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

April 30, 2009

Olive the Questions from Readers!

Filed under: What Should I Wear?,You Asked For It — Francesca @ 10:54 am

We received this letter from our internet friend Jen:

My future sister-in-law has asked me to be a bridesmaid in her and my brother’s  August wedding.  She is mercifully allowing the bridesmaids to pick their own dresses, as long as they conform to our assigned color (mine is olive green).  Excited for an excuse to do some major dress shopping, I’ve been thinking about making a trip up to New York City to shop.

Are there stores in NYC that you could suggest?  I am not limited to typical bridesmaid dresses – David’s Bridal is my absolute last resort.  I’d like something tea/knee length and to be able to wear the dress again in non-bridal settings.  I’m a size 18 or 20, roughly pear shaped, and my maximum budget is $200 (and I would love to pay much less).

You love to perplex the Francesca, do you not?

On one of the hands, we have the flexibility in styling. On the other of the hands, the dress must be olive green, quite pretty but not a typical color for the fancy “occasion” dress. Francesca is sorry to have to tell you that finding plus-size occasion dresses in a particular color is not so easy, even in New York, unless that color is black, sapphire, or emerald.

Francesca says: You do not need an excuse to shop in New York City. Go there to poke around at Saks’ Salon Z and at Rootchi and at the boutique of Monif C  and at Lee Lee’s Valise and at the plus-size department at the Macy’s flagship store, but do not expect to find the tea-length olive green dress appropriate for your brother’s wedding! Go to have a good time without such pressure! (Also, you must visit the Talbot’s Woman store on Broadway at 82nd Street and tell the wonderful saleslady Veronica that Francesca says hi. Hi Veronica! Hi!)

Francesca scoured the websites of ALL the New York department stores, from Bergdorf’s to Barney’s and back, and did not find what you seek. At Igigi she found this lovely olive dress for just $92,

which is very pretty and perhaps what you want, but also perhaps not elegant enough for the lavish affair. How formal is the wedding?

Sydney’s Closet used to have an olive green dress but it was floor length and frilly and very, very bridesmaid-y. And anyway it is not available any more, and a search there for “olive” did not turn up anything appropriate for this wedding.

So unless the Igigi dress fits the bill or you happen to find what you need in person in the Big Apple (or closer to home), Francesca says: Buy beautiful olive-green material and have a dress custom-designed and made personally for the Jen.

(In this vein, Francesca checked Dress By Design to see if they have any olive material, and they do. Look at this gorgeous swatch of embroidered shantung silk!

But a dress there in this fabric costs over $300, and for this price the Jen can probably have a dress made by her own seamstress.)

Congratulations on your brother’s wedding, and let us know how the search goes for the dress!



  1. Gorgeous Fabrics, an internet fabric retailer, has this exact fabric for $35/yard, plus a coordinating un-embroidered shantung for $18/yard. If you want it, grab it – the good stuff goes fast. Search their site for OLIVE and you will fine all kinds of stuff, including olive crinkle silk and olive paisley silk tissue prints. That’s

    Note that I have no business connection with Gorgeous Fabrics – apart from shopping there now and then – and that I look dead in olive.

    I think the Igigi dress is adorable.

    Comment by Pamela — April 30, 2009 @ 12:19 pm

  2. Thanks Francesca! I like that Igigi dress, but I have no idea how that shape would look on me – generally skirts only look good on me if they go OUT at the knee, not IN.

    I have lots of options to explore – I’ll let you know what I come up with.

    And P.S. if you think olive green is hard, you should be glad I got to my future sister-in-law before some of her other bridesmaids – two of the other color options were mustard yellow and rust orange.

    Comment by jen209 — April 30, 2009 @ 1:19 pm

  3. So I take it the theme of this wedding is “appliance colors of the 1970s”?

    Comment by daisyj — April 30, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

  4. Exactly what I was thinking, daisy! Those are lovely colors for, say, a rustic floral arrangement, but very few people can pull off dusky warm shades like olive and mustard without looking ill. I truly feel for the poor girl who must find a semi-formal dress in mustard yellow!!

    Comment by EV — April 30, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

  5. Also, sorry to double comment, but have you tried Etsy? There are many very talented designers on there who are just starting out and can do lovely custom work. If you don’t find something already made, try the “alchemy” feature. You create a listing describing exactly what you want and how much you’re willing to pay for it, and sellers can send bids to make it for you.

    Comment by EV — April 30, 2009 @ 6:08 pm

  6. Seconding the etsy rec, especially Jane BonBon.

    Sure, nothing in her store is olive green right now, but I’m sure she’d be willing to custom make something. Her work is gorgeous, very well constructed, and made to fit your body (she even puts a tag in the back, and in the size part writes your name. Cute!)

    And no, I’m not being paid to shill for her. I’m just a big fan.

    Comment by harveypenguin — May 1, 2009 @ 2:34 am

  7. Thanks everyone for the ideas – I will have to check out Etsy.

    As for the colors, yes, I agree that they’re a little strange. They’re supposed to be “earth tones” – and I think the idea behind it is that we’re all wearing shawls made from traditional Thai fabric that has gold thread. So that, coupled with the fact that she herself is Thai and has darker skin that works better with those colors, resulted in the weird color choices.

    I would still rather pick my dress and not the color than be assigned both a style and color.

    Comment by jen209 — May 1, 2009 @ 9:25 am

  8. Ugh. I commented and included a link, and I believe that said comment is now languishing in moderation hell! But I have to suggest the Donna Ricco dress called “Touch of Pine” on Alight (our friend Dr Google will help you find it.) Do not be fooled by the name. It looks olive to me!

    Also, my profuse apologies if my earlier comments pop up sometime and hog the board. I’ll hide my head in shame and promise never to do it again!

    Comment by angela — May 1, 2009 @ 11:38 am

  9. I would strongly suggest asking Jane BonBon to make you a dress. She made me a bride’s maid dress. I picked the color of silk I wanted and some design details. She sewed a well made, fully lined dress for under $200. I am over the moon with how lovely and comfortable it was.

    Also, check out Re/Dress NY in Brooklyn. They have lovely formal/semi-formal dresses appropriate for a wedding and bought up a bunch of Abby Z stock after the Abby Z store closed. Deb, who owns Re/Dress, is amazingly friendly and helpful.

    Comment by Julia — May 1, 2009 @ 11:04 pm

  10. Searching by “olive” won’t be all that reliable, either. Too many companies pull the J. Crew trick of giving their colours twee names. I found this dress that LOOKS olive, but the colour is called “Spanish Moss”.

    This would also look pretty on the pear shape:

    This one’s a stunner, but you might out-do the bride:

    This one is also lovely, and within your budget — the colour is moss, not olive, but it might be close enough?

    Comment by La Petite Acadienne — May 4, 2009 @ 9:39 am

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