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Close but no crocodile cigar

The Birkin, for all its It Bag status, was never my dream bag. It came into my life unbidden and I hemmed and hawed for nearly a year before I decided to actually take the thing out of its fancy orange box. I’ve all but abandoned carrying it now unless an event calls for leveraging all the Super Speshul Magickal Privilege Powers I can get.

According to my kitchen scale, my completely empty Birkin weighs 4.34 pounds, just a little more than a half-gallon of milk.

Plus it’s getting slouchy. Now, I’m fully aware people positively dampen themselves over a “floopy” Birkin, but I’m not a floopy girl. My body is floopy enough, so I prefer to counter with a structured bag.

Like this:

Now say what you will about the screaming orange eyeshadow and the inability to describe the shoot concept without using the phrase “Dadaist teen tampon commercial, 1987”

(ooh, they sell hats too!)

That’s a great bag.

It’s also not a terribly expensive bag clocking in at $448 on the Furla website. It’s currently unavailable thanks to the September Issue rush, but I expect it to come back in stock sooner rather than later.

Brahmin also brought out their bags in deep green embossed crocodile, at a moderately lower price.


Not bad, but still not quite right and so the search continues.

Which bag do you prefer, and more importantly, other than the bag, what item (use your imagination) is the model in the top ad selling?

Sincerely yours, Inigo Montoya

To: Eloquii, misnamed hosiery division
From: Miss Plumcake, Editor, Manolo for the Big Girl, Owner of a Dictionary
Re: “Super Opaque” Tights

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

alas, my search for top-quality truly opaque opaque tights that fit continues.

Five Things That Never Fail to Make Twistie Happy

Every now and again it’s good to sit down and think about the good things in life. The following is a list of things that delight me consistently.

Lenny Henry’s comedy. It should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of the series Chef. After all, it’s a combination of spectacular food porn and blistering sarcasm, two things I love deeply. But this is not all he’s done that makes me happy. He also used to have a variety show, The Lenny Henry Show, which featured sketch comedy and his wickedly spot on impressions. Check out this clip of his Prince parody. Pity about the quality of the transfer, but it’s still funny.


You Asked For It: Shoes for Maxi Dresses

Greetings friends and lovers, yesterday dear reader Helena wrote in with the following query:

Do you think it is appropriate to wear blue wedge espadrilles with a Chico’s maxidress and lightweight cotton sweater to a wedding in June? It’s at the Newark Museum in fabulous downtown Newark, NJ. Thanks in advance. The Chico’s lady told me to wear strappy sandals but with my size 11, not particularly nice feet, I vetoed that immediately.

I know what you’re thinking, and although the jokes just write themselves (I mean Chico’s and the Garden State? It’s a slow soft one right down the middle), one must always remember that some are born Newark, some achieve Newark and some –presumably like our friend Helena– have Newark thrust upon them.

That being said, I’m not entirely sure espadrilles –which I love and will feature in an upcoming post– are the way to go here.

One of the few fashion rules actually reliable in the real world is “the longer the skirt, the flatter the shoe.”

The inverse –shorter skirts require higher heels– often is true as well, but it’s by no means as reliable and should be approached with fear and trembling, especially in New Jersey.

I love maxi dresses because they are so effortless. In fact, the only time I see a maxi dress gone truly wrong is when some well-meaning but inevitably dopey-looking person Tries Too Hard.

Jean Arthur in a hostess gown circa 1929

The maxi is the natural descendant of the hostess gown, a floor-length dress popularized in the late 1920s and so called because it was an easy but elegant uniform for casual gatherings at home, especially in the late evening as they historically incorporated elements most often found in negligees and had a sort of glamorous pajama chic.  Their popularity has been cyclical –the last time we really saw a major resurgence was the early 1970s– but ankle-grazers have been going strong for several years and it looks like we’re in for one of those rare, decade-long trends (see also: boot cut jeans).

Prior to to the baby boom, a hostess gown might be worn with low-heeled mules, but when maxis re-emerged slightly before the days of disco –thank YOU, Halston– they were considerably less formal and best served by nearly pancake flat sandals.

Do we think that's Marisa Berenson modeling a homemade hostess gown in Woman's Day, 1967?

The same holds true today.

I tried on all four of my maxi dresses with shoes of varying heights and the highest heel that didn’t look actively bad was a 1 1/2″ wedge.

As owner of not one but two “size 11, not particularly nice feet” I understand your hesitation re: strappy sandals. They’re questionable as a species in the best of times since so often they show a lack of discipline, surely one of the few cases where more straps equals less restraint.

Instead of espadrilles or strappy sandals, here are five appealing but relatively minimalist sandals, streamlined enough to be elegant, but casual enough to reinforce the effortless glamor of a maxi dress (which I’m sure you’ll be accessorizing with a shawl or wrap instead of a cardigan and one –count ’em ONE– piece of Major Statement Jewelry and little else, correct?)

Read on the see the shoes

The Big Question: Luxury Tithe Edition

Ah luxury. It’s interesting how the definition changes.

Once upon a time, luxury for me meant a new Hermès or a call to my gal at Barneys in New York to get my hands on the latest and most exclusive Le Labo or Serge Lutens export.

Now luxury is toilet paper with anything resembling structural integrity.

Then vs. Now


Yet even in those heady days, I was still just a Career Girl in the newspaper industry.

What the dead tree biz lacked in job security it made up for in low wages, and my attempt to indulge in champagne tastes on a cava budget was not exactly effortless. Each glittering bottle of rarefied perfume, each instantly recognizable square orange box, represented weeks or months of sacrifices –most small, some large– in other parts of my life.

I call it my Luxury Tithe, a phrase I first heard from my friend Amy, author of the brilliant and sadly dormant Style Spy, as she diligently squirreled away a portion of her pay each week to save for a pair of Miu Miu sandals or a trip to her beloved Paris.

The eminently tithe-worthy Alexander McQueen Seasonal Satchel, click picture for link

I’m happier in Scotland than on the Seine and Miu Miu sandals rarely fit my feet (not that it matters since I refuse to support Miuccia Prada anyway after her fatty-firing opera stunt) but aside from the ideas of paying cash and not living beyond your means as just good sense, I had two reasons to start my own luxury tithe.

First, I knew my dream job –the real one, not the designated thigh oiler for Real Madrid (although if anyone’s hiring…)– has even less money in it than the newspaper industry, and believe me, very few things have less money in it than the newspaper industry.

I knew someday the reasonably well-paid party would end, and when it did I wanted to be able to walk away with an accessories wardrobe to last a lifetime and not a penny of credit card debt, which is exactly what I did.

Second, I wanted to learn the joys of living a discriminating life.

It’s painfully simple, but if something’s not extremely good, I don’t want it. I’d rather go without than have my fill of mediocrity or worse. It’s probably why I’ve lost so much weight in Mexico (well, you know, that and the cholera): Mangoes, fish and veggies are good here; pastry, meat and sweets are not, at least not to a palate that prefers butter to lard and thick ribeyes to thin strips of carne asada.

Television isn’t very good in America (it’s worse in Mexico) so I happily gave it a miss and the money I saved by not paying to have Real Housewives of a Culturally Declining Nation piped into Château Gâteau bought me a Paris-only bell jar of the shiveringly dry yet animalic Bois et Musc  (which smells exactly like my lynx coat after a post-prandial walk in the woods) and fuchsia Dolce and Gabbana heels in suede so buttery I want to spread it on toast.

Let’s turn this into a Big Question.

Right now my Luxury Tithe –pathetic as it may be– is dedicated to funding an exploratory trip to Buenos Aires to see whether the so-called Paris of Latin America is destined to be the next stop on the Miss Plumcake Expatriate World Tour.

Today Miss Plumcake wants to know whether you have a Luxury Tithe. If so, what’s the desired result? If not, what’s your preferred method of acquiring what you want?

Domino Dollhouse

Yesterday we poked some gentle fun at budding hoochie conglomerate Eddy and Bri and used them as an example of a small fashion company geared towards a specific niche market.

I was actually surprised to see several folks defend the bottom two dresses, because I cannot conceive of any situation ever where a grown woman with a job that doesn’t involve picking up dollar bills with body parts other than her hands would think “Yes, what I clearly need is a ruched spandex and polyester tube dress that zips entirely  down the front with one tug.” Whither the dignity, y’all?

Anyhoodle, as I mentioned yesterday, it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathtub gin, because little websites can provide big rewards if you can be bothered to check them regularly.

Case in point is Domino Dollhouse.

Even though I’m not interested in about 85% of what they make, these gals are near and dear to the place medical science says my heart should be and they’re on my “To Be Checked Regularly” list of plus size websites.

Their campy vintage-flavored offerings remind me of what Torrid used to sell six years ago when they had essentially three categories: Rockabilly, Punk and Other.

Basically you’re getting a lot of 1950’s stuff with some 1940’s by way of the 80’s (which, as Karen Walker so accurately said were “Just the 40’s with coke.”) with a smattering of young hipster paraphernalia.

I have a well-documented weak spot for a good midcentury dress, even better if it’s got a tiny twang of Grand Ole Opry and although most of  the stand-out pieces as styled still err a little heavily on the side of Costume not Fashion, thus making them a wee bit unsophisticated for my current look,  there are gems to be found for the girl who is willing to dig.

Even some of the costume-y dresses are awfully tempting and I have to warn my 32 year-old self away from them, reminding myself they are cutesy beyond all redemption and will never be Capital F Fashion no matter how hard I style them (I’d totally go for them were I ten years younger and could still play the naif card).

Is anyone else reminded of the Hefty Hideaway commercial from the original Hairspray movie? I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing. Lord knows the early works of Miss John Waters influenced me as much as the later works of Yves Saint Laurent, and seriously, there’s always been a not-so-secret part of me that wants to dress like a John Waters heroine.

Still, for every dozen dresses that make you look like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade’s salute to history’s greatest picnic foods, there’s a jewel like this, the Ava Adorable dress (currently sold out, but was available when I posted about it on the MftBG facebook page).

This is a great dress.

I bought it to wear for New Year’s Eve specifically, which didn’t technically (by which I mean “even remotely”) because that’s the day I emigrated and I spent from 8 o’clock onward studiously examining my eyelids from the inside.

It’s a perfect party dress, especially for girls who don’t like to be too revealing, plus it fits nicely in that little cubbyhole for things like symphonies in the park or any sort of evening event, especially outside, where you want the feel of a picnic dress, but still subtly remind everyone about how much more sophisticated, elegant and all around better dressed than they are.

There’s a matching fabric belt which I’d probably wear it for when I wanted that extra bit of early Givenchy feel, but for contemporary styling I replaced it with a thin, slightly rock and roll Diane Von Furstenburg double wrap natural python belt in a subtle animal print.

Speaking of animals (though not of subtlety) I also brought home this little creature from Domino Dollhouse’s last sale:

Isn’t he divine?

I know a giant alligator isn’t everyone’s idea of a good accessory but I have a great and glorious love for almost all things crocodiliad, and especially this ring, which garners compliments everywhere I go AND looks as if it came from Madame Medusa’s private jewelry collection, always a plus in my book.

A word of caution:

Domino Dollhouse has several pieces that go in and out of stock with some regularity. That means if you don’t see the watermelon dress, the Ava Adorable or whatever strikes your fancy right that minute, it doesn’t mean they’ll never have it again. At the same time, if you see something you love, I wouldn’t suggest waiting for it because if it goes out of stock –and it might, quickly– there’s no telling how long it’ll be before you have the chance to order again.

Marc Jacobs to the Rescue (I hope)

I am a woman in crisis.

Okay, backstory:

I am next to useless when it comes to handbags. Historically I’ve only ever carried vintage clutches which fit my needs and my style but are increasingly difficult to come by and deploy without looking costumey. I’ve got the Birkin which is great and all, but it’s about a mazillion pounds and it’s so damn dark and cavernous inside every time I look for something it’s like I’m diving elbow-deep into Michelle Duggar’s…handbag.

Recently I’ve just been using a silver Civil War-era repousse calling card case and tucking my cellphone and keys into my bra, because it’s nothing but elegance here at Villa Plumcake, still, the siren song of a not-tiny bag has been seducing me with its promise of a rack that doesn’t ring at inopportune moments, and a car alarm that doesn’t go off when it gets cold enough to need a sweater.

Top contender right now is the 70’s-influenced quasi-reticule “Regine” from Marc by Marc Jacobs.

I’ve had a mixed opinion of the Marc Jacobs bag as a species for a while, but he always gets me with his Fassbinder fetish and this is casual and boho enough to fit my new more laid-back Latin American lifestyle without being dumpy.

I’m picturing it with a pair of dark jeans, a chocolate cashmere sweater, my grandfather’s old olive Jaeger cardigan he got when he was a Fulbright scholar in the ’50s, sparkly earrings, a silk scarf or tie as a belt and a pair of military-inspired python heels. Sigh.

Is there an accessory or piece of clothing that absolutely eludes you? Put it in the comments so I don’t feel so alone!

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