Finally, plus size fashion done right

I’m a bit of a clotheshorse. I’m not the most trendy person, and I’m certainly not Instagram-ready every day. But I love shopping and keeping up with the trends. My favorite feature in my new home is a walk in closet that, in conjunctions with my dressers, is big enough to house my entire wardrobe. No more being late to work because I had to go upstairs and dig in the guest closet for the blouse I wanted! I’ve been shopping less this year (#budgetlife), purging my closet, and trying to make sure I can get multiple wears out of whatever I do bring into the house. Fortunately, I have better options today than I did five years ago. Ironically, it’s at the same time that I’m starting to lose weight but, c’est la vie.

One of my favorite brands, Eloquii, has undergone a rebranding over the past year. If you follow any plus sized fashion blogger, they’ve modeled multiple pieces from Eloquii with good reason. They used to focus more on fun casual clothes that were good for everyday and could easily be dressed up or down. They have always had a dedicated formalwear/going out looks section, but in the beginning it was more conservative and in line with their former parent company The Limited. Now, they are moving in an edgier direction, going toe to toe with brands like ASOS Curve and City Chic which caters to a more adventurous and trendy customer who isn’t afraid to turn up the glamour. I’m still a frequent customer, but my style is a little more understated. I go to them primarily for statement tops and going out dresses. Click to enlarge the gallery images below.

See what I mean? There are a LOT of statement pieces there. But that’s okay. The entire plus sized market is underserved but basics are much easier to find than special, stand out ones that don’t look cheap (Forever 21+ and Fashion Nova Curve don’t work for everything). They still have enough basis to keep me coming back.

Loft is completely my style, but it was only just this summer that they started doing plus sizes. I’m happy to report that the wait was somewhat justified by the quality. In a move unique to plus size lines, almost every single straight size piece is available in plus. And the trendiest items, the ones that make the campaigns and the new arrivals page, are available in plus as well. I haven’t done exhaustive research, but every piece so far that has caught my eye in their social media advertising has been available in my size–and FOR THE SAME PRICE! This is a major, major win in the plus size world and one we’ve been asking for forever. Here’s a look at their selection (click to enlarge):

If you compare the homepage for the general website and the plus section, you’ll see that the overall look and feel is the same–they are treating the plus size customer the same as their overall demographic. Shocking, I know, but unfortunately that is rare and to be commended. Loft serves a large age range of customers, from my 25 year old coworker to 45 year old soccer moms to 65 year old grandmothers who are young at heart, and it shows. But the classics are classic for a reason and Loft does them well.


I’m so glad to have better options. Old Navy’s quality and fit are wildly inconsistent. GAP doesn’t do plus sizes but I can fit into their upper range depending on the fabric and fit. Target has cute stuff, but quality and fit are a problem plus the significant upcharge for plus size items ($5-10 over the straight size equivalent, but hidden by the fact that plus sizes are different brands, except for Who What Wear). I simply can’t justify dropping $40 on a paper thin, ill fitting shirt. Fortunately, there is now enough brand diversity for the plus size market has some competition. I’m looking forward to better quality and better fashion for all.

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What is fashion right now?

I love fashion, and since it was just New York Fashion Week earlier this month (aka one of the most anticipated events in the fashion world), I was inspired. I’m no fashion expert–I don’t know how to pronounce half the haute couture brand names, I can’t spot the difference between designer labels and their diffusion lines, and quite frankly runways bore me. But I am a reading expert and I go through 3-6 magazines every month. I can always name the latest fashion trends. Unfortunately, for the past year or so they’ve been less than thrilling.

Let’s start with cropped pants.

I get the appeal, especially in the summertime. Shorts still aren’t considered office appropriate, and cropped pants bridge the gap between a 95 degree high with 80% humidity, and an office air conditioned to 60 degrees. But they’ve gone from a spring/summer item to a year round staple. I’m tired of having my ankles out! And now all the full length pants are super wide leg. Can we bring back normal pants please?

We have also done ruffles  absolutely to death.

Ruffles on necklines. Ruffles on dresses. Ruffles on skirts. Ruffles on sleeves. Ruffles on pants. PANTS! Am I dressing to live my life or to visit Louis XIV’s court? And the ruffles on tops always look pirate-y or add too much fluff to my bust area. Not to mention that ruffles are a nightmare to launder. They get all wrinkled and weirdly shrunken up, so you have to spend precious time ironing them out. It’s annoying.

Next I want to talk about whatever the hell is going on with women’s tops.

bell sleeve

If I see one more damn bell sleeve I’m going to scream! It was cute at first. But the bells keep getting bigger, and now they have ties. How is anyone suppose to eat in these? Or type? And apparently all the extra fabric that’s going to these silly sleeves is being taken out from my shoulders.

cold shoulder

The cold shoulder trend needs to die. Quickly. It was fine in summer 2016 but it just kept going. I’ve seen shoulder cut outs on wool sweaters and velvet dresses. It doesn’t make sense and it’s near impossible to wear for girls whose cups spilleth over. And I know that five years from now we’re going to look back on this trend as utterly ridiculous so let’s just cut the cord now.

Next I have a bone to pick with athleisure. Now listen, I love leggings as much as the next girl. They are an absolute necessity for workouts (seriously, did we really used to go to the gym in sweatpants?), they let you survive the hell that is now security check at the airport, you can wear a dress in the wintertime even if it doesn’t come down to your ankles, and period bloat isn’t as much of a problem when your pants are stretchy and have no zippers. They’re great!

However….you can have too much of a good thing. WHAT ARE THOSE?

I’m fine with sweatsuits. But I’m not fine with actual suits made out of sweatpant material. Nope, not doing this with y’all, count me out. *pulls parachute ripcord* BYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

So those are my five fashion pet peeves. Feel free to chime in with yours in the comments!

The September Issues

It’s finally September, aka new year’s for fashion. I love seeing the latest trends, even though I live in a place where fall lasts for about three weeks in January. I finally know why peep toe booties, wool mini skirts, and sleeveless sweaters are a thing–the only way to signal the change in seasons here is through color and fabric because it never gets cold enough for the chic layering that is the staple of cold weather fashion.  Anyway, on to the magazines! And apologies in advance for the low quality pictures, my Blackberry screen is cracked so I’m using a backup phone with a terrible camera.

Glamour

Number of pages: 216

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review: I used to subscribe to Glamour in college but after I turned 25 I felt like I had aged out of it. They have rebranded once again and it seems like they’re trying to expand their age demographic again. There were a lot of substantive articles in this issue, which I would normally applaud. This time it just annoyed me because for a September issue, it was less fashion focused than I would like. Their “Shop the Trends” feature was pretty basic, with the formula of picking a runway model look and surrounding it with the everyday version of the outfit. I can also tell they haven’t quite figured out how to reformat the magazine to look across digital and print, because many of the spreads looked very amateur-fashion-blogger-Instagram-y. Another feature, “Fashion Month Throwback”, where editors shared their fashion impressions of New York, London, Milan, and Paris, was literally printed diagonally. That’s cool if you’re reading on a tablet that can rotate, but just annoying if you’re reading print. “Outfits for Days” has taken place of their “30 Outfit Ideas“, which seems to have perished sometime in 2013. I liked the old feature because it revolved around 5-7 key pieces, worn by differently sized models, and guaranteed I would find at least one outfit or styling combination to try. This month’s feature revolved around just one week of outfits and 5 of the 7 pictures don’t show the full outfit -_- What’s the point?

However, I have to give Glamour a 1.5 point boost for diversity. I haven’t ever seen this many women of color featured in a magazine not targeted specifically to women of color, outside of a token “diversity issue”. There was a feature on makeup for WOC, black women featured in their career and financial advice sections, a black woman in the hair section, and all of their fashion editorials featured models of color. My favorite was titled “Hometown Hero” which spotlighted Khadijah Red Thunder, an up and coming model with both Black and Native American heritage. I’m 1/4 Muskogee so that was really cool to see, especially since she visually presents as a light skinned black girl (in fact, she looks like a few of my cousins). They even show her in traditional regalia, which was pretty cool.

 

InStyle

Number of pages: 440

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review: InStyle is my favorite fashion mag year round, and their September issue did not disappoint. While every magazine has sponsored content, InStyle is the best at writing features around the products that I still want to read anyway–the sponcon has the same production quality, as it were, with the same font used for the text and the same photographic feel. This was the only magazine I read with a minority on the cover and overall had a good amount of WOC featured throughout. There was an editorial featuring Dominican model Dilone; another featuring Kiersey Clemons (the actress who played the main character’s female BFF in Dope); and Solange was the celeb chosen for “Her Best Ever,” a feature that shows several of the star’s red carpet looks over the years and picks one as their favorite.

Still, if you want to see fashion that is (almost) price accessible but still treated with a haute couture sensibility, this is the mag for you. I mean, technically I can afford a $500 dress, ,a $150 blouse or a $275 pair of pants, I could just do so much more with that money. Like pay my car note and buy two $50 dresses, three $30 blouses, and a $40 pair of pants instead. 🙂 Anyway, what you won’t find is anything from Forever 21 or Old Navy (although the occasional Banana Republic piece may slip in from time to time). And while the menswear trend has been on the rise for the past few years, honest to goodness pantsuits are back. As an attorney, I very much appreciate a more stylish take on what is, for me, a workplace necessity.

And the photography is so lush–InStyle never cheaps out on editorials, they’re always a visual feast. Check out the stunning simplicity of this shot of Mariacarla Boscono, which I had to Google because my cell phone camera wouldn’t do it justice:

Photo Credit: InStyle Magazine, Phil Poynter

As Rachel Zoe would say, I die.

 

People Style

Number of pages: 156

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review: People Style Watch has rebranded to People Style which is what it should have been called in the first place. No points for doing the obvious, but thanks for making the name less clunky! This is the smallest magazine in page count but probably has the most actual content, since September issues are notorious for having at least 20 more pages of ads than any other time of year. The photo shoots and sartorial style don’t matter because if you’re reading this magazine, it’s for the pages and pages of outfit ideas. People Style has reduced overhead and made their publication extremely accessible because without models, it’s that much easier to imagine yourself in the outfit.

Everything pictured is at Target right now.

The patented formula–take a celeb outfit and recreate it with affordable pieces.

 

However, this is one of the less diverse magazine because all the photos are of celebrities commonly featured in sister publication People, which only covers the celebrities who are household names nationwide. So basically Beyonce, Rihanna, Gabrielle Union, Kerry Washington are their black girl mainstays. Even so, the fact that you get 100+ pages of a curated Pinterest board is worth the read. Even more so because there are several pages of editors’ picks from what’s actually on sale currently, and a discount directory in the back with coupon codes for featured brands.

Marie Claire

Number of pages: 294

Rating:  3 out of 5

Review: Marie Claire is sort of a mashup of Vogue and Glamour. There are a lot of well intentioned opinion pieces, but the fashion is strictly high end. While the prices are listed, if you have to check? You can’t afford it. This a magazine for the fashion girls because it always features designers, editors, and other fashion industry insiders–not just celebrity clotheshorses. In this mag, the runway is the real way. If you need your fashion dumbed down, read something else. Typically it’s a little too snobby for my taste, but once or twice a year I like to see something that’s a little more elevated. Unsurprisingly, the snobbiest mag is also the least diverse. But the fashion content is on point, so this still skates by with three stars.

This daguerrotype style editorial was gorgeous.

Where am I supposed to wear this Hunger Games-ass oufit?!

 

Hopefully you enjoyed my ramblings. If you made it this far, leave a comment and let me know- what’s your favorite fall trend this year? Do you hate everything? Am I the only one who’s noticed that the trends for the past few years have been virtually the same?

 

 

Dear Target

Dear Target,

Despite being a retailer that prides itself on stylishly being all things to all people, your plus size market has been grossly ignored. The plus size section is relegated to 2 or 3 racks at the far end of women’s apparel, and is often mixed in with maternity. While the emergence of the Ava & Viv line, designed in collaboration with several notable fashion bloggers, was supposed to provide a fresh face, nothing changed. The most fashionable items (which were little more than colorful basics) were offered in that initial launch, and everything since then has been absolutely pitiful. At my local Target, the plus line is updated with 5-7 new pieces per season. Invariably, half of them are black or white.

Meanwhile, a quick perusal of Target.com shows a substantial collection of plus items in Target’s proprietary Merona and Mossimo lines, many of which are equivalent to the plus size lines…and none of which make it to my local Target stores, with the exception of solid color tees, cardigans, and basic slacks. The demand for fashionable plus size clothing clearly exists, as evidenced by the fact that the Lilly Pulitzer collection sold out in mere hours.

So, you’ve tried it again in a collection with Who What Wear and you’re finally doing some things right. The collaboration is a long term one and includes plus sizes. Perhaps most importantly, almost every item in the straight size line was provided in plus, in at least 2 color/pattern options.  Aesthetically, the offerings are a HUGE leap forward from Ava & Viv.

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This dress was the one thing I knew I had to have!

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I’m not a leather jacket kind of girl, but I love having the option to become one.

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Polka dots are always in style for me.

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Finally, modern styling for plus sizes. I bought the boyfriend jeans.

However, there’s still room for improvement. The Who What Wear line was only available in a limited selection of stores, and only a few of those stores carried the plus line. As stated above, some of the items were not available plus.  For example, a longline blazer in blush pink and an olive green  sweater dress that I would have purchased if I had the option. Additionally, the logistics were off. The collection was stated to go live on January 31, but I couldn’t add anything to my cart until about 12:30 pm CST (and I only got to the plus size items by searching the Target website, because they weren’t up on the splash page). But the Target twitter account said the plus size items wouldn’t be available until February 1–with the likely result that some shoppers missed out entirely. Last but not least, Who What Wear is dissociating itself from the plus items. They link to the Target collection on their website, but only provide links for the straight size items. It’s kind of hard to send  a message that all your customers matter when your collaborator doesn’t acknowledge half of them.

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Love this dress, but couldn’t buy it.

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This would go great with some of my dresses if it were available in my size.

Target didn’t knock it out of the park, but it finally has a plus size collection that is comparable to Forever 21, H&M, ASOS, and others. It remains to be seen whether the progress will continue, or if this is just another means of placating the masses without really solving the problem.

 

 

Dear Eloquii, Again

Eloquii is back, and I think it’s here to stay.

From the time they launched, there hasn’t been a month that I haven’t seen one of their pieces featured in a fashion magazine or on a fashion blog. The styling is gorgeous and I drool over every new lookbook that drops. But I don’t have unlimited shopping funds, and lawyers don’t get to wear jeans to work. It seemed like Eloquii was going to focus on casual and cocktail attire. But recently, the workwear section of the site has exploded. While there are only a couple of options for coordinated suiting so far, there are lots of good mix & match options. One of the things I dislike about my profession is the conservative dress code- I like to be comfortable and cute, and suits tend to be neither. But I’ve finally found pants that fit properly, blazers without shoulder pads that accommodate a larger bust, and pretty, stylish blouses. So in addition to being my first stop for special occasion dresses and trendy casual clothes, Eloquii has rounded things out with workwear that’s both fun and appropriate.

And FINALLY, someone has done plus-size blazers in a variety of cuts and styles– traditional, open, collarless, notched collar, the list goes on. And their signature pant is available in short, regular and long inseams, saving you a trip to the tailor. Eloquii isn’t perfect, but it is improving. While still plagued by  polyester (is it just because scuba fabric is the new hot thing and it’s always a polyester/spandex blend?), I’m seeing cotton, rayon and silk pop up in the new items. This is excellent because in Houston it doesn’t get below 75 degrees for 8 months of the year. (Wearing polyester on top of polyester in dark colors is not what you want here. Ever.)

In the past month, I’ve purchased some version of all the items below and have my eye on several others. I love all my new pieces and feel great wearing them! The color blocking, fit and seaming details really make all the difference in elevating these from your plain old boring work clothes. I hope that Eloquii continues to put out great quality fashion at affordable prices.

Eloquii workwear

Dress
eloquii.com

Blazer
eloquii.com

Eloquii
$69 – nordstrom.com

The Return of Eloquii

Well, the wait is over.

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The new Eloquii has arrived and it’s completely different, but in a good way! Even though I don’t have a heavily trafficked blog in general, “Dear Eloquii” continues to get multiple hits a day and is by far the most popular post on my site. So I thought it only fitting that I blog about their return to plus-size retail. My first impression? I was blown away. The new Eloquii is sleeker and more daring than before. There wasn’t a single frumpy tunic top in sight! Instead, there are lots of beautiful, unique pieces that look exquisitely tailored. The attention to detail is key: lace insets on an otherwise typical floral blouse, a faux leather bodice that edges up a tulle dress, an asymmetric peplum hem. I love that there are a variety of hemlines and sleeve lengths, including a sexy crop top sweater. Eloquii knows that thick girls like to show skin too! 😉 The fashion is seriously on point in this resurrection and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of their new stuff.

The only potential  downside is that the improved quality and styling naturally mean higher prices. Shipping rates are now set according to how much you spend, and the markdowns are (smartly) not as deep nor as frequent as they used to be. Of course, everyone has different budgets so this may not matter to you. But since husband and I are moving back out on our own next month, we’re pinching pennies. I’ll have to wait until our next paychecks in order to responsibly indulge my shopping habit at Eloquii. But judging from the new pieces that dropped this week, I’ll still have plenty of goodies to choose from.

Stay tuned for an after purchase review within the next month! Meanwhile, some pics of my favorite pieces below.

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