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Manolo for the Big Girl | Archive | January, 2011
Archive - January, 2011

February is Glamor Month

A variety of reliable resources I’ve just made up in my head says February is the worst month for depression, general malaise and the unrepentant blahs.

All the fun parts of winter are over, and now it’s just slogging through dirty snow and doing macrame with your leg hair until spring.

With that in mind, I’ve decided February will be Glamor Month here at Manolo for the Big Girl. We’ll still keep the regularly irregular featurettes but will also start your morning with a Moment of Glamor, a glamorous imagine –mostly shamelessly pinched from the lovely and fragrant Thombeau at Château Thombeau and the devastatingly aerodynamic TJB at Stirred, Straight Up, with a Twist–to inspire you to new heights of fabulosity. Or at least convince you to put on proper clothes before you run to the grocery store for the morning’s first round of pink wine and menthols.

If you’ve got some particularly glam moments you’d like to share, I encourage you to email me. I can’t respond to all the emails I get, but if I use your image or suggestion, you’ll get a nice big thanks on the public page.

Talking About Eating Disorders

The final week of February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which means it’s coming up fast. This year’s theme is “It’s Time to Talk About It.”

I agree. Let’s all talk. Let’s talk about full-blown eating disorders, the normalization of disordered eating, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and orthorexia. Let’s talk about the assumptions based on body type (‘you’re too fat to be anorexic), the trivialization (‘if only I could get just a little anorexia, I could wear a swim suit again!’), the shaming, the fear, and the treatments that do and don’t work in fighting EDs. That’s what I’m going to be talking about throughout the month of February. I hope you’ll all join in the conversation with your experiences and questions.

To get started, I want to point those of you who have something to share with the world in the direction of Project Body Talk. It’s not just for eating disorders, but they certainly are among the topics up for discussion.

But whatever you have to say about your body, the positive as well as the negative, the frustration and the glory, this is a safe place to talk frankly and share your story with the world. Record your story and submit it, or just listen to other women talking with breathtaking honesty about how they feel about their bodies. Someone out there feels much the same way you do. Someone out there can tell you about what it’s like to live in a body very different from yours.

Some of the stories will break your heart. Some stories might be triggering to you. But they’re all important. Our voices are important.

Let’s speak up.

(Note: Big oops. This was supposed to go out yesterday, and I even hit the publish button, I swear… but WordPress knew better, I guess. At least it’s up now.)

Thousand Dollar Shoes on a Hundred Dollar Budget

I get a lot of people who ask me how I manage to have the things I do –particularly my shoes– with the job I have.  Now ignoring for a moment that it’s kind of a rude question,  I do have a bit of wisdom to share as to how I managed to amass a shoe collection worth more than what I earn in a year without hooking, selling my kidneys or getting into credit card debt. While finding thousand dollar shoes for a hundred dollars is a bit on the ambitious side of things, if you follow my lead (and learn from my mistakes) you will be well on your way to your own enviable shoe salon.

Here goes:

Know what’s out there.

There is life outside Louboutin. In fact, I kind of feel that loubies are just a wee bit déclassé at the moment.

For every brand that gets namechecked and overexposed there are dozens of smaller houses making shoes just as interesting and luxurious, who have the talent and the quality, but not the advertising budget.  This is where you can find your best deals off-season.  You can mark down last season’s Dolce 20% and people will snatch them up as a bargain, but in order to move product of a lesser-known but every bit as talented shoe designer like Nicole Brundage, the retailer will cut deeper and faster just to get them out of the store.
Often you can bring home a $600 shoe –and worth every penny– for $150, maybe less.

Know what you like.
As you expose yourself to more designers (uh, as it were) you’ll also get a better feel for who and what you like.

Designers rarely change horses in the middle of a stream, so if you see a current shoe you love but can’t afford, look at the past season or two. Same thing goes for trends.  Odds are you’ll find similar themes or shapes in the sale section. This is particularly true if the house has any sort of signature look, like Valentino’s bows.

Speaking of Valentino, when you have a house that traditionally skews a bit older in clientele, the odds of finding an iconic shoe at a great price increases.  Valentino, even with the current chuckleheads trying to singlehandedly ruin Maestro Garavani’s house with their bid for the Chloe set (ptui ptui), will always always always release some iteration of  bow-embellished d’orsay.

Want some but don’t have one particular design etched on your heart? Give it time and keep your eyes on the sales racks. The right one will come down the pike sooner rather than later.

Patience Grasshopper.

Unless it is The One True Shoe (in which case you must buy it immediately regardless of price, lest you wake up in tears of regret every night for the rest of your sad, anticlimactic life) I don’t mind taking my chances and shopping the luxury clearance sales. Neither should you.

The Green Dior Anniversary is my One True Shoe and it got away. It haunts me in my dreams.

I’ve had particularly good luck at Neiman Marcus Last Call for a bricks and mortar experience and YOOX.com for online. YOOX lets you create a Dream Box. This is particularly handy because even if something is megabucks now, in six, nine, twelve months it might be a fraction of that. Plus every once in a while they’ll send an email with a coupon code for a percentage off everything currently in your Dream Box (no, you can’t go add things). If you still love it, buy it and rejoice. If you don’t still love it? You’ve saved a ton of cash avoiding a passing fancy you would’ve worn once.

Know what you won’t wear.
Every time I buy a pair of slingbacks I SWEAR I will never do it again.
In fact, I know as a gospel truth that somewhere floating around stately Chateau Gateau are at least two pairs of painfully fabulous slingbacks that have either been worn for less than an hour (I’m looking at you, magenta silk satin Brian Atwoods worn for half of midnight mass 2009) or not at all (iridescent mercury pebbled leather Guillaume Hinfrays) and even a pair of black croc house-brand slingbacks I bought at Saks several years ago rarely get worn now, and why? Because the damn sling always slips.

I’ve taken them to my shoe whisperer, I’ve done all the pads, everything.  The rise of my heel is simply too high for 99 out of 100 slingbacks.

A quick visit to Bluefly tells me the average Brian Atwood and Guillaume Hinfray both go for about $750 a pop and I seem to recall buying the black heels at Saks for retail, which I’m guessing was around $300.  So conservatively speaking, I have $1,850 worth of shoes that are just gathering dust, and those are just the ones I can remember right now. Granted I think I probably paid about $300 each for the Atwoods and Hinfrays, but that’s still close to a thousand bucks I could’ve saved if I’d remembered that I don’t wear slingbacks.

Never forget a name
We all have That Perfect Shoe. The one that fits like it was molded to your feet, makes your legs look like eight miles of heaven and miraculously works with everything in your closet? Find out the model name and set an eBay saved search. Don’t have the original box? Do some creative searching with Google Image or on department store sites you know carry that brand. Already found a shoe you want online but aren’t sure you’re getting the best price? Put the model name into any search engine with a shopping features and compare different sites on one screen. These are the Manolo Blahnik Caldos. If I find a Caldo in a size 41 I buy it. That’s it. Don’t care about the fabric, print, whatever. They fit my feet like a dream, I can walk a million miles in them and they can go from day to evening to formal evening like a song.

Thoughts on Capital F Fashion

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the exclusivity of fashion and I’ve decided I just don’t buy it.

That being said, we ought to differentiate between Fashion and the Fashion Industry.

The mainstream fashion industry and media has its head so far up its own emaciated backside that it can use its own lungs as convenient and ergonomically sound in-flight neck pillows.  That’s not going to change any time soon, so take whatever good you can find from it as a pleasant surprise and leave the rest. My current scientifically bangin’ measurements are 53-361/2-54 and I cannot buy ready-to-wear from any major designer.  That is screwed up.  I have –albeit on a larger scale– pretty the exact same proportions as Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and the Venus De frickin’  Milo.  If you can’t design clothes that look great on my figure *coughMiucciaPradacough* the problem? Is not with me.

But Fashion? Fashion is by no means the exclusive provenance of 15 year-old Eastern Bloc automatons with bones but no faces. Sure that may be what we see on the runways right now –although admittedly with the revival of the early 90’s looks, we’re getting a bit more diversity of look on the catwalk– but after poring through thousands of editorial fashion images this weekend, particularly from the How to be a F**king Lady tumblr stream which is beyond fabulous I’ve decided one thing:

When you create something unusual, maybe even shocking, put it on your body and  sell it so hard that it becomes fabulous by sheer force of will, THAT is Capital F Fashion. It doesn’t belong to the thin or tall or blonde or rich or whatever actress has a new movie coming out. It belongs to anyone with courage and courage doesn’t give a damn about measurements.

Which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with wanting to be pretty, but good Fashion –like all good art– is challenging and challenging ain’t always pretty.

So take this as a call to arms.

If we want to do Fashion, we can do Fashion. In fact, as big girls, we might actually even have a natural advantage because we command more attention with our physical presence. After all, there’s a reason Cadillacs are in parades but those little SmartCars aren’t. BE the Cadillac, girls and go commit some Fashion.

Why I Will Get Over My Fear

This is – more or less – me since Thanksgiving. Off and on, but more on than I’d like by a country mile and change.

This is not okay.

See, I caught a cold just after Thanksgiving. I slept in for a couple days, blew my nose a lot, drank ginger tea, and thought I was going to be okay.

I got back to normal.

Annnnnd a couple days later I was back in bed draining snot like nobody’s business. But after four or five days, I started feeling better again.

Annnnnd I landed right back on my back a couple days later.

In short, I have spent the past two months trying to get over a cold.

I even got past my nerves about seeing a doctor and went to make sure my lungs were clear. They were. And I wasn’t shamed or berated about my fat body, either, which is awesome. No, it was still a cold. Just a cold. I was, however, a bit dehydrated and very low on Vitamin D.

Over the course of the past week, I have been slowly pulling myself out of my black hole of both physical and mental exhaustion.

So what does this have to do with fear?

Well, for one thing, I let my fear of doctors and needles keep me from getting a flu shot… again. Would it definitely have kept me from getting this sick? Maybe, maybe not. Still, it might have kept me from getting sick in the first place, and it might have helped my body fight off the cold faster. I also let my fear keep me from going to the doctor until I’d been sick for nearly two months. If my illness had been more than a cold – which, actually, it kind of was with the dehydration and vitamin deficiency thing – I might have wound up in the hospital.

So next fall, I will gird my loins and go get that shot. I will grit my teeth and deal with the needle. I will accept ten minute’s mostly mental discomfort to avoid two months of intense physical misery.

Sometimes we all need to bite the bullet and make ourselves do uncomfortable things because they will help us in the longrun.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Take care of yourself.

Fat Foot Week! Five Great: Tall Boots for the Fatted Calf

You know what? “Wide calf” boots can just go ahead and bite me. They SAY “wide calf” but are like, 16″ instead of 14″ and it makes me insane. I do not have freakishly large calves and they are almost pure muscle –which is what happens when a girl genetically predispositioned to muscular calves goes to college built into the side of a mountain– so WHY is it so damn hard to find boots that fit my damn legs?

I get SO. MANY. EMAILS. asking for a good pair of knee high boots for under $100. Honestly I think that’s aiming a little low for a real leather boot, even if it is made in China, but it shouldn’t be impossible to find an at least marginally better than average quality solid leather –I HATE those stupid elastic panels– boot for $200.

Which brings me to the subject of Good Boots.

There are some shoes where you can cheap out. Fabric evening shoes? You can get a nice pair of Nina’s for $60 and no one’s the wiser, but boots take up too much visual space and attention to go cheap and cheap boots look cheap. Which isn’t to say I didn’t wear the hell out of my white stretch vinyl boots when I was doing burlesque-flavored go-go on the weekends (good times) but that is not this.

Obviously you could go with calf-fit boots from Duo. Right now they’re having a HUGE honking sale so this might be your best bet if you’re looking to buy boots right now.

That being said,  I also have been Less Than Impressed with the Duo customer service. I ordered two pairs of boots on January 1st. They warned that shipments to the US might take a bit longer than the seven day delivery thanks to slowdown in customs. But it’s been 15 business days since I ordered them and they haven’t even made it through customs. Not only did they not send a tracking number automatically (and doesn’t EVERYONE do that these days?) when I contacted customer service they were not especially polite or friendly.

They finally provided me with tracking numbers. Turns out my boots haven’t even made it through customs yet, and I find it awfully unusual that I can get a pair of shoes shipped from Italy and have them get through customs in two days, but these boots from England are taking the better part of a week.

And interestingly, when I asked where exactly the boots were made, the response was “Our boots are made in small family owned factories throughout Southern Europe, using leather sourced from Italy.” and that sounds juuust a little shady to me, because to me when you say Southern Europe instead of Spain or Italy that means Turkey and Croatia and I’m just not super comfortable with the idea of boots being made in non-EU European countries. Anyway, I had two DUO boots listed as recommended, but they’ve left a bad taste in my mouth, I’m taking them off until I get the boots (and they had better be PERFECTION).

ANYHOODLE let’s have some boots, shall we?
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Fat Foot Week! Five Great: Heels for Day

Day heels are a big blind spot for me. I mean sure I’ve got ’em, I’ve been bouncing around all day in a pair of 4 1/2″ DVF peep toes that I can wear for 8 hours without a pinch and I wish I’d bought them in every color, but when it comes time to drop bank on shoes, I’ll usually pass by the day shoes because they’re not special enough to justify that sort of money. Don’t let this happen to you. Splurging on top-quality day shoes is an excellent investment as your cost-per-wear is lower and as we all know, an expensive shoe can make a bargain basement outfit look posh, but a cheap heel will ruin your head-to-toe Dior.

I like to err on the side of basic when it comes to a day heel, particularly if I’m wearing it to the office, because it’s more about polish than fashion. I’ve found if you go too capital F Fashion at most offices you run the risk of the Fabulous overshadowing the Competent.

On to the shoes!

The first offering that’s About The Look and not about the shoe is the Stuart Weitzman “Bonjour” in a lovely slightly gilded taupe leather with a 3″ heel and half inch platform.  I’m not usually a bow girl. Even most of my Valentinos –and Valentino is known for them– are sans bows, but the bow here makes the shoe special, and provides visual interest without being too twee.  Also, when you’re dealing with this sort of leather, a scuff here or there actually adds character to the leather, so you can abuse them a bit more than a pair of delicate kid kicks.

One good Stewie deserves another, and I am All About these Stuart Weitzman “Mocup” heels (on BIG sale). Listen, I don’t know how Stewie does it, but he makes THE most wearable high heels I’ve ever worn, and honestly at this point, I’m pretty sure I’ve worn every major designer so I’m not just whistling Dixie. Once upon a time I had a pair of Stewies with what must have been a 5 1/2″ heel and I swear I could traipse up mountains in them. There’s something about the  way they balance the heel. It’s amazing.

These have a 4″ heel and a 1″ platform with ample padding. They’re available in black patent, a deep olive suede,and a tobacco leather, all worth having.

Okay, that’s enough of the spendy shoes, let’s go to something a bit more cheap and cheerful.
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