shoppers), but I plan to go back and really dig in soon.

Image from Getty Images
Image from Getty Images
I do wish the lighting in the fitting room were a bit less...shadowey (I just made a word up again, didn't I?)
 I am so pleased to report that their fit was on point! See those boyfriend jeans? Do you know how happy I was that there was no big gap in the back over my butt? Like, so happy! And this kimono? Forget about it! It's only one of the most perfect things I have ever put on my body...ever! I need it desperately and hope to make it mine very soon. One thing about the sizes: they make take a minute to get used to. They are small, medium, large and xl, not the 1X, 2X, 3X we have grown accustomed to. I (as size 20) fit comfortably into a size large. Oh, and do you see that fella in the photo with me up there? That's Phil Ryan, director of City Chic. He and quite a few other wonderfully friendly executives were in town from Australia for the opening. They were all cheerful and chatty and warm. He, however, said something to me in passing about their merchandise that really stuck with me. I wish I had written it down, but I didn't. So I will paraphrase. It was something to the effect of We don't tell our lady what to buy or like, we let her tell us and we do our best for her. Again I am paraphrasing, but it was a great thing to hear from a retailer. Phil Ryan, I thin you are pretty great!


To wrap it up, I am basically in love. So in love, in fact, that they make me want to come out of retail retirement just so I can be part of this. And that is really saying something! City Chic is delivering to us style, quality and respect.



Friday, August 8, 2014

My 5 Current Obsessions

As you may have noticed, I've been a bit inconsistent with my blog posts this summer. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that my kids are on summer vacation and I have been enjoying pouring just about all my energy into them on a daily basis...all day...everyday...all the time...frankly, it's been exhausting.  The other reason is this: I have , for the first time in my adult life, been enjoying what summertime has to offer. I've been wearing shorts, going to the beach, BBQ-ing (a lot), trying new beers, etc... I believe I have this journey of body positivity and feminism to thank for my new found summer love. I must admit, though, as September draws near I'm fantasizing about scarves, boots and layering pieces. So in lieu of the profound BoPo piece I'd intended to write this week, I'm going to share my 5 current obsessions with you. Here we go!

Modern Times Beer

Specifically, their Black House stout brew. This beer is so good that it necessitated a trip to San Diego just to visit the brewery where it's made. Let me tell you, it was worth the trip! The brewery is amaaaaaazing. Filled with books (check out what the bar is made of), games to play, a HUGE mural made from post-it's, a wall papered in comic book pages, an more. Honestly, if you can go, you should go. Note: don't play Jenga on their marble bar...they frown on it.


Jenga

I love games. In fact, I used to have a weekly game night with girlfriends a few years ago. I'm thinking I might need to start doing this again, but I digress. On two separate occasions, my darling husband and I found ourselves out for drinks in bars with Jenga available to play. We got hooked pretty fast, bought our own and now play...a lot. There have been some heated debates over official rules in our house, let me tell you. I've been so into playing it, that I haven't thought to photograph some of the glorious towers we've created (only to see them crumble shortly after).



Enjoying the Sunshine

Admittedly, I don't like being hot. So my sunshine enjoyment goes hand in hand with being in the water. Last year, you may recall, I co-hosted a body positive beach party . However, I can't say that I truly enjoyed it. I was new to my body love and although I walked a damn fine walk, I just wasn't there 100%.  This year is a very different story. At the pool, at the beach, alone, with friends or family, I am just LOVING every moment (and I've got the tan to prove it!) I don't know what's different,exactly. Maybe it's you guys, maybe it's all the reading I've done, and the conversations with other body positive friends and bloggers. Whatever it is, it's a blessing.

Shout out to my girls for coming to my pool party! <3 Pia, Christine, Laura, Veronica and Charvelle <3
Kimonos

Oh-Mah-Gawd....the kimono trend has hit me like a ton of bricks! I am not usually a trendy girl, but this hits right in my boho/vintage sweet spot. I'm not going to go into a shopping rant right now, but I have to say, Forever 21+ has been killing it in this arena. The photo on the right, while not flattering (thanks husband) is particularly cool because it's a scarf tied into a kimono-esque fashion. There's a simple video on my Instagram if you want to check it out.


Reading

I love books. I have always loved books. Reading is such a convenient way to take a mental vacation, start an adventure, fall in love, learn something...or do just about anything you can imagine. My life hadn't allowed me much time for this since becoming a mother. Or maybe, I just didn't make it a priority. While I have always encouraged my children to read, making regular trip to the library, I had not done the same for myself. I'm happy to say that I've devoured 3 books in the last month, am well into my fourth and have plans to dive into the Outlander series after that. I find it relaxing and rejuvenating and I just can't get enough. It's particularly delicious with a glass of wine, curled up on the couch after everyone's fallen asleep....bliss!


So there they are, my obsessions. Being the free spirit that I am, they may change by next week. Who knows? In fact, I'm experiencing a great deal of curiosity about yoga at the moment..we'll see. What are you obsessed with right now? I'm always looking for new things to learn and try.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Reflecting on Aging With Style



As I near 40 years of age, I find that I am so much more comfortable in my skin than I have ever been. I also find myself more immersed in the fashion world than I have been in over a decade. The combination of these two facts has resulted in me taking a very different view on how I dress myself. I do not feel as defined by what I wear as I once did. Nor do I feel compelled to be as “on trend” as I have in the past. Rather, at this point in my life, I see what I wear as a form of self expression; almost an art form. Some days I may feel free and light, others perhaps I feel powerful,or some days even daring. I find that I can illustrate these facets of myself quite deftly and artistically through how I choose to clothe my body. For me, my style is even sometimes a political statement. I will not be constrained by the stipulations or expectations of society on how I, a 38 year old size 20 woman, should or (worse yet) should not dress myself.

I can so clearly remember being in my 20s, bedecked in my finest ensemble of just-right-vintage garb, hairs curled into place, lipstick and eyeliner perfectly applied; looking just how I thought I was supposed to look. I remember staring at my chubby self in the mirror and saying to myself, “Yes. This is me. This is who I am. Finally.”, just knowing that I'd found my style. What I had found, in truth, was a phase; a fantastic and beautiful phase, but still a phase. I had not yet grasped the concept that I couldn't be defined by what I wore; that it should be the other way around.


Now, over a decade later, I finally feel free from the self inflicted pressures of dressing just so. I am still just as invested in the aesthetics of life, I just see them differently. I also see this in the women around me. Maybe this is just one of the benefits of ageing. We talk about ageing “gracefully”, but that is usually about looking younger for longer. For me, it is about making peace with my body, as what was once firm and round begins to soften and even droop a bit. It means caring for myself and allowing myself to feel beautiful. It means taking inspiration from current trends and adopting them into my wardrobe in a way that feels authentic to me. It also means not giving two fucks about what anyone else thinks or says about how I choose to adorn this temple that is my body. I am my own greatest accomplishment and I choose to celebrate myself 
accordingly.


There are many definitions of the word style. My favorite is this, “a way of behaving or approaching a situation that is characteristic of or favored by a particular person.”. We are so fortunate to have women setting the tone for us, as well. Women like Queen Latifah, Velvet D'Amour, Jill Scott, even the illustrious Elizabeth Taylor (may she rest in peace). All of them prime examples of plus size women over the age of 40 with fantastic style. Women who only go better with age. Women for whom age and size are merely numbers, not dictators. Women for whom style is ageless.

I choose to be one of those women.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Guest Post: Hollie Golightly


I am Hollie Golightly, 31, Australian, a body positive advocate, a realist and a gal on a journey.

My journey began a few months ago, in the shower of all places. I was washing my hair, and I noticed how rough I was being, just to get the job done. It started me thinking about how I think about and treat my body. Not just when I’m ‘treating’ myself, but in the daily mundane times that make up a life. It occurred to me that if I were washing my best friend’s hair there is no way I would be as absent minded or rough as I had been with myself. I would be gentle and sensuous. I would show my love with every sudsy stroke.

So why on earth wasn’t I doing this for myself?! Why could I show love to my friend but not to me?

I got to thinking that at some point in my life, somewhere deep inside my head, I had decided that my body wasn’t something to be valued, or treasured. I certainly respected and appreciated my mind and my soul, and put a lot of time and effort into expanding and loving those parts. But I had been ignoring my body, my big, curvaceous, voluptuous body. Perhaps I was ashamed, or didn’t want to confront what I had always perceived as a deficiency – that I must endure rather than enjoy my six-foot, extremely curvy frame. This view of myself was pervasive and persistent throughout my childhood, my adolescence, and every moment of every day during my 20’s and adulthood. This mindset had power, it was fierce!



Learning to be a good friend to myself was not going to be easy. How does one go about showing deep affection and unconditional love to a friend that you have known your entire life, but not appreciated or cared about? You need to admit that deep down you really do love them, and set forth to build a relationship.I knew I needed to do something radical, after all I was on a mission to become more positive about my body in the here and now. I was intent in changing this thirty-year habit; it was almost like starting a new job. I knew it would feel awkward, messy and uncomfortable and I’d feel totally out of my depth not knowing what to expect; for the first little while at least.

I decided to start a secret Instagram page (user name @iamgolightly) . I would show pictures of myself, out there, into the world for anyone to potentially see. I posted pics that showed parts of me that I’d spent a lifetime hiding, from everyone. Friends, family, strangers – everyone. But I had a rule, any pics that went up were all photos I’d be happy for my grandmother to see! I showed the world my big arms, my wobbly belly AND MY THIGHS! It gave me such a rush – terror and joy fused together. There was no way a novice photographer armed with nothing but an iphone could disguise the ‘flaws’. But those flaws are me; they are what they are, and I am who I am.

It was thrilling and it was my secret, until a random person from the other side of the world commented, ‘beautiful’. I didn’t think anyone would bother looking at my photos or actually want to! And I certainly didn’t expect to see any comments at all. Something inside me was shifting, I began to feel more confident and I even started to wear lipstick. But not your nudes or lightweight glosses, I went for the brightest, boldest and reddest reds I could find. This was a lipstick I couldn’t hide behind, like it or not I was out there!It was terrifying and wonderful to be so exposed but it got to the point that it didn’t make sense for me to have this online persona who was vivacious and confident about her body yet I hadn’t shared her with those who mean the most to me and who already love me just the way I am.



So with my spankin’ new body-positive attitude I told my mum and a couple of friends about this new me; and at this point it all got very real. I wasn’t an anonymous person on Instagram anymore. I was me, and my friends could see me, and the parts of my body I had been so ashamed of for so long. My courage was tested knowing my friends were seeing my body in all its glory, and I was eventually going to have to look them in the eye. It’s easy to be confident in front of strangers from the other side of the world, but far harder if they’re in the same room.

When I had my confession sessions with my friends about my secret page it was liberating. I explained that I am part of a movement about redefining beauty standards. Being ‘body positive’ does not mean ‘big is better’ it means that whether we are big or small, men or women, we all have the right to be sexy, confident and admired, through our own eyes at the very least. Although I realized it’s nice to get the compliments, that’s not why I created this page. I did it to show myself that I’m not ashamed to put myself out there – as I am. I am confident in my mind, soul and now finally learning to love my body. Some people have found me sexy – good, sometimes I am. If no one looked at my Instagram page I’d still do it. It shows my demons I’m not afraid of them, anymore.



This is only the beginning of my body-positive journey, and so far it’s been a steep and amazing rise upwards. It’s summer here in Australia and I have challenged myself to a ‘sleeveless summer’. Usually I wear cover ups, cardigans anything to cover my big arms, even in 113°! Not because I enjoyed roasting myself, but because I thought that people would be offended or judge me. So I am pushing myself out of my habitual cardigan-wearing craziness and trying something new, bare arms!

Here’s a thought I’d like to leave you with. Recently I was out for coffee with a gal pal, trialing my new 2014 ‘sleeveless summer’ look and mid conversation I said, ‘OMG! I’m not wearing sleeves, I am freaking out!’ And do you know what she said to me? She said, ‘Oh, I didn’t even notice.’ So while I was anxious and hyper aware of my naked arms, she just got on with the conversation. It’s funny how we can beat ourselves up and hide our true selves because of what we believe people think of us, sort of crazy don’t you think...


Hollie is a delightful, articulate and lovely lady whom I have had the pleasure to become friends with. I encourage you to follow her adventures on Instagram. Need to talk with Hollie? You can email her at: iamgolightly@icloud.com. Want to read more from her? Leave a comment and I'll do my best to coax her into it.