Classic Designs that tick all the boxes…

There’s 3 things you should always consider when choosing garments:

  1. Does it fit and flatter my shape?
  2. Is it versatile?
  3. Is it going to last (more than one wash?!)?

If you can answer YES to 2 out of the 3 questions above, a garment is definitely worth investing in.

Early last month I published a realistic & identifiable garment review which generated a lot of interest and sales of that beautiful dress, in fact many readers commented that the review had helped them see how the dress could work for them on their body shape and helped them purchase where they otherwise might not have taken the punt.

Many retailers and brands offer online reviews of garments to compliment the images provided of each garment, usually on a mannequin and/or garment model.  Of course as we all know, most advertising of garments is done in the “sample” size on a “sample” model (in the plus-sizes a sample size is usually a 14-16 and occasionally an 18) that often doesn’t give us a good indication of how it will actually look on our own figures.  Now you may argue that this is true for all garments, and I would agree, but for a curvy figure things can get a little complicated when trying to determine if in fact a garment is going to work for you with just a “sample” image to decide upon. It gets even more complicated when you are shopping online (but that’s another post!).

I invested the help of my readers and put the call out for interested ladies to submit their interest in “road-testing” a designer garment via my Facebook page, as usual this generated a huge response.

Rachel responded ” I’m a full time stay at home mum and a casual TV/Movie Extra. I’m passionate about fashion and spend my days trawling the Internet for stylish clothing and fashion inspiration. I would love to be part of this project as I love fashion and have slowly developed a love for my shape and knowledge on how to dress it. I’m also keen on new fashion labels that are on the rise. I’ve never been one to put myself out there but since turning 40 I’ve turned a corner 😀. I’m sure you’ve had a huge response and I wish you the best on your search, Rachel”.

I packaged up the beautiful Cleo dress from Alison Dominy Designs, a dress I knew from Rachels’ measurements and photos she submitted of her body shape, would work for her shape.  I had the pleasure of spending some time with Rachel over a Skype styling consultation, and enjoyed hearing about her thoughts and ideas on the dress. Thanks Rachel, you did a fantastic job, and I was thrilled that you had already considered and come up with the options I was going to suggest during our styling session, great work and you look fantastic.

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Here’s Rachel’s review of the Cleo Dress:

As like any girl, I love to receive little surprise especially if they come in the form of clothing.  Upon receiving my Cleo Shirt Dress I was not to sure on what to make of it at first as it is not really my style and it reminded me of business attire or even a uniform. The material felt divine and the quality was there, so I quickly tried it on.  To my surprise it fit really well and felt lovely on!.  I was very impressed with the press stud in between the buttons to stop gaping (this showed high quality and attention to design detail). I however was challenged on how I would style this dress as it is grey/charcoal in colour and not a colour I have owned before.

My first though was to brighten it up with what I already own. So I went with the bold yellow rope necklace and yellow shoes, after all it is spring. I used the sash belt that comes with it and also a slim black belt.

Rachel3Then I felt inspired to use it like a trench  paired with white top, white jeans and a long necklace in silver, I just tied the sash belt at the back as you would a trench. This was my favorite look for the Cleo dress and more like me.

Rachel2After playing with ideas I ended up very happy to receive the Cleo Shirt Dress as you can style it in a number of different ways. Would I buy it? Not in this colour but I have however jumped on to Alison Dominy website and Instagram so I can follow this designer and love that this dress comes in a lighter colour.  The price is on point for the quality and cut of this dress and the Australian market. I love that I got to be a part of this project and now have another Australian designer I can look out for.

Rachel, Berwick, VIC

As you can see, the Cleo Shirt Dress ticks all the boxes I listed above, it fits & flatters, is versatile and is made of premium hard-wearing fabric that will last.

Jaylene responded: Having been a plus size gal my whole life I totally get the frustrations of finding awesome clothes that fit and make you feel great, so I am 100% for supporting new ranges/designers in getting their work out there. I myself run an awesome little shop on Sydney rd, Brunswick selling independent/local clothing and jewellery. I totally embrace fashion that is young/fresh/fun and really unique and love coming to work just so I can dress up. I often photograph the new clothes in store on myself, to share on our Instagram and Facebook pages, not because I think I’m a model, far from it, but I think I represent the average Aussie plus size Gal and my customers love seeing the clothes on real people. Ordinary everyday girl next door. Someone they can relate to, who gives them a real idea of what it would look like on them. So that’s why I would to trial the new range. To support a new designer, to share fashion that fits on real people and of course because it’s all so much fun”.

I selected the packaged up the beautiful Emily Cotton Sateen Pants which I felt suited Jaylene’s body shape from the measurements and photos she submitted of her body shape.  Once she’d received her package we enjoyed a lovely Video Skype Styling Session to discuss the review.

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Here’s Jaylene’s review of the Emily Pants:

A  few weeks back Janine put the call out for any size 18’s interested in reviewing a garment from a new Australian plus size designer. There were a few things that appealed to me in that call out. I’m a size 18, body positive plus size gal and someone who actively strives to support Australian designers. So of course I expressed my interest in a heartbeat.

I am such an advocate for plus size fashion, working in both design and retail myself and I happily spend money on clothes that make me look and feel good today, because you only live once! The item I received for reviewing was the ‘Emily cigarette pant’.

Sadly the 18 was just too small and we had to organize one size bigger.

Alison capri pant 2

There is always an uncertainty ordering a garment online as to how it’s going to fit and knowing these are a pant with a fitted waistline I should have really taken my measurements to compare against the size chart when choosing.

Sometimes you can get away with a few cm’s here or there, when you are shopping for a t-shirt or dress made out stretch fabric, but the ‘Emily’ pant has no give around the waist, so you need to make sure you find a measuring tape and get the right size.

I carry my weight around the middle and found that I was in between sizes on the chart.

I needed a 20 for the waist and an 18 for the hips. So in this situation, and quite often when shopping for a fitted garment I need to decide if I’m going to squeeze myself into the smaller size and risk a muffin top or go bigger for ease around my waist at the expense of it being not so figure hugging on the hips and thigh.

Alison capri pant 7 Alison capri pant 1Personally I prefer a pant to be shaped but not hugging, so I opted for the size 20. The ‘Emily’ pant is a medium weight cotton sateen. A little thicker than your average work pant and with a lovely soft sheen making it suitable to wear at the office and for a night out on the town. The pockets are fully lined and the darts and shaping at back give it a really nice definition. The waistband is an optimum thickness, so it doesn’t cut in or fold over, sorta holds its own.

I would usually wear my tops out loose over my waist, but the tailored finish of these pants deserve to be seen so I went for a belt and tucked in top, to show them off.

On me they sat just above the ankle which I find is the perfect length for Spring/Summer. They were so easy and comfortable to wear and I can see me living in them, not just for work, but on weekends too.
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How great would they be with sandals and a tee for a casual look, out to coffee with friends.

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These are such a versatile pant, an absolute classic style that every girl needs in her wardrobe.

I’m delighted to have a pair of my own.

Jaylene, Reservoir, VIC

There you have it, realistic & identifiable clothing reviews of an Australian plus-size designer brand that ticks all the boxes.  THANKS to all the ladies who took the time to submit their interest in being part of the review. There will be more review opportunities coming.  If you are a brand that would benefit from my help, or would like to tap into my incredible readership of ladies size 16+, please contact me.

Love your shape!

Janine x

 

BMI = Bloody Meaningless Information

When the people and tools that could make a difference, actually have the opposite effect!

Last Friday was a public holiday here in Melbourne, and as I’d just returned to Melbourne after a fabulous holiday in Thailand and Cambodia with my family, I was keen to nip into my GP for a prescription. Alas the clinic was closed, so on Saturday I booked the carefully selected time of 2pm for an appointment as I knew I could duck in and out for the simple request….

About 4 years ago I developed insomnia.  To give you some back-story to my plight, back in May 2011 I decided to quit smoking.  I successfully did this by retreating to a lovely cottage for a week until the “grumps” were over and I could assimilate back into normal society 😉 A couple of days after quitting, I noticed that I was feeling different – but not in the positive way I had been expecting. Flash forward to mid June and my beautiful dad passed away suddenly. The shock of this event, and the enduring months that followed no doubt added to my health issues. Until then, apart from smoking, and obviously being overweight, my health had been pretty normal.  Now obviously with such a tragic event in my life, it would be normal to think that I would suffer from some emotional and potentially physical reactions. That’s what I kept telling myself when my body was so exhausted it could barely get out of bed in the morning, when I couldn’t sleep at night and when panic attacks and irritable bowel like symptoms began to present. This went on for a few weeks until it was impossible to ignore the warning signs. Something was seriously wrong. As we all do as women, we focus on our families, our work and just getting on with it, but this was becoming impossible.

I started googling (yep I know, not recommended, but still, I needed some answers). I presented to my then GP who offered Stillnox as a solution. WTF? No way, so I decided to try for a 2nd opinion. The next one I visited suggested that “If you only lose some weight you won’t feel so tired”. I was gobsmacked, and needless to say I left the office without a stillnox prescription and with no answers.

In the interests of keeping the story succinct, I finally, after visits to more than 5 mainstream doctors, I gave my friend Andrea Hepner a call. Andrea is a naturopath and runs a clinic called Empowered Health. I was unable to attend her office as I could barely move at this point, so she kindly offered me a Skype consultation and she went through a thorough line of questioning and testing that NEVER involved weight.  Andrea started me on the path of diagnosis and help, and I will be forever grateful to her for her incredible attitude and approach to health. It turns out I have a metabolic disorder. It seems this disorder is often dormant (as it’s genetic) until triggered by a stressful life event and it’s now clear to me now that I know what the problem is, that in the preceeding years I had been experiencing minor symptoms that were in hindsight the indicator that something bigger was coming!  I had adrenal fatigue bordering on adrenal failure, chronic insomnia, my iron level was so low that it was a miracle I was still standing and my bowel was so sick from the adrenal fatigue that it took months to improve.  In fact, it turns out that my smoking had actually covered-up the extreme symptoms, that with the stress and then quitting, in one hit came on with vengeance. With the help of Andrea, and thereafter an Intergrative GP who specialises in this condition, I have clawed my way back from this chronic illness into a healthy state.  I’m so grateful to my husband, my family and friends and of course the professionals who helped me during this difficult time, their support was unwavering. It’s incredibly scary to think that had I not been a “strong” person I would have been taking the advice of “professionals” offering incorrect medications and incorrect diagnosis of my condition.

I’m happy to say that this condition is completely manageable and I now take daily supplements to maintain the happy healthy place my body is now at.  Interestingly, my 12 year old son was diagnosed with the same condition just over a year ago, I was so relieved that he presented with the symptoms well and truly AFTER I had gone through the tough process of diagnosing it. When he developed it, I recognised the signs immediately and already had the help in place. He’s doing great!

So, back to that appointment I had last weekend. As I mentioned I see an Integrative GP who specialises in my condition, but for the everyday things, I have a local clinic that our family frequents. When my insomnia is bad, I sometimes have to take a sleeping tablet to “train” my sleep pattern back.  So I’m waiting for my turn, the GP calls my name and off we go into her office. She asks why I’m there today? I state that I’d like a repeat of my sleeping tablet prescription. She hesitates – which I understand, these drugs can be abused and used incorrectly, so knowing this, but knowing that I have a legitimate use for them, I’m happy to jump through the hoops to justify this.  However, the line of questioning then proceeds down the path of, do I feel suicidal? Am I depressed? Am I working on my weight? ummmm hang on, what????????????  She then launched into “diagnosing me” with sleep apnoea.  I don’t have sleep apnoea. My symptoms aren’t even close to sleep apnoea. I know this because I’ve googled the symptoms AND because I’ve already been down the diagnosis route before with a doctor to confirm this!!!!!!! She then decides that she needs to refer me to a sleep clinic for sleep apnoea. I said I was happy to see a sleep specialist if she thought that would help. She then tells me that she needs a few “facts” first. Yep here it comes…

What’s my weight? I tell her. What’s my height? I tell her. Then I hold my breath as I wait for the inevitable, I know what’s coming next. Yep you guessed it – “AAAGGGHHH”, she says after a moment of calculating… “Your BMI is Enormous!” (yep she said “enormous”), “I need to take your blood pressure”.

Are you serious? Take my blood pressure now…. I didn’t need to look at the result to know that it was going to be – high – very high!

She then asks if I’ve ever had an issue with blood pressure? “No”, I say honestly. “Right”, she says – clearly doubting my answer.

My blood pressure was at this point 133 over 90.  She then announces that I have hypertension and if I don’t “lose weight immediately you will be in serious trouble”.

Wow.

So at this point my heart is pounding in my ears, I’m trying to remain calm, ignore the bullshit, and focus on getting that prescription – with the knowledge that my Integrative GP – who I trust implicitly has NEVER worried about my weight during the whole 4 years I’ve been consulting her for the other condition.  The focus has been on wellbeing and health, never about my BMI.

The GP’s voice comes back into my awareness as she’s droning on about weight and what I can do to work on this. I consider losing my cool and having a complete rant at her. But then I realised – obviously – nothing I say to her is going to make any difference at all. It was clear that the moment she laid eyes on me she had decided what her course of action was going to be.

I stated “I do not wish to discuss my weight with you”.

She was shocked.

She was speechless.

She said “well, someone needs to help you”.

Did this woman seriously spend 4-6 years in University to earn a PhD? What are we teaching our doctors? How is it that I knew more than she did? and more importantly – do they teach these medical professionals that empowering your patient is their best chance at success? (no need to answer that – doh!).

She then huffed and puffed, made a big performance about printing out the prescription, handed it to me and said “Is there anything else? to which I replied, “no thank you, have a lovely weekend” and walked out.

255712-bmi-measurementI can’t stop wondering how if I had been a woman with a distorted body  image, would I have coped with this barrage of rubbish? What would I have done?  The damage that this attitude is doing to the population is overwhelming. It’s wrong. It’s actually creating a larger problem.

The fact that a qualified GP is still in this day and age using the BMI (body mass indicator) to calculate a patients’ health is gobsmacking.

For the record my BMI is 40 – based on the online BMI calculator I need to lose between 47-66 kgs to be a “normal” body weight. That is over half my body weight – wow, just wow!.  The current BMI formula (which is literally dividing your height by your weight) leads to confusion and misinformation.  In fact Nick Trefethen, Professor of Numerical Analysis at Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute wrote a letter to The Economist that “the BMI formula is flawed and is only a rough guide to helping people judge whether they have a healthy weight”.  It goes on to say that when the BMI calculator was developed there were no computers, calculators or electronic devices, so they opted for a very simple system.  Trefethen does wonder, though, why institutions on both sides of The Atlantic continue using the same flawed formula?  Good question?! You can read more here…  In fact, the flaws just keep coming, especially if you compare a “Couch Potato” to “an Athlete” with the same height and approx. weight, yet one does an incredible amount of exercise and the other doesn’t – their BMI is practically the same!  RIDICULOUS!

In my case, and based on my personal story above:

There is NO evidence that BMI induces Insomnia. FULL STOP.

There is NO evidence that “Stillnox” is going to cure my Metabolic Disorder, nor insomnia. FULL STOP

There is NO evidence that being rude, condescending and offering INCORRECT advice to a human who is obese, overweight or otherwise is going to help the “Obesity Crisis/Obesity Paranoia” that is so incredibly misunderstood.

I don’t dispute, nor deny or ignore that obesity has an impact on health, that is a fact.

I am obese. That’s a fact.

BUT, I am so much more than that, and so is my health.

On Saturday I posted about my visit on Facebook, within minutes I had ladies commenting on their own experiences with health professionals. Appalling is the word for it, so many stories (and for the record I have about 10 others of my own experiences I could have chosen to tell here).

One lady spoke of her 4 year old daughter deemed “Obese” at a Maternal Child Health Nurse check-up, another had a pain in her hip, her GP did a “poke around” the general area and then announced that if she lost weight it wouldn’t hurt anymore!!!???!!! – her Personal Trainer (!) diagnosed a muscle strain from exercise. Yep. That. And then there was the comment by a highly regarded dietician and Body Positive Ambassador who had a client come in this week after a visit to her GP for a rash, and left with a lecture on her weight and highly inappropriate diet advice – oh lordy, it just goes on and on. Oh and how about the women who commented on being shamed for their weight when presenting for their annual pap smears – wow, just wow.

As a survivor of cervical cancer it makes me shudder to think that a Dr’s attitude to obesity could prevent a woman having a potentially life-saving check-up simply by shaming her about her weight.

THIS APPROACH AND ATTITUDE NEEDS TO CHANGE NOW.

There ARE great GPs and specialists out there. There are organisations and professionals who are working hard to educate the general population of GPs and specialists, and working in our Universitites to change the education and “speak”.  Namely the gorgeous Sarah and Fiona at Body Positive Australia to name just one such organisation.

It’s time to change this. I want to create a list of BODY POSITIVE – Wellbeing focussed GPs and Specialists. I know that some have done this in the past, and I’d love to hear from anyone that would like to collaborate on this project. I will be setting up a page on my website to list these Drs, so that NO ONE has to be subjected to such pathetic and negative health care in the future.

It’s MY body,

It’s MY choice

and it’s MY right to have positive health care with an accurate and educative approach.

Stay tuned for the details of how to submit your recommendations of body positive health professionals, and feel free to share your stories below.

Love your shape!

Janine x

**Thanks to Becca for coining the term “Bloody Meaningless Information” -she kindly allowed me to adopt the term – says it perfectly don’t you think?!

PS – For those that consider the above to be promoting obesity – you are WRONG. This is about healthcare delivered in a body positive and empowering manner – not to mention potentially life-saving. It’s what we ALL deserve.

Active wear Survey 2015 – have your say…

HAVE YOUR SAY – Plus-size Active wear options in Australia:
To add value to the work I am doing within the Australian plus-size Industry, it’s crucial that I have facts & data to back up my “voice” on all things curvy. This is for YOU, you are the customer, you know what you want and need. YOUR voice needs to be heard, so by taking the time to complete this survey, you can be assured that your opinions will be expressed and put forward. The information provided by you will not be sold or released me, Janine Mison, to any 3rd party and will be reported anonymously. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey.
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As an added bonus, each pacticipant will go into the draw to win a pair of SONSEE Woman Anti-chaffing shorts valued at $49.95! Simply complete the survey and your email address will be automatically entered into the random draw. The winner will be announced on Sunday 18th October.
Thank you for your valued contribution.
Love your shape!
Janine x