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The Big Question: Luxury Tithe Edition

Ah luxury. It’s interesting how the definition changes.

Once upon a time, luxury for me meant a new Hermès or a call to my gal at Barneys in New York to get my hands on the latest and most exclusive Le Labo or Serge Lutens export.

Now luxury is toilet paper with anything resembling structural integrity.

Then vs. Now


Yet even in those heady days, I was still just a Career Girl in the newspaper industry.

What the dead tree biz lacked in job security it made up for in low wages, and my attempt to indulge in champagne tastes on a cava budget was not exactly effortless. Each glittering bottle of rarefied perfume, each instantly recognizable square orange box, represented weeks or months of sacrifices –most small, some large– in other parts of my life.

I call it my Luxury Tithe, a phrase I first heard from my friend Amy, author of the brilliant and sadly dormant Style Spy, as she diligently squirreled away a portion of her pay each week to save for a pair of Miu Miu sandals or a trip to her beloved Paris.

The eminently tithe-worthy Alexander McQueen Seasonal Satchel, click picture for link

I’m happier in Scotland than on the Seine and Miu Miu sandals rarely fit my feet (not that it matters since I refuse to support Miuccia Prada anyway after her fatty-firing opera stunt) but aside from the ideas of paying cash and not living beyond your means as just good sense, I had two reasons to start my own luxury tithe.

First, I knew my dream job –the real one, not the designated thigh oiler for Real Madrid (although if anyone’s hiring…)– has even less money in it than the newspaper industry, and believe me, very few things have less money in it than the newspaper industry.

I knew someday the reasonably well-paid party would end, and when it did I wanted to be able to walk away with an accessories wardrobe to last a lifetime and not a penny of credit card debt, which is exactly what I did.

Second, I wanted to learn the joys of living a discriminating life.

It’s painfully simple, but if something’s not extremely good, I don’t want it. I’d rather go without than have my fill of mediocrity or worse. It’s probably why I’ve lost so much weight in Mexico (well, you know, that and the cholera): Mangoes, fish and veggies are good here; pastry, meat and sweets are not, at least not to a palate that prefers butter to lard and thick ribeyes to thin strips of carne asada.

Television isn’t very good in America (it’s worse in Mexico) so I happily gave it a miss and the money I saved by not paying to have Real Housewives of a Culturally Declining Nation piped into Château Gâteau bought me a Paris-only bell jar of the shiveringly dry yet animalic Bois et Musc  (which smells exactly like my lynx coat after a post-prandial walk in the woods) and fuchsia Dolce and Gabbana heels in suede so buttery I want to spread it on toast.

Let’s turn this into a Big Question.

Right now my Luxury Tithe –pathetic as it may be– is dedicated to funding an exploratory trip to Buenos Aires to see whether the so-called Paris of Latin America is destined to be the next stop on the Miss Plumcake Expatriate World Tour.

Today Miss Plumcake wants to know whether you have a Luxury Tithe. If so, what’s the desired result? If not, what’s your preferred method of acquiring what you want?

Your Weekly Humpletter: Neither Weekly Nor Humply, Discuss

Over at Ashley Stewart they’ve got some interesting takes on linen, including this wide legged pant (note: it’s a ramie/rayon blend, not actually linen) which, while admittedly not effortless to pull off, could be a fantastic option for the statuesque big girl when paired with a slim bateau-neck knit top and either a foulard (if you’re a scarf-type person) or just the right statementy necklace.

Also piquing my interest is this fantastic striped linen-blend dress. Classic, not boring and sharp sharp sharp. Wearable now and all through the summer, layer it over a black 3/4 sleeve knit shirt and it’ll take you straight through fall.

The Avenue is giving you $10 off for every $40 you spend using the code AV111101. The Mini-Ottoman Seamed Dress is currently my front runner for Easter Sunday but I am really fixated on this Border Print Sheath Dress.

I know it would be great on apples, but I’m going to give it a go on my pear shaped frame, because if it’s good I think it will be very good.

For our fashion-forward sweet young things Dorothy Perkins offers 25% off your entire purchase with code DPVIPD. Sure Dorothy Perkins is across the pond to most of us, but they ship to the States for just about ten bucks. This charming open-backed ivory and black number might be a bit precious for those of us whose prom and pledge days are long gone, but women of any age can carry off the Red Brushstroke Belted Dress, highly reminiscent of both Prada and YSL in recent seasons.

Remember to check the size chart to make sure you’re getting the perfect fit.

Finally, from the “They Only LOOK Murderously Painful” files 6pm.com provides plenty of incredible discounts on high end shoes. If you’re making your first girlish (or boyish) foray into the world of high heels, let me suggest Pour la Victoire and Stuart Weitzman.

PlV makes some of the most comfortable shoes I own, including the Atman mary jane in gray patent leather, an exceedingly hot tribute (ahem) to Yves Saint Laurent (seriously, they have the best padded footbeds in the biz) and the Femina from Stuart Weitzman. I don’t know how Stewie makes a 5″ heel feel like walking on air, but he does. It’s magic.

Thoughts on Capital F Fashion

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the exclusivity of fashion and I’ve decided I just don’t buy it.

That being said, we ought to differentiate between Fashion and the Fashion Industry.

The mainstream fashion industry and media has its head so far up its own emaciated backside that it can use its own lungs as convenient and ergonomically sound in-flight neck pillows.  That’s not going to change any time soon, so take whatever good you can find from it as a pleasant surprise and leave the rest. My current scientifically bangin’ measurements are 53-361/2-54 and I cannot buy ready-to-wear from any major designer.  That is screwed up.  I have –albeit on a larger scale– pretty the exact same proportions as Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and the Venus De frickin’  Milo.  If you can’t design clothes that look great on my figure *coughMiucciaPradacough* the problem? Is not with me.

But Fashion? Fashion is by no means the exclusive provenance of 15 year-old Eastern Bloc automatons with bones but no faces. Sure that may be what we see on the runways right now –although admittedly with the revival of the early 90’s looks, we’re getting a bit more diversity of look on the catwalk– but after poring through thousands of editorial fashion images this weekend, particularly from the How to be a F**king Lady tumblr stream which is beyond fabulous I’ve decided one thing:

When you create something unusual, maybe even shocking, put it on your body and  sell it so hard that it becomes fabulous by sheer force of will, THAT is Capital F Fashion. It doesn’t belong to the thin or tall or blonde or rich or whatever actress has a new movie coming out. It belongs to anyone with courage and courage doesn’t give a damn about measurements.

Which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with wanting to be pretty, but good Fashion –like all good art– is challenging and challenging ain’t always pretty.

So take this as a call to arms.

If we want to do Fashion, we can do Fashion. In fact, as big girls, we might actually even have a natural advantage because we command more attention with our physical presence. After all, there’s a reason Cadillacs are in parades but those little SmartCars aren’t. BE the Cadillac, girls and go commit some Fashion.

Your Weekly (uh sorta) Humpletter: Pre Fall

Hey everyone, did you know it was Pre-Fall? I know, it’s July, but it’s almost August and August is Pre-Fall, which –in case you needed it– is just further proof that there are a looooot of drugs in fashion. Anyway, on to the sales!

Over at Ashley Stewart we have lots of great deals, including an additional 50% off all sale items at checkout. I like this abstract check skirt, which reminds me of Douetzen Kroes’ dress at Prada (who can still suck it, btw) but easier to deploy with a trim little knit top and will take you right into autumn with a pair of textured tights with a buttoned-up angora or cashmere cardi.

At Lane Bryant the Original Right Fit pants are all on sale for $24.99, which is about 50% off using code 024990189 at checkout, so stock up on your trousers and jeans!

Remember how I waxed poetical about those Aveeno products I use to keep my flawless alabaster skin all flawless and, uh, alabaster? They’re on sale at Drugstore.com for 25% off. So what’s the big deal? You can get that stuff on sale at your local drugstore right? Right, BUT if you’re a new customer to Drugstore.com and you spend $25, you get free shipping AND a free $50 gift certificate to Restaurant.com! Now THAT’S a deal!

Speaking of skincare, I think I’ve mentioned before how Caudalie is hands down the best stuff I’ve ever used on my skin, right? Well it’s available on Beauty.com for a better price than I’ve seen it anyway, plus there are two great bargains to be had. You can either take $10 off $60 at Beauty.com!or you can get a free 16-ounce Philosophy Pure Grace foaming bath and shower cream ($22 value!) with your Beauty.com purchase of $50 or more.

Over at Bluefly there are some pretty fab bags on sale. I am not a bag lady because I don’t carry much, but in my secret imaginary life where I go on safari and live a life of glamorously rough international travel to exotic places that aren’t even IN, I totally carry this bag from Zara Terez which is on major sale
Zara Terez chocolate pebble leather ‘Sunset Park’ satchel
and made in the good-ole US of A (also? the lining is a vibrant purple!)

It’s also available in black and clementine, which from the pictures looks like the same potiron orange as my Birkin.

Happy shopping campers!

Lazy Poll: Sadly Sans Hotness Edition

Happy Monday my little lamb shanks, how’s every little thing?

No Monday hotness this week I’m afraid.  I think we’re all still twitterpated from the All Blacks last week.

My big news is my precious beyond words brother survived yet another ghastly surgery to remove things in his body that really shouldn’t be there and I’ve spent the weekend researching teratomae –which can have EYES and TEETH and HAIR– to find out how I might appropriately and most effectively torment him about it when he’s all healed, because that’s what big sisters are for.

In other news, I joined a fly fishing club.

“But Plumcake” you say “you don’t know how to fish for flies!”

I know! But it sounds fun! I like water, and trout, and doing fiddly things that are also kind of stabby, and I might be good at it so who knows.  Plus I finally need an excuse to weave a fishing creel AND buy those Prada hip waders I’ve been loving since 2009.

Prada Fall 2009 RTW

(just kidding, although I did love that collection, Prada can still suck it, and those waders wouldn’t fit past my ankles)

So what about you? Anything exciting going on this week?

In Which Miuccia Prada Breaks My Heart

Oh Miuccia. Oh no. Please no. I expect this from Karl, but from you? I just…I expected better.

This really hurts.

I know you tend to use REALLY thin, REALLY young girls for your shows, but it never really bothered me. You’ve always been more about the cerebral side of fashion which apparently has no room for breasts and hips. Fine, whatever. It didn’t bother me because most of the stuff that actually goes into production, is pretty wearable for most body shapes (I said wearable, not available) so –as I’ve said before– whatever.

But now this?

Well, Prada signed on to do the costumes for the New York Metropolitan Opera’s upcoming production of Verdi’s Attila but I guess she’s never been to an opera in her life because she took one look at the extras  and said “I cannot clothe them! I need models!

Really Miu? Really? Did you REALLY think an OPERA COMPANY would not have FAT PEOPLE?

Now to be fair, from the stories I’ve read she was talking about supernumeraries –or “supers” as they’re known in the biz– who are non-speaking, non-singing performers. Their job is to fill stage space and lend visual believability to the opera by filling crowd scenes when the chorus just won’t do. They’re the extras of the opera and ballet world and the Met supers are legendary. Unfortunately, they don’t look like models, so they were fired.

The Met had to recast because “casting is at the discretion of the creative team. Due to a change in concept, the Met is in the process of recasting.”



So now my question is semantics in the sentence “I cannot clothe them” (emphasis mine).

Either Miuccia Prada is incapable of designing for normal body shapes which means she never should’ve graduated design school much less been lauded as a post-couture genius and we’ve all been seeing the Empress’ New Clothes for the past two decades  OR she just refused to clothe people who weren’t her ideal sample size and let people lose their jobs because of it.

Now,  I’ve seen and loved collection after collection of beautifully inspired and executed pieces that manage to be new and classic, post-post-modern and timeless at all once so I can’t help but think Prada possesses the skill and capability to design for any shape she damn well pleases, which just means one thing:

she refused to design clothes for people who weren’t models. She put people WHOSE JOB IS TO LOOK NORMAL out of a job because…wait for it…THEY LOOKED NORMAL.

It pains me to say it –really it truly, truly does– but Miuccia not only will you never get another penny from me but you can sit right next to Karl and Calvin on the naughty step. It hurts me more than it hurts you, but suck it, Miuccia Prada, and your goofy mitre too.

From Francesca’s Inbox: Wednesday Edition

There is so much going on that Francesca must write 3 separate posts. So use the following information, but save some of your monies for tomorrow and the weekend!

Talbots is having events TONIGHT at participating stores from 6-8 pm (check to see  whether your nearest carries Woman and/or Woman Petite sizes). During the event, all purchases are 20% off.  Also, note their new markdowns (click on the side for W and WP sizes). They have many excellent skirts at deep discount.

Ashley Stewart is having a clearance sale on tees and tanks, and has taken 25% off all outerwear.

Catherine’s has taken 50% off coats (TODAY only), and marked down holiday attire 30-40%.

Coldwater Creek has moved 200 new items to Outlet and announced new holiday items. Also, through November 22, use code WKH2327 for $30 off a purchase of $100 or more.  Francesca knows that CC has a reputation for having fuddy-duddy clothing, but the truth is, if you look around with an open mind, you can find good separates that you can mix with your more bold fashion pieces, spice up with accessories, etc. Sizes run to 3x.

Evans has posted their Christmas catalogue.

Nordstrom is having a clearance sale. Click here to go straight to plus-size apparel. Through December 22, free shipping on online orders of $100 or more with code HOLIDAY09.

Saks Fifth Avenue is having a sale you might enjoy (starts online today, in stores tomorrow; plus size apparel here), and also a new Prada collection. Free shipping on orders of $150 or more, through Sunday, with code SHIPFALL9. Francesca’s pick.

Zaftique’s clearance sale is still going on, through November 16!

Happy shopping, and come back tomorrow for more!

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