Thursday, July 5, 2007

News Flash: Courtney Love needs a stylist

People Magazine reports Courtney Love needs some fahion help. "I haven't had a stylist in nine years because my old stylist went to Madonna," Love said. "I've been looking and looking. I'd rather wear a tube top and have my stomach hang out than not have a good stylist."

How hard is it for a celebrity to find a stylist in LA? Or go to a Nieman Marcus personal shopper and say "fix me." Or at the bare minimum, buy her clothes at the back-to-basics Gap.

Remember Versace Courtney? Compare that with Sid and Nancy Courtney and you'll appreciate the power of fashion. Or compare them with current Courtney and you'll appreciate when to stop having plastic surgery!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Beth Ditto launches clothing line?

Don't you just love Beth Ditto? You know, the lead singer for The Gossip? (Well, hopefully you don't love that she said this.) This gal has chutzpah. She revels in her curves. Flaunts them with metalic spandex or nothing at all. Thin starlet Kiera Knightly has said she is jealous of Ditto's form, “I stood there watching her thinking, ‘oh my god that woman is so sexy.’"
Now NME reports she's in talks with New Look to have her own line.(photo from Now Magazine)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Summer Suit Sales

As sales seem to happening all the time, I was checking out Lane Bryant to see if there were any classic pieces or trendy-yet-affordable pieces to recommend. Unfortunately I found nothing recommend-worthy. Though there were some cute maternity slacks, all of the clearance offering as Lane were lame. Also, if you've ever tried on or purchased a Lane Bryant suit, you know that the jacket quality is, well, not good. Think stretchy polyester.

I did find this cute Calvin Klein linen shirtdress at Macy's. The belt could be replaced with something more substantial, but I would probably go without a belt. The blossom color would be lovely on olive or tanned skin, but I'm not sure it would work with my peaches-n-cream. It's a classic, though, and nearly half-price.

Macy's also has a nice Tahari black suit (jacket and skirt) for $200. The jacket is short, but has a cute belt and goes well with the below-the-knee trumpet skirt. I with Macy's shoes this on a plus-size model, but I think it would work well on ladies with smaller waists.

If price isn't an issue, Nordstrom's is carrying a very chic Anne Klein jacket that looks quite slimming. I love jackets that are designed to be worn unbuttoned. It's got a modern cut with a big collar and long arms that I really like. I would love to see the Nougat color in person, it looks like a chic neutral.

Friday, June 29, 2007


If you're like me, you've been shopping since before you could walk. I remember my mom talking to me about Clearance, as if it was a person, a friend. We liked Clearance. I was taught to shop for bargains. That is how I've come to donate so many items to Goodwill over the years.

Deals are great, don't get me wrong, but shopping is more about price. There is a method. If you are looking to build your wardrobe, not just increase the items in your closet, you need to be have a discerning eye and a plan.

Successful Shopping Rules
  1. It's not about size, it's about fit. The number on the tag is not reflective of your worth, it's just a number. What is most important is how the garment looks on you. How does it fit your body?
  2. Just try it on. It won't hurt. Plus-sized clothes are especially prone to looking bad on the hanger. You won't know how it will look on you unless you try it on.
  3. If you don't love it, don't buy it. Don't buy something because it is on sale or because someone else says you should. Those things end up hanging the back of your closet or neatly folded at the bottom of a drawer.
  4. Tailoring is a great tool. Buying off the rack does not lend itself toward finding the perfect fit. If you find garments you love, but need a little tailoring, get them tailored. Hems that are too long or too short, or blouses that pull at the chest can ruin the look of an otherwise classy and elegant outfit.
  5. Have a theme. When you are buying a wardrobe, you want to be able to mix and match as many items as possible. You'll need a neutral (beige or grey) and a solid (black or brown or navy) plus some accent items. Your accent is what can help put flair in your wardrobe. Are you into autumn colors? Bold, bright colors? Pastels? Pick accents that make you happy.
  6. Comfort is key! It doesn't matter how it looks if it will be uncomfortable after 12 hours of wear. When you try something on sit down in it and move around in it. Trying on shoes? Walk around. Do a little dance. Are they going to work for your lifestyle?
  7. You must have a solid foundation. I'm talking underwear here, people. Bras and panties, or pants, as the Brits say (I rather like calling them pants, but it leads to much confusion). Whether you realize it or not, you are probably wearing the wrong size bra. If you missed it on Oprah, Intimacy, The Bra Fit Specialists can change your life. I speak from experience, ladies. Undergarments form your silhouette. It's not about strapping yourself down, but giving support and coverage to your frame.
  8. Keep your receipts and know every store's return policy. I am the return queen. I'll get caught up in shopping and suddenly I get home with a $40 tank top that works with nothing else I own. If a new purchase doesn't match clothes you already own or looks weird in natural light, take it back.
  9. If you find something that is perfect for you in every way: fit, price, style, etc., consider buying more than one. A gal doesn't find her perfect slacks every day.

fashion IS a luxury

Being passionate about beauty and feminism at the same time can be difficult. In graduate school, I studied media effects on women's feelings about their bodies. I've looked at the statistics and know for a fact that women's negative attitudes about their appearance are related to their media use. It makes sense, doesn't it? Popular media represents a beautiful women as having a slim physique. So if I want to be considered beautiful, I need a slim physique.

But I am not slim. Thankfully, I have the presence of mind to know that I am fabulous and beautiful in my own way. I get appreciative glances from men. Truckers honk at me on the freeway. Women compliment my outfits, hairstyles and makeup. Yet, I still have that voice inside of me that says, "you would be happier/prettier/better if you looked good in a pair of size 28 Diesel jeans." I KNOW that isn't true, but the voice is still there.

So what does one do? I tried cutting back on my media use, but I love fashion. I think people can use clothing as a means of expression. Fashion is art. Am I to deny that form of expression and my joy in viewing that artistry in others? That doesn't seem right to me. However, I think fashion should be more accessible and inclusive.

SJP's claim that "fashion is not a luxury, it is a right" is not correct. Technically, fashion began when a middle class emerged that had enough money to purchase the styles that royalty wore. However, fashion is no longer in the hands of the elite. Using New York Magazine's Look Book and the grunge trend of the 1990's as examples, fashion can be influenced by artists with little money. But money helps.

Beyond money, I say that fashion isn't accessible to all because great clothes do not come in all shapes and sizes. A 5'6", size-6 woman is able to find clothes in almost any store that fit her. She can pick and choose items according to her personal style. A 5'6", size-20 woman has very limited options in terms of clothing. The clothing that fits her is likely to be bland. Fashionable zaftig women must be creative to inject style into their outfits.

I'm up to the challenge. I'm bright, sassy and creative. I make do with what the stores offer, but how daft are they to ignore this growing (pun not intended) market? How hard is it for designers to understand that cap sleeves are not flattering on a lot of women? Or that plus-sizes do not require elastic waists?

I am all for promoting fit and healthy lifestyles, but I do not think that means larger-sized people shouldn't be able to dress themselves attractively. Fashion IS a luxury, but it should be more accesible.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I am not my body

I am not my body. But as the media bombards us with images of perfect bodies we can never have, we become convinced we are our bodies. Passing through puberty, into adulthood and now middle age, I'm sure I have wasted an inordinate amount of time lamenting the size of my hips, the gray in my hair and the lines on my face. Finally, as I approach my 50s, I find my parents were right all along: I am not my body.

I was born in 1959, near the end of the baby boomers. Unfortunately, I arrived without all my body parts fully intact. My left arm is a short stub with a small hand and three fingers, reminiscent of a thalidomide defect. To my good fortune, I picked superb parents who insisted I was not my body. They were fighters who struck "I can't" from my vocabulary and replaced it with "I will find a way." They believed that the development of the mind, heart and soul determines who you are.

My body was not to be used as an excuse. Instead, it became a catalyst.

My body endured surgery, physical therapy, swimming and yoga. But it was not the focus of my life. I was taught to respect my body and to remember that it was only a vehicle that carried the most important things: my brain and soul.

Furthermore, I was taught that bodies come in all shapes, colors and sizes and that everyone struggles in some way with the inadequacies of their bodies. Infomercials have convinced me this must be true (although through puberty I found it difficult to believe the girls in the cheerleading squad had any self-doubts).

I suppose I've always known that my birth "defect" shaped my personality and personal philosophy. In my alternately formed body, I learned patience, determination, frustration and success.

This body can't play the piano or rock climb, but it taught the neighborhood kids to eat with their feet, a skill I learned as a child in the hospital. This body learned to tie my shoes, cross the stage to pick up my college diploma, backpack through Europe and change my children's diapers when they were babies.

People think I am my body, and some try to treat me with prejudice or pity. Some are just curious. It took a couple of decades, but I learned to ignore the stares and smile back. This body has taught me to appreciate my fellow humans -- even the thin, beautiful and able-bodied.

This I believe: I am not my body. I am my words, my ideas and my actions. I am filled with love, humor, ambition and intelligence. I am a creative spirit, a fellow human walking the planet, who, just like you, is so much more than my body.

By USA WEEKEND reader Lisa M. Sandin for NPR's This I Believe