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Manolo for the Big Girl | Archive | January, 2012
Archive - January, 2012

You Asked For It: Spanx

Good morning my live active cultures of love, how’s every little thing? What? Yes I did have yogurt for breakfast, cactus and prune flavored, thank you. Why do you ask?

We’re going to spend the rest of this week focusing on shapewear, and never fear, I still have a handful of corset recommendations, but several of you have asked me what I think about Spanx.

Spanx can just go ahead, do some breathing exercises, maybe stretch a little, purchase a crazy straw from the party supply store of their choice in any one of a variety of colors and suck it.


(none of these cartoons actually need shapewear)

I have never, EVER had a piece of shapewear from them that lasted more than one or two wearings, didn’t roll or otherwise backfire or have glaring flaws right out of the package. I gave up on their legwear ages ago after putting my hand through three pairs of their pantyhose, once on the first try.

Maybe they’re just made for women with only a little bit of pudge, or whose hourglass boom boom isn’t quite so pow. Maybe it’s because I’m the only person in America who has a torso longer than two inches. I don’t know, but I feel like I’m the only woman on the planet who doesn’t think these things are the best invention since sliced vodka.

Oh maybe it’s user error, you say.

HA and verily double ha! There are little baby angels who are rougher on their clothes than I am.

Heck, I painted my patio in Hermes and didn’t get a speck of Unicorno (apparently in Mexico, unicorns are fuchsia. In an unrelated note: there’s a lot of peyote in this country) on my entire outfit so it’s not like I’m running around with an angry jackal in my pants, laying waste to all hosiery within a 10 mile radius.

PLUS Spanx is ridiculously overpriced for the quality and what’s worse, most plus-size stores these days (please imagine me shaking a cane in geriatric wrath, you may also imagine me in a kaftan if you wish, but it’s not necessary to the visual) have either vastly reduced or completely eliminated their hosiery in favor of selling the Spanx line.

Sigh.

Remember about six million years ago, back at the dawn of the current century, where you could buy those amazing Lane Bryant opaque tights that looked great and lasted FOREVER and you didn’t mind spending $18 on one pair because you knew your knees would wear out before those tights did?

Gonesville. Replaced by ^%$# SPANX for the low low price of $30 – $40, which would be okay if they, as previously mentioned, didn’t suck so hard there are ostriches in Africa wondering what that breeze is and if maybe they couldn’t cut it out because it’s messing with their (the ostriches’ not the Spanxs’) feathers.

Sure you can get some novelty legwear and a basic entry-level black tight from the Lane Bryant home brand, but solid black is not the same as opaque black and one of my biggest pet peeves is a theoretically opaque tight that isn’t. Grr.

Honestly, for that manner of stretchy shapwear I’ve had far better luck at places like Ross and TJ Maxx.

For example: this past summer I bought an amazing high-waist pencil-skirt slimmer that has been a revelation and I KNOW I didn’t spend more than $10 for it. I’ve even worn it as a miniskirt under a long sweater and over a pair of my antediluvian but still functional LB opaque tights. Sadly I don’t have a brand for you (it’s seamless and I’ve rubbed the printed label right off) but if I find it again I’ll report back.

Izod –I know, right?– makes some surprisingly solid shapewear in plus sizes, all of which are higher quality than any of the Spanx I’ve experienced, and I’m pretty sure each piece I bought was $7.99.

There’s also some brand called Lady Princess that I’ve never seen anywhere other than Ross and Ross-esque stores.

I’m pretty sure they’re designed for drag queens (I think it’s the name) but I don’t care. I’ve had good luck with their more heavy-duty pieces.

As far as the major players go, I far prefer the Avenue Body line of shapewear to Lane Bryant’s Cacique (though I still prefer the LB bras) but neither of them really carry my watermelon since both brands tend to roll, fold, pill and lose their shape within a half dozen wearings.

So is there a brand of Spandex-not-steel shapewear you can find online and which I actually LIKE?

Yes, and stay tuned kiddios: I’ve got a Review Revue coming up tomorrow.

Technical Difficulties

Ay caramba! We seem to be experiencing a bit of the old technical difficulties and this is the first time Ive been able to scramble my way into the site all morning. Never fear, I’m sure whatever pelican is responsible for this current crop of internet woes will wing its way to less meddlesome climes sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves and share any adventures (mis- or otherwise) from your weekend in the comments!

Twistie’s Sunday Caption Madness: The Squeaky Clean Edition

Howdy Doo, everybody! It’s time once again to play Twistie’s Sunday Caption Madness.

You all know how this works. I post a picture that’s howling at the moon for a funny caption or three. You provide said captions via the comments function. Next week I declare a winner and we all borrow a sombrero from Plummy’s new home for a Hat Dance of Triumph.

This week’s image comes from the Well, At Least They’re Clean file and looks a bit like this:

Ready… set… snark!

Newsflash: Eating Only One Food for Fifteen Years Isn’t Healthy

Many of you may have read this article from Yahoo Health that went up two days ago. It’s the sad tale of British teen Stacey Irvine who collapsed and was rushed to the hospital with severe breathing problems.

Turns out what was wrong with her was that since she was two years old – that’s fifteen years, folks – Irvine has subsisted on a diet of Chicken McNuggets meals. That’s pretty much it. Just incredibly processed, deep-fried chicken nuggets and fries, with an occasional slice of toast or handful of potato chips to mix things up. No leafy greens, no root veggies that aren’t fried potatoes, no fruit, no fish, no red meat, no pulses: nada else.

As a result, Irvine suffers from anemia and swollen veins in her tongue. Clearly what she was doing was not good for her health.

But what interests me is the fact that the article seems to focus on the badness of Chicken McNuggets as opposed to what was really wrong with Irvine’s diet: she was eating only one thing and had done so for fifteen years.

In many ways, what shocks me the most about this story isn’t that eating nothing but Chicken McNuggets is bad for you, but the fact that she managed to get along on that and so very little else for so freaking long.

Even proponents of fad diets based around a single food, such as grapefruit or cabbage soup, only recommend you stay on them for roughly a week at a time and then stop for at least a couple weeks. For my money, that’s a great big flashing red warning sign to stay away from that diet. After all, if it were healthy to eat nothing but grapefruit, you wouldn’t have to stop so quickly or give it as long a rest, would you?

In a more nuanced article at CBS News, it’s pointed out that even if what Irvine had been eating every day to the exclusion of all other foods had been something generally recognized as healthy, such as carrots, she would still be suffering ill effects on her health because no single food item can fulfill all of a person’s nutritional needs.

So if you like McNuggets, eat the freaking McNuggets. Just make sure you eat something else once in a while, too. And if you like carrots, eat the freaking carrots… and make sure you eat something else once in a while, too.

It’s not what food you eat that makes it unhealthy: it’s eating only one food.

Variety isn’t just the spice of life. It’s also good for you.

You Asked For It: Corsets for the Big Girl part 1

A corset is a lot like a handgun: Dangerous, powerful and ideally concealed in public spaces.

Unfortunately, you don’t need to be trained or certified before the state says it’s okay to have a corset.

Corsets are not Costume.

I mean, they CAN be, but you don’t need me or anyone else to tell you how to create that awful, desperate Platter O’ Boobs effect. So, just for the sake of my head not splitting in half with two even more judgmental pieholes growing in its place, let’s just forget corsets as costumery and focus on them as a piece of specialty shapewear.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to define a corset as a piece of boned lingerie with laces that can be used to minimize the waist by at least 3″. I say that because there are a lot of cinchers, high-waisted girdles and other usually latex or rubber-intensive shapers that call themselves corsets.

Of course, if I learned anything from living in the DC metro area during the Clinton years, there’s boning and then there’s boning. A good corset has steel boning or something with the equivalent flexibility and control. Flimsy little plastic or fabric “bones” are less than useless, because not only do they NOT work most of the time, they’re also likely to roll on you (more on that later).



The two main mistakes I see big girls in corsets make (aside from the Platter O’Boobs) are wearing corsets that are the wrong shape for their body/the outfit and lacing the corset too tightly.

If you are very large-busted or tend towards the floppy, you want a corset that ends under the bust. Cleverly known as underbust corsets, they allow you to wear your own bra and avoid the POB look. They’re also my corset of choice because overbust corsets can ruin the side profile by making less-than-ginormous funbags look flat.

You should also consider the length of your torso.

I’ve got a long waist and a standard corset is usually too short for me, which leads to an incredibly alluring reverse muffin top where all the fat sploodges out the bottom. I usually fix that by wearing some manner of high-impact girdle so my hips and gut don’t burst forth like the mighty kraken, hellbent on destroying all in its path, or at least the lines of my outfit which –let’s face it– is more important.

A longline corset is the way to go if you want your lower stomach and hips to get some smoothing action as well.

They’re a bit more difficult to maneuver in and generally a little more expensive, but if you’ve laced yourself properly they’re no big deal.

If you’re quite short-waisted, a standard-length corset will probably work as a longline and if you want something for your waist only, look for a lace-up cincher instead of a corset.

Now the lacing.

It is so easy, not to mention tempting, to go overboard with the lacing.

But friends, the fat has got to go somewhere and when you over-lace not only does it look weird, disproportionate and fetishistic, you are almost guaranteed a nice bulging set of backfat puppies popping out of the top and bottom of your corset. Fabulous if you’re a dowager empress, not so great for the rest of us. Keep the laces at the top and bottom of your corset nice and open, focusing on creating a gently exaggerate curve, not overzealous Gibson Girl Gone Wild.

Monday I’ll have a selection of corsets I recommend as well as answering a few more questions about this seemingly most difficult piece of underwear. Until then I am being forcefully beckoned to Plumcake Central Command (my hammock) for an important meeting (a nap followed by a gin and tonic) before tonight’s busy schedule of…probably nothing.

Review Revue: Mode Merr, Vamp Dress (and also some seabirds)

Yesterday the internet and telephone went out. Oh the humanity.

I’m not sure what happened, but having lived in Mexico for very nearly a month now I feel qualified to say it was most likely a pelican or something that landed on a roof somewhere in the state of Baja California and screwed us all to hell for the better part of the day. Pelicans, man.

Fun fact: For the past 15 years, I thought pelican in Spanish was alcatraz (thanks for nothin’ ornithologically-challenged high school Spanish teacher). Turns out, Pelican in Spanish is –wait for it– pelicano. I know, kind of a let down. Alcatraz is actually albatross. However, it’s also the name for Calla lilies here.

This would have been valuable information to have in my Spanish-to-English arsenal BEFORE Hot Latin Boy, the biggest bleeding heart in this particular postal code when it comes to animals in need, announced he was bringing home 30 alcatraces for my front garden and could he pretty please borrow my shiny new SUV to pick them up.

I’m not gonna lie, kids: I had visions of two and a half dozen over-sized seabirds making their happy home in my garden being all messy and foreshadowing my ironic briny death and whatnot. I was not best pleased.

Anyhoodle.

Remember two weeks ago when we were talking about niche designers and how they’re worth a gander (again with the avian allusions?) even if their clothes in general are not your cup of what you tell your HR director is tea?

Here is a case, perfectly illustrated.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was very much a rockabilly girl in my early 20’s and many of my friends still identify with the saddle shoes and safety pin set. One of them, the massively talented Double Down Dixie from Red Light Burlesque, turned me on to Mode Merr.

Mode Merr is a neatly edited online boutique of pinup-flavored designs offered in straight and plus sizes by Angela Zampell, all handmade in the good old U.S. of A.

Admittedly, most of the designs are too literal in their pinup interpretation for my lifestyle (please hold on while I shake an angry fist at the sky) but let me draw your attention to The Original Vamp Dress:

Now okay, everything looks good on Bernie Dexter and it’s hard to see the exact construction and fabrication of the dress, but I thought for fifty smackeroos, I could take a chance and if it ended up just being a shapeless knit sweater dress sort of thing, I wouldn’t be out a ton of cash.

First of all, I found a coupon code moments after I’d ordered my dress, so I emailed Angela to ask her if she’d apply it, figuring it was a long shot, but a test of customer service. She did, no questions asked.

Then an item I’d ordered –I suspect plus sizes might be made-to-order– turned out to be unavailable she included a handwritten note explaining they couldn’t source any more of the material in that pattern. Handwritten, folks. Oh, and my entire package was tied up like a present in red lace trim, a cute nostalgic touch.

Now let’s talk about the dress:

It should be noted the only time I’ve ever seen Hot Latin Boy have a flare of Hot Latin Jealousy was when I was wearing this dress. We had tentative plans for a late dinner so, not wanting to waste a good outfit, I decided to take myself to the one restaurant in my village so that I might avail myself of a margarita and a little harmless ego massage.

Well, HLB showed up to Villa Plumcake an hour early, just as I was leaving the house in the Vamp Dress and was convinced I had some secret hot date with the Lovelorn Boxer, because I looked so beautiful in “your so sexy dress”, and there was a whole semi-comic telenovela scene that would’ve been deeply endearing had I not been wearing 5″ silk heels and standing on cobblestone.

The next week we went to watch the Marquez v. Pacquiao fight and, not being an animal despite my enjoyment of watching heavily-lubricated men hit each other for money, I dressed up. The Vamp dress came out of the closet again and I was the belle of the boxing ball and a chair miraculously opened up for me the minute I stepped my size 41 foot in the completely packed room. Not bad for dress that hits below the knee, has long sleeves and shows no cleavage.

As it’s a vintage-styled piece, I wore it with the era-appropriate undergarments. Yes, that means a corset. By no means is it necessary, and next time I think I’ll just go with a waist cincher –I believe the fabric is a smooth acetate with a bit of stretch to it and the boning of my corset was semi-visible even under a slip– but I wanted the full Boris and Natasha (well, just the Natasha) so I went all the way.

Conclusion:

Mode Merr is great. The customer service is great. The Original Vamp Dress is great (FWIW I ordered it in XXXL and I’d call it a generous 18, true to size 20) and it’s the best fifty dollars I’ve ever spent on something that wasn’t Scotch. Go get you some. Mode Merr I mean, it’s nearly 5 p.m. in New York so I assume you already have the Scotch.

Lazy Poll Monday: Who Moved My Cheese Edition

You know you’ve had a rough weekend when the best thing you can say is no one threw up directly ON you.

True, it makes for a pleasant change from last weekend when I was not so fortunate, but I woke up on the wrong side of every bed west of the Mississippi this morning (in the I’m-Very-Grumpy way, not the I’m-Gonna-Need-Some-Penicillin way) and my situation has not improved in the three hours since I was rousted from my peaceful slumber by the lovelorn cries (okay, technically lovelorn telephone calls) of a very nice former Golden Gloves boxer with whom I struck up an acquaintance over the summer.

The Man with the Golden Glove has the dubious honor of being the only man who has ever carried me down a flight of stairs as an adult without using any type of complex winch and pulley system. Impressive, yes, but it does not excuse a telephone call before nine in the morning. Still, he’s very sweet and has been hit in the head an awful lot so I did my best not to be openly hostile, which I think is as much as can reasonably be expected before my feet have hit the floor.

THEN I stumbled down to the kitchen to fix myself some cornbread and a restorative only to discover the fresh butter I got from the lady who sells baggies of various unlabeled dairy products at a little shop down the street tasted like cheese and the memory of an unpleasant scene from yesterday came flooding back.

See, someone who shall remain nameless started rooting around in my cheese cage (not a euphemism) and decided my carefully arranged cheeses should all go live together in the refrigerator because apparently this person was raised by wolves/howler monkeys/some other animals that don’t understand the importance of not messing with a woman’s Camembert without express written consent and thus are to be pitied and very occasionally killed.

Unbeknownst to me, in attempt to right an egregious wrong and get that weird vein in my forehead to stop pulsing profanities in Morse code, the person who was raised by wolves/howler monkeys/etc decided to put everything back EXCEPT he took the previously mentioned fresh dairy butter (which, it should be noted, tasted of nothing but baby angels and cream) and put it in the same cubby of the cheese cage as my most rank and resplendent soft-ripening cheeses.

So, despite it being before noon here on The Wrong Coast, I am calling this day a wash and have decided to spend it in the Texas Room with my best friend, Sweet Lady Internet.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Lazy Poll Monday and I’ve been greatly remiss in responding to your comments, so let’s give it a go. You know the rules: Anything (almost) goes. Tell me what you’ve been doing, what’s on your mind, survey the MftBG readers for answers to life’s mysteries. Anything you want, just keep it clean.

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