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

December 6, 2011

Five Great: Gifts for the Road Travelin’ Gal

I’m not gonna lie, gang. Between my best friend and fam on the Atlantic and my new home on the Pacific, I’ve spent a lot of time on the road this year and  frankly know more than I’d like to about this great nation’s truckstops and rest stops (Texas might have dinosaur-denying textbooks and sentence innocent people to death on a regular basis, but by gum we have the finest maintained rest areas in this good and golden land).

Although I don’t always travel IN style I like to think I travel WITH style.

For example, I’m probably the only person at that particular rest area outside of El Paso who cuddled up in the backseat of her trusty automobile using two truck stop horse blankets and a blonde mink for a pillow.

For the majority of my adult life, I harbored some serious anti-suitcase sentiment. I traveled everywhere packing only what I could fit into my great grandmother’s snug 20″ x 16″ x 8″. red crocodile suitcase.  I’d had these newfangled cases with their wheelies and whatnot, and not a single one worked the way it ought. It was like I was trailing a drunken toddler behind me, and I gave up on modern suitcases for good. Sorta.

Unfortunately, when I realized I’d be staying a month or longer away from home and I’d have to cross international borders –who might not necessarily allow exotics like crocodile into, or out of their country– I bit the checked-baggage bullet and invested in the best suitcase I could reasonably afford.

Enter the Antler “Camden” 30″ hardside spinner.

Even if I’d paid the $420 retail for this bag –I didn’t, it’s on sale at Amazon for less than half that in a variety of colors, I got white– it would have been worth every penny.

This thing corners like a Lamborghini, survived particularly brutal treatment at the hands of TSA not to mention the guy who hauled it down the 72 steps to my villa, dropping it no fewer than six times, and the various abuses and humiliations involved in all commercial air travel these days. My white one did get a little scuffed up, but the marks came off with a Lysol cloth –what, you guys don’t disinfect your luggage after God Knows Who has been handling it?– and honestly, it’s a white suitcase. It comes with the territory.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, or at least the really, really bright, I give you theStanley HID0109 HID Spotlight.

I had no idea how badly I needed one of these things until my father gave me his used one last month. I’ve used it half a dozen times since then.

First of all, this thing is as bright as the sun.

Okay, maybe not the sun, but it is as bright as anything you could ever want.

When I was in Mexico, one of the lanterns in the single restaurant in my village caught fire and exploded (whee!) and they had to turn off the breaker. My trusty Stanley saved the day so they could work their electrical-repair magic and because boys will be boys, one of the fellas pointed the lamp across the ocean at one of the Islas Coronados and I swear the light shone onto land…13 km away.

More practically, I used it to help a family whose car had broken down somewhere in…hell I don’t remember. Let’s say Arizona and to “accidentally” shine directly in the face of a creepy trucker who kept circling closer and closer as I was gassing up along I-10 well after midnight.

Incidentally, do you know why the family with the butch guy with the camo truck and the huntin’ dog in the back of the bed needed to be rescued by a Birkin-totin’ babe like myself?

Because he didn’t carry jumper cables.

I swear I don’t understand what’s so hard about this. You buy a pair, you stick ’em in the back of your car and you forget about them until you need ’em, which you –or someone– will, eventually.

I get into more arguments with women about the importance of carrying cables than I care to relate. Yes, I know you have AAA. That’s great. I do too, and I LOVE them, but I also distinctly remember having to come to my grandmother’s rescue because AAA simply did not show up. Not even after I called several times. This wasn’t in the boonies either. They just didn’t come. Ever.

To me there’s no difference in not carrying jumper cables because “That’s what AAA is for” and not learning to drive because you have someone to chauffeur you around. It’s weak-on-purpose and antifeminist and okay, perhaps I’m a little too invested, but you can bet that big butch man will go to his grave with the shame that he had to be rescued by a girl because he failed Boy Scouts 101: He wasn’t prepared.

Granted it might not be the most romantic gift, but it could be a dead useful “gag gift” when paired with some sexy lingerie or a pair of beautiful earrings hidden inside.


1) Clamp the red cable to the positive terminal on the dead battery

2) Clamp the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal on the good battery

3) Clamp the black cable to the negative terminal of the good battery

4) Clamp the other end of the black cable to a piece of solid, unpainted metal under the hood of the dead car (NOT the black terminal unless you want to reproduce the welding scenes from Flashdance)

5) Turn on the good car, let it run for a few minutes, then start the dead car. If it doesn’t work it might need a few minutes more. Once the stalled car is started let it run for at least 30 minutes.

Just remember, start with “Red Cross to Dead Cross” and work in a circle. You should only be turning one direction.

Okay, ready for something a little less butch?


There, you don’t get much girlier than Caudelie Beauty Elixir.

I love this stuff. Basically it’s a water-weight mist with extracts of rosemary, and other essential oils, plus benzoin that perks your face right up. I know my skin goes to absolute hell when I travel and I keep a little bottle of this, along with some natural tears, Five Hour Energy and some Yellow Stick in one of the cupholders when I drive. One little spritz makes me feel human again and refreshes my body and as much of my spirit as can be reached by atomized spray.

What, you don’t know what Yellow Stick is?

It’s only about the greatest thing a dollar and four cents can buy!

I first started using Yellow Stick, which is a solid tube of 100% pure cocoa butter, when I was a volunteer at the cold weather shelter and I needed something I could stick in my pocket without worrying about spillage or leakage. I needed to be able to use it on my hands, lips and any place that got dry, without it irritating my skin or smelling too strongly of anything I didn’t want on my face. Plus, it’s easy to disinfect with a Lysol wipe, which is always a plus in my borderline germaphobe book. I use it for everything now, especially my cuticles and lips, and it makes a great stocking stuffer…you know, in case the jumper cables don’t fit.

June 8, 2011

Summer Legs Part 2: Makeup (or not) for shiny, happy legs

Filed under: Advanced Fashion,Makeup,Plumcake's Secrets of Fabulousness,Summer — Miss Plumcake @ 10:43 am

The first time I visited New York I spent a fascinated hour watching a Rockette carefully apply pancake makeup to her bruised legs before encasing them in two pairs of hi-test ultra-shiny dance hose and donning the rest of her costume. Fortunately, body makeup has come a long way and even though we mere mortals don’t have to have Rockette-approved legs, we can help nature along courtesy of various potions and tricks to even skin tone and make legs look longer and healthier. Here are a few to consider:

MAC Face and Body:

I love MAC Face and Body and wouldn’t be caught dead without my big bottle of White, which I use as a foundation in winter. Basically this is an extremely light, buildable, water-resistant foundation makeup artists use all over the face and body, thus the clever name. You get coverage by building up layers, so it’s much sheerer and more natural looking than face foundation applied to the legs. I’d use this if you’re gunshy about applying makeup to your body but want to even out the tone a little. Just goop some in your hands and rub into your legs, like lotion. Let it set a few minutes and go over it with a tissue to buff it a little. Then if you want more coverage, do it again.

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs:

This is great stuff IF you can master the application. Theoretically you can just spray it onto your legs and buff it in. Uh huh, yeah. Good luck with that. It goes on like theatrical makeup so if that’s the look you want, great. If not, you’d be better served in putting a dime-sized blob of lotion in your hands and spraying the product onto the lotion, then rubbing it all over your legs. The lotion thins out the makeup and gives it more slip, plus time to buff it in. The downside is you have to wait for it to absorb, or else you’ll leave marks everywhere, so don’t do it if you’re in a rush. I’ve had luck covering up bruises and such by applying the spray to a cosmetic sponge and then buffing it in. When you’re done, scrub your hands with dish soap. Do NOT touch your eyes if you wear contacts. If a bit of the product gets on your lens, you might as well throw them away.

The Old Stripper Trick:

I don’t know why it’s called “The Old Stripper Trick” since it’s basically just highlighting your legs the way you’d highlight your face. Once your legs are tanned and moisturized and you’ve done whatever else you plan on doing to them for the evening and they’re nice and dry, take a bit of highlighting powder –NOT BRONZER– and starting just below your knee brush it straight down your shin bone. Easy does it on this one: you want a highlight, not a racing stripe.

I don’t use highlighting powder for my face –I don’t like shimmer– and I didn’t want to buy a fancy one just for this so I popped into drug store closest to Stately Chateau Gateau and picked up N.Y.C. Sparkle Eye Dust in Champagne and it worked like a charm. It’s a loose powder and comes with its own (admittedly pretty junky) applicator brush. I applied it with the (still junky) brush and then blended it out slightly with my fingers. I didn’t want to use one of my brushes because even though this is a shimmer and NOT a glitter, sparkly things have half-lives of plutonium and I had no desire to get any on my brushes and subsequently, my face.

Sweet Almond Oil:

Slightly glossy legs look fantastic but can be a pain in the neck to achieve for daily wear. There are all sorts of short-term tricks: petroleum jelly, baby oil, glycerin and water, even cooking spray, plus a hundred and one different shimmer lotions, but my favorite is just good old-fashioned Sweet Almond Oil. I discovered this completely by accident one morning. See, the night before, SoccerBoy had invited me over to watch Casablanca. People talk about seeing Casablanca on the big screen as if it’s the way it must be seen. False. The way to watch Casablanca is while getting a sweet almond oil massage from an eager to please soccer player FROM Casablanca who ranks your pasty and corpulent body just above Ryan Giggs’ left foot and just below Zinedine Zidane’s nutmeg skills on his personal list of Greatest Things Ever.

In the morning I still had no idea whether Ingrid Bergman got on that plane, but I did notice sweet almond oil, liberally and enthusiastically applied (seriously, rub it in) makes my legs look glossy and healthy without looking greasy. Here’s lookin’ at you, SoccerBoy (though that doesn’t mean you’re still invited to walk into my gin joint, if you know what I mean.)

A Note:

Without oversharing any more than I already have, if you’ve got a Special Friend who is especially enthusiastic about your legs, you might want to give a bit of thought to whether the products you use are visitor-friendly. Is it going to smudge, feel weird or taste weird? Skip it. Opt instead for pure cocoa butter or my beloved almond oil and invite them to stay a while.

June 6, 2011

Summer Legs Part 1: Sunless Tanning for Idiots Like Me

Filed under: Advanced Fashion,Makeup,Plumcake's Secrets of Fabulousness,Summer — Miss Plumcake @ 2:48 pm

Greetings gang, I’m back in Texas! In a few weeks I’ll be leaving the spend most of the rest of summer in an idyllic little beach house in Mexico, which brings me to the subject at hand. Or rather leg.

Yesterday when I surveyed my wondrous gams in preparation for wearing some very short shorts indeed –I haven’t worn shorts since Clinton was in office– the outlook was Not Good. I needed to summerize my pins with a quickness, so I thought I’d offer you some tips and tricks on making your legs look long and shapely for summer.

Today it’s self-tanning.

I’m not gonna lie, my legs are really white. That doesn’t bother me, I don’t mind being more Snow White than Malibu Barbie (fun question: would you rather live with 7 really short dudes or have a closet case for a boyfriend?) but they look like those see-through lizards that hang around my door at night. You can see all the internal workings; hair follicles, the anterior and posterior tibial arteries, PLUS whatever bumps and bruises and random injuries I have done unto myself at any given moment. It’s less than ideal.

I don’t subscribe to the Everyone Must Be Bronzed At All Times theory of summer leggery, but since my wardrobe in Mexico is going to be all about my legs, especially since the other occupant of the bungalow thinks my gams are the greatest things since sliced vodka and I have every intention on keeping the illusion alive as long as I can.

If I’m going to be showing off vast tracts of leg, I want them to look their best and that means a bit of color for that healthy glow and evenness.

I’m not about to sit out in the sun to get a real tan, but what are the alternatives? I’ve had epic fails with every sunless tanner or spray I’ve tried and it stinks so bad I can barely stand it.

Until now.

Enter the L’Oreal Sublime Bronze ProPerfect Salon Airbrush Self-Tanning Mist in Medium Natural. Friends, Romans, fellow residents of Honky O’Sunburn’s Home for the Chronically White, this is good stuff. I mean REALLY good. Even I didn’t mess it up, which is saying something, plus it’s one of those gradual tanners where you add color over several days so there’s no way you’re going to go to bed alabaster and wake up Oompa Loompa.

Preparation is the most important part for sunless tanning.

You want to exfoliate as if your life depended on it.

I got a handy dandy loofah pad and scrubbed myself, then I shaved my legs with a new razor –if you’ve got extremely sensitive skin, I’d shave a day before– had another spin with the loofah, and then rubbed my legs down with a towel pretty vigorously. The goal was to make sure all the dead skin got gonesville. Then I hung out naked under a ceiling fan for a while until I was completely dry. No moisturizing yet.

Once dry, I rubbed a thick body butter all over my feet and put on a pair of very short socks –this ended up creating a bit of a tan line, but rather than orange feet– and with the remaining lotion on my hands, rubbed my knees and just below my knees. Your knees take color more easily than the rest of your legs, and rubbing a bit of lotion on them slows absorption, which makes for a more even-looking tan.

Then I sprayed.

This can sprays from all angles, so I could hold it upside down and get an even, steady mist. I started with my thigh and worked my way down, skipping my knees –I let the overspray get it– trying to make sure I didn’t go over any one area much more than others. I’m sure I did and the tan developed fine anyway, but it’s worth making the effort.

There’s no rubbing or massaging or anything like that so I moved on to the next leg, did the same thing and then stood under a fan for a few seconds until I felt good and dry. About 30 minutes later I dusted on some baby powder –sweat is the enemy and I wanted to be safe– all over my legs, especially behind my knees and between my thighs, took off my socks and went to bed.

The first thing I noticed was it didn’t smell. I am very sensitive to the sunless tanning smell and although there is still just barely a tiny hint, it’s completely tolerable, even for a big nelly like me. I knew it didn’t smell when I applied it, but the proof is in the newly-bronzed pudding because that’s when the DHA develops and the stench comes out. Since this is a gradual tanner –meaning you put it on several days in a row– it’s got less DHA, which means less stink. Plus there aren’t any gross heavy fragrances to make things worse.

Second thing I noticed was that my legs were indeed darker. Not a ton darker, but I’d say what I’d expect from a full afternoon in the sun. There are no streaks and absolutely no orange (phew!) and although there is a bit of a tanline from my socks, it’s natural looking. I did another application this morning since I knew I was going to be in the house for a few hours and could do the same naked lounging with baby powder thing, and this time I just moisturized my feet and then sprayed.

I’ll keep you updated on how the tan progresses, but so far so good, so get spraying!

January 26, 2011

Thousand Dollar Shoes on a Hundred Dollar Budget

I get a lot of people who ask me how I manage to have the things I do –particularly my shoes– with the job I have.  Now ignoring for a moment that it’s kind of a rude question,  I do have a bit of wisdom to share as to how I managed to amass a shoe collection worth more than what I earn in a year without hooking, selling my kidneys or getting into credit card debt. While finding thousand dollar shoes for a hundred dollars is a bit on the ambitious side of things, if you follow my lead (and learn from my mistakes) you will be well on your way to your own enviable shoe salon.

Here goes:

Know what’s out there.

There is life outside Louboutin. In fact, I kind of feel that loubies are just a wee bit déclassé at the moment.

For every brand that gets namechecked and overexposed there are dozens of smaller houses making shoes just as interesting and luxurious, who have the talent and the quality, but not the advertising budget.  This is where you can find your best deals off-season.  You can mark down last season’s Dolce 20% and people will snatch them up as a bargain, but in order to move product of a lesser-known but every bit as talented shoe designer like Nicole Brundage, the retailer will cut deeper and faster just to get them out of the store.
Often you can bring home a $600 shoe –and worth every penny– for $150, maybe less.

Know what you like.
As you expose yourself to more designers (uh, as it were) you’ll also get a better feel for who and what you like.

Designers rarely change horses in the middle of a stream, so if you see a current shoe you love but can’t afford, look at the past season or two. Same thing goes for trends.  Odds are you’ll find similar themes or shapes in the sale section. This is particularly true if the house has any sort of signature look, like Valentino’s bows.

Speaking of Valentino, when you have a house that traditionally skews a bit older in clientele, the odds of finding an iconic shoe at a great price increases.  Valentino, even with the current chuckleheads trying to singlehandedly ruin Maestro Garavani’s house with their bid for the Chloe set (ptui ptui), will always always always release some iteration of  bow-embellished d’orsay.

Want some but don’t have one particular design etched on your heart? Give it time and keep your eyes on the sales racks. The right one will come down the pike sooner rather than later.

Patience Grasshopper.

Unless it is The One True Shoe (in which case you must buy it immediately regardless of price, lest you wake up in tears of regret every night for the rest of your sad, anticlimactic life) I don’t mind taking my chances and shopping the luxury clearance sales. Neither should you.

The Green Dior Anniversary is my One True Shoe and it got away. It haunts me in my dreams.

I’ve had particularly good luck at Neiman Marcus Last Call for a bricks and mortar experience and for online. YOOX lets you create a Dream Box. This is particularly handy because even if something is megabucks now, in six, nine, twelve months it might be a fraction of that. Plus every once in a while they’ll send an email with a coupon code for a percentage off everything currently in your Dream Box (no, you can’t go add things). If you still love it, buy it and rejoice. If you don’t still love it? You’ve saved a ton of cash avoiding a passing fancy you would’ve worn once.

Know what you won’t wear.
Every time I buy a pair of slingbacks I SWEAR I will never do it again.
In fact, I know as a gospel truth that somewhere floating around stately Chateau Gateau are at least two pairs of painfully fabulous slingbacks that have either been worn for less than an hour (I’m looking at you, magenta silk satin Brian Atwoods worn for half of midnight mass 2009) or not at all (iridescent mercury pebbled leather Guillaume Hinfrays) and even a pair of black croc house-brand slingbacks I bought at Saks several years ago rarely get worn now, and why? Because the damn sling always slips.

I’ve taken them to my shoe whisperer, I’ve done all the pads, everything.  The rise of my heel is simply too high for 99 out of 100 slingbacks.

A quick visit to Bluefly tells me the average Brian Atwood and Guillaume Hinfray both go for about $750 a pop and I seem to recall buying the black heels at Saks for retail, which I’m guessing was around $300.  So conservatively speaking, I have $1,850 worth of shoes that are just gathering dust, and those are just the ones I can remember right now. Granted I think I probably paid about $300 each for the Atwoods and Hinfrays, but that’s still close to a thousand bucks I could’ve saved if I’d remembered that I don’t wear slingbacks.

Never forget a name
We all have That Perfect Shoe. The one that fits like it was molded to your feet, makes your legs look like eight miles of heaven and miraculously works with everything in your closet? Find out the model name and set an eBay saved search. Don’t have the original box? Do some creative searching with Google Image or on department store sites you know carry that brand. Already found a shoe you want online but aren’t sure you’re getting the best price? Put the model name into any search engine with a shopping features and compare different sites on one screen. These are the Manolo Blahnik Caldos. If I find a Caldo in a size 41 I buy it. That’s it. Don’t care about the fabric, print, whatever. They fit my feet like a dream, I can walk a million miles in them and they can go from day to evening to formal evening like a song.

September 2, 2010

A Lesson in Trends: Over-sized Sunglasses

I was a little surprised to find such shock and awe over the idea that over-sized sunglasses are in bad taste the other day and I thought it might be a good opportunity to talk about the lifespan of a trend.

If you go for a trend you mark yourself as trendy. That’s fine, but trendy has a shelf life and you’d be wise to know when to jump off that band wagon before it drives itself into gas station and dollar store wasteland.

Let’s talk about over-sized sunglasses. The trend? She is over.

I have three problems with oversized sunglasses.  Four if you include they look dumb.

First and foremost they are played. out.

Way played out.

Way WAY played out, and have been for a good couple of years now.  They were fresh-looking in 2004 and stayed more or less on the right side of gauche (see what I did there?) until late 2007. It had a standard three year trend run. Fine and respectable. And I’m sure they’ll come back again in say, 2025 so if you bought an expensive pair, keep ’em somewhere.


It is now 2010.

The industry-standard two year trickle down grace period is well over. It’s time to put ’em away.

Generally speaking, if you can buy a trend at the dollar store or a gas station, then chances are that particular trend has officially become saturated and is now followed only by People Who Don’t Know.

You are not People Who Don’t Know.

The other thing about big sunglasses is this:

They’re not glamorous.

They’re not going to make you glamorous or mysterious or interesting if you’re not glamorous or mysterious or interesting already, and if you ARE glamorous or mysterious or interesting already, you probably already know better than to make that sort of rookie mistake.  (For further reference please see fig. 142a in your texts, tit., Mathematical Odds of Women in Shirts Spelling “Classy” in Rhinestones Actually Being Classy.)

Also: You’re Not Famous (probably)

Most of us aren’t famous.  I’m the level of famous where I get recognized for who I actually am maaaaybe  once a month, and then get the “Hey! You’re! Uh! Somebody!” about every other week (we will not speak of the dark days as a 20 year-old big girl in our Nation’s Capital where I was constantly mistaken for Monica Lewinsky) and yet somehow I manage to avoid the papparazzi glare on a regular basis.

I’m not Jackie Onassis and this isn’t 1974.  I can get away with regular sized sunglasses. I’m pretty sure you can, to0.

The thing about a trend is you’ve got to know when to let go.  I’m not talking about the hyper-militant Fashionistas who wouldn’t be caught DEAD wearing last year’s Balmain military jackets. That’s dumb, but a good rule is if you’re playing the same card now that you were three years ago without a significant tweak in a modern direction then maybe you want to go ahead and give yourself a little revamp.

Hope this helps! Ask questions in the comments field

June 30, 2010

Portrait of a (fat) Lady

Filed under: Art,Plumcake's Secrets of Fabulousness — Miss Plumcake @ 3:51 pm

I have crashed a party exactly once in my life.

It was New Year’s Eve and rumor had it THE most fabulous miniature gay man on the face of the planet –I mean he out-Capotes Truman Capote– was having a little shindig and I’d heard so much about his legendary house I simply HAD to go or I would just DIE.

So I charmed, finagled, and finally begged my way into being someone’s plus one. The big night came, my ticket had to bail. Well. By that time I was already in sequined cocktail gown and white Dior tailcoat and by GOD I was going to this party, so I waltzed in with my lynx coat and hastily gift-wrapped box of Walker’s shortbread and I crashed that party like a pro.

I cannot even begin to describe to you this house, other than I accidentally knocked my handbag against one of the many Picasso harlequins on the walls that were tessellated floor-to-cathedral ceiling with art. Because why have ONE Modigliani when you can have three, plus some Dali etchings to fill in the spaces and a few Cecil Beaton photographs OF YOURSELF just for good measure.

Above the story-tall fireplace in the great room was a huge painting of our host as a young man, painted by his brother who apparently was something of a Big Deal back in the 30’s. My friend –who had also finagled his way into a plus one– commented:

“It takes a certain type of person to have their own portrait hanging in their living room.”

to which I replied, slightly hurt but for no good reason “Hey! I have my portrait hanging in my living room!”

“…Of course you do.”

And this is why I’m of two minds when it comes to the art of Les Toil, the artist behind the Toil Girls, a series of mostly individually-commissioned drawings of plus-size women in the pin-up style.

Francesca was a fan. I am definitely not.

On one hand, I totally get it.

I understand why women –maybe women who don’t necessarily get a lot of positive feedback about their desirability– would want to be transformed into a cheesecake cartoon.  Lord knows I’m all about the vanity and as far as vanities go, it’s a relatively cheap and harmless one. On par with those tack-o but inoffensive Glamour Shots you get in the mall.

On the other hand…sheesh. Low. Brow.  Now I understand that for some unknown reason you all aren’t required to share all my tastes YET (say what you will about Fascism, at least they had a unified aesthetic) but…sheesh.

BUT, all indications to the contrary, I’m not here to hate on Les Toil.

He seems like a decent enough fella. He certainly loves the big girls and, perhaps more importantly, is willing to monetize that love.  More power to him. It takes all kinds.

And who knows, maybe he’ll be the next Art Frahm and then someday you can entertain your grandkids with the photo the same way Frahm’s models (if indeed he used models) probably tell their grandkids about how they had to pose drop-knickered with a bag of celery for a five cents an hour.


This whole thing just smacks of yet another case where instead of getting what they really want –say an oil portrait of your reclining nude self– big girls settle for what’s available and acceptable.




Houses settle, bets settle,  benches settle.

You? Don’t have to settle. Not about most things, and certainly not about this.

If your soul yearns to be a Toil Girl and only a Toil will do, by all means, get one. Get a dozen and make a freakin’ calendar and cherish the crap out of that hot kitschy mess.  BUT if what you want is a mixed media painting of yourself in the nude (and I firmly believe all women should sit for a nude painting or drawing at least once in her life) then kick the kitsch to the curb and get what you want.

“But what about the money?”

Mister Toil charges between $400 and $500  and to me that’s perfectly fair.  I know some women have this idea that if you sit for an artist you are being his muse and not only will he probably fall madly in love with your beauty, he will paint you for free.

These women are high.

BUT,  getting a fine art portrait (I view Mr Toil’s work as illustration, and there’s certainly no shame in the illustration game, but fine art it ain’t) doesn’t have to be that much more expensive. It just takes a little legwork.

If you want to drop a grand or more for a traditional oil portrait but don’t know where to start, you might try calling your city capitol building. Ask a docent who painted the portrait of the sitting governor. If he or she isn’t taking commissions, you might ask who they would recommend.

If you prefer a hipper more impressionist –though potentially less polished– portrait,  go to the coffee shops, teensy galleries, bars, wherever they display local artists. If there’s an artist you just loooove on Etsy, ask them if they’ll take a commission. Heck, even Craigslist works if you live in a relatively artsy town.

Meet with your potential artist, get a feel for the artist’s work and personality. I’ve found many if not most artists genuinely prefer to work with women with a more traditionally voluptuous build. If it clicks it clicks. If not, move on. It will help if you’ve got an idea of what you want and what you don’t want.

Just don’t settle.

In eighty years you (or your children or your great grandchildren) will love to see how gorgeous and vibrant you were in all your beautiful curving glory. Make it something you want them to see, especially above the fireplace.

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!

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