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Plus Size Maxi Dresses for the Short Girl

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.

Yes, No, Maybe: Fashion Bug

Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

Today we are pricing down, to Fashion Bug, which  sells Misses and Plus size casual-wear and lingerie. At the top of the home page, you can opt to shop according to size, including 16-34, 16-32 short (they couldn’t call it petite? Whatever.), and 16-32 long. (Warning: Short and Long selections are limited.) (Misses sizes start at 6). Their sale page is here.

Today they are having the Thanksgiving Day sale, online only, on all their Fall clothing here.


Francesca had a hard time with the “Yesses” and “Maybes” because her personal idea of “casual” is “suede jacket with boot-cut jeans.” So let us get it out of the way: If you are looking for your basic turtlenecks (on sale today for $6 apiece), polo shirts, jeans, panties, and the like, this is a good place to go. It is a good value for the price.

And now for the slightly more Francesca-esque items. Click for outfit suggestions and/or purchase info:




All Walks (kinda)

I shamelessly stole this from Style Spy because

a) it’s awesome

b) I’m about to go on vacation so I’m not even trying to come up with my own material.

All Walks Beyond the Catwalk from ALL WALKS BEYOND THE CATWALK on Vimeo.

On one hand, YAY! On the other, uh, not to look a gift cat in the mouth, but is this really all walks?

Because it kinda looks to me like it’s “mostly the same walk, but some have bigger shoes and oh there’s a black girl too“.

It’s like you can have ONE thing working “against” you: you can be plus-size if you’re tall and young and gorgeous. You can be black as long as you’ve got processed hair and fit all other standard model requirements. You can be old as long as you’ve got the bone structure of a patrician flamingo. And you can be tall if you’re…well, you kinda have to be tall.

Don’t get me wrong, I still really like this video and the concept behind it.

Maybe they didn’t include women who are more than just a hair out of the mainstream because they didn’t want to seem like it was a gimmick.

I mean Jackie Robinson was a great ball player, but he wasn’t the best the Negro Leagues had to offer by a long shot, but the reason you know Jackie Robinson instead of Ray Dandridge –widely considered one of the best ever to have played the game– is that Mr Robinson was far more palatable to white working class America than Mr Dandridge. Maybe they wanted to make sure the women were still palatable enough for fashion consumption: thus the being tall and beautiful and mostly slender.

Clothes as they’re designed now look better on tall women and on thin women.

They just do. Being tall means you can carry off a lot of stuff short chicks can’t, and that’s just the way it is (you pocket people get all the men, so let the tall girls have this one) but just because tall girls have an easier time of things doesn’t mean designers should be expected to design only for tall women. But they do.

I believe the average fit model is about 5’9″ which is fine for me, I’m just an inch taller, but the average American woman is just under 5’4″ oh, and petite models? Generally between 5’6″ – 5’8″.

So should we be glad that in an industry so totally skewed and screwed that designers are getting and embracing SOME change and take what we can get or do the All Walks people get a “close, but no style cigar”?

Francesca’s New Stuff: Glaring Omission

crossword.gifYou might notice that nowhere have I mentioned purchases involving clothing. Yes, two raincoats. Also foundation undergarments which are pretty but do not deserve their own post.

Did I buy any dresses? No. Skirts? No. Tops? No.

Do you wish to know why?

Because nowhere in all of Manhattan — neither in the summer sales nor in the fall collections — did Francesca find plus-size clothing that works for her 5’1″, apple-shaped frame and desire for sleeves.

If you are tall, you are in luck. If you regularly wear sleeveless clothing, fine. If you are pear-shaped, all the better.

But if you are none of those things, as Francesca is not, then just stay home for the next few weeks, under the covers. Do not bother shopping for new clothes. Crossword puzzles are more tempting right now.

Perhaps the winter collections will have more to offer us.

Francesca is put out, and hath spoken.

Francesca in Love

Francesca just received the Igigi Velvet Wrap Dress (with silk charmeuse tie), which she ordered  a while ago. Since Francesca has been traveling, she had to wait a while before being in the same city as the dress so she could try it on.

Let Francesca tell you about this dress.

The magic of Igigi is that although their clothes do not come in petite sizes, and do not always appear to be suitable for the Apple, they always fit Francesca perfectly.

Francesca is 5’1″ and very Appley. On taller folk, the dress is designed to come to just below the knee and have 3/4 sleeves (as pictured). On Francesca, the sleeves came down, quite attractively, to the wrists, and the hem fell just below the wide part of the calf. The shoulders fit perfectly. The plunging neckline ended exactly at the point just above Francesca’s bra.

And, though wrap dresses are generally an iffy proposition for Apples, this one draped perfectly. She does not know how Igigi does it.

Francesca’s mother was in the room, and said “Francesca, the dress looks like it was made for you.” The emerald green color was beautiful with Francesca’s light-red hair. (The dress also comes in black.)

The only criticism I have is that the dress should really be lined. One certainly needs to wear a good slip underneath the skirt.

It just goes to show that Apples CAN wear wrap dresses, and petites CAN sometimes wear regular sizes. Do not be afraid to experiment (especially when the dress is on sale, as this one is)!



Post-Christmas Sales

Well, now that all of you dear readers have given away the presents to your loved ones, it is time to relax and do some online shopping to find a little something for yourself. The following vendors of plus-size clothing are all having the sales! Some of them are incredible. Follow the links to see!

Saks Fifth AvenueDesigner sale. Designer plus-size sale here. Free shipping on orders over $200 with code SAKSFS

IgigiUp to 75% off everything. Ends tomorrow.

Liz Claiborne WomanTremendous discounts, ends tonight!! Additionally, you’ll automatically get $25 off purchases of $100 or more, or $50 off purchases of $150 or more, or $125 off purchases of $300 or more.

Avenue – Shop The Ten Dollar Event!

Monif C – Up to 80% off everything at the site.

Nordstrom – Sales for women and men. Plus sizes are here.

Svoboda – “Preview” sale ending tomorrow: take 35% off anything you want with code PREVIEW09.

Land’s End– Semi-annual sale. Plus sizes here. Tall sizes here.

Lane Bryant – Up to 60% off everything on the site, and semi-annual lingerie sale.

Silhouettes – Lots of end-of-season The sale items, and take 20% off your order of $50 or more with code S8W908.

Old Navy – Clearance sale! Plus sizes here.

JC Penney– After-Christmas clearance. Plus sizes here. Tall sizes here.

Talbots – End-of-season sale. Plus sizes here. Petite-plus sizes here.

Kiyonna After-Christmas savings deal: Through December 31, use code GIFT20 ($20 off purchases of $100 or more), GIFT50 ($50 off purchases of $200 or more) or GIFT100 ($100 off purchases of $350 or more).

Coldwater Creek – 50% off the whole website. Use code SAVEBIG at checkout. Plus sizes here.

Bloomingdales – Sale on selected items ends December 31. Plus sizes are here.

Always for MeSwimwear sale. Use code freeship100 and get free shipping on orders over $100 in continental US.

Roaman’sAfter-Christmas sale.

One Stop Plussite-wide sale.

Chico’s – Winter Sale on select items. Use code 6380 to receive $10 off your purchase of $50 or more. (Also, at their affiliated Soma Intimates store, there is a lingerie sale going on, AND you get a free panty with any purchase at the Soma store with code 7126.)

J.Jillup to 70% off. Ends January 5. Plus sizes here. Tall sizes here.

Woman Within-Clearance sale.

Evans (British sizes) – Up to 70% off

TorridHoliday through January 4th. Also through the 4th: an additional 50% off clearance items.

From Francesca’s Inbox

Offer from Lane Bryant: Get two years of Figure magazine for the price of one. Francesca enjoys the articles in Figure. It is feel-good reading.

New arrivals and new sale items at J.Jill. Francesca’s pick (pictured at left).

Get a pair of pants at Avenue for just $10, while supplies last. (Pants for Petites and Talls also available at this price!)
Many new items have been moved to the sale department of Talbot’s Woman and Woman Petite. Also, get free shipping on their newly-arrived shoes and boots through September 20 (or skip that and just buy these slingbacks on sale at 50% off). Francesca’s pick.

Nordstrom announces that their shoe department offers extended sizes and widths! Look, shoes in size 14! Extra-wide shoes! Francesca’s pick.

Through September 30, get $20 off any pair of pants or jeans at Coldwater Creek. Francesca’s pick.

Until September 16, get 30% off your highest-price item at Woman Within by entering code WW26354 at checkout. Remember, as always, their merchandise runs long – petites beware! Francesca’s pick.

Make Your Own Jeans has revamped its website and added new fabrics and new embroidery patterns for the pockets. Custom-made jeans and pants, shipped worldwide!

Through September 15, get 35% off your highest-price item at Roaman’s by entering code  RD15712 at checkout. Francesca’s pick (pictured at left).

Get your sexy plus-size Halloween costume (or just the fairy wings, or mask, or hair extensions, or whatever) at Torrid!

Kiyonna announces their new La Bella Vita collection. Francesca’s pick.

Happy shopping!



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