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

August 1, 2012

You Asked For It: “It doesn’t work but I don’t know why”

Filed under: Advanced Fashion,Art,Color Studies,How To Wear It,You Asked For It — Miss Plumcake @ 8:00 am

Superfantastic reader Ginny wrote in with a work wear quandary. Seems our heroine, who is in the process of entering a more professional work environment, happened upon a pair of wide-legged navy pinstriped trousers and is at a loss how to wear them.

“Logically the pants should work almost like jeans because of their colour – they should kinda go with everything? But they don’t seem to.
Am I just overanalyzing because I’m not used to formal pinstriped trousers? Should I just wear it with my navy cardigan despite the slight colour mismatch [her navy tops are different shades of blue]? Am I just going to have to wear black or white button down shirts with these pants? Why don’t the pants seem to work with purple or brown? Could I do a blood-red slim sweater with these trousers? Help!


Okay class, raise your hand if you’ve made the rookie mistake of buying a fantastic separate without being sure anything else in your closet is actually compatible. Of course you have, it’s a rite of passage like bad bangs or ritual sacrifice. Now you’re stuck with making it work.

First the jeans thing.

Jeans “go with everything” because we’ve trained ourselves to believe that.

Just because you’ve got a pair of pants that are the same color as your favorite pair of 501s doesn’t mean you can wear them the same way. If it did I could wear my blond mink in place of my favorite khakis (ha ha, just kidding. Could you imagine me owning khakis?)

Jeans are sui generis as a pantular species, so just save yourself some heartache and abandon the whole idea.

You’re  also wise to be wary of donning mismatched shades of navy. Trust your instincts and skip it.

It takes a quadruple black belt fashion ninja to be able to wear colors that are ultra-close-but-not-quite the same. I’ve only known one personally who could do it and although she could,  she didn’t.

Let me touch on the idea of pinstripes.

Pinstripes are a little tricky these days. I call it the Curse of the Naughty Secretary.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good pinstripe, but when a design element becomes porno shorthand for an office worker, it’s something that should be approached with fear, trembling and a concerted effort to say “I am a professional” not “I am dressing up as a professional.”

So, on to your neutral matching woes.

Ever wonder why some people can wear brown and black together and look amazing while others look like mentally deficient beagles? 

The most successful dressers have a strong understanding –either innate or taught– of color theory. They keep their cools with their cools and their warms with their warms if they want a cohesive look and mix them thoughtfully if they want something purposefully disjointed.

If you’re having the dickens of a time getting colors that should go together in theory go together in practice, I almost promise you it’s because one is warm and the other is cool.

Your two go-to neutrals for navy other than white (which you mentioned you didn’t like wearing) are camel and gray, but any color can work.

The trick is making sure your neutrals –or any color, really– are the same temperature.

Most of us think blues are naturally cool, but it ain’t necessarily so, so color check yourself before you color wreck yourself.


What this means to you is if your pants are a warm navy, make sure your grays are warm too. If they’re cool and you want to wear a red sweater, make sure it’s a cool red sweater.

Purple works with navy only when the navy is has a good bit of red in it. Browns can go either way but generally cool on cool is more successful than warm on warm for that particular combo.

So analyze, but analyze wisely, brush up on your color theory, be careful with pinstripes and don’t ever come home with a separate unless at least you own three other pieces that can work with it right off the rack.

Oh, and sit up straight, get that hair out of your eyes and give me some grandchildren. I won’t be around forever you know.

Gin and Tonics,

Miss Plumcake



July 30, 2012

Maxi Dresses for the Racktacularly Blessed

Filed under: How To Wear It,Maxi Dresses — Miss Plumcake @ 10:32 am

It’s gotta be hard out there for the spectacularly busty, those quasi-blessed girls whose sweater puppies are sweater mastiffs.

I mean sure there are some benefits, my BFF can balance a bowl of cereal on hers with neither froot nor loop crashing to the ground, and I’m pretty sure she’s never had a traffic ticket in her life, even though I’ve ridden shotgun as she’s driven the wrong way up a one-way road, singing Blondie at the top of our 19 year-old lungs.

I’m not going to bore you with stuff you already know. I mean honestly, how many of my readers need to be told that those little center halter things or smocked tube tops are not the way to go? With that in mind, here are some styling tips on maxi dresses for the emphatically bosomed.

Spread the Love

And by love I mean visual interest.

If you’ve got big breasts, you already know how much attention they get.

I mean, if my humble starter set has made people walk into walls, I can only imagine what your deluxe editions do. You can’t make someone ignore them, but you can trick ’em into looking somewhere else, too.

With maxi dresses, try something with a seriously eye-catching graphic close to the hem.

Anything that spreads out the attention over your body is going to make you look more proportionate.

This colorblocked maxi from JC Penney is a good example. With the slender model all the attention goes to the bottom of the dress, but on a busty girl, the boom boom on the bottom is going to be balanced with your natural top-heavy pow. Leave the giraffe wedges at home.

Go Big or Go Home

Strong structural elements like a major kimono sleeve or a well-draped asymmetrical shoulder can work to your advantage while little fripperies and those ubiquitous flaccid ruffles never do.

This dramatic black number would be best served on the confidently statuesque (the long necklace is a smart piece of accessorizing when it comes to a monochromatic maxi as it creates length and balances out the potentially overwhelming swaths of fabric) while the Charlize maxi from Kiyonna –honestly the best all-around example of the maxi I’ve found for pure wearability and glamor– would work  on any frame.

Remember, when you’ve got a serious sleeve and a plunging neckline, it’s perfectly fine to wear a cami. The weight of the sleeve will balance the look. A good sleeve is a busty girl’s best friend when it comes to proportionate dressing as it balances out the cleave even as it’s enhancing it.


Adjust the Volume

While not technically a maxi per se, the tiered prairie dress is close enough to count for our purposes. Many of us are taught not to wear anything that’s going to add volume because our bodies are big (and loud) enough.  Nonsense. Volume is just another tool. Learn to use it well it will serve you well in return.

Although I encourage you to judge prairie dresses on a case by case basis –the wrong tier placement for your body can be the difference between lovely and Laura Ingalls Staypuft– when done correctly, the tiered dress paired with a simply cut bodice can be an excellent choice for those who don’t fall on the Eva Gabor side of the Green Acres equation.

Adding volume at the bottom of the dress balances out any top heavy tendencies, just be sure to keep the frills up top to a minimum.

You want something clean and substantial with broad enough straps to give some structure and, of course, hide your intimate architecture. Look for something where the outer corners of the straps are set wider than your chest and a neatly-shirred bust to ensure your cups won’t spilleth over.

This tall tiered maxi from Simply Be (offered in three lengths) is a strong example. It’s not bust minimizing, but the overall proportion will look right.

Baffle ‘Em with Brilliance

You’re just going to have to trust me on this one, it’s the voice of experience over reason.

A family emergency called Hot Latin Boy and I out of town last week and while HLB was in the hospital attending to his equally hot younger brother (he’s fine –and I mean fine— now) I availed myself of a little retail therapy to sooth the savage breast and, in my exhausted state, tried on a maxi with a small, riotously busy all-over print reminiscent of the fabric my grandmother brought back from her time in South East Asia in the 60’s and 70’s.

Whenever I hit a dressing room, I make sure there’s at least one thing I’m just not even remotely sure will work. Usually I’m right and it goes back to the racks, but sometimes, as in the case of this psychedelic paisley in shades of orange and pink it’s a surprise home run.

While this dress from Macy’s might be problematic for the busty as it’s not especially bra friendly, it is a decent example of the sort of pattern I mean.

The print is so busy it could be one of those Magic Eye things, but it baffles the eye so thoroughly that the effect is to say “lalalanothingtoseehere” over nooks and crannies that might otherwise be accentuated. It made me look taller and more slender than I am and although I can’t find an example I like online, keep the print tight and the cut simple and you’ll be amazed how well it works.




July 20, 2012

Plus Size Maxi Dresses Under $50

Filed under: How To Wear It,Maxi Dresses,You Asked For It — Miss Plumcake @ 1:16 pm


THAT, my friends, was a rough two days.

I’m fine, everything’s fine.

I’m sitting here in Plumcake Cottage making eyes at the leftover half of my Texas-shaped waffle (I’m a slow eater and everything west of Abilene got cold while I was working my way down from Texarkana), Hot Latin Boy is on the beach playing football and Dozer just scared the daylights out of the puka shell necklace-wearing maintenance guy who uses the empty house in front of ours as a tryst with a woman who is almost certainly Not His Wife.

So, as I said, everything is fine.

Everything was NOT fine yesterday, when a routine medical appointment in the states was preceded by your elegant hostess yakking her guts out on a winding mountain pass and an ill-timed fainting spell and succeeded by a Mexican military flashlight shining in my sleeping face at a routine stop where I had to explain to the Very Nice Men With Guns that no, HLB didn’t steal my car and roofie me up with the intention of selling me –possibly by the kilo– to the highest bidder, he was just driving me home.

Thus the blankie…
and the pillow…
and the fact that I wasn’t screaming even though I woke up in Mexico.

Much showing of bandages and kissycute iPhone selfies later, hilarity ensued HLB was freed and we finally got home, where I slept for the next 20 hours.

That brings us up to now.

So. Maxi dresses.

When I asked you what you wanted in a maxi dress post, many of you wanted something with sleeves under fifty dollars.

These don’t all have sleeves –don’t worry there will be more sleeves coming your way before I’m through– but all ring in under fifty bucks from designers who’ve provided me with some decent togs in the past.

HSN is a crapshoot.

Either they knock it out of the park or they…don’t. At all.

But when they’re good, they’re very very good and you get an extremely well-made garment for a ridiculous-in-the-good-way price. I first turned to them for their excellent costume jewelry, much of which is offered in extended sizes, and have had solid enough luck with them to return a few times a year.

(click on photos for links)

I cringed a little in the video for this dress when designer Antthony, in describing the slightly Grecian detailing of the dress talked about how big a fan he is of “Madam Gray” –he obviously meant Madame Grès who is responsible for the draped dress taking form in the 1940s– but it was probably just a slip of the tongue.

Regardless, possibly influenced by last summer’s retrospective “Madame Grès: Couture at Work” at the Musée Bourdelle, the Grès fingerprint is all over this dress. What Grès viewed as sculpture, Anttony understands as visual trickery.

The asymmetrical offset draping pulls in the eye and creates a smaller waist.

Unlike his austere counterpart, the draping on this dress is gentle. Though sleeveless, the straps are wide enough to wear a bra and the neckline isn’t perilously low, although a camisole –make sure it’s slightly blousoned to keep with the feel of the dress– works here as well.

One Antthony deserves another, and apples, I’m looking at you here.

Okay, look at the draping from the center of the bust down the front.

That’s one of those design elements that when you see it on a skinny girl or on the hanger you say Not Now Not Ever, right?
Except that waterfall is going to look amazing on you.

It’s going to start right between the girls –I believe those are molded cups, a nice touch– and go lalalalalalanothingtoseehere all over your stomach.

Be advised, sometimes it takes a little fiddling in the morning to get it to drape just so, but once you get it, you’ll be grand.

Pattern? You want pattern? How about this ikat print from Twiggy (yes that Twiggy) London?

Ikat is one of those prints I’m convinced works better on big girls than on straighties. Little wisps of things just don’t have the mass or the presence to really carry off a full length ikat print.

Since this pattern is already fuzzy it’s going to blur over things you might enjoy having blurred (and also hide stains if you’re clumsy) and –contrary to many prints– make you look taller. All of these dresses are available in multiple colors, but I like the earth tones of this one. It’s so much more chic and will transition nicely into the cooler months.

Finally we’ve got two from Liz Lange that are simple simple simple and perfect perfect perfect.

First the flutter sleeves.

Some variation on this theme is what I wear most of the days here at Plumcake Cottage. It’s dead easy, looks fantastic and can be styled this way or that for just slapping along the malecon watching the sunburned tourists take photos of our resident lazy sea lions or a dressy dinner of forced conviviality with new neighbors.

I’m not generally a fan of the flutter sleeve, but the neckline and shoulder are so widely set, the flutter sleeve works. Plus it’s not chiffon, so it’s more of a draped sleeve than a fluttery one.

Lastly, we’ve got a more evening-appropriate maxi that can be styled for day.

There’s something about a long sleeve maxi that I love. It’s just a little more formal, but still incredibly easy. These bracelet length sleeves do it for me big time, but what I really love is Lange’s signature inset waist. She takes a panel of material in the waist, sets it inside where the normal seams would traditionally go, adds a wide-to-narrow ruching element and drapes it down from there. End result? The Scarlett O’Hara treatment, no bedpost hugging required.

July 17, 2012

Plus Size Maxi Dresses for the Short Girl

Filed under: How To Wear It,Maxi Dresses,Petite and Plus-Size — Miss Plumcake @ 8:25 am

We all know who can wear maxi dresses easily: the tall, the broad shouldered and minimally breasted, the pears, the hourglass…basically the same usual suspects who have an easier time of plus size dressing to begin with.

So let’s talk about the people for whom this is a more challenging silhouette. Short girls, I’m looking at you.

I don’t adore maxi dresses on short women. It’s just a tough look to pull off because when you’ve got a lot of a fabric but not a lot of height, the line between chic and circus tent is painfully thin.

That doesn’t mean you can’t wear them at all, it’s just that if you’re the featured centerfold in Squat n’ Busty Quarterly, finding the right maxi dress might present some difficulties. Don’t fret too much though. As I tell all my short and apple-shaped readers: you get miniskirts and tall boyfriends, let the tall girls have this one.

Also, if “flattering” is your stylistic be-all and end-all, you might as well get off the bus right now.

A hostess gown is never going to be your go-to when you want something that the makes desert bloom and the angels sing by virtue of your mere presence. Stick to your structured A-line frocks and all shall be well. Boring, but well.

Oh, a slight derailment:

Every time I dedicate a post to a particular body type, I get hordes of dissenters hellbent on disagreeing with me based on their personal experience and then I have to pretend I care.

Don’t make me pretend to care.

I’m not good at it and it makes the vein in my forehead do weird things. So let’s just all save ourselves some trouble. If I say XYZ might be best left to another body shape but you are convinced XYZ looks better on you than anything has ever looked on anyone there are a few options which I have listed here in order of probability. Pick one and run with it.

Option One:
You are an exception to the rule that was really only a suggestion in the first place. There are few hard and fast rules anyway, and even those have their exceptions. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be one of them.

Option Two: You do not look as good as you think you do. Before you get on your huffy bike, remember we’ve all been there. Unless you were born fully-formed and immaculately-clothed at age 37 out of Yves Saint Laurent’s forehead, you’ve doubtlessly got some badly-dressed skeleton in your closet that, at one time, was just the best thing ever. Do I need to bring up my gold lamé toreador outfit complete with black stretch satin capris and bugle bead trim? Personal style evolves.

Option Three: I am wrong. It’s happened. Not often, but it’s happened. Witness again the bugle beads.

With that out of the way, let’s venture bravely forward. Mind the low branches.

The lilliputian among us must approach ankle-length dresses with appropriate fear and trembling.

Done correctly you’ll look comfortable and glamorous. Done incorrectly you’ll look like a garden gnome who’s just joined a cult.

This garden gnome obeys the laws of proportion for a maxi dress. Long skirt = deep neckline.

What makes the maxi silhouette difficult for a shetland person is the proportion.

First there’s the old “Chest or Legs” chestnut: the successful outfit highlights one or the other, never both at once.

If you go long on the cleavage and short on the skirt, you run the risk of looking like your life’s work can be summed up in the phrase “ping pong trick”. Interesting on a business card, but sartorially-speaking not the ideal result.

Taking the chest or legs thing a bit further, another rule of proportion is to balance out a dramatically long skirt with an appropriately dramatic neckline.

Academically speaking this doesn’t necessarily mean the airing of the cleave –witness Hilary Swank’s business-in-the-front-party-in-the-back Guy Laroche gown from the 2005 Oscars– but as for what’s available on the retail market, you’re mostly going to get variations on the plunging V theme.

This, as you know, can be problematic for the exuberantly bosomed.

For the sake of propriety, not to mention office dress codes, a sternum-showing neckline is not the best choice to keep both Thelma AND Louise under wraps for long, but we’ll get to the seriously busty girls later this week.

If you’re a short girl dead set on wearing a maxi dress, avoid fussy patterns. You probably know this anyway, but for some reason otherwise sensible women are out and about wearing floor-sweeping dresses in patterns and colors I haven’t seen since Steven Hill bet me a week of milk money that I wouldn’t lick his pet toad.

Something like this colorblocked number from Avenue might serve you well.

The blocked stripes elongate the silhouette and give the illusion of a deeper V than the neckline actually allows. Plus, even though it’s still full length, it isn’t cut so voluminously as to overwhelm the wearer with random floating fripperies. Accessories here are minimal but significant: earrings, neat hair (long flowing dresses or long flowing hair, not both) and either a substantial bracelet if your arms are long enough not to enstumpen you or –my preference– a cocktail ring large enough to draw other, lesser cocktail rings into its orbit by gravitational pull.

If you’re dead set on an all-over pattern, try to go for something like this, also from Avenue.

The vertical stripes, though a bit of a cliche in short person dressing, still do what they’re supposed to do in creating a longer line while the criss-cross at the bust suggests the presence of a waist where once there was none. The dress is reportedly 56″ long so you could conceivably hem off the entire bottom pattern.

If you’re looking for something dressier and don’t mind baring arms, you could trot out the Eva from Igigi. The mono-shoulder seems to be an enduring trend so if you weren’t old enough to wear it in the days of disco, now’s your time. Also, it’s not camo but a rather lovely slightly orientalist floral.

From my experience with Igigi, admittedly several years ago, they are VERY generous on the vanity sizing so order smaller than you’d think. Also, be prepared to hem.

Okay gang, that’s my thousand words on plus size maxi dresses for short girls. Stay with me the rest of the week and if you’ve got thoughts or questions NOT covered by my derailment at the top of the post, stick ’em in the comments.

May 17, 2012

You Asked For It: Shoes for Maxi Dresses

Filed under: Accessories,Five Great...,Flats,How To Wear It,You Asked For It — Miss Plumcake @ 3:03 pm

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

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!

September 29, 2011

How To Wear: Statement Bracelets

Filed under: Accessories,Advanced Fashion,How To Wear It,Jewelry,You Asked For It — Miss Plumcake @ 4:54 pm

Hello my little buttermilk biscuits, how’s every little thing?

have I responded to everyone’s questions from the Monday Post? If not, ask again and I’ll do my best to get to it today.

Now back to the second-to-last installation of the statement jewelry series: Bracelets.

As far as jewelry wickets go, bracelets are among the stickiest.

Still, I’ve picked out ten Plumcake-approved baubles from punk to prissy all advertised to fit a larger wrist and pictured here for your delectation and delight.

Just click the photos for shopping links.

First we’ve got to find one that fits, which requires an act of Congress, THEN we’ve got to make sure it doesn’t give us stump-arm, which requires an act of God. You know what I’m talking about when I say stump-arm right?

It’s the way a bad bracelet visually shortens your arms until you look like the star in an all-Tyrannosaurus Rex production of Auntie Mame. Sure, it makes a statement, but “transvestite thunder lizard” probably isn’t the direction we want to go quite yet.

I’ve only started wearing bracelets within the past few months. Historically I’d avoided them because:

a) It was difficult to find arm candy that was big enough to circumnavigate my 7.75″ wrist (not to mention slide over my giant mitts, made only from the finest of Virginia hams)

b) I don’t really like most stretch bracelets and non-stretch ones bothered me while I earned my crust of bread at the newspaper

c) My torso is long so it gives the appearance of having short arms. See stump-arm and drag queen dinosaur reference above

But somehow the stars aligned to make me A few months ago Hot Latin Boy bestowed unto me a custom parure of  a necklace, earrings and bracelet he designed and commissioned just for yours truly.

Well I couldn’t NOT wear the bracelet so I slipped it over my wrist and was surprised by how pretty it looked with my white dress and tan (okay, you know what, I can hear you laughing and you all can just quit it right now, I totally had a tan. I was practically bronze, assuming the word bronze means “slightly darker than alabaster”) skin.

A month or so later I came into possession of a ridiculous stack of unadorned silver bangles that fit me perfectly and now I wear them at least once a week.

Six things to keep in mind for wearing bracelets:

Think about movement.

The key to wearing statement bracelets is to make sure they’re not too tight, and have a little movement on the arm.

It’s strange, but one big thick bangle or cuff looks clunkier than that same bangle plus another slightly more delicate piece.

Don’t believe me? Go try it.

Getting a bracelet with dangling ornamentation is a fantastic way to get movement without bulk. I’m a huge fan.

Be careful with cuffs. I’ve got to be honest, I don’t just love big cuffs on big girls.

I love big cuffs in and of themselves, I even have a gorgeous 1970’s Pierre Cardin figural rams head cuff that probably weighs a pound and a half, but it’s very hit and miss as to when and how successfully I can wear it. The downside is, of course, that cuffs are the bracelets more likely to actually FIT a larger wrist.

If you want to do the cuff thing, look for something that tapers, the ones that are uniformly thick can look uniformly clunky. Not a fan.

Charm bracelets, when done right, are fantastic on a big girl.

The key is to keep from being cutesy.

Way back in the misty days of yore, from about the 1930’s to the 1960’s it wasn’t at all unusual for a woman to collect tiny little charms in the shape of shields as souvenirs from the places she’d visited.

They’re usually silver with an enameled crest with the place name and some local flora, fauna or site.

I have a travel bracelet full of little travel shield charms –although admittedly I buy them on eBay or Ruby Lane after I get back– to mark my favorite towns and cities.

I also get antique silver three-dimensional charms of every mode of transportation I’ve used.

Not only is a great piece of jewelry, it’s an heirloom in the making and a conversation piece.

You can point to the little horse and carriage and tell the grandkids about the time you took a surrey ride around Ensenada with a cute Mexican fella (extra bonus points if they’re HIS grandkids too) or the time you went to Wales on a ferry and had to throw yourself on the mercy of a stranger, which is how you spent the night in a place called “The Spider Cottage”.

Bangles: More is (sometimes) more. Up to a point that is, but usually five coordinating bangles are better than one and ten are better than five.

You’re generally safe taking a stack of bracelets 1/3rd of the way up your forearm.

Up to a half is doable with big stacks of chunky bracelets, but anything longer than that is seriously Advanced Fashion, so think it through.

Think about sleeve length. Easy rule of thumb:You want at least as much bare arm as you have bracelet-covered arm. If you are wearing bracelets that climb 5″ up the wrist, your sleeve should end no lower than five inches from the top of your northernmost bracelet.

Think outside the bracelet box. I’ve used bow ties, long necklaces, dog collars with vintage earrings attached, silk scarves, and just bits of ribbon onto which I’ve pinned a large antique brooch or fur clip.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today.  Stay tuned tomorrow for rings and various other ornamentation and if you have something to say, put it in the comments!

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