Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

September 30, 2011

How To Wear: Statement Rings

Filed under: Accessories,Advanced Fashion,Chanel,How To Wear It,Jewelry,You Asked For It — Miss Plumcake @ 1:46 pm

Oof, it’s Friday, and yet somehow it just feels like Thursday-and-a-half.

This might be because the dog from the house east of me was serenading the moon into the wee hours, or it could be that the western neighbor’s toddler recently discovered the therapeutic benefits of primal screaming and has dedicated his young life to the perfection of same.

Either way, I need some sparklies to cheer me up, so today’s ring feature comes not a moment too soon.

To conclude our foray into Big Jewelry I’ve picked out ten fun pieces of hand candy, just click on the pictures for linkylinks.

I just love a good cocktail ring –a cocktail ring a large bauble worn to look elegant while one gesticulates, glass in hand, at cocktail parties– and cocktail rings love me.

I mean, it’s pretty much my two favorite things –booze and jewelry– combined in  one delicious art form, with the bonus of being easily converted into a weapon in case someone needs to be corrected of wrong-thinking ideas.

There aren’t very many dos and don’ts about how to wear a ring (other than one ring per hand, not counting a wedding band) so I thought I’d just chat a little bit about costume jewelry in general.

There are essentially two schools of thought when it comes to costume jewelry in general and rings in particular: Those folks who want their gems to look like fine jewelry and those who don’t.

I can understand both sides.

Jewelry is a status symbol and while it’s a mark of status to own some serious mined gems, I think it’s infinitely more chic to wear high-end costume jewelry (I’m not talking Claire’s here) either alone or with your fine pieces that almost mocks fine jewelry because you’re secure enough in yourself (and possibly your vaults) to show you don’t care whether “they” believe it’s “real” or not.

Oh, and may I please express my disdain for the phrase “real jewelry”?

As a collector of vintage and antiquarian jewelry, both costume and fine, the line dividing the two is often blurred.

Take, for example, the Napoleonic Cut Steel Tiara, one of the literal crown jewels of Sweden.

Given to Queen Hortense by her mother, Napoleon’s beloved (and then not-so-beloved) Empress Josephine, there are no gems to be found anywhere on the tiara.

It’s made only of brass and steel but are you going to be the one to tell two hundred and fifty years of Swedish royalty it’s not “real jewelry” because there are no diamonds or precious metal?

Nope, me either.

My people have not  fared well historically against the vikings and I’m not enthusiastic about my chances to buck the trend.


I’ve been fortunate in that my father was a very well-regarded jeweler who specialized in magnificent baubles, my grandmother’s collection of gems would make Liz Taylor sit up and take notice (though probably not now) and I have personally had the (mis)fortune to date many many men with more money than sense.

I’m pretty well-stocked for fine jewelry, so I spend my time on novel designs, particularly figural rings.

Funny story:

Yesterday while I was poking through for the bracelet recommendations I saw Jean Dousset actually had a line for their simulated diamond line Absolute.

Once upon a time, I received a honking big canary diamond ring from Jean Dousset –well techincally it was BY Jean Dousset and FROM someone I later discovered had more wives than I find personally ideal, i.e., one– so I clicked through and saw a ring that was shockingly similar to mine.

The mind reeled.

Frankly I would’ve rather had the $90 ring and gotten the difference in cash.

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but a woman needs liquidity.

Which brings me to the subject of engagement rings: I kind of think they’re dumb.

Well, I don’t really think they’re dumb, but I’ve seen so many people go into debt to buy the biggest diamond their credit rating will allow and THAT’S dumb. I mean, a big fancy ring is nice but I can’t help but think marrying someone who doesn’t buy stuff they can’t afford is much, much nicer.

Okay enough waxing stentorian about costume jewelry, let’s talk guidelines:

Bracelets with Rings:

Fun if you’re going for Overdone On Purpose, otherwise a risky proposition.

If you want to do Overdone on Purpose, try to consider the bracelet and ring as one look. I’ve often wrapped a rope of pearls halfway up my arm and added an enormous pearl and gold cocktail ring to complete the look.

Brooches as Rings:

Sometimes I inherit brooches that have broken pins not worth repairing and/or are too small to wear in the traditional brooch style or elsewhere on my person, so I’ll glue them on to a ring blank.
Viola, fabulous cocktail ring.

You can do the same thing with broken old earrings.

Look in the mirror, are you Joe Pesci?

If yes, how shocked were you when Marisa Tomei won the Oscar? If no, take off the pinky ring.

Look in the mirror again, are you Anthony Bourdain?

If no, take off the thumb ring. If yes, take off the thumb ring anyway, it looks stupid on you too and you’re too old for that nonsense. If you’re not Lou Reed by now you’re never going to be. Sorry.

Buy Quality.

Finally, remember there is costume jewelry and then there is costume jewelry.

Don’t buy the wrong kind.

You want to look for prong-set stones, attention to detail and everything else you’d want in a piece of fine jewelry. In fact, in most of the pieces I buy today, the process of making the ring is the same, only the materials are different. You’ll also pay accordingly.

I’ve kept all but one of these rings under $100, a nice cocktail ring can easily set you back a few hundred dollars but the difference in quality will be visible.

Remember, style icons from Coco Chanel to Jackie Kennedy wore costume jewelry as part of their signature looks and looked amazing doing it. You can bet they didn’t get their stuff from Claire’s.

Okay lambkins that’s all I’ve got for jewelry for a while, if you have specific questions I didn’t answer, let me know, otherwise, I hope you enjoyed it!

November 26, 2010

‘Tis the Season for The Classicist

Filed under: Accessories,Books,Chanel,Hermes,Tis the Season — Miss Plumcake @ 3:00 pm

Here we go, our first profile! The format will always stay the same but the profile and obviously the gifts will change daily. Fun!

Kenneth Jay Lane Award-Winning Earrings (on sale)

Hermès Black Box Calf 28cm Kelly Bag with Gold Hardware (pre-owned certified)

Chanel No 5 Parfum (free shipping using code HOLIDAY)

The Yale Shakespeare Complete Works

Be sure to check back at the main ‘Tis the Season page to look back on profiles you’ve missed and look forward to ones that are soon to come!

August 5, 2010

Review Revue: Make Up Forever Primer and Powder

Filed under: Chanel,Makeup,Review Revue — Miss Plumcake @ 1:57 pm

I was at our sad little Saks the other day because that morning I awoke and knew with an absolute certainty I would positively EXPIRE unless I had a pair of pearl white Clubmasters rightthatveryminute and I knew I’d seen them at Saks once upon a time.

They’d been fresh on my mind since watching Die, Mommy, Die in which Jason Priestly –the omnisexual tennis pro– wore them and reminded me how cool they look when worn with old-school style instead of this new unwashed hipster nonsense.

(trust me, they’re fab)


Since I was at Saks already, I popped by to chat with my Chanel gal who is still a pal even though I don’t shop at KarlMart anymore.

Apparently they’ve discontinued my favorite product, the Precision Eclat Originel radiance serum –I bought five bottles a few years ago and am at the bottom of the last one now so with radiance on the brain (and still boycotting Karl) I popped next door to Sephora.

I almost never go to Sephora because I am a delicate snowflake whose shell-like ears cannot handle the aural assault of the blaring dance music they seem to favor, but I was out of my OTHER Magickal Elixir of Plumcakely Beauty –the Caudelie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum— and since I’ve given up sleep and happiness for the foreseeable future, my normally flawless alabaster visage needs a little sumpin’ sumpin’. Like a paper bag.

I bought two new items: The Make Up Forever HD Microperfecting Primer in Mauve and the HD Microfinish Powder, also from MUFE.

I got a little freebie of the neutral HD primer last year and really liked it, but I have the memory retention of a developmentally delayed guppy, so of course I forgot about it until I saw it in the shop.

I am extremely fair-skinned but I have instead of a pink or pure blue undertone, I have olive, which means I can go sallow, and this mauve stuff? Is genius.

Violet “color correctors” are nothing new, but this is by far the best I’ve tried. It’s got all the things I love about the regular HD primer –goes on like a dream, doesn’t cake, makes makeup stay put and last– plus brightens and evens out my skin. It really is almost luminous (and NOT from mica or glitter particles THANK YOU.)

It’s moderately pricey, but you only need a teensy bit and it doesn’t ball up or curl on the skin like some other primers do.  Plums up. Big fan.

The powder:


This is a good powder.

But…I almost don’t want to call it a powder because it’s such a completely difference species from the old Coty loose powder or anything in a solid, and it’s lighter and cake-proof unlike the pure mineral veils.

It’s like the Photoshop “blur” tool in particle form.

I put it on over my regular skin care products and although I wouldn’t say it provided any coverage per se –which is good, because I didn’t want coverage– it made my skin look almost angelically soft, naturally.

Warning: It is ALL about the brush with this product.

You absolutely need a kabuki brush and you need to buff it in well. Not that it will look bad if you don’t buff properly, but you won’t get that perfect radiance either. If you don’t have or don’t want to invest in a kabuki brush –my favorite is this dead cheap real badger brush which is like, six bucks — then just skip it.

So two big Ws for the Make Up Forever products!

I also purchased their Mist and Fix spray which supposedly sets your makeup and is beloved by MUAs the world over. I haven’t put it through its paces yet, but it’s in the works, including before and after photos!

June 3, 2010

Six really IS the new fourteen

Filed under: Chanel,Couture,Fashion,Fashion Week,Models — Miss Plumcake @ 2:18 pm

Remember in The Devil Wears Prada (which I liked despite being the only woman on earth apparently not in love with Meryl Streep) when our straight-sized heroine Andy is told by creative director Nigel that “Six is the new fourteen.”?

Well, life imitates art.

First, you must go and read Style Spy’s revelation.  She could be a plus sized model!

“But wait!” you say “Style Spy is a teensy tiny size 4!” and I say “I know. read on, my friends.”

Mme Style Spy posted a picture of one of Ford Models’ newest members of their plus division, Alyona Osmanova:

The new face of plus size
and remarked how they share almost the exact same measurements, except Aloyna is much, much taller.

Now, just for comparison, Ms Osmanova’s measurements are reported as 36″ 28″ 40″ and she stands at just a hair under six feet tall.

Cindy Crawford, one of the few TRUE supermodels, is only 5’9″ but her model card from 1992 had her measurements as 34″ 22″ 35″,  Naomi Campbell, same height, reported her measurements as 34″ 28″ 40″ on the Tyra show in 2005.

Once again:

Supermodel Naomi Campbell: 34″ 28″ 40″ at 5’9″

Plus size model Alyona Osmanova: 36″ 28″ 40″ at 5’11”


Say what you will about the plus divisions of most modeling agencies (get a few sazeracs in me and I will) but at least back in my day –and we’re talking the late 90’s here– the plus sized models were actually plus sized: 12, 14, 16.

But I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom.

At this point, these size categories have been so bended and skewed as to be meaningless, and I think for the fashion world, that’s a good thing.

When reviewing the Chanel Resort collection, Andre Leon Talley (whose memoir ALT you MUST read) wrote:

“Lagerfeld had cast the show with a slightly more curvaceous model named Crystal Renn, not seen on any Chanel catwalk before. This in itself was groundbreaking for the house, but there was also the return of personality models encouraged to be themselves instead of robotic look-alikes.”

What I’m excited about isn’t known fatty hater Karl Lagerfeld casting “slightly more curvaceous” Crystal Renn (and THANK YOU, Mr Talley for that bit of intellectual honesty) it’s that we’re seeing a return to personality models.

We’ve kind of been doing 15 year old Eastern European automatons for almost a decade now, and they do look like robots, and while I understand the appeal having faceless identical clothes hangers must hold for a designer who wants all attention to go to his concept, not her beauty, I think we’ve gone as far as we can go in that direction and I’m extremely heartened to see pretty models once again, some of whom might even have what are recognizably womanly shapes.

I think the general acceptance of size 6 models –and dare I hope for an eight or *gasp* ten OTHER than Crystal Renn– is a much more tenable step in the right direction in the modeling industry than plopping down a handful of true plus size models as gimmick casting.

So I’ll end this little fashion rant the same way I end all my fashion rants, with a hope that fashion will start to incorporate actual meaningful diversity, not just high-heeled tokenism, into its editorials and advertisements.

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