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

April 12, 2011

What Miss Plumcake Is…

Filed under: Accessories,Flats,Food,Jewelry,Movies,Music,Perfume,Shoes,Summer,What Miss Plumcake is — Miss Plumcake @ 10:33 am

Hello campers, it’s Tuesday which means it’s time to find out

What Miss Plumcake is…


April 5, 2011

What Miss Plumcake Is…

Filed under: Books,Movies,Music,No Buy,Perfume,Shoes — Miss Plumcake @ 2:00 pm

Reading: Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving. If Ichabod Crane is all you know of Washington Irving, you’re missing out. Somewhere between the Arabian Nights and a travelogue, this is a fantastic and entirely-too-neglected classic. Plus you can read a chapter or so a night, so it’s handy to have by the bed.

Watching: Juliet of the Spirits. Fellini at his trippiest, it’s not merely a surreal masterpiece from my very favorite director –some would say the female version of 8 1/2— it was and continues to be a hugely influential movie for designers not just for Gianni di Venanzo’s luscious cinematography but for Piero Gherardi’s over-the-top costume confections. Beautiful, strange and surprisingly empowering. It was Galliano before Galliano was. Brilliant.

Hearing: Etta James At Last. Do you not own this album? How do you not own this album? Plus it’s available as a $5 download from Amazon.

Smelling: Inis Or. This actually smells awful on me, but it’s a decent little inexpensive juice if you like fresh but not too sweet aquatic fragrances.

Loving: Proper Vegetables. The Irish, in my limited experience, are not a vegetable loving people. Except when it comes to peas. Then it’s like that Monty Python sketch when they try to order a strawberry tart without so much rat in it. Somewhere, somehow, someone is going to slip you some peas.

Hating: The Stupid Perfect Shoe. ARGH. Why am I not buying new shoes until I’ve worn all my current shoes just once? These are PERFECT AND THEY’RE ON CLEARANCE. ARRRRRRGGHHmhnfndfddghhh

Wanting: Sonia Rykiel Bag. I’m really not a bag girl but I like this one. I basically resent having to carry a bag at all and for the past week I’ve just been using an antebellum sterling silver calling card case. Sure I’ve got the Birkin, which is the size of my car (WHO? WHO needs that much space?!) This would do me juuuust fine.

Buying: Kiyonna Bellini Ballet Wrap. I’ve been loving variations on these for the past few month, wearing one side pinned up with a brooch as a sort of a wrap. Right now I’m liking a sort of more structured, Antwerp Six, look. Long and lean with attention to unusual proportionals.

February 22, 2011

Ask Auntie Plumcake: How to avoid online knock-offs

Filed under: Shoes — Miss Plumcake @ 4:35 pm

Reader Marjean writes:

Hello Miss Plumcake,
When purchasing the ‘good’ shoes online, any tips for determining if I’m purchasing the real designer shoe or an unfortunate knockoff that fell off the back of a truck in some sleazy alley in Hong Kong?

Dearest Marjean,

Excellent question!

We’ve all seen those ads online for discount Louboutins and Manolos at prices that are just expensive enough to keep you guessing. Well you can stop guessing now, those ads are 99.9999% fake. Sometimes they appear on reputable sites via third-party advertisers (and then I have to wax wroth to Manolo who will wax even wrother at the advertising people for being dummies.)

I’ll answer you question in two parts, one today and one tomorrow.

First let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of why and how premium designers choose to sell their product and how much they control the sale price.

Brand Image Control:
Luxury houses have very specific agreements as to where their merchandise can be sold. They take the exclusivity of their product very seriously, because they know you’re buying not just the product, but the prestige. If Manolo Blahnik won’t let his merchandise be sold at Net-a-Porter, arguably the poshest online-only luxury store, because it’s not prestigious enough, you can bet your suitably luscious bippy he’s not going to give a sweeter deal to

Government Protectionism:

Italy and France in particular are maniacal about maintaining the prestige of their luxury goods, often literally destroying the product rather than cheapen its value by selling it at a discount store. So even if Christian Louboutin wanted to sell his merchandise at 90% off, it’s entirely possible the government simply would not let him. Barrels of wine poured down the drain, tubes upon tubes of the only red lipstick I’ll ever really love melted down (Chanel’s Pulsion before they reformulated it)? Done and done. Is it protectionism? Yes. But there we have it.

Collection vs Diffusion & Licensing Agreements:

Luxury houses often have diffusion lines or licensing agreements in addition to what is generally called collection.

Collection is what we mean when we talk about the premium signature pieces designed for the house by the creative director. This is the most exclusive and expensive line. Luxury shoes are generally treated as “Collection” for houses that do Ready to Wear.

A diffusion line is a generally a less expensive, more youth-oriented line from a design house but still receives a good deal of attention from the creative director/designer (e.g, Marc by Marc Jacobs) These products tend to be less exclusive but may still be shown at fashion week. A site or store not authorized to sell Marc Jacobs Collection may be licensed to sell Marc by Marc.

Licensing agreements come in all shapes and forms. Lower-end products such as perfume, sunglasses and entry-level bags are licensed as part of the house’s empire, but may not be designed in-house. This is the stuff you’re most likely to find at clearance stores or online for ridiculous prices. A site or store not authorized to sell diffusion clothes or collection might still be allowed to sell this stuff. No, Calvin Klein did not design your six pack of socks or hand towels.

Shoes generally count as premium merchandise, so while it’s possible you might find a perfectly authentic bottle of Lanvin Arpège perfume at Krazy Klaus’ Internet Wonderhaus, these pair of black satin geometric bowtie sandals with ankle strap and exaggerated banana heel over which your pal Plummy is willing to cut not just one but all of you?

Not so much.

The same thing goes for bricks and mortar shops. While it is not unheard of to find mid-range designers at places like Marshalls, or the low-end diffusion line goods of premium designers (think a pair of Dior sunglasses) you’re just not going to find an authentic pair of Manolos there. Marshalls might THINK they’re authentic, but 999 times out of a thousand they got tricked somewhere along the way (there are plenty of exposes on this sort of thing happening.)

How Luxury Houses Sell Online:

Let’s say Il Maestro comes out with a collection of shoes. Some of the shoes will remain exclusive to the boutiques and some he will agree to have sold at appropriately prestigious department stores. In the states you’re pretty much looking at Neiman Marcus, Saks, Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman.

(Nordstrom also sells an extremely limited range in the more traditional styles, usually shoes that get anniversaire-ed every year)

Several, though probably not all, of those shoes will be available for purchase online through the department stores’ websites. They will go on sale up to a certain percent, but the agreement the store makes with the designer will almost certainly include a clause limiting the discount, usually somewhere around 50%.

Premium designers may also make the occasional deal with an extremely limited number high-profile online-only stores. I can think of only a handful:
Luisa Via Roma
Net a Porter
Raffaello Network
Zappos Couture

What about megastores like Amazon or Overstock?

You can feel pretty safe with both of those IF the item is fulfilled by Amazon/Overstock itself. If it’s fulfilled by a third party, I wouldn’t touch it. I know for a fact there are plenty of fakes on Amazon (I once ordered a MAC 217 brush for pretty much what I would’ve paid at the MAC pro shop and got a fake) and I don’t know about Overstock, but I wouldn’t take the risk.

When does a premium designer shoe go on sale for more than 50% off?

Generally, this happens when a shoe has been in stock for more than one calendar year and there is extremely limited availability. With bricks and mortar stores they go to their outlets, e.g., Neiman Marcus Last Call (Bergdorf’s stuff goes here too), Saks Off Fifth and Nordstrom Rack. If the shoes do not sell at the outlet prices, they do NOT get sold to Marshalls, etc. but returned to the manufacturer.

Phew! That’s a lot of info! Time to put this pony show to bed.


How to spot a fake website

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.

January 19, 2011

F(l)at Foot Week! Fat and Flat

Filed under: Shoes — Miss Plumcake @ 12:26 pm

Okay gang, I’m interrupting our regularly scheduled Flat Foot Week post –that’ll go up later this afternoon– with a quickie about fat and flat feet, arch support and what we can realistically expect from a contemporary fashion shoe.

In a perfect and reasonable universe, all shoes would come with decent arch support regardless of design or price. Alas, we live in a broken and sinful world and our arches suffer, particularly big girls.

My arches were never nosebleedingly high to begin with and a combination of fatliness and accidentally falling down a flight of stairs are breaking both my feet endowed me with what I gently refer to as a “firm understanding with the ground.” They’re not flat, but they’re not far off. That being said, they don’t bother me.

Any foot pain I have can generally be categorized under: Damn Fault, My Own.

Because frankly, any girl who nearly harelips hell to find these shoes in a size 41:

Gets all the foot pain she has coming to her.

It’s been my experience that most fashion shoes do not come with any sort of useful arch support. Regardless of price point, it’s style over substance (or support) nine times out of ten. So you could Complain On The Internet –always a valid choice– or you could, you know, quit whining and just buy some damn inserts.

As far as I’m concerned most of those foam-type inserts suckdiddlyuck.

The only inserts I’ve ever used and loved are the WalkFit plastic jobbers and I swear by them. Those things rock my face off, although –word to the wise– they can hurt the first few days you use them. They come with three arch inserts so you can adjust it for your footly needs. I’ve got low arches so I generally use the lowest insert.

At about twelve bucks a pair, it’s well worthwhile to have a few sets around. Think of it like getting your pants tailored. Yeah it sucks because you just had to pay God-knows-how-much for the pants and now you need to throw MORE money to make them Just Right, but those are the breaks and it’ll save you the trouble of having to worry about whether this shoe or that has support, because you’ll come with your own.

December 21, 2010

‘Tis the Season for the Fashion Maven

Filed under: Books,Couture,Fashion History,Shoes,Tis the Season — Miss Plumcake @ 12:40 pm

British Vogue – By far the best, sharpest journalism of its kind. It’s a spendy subscription, but worth every penny. Less fawning than American Vogue and less kiddie-porn than Paris Vogue, the UK version of the Conde Nast giant is my favorite fashion publication.

Yves Saint Laurent Tribute Sandals – The word iconic is overused, yet it’s justified with the YSL “Tribute” series. With new iterations released every season, still maintaining that sky-high heel and architectural platform, they’re destined to become the YSL signature wink for those in the know as much as the legendary Le Smoking.

Menswear Gold Watch – We’ve been seeing women wearing men’s over-sized watches for a few seasons now –wear it slightly loose, like a bangle– but mostly with round faces. I’m really feeling the louche good taste/bad taste 70’s feeling of a big chunky square face now. Think borrowing your grandfather’s (or father’s) Rolex, but not getting the links taken out.

Madame Grès: Sphinx of Fashion by Patrica Mears– Fashion isn’t stupid. It’s shallow, but it’s not stupid.  The history of why we wear what we wear is fascinating and real lovers of fashion know their history.  Sure any yahoo can recognize a Chanel jacket or might be able to tell you that Valentino is known for bows and its signature shade of red, but if you’re really interested in fashion, you’d do well to dig deeper. Madame Grès, described as the “couturier that time forgot”  by Linda Grant, is a fascinating study and although few know her name, anyone who has noticed those Grecian goddess dresses that’ve been ubiquitous on the red carpet for half a decade might be interested to know it was the reclusive Grès who brought that look to the forefront of modern fashion in the 1930’s.

Be sure to check back at the main ‘Tis the Season page to look back on profiles you’ve missed and look forward to ones that are soon to come!

December 14, 2010

‘Tis the Season for the Cool Kid

Filed under: Accessories,Music,Plumcake's Closet,Shoes,Tis the Season — Miss Plumcake @ 8:00 am

Mojo Magazine Subscription. Like Rolling Stone, but good.
Deisel Decks Watch
Adidas Originals Superstars
Ray-Ban Clubmasters

Be sure to check back at the main ‘Tis the Season page to look back on profiles you’ve missed and look forward to ones that are soon to come!

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress