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

March 9, 2012

Victoria’s Secret: Very Sexy or Very Scary?

Filed under: Fashion,Lingerie,Media,Models — Miss Plumcake @ 5:56 pm

Happy Friday, readers, how’s every little thing?

I’m great. Hot Latin Boy is going to be spending the evening being a Positive Male Role Model to a handful of his nephews who are in duress and need male bonding time (using MY best-seats-in-the-house tickets, I didn’t really want to see the most exciting and highly-anticipated match of the season anyway. Worst thing is it was my stupid idea. Man, I wish someone had told me sooner that human empathy was a sexually transmitted disease, I could’ve vaccinated when I went in for cholera and typhoid) so I’ve got a whole glorious Friday to myself and as soon as I clean the kitchen –by which I mean set fire to it or let one of the six hundred women who ring my doorbell every afternoon offering to clean my house actually put soap to scrubbie– I plan on running as far amok as five hours of sleep and a quarter tank of watered-down gas will take me.

The other day, superfantastic reader Katydid sent me an email about this image:

It appeared on Wednesday as an advertisement for the Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy collection in the advertising sidebar of your very own Manolo for the Big Girl, like this:

Katydid wrote:

Was enjoying your latest blog entry when my attention was completely captured by the Victoria Secret model featured in an ad on your site. I attached a pic of how it was displayed on my monitor. She may be the thinnest model I have ever seen and to me the image is disturbing!

I was compelled to share with you.


First of all, thank you Katydid and everyone else who has written over the years about potentially problematic advertising.

I’ve mentioned before, Manolo and I have relatively little control over what advertisements or Google run. A few years ago we were bombarded with fake Louboutin sites and then it was all diet programs, what a mess.

The funny thing is, Victoria’s Secret Angel Candice Swanepoel (I’m 99.9% sure that’s Candice Swanepoel) is a pretty healthy, curvy model as far as models these days go.

In the picture she’s got her legs forward, her pelvis and bottom tilted back as far as it can go and is leaning forward from the waist. It’s an old modeling trick which even your pal Plumcake is not above using once in a while. She’s also being photographed from above, which is also very slimming.

Oh, and let’s not forget for a second all the photoshopping that went into the final image.

Here’s another shot of the South African model, taken from one of the Victoria’s Secret fashion shows:

See? Fairly generic run-of-the-milkmaid male fantasy fodder.

She would’ve been a hot non-threatening blonde in the 1950s and is a hot non-threatening blonde now. Sure, she might’ve actually had a little more in the way of pubic hair and a little less in the way of bizarre metal waist contraptions, but hey, maybe not.

The thing is, I bet a model with her body shape who wanted to go into haute couture runway modeling would be told to lose weight.

Of course it’s just another mixed message courtesy of the fashion and beauty industry. If you want to wear the best clothes, you have to look like a model! If you want guys to think you’re sexy you have to look like a totally different model!

Gosh, it’s almost as if they WANT to make us confused and insecure so they could sell us products designed to make us feel less ugly. Haha, no of course not, because that would be insidious and twisted!


In my fantasy world, there would be room for the bouncy beach babe, the androgynous waif, the size 10 girl next door, the voluptuous plus size model and the just plain round on the runway. All ages, all heights, all colors and all orientations.

Maybe I’ll start holding my breath riiiiiiight NOW.

February 17, 2012

Cold Shoulders, Split Sleeves and the Church of England

Filed under: Fashion — Miss Plumcake @ 4:15 pm

Happy Friday, gang, how’s tricks?

Today is the hap happiest day of the year, or at least of recent memory because the loud and mysterious construction that’s been going on the past few days somewhere in my general environ has blissfully stopped. Three days straight of BANG…BANG…(silence to lull you into a false sense of relief)…BANG!!! They only stop from 2:00 to 2:45 which is when the local private school gets on their Hendrix-at-Woodstock loudspeaker and calls out random combinations of numbers and colors for a half hour.

They call the numbers in this infuriating monotone that prohibits any insight as to what Yellow 23, Red 16, Yellow 31 etc might actually mean. I’m guessing each combo stands for a student, but WHY? What are they DOING and MUST they sound their barbarically amplified yawp over the rooftop of Villa Plumcake when I’m trying to execute some quality hammock napping? Kids ruin everything fun.

Anyhoodle, as I was puttering around the kitchen making grapefruit marmalade (because apparently I do that now) I saw several stylish women walk past my window, all wearing either split-sleeved or cold-shouldered tops.

(click photos for links)

Now, my first memory of the cold-shoulder top was a big fuss over Hillary Clinton wearing a Donna Karan dress with the shoulders cut out in 1993 and friends, I have spent the past 40 minutes looking for pictures of that dress and just cannot find anything better than this.

Immediately a surge of shoulderless shirts crashed into the local malls and I believe I either owned one or tried one on and, looking at my 14 year-old self in the mirror went “Nope. This is not for me.”

The cold shoulder is the cousin of the split sleeve and I am sensing a comeback of both.

I can’t say I’m happy about it since it’s been my experience that split sleeves on a woman are Indicative Of Things.

The handful of women I know socially who’ve worn them in the past few years always end up being trouble for me, or at least trouble my soul. One of the offenders failed to wear the appropriate undergarments to her husband’s ordination into the Episcopal Priesthood. I’m STILL traumatized. WTF? Did she get hit on the head with the anvil of sartorial stupidity and wake up thinking she was Unitarian or something? This is the Church of England, put on a damn bra.

And yet, I’m prepared to admit my unpleasant experiences wrt: split sleeves might be stopping me from appreciating what can technically, maybe, be a good look for a big girl. I’m too young to have worn them the last time they really came around, in the 1970’s and I have seen them executed well a few times –mostly in cotton lawn– on a big girl or two, though it’s entirely possible for it to be a fluke.

What’s your opinion on split sleeves? Cold shoulders? Am I missing out or should I trust my considerable gut and let this trend pass me by? Put it in the comments and have a great weekend!

February 9, 2012

Eloquii: Here’s Hoping!

Filed under: Advanced Fashion,Fashion — Miss Plumcake @ 5:24 pm

Oh man please don’t let Eloquii suck.

So remember back in the day when The Limited owned Lane Bryant and for a couple years in the early noughties (yeah I hate calling them that too) when you could walk into Lane Bryant and come out with clothes that lasted more than one season, might’ve had some naturally occurring fibers and weren’t covered with random flaccid ruffles/metallic screenprints/shoddily adhered sequins and sometimes things even had sleeves? Plus you didn’t have to mortgage your house to buy a pair of underwear?

Man, those were heady days my friends.

I’m not saying Lane Bryant doesn’t still occasionally knock it out of the plus-size park, but I have some dear friends –who shall remain nameless since they are under the employ of Charming Shoppes– who straight-out admitted the quality of the average Lane Bryant product has dropped to what one friend calls “Just above Old Navy” while the average price per unit creeps ever higher. Sigh. ‘Twas always thus.

SO this is why I’m super excited about Eloquii, the new and confusingly vowel-heavy plus size line from The Limited.

I haven’t ordered anything from them yet but I am very encouraged to see a thoughtful mix of trend pieces and classics designed for actual adults to wear to their actual jobs and in their actual lives and although you can’t tell right now, I’m typing with all my fingers and toes crossed with the girlish and perhaps naive hope that Eloquii will fill the gap in plus size ready-to-wear between slouching-towards-bargain-bin Lane Bryant and lines like Lafayette 148 New York, which are fantastic but err on the side of prohibitively expensive for most wallets.

From what I’ve seen on the site, I’m pretty excited. True, there isn’t much that rocks my personal casbah at the very moment, and I’m a teensy bit concerned about the skirts being a little short because Lord knows how many plus size designers forget how big girls go OUT –especially in back– before we go down resulting in supposedly knee-length skirts that become festivals of oversharing when worn by a girl with more than the average quantity of junk in her trunk.

Still, I’ve selected a handful of items that might be wending their way to Villa Plumcake sooner rather than later.

I LOVE this striped dress
. I would love it more if it hit at the middle or the bottom of the knee because honestly, it would be SO much more chic but still, I LOVE this dress. And would you look at that? SLEEVES.

The great thing about this dress is it will always look fashionable, no matter how old you are. it would be cute on a 16 year old and elegant on a woman of a certain age (although again, would be so much better if it wasn’t above the knee). It’s my favorite item on the site right now and if any of you have experience with it, I’d be very interested in hearing your take.

How about this trench coat
? It’s tricky to make a decent trench for a big girl because the traditional cut adds a lot of bulk precisely where you don’t want it and the double breasted look is tough, especially for the chestally blessed. It looks like they took their time with the seaming of this one and although I’ve been burned many times before, this trench –especially in that color– might just be the one that’ll save me from swing coat perdition.

Who asked for a sheath? Someone asked for a sheath. Well, here you go.

January 4, 2012

Queen Grace: New Sovereign on the Block

Filed under: Fashion — Miss Plumcake @ 3:45 pm

Good morning my little empanadas de amor, how’s every little thing? Me, I’m great. Still trying to figure out this Mexican keyboard and decipher which key goes into which of the manifold locks so I can actually leave the house because my grocery situation is dire and while I’m not above eating a packet of organic beef jerky I found under the seat while cleaning out my car, I’d really rather have that be a distant plan B.

I’ve also managed to injure myself on no fewer than two plants and one bit of sidewalk in the past 45 minutes, so perhaps it’s time for me to give up the domestic goddess shtick and retire to the comfortable confines of the Texas Room.

Admittedly, the only thing Texan about the Texas Room at the moment is my fine self, and I’m not even a native, but I knew it would be important for me to have a little sanctuary where I could listen to Willie and Waylon and the boys until I felt better.


While nestled in the comforting comfort of the Texas Room, I noticed I had a new follower on Twitter from Queen Grace Collection.

I’d never heard of these gals so I took a little looksee over to their site and discovered they’re a fledgling design house launched a few months ago and catering exclusively to plus sizes.

I’m of mixed opinion so I thought I’d open it up to the gang,

On one hand, I 100% support up-and-coming young designers who want to add their voice to the plus size fashion movement. I also love that almost every piece of the small collection has some sort of sleeve.

On the other, the model and her terrible Richard Avedon Shoulder –which only works if you’ve got a mile of neck and collarbones that stick out like sidewalk awning– is not working at all, half the dresses seem to be photoshopped onto the same (still bad) pose so that the material, which is supposedly “highest grade fabrics” (wherein Highest Grade apparently equals “97% Polyester, 3% Spandex. Contrast; 50% Polyester, 50% Acetate”) looks cheap.

Still, I very much dig the knee length skirts and the 1930’s influence in theory if not in practice.

Take a look at their site, report back and tell me what you think. Is it a case of good product/bad model or does Queen Grace need to abdicate until she can let go of the shiny shiny polyester satin?

December 2, 2011

Five Great: Little Black Dresses for Cocktails and Beyond

Filed under: Evening Wear,Fashion,Five Great...,Holidays — Miss Plumcake @ 2:15 pm

Happy Gray Friday everyone!

No, that’s not some newly invented consumer holiday, it’s just all rainy outside and my dog is giving me Meaningful Looks whenever I try to encourage him to leave the cozy confines of his crinoline to go outside and do what needs to be done. No, I’m not sure why he sleeps cuddled up on a crinoline. Several months ago he started using one of my old, bizarrely dead wasp-filled (how?! HOW did that happen??) petticoats as a bed. I don’t know why.

Maybe he’s the reincarnated spirit of Christian Dior, maybe he’s just a weird dog. Either way, I’m not getting that crinoline back and I suspect I’m going to find a puddle somewhere.

Speaking of crinolines, the winter party season is well upon us and although I don’t subscribe to the theory that every woman must must MUST have a little black dress, there’s no denying they come in handy especially if you don’t have the dough to drop on several high-end pieces.

Accessories make the dress when you’re talking basic black. Take, for example this Tadashi Shoji asymmetrical cocktail dress.
First of all, I love it because it has SLEEVES and hits just below the knee, which means it’s appropriate for all but the most conservative of occasions.

For a holiday party, I’d pin on something like this fabulous Judith Jack snowflake brooch just where the ruching gathers over the hip and toss on some sparkly earrings.

Then when spring rolls around, replace the brooch with a pastel silk flower –I think we’re past the super-saturation of the early Sex and The City days– and coordinating shoes, maybe even sheer shortie gloves in the spring color of your choice if you’re adventurous, and you’re good to go through May.

Of course, you can go with something that’s already adorned, like this
Kay Unger dress with an oversize asymmetrical collar. The right accessories will take this through Easter too, and if you’re REALLY hippy –more eggplant than pear– this is an answer from heaven to balance out your figure.

It will also work gangbusters if you’re straight up-and-down and tall (short and topheavy, you’re up next). Plus, it’s a slightly more interesting variation on the asymmetrical thing that’s been around and shows no sign of slowing.

I know what you’re thinking. No way this
David Meister draped sequined dress
is going to work on a big girl, but you couldn’t, in the words of the dope (in both senses) Kanye West, get much wronger.

I know, I was surprised too.

This is an absolute no-brainer for apples and the topheavy among us. Just toss on a pair of substantial, not spindle-thin, heels to anchor the look and be prepared to devastate. However, it works surprisingly well for the hourglassed too, even if you’ve got a bit –maybe not a TON– more sand in the bottom.

I tried on something similar to this a few seasons ago, not expecting much and I was shocked at how well it worked on my frame. It’s glitzy, it’s young without being reminiscent of mutton incognito, and it’s got just enough Bianca Jagger to keep it capital F fashion without being self-consciously hip.
Of course, if you’re looking for something a little more grown up but still  visually compelling, there’s this Tadashi Shoji cap sleeve number.

I’ll be honest, I debated putting this in because of my well-known hatred of all things cap sleeved. Then I thought about how cute this would look with one of my vibrant silk rebozos, Frida-style:

Or paired with a luscious emerald cashmere cardigan under a skinny little belt for that “Oh, yes, I always look this chic. See, I just popped this little sweater on in case I’d get cold. You mean some people have to TRY to look this fabulous? How interesting!”

And finally, the sleeper hit: David Meister’s 3/4 sleeve asymmetrical dress no sequins, no lace, no ornamentation, just a well-designed black knit dress that will look great on pretty much everyone, all the time.

Honestly, this is the dress I’d be most likely to select for my own closet because I could wear it to a hundred different parties a hundred different ways. It’s the perfect backdrop to not only a set of bangin’ curves, but also those showpiece jewels and traffic-stopping shoes. Bib necklaces, hair ornaments, ridiculously over-the top shoes, gloves, handbags…with the exception of my sneakers and cowboy boots, I’m having a hard time imagining a single accessory that wouldn’t work with this dress.

Nope. Can’t do it.

Stay tuned next week and through the rest of December for more of the Five Great series. Now while you’re off shopping, I’m going to find a puddle.

August 25, 2011

Codie Young: Size Zero Scapegoat

Codie Young is a really skinny girl.

Do you know what that tells me?

It tells me that Codie Young is a really skinny girl.

It doesn’t tell me anything about her health, her lifestyle, anything. For all I know, the 18 year-old model whose photos for a recent Topshop campaign are causing all sorts of a ruckus about promoting eating disorders, could spend her mornings farming organic kale and her afternoons running marathons.

Or she could smoke 50 cigarettes, drown a kitten and then snort a line of cocaine longer than her own photoshopped neck, possibly off the corpse of someone’s dead grandmother. It’s anyone’s guess.

Topshop took down the offending photo and replaced it with one that hides her supposedly purge-triggering body behind a coat and offered the reading public a little bread to go along with their circus:

“Topshop is confident that Codie is a healthy young woman and we do not feel it necessary to remove her from our imagery,” said a spokesman for Topshop, “However we do recognize regretfully that the angle this image has been shot at may accentuate Codie’s proportions making her head look bigger and neck longer in proportion to her body . . . We have taken down that specific image at the earliest opportunity. Topshop is proud of its heritage of celebrating individual-looking girls who offer an alternative more unusual beauty.”

Want to see the photo? Here we go.

So here’s what really happened:
Topshop hired a very skinny model and through photography and Photoshop made her look even skinnier because that was the exact look they wanted.

They got busted and now the blame and vilification is falling on the shoulders of a teenage model who, she insists on her blog, is just naturally thin.

Now okay, let’s be honest here, after poring over Ms Young’s blog I’m pretty no one is going to confuse her with Noel Coward in a dark alley so some of her statements aren’t exactly…mature:

There are overweight/obese people who are a size 34 or 18 but know one says anything to them because you don’t want to affend them![…] And funny enough saying I’m anorexic affends me just as being called obese affends overweight people, but the differences is that im not anorexic!

but what about this?

Firstly this is very hurtful to me as I am naturally skinny; and anyone who knows me would know that I have been naturally skinny my entire life as my dad is 6’5 tall and skinny an my mum is also skinny, not to mention that my entire family on my dads side are all tall and skinny like me!

For someone like Ms Davies to say its not okay for me to be this thin ( which is how I was created) basicly says its not okay for me to be who I am!

Okay yeah, just put a gigantic sic. next both those quotes but replace “skinny” with “fat” and how many of us can sing this song from heart? I know I can.

The problem isn’t some size 0 teenager got a job modeling trickledown fashion. The problem is she’s impossible to tell apart from all the OTHER size 0 teenagers who get jobs modeling fashion, trickledown or otherwise.

Ms Young is just another very tall, very thin, faceless automaton who gets jobs because that’s what the modeling industry wants now, to the worrying exclusion of almost anything else.

so when I read this:

“Topshop is proud of its heritage of celebrating individual-looking girls who offer an alternative more unusual beauty.”

Like this, but thinner

I sound a rueful yawp. Can you have a rueful yawp? Well, whatever I did it was loud and rueful. And yawpy.

No, Topshop. No you don’t celebrate individual-looking girls. If you did, there would be more than one body type in your campaigns. YOU, Topshop, celebrate tall, thin girls with faces that are half Eastern-European automatons and half dead-eyed child nymphets. The problem isn’t her body type, the problem is you only hire girls who look like Ms Young so these girls only ever SEE one body type. THAT’S what messes girls up.

There’s nothing wrong with the way Ms Young looks, and maybe girls would feel better about seeing her body shape along side a size 6, a size 10 or *gasp* even a size 16.

Your clothes go up to a 16 so ostensibly you want that business, why not show someone actually wearing that size…or is that too much “unusual beauty” for you?

August 24, 2011

You Asked For It: Miss Plumcake at Villa Plumcake

No that's not nipple action, I'm pretty sure I had my keys tucked into my bra. Klassy.Golly! When I updated the Manolo for the Big Girl facebook page (which I SWEAR I’m going to start using again. Scout’s honor) I had no idea I’d get so many messages about my outfit.

Okay, it was more like four, but that’s four more than I expected and because I love to love you babies, I thought I’d do a little featurette for those wanting to reproduce the Miss Plumcake at Villa Plumcake look at home.

I’m not shy by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t often do this sort of thing. It comes across as a little self-indulgent, even for me.

Also, just in case you were wondering, that’s not weird nipple action, I’m just pretty sure I had my keys in my bra. That’s right mijas,  it’s all glamor at Villa Plumcake.

Here’s how to get the look:

HAT This is the exact hat in the photo, a crushable, abuseable, practically indestructible white fabric and wire sunhat.

I removed the ribbon and adjusted the brim into more of a portrait shape for maximum Joan Collins effect and wore it almost every day.


>SUNGLASSES Admittedly this is a bit of Advanced Fashion as the non-ironic white sunglasses can be difficult to pull off, but I love my mother of pearl Clubmasters (I also have them in a caramel jasper treatment) and really, when one is wearing All White All The Time, darker shades just won’t do. The variations and pearlescence of the frame stop them from looking hipster and land them safely into 1930’s glamor.


JOURNAL My grandmother kept a record of her Grand Tour of Europe, jotted down in a neat little notebook of Moroccan red leather with the most over-the-top rococo gilt swirls embossed along the cover.

Determined to maintain the travelogue tradition, I picked up a small but sturdy handmade leather journal on my first trip across the pond and have used it exclusively for my travel memoirs ever since.

Though the actual journal in the photo is a simple one-off I bought for ₤20 at King’s Cross Station in London, this travel-ready notebook has the same feel.

PEPPER PEN I never went anywhere alone without my pepper spray pen within easy reach, usually tucked into the neckline of my dress.

No one ever questioned why I always wrote with another pen.

It was a handy way to feel safe when I was walking around alone without openly insulting the locals.

BOLERO – I can’t remember where I picked up this Jessica Howard bolero cardigan, but I wish I’d bought a dozen of them.

The Pacific breeze can get a bit nippy and this, alternated with my wrap. kept me nice and snug.

The dress is an inexpensive Mexican-style white cotton sundress with a surplice neck and crocheted lace detailing on the skirt I picked up for almost nothing at Ross and the bra is the original (now discontinued) Lace Plunge from Lane Bryant.

So there you have it: Miss Plumcake at Villa Plumcake.

Add your own oceanfront lovenest, hot Latin footballer, mezcal (no worm, thank you) and shake. Olé!

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