Go Sleeveless…

This time of the year I get so frustrated and often feel quite concerned for the health of many plus-size women.  In the Australian climate it depends on your location as to how our temperatures affect us. For me here in Melbourne, summers are usually a few days of extreme heat followed by cooler days before the next heat wave. This year in particular our summer has been very changeable with extreme humidity and then intense dry air, a real roller coaster of weather.  A few weeks ago during a particularly hot and humid day I was sitting at a local café enjoying some time with my son Zac. As we sat and chatted I watched a plus-size woman in a lovely dress collapse into a seat at the café, sweat dripping off her face.  Her dress was lovely, clearly sleeveless as she had paired it with a long-sleeved cotton crop cardigan.  Her back was wet with sweat too.  She ordered a cold drink, and sat mopping her brow and pulling at her crop readjusting it and pulling it off her sweaty back.  It was 36 degrees! I sat wondering how on earth she was still standing with so many layers on.  If only she had felt comfortable enough to have just her lovely dress, baring her arms.  Now I know this is my assumption, and I know she (like me, although sleeveless on this particular day) would still be sweating, but there is no doubt in my mind that she would have been a lot cooler than she was with that extra layer on.

I’m a big girl, a size 20-22 generally and I have BIG arms. I also have very white skin – (which I know for some is also a cause for concern and cover-up) and learnt a long time ago to ignore the pressure of tanning and maintain my white skin for the sake of my health, so for me wearing anything showing my lily white skin showing doesn’t bother me at all.

JanineCambodia

When it comes to my arms, I know the feeling of anxiety that comes from baring arms… I have wide shoulders, large upper arms, VERY white skin and freckles.  I know that society doesn’t generally see that as attractive. I don’t care! I’m 44 years old and I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I will bare my arms!  I will not torture myself wearing shrugs or cardigans trying to cover up my arms (yes I have done this in the past!). I will be comfortable.

This summer, and many before I have watched curvy women everywhere torturing themselves with heavy shrugs, cardigans or long sleeved shirts trying to cover their arms, but sweating and overheating themselves at the same time.  This not only looks painful, it is quite seriously causing you harm. STOP!  Let’s face it, even when you wear a garment to cover your arms, your arms are still your arms, if they’re big, they’re still big!  Why are we telling ourselves we have to hide and be uncomfortable?

I understand that body confidence is not something that comes easily, but isn’t it time to just get over it and move on?! I know when I made the decision years ago to just stop caring about my arms, I did, I stopped worrying, and I started wearing what I wanted and more importantly what suited the weather of the day.

SOMETHING happened though when I stopped covering my arms – I felt cooler, more comfortable. Full stop. 

Yep, that’s good right?! 

Perhaps you expected that I was body shamed by others? Stopped by strangers in the street and scolded for daring to bare my arms?

Nope. Never.

If I reflect back on all the times I’ve been tempted to cover my arms, and have, only to be most uncomfortable, hotter than ever and really wishing I’d just stayed at home – sometimes in the past I’ve even chosen to not participate in something because I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable and feel too hot. I decided a long time ago it was time to stop that approach and just get over it and enjoy every second, because life’s just too short and my arms are my arms.

So you will see me out and about with my arms out, and moving on with life. You will also see me with some great options for covering my arms – BUT – this will only be if it suits the outfit – AND – the weather – NOT because I am covering my arms out of shame or fear.JanineArmsBali

You know, just looking back over the past few years, I would have missed out on so much had I enforced wearing something over my arms. Our family holiday to Northern Bali in 2014 for example, it was 34 degrees with 70%+ humidity every day.  And then there was our trip to Cambodia last September, rainy season, horribly humid and there I was again arms out.

I enjoyed every day without my arms covered – my white large legs and arms on show for the world to see, no make-up (it just melts off your face anyways!), and no hair styling – just ME – enjoying life with my family. Just how it should be.

I know body confidence doesn’t come easily, it’s something you can’t buy but it’s something no-one can take away from you. I feel so much happier just making the MOST of who I am today, and everyday – at every size that my body is throughout my life.

Embrace life, embrace your body and live.

Love your shape!

Janine x

The myths of plus-size fashion dispelled…

Not a day goes by that I don’t see or hear a comment or post about what plus-size women “Should” wear.  It never ceases to amaze me how we get so caught up in the opinions of others and hold ourselves back from trying something that might actually work for us, if only we could see how we might make it work for us.  Way back in 2012 I worked on this project where I blew apart the all time top 12 myths applied to plus-size figures.  The styles may have changed a little in 4 years, but the tips still apply.

Bust a myth today and…

Love your shape!  Janine x

The myths of plus-size fashion dispelled…

How should I dress my body shape? Where do I go to buy clothes? How do I know what to wear? No, I can’t wear stripes! Oh no, not floral prints! No way, I’m not wearing a form fitting dress!

These are some of the questions and statements posed to me every day in my work as a stylist on my mission to empower the curvy women of Australia. With the change of season comes an opportunity to revamp your wardrobe and turn over a new leaf. It’s my philosophy that dressing a curvy figure is an art, not a science as some believe. Let’s face it, time and time again I prove that the standard, generic formulas given to us by the image and fashion industry don’t take into consideration the MOST important part of dressing a woman’s figure – how she FEELS when she’s dressed.

Take me, I’m 40, I’m a Australian dress-size 20.  I’m not tall, but I’m not short and I’m a curvy woman and LOVE to look and feel great.  I am NOT a model, I am an everyday woman off the street, a mum, a wife. These photos are untouched, I don’t believe in retouching – full stop. I advocate realistic & identifiable representation of garments on a body they were made for.

There is no doubt that Blush Photography are fantastic photographers (all images below by Blush Photography), and that with the help of beautiful lighting and lovely makeup I look more glamorous, but this is ME, everyday me, untouched.

What do you see when you view these photos? Can you identify with the body and how the clothes might look on you?

I see a woman with confidence, style, great body image AND a woman who feels great in the skin she’s in!

Let’s bust some of the myths I hear every day….

Myth No. 1 – There’s nowhere to shop in Australia for plus-size clothing

As you will discover with this style piece, there are so many options in Australia. I am passionate about not only plus-size garments that are made for our curves, but also positive customer service with passion and I’m proud to support Australian businesses. The labels referenced in this article are a small selection of what is on offer, but a great representation.

There is no doubt that the Australian Plus-size Industry requires some maturing. It is no secret that presently overseas suppliers often provide more choice or sometimes better quality. I work every day with passionate Australian business owners and designers who are striving to meet your needs and are doing so passionately and diligently.

My challenge to you is to SUPPORT AUSTRALIAN businesses, the more we support and show them we are serious about how we look and the money we spend, the more likely they are to move forward and rise to the challenge of meeting our needs more fully.

Myth No. 2 – Never Wear Horizontal Stripes – It makes you look bigger
Myth No. 3 – Don’t wear too much black
Myth No. 4 – Heels – they’re uncomfortable and you’ll walk like a duck

Horizontal stripes look fantastic if styled appropriately. In this case worn with a black base, it adds zest to the outfit, the bling embellishment on the singlet is awesome as is teaming it with a killer pair of red suede boots WITH a heel! These boots are THE most comfortable pair of heels I’ve ever worn, in fact I’ve been wearing them with everything – seriously these are a MUST have for anyone who has given up heels… you feel like you’re walking on air pockets AND they look incredible. Heels also add height and thus elongate the body, and feel so feminine. Basic blacks in the form of well fitted tailored pants (with a boot leg to balance out my shape) and a gorgeous fitted cardigan that accents the waist.

Black&Bling2

Stockists:
Cardigan, Dress Pants, Embellished Singlet, Bracelet City Chic
Ring Volupture
Red Boots Ziera Shoes

Myth No. 5 – No Floral Prints!

Being large busted and “older”, my waist is becoming harder and harder to define, but when I saw this gorgeous dress, I knew it was for me. Not only does it accentuate all the GREAT parts of my figure, it cleverly covers the ones I don’t want to draw attention to (my upper arms and tummy). This classic wrap looks and feels fantastic, and worn with my favourite wide calf boots and a shapewear slip dress to mould my curves, I am ready to go in minutes. The ruching over the tummy and the cross-over tie front, along with the ¾ arms and collar are all flattering. I LOVE the loud floral print, but does it knock you over or scream “big woman” because it’s floral? – no, the art is all in the accessories and attitude……….. don’t you think?

WhoSaidICantWearFloral

Stockists:
Evette Dress – Styled By Marie
Jessica Boots – Pergoni Boots
Shapewear Dress – my own
(Note: These two brands are no longer trading)

Myth No. 6 – Corporate Wear can only be black suits for plus-size women

Having worked in corporate offices for 15 years of my career, I understand the pressures and challenge to look good and present professionally. It does appear on the surface that Australian plus-size manufacturers only offer the basic black (and if you’re lucky navy blue) suiting, and at best it’s in some pretty scary fabrics and don’t get me started on sizing.

For me, colour is the new black in the office. I’m not afraid to stand out from the rest with my bold colours. If you build from a black foundation it’s easy to inject pattern or colour to change the look altogether. My preference for winter is my comfortable and stylish wide-calf boots, but if you’re a shoe girl, team with a great pair of tights or stockings from We Love Colors – incredible choice in plus-size realistic sizings. It’s ok to wear all black, but I always ensure I add great accessories to add value to the outfit and keep it punchy.

Corporate2

Stockists:
Orange Photo:
Skirt – TS14+
Tank – Autograph
Jacket – Big In Black
Jessica wide-calf boot – Pergoni Boots (no longer trading)
Belt – Coussinet
Corporate1
 
 
 
 
 
 
Green photo:
Skirt, Vest & long sleeve T – TS14+
Louvre Wide-calf boot – Bennetts Boots (no longer trading)

Myth No.7 – Plus-size women should hide under tents and never wear belts
Myth No.8 – Never mix patterns in the same outfit

Belts, belts and more belts, that’s my motto! It is getting easier and easier to source great plus-size belts in varying lengths and styles. A belt is your best friend – it can make or break an outfit and take sizes off your figure.

Experiment with a belt for your shape, sometimes it’s better to hang it loosely as in the image on the left, if the belt was cinched at my waist it would accentuate my hips & tummy, but draped loosely it adds an interesting texture to my outfit and flatters my trouble spots and MORE importantly it feels fantastic!

In winter, layering basic T’s or tanks is a great way to keep warm and add texture and tone to your outfit. In the image on the right a pair of skinny leg jeans tucked into my “to die for” boots and belted at the waist with a flattering soft cardy is just perfect. Again the belt adds definition to the figure whilst the cardy flatters softly over the “no” spots and promotes the “yes” spots!

Mixing patterns, textures and colours is an integral part of building a great outfit. In this case a subtle zebra print in the leather of my boot is played down with the tones of these garments, and introduced to stripes in the jersey cardigan – I love the feel of the clash of these patterns which are minimised with the blending of the tones.

virtu DressWarm&Stylish1

Stockists:

Dress Photo:
Dress – virtu
Belt – my own
Boots – Bennetts Boots (no longer trading)

 
 
 
 
  
 
Jeans Photo:
Belt, Jeans, Layering Tanks, Jersey Striped Cardigan – Autograph
Zebra Print Boots – Boots For Broads

Myth No. 9: You should always dress your age

It’s so important to go with how you’re feeling, some days I feel like I’m ready to go back to my teens and paint my nails black, put on my industrial shoes and project a bit of attitude whilst rocking out to my favourite Soundgarden tune… on day’s like that I pull on my trusted military boots and style away with black, black and black. This sensational dress from Australian designers 17 Sundays is just so versatile, it looks amazing here in a rock theme with coloured leggings and military style boots, but looks equally fantastic with my Ascension clothing slip dress with red lace detail (from another designer, not pictured) and funky black wedges for a great summer day (not pictured). Clothing that is versatile is a MUST for your wardrobe, go with your mood on the day and be creative.

ConcertAnyone Yeah
Stockists:
Dress & leggings – 17 Sundays
Boots – Ziera Shoes

Myth No. 10: Avoid oversized garments – they make you look bigger

Some days it’s just a must to have loose fitting but stylish and flattering garments to wear. The trick is to choose colours, textures and styles to suit you. I absolutely adore this outfit, it’s comfortable and as easy to wear as my tracksuit, yet looks a million dollars! It’s flattering to my figure and each piece is so versatile, wear it all together and it’s fabulous! For those “I just don’t know what to wear” or “I just can’t be bothered trying” days, this is MY ideal outfit. Every woman needs one of those in her wardrobe!

ThatGreatFeeling2 ThatGreatFeeling1

 
Stockists:
Pants, Frilled T, Cardigan – virtu
Shoes & Accessories – My Own

Myth No. 11: Maxi Dresses Hide Your Shape

My most favourite items in my winter wardrobe are two maxi dresses – these would have to be THE most versatile garments and take me from day to night in the blink of an eye!

Shout it from the rooftops – this is MY favourite dress, designed by the very talented Australian duo Hope&Harvest, this gorgeous grey maxi is just PERFECT with a lot of chunky jewellery and teemed with my Zebra print boots – comfortable, flattering and guaranteed to create a stir every time I wear it. What more could a girl want!  Dress it up or dress it down, it’s all THAT.

Hope&Harvest Dress
Stockist:
Grey Dress – Hope & Harvest
Zebra Print Boots – Boots For Broads

I am a real vest girl (the 2nd most perfect accessory to “make” a waist – more on that another time), so my staple Igigi Claire De Lune maxi wrap dress is a great choice for those days when I need to go from casual/dressy day wear to a more dressy/evening – during the day add the vest and chunky jewellery, a great pair of boots and off you go… then transform it for the evening with a sexy pair of killer heels and a beautiful slip dress with coloured detail………. Stunning, versatile and so simple.

BlackDressResized

Stockists:
Evening styled:
Black Igigi Claire De Lune Dress – Volupture
Slip Dress with Lace Detail – Ascension Clothing
DressCasual1Shoes – My Own
 
 
 
  
Casually Styled:
Jewellery – My own
Black Igigi Claire De Lune Dress 
Denim Vest – Autograph
Boots – Pergoni Boots
Shoes – My Own

Myth No. 12 – You have to spend big $’s to look great

Want to look great on a budget? Would you believe this outfit cost $65 (excluding shoes & hat). Who says curvy women can’t look great on a budget!

I live in my jeans, dress them up, dress them down… the key again is in the correct style for YOU. For me, to balance out my figure I love boot leg jeans. I wear jeans autumn/winter/spring/summer. Based in Melbourne we are used to 4 seasons in one day and the key to dressing for Melbourne weather is layers! These gorgeous boot leg jeans (a steal for $19 a pair at KMART!!) are great wearing and fit my curves beautifully. Teamed with a long-sleeved pink/red T, and chunky knit I was ready to go. Oh and if you’re having a bad hair day, or you’re like me and the foggy cool weather makes your hair frizz, team your outfit with your favourite hat & scarf– a winner every time!

ThoseCoolDays2

Stockists:
Jeans, Long Sleeve T & Chunky Knit – KMart
Boots – Ziera Shoes
Hat & Scarf – My Own

When purchasing jeans, it’s important to have a selection in your wardrobe. Short boots or heels look great in boot leg, but when wanting to tuck your jeans into your boots, it’s essential that you select “skinny” leg jeans – no unsightly bulges at the ankle from stuffing too much material into your boots.

P.S. Remember those incredibly comfortable heeled boots I was raving about earlier, here they are again!

SNUGGLE TIP for AUTUMN/WINTER: Natural Fabrics

In winter I want to be warm but not restricted, I personally am not a fan of 2 piece PJs, so for me this gorgeous and comfy heavy cotton nightie is perfect for the cooler weather, grab your teddy and snuggle up – colour adds life!

Sleep2

Available from Jacaranda Lane.

So there you have it, 12 Myths busted – and so simply.

Want to know more?… let me help you… Book your own personal style session with me, email me janine@janinemison.com.au or phone 0405-319-691

(This review was done in 2012)

Top 6 Tips for curvy brides to be…

PlusSizeBridalImage

There is no need to struggle to achieve your best on your special day, the key is a great attitude and to know what looks great on you:

TOP 6 TIPS for plus-size brides to be:

1. Know your body shape and what looks good on YOU

  • Avoid princess gowns or big full gowns that add bulk to your figure
  • Ensure that the length of your gown is correct for your height and shape

HINT: Don’t be scared to wear a fitted gown – this will show off your curves and give you shape rather than cover it up, which often results in an unflattering look

2. Find a bridal specialist who UNDERSTANDS your figure and caters to your body shape

 3. Don’t be scared to show your arms, there are lots of choices of how to flatter bigger arms, a bridal specialist will understand how to do this

HINT: A thicker strap will balance a bigger chest and arm, a lovely bolero will cover problem arms but accentuate a beautiful waist whist still doing justice to a beautiful gown.

4. Ensure the foundations are correct – A well fitted bra and underwear is ESSENTIAL to all outfits.  Once you have chosen your dream gown, speak to the designer or retailer about the best foundations to invest in for your best look.

 5. Colour choice is crucial.  Not everyone can wear white.  Ensure that you really consider whether white, off white, cream, red or any other colour is your best colour.  A bad choice can instantly drain your complexion, a good choice can lift you and ensure you glow!

 6. A healthy lifestyle and positive body image is also essential 

  • Drink plenty of water, and look after your skin
  • MOVE, walk or do a form of exercise that keeps the blood flowing and releases “Happy Hormones”.  Just 15 minutes a day can make all the difference
  • If you’re feeling low on confidence, consult someone who can help.  Just a simple image consultation can help boost the esteem and set you on the right path to embracing your body and making the most of who you are today!

The same tips apply to your wardrobe in general.  A marriage is the beginning of a new life, a new opportunity to embrace your curves and ensure you’re on the right track for a happy & positive body image future.

Revamp your wardrobe and shop in your own wardrobe. Ensure that you are wearing 100% of your clothes and they are flattering your curves.

A one-on-one image consultation can do wonders with your body image and streamline your look.

Shop with someone who KNOWS where to find garments designed for your curves.

For more information and to book a consultation to keep you on the right track for your big day, please contact me.  I have been working as an independent plus-size Image Consultant and specialist for over eight years. Let me take the stress out of looking amazing on your big day.  Ph: 0405-319-691 or email janine@janinemison.com.au

Image Details: Image by Tales of Tingewick,  photo features Dan Campo, Blush Photography’s Hottest Hunk Finalist 2010 and models Katie & Alithea.  Gowns are from Plus Size Perfection Bridal (left) and Glamour Plus (right).
janine_and_pete_032
 
My wedding, 14th September, 2013. Dress made by Hope & Harvest.
See my blog post here…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Love your shape!
Janine x