Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Formal Dress Recycled

Do you remember your year 12 formal? What about your dress... Did you swear to yourself that you'd wear it again? Has it been hanging in your wardrobe for years without seeing the light of day? Mine sat in my wardrobe for 8 years; it no longer fitted my bustline... I was so sad to see the most beautiful dress I've ever owned going to such waste.

With only five of this dress ever produced in the stunning emerald green colour, this Veronica Lodge (no longer trading) dress was a cool $599 from Chadstone, Victoria. It was made of pure silk cut on a bias with long, asymmetrical strips of silk chiffon kissing the floor from beneath an empire bustline. Very unique and perfectly timeless. I hated seeing it lost in my wardrobe, and I was petrified of it being eaten by moths!

Marie-Claire is a 17-year-old from Melbourne who was set to graduate in November 2013. Her and her mother had been on the lookout for an emerald green formal dress, but with no yield. I took a longshot and suggested my old dress as an option. Marie-Claire is a petite size 8-10, but has some womanly curves which made dress fitting rather difficult, and while my dress was a standard 14, I figured some very minor alterations would have the dress fitting her like a glove. She loved the idea and her parents promptly bought the dress from me. I was so excited to see my gown given a second life!

It took one shopping expedition to accessorise the outfit with silver and rhinestone earrings, bracelet, ring and clutch bag to match the silver peep-toe shoes she already had. I was going for a bit of a Gatsby meets old Hollywood glamour style, opting for styles with an Art-Deco edge; earrings from Colette, bracelet from Equip, ring from Lovisa and clutch from Smik. It was classic, elegant, sophisticated but with a young edge... I didn't want her looking like a child playing dress-ups. Graduation is a time when a girl should feel more like a woman than a child, but I wanted both elements to shine through.

I flew to Melbourne on the day of the formal with a mood board full of images of Emma Watson. There was something about Marie-Claire's porcelain complexion and quiet elegance which reminded me of Emma Watson. It was the basis of the makeup look I had in mind for her; subtle neutral eyeshadow with gentle contouring through the cheekbones, topped with a rose hued lip stain. I have such lash-envy of Marie-Claire's eyelashes; they are jet black and lusciously full as though she had a layer of false lashes attached. 
With Mum, Sue

With Dad, Julian
After seeing a number of other girls at the formal, it was safe to say that Marie-Claire was amongst the best dressed. So many girls chose up-to-the-minute trend dresses with too-sexy splits and neon colours, or even just wearing a simple skater or peplum dress. Marie-Claire looked as though she'd stepped out of a 1920s/1930s film. She was a vision in green!

After a sprinkler system mishap which saw the stage completely flooded, Marie-Claire was privileged enough to graduate on the hallowed ground of Etihad Stadium! It was pretty awesome!

I was so pleased to see my beautiful dress given a second life on someone so remarkably graceful, stunning and grateful. Congratulations on your graduation Marie-Claire!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Shoe Storage Solutions

I've recently moved house and discovered my wardrobe to be lacking in floorspace to store my shoes. By the standards of most fashionistas, I don't have that many shoes (32 pairs), but I had to get creative and figure out a practical and decorative way of storing my shoes... space for my jewellery and makeup was also on the cards. I came up with a solution that I'm quite proud of!

What do you do,
When you find your shoes,
Will not fit into the space,
Your wardrobe allocates?

Shoe rails no.
How to fix these woes?!
Clear shoe boxes maybe?
But now I cannot see!!!

The answer my friends,
Puts troubles at and end,
The solution is up,
It’ll even fit my makeup.

A bookshelf of white,
Two metres in height,
With extra shelves to store,
Shoes, makeup, jewellery and more.

Some picture frames,
I must proclaim,
Do set the mood
All but subdued.

And then those draws,
Which I first saw,
On Danimezza’s suggest,
They are just the best!

The one sad little bit,
That I must now admit,
I still have more shoes…
Oh what shall I do???

Bookshelf: Fantastic Furniture $79
Clear drawers: Officeworks $16.96
Make up brush canister: Typo
Clear earring cubes: Pink Lily from $49


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bridal Lingerie... My First Published Editorial Shoot

Late one afternoon in February, I received a very welcome phone call from fellow blogger (and personal inspiration) Danimezza. She is the first Aussie to be a regular contributor to Plus Model Magazine, giving our local industry an international voice. The purpose of her phone call was to invite me to do the styling for an editorial photo shoot for PMM's Bridal issue. Dani had already sourced some fabulous lingerie pieces from Heavenly Curves and Triumph, but wanted to reach out for some extra help putting together the accessories and pulling the looks together so that she could focus her energy on the photography.

I have a huge stockpile of jewellery and other accessories for shoots, but I always like to have new pieces in my arsenal just in case. I set out on a pretty wild sourcing trip which you can read all about here (it's definitely worth a read!) On my list was shoes, earrings, an 'engagement' ring, hair accessories, chicken fillets, and supplies for my styling tool kit. My proverbial feathers were considerably ruffled by the end of that buying trip, but I found absolutely everything I needed. And more... I'm a chronic over-preparer.

Once we had locked down a date and a shooting location (Windsor Cottage), I contacted fellow Designer Chick, Melissa Kuti of Oak & Linden. Melissa is an Interior Designer and Stylist, with an added venture of Floral Design. Melissa created us a spectacular floral crown and bridal bouquet to match our vision. I arrived at her studio on the day of the shoot to a huge surprise: floral arrangements left over from a wedding the previous day! I was so chuffed when Melissa began pulling the arrangements out of her truck and packing them into a box for out shoot. They were beyond perfection! I then had to high-tail it from Randwick to Windsor within an hour to get to Dani's on time.

I love working with plus models... they have a certain vibrancy that is quite infectious. Blaise McCann was no exception! She is stunningly beautiful and professional, but has such an easygoing nature that I felt as though I was talking to an old friend. The combination of her natural beauty, my styling, Dani's amazing photography and Sally's beautiful hair and makeup, the shoot was a major success! We were all quite relaxed and were able to indulge our creativity. It was admittedly a very long day, but I left the shoot feeling elated and proud.

Our images were publish in the April 'Bridal' issue of Plus Model Magazine, making this shoot my very first published editorial shoot! Thank you Dani, Blaise, Sally, Melissa and the PMM team for such a fantastic opportunity!

MODEL: Blaise McCann 
HMUA: Sally Grieve 
PHOTOGRAPHER: Danielle Melnyczenco
FLORIST: Oak & Linden 
LOCATION: Windsor Cottage


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Aussie Plus Size Labels: Bombshell Vintage

I had never heard of Bombshell Vintage until the Curvy Couture Roadshow, but their spectacular collection of vintage reproduction pieces left such an impression that I clearly had no choice but to investigate further. The visionary behind Bombshell Vintage, Kate Millet invited me to her studio to chat about her gorgeous collection.

The Atomic Bombshell collection is the story of the Red Queen and the White Queen with plenty of lace and sparkle. I've been particularly obsessed with the now sold out Iceni Coat which was made from the most luxurious houndstooth fabric I've ever laid my eyes on. But the Iracebeth Dress and Mirana of Marmoreal Dress (Kate's personal favourite) are the certain showstoppers!

Kate began the brand when she became frustrated with the limited vintage inspired clothing options for plus sized women. Most of the stores offering the size range have a limited range of styles, or focus on one particular era. Bombshell Vintage offer from size 14 to 30, with an option to customise pieces to your specific measurements, and encompass both reproductions and vintage pieces from throughout the 20th Century. "The clothes should make the woman look beautiful... not the other way around", says Kate.

Unfortunately Bombshell Vintage's samples weren't in my size, so I can't report on the fit. Suffice to say, the Made to Measure option will be sure to have pieces fitting like a second skin. I did manage to try on the size 16 sample of the Iceni Coat, which was definitely too small, though I could fit my arms into it quite comfortably. I'd say the 18 would fit , but the 20 would give me room to layer underneath (as you would like with a coat). According to the Size Chart, I fall somewhere between an 18-20.

An exciting little tidbit that Kate shared, was that she is looking into a 'design your own dress' function for the website, allowing shoppers to choose their neckline, skirt fullness, fabric, etc. "There will end up being thousands of possible combinations!" I absolutely love the idea!

Bombshell Vintage also have a range of genuine vintage pieces available for purchase or hire. You can check them out in the Vintage section of their website.

These adorable little paper dolls were my parting gift from Kate... aren't they just the sweetest?! I've already set them up in my room.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Aussie Plus Size Labels: Hope & Harvest

Confession time! I've been cyber-stalking the Aussie plus size fashion label, Hope & Harvest since their first collection in 2010. From the very beginning H&H were trendsetters, giving the plus size fashion industry a distinct edge. I was lucky enough to be the very first person to see their newest 'Neo Noir' collection!!!

Harvest Powell is the amazing talent behind the label, being involved with every aspect of the brand from design to promotion. She has a background in garment construction and couture with a passion for dressing "Amazonian luscious ladies." Harvest draws on her experience in couture to design her collections, putting long hours of research into trend forecasting and design development, but at the end of the day, Hope and Harvest are trend setters rather than followers.

I gave Harvest my measurements ahead of time, and she rocked up with everything in a size L/20-22, ready for me to try on and do my 'model' thing. Every piece fit perfectly with only the Beaded Cut Out Shirt being a little tight on the upper arms. "Strong designers need to stand by a good cut and good fit... once you know your size, it's easy." They take great pride in the consistency of their sizing. It certainly makes online shopping much easier when you know that everything in that one size will fit. "It's not about the size on the tag," was Harvest's response when I asked about 'vanity sizing'. "It's about how you feel in the clothes." Hope & Harvest are not vanity sizers, and their sizing chart tells no lies.

It was made very clear that Hope & Harvest are champions of plus sized women. There are plenty of labels caring for the size these days, but our modelling industry is still playing catch-up. But Harvest likes to use two models to fit and showcase garments online: one is a size Small, the other is a size Large. I love this little bit of info! It means that not only can online shoppers see how the garments look on two different sized figures, but it also ensures that the style suits a proper plus sized figure.

For this collection, Harvest has opted for hemlines which fall below the knee, as well as full length sleeves (no lame 3/4 sleeves here!!!) Personally I prefer my skirts to sit on or slightly above the knee, but I'm definitely in a minority as far as hem lengths go. I can't argue though... seeing these images, I'm thinking the lower hemline isn't too bad at all!

All of Hope & Harvest's collections are produced in-house by an amazingly dedicated team. Each member of the H&H team has experience in garment design and construction, with a few ex-couturiers in the mix. Our wardrobes are in skilled hands! So by buying Hope & Harvest, you are supporting our local industry instead of offshore workshops with questionable conditions and wages. If we don't help our Aussie brands, they will cease to exist... and that is a huge loss of economy and an enormous waste of talent!

So Harvest said that H&H is all about style and fun, for women who like to express themselves through their wardrobe, and wants women to feel glamourous. Did I feel glamourous? Well, having two people taking photos of you in the street usually helps! Haha! I did feel glamourous. The clothing was comfy and well-fitted (except for the sleeves of that red blouse being a tad snug), no seams or buttons were popping or even gaping. The full skirts felt so pretty that all I wanted to do was twirl around in them (not a good idea in heels on the uneven streets of Melbourne!) I felt feminine yet 'grown up' at the same time. I really did love the full length sleeves... they're just shaped so beautifully... gush!

"Noir" Dress (red) $249

Harvest is a busy bee indeed! She has a hand in every aspect of the label from research to promotion, design to construction. She was excited to meet me because it meant coffee at an actual cafe where she had to sit down without doing a million things at once. I instantly liked Harvest, her passion for her brand is positively infectious! I was curious to know her favourite piece of all time; she said the 'LaLa' dress from her first collection, as well as the Date Night dress from the current season. As I was walking down the street in the black 'Noir' dress, she called out to me. "I've changed my mind... That's my favourite piece!" Harvest is also super excited for an item in the next collection... hint: its an outer garment.

What I was given by Hope & Harvest: "Y.O.L.O" Skirt

What's on my Hope & Harvest wish list: Pretty much everything in these images!

If you look closely on the Hope & Harvest website, you'll even see my photos!!!

"Noir" Dress (black) $249

My Measurements: Hip - 129cm/51", Waist - 98cm/38", Bust - 119cm/47", Height - 167cm/5'4"

Corresponding size on Hope & Harvest's size guide: L/20-22

Actual size in Hope & Harvest clothing: L/20-22

A huge thank you to my bestie, Jess for taking these awesome photos for me!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Aussie Plus Size Labels: Harlow

It was a beautiful Melbourne Saturday... Ok it was cold and overcast...

But nothing was getting between me and my first ever visit to Harlow's Salon Saturday!

I've been following Harlow for quite a while, and after having the chance to see (and lust after) their pieces at the Curvy Couture Roadshow in March, I decided that I really wanted to get to know the brand. On the first Saturday of each month, Kerry and Angelo open the doors of the Harlow studio for two hours for customers to come in to try, touch and feel the garments before they buy. For people like me who have always been a bit phobic of shopping for clothes online, this idea is genius! It just so happened that my trip to Melbourne would coincide with the June Salon day... Yay!

Kerry wears: "Surprise me" open back top $139, 
yELLE wears: "Electra" blouse $119, 

Harlow is run by the gorgeous Kerry and Angelo (Angelo was behind the camera). As a teen/twenty-something Kerry had a rebellious style. She told us all about her loud hairstyles and edgy look... I struggled to picture it, but once you begin to see some of the unusual cutouts and leather panels in her collection, you can see elements of that edgy style surfacing. 'My brand is me' Kerry told us. 

According to the size guide on the Harlow website, I should be wearing a size 20-22 since my measurements fall midway between the two, but I went straight for the size 18s since that is my regular dress size in most stores. Every item pictured is a size 18/M, with the exception of the "All meshed up" hi-lo sweater... I went up to a 22 purely for the photos, but ended up buying the 18 for a better fit through the shoulders and arms. I found the size 18s to be a perfect fit through my upper arms too... which can tend to be a bit of a fit issue at times. I will say though, the pants and leggings run a teensy bit narrow through the thigh. For example: I tried the "Harem Scarem" slouch pants in a size 18, but they didn't quite 'slouch' and were fitted to my thighs. The 22 was way too big and there was no 20 left in stock to try. They are one pant that it's worth going up a size for. That being said... my bestie, Jess tried them on in a size 12 (she is a standard 12-14) and they were dynamite on her! couldn't fault the hem lengths on the skirts and dresses... they sat either on or slightly below the knee. But just for the record, the "Pencil me in" ponte skirt has been folded over at the waistband to make it knee-length on me... technically it is cut as a midi skirt to fall just below the knee.

Every garment is constructed for a fit model with balanced or hourglass proportions (one of the most experienced fit models in the industry I'm told!) and Kerry tries them on her own figure which is closer to an apple shape, to ensure the look will translate between body shapes. "We don't believe in 'vanity sizing'" Angelo told us, which means that their sizes are not quite as generous as most plus size stores would offer. "Our sizing is consistent, so once you know your size, you can be sure of a great fit. If it's a smaller cut, we'll always say so in the description on our website." Those words are pure gold for online shoppers!!! 

"Riders in the sky" biker jacket in snake jacquard $249

Everything Harlow is done in-house. The design and construction is completed in Melbourne (we saw the studio... I was a little over-excited) Kerry puts in huge amounts of research to forecast the upcoming trends and works hard to translate them into garments that plus size women would love and feel beautiful wearing. The whole purpose of Harlow is to fill a gap in the plus size fashion market for garments which fit well, suit a range of age groups and can be worn for work or play. 'Desk-to-dinner' you might say. I felt like all I would need is a change of shoes to make the outfits perfect for a night on the town. Plus, by buying Harlow, you are supporting our local industry instead of offshore workshops with questionable conditions and wages. If we don't help our Aussie brands, they will cease to exist... and that would be a huge loss of economy and an enormous waste of talent!

How did I feel in Harlow's clothing? First and foremost I was comfy! I didn't feel like I was going to pop a seam with every movement, nor did i feel the need to constantly re-adjust the outfit. Every fabric used had enough movement to make the garments easy-wear. I'm not particularly worried about my arms, but I did notice that every top and dress has sleeves! Yes... all of them! Party for the arm-conscious! Every time I saw my reflection in these outfits, I thought to myself 'damn girl... you look fab!' and that's how I felt. I very deliberately didn't wear shape wear to try the garments because I wanted my review to be true to my figure the way it is... No smoke and mirrors here.

We also asked Kerry what her favourite piece in the collection was. She said "I've never been into leggings, but the "Wet'n Wild" Scuba leggings are amazing!" Darn it! I forgot to try them on!!!

"Electra" blouse $119, 

My Measurements: Hip - 129cm/51", Waist - 98cm/38", Bust - 119cm/47", Height - 167cm/5'4"

Corresponding size on Harlow size guide: 20/L-22/XL

Actual size in Harlow clothing: 18/M

What I bought at the Salon Saturday: "Pencil me in" ponte skirt (size M), "All meshed up" hi-lo sweater (Size 18) & "Rapture" faux wrap skirt (Size 18)

A huge thank you to Angelo and my bestie, Jess for taking these awesome photos for me!