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

November 2, 2010

What Miss Plumcake is…

Ah Tuesday, or as I like to call it, Monday-and-a-Half, here you are again, let’s jump right in with both perfectly-shod feet and find out What Miss Plumcake is…

Reading: Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Straight out and without qualifications the best contemporary novel I’ve ever read. Usually when I read a so-called great contemporary novel, I’m less than impressed because I think “eh, I can write as well as this shmuck.” It’s not that I’m the best ink-slinger on the block, but it amazes me what gets passed off as great writing these days. With Life of Pi? I was in a slump for a week because I’ll NEVER write anything so beautiful. The plot? Piscine Molitor Patel, a young Indian boy is stranded 227 days in a lifeboat alone with a Bengal tiger. Part adventure, part character study, part spiritual exploration and part magical realism, it’s completely brilliant. Read it now.

Watching: RuPaul’s Drag U. Okay, I’m not actually watching this now, but a few weeks ago when I had access to a television but before I discovered an entire channel devoted to Proper Football I watched a few hours of a marathon of this show. Now we all know I love Miss Ru –who doesn’t do the show in drag– but what I love more is the premise: women learning how to embrace their femininity through the art of drag. Because honestly, makeovers should be fun. They shouldn’t be about feeling bad about “flaws” or fitting into some humorless mold. I spent many formative years with drag queens as mentors (THE HELL YOU SAY!) and I’m a better broad for it.

Hearing: Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem. I have a really inappropriate story about this piece and a scorching hot Dutch cellist who was one of my better Very Bad Ideas that I’m not going to tell you because I’m pretty sure my little brother reads this blog and I don’t want to traumatize him. Still, even if you don’t have a story that puts the damn in Amsterdam this is an incredible piece, especially if you love Gregorian chants and a good contemporary organ. Lord knows I do.

Smelling: Un Lys by Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens. Un Lys means “A lily” and that’s exactly what you get. I can’t remember whether Andre bought it for me or if I plucked it myself but I’m always surprised by this perfume and have been wearing it layered with some dirtier juices (Cumming, Bulgari Black) recently. It’s hard to find a lily that’s pure but not cloying and for my money this is tied with Lys Méditerranée as Best Lily Ever. It’s one of the few fragrances that I’ve had someone follow me down the street to smell. Available at Barney’s or Lucky Scent or get a decant at The Perfumed Court.

Loving: Any Soldier. We all know I’m a sucker, right? Right. So when someone very special to mine heart (who is still going to get a kick in the head for pulling this on me, and don’t think I won’t do it, kiddo) volunteered me to make cookies for pretty much the ENTIRE 10th Mountain Division (okay ten people), currently stationed in Afghanistan I couldn’t really say no. I said a lot of other things, most of which aren’t suitable for print –I mean that’s a LOT of cookies– but not no. Regardless of how you feel about the war, I invite you to consider sending a soldier a little love.

Aromatics Elixir. WHY? WHY are people STILL WEARING THIS? It’s so hissy and vile. In the history of my life I have only met ONE person who doesn’t wear this but still likes it. And also, is it a RULE that you need to douse yourself with it? It smells like Burt Reynolds’ chest wig deodorizer. Urgh.

Wanting: Juniper Boots from Duo. Where were these calf-fit boots last year when I thought I would DIE if I couldn’t find a pair of jumping boots to fit my fatted calves? I bought a pair of proper riding boots that juuuust about do the trick, but I wish I’d waited and picked these up instead. They’re not cheap but I don’t even want to tell you how much custom-fit riding boots normally cost. Treat yourself. I promise, your legs will go out of fashion before these boots do.

Pre-owned Hermés scarves from Portero Luxury. It’s been a while since I’ve treated myself to a new foulard, but after giving an impromptu scarf-tying class the other night for a lady who was at a loss as to how to wear a beautiful scarf once belonging to the unforgettable Molly Ivins I’ve got the bug again. My favorite? This Hemisphaerium Coeli Boreale constellation scarf in a buttery coral. At Portero I can get a like-new scarf for well under retail and not have to worry about its authenticity.

June 9, 2010

Your Weekly Humpletter: The Plumcake Costume

Hello my little butternuts, how’s every little thing? Yes, it’s time for your weekly humpletter featuring ten new Plumcake-approved tidbits of deliciousness, mostly on sale!

It’s actually a fairly slow week for sales thanks to the swing back from Memorial Day, so we’re doing something a little different.   One of the things I hate hate HATE is when people I know copy my personal style –which is pretty specific– just a little too closely. It’s awkward for everyone involved. I’ll never forget that day years ago when I walked into church to find some sweet but terribly misguided Young Thing wearing what can only be described as a Plumcake costume.

In the parlance of my people, “I liketa died.”

That being said, I thought it might be fun –and I invite you all to play along in the comments– to actually CREATE a Plumcake costume using the sales this week.  Create your own costume in the comments field, just don’t worry if it takes a few minutes to post. It might get caught in the pending filter.

Always CoolFirst up are these Original Ray Ban Wayfarers in dark tortoise shell, on sale at Lord and Taylor using code FRIENDS to take 25% off your entire purchase. I never leave my house without my torties, which are just as cool as the traditional black ones but a bit more sophisticated.

These are timeless timeless timeless and perfect for either sex, so if your father is still wearing those tragiculous Blu-Blockers, why not buy him a pair of Wayfarers?  He’ll look like  an Italian movie star (white loafers not included.)

And if I’m never without my Wayfarers I’m never ever without my Hermes scarf. In fact, you could probably execute a fairly reputable Plumcake costume with just the scarf and the sunnies, plus a pair of vintage clip ons.

Pictured here is my absolute favorite foulard from my not-inconsiderable collection. pc babel scarfIt’s called Les Rivieres de Babel and although I have it in the aqua, there is precisely ONE of these available for purchase  from Potero (on sale too, it is to weep), so get it quick. It’s the only scarf I’ve ever paid a premium for and the photos simply do NOT do it justice. So pretty. So SO pretty.  When a woman d’une certain age showed up fresh off the plane from Paris with it wrapped around her neck, I fell in love and proceeded to hairlip hell until I located one and purchased it with much whimpering of bank account and a month of meal planning that involved the phrase “beans and toast” more often that I typically find ideal.  And you know what? Worth. Every. Penny.

And of course one good turn of Hermes deserves another: the Hermes Bolide in brown box calf.  Again, there’s only one of them, but it’s at 63% off retail and in great condition. Of course as with all Hermes bags, it is entitled to the legendary spa, where loved bags are buffed, primped and polished back to new. Now in the spirit of full disclosure: I don’t own a Bolide, I have a Birkin which I received as a break up gift (sorta) and have used exactly once, but for all the folderol over the Birkin being il handbag di tutti handbags, I’d kinda rather have the Bolide.

pc bolide

Moving from the screamingly expensive to the cheap and cheerful, I mentioned earlier you could compose a pretty decent Plumcake costume with just the scarf, sunglasses and a pair of vintage clip on earrings.

I couldn’t tell you how many pairs of vintage earbobs I own. Hundreds probably. I might even know where a few of them are (I always carry some sparklies in my purse in case I need to put them on in a flash, and usually a few pair at the office, in the car…wherever)

It is a shameful truth that, like snails leave slime and skunks leave stink, I leave a trail of  earrings wherever I roam.  I’ve tried to fix it, but to no avail. I almost always find them again eventually, but in case I don’t, I really hate to invest too much.

cute earrings!

I’m a sucker for figural earrings, or something with a little hint of whimsy, like these floral ear clips on clearance from La Vintage, which will set you back a measly 17 smackaroos.

These little darlings measure about 3/4″ and are just about exactly what I go for in an earring. Casual but still a little sparkly, charming but not cutesy and pretty enough to draw light but not so spectacular as to draw attention away from my face.

If you’re not in the habit of wearing earrings, give it a shot.  I have pierced ears but only wear clip-ons, so I can pull them off or put them on at a moment’s notice.  Also, you should always ALWAYS wear earrings when trying on clothing  (nothing dangly, please). You’ll be amazed on how much more put together you’ll look, just with a simple pair of bobs.

More fabulousness after the jump, clicky click!

January 19, 2010

What Miss Plumcake Is…

Filed under: Books,Boots,Cold Weather Coats and Cozies,Music,Perfume — Miss Plumcake @ 5:04 pm

Hello young lovers! How’s every little thing? Me? Oh I’m just peachy. Except I decided to do a Heavy Eye on Saturday night and I’m still excavating that stuff off my face. The downside of having eyelash extension is you really want to be careful using anything oil-based, so now when I want to do a super smoky evening-look eye it turns into a three day removal process wherein I’m full on the first day, and the next day I’m sort of Saraghina from 8 1/2 and on the third day I’m totally channeling Anna Magnani in the Rose Tattoo (how fabulous was she? SO fabulous. More importantly how hot was Burt Lancaster?)

Anyhoodle, it’s Tuesday so it’s time to find out What Miss Plumcake is…

What Miss Plumcake is...

You’ll notice I’m a little Scot-centric this week as we are coming up on the celebration of Robert Burns’ birthday, January 25th. If you’ve never been to a Burns Night, you simply MUST. No Scottish blood required –although be prepared to be asked if you’ve got any Scottish in you and when you answer no, be asked “would you like to?”– There’s singing and poetry (usually) and bagpipes and haggis (always, although they usually have vegetarian haggis which is revolting and contrary to the ways of the Lord) and everyone has a big time with the Address to a Haggis,  The Immortal Memory, The Toast to the Lassies and –my personal favorite– The Response to the Laddies.

Dress code varies, but please don’t just wear random plaid. Ladies: if you have a clan, wear a sash in your clan’s dress tartan. Gents: Bonnie Prince Charlies are ideal. But even if you don’t have a drop of the Northern blood, don’t worry just show up and have a ball.

Reading: Robert Burns, the Complete Works No house should be without.

Watching: Black Books. Surprisingly, since I’m the United Nations of failed relationships, I’ve never dated a misanthropic drunken Irish bookseller but if I did, I’d like to date this one. Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey and that girl who played Dr Todd from Green Wing (Tamisin Grieg) had me laughing harder than that time my neighbor’s jack russell pulled out a “chew toy” labeled “Swedish Erotica”

Hearing: Lyrics of Gold: Songs of Robert Burns by Ed Miller. Ed Miller is a pink-faced fount of Scottish folk tunes and apparently a Really Big Deal as far as these things go, traveling all over the world to spread the Scottish word.  I’ve known Ed socially for a few years now and while the man can’t iron a shirt to save his  life (pull it together Ed!)  his albums are still very much worth having.

Smelling: Serge Lutens Bois et Musc. An exceedingly lovely light cedar with just a hint of musk, Bois et Musc isn’t the big honking juice Christopher Sheldrake usually releases for Serge Lutens. It wears very close to the skin. Bois et Musc is one of the non-exports so as with all Lutens bell jars you’ll have to pick it up at Les Salons du Palais Royal Shisheido in Paris, although you can occasionally find one on the secondary market. Decants are available at The Perfumed Court and while I don’t love it as much as the coniferous incense bomb that is Filles en Aiguilles, I couldn’t say no when a bell jar graciously found its way into my personal collection.

Loving:Early Greek Philosophy ed. Jonathan Barnes. Drop a cherry in me and call me old fashioned, but I think to be a Cultured Woman of The World you’ve got to be up on your philosophers (pictured here: my Pre-Socratic Greek Boyfriend, Pythagoras) and Barnes’ edition of selected writings of the Early Greeks is totally accessible.  I know I’m an old stick in the mud, but so much of what’s being written these days is just junk. There’s nothing wrong with an improving book, and getting back into the habit of thinking critically and logically. Now you kids put down those Pink Books and get offa my lawn!

Hating: The OTK Boot trend. Has anyone seen this employed in real life where it actually works and the woman doesn’t look like a hooker or a serious fashion victim? Because I haven’t.  I want to, but I haven’t. Also, the women who can afford to drop $2000 on a pair of over the knee boots, at least in Austin, tend to be Women of a Certain Age and I am afraid OTK boots are a young woman’s game.  As I said, I want to be wrong, but I’m not sure I am. If you’ve seen a tastefully executed OTK boot IN REAL LIFE on a non-model or celebrity personage, please submit photographic evidence. I’m dying to see it.

Wanting: Robert Burns stamps. Wah! Stupid American stamps with their stupid CROPS OF NORTH AMERICA which don’t even feature TOBACCO because it’s not like THAT crop was important to  America or anything.  Sir Walter Raleigh should slap the post office across the face for that. Why can’t we have awesome stamps like this? I’m not a philatelist (well, I tried it once in college, but I was drunk) but I shall not rest until I browbeat someone into sending me one of these wee beasties.

Buying: Tartan sash in your clan’s dress. If you know your clan’s tartan, why not buy a sash? They’re usually lightweight wool 10″ wide by 90″ long and serve beautifully as a long muffler-type scarf. Of course on Burns Nights or other times where you want your ancestral pride to show you can wear it in the traditional way but they’re awfully handy to have. Don’t know your tartan? Look it up here
I’m a MacDuff of the Fife line myself and sleep soundly at night knowing no matter how bad my press is, it’ll never be as bad as the clan matriarch, Queen Gruach or “Lady Macbeth” as the kids call her these days.

December 29, 2009

What Miss Plumcake Is…

Filed under: Books,Food,Movies,Music,Perfume,What Miss Plumcake is — Miss Plumcake @ 12:00 pm

It’s the final Tuesday of the year, time to see what Miss Plumcake is…

What Miss Plumcake is...

Reading: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. A re-read for me, since it first came out in 2005. You’d think a novel about a quartet of people trying to commit suicide on New Year’s Eve wouldn’t be very sweet or touching (or funny) but it is, with a good slathering of misanthropic mustard to keep it darkly funny. You can pick it up pretty much for the price of postage at Amazon. Just click the link.

Watching: It Happened One Night
starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, directed by Frank Capra. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t love It’s a Wonderful Life, preferring instead this, the ne plus ultra of all screwball comedies. As a fashion side-note, you’re probably already aware that Clark Gable did irreparable damage to the undershirt industry when he unbuttoned in this film and revealed nothing more than a hairy chest under his dress shirt.
Hearing: Handel’s Messiah. I sing a lot of Handel, rare is the week I don’t have two Handel arias in the works and another one on deck. You’d think I’d get bored of GFH’s greatest hit.  I don’t. Yes, I still prefer it at Easter, but Christmas is no time to be pedantic. The Rutter/Royal Phil is my favorite widely-available recording.

Smelling: Filles en Aiguilles by Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens
. I am an old and jaded frag hag. I roll my delicate nostrils at 99% of mall fragrances. I don’t jump at the newest niche release and I’ve almost given up hope on Jean-Claude Ellena ever releasing anything truly brilliant again –he’s the house nose for Hermes now, which means he’s got marketablity to think about– I am, according to Angela’s brilliant list at Now Smell This, a stage four perfumista. Which is why getting a fragrance that really excites me is a rare experience. Filles en Aiguilles (literally “Girls on Needles” though it’s a play on words, since the French slang for stilettos is talons aiguilles) excites me. A lot. A LOT a lot. Aiguilles opens as a pine bomb like I’ve never experienced, with just a bit of camphor,then it develops into something more resiny. It evolves into a high mass on Christmas eve, where the incense and the wreaths and the smell of old polished wood melt together into something transcendent and just slightly wild around the edges. As it dries down you’re left with a bit of warm pine and buttery skin incense. Equally good for men and women, it’s only available in the states at Barney’s.

Loving: Jon Richardson’s BBC 6 podcast. Generally speaking, comedians and humorists are –as a species– little more than seething balls of neediness, sexual deviance and empty takeout containers. It’s true. I mean, I’m not. It’s a well-documented fact that cartoon bluebirds dress me every day and when I smile you can literally hear the silvery ting! of sunbeams and happiness. But the rest of them? Useless, impotent and in need of a bath. Which is why it’s rare for me to bestow my highest honor —the Order of The Good Egg— to comedian Jon Richardson. I admire his work professionally but more importantly, he is responsible for propagating good deeds hither and yon via his Deed-ication feature. Basically he invites his listeners to write in with their good deeds for a chance to have the show dedicated to them, which is brilliant. Co-presenter/sidekick Matt Forde receives entrance into the Order of The Speckled Puppy for being adorable, endearing and definitely not allowed on the couch.

Hating: Bad Chocolate. I don’t know much, but I do know this: life is too short for small jewelry, faked orgasms and bad chocolate. I’ve managed to eradicate the first two, now if ONLY I could get people to stop giving me the third.

Wanting: Laphroaig Whisky. Islay malts aren’t to everyone’s taste, but they’re certainly to mine. Laphroaig, easily the most famous and accessible is It’s a big peaty smoke bomb of deliciousness. In my head, this is what Mister Badger’s sweater smells like. Drink it neat, with a drop of spring water or for an interesting take on a martini, mixed 1:4 with Hendrick’s gin.

Buying: Kiva Gift Certificates. By now everyone knows about Kiva, the microlending project that’s revolutionized charitable giving. I’ve been into microlending for years, ever since I met a group of women from southern Malawi. If you’re new to microlending, check it out.

December 13, 2009

From Francesca’s Inbox: Weekend Special

Francesca here, popping in on the weekend to tell you (or remind you) about some sales that end today or soon. Here, in alphabetical order:

One of many spectacular hats of fabulosity from WomenSuits.

One of many spectacular hats of fabulosity from WomenSuits.

Alight is having a big holiday sale, and will take $8 off your order of $40 if you enter code alight878 at checkout.

Ashley Stewart will take 30% off your entire online purchase (excluding sale, clearance and Diva Deal items) “for a limited time.” Also, get a free upgrade to 2-day shipping on purchases of $50 or more.

Avenue will take 35% off your online purchase with code AV91167. This ends today.

JC Penney will give you free shipping through Tuesday with code SHINE25, or click here to print a coupon for use in-store. If instead of the free shipping code you wish to receive 15% off beauty products, use code JCPFF2009, also through Tuesday. Plus-size clothing is here.

Jessica London is having a tremendous, site-wide sale. Ending today, take 30% off your highest-priced item (if you order three or more) with  code JLE4484.

J. Jill will take 25% off any online outlet purchase, or 40% off full-priced jewelry (online or  in stores) through Tuesday.

Junonia has taken 30% off fleece and flannel items, and will give you free mittens and a hat with orders of $75 or more. Both offers end today.

Swimsuits for All will take 25% off your order with code 25NEW. This ends today. will take 20% off your purchase of $100 or more (online or by phone) with code BLESSEDCHRISTMAS. This offer “expires soon.” Can be used more than once. FYI, Francesca has never seen a better offer than this from this vendor, so prices/deals are unlikely to get better. Francesca loves their collection of “church hats,” which remind her of the Ascot scene in My Fair Lady. The Americans are such interesting peoples.

Come back tomorrow for even more sales. xoxo

December 8, 2009

From Francesca’s Inbox: Shoes, Accessories and Gifts

For information on current clothing sales, go to yesterday’s FFI here.

Designer Shoes adds a new brand, Nota Bene, of whose style and quality Francesca approves. Francesca’s pick: their classic Mary Jane (pictured).

YOOX is having a big sale, including high-end shoes, handbags, and accessories.

Zappos, one of our favorite shoe sources, is offering free shipping both ways as always. Now, additionally, they offer free overnight shipping on clothing. Sizes go up to 40 or 4XL (warning: largest sizes are mostly swimwear). They also sell kitchenware and all sorts of nice gift items like cologne and toys, starting here. Free shipping and return shipping on everything. Francesca says: wow.

Cosmetics Mall is having a big sale on Women’s Fragrances.

Books Online has a menu of book clubs for yourself or someone on your gift list. Francesca loves the gift of the book club!

Smart Bargains has added new items to clearance. This includes home goods, jewelry, women’s apparel (including some plus sizes) and menswear. will take $20 off your purchase of $100 or more, through December 20. No code necessary. Exceptions: This won’t work for international orders (APO and Territories addresses OK), and won’t apply to gift cards, gift certificates, prescriptions, contact lenses, magazine subscriptions, or the following brands: Aramis, Bare Escentuals, Darphin, Donna Karan/DKNY, Jane Iredale, Lab Series Skincare for Men, Origins, Missoni, Prescriptives, Sean John, Smashbox and Tommy Hilfiger.)

Magazine City provides excellent prices, with no strings attached, on magazine subscriptions. Francesca found some of her favorite fashion magazines for $1 per issue (to US) and under $5 per issue internationally (a very good price, Francesca fears. Living outside the US has its advantages, but certainly not in the realm of access to English-language print media!)

Amazon has set up a page from which you can see their “top holiday deals” FYI, the Gund bear pictured is a free gift if you order $75 or more of toys (also add the bear to your cart).

Sun Jewelry, a vendor of high-end bracelets, earrings, etc, has set up a gift clearance page, with sale items to buy for the special someone (including yourself). Francesca’s pick: Marguise Amethyst and Diamond earrings (pictured).

Happy shopping! xoxo

November 24, 2009

What Miss Plumcake is…Everything’s Bigger Edition

Filed under: Books,Boots,Movies,Music,Perfume,What Miss Plumcake is — Miss Plumcake @ 1:22 pm

Yesterday marked the ten year anniversary of my move to Texas so I thought I’d celebrate by doing an All-Texan revue. It’s Tuesday so let’s fine out what Miss Plumcake is…

What Miss Plumcake is...Texas

Reading: O. Henry’s Short Stories.  William Sydney Porter was a Carolina boy by birth, but did a the best part of his writing and embezzling here in Austin, Texas.  My grandmother never read to me (unless by “read” you mean “accidentally putting her cigarette out on my arm, thereby fusing my horrible nylon sweater to the sweet delicate flesh of my forearm”) but she had a soft spot for The Ransom of Red Chief (I think she liked the torture scenes), which remains my favorite O. Henry short story.

Hearing: Lyle Lovett’s Natural Forces. I’ve had a one-sided love affair with Lyle Lovett and his Large Band for years, and it all started with this song.  He consistently puts on the best live shows I’ve seen. He’s funny, droll and is completely at home with his, uh, unusual looks. Last night’s concert went into my top five shows of all time. Even if you think you won’t like him, give Lyle a little Youtube action and let him change your mind.

Watching:Giant.  James Dean’s third and final film –it was released shortly after his death at 24– it is the definitive Texas Epic and worth a watch if only to see James Dean’s method acting play against Liz Taylor’s Tollywood traditional.

Smelling: Tauer Lonestar Memories. Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer isn’t Texan, but we might make him an honorary one after this. Lonestar Memories is a BIG scent –I have to put a teensy drop behind my knees the night before I want to wear it– but its bone-dry combination of wood smoke, brush fire and open skies make it a smart, untamed scent for men or women.

Loving: The Lance Armstrong Foundation I can’t say I just love Lance Armstrong as a person and I think those yellow rubber bands are dopey, but the LAF does great work, especially with providing support for young men like my brother who are testicular cancer survivors. He (Lance not my brother) made a surprise visit on stage last night with Lyle Lovett. To his credit he didn’t try to sing.

Hating: Well, I mean, really.

Wanting: Big obnoxious custom cowboy boots. Texans never mind a bit of vulgarity it’s “a nice splash of paprika” as Diana Vreeland would say. I own one pair of Western boots and they’re the most unassuming things on the planet, just regulation-issued brown ropers with a low heel and almond toe. They’re dead useful without being showy but secretly I yearn for a pair of enormously over-the-top boots inlaid with all sorts of craziness. You can drop a good $4000 on custom boots, and they’re truly works of art, but I’d settle for these at a mere $1800.

Buying: Bluebonnet seeds. In the spring, a few weeks after the droves of South by Southwest revelers vacate my fair city, the wildflowers bloom. In the Texas Hill Country, the roadways are just carpeted with bluebonnets. Millions and millions of the Texas state flower pop up along any place left untended, and while it is illegal to pick them, it IS every Texas woman’s birthright to trample as many as she sees fit just so she can sit daintily in a field and get her picture taken surrounded by a could of blue blossoms.

So what’s shaking in YOUR state today?

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