One-Stop Plus Maternity Shop in the heart of Sydney…

Many of you will remember in October 2010 I hosted a Girl’s Night Out for Real Women Australia to raise funds for Cancer. The room was packed with women and the gorgeous garments designed for women with curves were realistically & identifiably presented on seven of my beautiful Curvy Revolution models. The event was a huge success.

One of the participating retailers, was none other than Australian designer & manufacturer of plus-size maternity wear, Nadine Newell and her label Plus Maternity.

Curvy Revolution’s Kate was eight months pregnant at the time and looked stunning in Nadine’s designs.

Kate wearing Plus Maternity – October 2010

I often get enquiries about maternity wear and resources for plus-size women, and with Nadine’s launch of her label a couple of years ago, the options opened up.

Now here’s some more more great news for pregnant curvy women.

Two of Australia’s leading specialist boutiques, More Than A Handful and online store, Plus Maternity have joined forces to cater for the plus sized maternity market with a one-stop shopping destination in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.

Bringing together beautiful lingerie and swimwear options with on-trend clothing pieces, the new store will exclusively stock brands Bravado, Anita, Royce and Eveden as well as Plus Maternity’s wholly designed and manufactured in Australia range created by mum, Nadine Newell, who understands the needs of a plus sized mum.

Located at Level 2, 70 Druitt St, Sydney, the store also provides fashionable alternatives for the plus sized market exclusively stocking New Zealand designer Carolyn Barker’s wardrobe essentials of dresses, tunics, overtops, pants, skirts, tops jackets and vests.

The two stores come together from a long-time relationship – Plus Maternity’s Nadine Newell was a client of Margaret McLachlan’s More Than A Handful.  Both passionate about offering their fuller figured customers quality clothing options the merging of stores was a natural transition.  Margaret McLachlan also has a passion for promoting Australian and New Zealand made products where possible – an increasingly difficult task in today’s manufacturing climate.

“We felt our clients could really benefit from having a one-stop destination for all their maternity wear shopping needs.  Both Nadine and I believe in supporting and providing options for all women who need our specialist service – not just up to size 22 which is what many retailers do because it is a profitable demographic”, said Margaret McLachlan.

I’m really enjoying meeting our customers face to face, said Nadine Newell, it’s been fantastic to respond to their requests to have a bricks and mortar store after having an online store for 2 years.  The shop is in a stunning inner city location, right behind the QVB, on all the transport hubs.   The feedback received from women has been nothing but positive, they love that can come in and shop for both their maternity wear and their nursing bra requirements in one location.  The trained fitters from More than a Handful are wonderful to work with everyday.

Margaret McLachlan established More Than A Handful in 2005 after sustaining a shoulder injury and not being able to find a front-opening bra in her size.  Formerly a registered nurse with a post-graduate degree in midwifery, Margaret McLachlan is a professional bra-fitter specifically catering to women with larger bust sizes.

With PCOS, and after many years of trying to conceive, eventually with the assistance of IVF, Nadine Newell couldn’t wait to go shopping for maternity wear.  Unable to find anything in plus sizes and disappointed by the lack of care shown by retail assistances in trying to help her, she turned to overseas options but again, was underwhelmed by the choices available to plus sized women.  In 2010, knowing she wasn’t alone in her struggle to find maternity and breastfeeding wear, she decided to develop Plus Maternity, offering a range of gorgeous maternity wear designed and made in Australia, using local fabrics where available, such as the fabulous cotton milled in Sydney and used in all Plus Maternity’s breastfeeding friendly sleepwear.  Remaining fashionable, each item is fully functional with important details for the plus sized market including longer line tops, pants with stretch and busts with a little more room.  In 2011, Nadine Newell was a finalist in the Bio-Oil Ausmumpreneur Awards.

More Than A Handful

More Than A Handful caters to women of all ages and sizes carrying every day, evening, bridal, maternity and sports underwear collections in the very latest colours and fabrics.  This specialist intimate apparel boutique also provides practical and suitable choices for women who have undergone shoulder surgery or suffer disabling medical conditions which limit their flexibility and movement.  To provide maximum comfort and support, More Than A Handful also offers a tailored alteration service when required to ensure your bra is best suited to your shape, height and special needs.

www.morethanahandful.com.au

Plus Maternity

Plus Maternity is a clothing range for women, size 18 to 28. The range is inclusive of the key wardrobe essentials, corporate pieces, jeans, comfy casual wear, chlorine resistant swimwear, breastfeeding accessible sleepwear and a selection of breastfeeding tops.  Plus Maternity also has a thriving online community via Facebook, which aims to provide as much plus size mum friendly information as possible and at times Q&A forum.  Nadine spends a lot of time sifting though research and working with health care professionals to raise awareness of the issues faced by plus sized mum – a big part of this is ensuing we are in regular contact with the pregnancy and health media to ensure that issues of relevance to plus size mums are featured in fashion spreads, information pieces and readers stories.

www.plusmaternity.com.au

Here’s your invitation to attend the grand opening, if you’re not local to Sydney, don’t forget to shop online. Without your support, local Australian designers and businesses won’t survive. These ladies are passionate and working hard for YOU.

Tell Nadine & Margaret I sent you…

Love your shape!

Janine x 

Celebrating an invaluable contribution to curvy fashion in Australia…

Tomorrow an iconic Melbourne plus-size designer is closing her doors.

Over four years ago when I began Real Women Australia, I travelled to Glenferrie Road Malvern to meet with two other retailers catering to curvy women. I randomly parked my car in front of Cheryl’s store and realised that the mannequin in the window was curvy!

I took the plunge, opened the door and was greeted with a warm smile and gorgeous boutique housing some amazing creations. The store was Chez Statements.

That chance meeting was the beginning of my passion for plus-size designers.

Cheryl Canute began her career in the fashion industry 42 years ago, she just recently turned 60.

At the beginning of her career she worked her way up to opening her own retail fashion store catering to women of all shapes and sizes and focussed on buying in labels.  She tells many an amusing story of the “rag trade”, buying from wholesalers in Flinders Street, then the hub of the fashion world.

The customer base soon grew and it soon became apparent that catering to the many different shapes and sizes of women’s bodies was not an easy task.

Being a keen sewer and having an “eye” for design, coupled with her desire to meet her customers’ needs, Cheryl began applying her passion for design and introduced her customers to made-to-order designs of her own. What began as an on-the-side service grew so rapidly that the label Chez Statements was born and Cheryl moved into her existing boutique in fashionable Glenferrie Road, Malvern.

Offering sizes 12-26, she focused on assisting women find their own individual style.  By combining Nineteen Twenties, Asian & Middle Eastern influences in her designs the garments have interesting, humorous and subtle detail quite unique to this brand, and offered in casual to formal styles with everything in between. The fabrics were handpicked, always of the uppermost quality and natural fibres, and the sizings always tailored to flatter and accentuate real bodies.

This recipe for the Chez Statements label resulted in the most successful business Cheryl has owned.

Over the past four years Chez Statements has always been on my itinerary of destination stores for curvy women. I’ve visited with one-on-one personal shop customers, group shopping tours and hosted a VIP shopping evening with Cheryl. I’ve always been delighted at my customer’s reaction when they view the label. We have  thoroughly enjoyed our experience with Cheryl’s label and were thrilled to find this gem.

Chez Statements is arguably not a well-known label. It’s fair to say that marketing was not a focus of Cheryl’s she had no need to promote her label, the customers word of mouth referral and stylists like myself who were lucky enough to find her, were loyal from the start and spread the word – the best form of marketing in my opinion. She is very humble and works always with her customer in mind and as the focus of attention.

I was sad to hear that Cheryl was closing her doors – but there is good news:

  • Cheryl is able to close her doors at the highpoint of her career – not many who can say that! She literally feels it’s time to retire and take some “me” time
  • The Chez Statement label will not be disappearing!

That’s right, although the bricks & mortar store is closing down, Cheryl is already planning her new range! The website will remain and be updated (my guess is that people like me have badgered her so much that she had to!) and she plans to release a small range of one-off handmade individual pieces a couple of times a year. Music to my ears!

Cheryl’s heading off on some trips over the next few months, so keep an eye on this space for news of the exclusive range when it’s released.

In the meantime, you’ve one day left to snap up a bargain at her closing down sale – all unique exclusive designs:

 

 

 

 

 

FINAL SALE DAY: TOMORROW 31st August, 2012

Chez Statements – 69 Glenferrie Road, Malvern Vic 3144. – 10:00am-5:30pm

Cheryl, from me to you, and on behalf of the curvy women whose lives you’ve impacted so positively, I thank you. Congratulations on your invaluable contribution.

BRAVO.

Love your shape!

Janine x

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

Plus HQ – now that’s what I’m talking about!

One of the many things I LOVE about my “job” is the passionate people I meet on a daily basis. Last month I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda, a gorgeous lady with a dream.  Today marks the launch of her dream, an amazing online plus-size store – a pandora’s box of beautiful clothes & accessories – exclusively for women with curves size 16-26.

I sat down with Amanda for a chat with the aim to share this with you, we don’t often hear the stories behind the ideas… here goes…

 

Q:   Amanda, who is behind Plus HQ?

A:    Plus HQ has been a dream of mine for many years.  I decided to launch this business with the assistance of my gorgeous Mum and the support of my beautiful family.

Q:   What was the event that sparked your dream to launch Plus HQ?

A:    I was working in a family business that was recently sold.  The sale of the business prompted me to do something for myself.  I decided that there was no better time like the present to follow my dreams.  I wanted to make a difference for others and for myself. Thus, Plus HQ was born.

Q:   What has been the greatest challenge to get Plus HQ up & running?

A:    I knew this was not going to be easy as I have always found it difficult to find good quality clothes.  This hasn’t changed now that I am buying for others.  There is a huge lack of plus size designers, not only in Australia but around the world.  It certainly has been a challenge to find a good range of stylish fashion at an affordable price.

Q:   What can we expect from Plus HQ?

A:    Plus HQ will stock a range of clothing from basics to designer wear.  We will also have a large range of costume jewellery, accessories and handbags to complete your look.  You can expect an ever changing range from season to season, from a basic tee, to a cocktail dress for that special evening out. The goal of Plus HQ is to offer an experience that is a destination store, a one-stop place to purchase clothes made for your curves.

Q:   How are you different from other Plus size online retailers?

A:    Plus HQ is passionate about being able to help women achieve a look that makes them look and feel beautiful.  An online store that is solutions based, and aimed at satisfying a fashionista with curves. I know myself that by choosing clothing that suits your body shape, I seem to walk around with my head held a little higher and feeling confident.  I want to be able to share this with others and I will do this by stocking clothing to make you feel this way.  I won’t just stock an item because it is a large size.  It must be the right style.

Q:   What’s the best perk of the job? Is it wearing the clothes?

A:    I am a shopper.  I love shopping! So to being able to choose my range is pretty cool.  I am having to refrain from keeping one of everything, however, in saying that my wardrobe is growing at a rapid pace.  Definitely a perk!!!

Q:   What’s the most exciting part of this project so far?

A:    My Mum and I took a trip over to LA to check out the fashions.  It was the first time over there for both of us so that was a great experience.  I learnt a lot and came home with lots of ideas.  I also found it very exciting when I discovered the 17 Sundays label.  I fell in love with their whole range, as it is exactly the style I love and the fact that they are Australian made it all the more enticing for me.

Q:   What prompted you to use yourself as the model for the website?

A:    Nothing bothers me more than seeing plus size clothing modelled on regular sized women.  I am 5’6 and a size 18 and I really wanted for women to be able to see the garments on a plus size person.  I am not a model, just an everyday woman with plenty of curves.  It was important to me that customers know that they are dealing with someone who understands their needs.

Q:   How would you describe your own personal curvy style?

A:    I wouldn’t say I have a particular style.  I love to wear anything that makes me feel good.  I tend to lean toward dark colours and I love layering as it keeps your body in proportion.  I also love to accessorise with jewellery, scarves, shoes, boots or anything else that will top my outfit off.  I tend to spend more money on key pieces for my wardrobe, and then change the look with accessories.

To celebrate the launch of Plus HQ, if you type in the coupon code “LOVEYOURSHAPE” you will receive a 20% discount on all purchases (this offer is valid until Sunday 15th July, 2012).

Amanda’s Top 5 Wardrobe must haves:

  • A pair of good fitting comfortable jeans
  • A black dress – A great all-rounder for layering or on its own for day or night
  • A good fitting bra to give you lift
  • A leather Jacket – dress it up or down, day or night
  • Knee high boots!!!  I love these and wear them all through winter

Amanda, congratulations on your new store, I look forward to watching you go from strength to strength.

Love your shape!

Janine x