Bows: Not Just for Little Girls Anymore

                                                                                                                                                A big trend this season is something you probably haven't worn since grade school - bows. I find this hilarious because just the other day I caught the episode of WNTW that featured bow-covered, bedazzled flight attendant, Denise. Of course, no one is advocating for grown women to walk around looking like, well, this . . .

[caption id="attachment_472" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Photo Credit: TLC"][/caption]

 . . . but I do think there are some creative ways that you can incorporate this trend into your business wardrobe without being mistaken for an overgrown extra for "Shake It Up".

Bows: Not Just for Little Girls Anymore
 

Naturalizer pumps $69 - zappos.com

Patent pumps $100 - macys.com

Volatile bow shoes $55 - zappos.com

Rockport slip on shoes $99 - zappos.com

Betsey Johnson high heel pumps $65 - endless.com

Mikko clutch handbag $40 - yesstyle.com

Crocodile bag $19 - tillys.com

Debut black clutch 9.60 - debenhams.com

Sterling silver jewelry $20 - jewelry.hsn.com

Alvina Abramova post earrings $50 - maxandchloe.com

Betsey Johnson long drop earrings $35 - betseyjohnson.com

Bow earrings 2.50 - peacocks.co.uk

Floppy brim hat $32 - bakersshoes.com

Cap hat $40 - onestopplus.com

Plus size belt $23 - onestopplus.com

Black stretch belt $25 - onestopplus.com

Brim hat $38 - nordstrom.com

 
As you can see, accessories are the key. Just be sure not to overdo it. No need to wear bows on your hat, shoes, purse, and earrings all at the same time . . . if you do, I might have to send Clinton and Stacey looking for you!
 
So, what do you think, readers? Will you embrace your inner-girly-girl and don a few bows this season?

Curvy Celeb Interview: Stand-Up Comic Erin Jackson

This has already been such a big week in the Curvy Celeb world, with Emmy wins for Melissa McCarthy and Loretta Devine on Sunday night. The crowning of Melissa McCarthy as the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series was particularly sweet given the negative reaction to her show in Marie Claire magazine. (I refuse to link to an article asking whether "fatties should get a room (even on tv)" - but if you want to know what happened, you can read about it here.)

Keeping up with the curvy celeb trend, I bring to you this EXCLUSIVE interview with stand-up comic Erin Jackson. You might recognize her from the Ellen DeGeneres Show or as a semi-finalist from NBC's Last Comic Standing. Or, you might have seen her as the opening act at the taping of Bill Maher's last HBO comedy special or BET's "Black Girls Rock!" In addition to being absolutely hilarious, she always represents for the "big girls" without being over-the-top and in-your-face about it. It's not a big deal, it just is. As such, I was delighted to have the opportunity to interview her for Curvy CEO. So, without further delay, comin' to the stage . . . ladies and gentlemen, show some love for Erin Jackson!

*wild applause*

Do you feel pressure to counteract stereotypes about black women in the world of entertainment? That’s a really great question. I am super conscious of the stereotypes about Black females in entertainment – comedy especially; I’m confronted with them on a daily basis as I hustle to book gigs. “We don’t need to watch her tape. She’s puffy and brown. We already know what she’s gonna talk about.” But I can’t say that I’ve ever felt pressure or really had to work to steer my act away from perpetuating them on stage. Stand-up comedy – good stand-up comedy, that is – is all about bringing your truth to the stage. And since those stereotypes aren’t a part of who I am I don’t worry about it too much.

Now, off stage is a totally different story. Working in an industry where folks think they can talk to you any type of way because you should be able to “take a joke,” I have come dangerously close to going “angry brown girl” on a whole bunch of folks. But I figure hey, if Michelle Obama hasn’t unleashed all that south side Chicago with all she’s been through, then I can hold it together too.

What are some of your favorite of clothing items to wear on stage? Any stores you particularly favor? I gotta say I’m nobody’s fashionista. I’ve recently experimented, seven plus years in, with wearing dresses or skirts on stage, but that experiment failed. It’s important for me to be completely comfortable when I work. And by that I mean a cute pair of jeans, heels so tall I feel like I’m gonna topple over and a pair of one-size-too-small Spanx. I don’t shop a ton of places. I’m basically a Macy’s girl with a little Laney B’s thrown in. I love the DKNY collection over there. Haha, I can tell you what store I’ll never go in again though. (Hear about Erin's first and last visit to Abercrombie & Fitch.)

As a professional comic, you have to travel a lot. What are your must have travel items? Any tips for frequent travelers? My two travel must-haves are a good book, because I love to read and a digital camera – because you never know when you might have to take a crazy person’s photo and blast them on Facebook. (SIDEBAR: She does this with great frequency. Friend her right away!)

How can fans keep tabs on you? I’m glad you asked. *evil laugh.* Here’s where I spend my time when I should be somewhere else being productive.

If you haven't had the chance to see Erin live, be sure to check her out. You will laugh. I promise.

Monday Morning Memo – You Are Beautiful Right Now

"[B]elieving you're beautiful 'on the inside' and that your true beauty can only be expressed by shedding the 'shell' of fatness is not a belief consistent with true self-love. What your body looks like at this instant is what's important, not an idealized vision of yourself that you feel is hiding under layers of fat."

- Tasha Fierce, Sex and the Fat Girl: Body Love and Fatness As Choice

I highly recommend that everyone take a peek at the fantastic article that provided the source of today's quote. Remember that you are beautiful right now . . . because if you can't love yourself today, you won't be able to love yourself [insert-number-of-pounds] later.

Color is the New Black

I don't need to tell you that it's is HARD to find businesswear that isn't black, navy blue, or gray. But, this season COLOR is the name of the game. So, as you are searching for your basic suiting apparel, be on the lookout for pieces featuring some of the Fall's hottest colors. Check out these options . . .

RUBY RED

 
ruby red
 
 

PURPLE PLUM

plum

Clockwise from top left: Belted Shirt Dress from Avenue, $35; Roll Cuff Shirt with Belt from Ashley Stewart, $35; Charter Club Long-Sleeve Cashmere Cardigan from Macy’s, $199; Shell Teardrop Earrings from Lane Bryant, $15.

EMERALD GREEN & COBALT BLUE

emerald green and cobalt blue
(Sorry about the picture quality on this last one, but I just couldn't get those dresses to "act right." Good for them that they were too fabulous not to include ;-) ) From left to right: Classic Short Sleeve Blouse from Avenue, $35; Natalie Wrap Dress from Avenue, $35; Jacqueline Dress by Igigi (available from onestopplus.com), $122; Eliane Top from igigi.com, $56;  
Even though I'm not much of a "red" person, I really like all of these colors. It seems like plum comes back around every year, but I'm not complaining as it's one of my favorite colors. From what I understand, orange is supposed to be pretty big this year, too, but I'm going to try and ignore that trend and hope it goes away.
 
What about you? What do you think of this season's colors?
 

Back to Basics: Your Guide to Finding Plus-Size Business Suits

One of the most basic challenges for the plus-size professional woman is finding suits. First, the stores that sell them are few and far between. Then, if you are fortunate enough to find them, you must contend with issues of style (which is often lacking), fit (which is often tricky as many of us wear a different size on "top" than on the "bottom"), and even price (which is often high because, hey, it's suiting . . . plus a lot of retailers KNOW they can get away with charging us more because our options are fewer). Nonetheless, there are a few places that prove to be reliable when searching for business attire.

Major Department Stores: Ah, the major department store. I've been enchanted with them since I was a little girl and the biggest treat in the world was to go to Macy's and visit with Santa Claus at Christmastime. Department stores are great because you can not only buy clothing, but also get shoes and a bag to match! The main drawback, however, is that department stores do tend to have smaller collections of plus-size clothes. Typically, they're situated in an out-of-the-way location . . . either the very top floor or in the basement. And don't walk past the "regular" clothes first in order to get there . . . you will turn green with envy when you walk by all the vibrant colors and stylish designs and arrive at the rather bland plus-size offerings. But, I won't hold that against them since we're just talking about basic suiting here. Depending on your workplace, bland might be the most appropriate form of dress. The stores I tend to favor are the aforementioned Macy's, JC Penny and Bloomingdale's. Be on the lookout for brands like Tahari (which often pairs neutral pants or skirts with colorful blazers), Anne Klein and Jones New York/Le Suit (which features suiting separates - so you can get your size 18 blazer and match it with a size 20 skirt).

Mid-Range/Minor Department Stores: I have no idea if this is a real term, but somehow it just didn't feel right to discuss Target and Kohl's alongside Bloomie's. Just the same, these stores tend to have decent pieces, like blouses and skirts, that you can pair with higher end items. Other options include TJ Maxx and Marshall's, where you can find great blazers and other suiting items . . . you have to be willing to dig through the racks to find them, but they are in there!

UPDATE: Two stores I neglected to mention are Burlington Coat Factory and Ross. Both offer DEEP discounts on suits that you'd normally find in a major department store. Just this weekend I visited Burlington and found a $200 suit marked down to be about $40!

Straight-Size Retailers: As we discussed previously, there are some straight-size retailers that do have plus-size offerings. You will find the most options at Fashion Bug, which I think is owned by the same parent company as Lane Bryant. Meanwhile, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor go up to sizes 16 and 18, respectively. You will also find greater options on Chicos.com and OldNavy.com, which carry up to sizes 22 and 30, respectively, on their websites.

Plus-Size Retailers: Interestingly, when shopping for suiting pieces, I actually find that I have the least options when I go to plus-size retailers. Typically, most of their clothes are pretty casual and seem most appropriate for a laidback work environment or weekend activities. That does seem to be changing slightly as demand for plus-size careerwear continues to grow. Generally, your best bet for simple suiting pieces is going to be either Lane Bryant or Dress Barn Woman. Avenue has some nice pieces and last year Igigi began offering more business attire, which I absolutely love. (UPDATE: Just today, Igigi unveiled even more businesswear. Clearly they knew the topic of today's post!) Even the super-trendy Ashley Stewart is getting into the mix this season, with a collection of reasonably priced suiting apparel.

This is just a sampling of the ever-growing list of retailers that are finally heeding the call of the plus-size profssional woman. What other stores do you frequent when seeking out business attire?

Monday Morning Memo – Be Your Biggest Fan

"It doesn't matter who you are or what your size. YOU have to be your biggest fan!" - Tiffany, "Big Sexy"      

This week, TLC will show the last episode of its three-part reality series "Big Sexy". While I was very excited when I first heard about the show, I've ended up having sort of a love-hate relationship with it. Well, love-hate is too strong. Maybe like-dislike. On the one hand, I love the premise of the show - five plus-size women trying to make it in the fashion industry in New York City. On the other hand, the show contradicts itself in many ways. I mean, it's promoted as an uplifting look at the life of bigger beauties; yet, it seems to go out of its way to put the stars in circumstances that denigrate instead of celebrate plus-size women. (One example includes being denied admission to a night club during Fashion Week, only later to be offered admission if they pay $30. They also spend a decent amount of time dodging chubby chasers, speed-daters who admit that they only date fat girls when they're drunk, and partnered men who show up at a "big beautiful women" party openly looking just for sex. Um, yay?)

Despite these uncomfortable situations, I do revel in the fact that "Big Sexy" is pretty much the only program on television right now that shows overweight women looking fierce and who are not obsessed with changing their bodies. They have careers, they date, they're having fun. I think such imagery helps other large women to be our own biggest fans. In contrast, the absence of such images, save for weight loss competitions and diet commercials, reinforces the message that you, Fat Woman, should not be part of our society. (SIDEBAR: A friend of mine with cerebral palsy says the same thing about the lack of imagery of people with disabilities in popular culture. Did you know that negative body image was an issue in the disabilities community? Me neither!)   That's why I continue to promote and support "Big Sexy." Hopefully, this show is just the first step in promoting more integration of plus-size folks into mainstream culture.  And true integration - not the "token" or the punchline. To quote Demetria Lucas, who writes on Essence.com, "No matter their size -- big, small, and in between -- I hope you all know that you are worthy of being loved and celebrated for the skin you're in. I’m glad the networks and the runways are catching on." Make it a great week, ladies!