Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

October 23, 2007

Finish Already

Filed under: Uncategorized — Miss Plumcake @ 3:15 pm

As I was perusing the September issue of Vogue, cutting out looks to further inspire my fall/winter wardrobe and debating whether this will be the winter I go off of Chanel No. 5 and take a girlish foray into the new, lush mandarin-and-incense Prada scent, Infusion d’Iris, I noticed that there were not one but two articles more-or-less devoted to chic, purposeful dressing. One was about how structured dressing is back in a big way and the other discussed chicphobia, a made-up name for the American woman’s fear of looking as if she tried. That struck a chord for me, especially as a plus size woman.

I can see the appeal of looking unfinished. Women in general, and big girls in particular, are used to having their looks torn apart by complete strangers. We can say it’s the media, but really, we do it to each other. Knowing that, it’s tempting to leave an easy out: a beautiful dress but rumpled hair, flawless cashmere sweater and unhemmed jeans (a sin I am guilty of at this very moment) whatever it takes to say “oh, I’m not actually trying.” so as to not subject yourself to actual criticism.

It takes a lot of courage to dress purposefully. When it’s all been “done” –hair, make-up, shoes, outfit, the works– you’re essentially announcing “there is nothing wrong with me” which of course makes the bitchy voices in our head reply “oh yeah?

Why not take an opportunity this week to leave the house looking completely finished? Not over-done mind you, you still want to use discretion and discipline when it comes to accessories and makeup. It does take courage, but you might be amazed that your confidence will rise to meet the cause.


  1. I am glad they have a name for it, because I always though I was just being lazy.

    Comment by Alisa — October 23, 2007 @ 3:24 pm

  2. This sure is a challenge. I’ve recently re-vamped my wardrobe and am trying my best not to dress frumpy anymore. Oversized t-shirts have been replaced with well fitting ones and I’ve even taken up sewing so I can alter the so-called “petite” pants I purchase. I’ve acquired some cute new shoes and I’ve even gotten a new haircut and color. I think I’m looking pretty good as of late! However, about 90% of the time I NEVER bother with make-up! I guess that is the unfinished part of my look! Maybe I can meet the challenge. I don’t know, but I’ll try. Small steps.

    Comment by AquaMarine — October 23, 2007 @ 3:56 pm

  3. Hmm…I never thought of it this way. I do sometimes fear looking like I tried too hard but more in a “That just looks fake” way. I tend to love dressing up and am almost always dressed just a hair above what everybody else is wearing. I hate being underdressed and I hate being unfinished so I’d rather go the opposite direction. I do sometimes wonder what the heck some women are thinking when everything in their outfit looks fabulous but their hair is a wreck or they threw on their tennies with it at the last minute. Thanks for clueing me in!

    Comment by Kimocean — October 23, 2007 @ 3:58 pm

  4. maybe it’s just the texas is in me but what is this unfinished look you speak of? if i decide not to do my hair it’s not because i dont’ want to look done-up, i love looking perfect! i’m just tired for pete’s sake. if i wear flip flops instead of heels it’s because i went out last night in heels and my feet still hurt the next day. eeven as a plus sized woman it’s never occurred to me to be scared to look like well, this is all you get. i think i’ve looked at my body that way…scared to lose weight and really really try to do it because what if i fail or i can’t do it or i have no will power…but never with clothes. drape me in fabulous. unless i’m tired or hungover, then leave me with be.

    Comment by Brittany — October 23, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  5. As a fat chick in Southern California (currently on fire), I’ve often seen the “chic-phobia” phenomenon.

    I’m an L.A. lifer, and I love it here, but the standard of beauty — or even acceptability — here is staggeringly high, and the temptation, when one does not measure up, is to just say “Screw it.”

    Or — and one sees this surprisingly often — perfectly nice women go to the other silly extreme and try to match the movie stars and teenyboppers in levels of chic/outrageousness/visible skin. (Not that this is an exclusively female phenomenon, in these parts.)

    I’ve seen countless women in their 30s and 40s with averagely nice bodies wearing things that would barely work on a 19-year-old with a perfect body. Better chic-phobic than mutton-dressed-as-Britney, you know?

    (Of course most people in L.A. are perfectly civilized and sensible, but this really is the Barbie factory.)

    Comment by Bridey — October 24, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  6. Wow! I TOTALLY know what you mean! A few days ago, I had a BIG job interview–and I OWNED it. I looked fabulous–wore black low heeled Ferragamo pumps, black santana knit slacks, an off white shell and a trendy three button, open at the bottom short sleeved cardigan. I felt confident and comfortable and TOGETHER! I saw more than one of the office staff I was introduced to do the “once over” at me. Classic, chic and hair and makeup perfect. I don’t know if I got the job yet, but the lady who interviewed me said over and over that she thought I was a perfect candidate! Fingers crossed and nice clothes ready to roll!

    Comment by kimberly — October 24, 2007 @ 3:10 pm

  7. The Washington Post recently ran an interesting article on this very topic; it’s still up online at

    And let’s face it, darlings: in a society where young “ladies” think nothing of breezing around in pajamas and crocs, a little backlash against those of us who give a damn was pretty much inevitable.

    Word to the haters: Yeah, I have taste, a little money, and enough time to put myself together every day. Suck it.

    Comment by Despina — October 24, 2007 @ 4:59 pm

  8. So, I’m not sure that “chicphobia” is how I’d put it. There’s long been a casual element to mainstream US style, even on the high end. I’m not talking about Crocs and tracksuits, but about things ranging from the perfect rumpledness of a summer suit to jeans dressed up with a sparkly top and heels to mixing sportswear pieces into the work environment.

    There are surely some people who fear to be seen as trying too hard; there are also surely people who are TOO casual, or inappropriately casual. But there are also lots of people whose personal styles are simply in line with that classic American casualness. Sure, they could “finish” if they wanted to, or if the situation called for it. But I hesitate to call them afraid or phobic; there’s nothing any more wrong with them than there is with a French woman liking big floppy scarves or a chav all got up in Burberry: they belong to a particular culture, after all, and what they wear is very likely to express that in some way.

    Comment by Laura — October 24, 2007 @ 5:34 pm

  9. WOW- I never knew there was a term for those that were afraid to look pulled together- now I know.

    Comment by Kimks — October 24, 2007 @ 8:08 pm

  10. Funny that this topic should come about now…for the last three days, I’ve been trying for the complete look — hair, makeup, clothes, from top to toes. I don’t normally do make up (when I try things, I sometimes feel that I look like the cheap hooker out for one more before calling it a night), and I have a tendency to sweat like a hippo at a habanero eating contest…why put on makeup if I’m just going to sweat it off? It’s kind of sad at age 29, I just figured out how to do the eye liner thing without looking like said hooker (course, my mom is not the dressy, makeupy type….sigh).

    Comment by KateriBella — October 24, 2007 @ 8:10 pm

  11. I love looking finished and work at it, even at home. But I do veer towards being too matchy-matchy. Shoes, bags, costume jewelery to match. My hair is always in place and I have lip gloss and mascara on even when I walk my dog. It’s on autopilot every morning. I’m compensating for being fat by working the together look because so many people assume a fat women is going to be sloppy and jolly – I’m neither.

    Comment by shiloh — October 25, 2007 @ 1:15 am

  12. When I wear makeup, heels, and a skirt to work, I get mistaken for the secretary a lot more often. If the old saw about “dressing for the job you want, not the job you have” is true, I figure I should avoid that. But I do try to dress more professionally (real shoes, slacks, collared shirts or nice sweaters) like the older engineers, and less like my same-age cohorts in jeans, sneakers and henleys.

    Comment by TeleriB — October 25, 2007 @ 7:44 am

  13. ::applauds wildly::

    Comment by Style Spy — October 25, 2007 @ 9:28 am

  14. Another vote for looking finished. Sometimes, I don’t get around to the makeup, but generally I like a pulled-together look. As both a woman of size and a woman of color, I can’t really afford to look like a frump or a slob. I am not one to feed into negative stereotypes.

    Comment by OCCaliAKA — October 25, 2007 @ 5:44 pm

  15. Shiloh…that’s how I feel others perceive fat women…It’s like smaller girls can wear whatever they want—baggy clothes, unkempt hair—and still be considered attractive. Fat women sometimes have to put a little more effort into their appearance.

    Comment by Deandrea — October 25, 2007 @ 6:48 pm

  16. and all before i thought this was just in my head…i do my best not to look over the top pretty….over the top glamourous….and honestly if i’m giving a bit of effort thats hard to do. a touch of blush and wow! i look red carpet ready. smoky eyes and i get stares a tthe office all day. i downplay my features a lot during the day….its unfair….screw the office! tomorrow it’s full on glam!

    Comment by ladyT — October 25, 2007 @ 10:14 pm

  17. When I was seventeen years old, I had my age guessed as “thirty-seven.” The year before, I had auditioned for “Hair,” but was told I looked “too old.” This has basically been Nature’s gift to me, and I accepted it. Okay, “accepted” while cursing and swearing, maybe, but “accepted” nonetheless. Apparently being groomed does that. When I was seventeen, I looked as if I was in my thirties; when I was in my thirties, I looked as if I was in my thirties; and now, at fifty … I look as if I’m in my thirties. It’s less that I looked “old;” but it was a more polished look, certainly, than a lot of seventeen-year-olds were wearing. Think 1947/48 cover-of-Vogue-patterns. If there’s an emergency trip to the vet, of course I will go “as is” – and that includes in my pajamas, if necessary. But I’ve always preferred looking my best, and I’ve always done it for myself. And “best” doesn’t mean “overdressed;” I try to dress for the occasion. But there aren’t that many occasions where it would be a terrible thing if I had my lipstick on and my hair done. Of course, I’m still waiting to figure out a “hair style;” until then, I wear it back in a French braid. It’s more about neatness, appropriateness and polish, than it is about dressing over-the-top.

    Comment by La BellaDonna — November 1, 2007 @ 6:05 pm

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