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

May 1, 2008

The Big Question: Now with Value-Add Prada Edition

Filed under: PRADA!,The Big Question — Miss Plumcake @ 4:11 pm

I don’t like lace. I don’t like it on me, and I don’t especially like it on most women, particularly my sisters of the plus size travelling pants. I don’t like lace on big girls for several reasons. One, good lace is expensive, often prohibitively so. That means most of the lace we end up seeing is Not Good Lace, and there are very few things more offensive to my eye than Not Good Lace because very few things look more obviously cheap.

I also dislike lace on big girls because it can tend to make us look overripe. I am all for looking gorgeous and luscious and va-va-voom, but I find just as there is a fine line between stupid and clever there is also a fine line between sexy and blowzy.

Kiyonna Boudoir DressYet my head has been turned thanks to Miuccia Prada. La Maestra, who hates the frilly stuff so much she made an entire lace collection just to prove she could. Anyway, I decided to throw caution to the wind and pick up this black lace dress from Kiyonna to wear to a last-minute symphony date next week. The key is wearing a very modern shoe so as to avoid looking like the mourning furniture in a particularly syphilitic turn-of-the-century bordello. Anyway, all this leads to the big question du jour.

Francesca and Plumcake want to know:

Have you ever changed your mind about a fabric or look you either hated or thought you could never wear?

Warning: anyone who says “yay crocs!” will be banned forever and forced to wear Old Navy for eternity. I’m not in their pay anymore, remember?


  1. Belts – I used to fear them, but when they are at the right part of my waist, and on the right garment, they turn me from an apple to an hourglass.

    Comment by Dowdydiva — May 1, 2008 @ 4:31 pm

  2. Flare legs. Many, many, many years ago, I thought they were made with hate by the devil. I was very young & very stupid and did not then realize how nicely they would balance my figure. Now I love them.

    Comment by Miss Laura Mars — May 1, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

  3. oh many things: gauchos, panchos (in retrospect i should have left that one…though it was good for going to see a movie,) leggings, (i know there’s much hate for this one but i’m young and i always cover my booty and cellulite parts) those thick high waisted belts or really belts at all, straight leg jeans (surpisingly flattering,) trapeze tops (who knew what they did for your boobs when made of the right fabric? amazing,) ballet flats, and now i’m even considering lifting my ban on the bermuda short.

    also i agree on all points about the lace, though that dress may be the exception.

    Comment by Brittany — May 1, 2008 @ 5:43 pm

  4. I have to go with the mermaid skirt. Really V-line (as opposed to A-line) skirts all together, now that I think of it. I used to think they would emphasize my hips and make me look really fat. Those skirts that hit just below the knee, narrowing to a soft V-shape? Those turn me into an hourglassy goddess. I have a floor-length dark denim one I got on sale at LB for nothing that’s just amazing. Fuller skirts actually make me look like I’m smuggling an entire army under my skirt.

    Comment by Sara — May 1, 2008 @ 5:53 pm

  5. I distinctly remember complaining about how hoods were meant for coats and I would never buy clothing with a decorative hood. Fast forward to today when my closets have hoodies, sweaters with hoods, vests with hoods, even a sleeveless terry swim cover-up dress with a hood that I wear around the house in the summer.

    And an often debated item that I could not for the life of me understand how and why people wore them is flip-flops. They were so uncomfortable and I couldn’t figure out how to walk without them flying off. Then someone mentioned how comfy and squishy her Reef flip-flops were and in what was probably a moment of severe foot pain I tried them. And they were good. With all the walking I do they’re so much more substantial and supportive then a lot of other little nothing sandals.

    Comment by KellyGirl — May 1, 2008 @ 6:03 pm

  6. I would have to say shorts. I avoided them for years cause most of them are unflattering and would make me look/feel like I was back in middle school. But then I discovered Walking Shorts. Kinda like bermudas but slimmer and is very flattering on me. But now I can’t seem to find a decent pair ANYWHERE! Does anyone know of a place I can go to?

    Comment by Carolyn — May 1, 2008 @ 6:07 pm

  7. how far back should we look? there was a time when I wore nothing but flannel shirts and stretch pants with stirrups… fortunately I moved into 6th grade and slowly left that phase behind me.

    I’d have to say my biggest fashion turnaround recently would be from flared jeans to modestly boot-cut jeans. I used to think I needed the flares to balance out my hips, and I was completely angry when I started having trouble finding flared jeans that weren’t ultra-low-waist. However, after wearing merely boot-cut jeans for awhile, I put my old pair of flares on and felt incredibly stumpy. It’s like the bootcuts are just wide enough to balance my childbirthing hips while still maintaining a slim line that makes me seem ever-so-slightly taller.

    Comment by JadedKitten — May 1, 2008 @ 6:21 pm

  8. Pants that come up to my waist! I always figured they were for old ladies until I tried some on and realised that 1) they provide full coverage for my bubble butt (even when I sit or bend over! Imagine!) and 2) they give me a smooth line and a defined waist.

    Comment by Becky — May 1, 2008 @ 6:29 pm

  9. I’m wearing a shirt today that hits three of my usual “do not make me go there” points.

    1) Lace. OK, it’s not perfect lace. It’s a Torrid shirt. But the neckline is doing so many favors for the girls, I cannot begin to describe it.

    2) Empire waist. My usual snark about these is “no matter how you’re built, you wind up looking pregnant.” I don’t. Though I think this may qualify more as a baby-doll top, so declaring it empire just because it has a bow right under my breasts may be pushing it.

    3) Pink. The lace is pink and black over a black translucent tank. It’s hot pink bordering on fuchsia, though, which makes it better to me. It’s not pastel-girly pink, which I look horrid in.

    Comment by Lysana — May 1, 2008 @ 7:40 pm

  10. Oh my god, me too on the lace! Lace was a huge no-no to me until I found this dress….
    Long story short, it’s now sitting happily in my closet waiting to be worn to the banquet I bought it for.

    Another thing is shorts. I HAAAATED them before, but now I’m seriously getting a couple pairs of bermudas.

    Comment by Jessica — May 1, 2008 @ 7:41 pm

  11. OK two things- I grew up thinking I could not wear black close to my face- some one, probably my mother- said it made my olive complexion and blue eyes look sallow and drawn. Fast Forward to my mid twenties when I had a series of interviews in another city and I spilled coffee on my blue sweater set after my morning interview and all I had in my bag were t-shirts- not exactly interview material. The girlfriend I was staying with had a black sweater set that worked with my grey skirt- I wore it and my eyes popped, my complexion looked fabulous and my life long dread of all things black above the waist was gone. I am grateful for having gone through college not loathing colors- I still wear them- but have learned that black can make me look professional, confident and my husband says down right Sexy.
    Secondly It wasn’t until last year that I got over my fear of dress slacks. I had seriously gone through the first 12 years of my professional life wearing only skirts and nice tops or skirt suits to work. I thought that my short round body couldn’t handle trousers- jeans, maybe but trousers? NO. That all changed last year when I tried on a pant suit and liked it- so I bought it and took it to my tailor- she tailored it to perfection and my life has changed forever- I now wear pants at about the same rate. Since I work in event planning, wearing pants has changed how I can bend and stretch and move boxes and pamphlets etc.

    Comment by Kimks — May 1, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

  12. For me, I actually got turned on to wearing clothes that fit well. When I was a kid, all my clothes were baggy because my mom thought I would look thinner.

    I forgot how straight leg and boot cut jeans make your legs look longer!

    Comment by dcsurfergirl — May 1, 2008 @ 9:53 pm

  13. Lower rise jeans (as opposed to the ultra low rise jeans). I was always afraid they’d either fall off or show too much. It turns out that they often fit my short waisted figure very well indeed!

    Comment by TropicalChrome — May 1, 2008 @ 10:12 pm

  14. I HATED polka dots with such a deep, deep passion. Until I saw my kelly green w/ white polka dot dress. It changed my view on that print forever. I now have 5 polka dot items in my closet, a lovely red shirtdress with white dots, a white A-line skirt with black dots, and a couple of very cute tops.
    With my views on certain prints changing all of the time, it still doesn’t shake my unremitting hatred of animal print.

    Comment by fantasmicalfrankie — May 2, 2008 @ 12:24 am

  15. Plaid, used to love it, then hated it, now love it again.

    Comment by sara a. — May 2, 2008 @ 2:02 am

  16. I’m with Becky on the high-waisted pant. Though my original ban was on all things high-waisted. Then I kept seeing them on the runway, and finally tried a few pairs on last summer – DEAR GOD – it was like a revelation. I look so feminine in all things high-waisted, and feel so fabulous. I love the way the higher waist makes my waist look even smaller, my hips look lovely and round in contrast – very Dior ‘New Look’- and to top it all off my legs look soooooooooooo long (which they are not).

    Also, pleats. Who knew that pleats could be flattering!???!?!!

    Comment by supasam — May 2, 2008 @ 3:46 am

  17. I think I’ve begun to change my mind on animal prints. But only in tiny amounts. And only as a subtle accessory.

    Otherwise, it screams “Cougar” in one of those haplessly unintentional ways.

    Comment by ChaChaHeels — May 2, 2008 @ 6:00 am

  18. 1. Capri pants
    2. Clothes that fit
    3. Colours other than black or blue (particularly red – I love my little red haltertop)
    4. Skirts (I thought my thighs were too big for them)

    Comment by Jelly — May 2, 2008 @ 8:28 am

  19. Mine is shoulder pads. Now, I love them – a) they give me a straight line across my shoulders, which I do not have..from my neck to my wrists looks naturally like a set of parentheses, and b) they make my waist look smaller. Who can argue with that?

    Comment by Toby Wollin — May 2, 2008 @ 8:45 am

  20. Oversized handbags. I used to seek out the smallest, daintiest purse I could, barely stuffing in compact, keys, and debit card. Then I was gifted a luxurious, massive Coach tote bag. Epiphany! Not only could I carry ANYTHING I wanted too (extra sunglasses – full cosmetic bag – hairbrush…), but it provided a much better scale balance to me. I’m not only a big girl, but a tall girl. Those teensy purses must have made me look like a water buffalo clutching a coin purse. I can’t believe it took me this long to figure this out. Duh.

    Comment by jenn — May 2, 2008 @ 11:36 am

  21. Having spent a few high school years buttoned into a sunshine-yellow doubleknit McDonald’s uniform (ooooooh, the memories are still excruciating) I would have sworn myself blind that it could never happen, but I’ll be danged if there isn’t some pretty decent usage of polyester out there these days. Live & learn.

    Comment by Style Spy — May 2, 2008 @ 11:44 am

  22. Short skirts. I never thought I could be comfortable wearing a skirt that hit any higher than just below the knee. I bought a couple of short dresses when I was in high school, but was totally uncomfortable sitting down in them and freaked out by the extra attention I got from my male acquaintances. Now that I’m in my twenties and married, I’m confident enough to show off my pretty, dance-toned legs in a dress or skirt about two inches above the knee, especially for evenings out with my husband.

    I still have to be careful, though–my calves and ankles are slender and my feet are small, so some short skirts emphasize how generous my hips and bust are in comparison to my legs, which is not so good.

    Comment by JaneC — May 2, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

  23. I have this same Kiyonna dress. I went with a ruched sheer black pump and I think it looks rather cute. My only problem is that the dress is clingy and it clings to parts that I don’t like, but that’s nothing Spanx can’t fix.

    As for things I’ve reconsidered…swim suits. They make them so much cuter and more flattering these days for plus sized women.

    Comment by Mags — May 2, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

  24. Carolyn–I’ve seen plus-sized walking shorts on the Travelsmith website for sure, and Jessica London as well. I think Land’s End has them too, but calls them something other than walking shorts. And Macy’s has something called “skimmer pants” that looks really similar…?

    Comment by boots — May 2, 2008 @ 1:04 pm

  25. Jessica,
    Thank you for posting the Unique Vintage website. It’s fun!

    Comment by Mimi Stratton — May 2, 2008 @ 1:14 pm

  26. Knit fabrics/jersey. Thought the stretchy would be bad on the jiggly, but actually it looks way better on a curvy hourglass gal, esp. for “the girls”. It moves enough to move with you (keep in mind, I’m talking about this kind of knit – and yes, I have this dress..)

    Stretchy fabrics give and make me look super fab and I’m sad I avoided them for many years. Cotton dresses of any type, however, are still the enemy on my figure..

    Comment by Alyssa — May 2, 2008 @ 3:53 pm

  27. Mimi,
    You’re welcome! I looove that website, I’d order half the stuff off it if I could. x_x They respond to emails quick and their shipping [the cheapest option] is super fast. I lovelovelovelove them.

    Comment by Jessica — May 2, 2008 @ 4:12 pm

  28. Boots,
    Thanks so much for the tip! I just bought 2 pairs from Macy’s!

    Comment by Carolyn — May 2, 2008 @ 5:21 pm

  29. 1) The colour lavender… I used to LOATHE it. Now I like it, as in a Pucci print.
    2) Mod looks. I was scared of them ( stripes, black and white , short dress)
    3) Non-thong underwear ( I used to be called “Dorito Girl”) now I love seamless boyshorts.

    Comment by Milla — May 2, 2008 @ 7:58 pm

  30. any machine made polyester lace makes my skin crawl, still, to this day. I loathe it. time will definately not change that!

    Time did, however, change my view on a few things…
    I used to hate, but now love stretch denim, UGG boots (so warm, and yet so ugly!) and St John Santana knit skirts. Spendy, but worth every dang cent. Largest size is a 16, but can be blocked up a size by your dry cleaner.

    Comment by kimberly — May 2, 2008 @ 10:09 pm

  31. check out miss plus size england at the link

    Comment by Megan — May 2, 2008 @ 11:34 pm

  32. Love that dress! As for me it’s flats and halternecks. I’m short and used to wear heels all the time but have recently learned that flats are more comfortable and, if they have pointed toes, not as stumpefying as I thought they would be. I also dislike anything sleeveless but I learned to make an exception for halternecks because they do so much for my figure (I’m very pear-shaped) that I assume nobody is paying much attention to my arms.

    Comment by Marin — May 3, 2008 @ 6:46 am

  33. Bows and rosettes.

    I grew up a lumpy tomboy who wore her green toughskins and Chuck Taylors MWF and her purple ones TRS.

    Now — no idea what happened — I have bow and/or rosette ornaments on a large percentage of gloves and flat shoes, which I wear with very severely tailored clothes and feel very Newmarish/Kittish.


    Comment by littlem — May 3, 2008 @ 7:39 am

  34. What I call “mattress prints”. If you look at a mattress from the 70s, it generally has big ol’ flowers and vines all over it. But I actually saw that same pattern on an enameled bangle recently (and not, for once, on some hideous attempt at a dress), and it looked very chic.

    Comment by Nariya — May 3, 2008 @ 9:16 pm

  35. Low-rise jeans — not the ultra-low-rise that barely covers the bottom, but the medium-rise ones. I assumed they would give me a muffin top, like all of the unfortunate fashion victims I saw during the summer, but it turns out if you buy the right size they’re actually quite flattering for short-torsoed gals like me!

    Comment by Melissa B. — May 4, 2008 @ 7:16 am

  36. I bought the Kiyonna lace dress last year, and I ended up giving it away. I decided I didn’t like the overall look of lace in a dress. For some reason, I think it makes me look old-fashioned, not in a good way. However, I ended up buying the top in the exact same style, and that looks good. Paired with a charcoal gray pencil skirt from Talbot’s, the men’s style bottom softened by the lace top works.

    Speaking of this sartorial juxtaposition, I think Francesca, Twistie or Plumcake should do a page on the topic of unexpected combinations that work. For instance, I have a Talbots jacket top that is oh-so-conservative, and everything I paired with it made me look frumptity-umptious. I was about to put it in the Goodwill pile when I found some navy “cha-cha” pants from Carolyn Strauss (HSN) in the back of my closet. The slightly bohemian, gooky look of the pants married with the conservative jacket totally looked great! It’s like opposites attract, like Marilyn Monroe with Arthur Miller.

    Comment by Mimi Stratton — May 4, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

  37. I used to be very fond of dark velvet, and couldn’t resist buying anything made of the stuff. I have come to realize that dark velvet, especially wiith spandex in it, makes me look like a walrus.

    Comment by Constance Kent — May 4, 2008 @ 2:12 pm

  38. I recently bought some walking shorts, used to hate them, wouldn’t be caught dead wearing them, now I am starting to like them. I have no hips but very big long legs, I still have to get used to them being covered up. I used to only wear very short shorts to show off the length of my legs. Now I like this look better.

    I am still not a fan of lace or frills but I do buy it when I see it on sale, that way if I only wear it once I won’t feel foolish. Low-and-behold folks at work LOVE me in these things!

    And last but not least, I recently cut my hair really short, like Jamie Lee Curtis, and I was afraid that being 5’10” I would look like a guy, but everyone seems to love it!

    Comment by Pam — May 8, 2008 @ 2:22 pm

  39. One thing that I’ve seriously rethought: orange. I avoided orange until maybe 18 months ago, and then I started buying several things in the color and related colors such as coral and peach. Now, I’m a big fan of it.

    Comment by OCCaliAKA — May 10, 2008 @ 9:31 pm

  40. Like Littlem, used to dress very tough, spent a decade as a Goth. No colour other than black. Ever.

    And yesterday I wore a turquoise top with perfectly fitting brown pants & knew I looked very clever.

    Comment by QuiteLight — May 23, 2008 @ 10:32 pm

  41. The shirtdress. I’d always liked the look on them — on everybody else. On me, they looked beyond hideous. But I then decided to give them another try and found a lovely dark denim one with a straight skirt, as opposed to a flared skirt, and a nice long self-belt tie. It was $22 at Zellers, and I look like a million bucks in it.

    Comment by La Petite Acadienne — May 24, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

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