Archive - February, 2012

Tadashi Shoji for Evening

So okay, you know how yesterday I said I’d have a mess of Tadashi Shoji for you guys because they offer off-the-rack gowns in plus sizes that resemble the customized ones they did for Octavia Spencer?

Well it’s true, they do, EXCEPT where we are in the formalwear season –the winter party season is over and the summer party season won’t kick up until May– the pickings are a little thin on the ground at the moment. Still, I’ve managed to pluck a few lovelies suitable for bigger frames and am offering them for your delectation and delight right now.

Yeah I know, this is going to take a tall woman to pull off, but I also know I’ve got some fellow amazons who read this blog. Octavia Spencer wore a similar feathered skirt with a crisp white menswear-inspired shirt over it. I don’t think it was executed that well because she’s such a wee thing, but I can definitely see this with a tuxedo shirt worn open and tied cowgirl style at the waist to be a way to do high fashion formal without looking stuffy. There’s no elegance better than effortless elegance, and the insouciance of the shirt would make this look fantastic (and can you even imagine the enormous necklace opportunities?)


This dress is gold. It doesn’t look gold, it looks like a sort of anemic wheat bread color here, but trust me, it is a pale, dusted gold and dazzles –not in the Vegas way, don’t worry– in person. This is the most recognizable Tadashi cut and if you pop onto the site you’ll see many variations of this dress with long sleeves, cap sleeves, cocktail length and in various neutral (why? why can’t we have an emerald green or a potiron orange?) colors.

Next up are two cocktail dresses. I believe the first one with the wide scoop neck has made its appearance before on these hallowed pages, but it deserves a second chance. It’s great for pretty much all of the plus-size body shapes except those of us who have extremely broad shoulders but an itty bitty set of hips. Other than that, it doesn’t matter if you’re apple, pear, eggplant, turnip, artichoke or whatever (I made those last two up) it’s going to work like gangbusters on your body.

The lace dress overlay dress, actually reminds me of what Prada was doing a few years ago and McQueen did shortly thereafter, a sort of severe lace. It’s softened up –and was softened even more for the dress we saw on Ms Spencer yesterday which looks like a number of everyone’s favorite Kiyonna dresses– but still gives you some sophisticated edge, where most lace dresses are all about romance and sex appeal. I highly approve.

I went back and forth on this one because at first it looked like a shapeless Formal Fatty Tent. Upon closer examination,

I’ve determined this could be a godsend for those who carry their weight in their stomachs, especially high in the stomach.

The cage sleeve (you’ll have to zoom to appreciate the work) covers the bust and creates a bit of a waist in case you don’t travel with your own and the gathering on the bust looks like it’s pinned in two different directions so you get a nice cascade effect instead of Random Bunch of Material.

Oh, and for those folks who say you don’t have any place to wear them: FIND places to wear them.

Even if you live in the stickiest of sticks, there’s always opening night of the opera in the closest city, benefits…whatever. I’ve always said “Free your closet and your ass will follow” and I honestly believe it’s true. Just like you’re supposed to dress for the job you want, shop for the life you want. You’ll be amazed at what happens.

Octavia Spencer and Tadashi Shoji, Red Carpet BFFs

First the bad news: most of these lovely gowns from Tadashi Shoji were customized for Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer and aren’t available off the rack. Those that are, the lace wrap dress for example, aren’t available in plus sizes. Drag, I know.


That being said, Tadashi consistently offers evening wear with the same distinctive house DNA in plus sizes and later in the week I’ll feature a handful of dresses that, like Mo’nique’s Oscar dress from last year, are available off-the-rack and in big girl sizes, so never fear.

I haven’t seen The Help because I find the whole Benevolent White Person genre tiresome and at least borderline offensive. Also I hate the smell of popcorn, so I almost never go to the movies.

Still, I am thrilled any time a comic actress actually wins an Oscar and I’m doubly thrilled that this plus-sized Southern jewel has taken a play from the Audrey Hepburn playbook and aligned herself with one designer for almost all her red carpet events.

For Hepburn it was Givenchy and for Spencer it’s Tadashi Shoji.

I’ve always thought Tadashi Shoji is doing now what Valentino did back when Mr Garavani was still the big boss; making beautiful clothes that looked beautiful on the female form. Neither Tadashi nor Valentino reinvented the wheel, but why bother? Let Gareth Pugh make a cocktail gown out of machine gun parts and walrus hair. Not all designers have to be directional, there’s nothing wrong with pretty and elegant.


There’s also nothing wrong with wearing a dress that isn’t strapless, especially because I can barely utter the phrase “strapless skin-tight mermaid gown” without putting myself in a fashion coma.

Ms Spencer is 5’2″ (which means she’s probably really about five foot nothin’) and yet keeping the color simple and the hair and makeup clean, her stylist does an admirable job making sure she doesn’t drown in a sea of evening gown. Usually.


(a rare misstep, but barely. It’s just a bit too much dress and hair for the petite Alabaman, though I love the color)

I also love that she’s wearing sleeves so stylishly.

Too often you see a shrug or a wrap plopped on top of an outfit and it just screams “Hi, I don’t want to show my arm fat” but with Tadashi, the sleeve is proportioned so precisely to the waist (because the right sleeve length can emphasize or minimize your waist/bust/hips in very exciting ways if you bother to pay attention to it) that you don’t even think of the Fat Arm Shame.

What do you think of Octavia Spencer’s outfits? If just one could hang in your closet, what would it be?

Twistie’s Sunday Caption Madness: The HELP! Edition

Hey 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 begging on a street corner for a funny caption. You provide said captions via the comments function. Next week I declare a winner, and we all do a triumphant cha cha of victory in her honor.

This week’s image comes from the family album from from Purgatory file, and it looks a little like this:

Ready… set… snark!

Calling All Lesbians

Friends, I have been remiss. I’ve been editor of this blog since April of 1841 and during that time, I’m not sure I’ve done a whole lot to purposefully include my lady-lovin’ ladyfriends, and I know you’re out there.

I was at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown San Diego last night for Ash Wednesday services and I met a wonderful lesbian couple who had been married and whose nuptials fell victim a few days later to Prop 8.

The mind boggles. I plan on getting married at least once and the idea of having my wedded bliss yanked from me is so far off my radar I can’t even find it with GPS and a compass.

It made me think.

I know next to nothing about the lesbian big girl experience, especially not the single lesbian big girl experience. All but one of my lesbian pals are in long-term committed relationships (insert Uhaul joke here) and none of them are particularly big.

The plight of the Chubby Gay Man in the non-bear community is one I’ve heard all about (over and over and over, often while sitting next to me on the couch drinking chocolate bourbon milkshakes and watching Girls Will Be Girls) but my female friends of Dorothy are usually too busy living satisfying, productive lives in healthy, normal relationships to pour their hearts and livers out to me. Hmph.

So consider this a call for submissions. If you’ve got something to say; I want to hear it.

I usually put a hundred word limit on the comments, but for this post, have at it. Alternately, if you want to email me that’s fine too. I’ll post some of the more thought provoking comments either tomorrow or next week.

Oh, I’ll be monitoring the comments carefully, so visiting trolls might as well give up now.

Pancakes and Self-Care

Happy Feast of Saint Buttersworth!

It’s Shrove Tuesday, more popularly known as Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras and Pancake Tuesday. People everywhere will be getting their flapjack on in order to get all their indulgent behavior out of the way before Lent which starts tomorrow for the Western Church (those Eastern guys with the awesome beards and whatnot have their own schedule. Also better baked goods. Schisms ruin everything fun).

It’s common for people who observe Lent to also observe a Lenten discipline.

Back in the olden days it was usually giving up something; meat, chocolate, booze, swearing…you know, pretty much everything that makes life fun.

That never really worked for me.

I’d give up the lot and come Easter morning…nada. I hadn’t evolved in my spiritual journey one bit. The only thing I got out of it was a habit of swearing like Wally Cleaver. Gee Willickers!

More recently the trend has been towards adding something beneficial to your life, often in the form of volunteering and study.

I’m all about that, especially the volunteering because most of us should be ashamed at how little time we dedicate to the poor and needy people of this world, but in addition to service and study, I’m going to try something a little new this year.

I’m going to work on my self-maintenance.

(photo courtesy of the wonderful and amazing Lady Mechanic Initiative of Nigeria)

This whole relocation thing has been a tough row to hoe and I’ve let myself slip the way so many of us do when we have supposedly bigger fish to fry (because apparently it’s also folksy idiom day here at Manolo for the Big Girl).

I’ve found myself making less of an effort each morning to dress “just so” or to do my hair or makeup.

Why bother? I don’t have many posh parties or elegant soirees to attend, heck, I haven’t been to a restaurant that has more than three walls in a month, I’m not going to be here long enough to need social currency (I’m moving farther south in May) and I’ve already got the single best looking man in the entire country wrapped around my little finger, among other places and he’s certainly not going anywhere. Why not traipse around in the proverbial bunny slippers until three in the afternoon?

Because habitual self-indulgence is bad for you.
(more…)

Talkin’ ‘Bout My G-generation

One day back in the mid eighties, a terrifying fact was discovered: America was getting fatter. Nobody knew quite why, though theories abounded. Fast food, soft drinks, computer games, viruses… everybody had a clear and obvious reason why it had happened. And there was an equally obvious cure. After all, never mind the fact that every single long term study of dieting since the first ones in the nineteen fifties had shown that no matter the structure of the diet, no matter the behavior of the dieter, while most lost weight in the short term, well over ninety per cent would wind up as fat as or fatter than when they started dieting within five years. It was what could be done. Therefore, no matter the futility, no matter the well-documented health issues of repeated cycles of dieting and gaining weight back, we must diet.

Funnily enough, the years of yo yo dieting did not result in a thinner America. We kept getting fatter overall. Then, one day in 1998, the BMI chart got fiddled with to make millions of Americans ‘fatter’ without gaining a single ounce. The rhetoric of fear of fat grew exponentially. It became impossible to turn on the television, read a magazine, or even log onto Yahoo mail without being subjected to fat hate, fat fear, and an increasing number of diet ads.

Today the panic is so ingrained that people honestly believe this level of hate against the fat is simply the standard human nature dating back before the Stone Age, all evidence to the contrary aside.

But a funny thing happened in 2002 that hasn’t been so widely publicized: obesity rates in America leveled off. What’s more, they’ve remained roughly level ever since.

Again, nobody seems able to explain it. All the interventions have proved ineffective, and yet obesity rates are no longer growing.

I have a theory about how and why this is happening. I also predict that sometime in the next oooh, ten to twenty years obesity rates in America will begin to fall.

(more…)

The Art of Sloth

Not this kind of sloth:

Not this kind of sloth… though I am a big fan.

No, I’m talking about this kind of sloth:

You know the sort of day, when there’s just an air of non-mammalian sloth in the wind. Those days when you get out of bed reluctantly and then realize you don’t actually have to go anywhere or do anything unless you seriously want to.

I had a couple days like that this week. Mr. Twistie finds a day like that about once every three or four years, and only while we’re on vacation somewhere. He’s not good at sloth. I am.

So what do I do on these lazy days? Well, I’ll snuggle back under the covers for a while and ignore every attempt on the part of Jake the cat to wake me. Then I’ll roll out of bed late in the morning, start myself a pot of coffee, and read my email as I caffeinate.

Depending on my mood at that point, I’ll either grab a book, decide to spend the day watching the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice again, pull down my lace pillow and toss bobbins, or go back to bed. Some lazy days I’ll get ambitious and bake a pie or a batch of scones, both of which are low-pressure baking projects. Cookies require more ambition from me.

Bubble baths are great for lazy, slothful days. Nothing clears my brain like sitting in warm water surrounded by bubbles and rubber duckies. There’s a reason I’ve always felt a strong, spiritual bond to Ernie.

And every once in a while, I take my lazy day to dress up in my Stevie Nicks best, choose my most fabulous chapeau, and treat myself a good lunch at my favorite neighborhood bistro. The one where the owner loves me not only because I’ve been a devoted customer from almost the time she opened, but also because I have baked her birthday cake for the past two years. After all, most people seem afraid to cook for chefs, but they deserve birthday cake, too.

Lazy days are days to be good to ourselves in whatever way pleases us most. So what do you do when you have a slothful day at your disposal?

Page 1 of 3123»