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Manolo for the Big Girl | Archive | February, 2010
Archive - February, 2010

Farewell, my darlings

To my dearest, superfantastic readers,

It is with sadness that I must announce that Francesca will no longer be working on this blog, for the foreseeable future. She is leaving to invest her time in other (alas, non-fashion-related) projects.

Manolo for the Big Girl has been a gracious and loving home to me for the past three years, and it is not easy to leave. Yet, Francesca knows that you will be in the best of hands with our wonderful, inimitable Plumcake and dear Twistie.

I have learned much from you, my internet friends, and from all our excellent co-bloggers in the Fatosphere, especially from Plumcake and from the incomparable Kate Harding. My own self-confidence,  self-acceptance, and sense of personal style have increased because of all of you. I hope that I have been able to contribute to your lives, as well, in the most positive of ways.

Francesca will continue to check in on the Manolo empire and perhaps comment from time to time, so this isn’t exactly a “goodbye.”  However, I feel a need to leave with an example of Big Girls in Art,

and a parting lesson about beauty: the first rule of being superfantastic is to be thoughtful of others. The second, third, and fourth rules involve clear skin, a good bra, and a good haircut, but I’m sure Plumcake will have plenty to say about those. Listen carefully to what she tells you!

Happy shopping and happy LIVING!

xoxo,

Francesca

Twistie’s Sunday Caption Madness: The Overwhelming Accessories Edition

Hey there caption lovers! It’s time once again to play Twistie’s Sunday Caption Madness.

You know how this works. I post a picture that needs a caption like Plummy needs fabulous silk scarves. You provide those captions via the comments function. Next week I declare a winner and we all celebrate with our various drinks, snack foods, or glittery jewelry of choice…or something.

This week’s picture comes to you courtesy of my abiding affection for fabulous handbags, and it looks a bit like this:

Giant Handbag Ready…set…snark!

Recipe of the Week: Winter Greens and Potatoes

It is a fact that I love greens. I love spinach and kale and collard greens and mustard greens and…well, most things that are leafy and green.

It is also a fact that I don’t eat as many as I would like. Why? Because Mr. Twistie isn’t wild about them, and most of the time I’m feeding him as well as me. He often finds them bitter and unpleasant. Sigh.

Because of these two facts, I went looking for a recipe that would let me have my green and leafies while pleasing Mr. Twistie’s palate. I found just the thing in my copy of The Savory Way by Deborah Madison. It’s a fantastic vegetarian cookbook that I pull out both when I’m feeding someone who doesn’t eat meat, when I feel like having a good meal sans meat, or when I’m looking for the perfect side dish to go with a great piece of meat. I was going to link to the book on Amazon, but at present it would appear to be more or less a collector’s item over there. The cheapest copy I found was something like seventy-eight bucks for the hardcover. The paperback started well over two hundred smackers. I suggest going to your local second-hand bookstore and seeing if you can find a previously loved copy.

Anyway. The dish is pretty easy (and easier if – unlike me – you get your chopping and dicing out of the way before you start cooking rather than after), requires no specialized equipment, cooks pretty rapidly, and is surprisingly fabulous. It’s also flexible. If you go to the store or your farmer’s market and there are no collard greens or the broccoli rabe is looking limp, just pick up some mustard greens or Swiss chard and have at it. Follow the cut for the recipe.

(more…)

It’s 2010!

WHERE’S MY JETPACK???

Space age fashion

Stuart Weitzman "Wicky"

dots

belle by sigerson morrison

Anne Francis in The Forbidden Planet

Calvin Klein "Katia"

Elements of Style: We Had FACES Then!

Good morning mein schnauzers! (I don’t really speak German, although I HAVE seen Cabaret a bunch of times. Plus I stole the line from the occasionally NSFW Mr Peenee anyhow.)

Today’s blog post is going to be Law and Order style: Ripped from today’s headlines.

Except by “Today’s” I mean “Yesterday and quite late the night before” and “headlines” I mean “conversation I was having with an aerialist cum chef pal of mine who may or may not also breathe fire.”

The question?

Whether one might learn to be photogenic.

Listen, I’m not going to lie: I take a hell of a picture. In person I look like an extremely posh cartoon frog and I’m at peace with that, but on camera? I’m Myrna freakin’ Loy.

See, the things that make people beautiful to look at in real life don’t necessarily translate onto film, so there is absolutely no use hating bad photos of yourself. You DON’T really look like an off-Broadway musical revue staring Lady Bunny as The Elephant Man. It’s just a bad photo.

BUT you can hedge your bets by learning how to fake being photogenic.

How? Easy. Learn how to work your light.

You do this two ways: through makeup (easy) and through posing (easier).

Makeup first:
Most people who wear makeup focus on their eyes and lips and don’t pay much attention to their skin. This, particularly when it comes to photographs, is a mistake. Even if you want to go for “the natural look” for a photo, a little foundation or powder will even out the way light bounces off your face, making for a much smoother look.

plumcake necklace

For the look above -which was taken last night after an evening out celebrating the newest acquisition of the Château Gâteau Collection of Enormous Sparkly Things: a vintage Kenneth Jay Lane necklace the size of a sheep– I’m actually wearing relatively little on my lips and eyes.

The lips are just a generic tinted lipbalm and for the eyes I simply took my trusty MAC 217 brush and blended Paradise Pearl pure pigment from Coastal Scents over the lid, ran a bit of Milani’s Mediterranean Blue eye pencil along the waterline and along the outer corner of my eye and topped it with a lick of Rimmel Sexy Curves mascara.  I just cleaned up and shaped my brows using an old brown pencil whose make and model have been lost in the mists of memory.
yes to carrotsParadisePearlGoldMica_300rimmel-sexy-curves1

What I did spend a lot of time on was the highlighting and contouring of my face.  For those of us who are fat of face or otherwise not blessed with an aquiline nose, cheekbones so high and sharp people try to commit suicide off them and the generally accepted number of chins (i.e., one) highlighting and contouring the face can be a godsend.

The painfully lovely and exceedingly talented Chapman sisters can teach you this and pretty much everything else you’d ever wanted to know about l’art du maquillage (I say that in French because it sounds nice, the sisters themselves are from Norwich) through their wonderfully accessible tutorials.

Sam Chapman doing a model's makeup

Sam Chapman Contouring Tutorial

Of course it doesn’t hurt that Sam Chapman might actually be the most gorgeous woman to ever have lived and if Crystal Renn ever got a look at her she’d be cowering in her technically-plus-size Martin Margiela boots.  I highly commend these videos to anyone with even an sprinkling of interest in makeup. If you’re an old hand, they’ll be inspiring and if you’re new to the wonderful world of better living through eyeliner it’s a great place to start.

So we’ve got the makeup down, right? Now on to posing.

Any small success I had as a photographer’s/artist’s model (my plus-size fashion career was as short as my too-short-for-fashion neck) was because I knew how to literally put myself in the best light.

Part of that is just being aware of your face and how the light hits it. You know when it’s nice outside and you turn up your face to get just that perfect sweet spot of sun? That’s a really natural example of finding your key light.

The undisputed queen of key light was Marlene Dietrich.
marlene-dietrich

Killer bone structure notwithstanding, Dietrich wasn’t a great beauty (and let’s not even talk about the tragedy that is Jean Harlow’s wighat)

but she knew how to play to her light when a camera –moving or still– was on her.

Vivien Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor worked lights well too, but they had the disadvantage of being actually breathtakingly beautiful, too, so it’s not as useful from an academic perspective.

A silly “key light” finding exercise, is to set up a spotlight in your house (yes, this can be a flashlight or a can light on a music stand on your commode) and practice just moving your face around in the light.

Odds are you’ll find some positions where the light just feels better, feels right.

That will get you in the habit of paying attention to the light, so the next time someone wants to snap your photo and you have a second to pose, just lengthen your neck, find your light and you’ll be surprised how much better your photos turn out.

Now someone go find me that charming Mister DeMille.

If you are reading this you are too old for Betsey Johnson

This weekend I met with two new Glam Rehab clients. They’re both kinda hip and groovy in a crunchy sort of Austin way. They’re in their late-ish 30’s and generally pretty awesome (they also gave permission for me to talk about them on the blog. Thanks!)

We were chatting about their fashion time line, what they like what they don’t and they both told me they loved Betsey Johnson. I nearly had two strokes (one stroke each.)

Because Betsey Johnson?

Betsey Johnson at the Fifi awards

No.

I mean sure, love Betsey Johnson the whackadoo designer , because she is totally endearing and would probably be a really fun friend to have as long as you didn’t embarrass easily (confidential to BJ: when I see you and the first words I can think of are “Nylon hair” “hot mess” and “Deranged Suzanne Somers stalker having a really difficult time with her m-to-f  transition” perhaps it’s time to rethink the look) but really, you do not live in a world where it’s All Junior Prom All The Time and maybe it’s time to up your sophistication level.

Does that mean you have to burn all your cute young clothes and only leave the house in St John knits?

YES.

sjk

Wait, I mean NO. (Although I love St John and I don’t CARE  that it’s as WASPish as you can be without having a tax shelter literally built around you. But they don’t make plus sizes so whatevs)

What it means is that you’ve got to start looking at what appeals to who you are today.

There is some great Sufi teaching story about a swan egg that got in a chicken coop somehow, and he was happy and all with his adoptive poultry family (clearly they weren’t Danish poultry, who –if we’ve learned anything from Hans Christian Anderson– are all bastards) who taught him how to eat grain and keep dry in the rain and all sorts of handy things. He’d watch the swans fly overhead and swim in the sea, secure that when the time was right, his chicken momma and chicken daddy would teach him how to fly and swim. But they didn’t, because they couldn’t, so the swan never learned because he thought “they have taken me this far on my journey so well, surely they can take me the rest of the way.”

The moral of the story is (kinda) just because something worked then, doesn’t mean it works now.

When was the last time you took a good look at your wardrobe and asked “does this fit who I am and what I want to project now?”

Maybe those lug-soled mary janes were super cute when you were 21 and it was kind of ironic that you were wearing old lady clothes since you were so  young and winsome, but now you’re 36. Don’t give up the essence of what you love, but make sure it’s being continually refined.

If you love punk, don’t give it up, just make it a bit more sophisticated than pink kitties and skulls on Ugly Knitted Things.  Alexander McQueen did it beautifully, and Viv Westwood, the Godmother of Punk, kept the punk sensibility without sacraficing sophistication when she showed for Fall 2010.

punk

(I am DYING for that jacket).

SPEAKING of Betsey Johnson and Lee McQueen, how do we feel about her little homage at Fashion Week? Her heart was in the right place, but it didn’t quite sit right with me. And the hay-strewn runway? Didn’t Herr Karl do that for Chanel last season?

homage

Recipe of the Week: Quick and Easy Snacks

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve spent a lot of my time this week staring at a screen at what’s going on in Vancouver (a lovely city where, incidentally, Mr. Twistie and I honeymooned). That’s meant less time than usual for cooking and more need than usual for the kind of fun, easy to eat snacks that one doesn’t feel so horrible about accidentally strewing about the room on seeing someone do something incredible or seeing one’s personal favorite athlete make the podium (Go Evan Lysacek!).

In addition to that, this happens to coincide with a request from reader JB who apparently read my mind and requested a couple recipes that don’t require an oven, since she is currently without.

I also decided that it was time to take a look at some of the great recipes available for free on the web instead of cookbooks that might or might not fit into the current available budget of some of our readers. There are some fabulous sites out there brimful of great recipes that are fun to make and utterly delicious. Besides, my personal challenge was to use written recipes I’ve never used before, but I never said they had to come out of books!

So it was that I perused the quick and easy snack recipes over at epicurious and found a couple goodies that looked tasty and wouldn’t dislodge me from the hypnotic joys of curling or the drama of short track speed skating (You couldn’t pay me to watch roller derby, but put it on ice skates instead of wheels, and I can’t look away. Go figure.) for too long.

Since the recipes are both available online, I’m just posting links to them and notes about how they worked for me.

First up, Pecan Praline Popcorn Treats. This is what Cracker Jack wants to be when it grows up. Ridiculously simple, quick, and a fabulous combination of crunch, goo, salty and sweet. In short, this is the almost perfect TV watching junk food. The almost? Well, that gooey, sticky factor does eventually make you either go wash your hands or get caramel all over the remote. Keep a couple wipes at hand, so you don’t wind up with a remote that sticks to both the couch and the cat. Enjoy the heck out of this one!

Next, Cheddar Chutney Tea Sandwiches. After all, you’ll need some savory treats as well as sweet. These lovely little bite-and-a-half sized sandwiches are a breeze to make (all you’ll need is a knife, a grater, a spoon, and a bowl, really), delicious, zesty, and satisfying. Watch for drips if you don’t just pop the whole (tiny) sandwich in your mouth. I recommend extra-sharp cheddar for the bite, but it would still be good with a milder cheese. I also substituted a different chutney than Major Grey’s. MG’s is more than fine, but I get an incredible tamarind-based chutney from my local farmer’s market. Play with cheeses and chutneys until you find the combo that makes you smile.

Maybe I’ll have some of both while I watch tonight’s broadcast.

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