THE WILY DAMES at MyLittleBird.com asked me to check out some of the new warm-weather fashions for us gals unafraid to take up space. So I slapped on some Spanx, bivouacked myself in bulletproof red lipstick and set out for the stores.
(Note to the very afraid who just read that last sentence: Yes, I did wear clothes.)
Here’s some of what I found.
Prabal Gurung for Lane Bryant
You gotta love the designer Prabal Gurung, if just for the frocks he made for Michelle Obama that made her look both feminine and no-nonsense.
So we fleshy types were thrilled to hear that Gurung was designing a line for Lane Bryant, the mother ship for plus sizes, since the collection he did for Target was snapped up by the grabby eBay and Amazon Marketplace mafiosi the second it hit the shelves.
Maybe this time we’d get a crack at something from the Nepalese-American designer other than a flowered headband. His Lane Bryant collection features 20 or so pieces and, like anything in life, it’s a mixed bag—albeit a mixed bag in tropical colors.
While the bright navy trench coat ($198), the zip-front sheath ($138) and the fit-and-flare dresses ($138) were clear winners for their cut and tailored fit, some of the other pieces were a bit unrealistic.
I mean, you’d have to have the self-esteem of all the Kardashians crammed into one pair of jeggings to pull off two loud prints, one on a floral blouse ($88) and the other splashed across a circle skirt ($108), both meant to be worn at the same time.
Don’t know how many fat women Gurung knows personally, but most women of size don’t look that great cut in half horizontally. It makes you short and stout, or shorter and stouter if you are of modest height.
Even at 6 feet tall and a size 14-16, I emerged from the dressing room at my local LB and cracked up the salespeople (not an easy thing to do, believe me) when I poked one arm out straight, crooked the other arm at the waist and sang “I’m a little teacup . . . ”
I was sawn in two like a magician’s assistant—one not clad in a sequined gown but instead wearing Clarabelle the Clown’s castoffs.
“You are supposed to tuck in the blouse all the way around and leave one side out,” the salesperson chirruped, arranging the front blouse flap so that I looked not only lurid and dumpy, but sloppy.
Because the overweight are usually pegged on sight as unkempt slobs, you can imagine the lengths we go to to appear fastidious at all times. Slouchy and insouciant may work on the pipecleaners among us, but on the plus-sized, you come off as not well groomed.
There are two variations of this competing splashy prints look in Gurung’s line, and even the black-and-white ensembles have that slapdash quality that just screams “I grabbed the first things I found on the floor and threw them on.” Wish we had that freedom.
The cropped wide-legged sailor pants ($88) possess the same magical truncating effect as the clashing-print outfits, while the oversized sweaters and tops fail to have that “look at itty-bitty me almost swallowed up in this giant sweater” vibe that is cute as the dickens on anyone size 10 and below.
Size 12 and above you look like you’re hiding something and, given the hostility plus-size women face every day for having the audacity to go out in public, who can blame us?
The online plus-size purveyor Eloquii, launched by The Limited but now on its own, has decided to try a brick-and-mortar approach to selling, opening a pop-up store at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Virginia; it will be around until the end of May 2017. Gather ye voluptuous rosebuds while ye may because the store is a sight for sore eyes where you can refresh your perspective and your wardrobe.
Eloquii embraces such fashion trends as yellow, and you will be more than willing to kick the ass of anyone who dares call you Big Bird when wearing an off-the-shoulder pleated Grecian dress ($129.90), tailored elbow-sleeve frock ($89.90) with cool military-style brass button trim (another trend) and a flowy but not too-flowy eyelet skirt ($79.90)—all in shades of citron, saffron and daffodil.
I feel like my own personal ray of sunshine in these clothes—this, from someone who favors black and blue, what my sister calls “bruise colors,” more days than I’d care to admit.
Try a bit of yellow and you may be emboldened to get out of your comfort zone with a deep orange embroidered-sleeve dress ($119.90) that elegantly captures the boho look seen in Vogue and Elle. The thing that Eloquii gets so right is that their plus-size clothes are not just regular sizes scaled up but are re-considered and re-cut for the fuller figure. The clothes skim over the body and favor clean, simple lines.
However, there are ghosts from the plus-size fashion ghetto, such as big swaths of ruffles meant, I guess, to draw attention up toward the face but instead remind me of something Bozo’s girlfriend would wear on a date.
Ruffled bell sleeves, flounced hemlines and, God help us, ruffled Charo pants and shirts with tassel ball trim put me in mind of the surrey with the fringe on top and girls who cain’t say no.
We need to say yes to pretty—the pebbly-print dresses and pencil skirts in cool, watery hues ($89.90 and $69.90), and anything that makes us look like rich hippies. Think Mama Cass and Michelle Phillips, not the Manson girls.
With that in mind, I have decided this season to get my inner Botero on and immerse myself in the luminous skin-tone craze that I saw on the award shows. I want to look like a ripe piece of fruit—round, curvy and rinded in rosy colors like apricot, peach, blush and persimmon—or like a spice in mocha, amber, cocoa or nutmeg.
The catalog Ellos, which features Swedish design in sizes 10+, can help with that. From a lightweight V-neck sweater in tea rose ($29.90) and a lace-trim crinkle blouse in pale blush ($44.90) to wide-leg pants ($44.90) that make you think Katharine Hepburn instead of vaudeville buffoon, and a draped cardigan in a lush camel ($39.90), these clothes make you appreciate every tinge of the flesh.
Jayne’s last piece for MyLittleBird took manufacturers to task for their heavy-handed attempts at large-size fashion. Here she shares recent good news.