How many more can we afford to lose?

This week marks the closing of two important brands who have serviced the plus-size industry here in Australia (and overseas)… really?

Yes, really 🙁

Can we afford to lose such businesses?

Bennetts Boots have been around for years, an Australian company offering wide-calf boots in 3 different calf sizes. The first time I tried on a pair of Bennetts Boots I was in love. They fit! bennettsbootsNot only did they fit but the quality was second to none and everything had been thought of – anti-smell, quality leather, extra cushioning and beautifully presented in a box with instructions on how to care for your boots. I have 3 pairs in my wardrobe, and 5 years on they are still in excellent condition! Now that’s quality (and the argument I always use when convincing someone to invest $300+ in boots!)

Not only plus-size women have wide-calves, in fact a friend of mine is a runner and she too (even at a size 10) requires wide-calf boots, I know she’ll be saddened by this news too.

Plus HQ run by the gorgeous Amanda, face of the brand, started just over 2 years ago with a fabulous website dedicated to gorgeous, stylish and stunning garments for ladies size 16-26. Amanda’s website became so popular, that she expanded to a bricks & mortar store which opened in Eltham, Vic just over a year ago. PlusHQI was a huge fan of her store, in the quaint “village” of Eltham you were always welcomed with Amanda’s huge smile and welcoming spirit, she was a whizz at styling and nothing was too much trouble, but her customer service was also second to none – she just got it, you know! She had a keen eye for picking gorgeous styles to feature in her store, as well as the most amazing bags and accessories this side of Texas! I’ve never heard a bad word about her brand, only rave reviews.

Plus HQ hosted two incredible VIP nights where I was amazed at the turn-out, so many supporters, and all there to shop too! I shared a lovely dinner with her a few weeks ago where together we discussed the pros and cons of running such a business, and the difficult decision that had to be made to close the doors.

Both Amandas’ are extremely passionate women who saw a niche and went for it and they both made an important mark on our Industry. The challenges of business in the current economic climate, coupled with the explosion of internet shopping and keeping a solid cash flow have proven too big a hurdle. I know that these ladies did not come to this decision lightly. It’s just so sad that as a Curvy girl I can no longer look forward to their offerings.

As always, I want to encourage you all to SUPPORT AUSTRALIAN BUSINESS. It’s so important to recognise that businesses can only survive if we are actually buying, not just talking about how great they are. Both businesses have blitzed their final day’s sales, it’s sad that we are prepared to buy only when things are “on sale”.

(Incidentally, both brands have HUGE sales on right now, so visit their websites by clicking on the links/images above to grab a last minute bargain – and hang on for as long as you can!)

Just the other day, my hubby Pete and I were discussing issues with retail these days. He actually put the problem into a nutshell, he said “People just do not value quality anymore”. In fact we realised that the focus has shifted from quality completely. Such a shame.

It’s easy to buy cheap anything these days. I’m guilty of it too, don’t get me wrong. I can buy a kazillion pairs of “ankle” boots from the “cheapo” stores, but I can’t buy a kazillion pairs of quality wide calf boots from these stores. I need to invest in, and look after my quality boots. Equally, investing in key pieces (such as those always on offer at Plus HQ), equates to a quality wardrobe, not just a kazillion pieces of cheap nasty Chinese rip offs.

It’s time to re-think our buying patterns. I personally don’t feel we can afford to lose any more Australian brands – do you?

Amanda & Amanda, congratulations on your achievements and THANK YOU for providing me with quality & choice. Good luck with your future endeavours.

(SOB).

Love your shape!

Janine x

Want to know where to shop? I’ve got it sorted… The Curvy Girl’s Guide to Shopping

 

Wardrobe staples you don’t have to live without…

Recently I was reminded by a client how many women are driven by lack of choice or fear of not looking their best in a garment. My client is a size 22 and insisted that jeans do not suit her! In fact, I’d go so far as to say that she had completely closed herself off to the possibility of ever finding jeans that flattered her shape.

I’m happy to say that during our personal shop, we DID find jeans that flatter her figure and she is now the proud owner of TWO pairs of jeans!  “Suddenly there are options, thank you” she said.

It’s common to meet women who feel their curvy bodies are not suited to jeans, I constantly get asked about this topic and I encourage all of my clients to step out of the box and try on a pair (after years of avoiding them and omitting them as a wardrobe option) they are often surprised at what an important item jeans are to their wardrobe.

Jeans ARE a great option for curvy girls, but the trick is in sourcing a pair that not only suit your body shape, but are comfortable to wear. This not only applies to jeans, but it’s essential to have some wardrobe staples for each season in which to build a base for great, simple outfits that flatter your curves.

TIP No 1: When you find THE perfect pair of jeans for you, buy two pairs!

Let’s take me first. I am currently a size 20-22 (Australian sizing) hourglass in shape, but in jeans can appear to be top-heavy. I find that a bootleg in most instances suits me best as it balances me out.

I have two pairs/styles of GO TO jeans that are a staple in my wardrobe.

The first pair are NYDJ (Not Your Daughter’s Jeans) which I have always found are of high quality denim that retain their shape and colour even after many washes. The jeans wear well over time and I always feel comfortable in them (no muffin top here!). I hate that too tight feeling around my waist and although these jeans fit my waist snugly, they do not roll or squish! Very important.

The narrower bootcut gives me a longer legged sillouette and helps to balance out my figure.  These jeans are worth the investment! I also LOVE the sticker that comes on the “bum” of the jeans… check it out:

 NYDJ Jeans – Barbara Modern Boot Cut in Dark Indigo – $199 – Size US16 (Aus 20)

I’ve teamed my jeans with a long sleeve cuff shirt with horizontal stripes. I LOVE stripes, and am so thrilled with stripes being on-trend this season. I often opt for monochrome colours as a twist on the classic white shirt.This shirt can be dressed up or down.  The fabric feels amazing on my skin. It’s so versatile and looks great with and without accessories or a vest or similar.

My Size – Long Sleeve Cuff Striped Shirt – AUD$99.95 – Size L

The vest I’m wearing is one from a few seasons ago that I picked up from a sales rack for $10 at Target. It is a classic cut vest and I love that it adds value to my wardrobe all year round. In my wardrobe, vests are a key signature of my own personal style.

My second go-to pair of jeans are skinny legs that I love to wear tucked into my favourite boots. There’s nothing worse than bulging ankles in boots, so make sure when tucking jeans into boots that they are straight leg and are wrapped around your ankle to create a smooth fit.

These “A Stitch in Time” skinny leg jeans are a medium blue colour. They have five pockets and I just LOVE the stitching detail on the pockets and inner leg. They are cotton/spandex allowing for good stretch whilst not losing their shape (and fit so comfortably especially around my waist again without creating a muffin top!) with lovely silver star diamante buttons.  They are a valuable addition to my wardrobe, and give me the versatility to wear my boots on the outside, or with flats or heels, look amazing too.

PLUS HQ – A Stitch in Time Skinny Leg Jeans – AUD$59.95 – Size 20

 

My boot of choice for this season are from Australian company Bennetts Boots. The Mona Lisa in chocolate – just sensational, one of the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn. The heel is 7 cm and is very comfortable to walk in (I’m not a big heel person, so I’m always wary of height creating an awkward walking gait, but these are just perfect and I can glide along). Made of quality Crocodile/Nappa Leather, the boot fits my calf beautifully, with plenty of room to tuck in my skinny leg jeans or wear stockings or leggings without squishing my leg. The quality is great, 100% leather, and comes with instructions on how to care for them so they last for years to come.  Oh and they are fully lined with anti-smell, anti-sweat breathable lining with extra cushioning for comfort and shock resistance – seriously it’s like walking on a cloud.

Bennetts Boots – Mona Lisa (Chocolate) – AUD$325.00 – Size 9 WW

 

TIP No 2: Invest in Quality – I realise that these boots are a significant investment, but if you are like me and have made the mistake of buying cheap sub-standard shoes/boots on a budget only to have them ruined and tatty in a very short period of time after purchase, you will agree that it is 100% WORTH investing in a quality product that not only will fit properly but will last for years to come.

I asked the gorgeous Michella from my Curvy Revolution agency to pick her favourites too. It’s so important to talk about plus-size fashion from different size and body shape perspectives. Michella is a pear shape, and a size 16.

For a fabulous and comfortable day look, I teemed a pair of on-trend colour skinny leg jeans, which flatter her shape.  Married with a classic style white shirt – a staple in every girl’s wardrobe, and topped off with some gorgeous accessories, this outfit is not only comfortable by gorgeous! The accessories from Franky and Cate are just amazing, the necklace is a quality piece with a great length for curvy figures and the cuff bracelet, which unfortunately I forgot to include in the pic, is not only gorgeous but is elasticated allowing it to fit beautifully on any size wrist!

NYDJ Jeans – Sheri Skinny in Dark Teal – AUD $209 – Size US12 (AUS 16)
My Size – Boyfriend Shirt – $89.95 – Size M
Franky and Cate – Long Strand Earth Tone Chain – $69.00
Franky and Cate – (not pictured) Elasticated Metal Alloy Cuff – $69.00

 

Another wide-calf boot option is this gorgeous pair from The Pear Tree.  Now just a warning for those of you with calf size over 45cm.  Beware, my calf measures just a smidge over 45cm and  these boots are a size 9, the sizing chart on the site states that they should fit from 42-48cm calf, for me they did not. It’s fair to say that a size chart is always just a guide only, it always pays to try on anything for the fit just for you.

The Pear Tree offers a refund for the purchase amount or exchange for UNWORN boots in original condition within 30 days of order date. So this is reassuring.

Michella’s calf measures 42cm and as you can see from the photo, they fit her perfectly. In fact these boots are extremely flattering, I love the kitten heel and the 100% leather is again an investment in quality which I highly recommend.

The Pear Tree – Asha Boot – Wide Calf  – $325 delivered!

 

TIP No 4: A beautiful signature piece such as this gorgeous lace top is a wonderful investment, perfect for dressing up a pair of jeans and flattering your figure.

Using the same gorgeous jeans, Michella added a beautiful Lace Flutter Top from Volupture and a pair of heels and she was ready for a night out! This stunning lace flutter top is a beautiful addition to any wardrobe . The lace detail is so beautiful, the v-neck flattering to a curvy figure and the wide lace gives it structure. The crinkled chiffon fabric is cool and flattering.

Volupture – Lace Flutter Top – $53.00 – Size 2X

 

I encourage you to step outside the box and experiment with garments that you may have put in the “no-go” zone – you might be surprised. I’m always available to add value to your shopping experience, you’ll find more about that by clicking this link.

What are your favourite wardrobe staples?

Love your shape!

Janine x