Customised dresses – game-changer!

How often have you found a dress that’s “almost” perfect – where you’ve loved the shape but wished that the neckline was different or it had sleeves? Often!

That is now over – I’ve found my perfect dress and I want to share it with you. Marketing Banner Camilla Jayne

Camilla Jayne Couture is an Australian plus-size designer who has a lovely shop in Dubbo NSW where she stocks her own label amongst others up to size 28.

In my work in United Curves Wholesale Fashion Agency specialising in sizes 12-28+ I am often asked about special occasion wear and dresses for corporate wear.  Whilst many of the labels that I carry have one-off garments that fit the bill, I struggled to find the perfect option, until now.

Camilla Jayne Couture uniquely offers you the ability to customise their classic 1950’s inspired dress range. Each design offers superior fit and elegance with a range of feminine prints or classic colours to choose from. These styles are available in sizes 12-28.

Enjoy the flexibility to choose what you know is going to work best for you, choose from classic plain colours, or dabble in a feminine floral or print – these dresses cater to the customer who is talk short, wants a sleeve, or doesn’t want a sleeve – likes a deep neckline, or a high neckline – it’s never been easier to choose your perfect style.

FULLY CUSTOMISABLE – colour/print, neckline, back, length and sleeve.

Round Neckline V Neckline

Back

All Camilla Jayne designs are MADE IN AUSTRALIA from quality Ponte and Cotton Sateen.

Recommended Retail Price $149.95-$239.95 (depending on level of customisation).

I’m so happy with my dress – it’s my go to for business, special occasion and pleasure. It’s so easy to wear, feels amazing as it hugs my curves in all the right places and is simple to dress up or dress down.  I selected the Elizabeth Style with pleated skirt in plain black with deep V neckline, plain cap sleeve  and added length customisation (hits to mid-calf – perfect!).  Here’s a pic I took just before I did a wholesale showing in Adelaide recently.

Janine Final

I highly recommend you jump onto the Camilla Jayne Couture website and take a look at how you too can design your very own perfect dress.

To receive 20% OFF your perfect dress, simply enter the code AUTUMNSALE when ordering to receive your discount valid until the 20th April, 2017.

SHOP CAMILLA JAYNE NOW

I’d love to hear from you about your perfect dress.

Love your shape!

Janine x

MonochromeBanner

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)

Target Australia… update

My blog post about Target Australia’s plus-size department created a huge stir and an incredible response. It was very clear that it wasn’t just me that was feeling dissatisfied with what is going on there. THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to write about your experiences, it helped me create a good snapshot of feedback and experiences to present to the team.

The original blog post was published on the 1st April. The next day (Good Friday), I received an email from Target Australia addressing my concerns, apologising for how we were all feeling and inviting me to meet with the Customer Service and Women’s Department plus-size buying team and technical designer.

I took Target up on their offer to meet and in late May enjoyed 3 1/2 hours with the team in Target Australia’s Melbourne CBD store. During the meeting, I was asked by the team to walk with them through the store and speak frankly about my impressions of what was on offer. To begin with I was rather concerned about sharing my concerns and observations too frankly as I was quite worried that it would land on deaf ears. To the Teams’ credit, it became clear within minutes that they WERE listening, and more importantly ASKING for honest critique and feedback. How refreshing!

We talked about how Target is sending mixed messages with the positioning and merchandising of their plus-size department, and with their marketing campaigns.  Let’s face it, it’s just not fashion we’re seeing in Target’s plus-size department.

9215088295966I had the opportunity to provide honest critique about the range, talk frankly with the team about the perception that curvy women have about Target’s mixed messages and to listen to their plan to move forward. It was apparent to me that they were already aware of the shortcomings of their range and marketing of it, and most importantly it was clear that they were LISTENING! This is a brilliant first step towards something positive.

I had spent a considerable amount of time preparing some data, images and a bit of a presentation with my findings, and I was pleasantly surprised that we had covered 95% of what I wanted to say before I’d even had a chance to pull it out! I emailed the team a copy of my data and presentation and they have reviewed it.

CONGRATULATIONS to the Target Australia women’s plus-size team and thank you for inviting me to meet with you. It was a very constructive session, and I look forward to the opportunity of working with you further on moving the Target Australia plus-size offerings to a more deserving position for the curvy girls of our Nation.

Stay tuned ladies, I won’t let this one go!

Love your shape!

Janine x

The Curvy Couture Roadshow 2015

Did you hear it? The thunderous applause emanating from the ACMI lightwell at Federation Square on Saturday night? Or perhaps you heard the excited chatter of guests as they queued up at the steps of the Collingwood Town Hall to gain entry to the designer market on Sunday morning.  I’m guessing if none of the above your newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram has been humming with all the goss, images and video feeds of the weekend.

The weekend began for me at the Bloggers Brunch. 11 lovely ladies met at a café in the CBD, excited and ready to go. Jess & Erin from CCR hosted our brunch and we were given an outline of the events over the weekend, invited to come backstage to meet the designers and models as they prepped and rehearsed that afternoon, and of course to stand in the media pit, front & centre at the show. The bloggers brunch gave me an opportunity to finally meet some of my fellow writers, we were a merry bunch and all bring something different to the Industry. Thanks for the opportunity to meet and chat about the event prior to the show, it was fantastic, and so was the smashed avocado & feta toast, coffee and fresh juice – LOVE

DSC_9783

There was much debate on social media about what everyone was going to wear. I chose my comfy Autograph Jeans and kimono with a blast of Red with my favourite boots.

DSC_9817

Organisers Erin & Jess chatting to the bloggers over brunch about the event.

DSC_9814

Our Media passes and the yummy juice!

Bloggers

(Left-right) Erin, Jess, Me, Melissa, Lily, Natalie, Omega, Ashley, Olivia, Elyse, Sam, Hayley

The Curvy Couture Roadshow blew us all out of the water this past weekend. You may remember me writing about the 1st Roadshow that was held in Perth in 2013, it was my wedding weekend, and although I was in Perth I couldn’t make it 🙁 Last year I was overseas and missed it again, so this year I was determined to be front and centre, and boy am I glad I didn’t miss it. By all accounts this year was bigger and better than ever.

You’ve heard me banging on for over 6 years now about “realistic & identifiable” representation of plus-size garments and how ONLY doing this will truly sell to the target market. The CCR proved this point – ten fold!

From the minute you entered via the red carpet out the front, the excitement was undeniable.

Sarah & I

Sarah & I

I was lucky enough to be gifted a ticket and invited Sarah from Body Positive Australia as my guest for the evening, we loved the chance to grab a photo together before we entered the venue. I was proud to wear my beautiful kaftan by Kaftans by Annalisa, a Melbourne designer, I love it, I felt comfortable all night, but also felt fabulous! (Wish I could say the same about my shoes, my feet were killing me! but hey they looked nice right?!)

MissScarlet

Miss Scarlet Did It

The catwalk show began with a BANG – BOOM Suzie the gorgeous red-head stormed out of the curtains to begin the show in Miss Scarlet Did It lingerie, followed closely behind by a bevy of beauties of all shapes and sizes – not one body shape was missed – everyone in the room could identify with at least one of the models. To start the show with lingerie was a stroke of brilliance, it proved to the crowd that CCR is serious about making their mark, and more importantly making the point that plus-size fashion is relevant, it’s now, it’s shaking and that curvy women love their bodies and want to wear sexy clothes. It wasn’t only the catwalk that was full of body positive women, the room was full of incredibly beautiful women, inside & out.

The next 2 1/2 hours were a mesmerizing plethora of designs, I loved that each brand represented had something unique to offer, they all had their own unique spin on representing their garments, and the passion of the designers, the quality of the designs and fabrics made you want to run so far away from what I call “The Usual Suspects” (you know, the brands that are available in the shopping centres) that it wasn’t funny. In fact, the CCR was a chance to be convinced (If you weren’t already that is) that spending your money at any store BUT these designers was just, well, it’s just crazy!

Being a preacher of “love your shape!” and a firm believer of identifying your own personal style and dressing for YOU, it only makes sense to buy from these brands, not only to support local Australian businesses, but to take advantage of some seriously amazing garment options. I have a “must buy list” that is a mile long (and will take me years to afford), but the fact that I have a list now, is just sensational. I can’t remember the last time I went shopping and wanted to buy EVERYTHING!

My personal favourite was Hope & Harvest, this label is on fire! The H&H anorak and animal print bomber jacket just begged me to buy them, but seriously EVERYTHING that came out on those amazing models, and to the beat of the jungle theme just wooed me in 🙂 The styling and choreography was brilliant, H&H are already a front runner in realistically & identifiably representing their garments in all their marketing, and this flowed on through their segment with streets models wearing all their designs. BRAVO!

Hope & Harvest

Hope & Harvest

Hope & Harvest

Hope & Harvest

Meri by Design/Eder+Berk were amazing, stylish, stylish, stylish. The cape jacket will be mine! This seasons’ range is a serious option for those of you who are looking for great options for corporate attire too, I only wish they were around when I was in the corporate field years ago. Sigh.

Meri By Design

Meri By Design

I hadn’t seen Lisa Kerr’s range before the night, my first reaction was LOVE for their marketing, the models came out with signs “I am Inspirational (which is a size 18-20) and another “I am Confident” which translates to a Size 14/16 – their Measurement guide is wonderful and brilliant marketing to me, their target market. The designs were chic and fun with great accessories. This is a label I want to know more about.

Lisa Kerr

Lisa Kerr

huudaverti appealed to my gypsy side, my need to look and feel unique & extraordinary. Whilst one of the designs I felt belonged in my kitchen (I just can’t get my mind around a dress that looks like an apron), all the other designs blew me away! The fabrics are incredible, so unique, just like the designs, and although the styling was more “unique” than I would style them, the beauty was I could see lots of key pieces I could incorporate into my own wardrobe that would not only suit my style, but finally allow me to express it more, as there truly isn’t another label that is coming at fashion from this angle in the plus-size market. The Designers (3 sisters) behind this brand are so fantastic, and I loved how they acknowledged their mum in the front row beaming proudly at them at the end of their segment.

huudaverti

huudaverti

I love the quirkiness of Misty Belvidere, her show made a big impression with bold colours and fun, exciting patterns. This is a brand to watch!

Misty Belvidere

Misty Belvidere

Bombshell Vintage opened with the incredible green emerald dress, I can still see the luxury of the colour and fabric in my mind, and teamed with the gorgeous red tresses of model Suzie with her smooth moves on the catwalk, I was in love! Vintage isn’t my thing, but if it’s yours, you NEED to visit Bombshell Vintage.

Bombshell Vintage

Bombshell Vintage

Harlow, it struck me is a true Melbourne brand as us Melbournites are known for our love of wearing black. Harlow didn’t disappoint with some great styles in black, monochrome and deep reds with some pretty cool accessories.

Harlow

Harlow

Oh my goodness I could just go on forever about each brand that showed on Saturday night, but I just can’t fit it all in!, so here’s of list of the other incredible brands that showed, please show them some love by clicking on the link and subscribing to their mailing lists to stay up to date.

Seraphim, Pho Sizzle, Nyata, Camilla Jayne, Big Blossom PJs, Icelandic Blue, The Professors Daughter

Sonsee Woman made a huge impression too, suddenly out strutted models in their underwear, tights and crop Sonsee T-shirts – full of confidence and fierceness! It was an incredibly empowering segment of the event. I personally own a couple of pairs of Sonsee, and wrote a post about them last winter, if you haven’t tried them yet – get on it! They are the ONLY tights I will ever wear again!

Sonsee Woman

Sonsee Woman

Beyond The Sea, I wish I had seen this range before my recent Bali trip – I would have found my new swimsuit straight away! LOVE that Beyond The Sea not only understands design, but offers fantastic quality fabric in DESIGNS! Yep, not just plain old black. Loved the fun presentation of this brand on the catwalk.

Beyond The Sea

Beyond The Sea

The reaction from the crowd during the show was fantastic, there was clapping, cheering, gasps, squeals, you name it, it kept coming as thick and fast as the realistic models pounding the catwalk. The buzz during the intermission was so great, and the show finished with a bang, with one look from every brand represented on the catwalk which was greeted with thunderous applause. And then it was over. Sigh.

I was lucky enough to head upstairs to the after party where I got to talk some more with the other bloggers, meet some of the models and speak to the designers. It was hard to sleep that night, the buzz of excitement was infectious and kept my mind and body going for hours and hours. Sunday was the Curvy Couture Designer Market at the Collingwood Town Hall where as a Media VIP I got to meet and greet all the designers with a glass of champagne in hand an hour before the general public arrived. I took full advantage of that hour to scoot around and see as many people as possible, I made it half way before the doors opened and the stalls & designers were inundated with people eager to do the same!

The VIP guest for the Runway and Market this year was Tess Holliday, an inspirational woman who has made history this year by being the first plus size model to be signed to Milk Management Agency. Tess was front and centre with her man at the Runway, she was clearly enthralled by the brands on show and hugely supportive. She was so humble and generous, happy to pose with guests for photos and speaking with them. I finally got the chance to say hi to Tess myself at the Market, and I bought one of her fantastic t-shirts with #effyourbeautystandards on it! I wore it for 3 days straight, I just LOVE it and what it stands for. My 11 year old son said to me on Tuesday morning when I pulled it on over my jeans to do the school run “Mum, you really love that t-shirt don’t you!?” LOL

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I think my only criticism (for want of a better word) in relation to this event was that there was no MC. I wanted to hear a welcome, an introduction, someone to work with the excitement and anticipation that was building in the room as we waited for the event to start – to bring it for us and at the end, after the fantastic finale walk by all the models and brands, I wanted someone to thank us for being there, and to tell us to mark our calendars for next years event. That was missing for me.

I’d like to take a moment to congratulate the organisers of this years event, it was fantastic! Congratulations to Jess, Erin, Kate, Teresa & Karyn. I know the huge hours and effort that it takes to pull something like this together, and you should be congratulated. Thank you for raising the visibility of our Australian Designers, for giving them an important platform to showcase to their target market and to the public in general. I just know that this event will go from strength to strength as it is an important vehicle for fashion for curvy women of Australia.

Congratulations to the designers who put in a huge effort to have incredible & show- stopping designs to showcase, for all the long hours you put in to be there all weekend and for being so welcoming and sharing your brand with us. You did us so proud! I hope that you’ve felt the love and pride from all of us, your customers.

BRAVO to the models, the Industry Models from Bella Model Management, and to the street models who worked hard to practise, practise, practise to ensure a smooth performance. It wasn’t just smooth – it was AWESOME!

BUY AUSTRALIAN, SUPPORT AUSTRALIAN, we have so much to offer.

LOVE YOUR SHAPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Janine x

Plus size guide to shopping in Bali

I’m a winter girl, I love to dress in boots and jeans, vests & cardigans, so who would have thought that I’d take to Bali like a fish to water and embracing the sweat that poured off my body day and night in the humid heat?

I first visited Bali in 1989, I was 18 and it was my first overseas holiday alone. Back then Bali looked quite different, Kuta was tiny, a couple of streets of shops and boutiques and the fantastic market by the beach, but apart from that there was very little western about Kuta. I had a great time exploring what was then a very different Kuta. Today Kuta is a place I work hard to avoid, the hustle and bustle and westernisation of the town is just too depressing, and I have to say that I am not too proud of the shenanigans of some Aussie travellers I’ve seen behaving badly and really not in my mind appreciating what Bali has to offer. For our honeymoon in September 2013, Pete and I decided to give Bali a shot and we spent quite a while sifting through information and vetting opinions on where to visit. Ubud was our location of choice, and it’s my new favourite place in the world. The peace & tranquillity, enough tourism/westernisation to be comfortable (read: great cafes with amazing coffee!) but in Ubud and surrounds you get a true sense of the REAL Bali. We loved Bali so much that we booked 3 weeks last June and took our two boys Zac & Jeremy with us for a family holiday, this time though we had a week in Ubud and then 2 weeks Lovina, Northern Bali. That visit was quite different, the north of Bali is spectacular and has minimal tourists, but so much to offer. We all fell in love with Bali all over again. So now that my mum has successfully recovered from stage 3 aggressive breast cancer, I knew it was time for us to have some mother and daughter time, and so off we went together for 8 days in Ubud, we just got back on Monday – it was fantastic! How lucky am I, 3 trips in 2 years.

Bali is a place where you can relax, enjoy and indulge in pampering. We had the most amazing one-hour relaxation massages for a mere AUD$10! Yep, I could have had 11 massages for the same cost as one massage at my local professional massage practitioner. And the quality of the massage was just spot on! We also indulged in a pamper afternoon where we had a one hour facial (clean, exfoliate, honey mask, face/neck massage and moisturising), one hour pedicure and one hour manicure – this 3 hours of pampering totalled AUD$31! In between this we toured Kintamani, the most incredible volcanic area of Mt Batur, the rice paddy terraces, Bali Bird & Reptile Park, lots of countryside and so much more. And then there’s the market stalls, streets and streets and streets of them, offering the most incredible assortment of garments. Unfortunately, as is the case in most of the world, the majority of the clothing is aimed at smaller sizes, usually up to a 12-14. There are styles that are “one size” and are kaftanish, so will fit to up to a size 18-20 but for me I found it difficult to find something amazing – it would fit, but then say it had a high neckline which of course doesn’t suit my body shape. So it was always a challenge. The obvious solution to this is to have things made for me. Just about every second sign you pass says “custom made also available”.  The tailoring industry is just huge, and every town/village has a plethora of women who have their own sewing machines and fabrics and can make or copy just about anything you can throw at them.

This visit, I got smart. I pre-planned what I wanted to have made, and I pre-bought and pre-washed (VERY IMPORTANT!!!) my fabric to take. I bought two cotton/rayon fabrics and some embellishments for the ties that I wanted. I pre-washed in cold water and dried naturally on the line, then ironed the fabric.  (Note: I had another two dresses made once, purchased the fabric from the tailor, and the dresses were made perfectly to size, one wash back home (even in cold water!) and they both shrunk at least one dress size 🙁 so please even if you buy fabric from them, make sure you wash it first before getting your garment made up).AFabric

I decided on a dressmaker, Made, who was located just off the main street of Ubud, she came highly recommended by our driver and friend who has had many years experience helping tourists source services.

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Made’s shop was really neat and clean and she had oodles of beautiful local fabrics. Her smile lights up the room, she is gentle and sweet and “got” exactly what I was after. I gave her two dresses that I had already and asked her to copy them for me. She was a little confused when I presented her with the embellishments I wanted for the ties on the dresses, but once I cut them off the twine they are sold on and explained she got it, and the dresses were exactly as I’d asked.

ABaliDressAsWinterFullLengthABaliDressasWinterA2ndDressWinter aA2ndDressWinterLookingDown

Didn’t I say I’m a boots & cardigan kinda girl?! These dresses are perfect for dressing any season, summer with sandals and winter with boots & cardigans. LOVE

And here’s the dress on it’s own for summer

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So the total cost for these to be made was a mere AUD$65, that was for 3 dresses! (There’s a 3rd one in cheesecloth, but I didn’t photograph it). Bargain.

Don’t forget if you’re lucky enough to find something in the markets that is “almost” right for you, and a simple change would make it “perfect”, consider buying the garment and having it altered at a local tailor/dressmaker. It will cost the smallest amount to do this and you’ll have exactly what you want.

Now as I mentioned I am a huge boot lover. About 4 years ago when Pergoni Boots came onto the Australian Market I had a launch party and bought myself the most amazing pair of boots EVER. They were called the Jessica Boots, they were perfectly tapered to my leg, wide-calf and just bloody brilliant. I begged the girls at Pergoni to repeat the style, but alas they could no longer produce that style 🙁 So, because I couldn’t bare to throw them out, I wore them literally to death! Here’s what they looked like when I dragged them in my suitcase to Bali:

ABootsBeforeABootSoleBeforeYep, Ipretty worn out right?! I asked around when we arrived in Ubud, and so did our friend Made, and then he heard about Ardy, apparently the best in Ubud. So off we went, my pathetic worn boots in hand. Ardy was so welcoming, he sat me down, had a good look at the boots (which incidentally weren’t leather) and presented me with a huge bundle of leather swatches and said “choose colours”.  WOW! Seriously there were like about 30 different options. I had my heart set on brown and black, so I picked the (fingers crossed) just right brown and black. Ardy then went on to show me some examples in his shop of sole options, I opted for rubber non-slip. We bartered on price and agreed on the delivery time, 4 days time. I left the store feeling positive but a little anxious, as you just never know what to expect.  Four days later I arrived to pick up my boots. I entered the store to be welcomed by a huge smile and a very proud Ardy handing over his handy work. WOW WOW WOW, I was absolutely floored – they are stunning. The leather is just beautiful, the detail and finish, second to none, in fact, dare I say it, they were even better than the originals!

ABootsSolesNEWABrownBootsSitting aSo, for 2 pairs of premium leather, beautifully handmade boots, I paid AUD$170. Yep AUD$170. I’m so thrilled it’s ridiculous, and I’m just a bit pleased too that the weather has cooled down in Melbourne now, so I can wear them!! Hooray!

AArdyHIGHLY Recommend you get in touch with Ardy, I’ve seen other copies of boots and they just don’t compare to the workmanship and leather quality that I got here. Ardy can take orders via email or phone and can ship express to Australia for around AUD$30. Please tell him I sent you.

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 TIPS for shopping in Bali:

Barter! It’s expected. There are many fixed-price stores in the towns, usually upmarket boutiques or galleries where the prices are fixed. But the street vendors, markets and many market type stalls around the streets are all expecting you to barter. I’ve found from experience that what works best is to take the first price the vendor gives you, and drop your first price in the negotiation down to less than a third (yes less than a 1/3!!). Don’t be afraid, it’s an art to negotiate and quite fun. For example a sarong should cost you approx. AUD$5 (IDR 50,000) in the markets and street stalls. The vendor will say IDR150,000, to which you say “no, my best price is IDR 35,000”, to which they’ll respond “no no, too low. I give you special morning price, IDR 70,000”. “No! My best price IDR50,000”, to which you’ll normally get a response “ok, ok, IDR50,000, special good luck price for you”!  The other guide is to be aware that they will never not want to sell you the product, so if you refuse to go higher after a few minutes of back and forth, then you can be sure that the price you are offering is too close to their wholesale buy price, and they literally can’t sell it for that price. It can be quite tricky, especially if you’re new to the prices, but after a few goes you’ll get the hang of it.

Try to pay with Exact Money. I’ve been caught out a few times, gone through the bartering process, agreed on the price, let’s say IDR40,000 for this example, tendered IDR50,000 only to be told that they don’t have change! Then it becomes uncomfortable as you insist on your change. This has only happened a few times, but I try to keep the notes broken up into denominations to avoid any added stress.

Speak their language. It’s pretty simple really, I’ve travelled extensively over my lifetime, and it’s been my belief that when visiting another country it’s only polite to be aware of their laws & customs, AND to have a few simple words in their own language to show your respect. It’s appreciated by the Balinese and will always raise a big smile.

Good Morning        Selamat Pagi

Good Afternoon     Selamat Sore

Good Evening       Selamat Malam

Thank you             Terima Kasih

No thank you         Tidak, terima kasih

You’re Welcome    Sama Sama

Be Clear. When arranging to have something made, ensure that you are extremely clear with instructions to avoid disappointment. I’ve found most people in business speak reasonable English and understand well, but I’ve also benefited from the help of our trusted friend and driver assisting with any instructions.

Don’t be Insulted. It’s important to realise that in Bali the culture is quite different. I saw one poor girl in tears after a market stallholder was trying to be helpful and yelled out “I’ve got big size for you”. Truthfully, they are just trying to be helpful, not hurtful. It’s not unusual to hear “I’ve got big sizes for you”, “Dress will fit you miss” etc. Just take it in the tone it’s meant, to try to sell you something and smile 🙂

Keep your sarong handy.  In Bali to enter a temple you need to wear a sarong. The markets are full of options in beautiful fabrics and you can expect to pay around AUD$5 for a sarong. Make sure you have it with you at all times as you just never know when you’ll want to visit a temple where you’ll need it. I also found (just like in Australia) that most spa’s don’t offer gowns that are large enough and this can often lead to embarrassment. A sarong is a great option as you can just wrap it around and tie it in so many ways!

OTHER PLUS SIZE OPTIONS IN BALI

There’s a huge list of stores that specialise in plus-size in Bali. There are three that I particularly like and recommend:

Goddess on the Go – 2 stores in Ubud and 1 in Sanur

This store specialises in eco-chic fashion for goddesses petit to plus-size! There’s a huge range to choose from and some gorgeous accessories too. All of the garments are high quality and are lightweight easy to wash & wear. They go up to a 3XL (around a 24-26 but I found a lot of styles could fit slightly larger too). Click on the link above for the website and the image for facebook page.

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Ketut’s Fixed Price – Last shop on Gang Sorga off Jl Sahadewa (Garlic Lane), in Kuta. It’s the 1st lane on the right after turning in from Jl Melasti. Ketut doesn’t have a facebook page or website! But it well worth the visit. Ketut has literally hundreds of options. Her store isn’t anything special to look at, but it’s seriously a treasure trove, she’s a warm and friendly lady who is passionate about offering plus-size options. Her dresses are between AUD$5 and AUD$10 each and you just have to say hello and ask and she’ll pull out bags and bags of options and take you around to a side lane where she has another mass of options hanging up to look at. Ketut goes up to a 4XL (26-28) and you will find a lot of same or similar styles to what’s available in all the markets around Bali. Please tell her I sent you x

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Divine Diva – This store is just Ace! It’s located in Seminyak and they specialise in resort wear. They export worldwide but the boutique is just lovely, nice and cool inside (with a comfy chair for your travelling companion to wait). You’ll find it at Jl Laksamana No.1, Oberoi in Seminyak. They stock up to a 3XL (24-26) and fit to a larger size in some styles.

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There are a host of other options too, but this blog post is getting so long! I’ll save that for another time. Feel free to share your experiences with us all by commenting below. Oh and if you’re heading to Bali let me know as I would highly recommend our driver Made who has become a family friend and just makes the visit that much more special and I’d love to ensure yours is too.

Enjoy – Selamat Menikmati

Love your shape!

Janine x

Jeans – my butt feels good in these :-)

I want to introduce you to a new brand that was recently launched at the A+ market, and I’m really excited about this brand because it’s not often that as a customer we have the opportunity to add value and invest our thoughts and ideas into the development of a product.

Crazy 4 Jeans founder Keyma is really passionate about curvy fit for jeans.  We recently met in a café over a cup of coffee where we spent a couple of hours discussing the challenges women have with jeans and how important a great fitting pair of jeans is not only to your wardrobe, but to your self-esteem. Crazy4JeansLogoKeyma is from Venezuela and immigrated to Australia four years ago. After the birth of her little boy, she noticed a change in her body, and struggled to find comfortable fitting jeans that shaped her figure. This began a hunt for the perfect jean for herself. Being passionate about her native South America and her new found home here in Australia, she decided to look to Columbia to source jeans in denim that she knew was not only ethically manufactured, but was also of the highest quality. Her website and brand Crazy4Jeans has created quite a stir, promising to improve your body image with butt lifting jeans (she had me at butt lifting!) and available in a range of styles offered in sizes 6-26.  Keyma is working hard to develop her reach and understand the market, she’s frequented some local markets, had a pop-up-store at Westfield, networked with Industry bloggers and customers and all in all made a huge effort to understand the market.  She was amazed when she realised that there was a huge interest from the plus-size customer and decided to focus her attention on developing jeans for that market.

When we met, I’d taken some time to look at the website beforehand and I noted that there were only 2 styles in the “plus size” section showing as available online. When Keyma arrived with her suitcase, she opened it and it literally exploded with choice! Keyma bought out style after style, all with individual embellishments and nuances. As we talked more, she explained that she is keen to develop a more “Australian” version of the jeans in plus-sizing. The feedback has been that some of the embellishments are a little too much for our taste, but it is definitely an individual choice. Further, her customers are loving the quality of the denim and the fit with the specialised butt lifting design winning lots of fans, as is the high waisted option with the choice of 3 or 4 buttons.

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C4JJeansBacksmallI had a lot of fun in the 35 degree heat and a small bathroom trying on six different options/sizes and getting the fit right.

I opted for a high waisted (with 4 buttons) pair in dark blue denim and false pockets with embellishments. The denim has a gentle stretch but feels firm and gives good control. The high waist makes my tummy feel less obvious and minimises the need to check if my top is positioned correctly to cover my tummy – WIN! In addition, I have a pretty flat butt, so the cut and design of these jeans gives me a curvier looking butt – yay! Another win is that the jeans are slightly longer than normal – I’m 169cms, so not tall, but not short. I often find that a “regular” length is just ok and have to opt for a “long” length to hit that sweet spot on my boots/shoes that elongate my body. These jeans are perfect, and as I’m a boot girl, I can tuck my boots under the jeans or tuck my boots into my jeans depending on my mood and my outfit.

Crazy4JeansSwingtagI think the only negative I can think of is that I had to size up to a 22 (I’m usually an 18-20 in jeans) and for some women this can be a deterrent. For me, I always go with what fits correctly and don’t worry about the size label.

I am really happy with my jeans, they are comfortable, flattering and the quality is fantastic. I encourage you to try them for yourself.  There are more than the 2 styles available, Keyma has a huge range, some one offs and if you give her a call she will talk you through them. Alternatively she is also available to make an appointment with and head on over and spend an hour trying them on! And don’t forget, Keyma is offering a chance to give constructive feedback to help her design a jean for our market…so please get in touch with her and tell her I sent you.

Love your shape!

Janine x