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

Dial P for Perfection

Mama is in need of a julep and a lie down and possibly someone to feed her grapes and rub her feet (I wonder if the Fug girls will lend me George) for she is exhausted. I have spent the past several days digging around the ugly birk-shod bowels of the internet trying to find a low heeled superfantastic shoe for my beloved internet friends who cannot or will not wear the higher heels.

I give you the understated sexy Sigerson Morrison.


Look at that detail, those luscious curves, that sexy scoop by the vamp. They are the very definition of a gorgeous mid-heel pump and they will never go out of style.

Can’t you just imagine some icy Hitchcock blonde slowly ascending a flight of stairs? The camera is tight, we can’t see what’s in her hand and the top of the stairs are covered in shadows, we just see her feet in those shoes. Is she the icy femme fatale? The innocent career girl with all the bad luck? Those shoes say yes, to both.

Good Fat People, Bad Fat People

This is a fashion blog, not a media analysis blog, but as a near-rabid Harry Potter fan, I’d like to take a moment, in honor of the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, to take a few moments to discuss fatness in the world of Hogwarts.

On her website, J.K.Rowling, author of the series, has posted a rather long rant against the obsession, in most corners of “the media,” with “emaciated” women, and the way that, often, women judge each other based on weight rather than on smarts or other accomplishments. It is rather difficult to find the text – upon entering the site, click on the hairbrush for “Extra Stuff,” then on “Miscellaneous,” and then on “For Girls Only, Probably” – but here is an exerpt:

“Maybe all this seems funny, or trivial, but it’s really not. It’s about what girls want to be, what they are told they should be, and how they feel about who they are. I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin.’ And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons . . . . “

After she posted this, a rather ill-informed reporter wrote an op-ed piece to the effect that Rowling has no right to complain about media images of thinness, since she makes Harry’s loathsome cousin Dudley fat – and therefore Rowling herself is part of the problem.

The good people at Mugglenet.com wrote a refutation, posted here, showing that in the Harry Potter books, being called fat is not a moral judgement. It is simply a statement of fact, and indeed there are several fat heroes and several fat loathsome characters (though the truly evil characters, Voldemort and the Death Eaters, all are apparently of regular size, as are the four main heroes: Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore).

From their list:

Fat and Good:

HagridRubeus Hagrid: Not much needs to be said here. Hagrid is the Keeper of the Keys and Care of Magical Creatures teacher at Hogwarts, and the highest-profile good adult character in Book One. He is, despite a conspicuous lack of common sense, a genuine Gryffindor hero, and fat with it.

Pomona SproutPomona Sprout: The highly-skilled, respected and well-liked Herbology teacher at Hogwarts and Head of Hufflepuff house.

Horace Slughorn: An eminent potioneer who was held in such high regard by Dumbledore that he went to great lengths to persuade him to return to Hogwarts for a second spell as Potions teacher.

Molly WeasleyMolly Weasley: The lynchpin that holds the Weasley family together in times of crisis, the closest thing to a mother that Harry has got, and an active member of the Order of the Phoenix.

Neville LongbottomNeville Longbottom: Whilst unsure of his own magical ability and initially portrayed as a bumbler, Neville’s bravery and loyalty has since come very much to the fore. Far from being an incompetent buffoon, he has in fact twice been involved in deadly battles against Death Eaters, fighting courageously (if not always successfully) in each case.

Madame MaximeOlympe Maxime: The Headmistress of Beauxbatons. If you want to find a character in the books who is graceful, intelligent, handsome, and a fine dancer, whilst also being overweight, look no further.

The Fat Friar: The jovial Hufflepuff ghost.

While I notice that, at first glance, a few of the overweight characters are stereotypically written as “bumbling” or “jovial,” on the whole the overweight good guys blend seamlessly into the good-guy group. No one can deny that Molly Weasley is one of the most stable and trusted characters in Harry’s life, though she would never be chosen to grace the cover of Vogue. Madame Maxime has risen to a top academic position among the wizards of France, Pomona Sprout is one of the best-liked and senior teachers in the school, and though Hagrid is bumbling, he is also courageous and loyal. One more reason to love the Harry Potter franchise. Thank you, JK, for the inspiring stories and for producing heroes and villians of all shapes and sizes!

In the comments: No spoilers please!

10% off at Old Navy Women’s Plus

Old Navy is having a Women’s Plus fall trunk show! Francesca and Plumcake have the savings for you! Click here and save 10% off any purchase of $75 or more, from now through Thursday.

First, a recommendation from Plumcake:

Plumcake has plucked this little morsel from the virtual racks at Old Navy.

Salsa Magnet!

This is the sort of dress one might wear to a casual party where barbeque, salsa and festive blender drinks in colors not found in the natural spectrum will be served. It is inexpensive and as such, no great loss if you accidentally fall into the wading pool which your friend’s younger brother has turned into the world’s largest ocean-themed Jell-O shot, complete with Swedish fish and fruit roll-up kelp for authenticity (not that anyone I know has ever tried that, or has the recipe at home).

Our fabulous girl will merely slip on this dress, a cute shrug or cardie in case she gets chilly, grab her adorable candy-wrapper clutch from fair trade group Taraluna. . .

taraluna.com candy clutch


and dance the night away, enjoying herself and looking fantastic instead of worrying whether chimichurri sauce or blue Curacao comes out of double-starched ivory linen.


Because it doesn’t.

And now, from Francesca:

Alas, Old Navy does not have a Women’s Petite department. But if I, Francesca, were just a few inches taller, I would be sorely tempted to buy this versatile pencil skirt, so perfect for showing off the shapely calves which so many Big Girls can flaunt:
Old Navy Pencil Skirt

For the coming fall days, I’m charmed by this cardigan sweater, useful and pretty for gentle Sunday hikes amid New England foliage:

Comfy and attractive sweater

But meanwhile, since much of summer is still ahead of us, you might want to consider this adorable V-neck top, which helps hide the lumps of those of us (like me) whose tummies pooch out a bit:

A little Baby Spice

Happy, happy shopping!

xoxo, Francesca and Plumcake

Kitten with a Whip!

I want to do so many things with this dress.

I want to take off the belt and wear it with three strands of pearls or a scatter brooch to my grandma’s three-mimosa brunch.

I want to replace the “leather-like” belt with something of higher quality (you know, something that once had a mom and a dream) and wear it with seamed stockings and a 50’s handbag for a night of flirting with Inappropriate Men at a local rockabilly show.

I want to wake up at noon the next morning and sit in the dark eating greasy tacos and watching that scene in Pride and Prejudice where Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy jumps into and subsequently comes out of the water over and over again until we faint from sheer Regency-era hotness with it only to regain conciousness three hours later and start the whole thing over again. (woo, is it warm in here?)

I think you get the picture.

The neckline and pencil skirt make it sexy without turning the world your mammographer or putting you in direct danger of any sort of tabloid-style unpleasantless when getting out of a car. It isn’t an investment piece, but it’s well worth the price tag.

These subtle slingies from Pedro Garcia on the other hand, are an investment and would be perfect for with this and many other dresses (don’t you dare ruin the line of this skirt with ankle wraps or a t-strap). On supersale for under $150– over 60% retail– there’s no reason they shouldn’t sleep in your closet tonight!

Pedro Garcia

Sizes are limited but the 41 (American 10/11) is still available!

For starters

Ladies! Before we talk about clothes, we must talk about bras. When was the last time you bought a new one? When was the last time you were measured properly to make sure you are wearing the correct size? A better bra will make anything you wear look better. You cannot look 100 percent superfantastic if your “girls” are sagging onto your belly, or if you are constantly pulling up stretched-out straps! So, what I want you to do, right now, is schedule a time to measure yourself, or be measured, and buy yourself a new brassiere that holds you up (underwire required!), proud and strong, and has enough lace in it to tickle the fancy of anyone who sees it (even if that person is just you). And please, no pointies!

If it is in your favorite color, all the better. But remember! The best color for making sure your bra is not visible through your clothes is not white. It is whatever color most closely matches your skin tone. For me, that color is a light beige or ivory. For you, it is perhaps coffee or a gorgeous chocolate brown.

Getting the measurements for a correct fit is not difficult – you can do it yourself, or have a friend help you – but unfortunately, the sites that offer instructions often have conflicting information. For example, according to this site (where I found bras in sizes through 56F), I wear size 48B. But according to the fabulous Bigger Bras, I would wear size 46C. Very confusing. But the point is, I now know to look for a 46 or 48 band in B or C, and to try different styles until I find what works best.

Remember, superfantasticness starts from within, with one’s attitude. It emanates outward, to the lingerie. Only then is it expressed through the clothes that everyone else can see and appreciate. So treat your boobs to a beautiful new bra, and let the superfantasticness begin!

We Begin!

Greetings to my Big Sisters! It is with awe, trepidation, and great excitement that I help to inaugurate this blog for the Large (r than life?) Woman.

There is much to discuss.

And, oh boy, will we.

But first, a few introductions. I was born 6 weeks premature in the summer of 1972, and the doctors told my parents that I’d have to stay in the hospital for at least two weeks. One week later, they called and said “she’s eating so much that she can go home now.” I’ve had trouble finding well-fitting clothes ever since.

In my application for this job, I told Manolo that

[m]y vision for Manolo for the Big Girl is a site where women of all shapes can ooh and aah over the beautiful clothes that are made in Women’s and Women’s Petite sizes, share tips and secrets for looking superfantastic, applaud Big Girl celebrities (there are few, but they exist), and poke gentle fun at designers and media outlets who do not appreciate women who have more to love. It would be a place where I (and the occasional guest blogger with more expertise in various areas) would show myself to be confident and fun, while being open to suggestions and tips from the readers as well as honest about the days that feeling confident and fun is difficult . . .

What the site would not be: angry, spiteful, or a place where it is OK to make fun of skinny women. It would not be a Fat Fetish site, as I believe that it is acceptable to admit that big girls, like any women, are sometimes ashamed of our bodies. Nor would it be a site where dieting or exercise are encouraged or discouraged, as I believe that Manolo’s readers are intelligent enough to decide for themselves how to take care of their bodies and how much time or effort to invest in losing weight, and when or if to do so. The site would be about honesty, fun, and great clothes, that’s it.

Like Plumcake, I have come to terms with being fat, and no longer see that word as a value judgement (though I know that many people do, when applying it to me, but that’s their mistake, not mine). However, I personally prefer the adjective “cushiony,” which not only implies what my body looks like but also that it is something to be experienced. Being cushiony feels more like an invitation, no?

So, welcome!

Welcome to Manolo for the Big Girl. Let’s dish!

On behalf of The Manolo, Francesca and I would like to welcome you to this particularly fierce corner of the internet, we are glad you are here to help us make the world a little more super fantastic.

First let’s talk attitude. The great thing about being the biggest gal in the room is that you can be the BIGGEST gal in the room: the fiercest, the most fabulous, the most confident. With a big attitude you can work looks that would overwhelm our slender sisters and make drag queens want to pull your hair from sheer glam envy. That being said, there is a fine line between looking divine and looking LIKE Divine, who while a heck of a broad, probably shouldn’t be your everyday sartorial role model.

Good Attitude, Bad Eyebrows.  Publicity still of Divine from John Water's
( This Is Not What We’re Going For)

About The F Word. I use the word fat. It’s an adjective, not a moral judgement, and it fits me. I am tall. I am brunette. I am terrifying behind a .38 or a low-interest charge card and I am fat. So help the next person who refers to me as “fluffy.” I live in Texas y’all. I have hounds and am NOT afraid to release them.

About the Clothes: Y’all know the quality and style of clothes available in the smaller sizes aren’t often available to us. As such I am a huge (ahem) proponent of the little black dress for day and night. A lower quality material always looks better in black and it allows us to look bon chic, bon genre in any situation. Anything that gets posted on this site will be available in the traditional plus sizes. If it’s junior plus, I’ll note that, too.

About the Shoes: Cheap shoes are for people who Do Not Know. I am all about the clearance sale or buying last season for a huge discount, but no good can come from a cheap shoe. Not only are they a false economy, but as big girls we put more pressure on our feet than our smaller sisters and owe it to our tootsies to take as good care of them as possible. Plus there’s nothing that makes up for the necessary evil of a less-than-couture dress than a pair of kick-you-in-the-face fabulous heels. All the shoes I show on this site will be available in a size 10 larger at the time of posting. If they come in a size 12 like these kooky little morsels perfect for the fall on crazy clearance at Neiman Marcus, I’ll note that too.

Louboutin suede peep toe pump

About The Media: Comedian/Actress Dawn French –gorgeous and ample creature that she is– once said if she ever met an alien she would hope to have Kate Moss with her to show that women come in all different configurations. I’m with her. Yeah, big girls have been put upon by the fashion industry and a thin-obsessed society, we all know that. Thankfully we don’t need to contribute to the ugliness. After all, it takes time away from thinking about important things, like our hair and whether we can live one more minute without those delicious sling backs we saw at Neiman’s last week (answer: no). Remember y’all: big can be beautiful; bitter never is.


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