I need your help… this is for YOU

It’s been awhile since my last post, I’ve been busy developing something that I believe is important for me and for YOU!

Over the past 6 years of working in Australia’s plus-size Industry, I’ve strived to connect you the customer to  valuable resources within the Australian and International plus-size market. I’ve achieved this via my website/blog, social media and in person with personal consultations, Skype sessions, group events and so much more.

Most recently I developed an e-book – The Curvy Girl’s Guide to Shopping, which has been hugely successful, yet is still only the tip of the ice-berg when it comes to resources for curvy girls.

My dream to is have all the information you need in one place and in real time.

United Curves

Imagine, right in the palm of your hand, you hit a button and open an App that will indicate your closest plus-size store and how to get there? and not just in Australia, but anywhere in the world. Upload your personal measurements and be guided towards garments that are perfect for you!

This is not just a dream, this is a reality. I am working hard behind the scenes to develop this possibility, and now I need your help.

YOU are the ultimate users of this app, and YOUR opinions, wants & needs are what will make it successful.

Please take a few moments of your time and invest in feeding back to me via this survey your opinions and thoughts on how this should work for you.

PLEASE HELP ME HELP YOU BY COMPLETING THIS SURVEY - click here

I appreciate your time and can’t wait to reveal more about this exciting development.

Love your shape!
Janine x

My Winter favourites for my curvy figure…

Living in Melbourne it’s easy to be confused about what season it is. Technically we’re still in Autumn, but earlier this month the weather was so chilly that I dove into my wardrobe and started my wardrobe revamp for the new season. Out came my beloved boots, knits and stockings, and away went the summer staples. About a week later, the weather changed and we have been experiencing some beautiful mild weather with 20 degrees consistently. Frustrating, but I’m not complaining.

My secret to a versatile wardrobe is simple. Ensure that your wardrobe selections are trans-seasonal and mix & match for all types of weather. Whilst I readily admit I am much more comfortable and feel better in my winter wardrobe (I’m just a winter girl), over the years I’ve also learnt to become just as comfortable in my summer wardrobe. Living in a region that offers sporadic weather just ensures that a good trans-seasonal wardrobe will take you a long way.

My philosophy is that dressing a curvy figure is an art, not a science. 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 in what she is wearing. I’ve written about this is my Top 10 Tips when shopping for your curves…

ESTABLISH YOUR OWN STYLE: Don’t be overwhelmed by current trends, it’s easy to feel like we’re not “trendy” if we’re not wearing the latest and greatest, but let’s face it, not everyone looks great in bright yellow and black! (I certainly don’t). It’s important to establish your own style, make it unique and let it reflect your personality. Choose garments that add value to your image and flatter your body shape, whilst staying true to what you love. For me it’s vests, jeans and lots of accessories with a bit of a boho feel. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but don’t be fooled into thinking that you must be wearing the latest trends to look great. This is simply not true.

My style is all over the place, I love colour, I love black, I LOVE boots, I want to be comfortable yet stylish, sometimes I just want to dress down but not look like I haven’t made an effort. I’m classic, yet relaxed, boho yet structured… either way, I’m just ME.

DenimVestJust the other day Pete and I we were heading out for dinner and I grabbed my trusty Igigi wrap dress (a classic maxi wrap that I’ve had for years and just adore) and paired it with my old favourite Autograph denim vest. Trends didn’t come into it for me, for me it’s always about what looks good and feels good on my figure.

This season I’m grateful for my new wide-calf boots. I have 4 pairs in my wardrobe. I often get enquiries about Wide calf boots and where to find them. A few years ago I found THE perfect boot, the Jessica Boot from Pergoni Sisters. I wore those boots to death (and yes I admit they are still in my wardrobe, with holes in both soles from so many wears, but I just can’t bring myself to part with them, they were the perfect fit, perfect length and perfect heel height which I’ve never been able to find since). I’ve asked the girls at Pergoni to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE repeat that style, but alas no luck :-( I have another pair of Pergoni Boots and I love them but they are just not my Jessicas.  Of course I have some gorgeous black Louvre Bennetts Boots which I love too, but alas, as I wrote in a previous post, Bennetts Boots have gone into liquidation and they will be no more :-( My Louvre’s have lasted 3 years with lots of love and care, and lots of wear, but it’s time to inject some NEWNESS into my collection. I started hunting and have found lots, but have to admit that as they are all available online only, I’m a little nervous to assume that they will fit correctly.

Whilst I was trying to overcome this fear, I was also hunting for a wind breaker/rain jacket to replace my old favourite that I purchased at Autograph many moons ago, and regrettably left on the back of a chair at a café some months ago – I’ve been lost without it, until… a beautiful friend and I spent a weekend together for some girl time and she pulled her own jacket out and I screamed – “that’s it – where did you get that???”

We were in rural Victoria at the time away, it was after 5pm and I was away from my PC, but I jumped onto my iPhone and started started searching for the garment immediately…The Sara Spray Jacket – YES!

SaraBackJacketSaraFrontJacketThis jacket is amazing, it’s so light weight it scrunches up into my handbag, pocket or backpack, it buffers me from the wind on those squally days and keeps light rain off me (note: it’s not waterproof, but it does a good job in my opinion). I love the cuteness of the little white ducks on navy, but I opted for the animal print :-) And if that’s not enough, it’s stylish and can be worn open, closed, cinched or not cinched – in a nutshell – it’s DA BOMB! It retails for $49.95 (I would have paid more it’s THAT good!), but to my surprise it was (and still is today) on sale for $29.00! Bonus

Bootts2Boots1Whilst I was placing my order I decided to check out their boots too, just in case. I’ve looked at Sara’s boots before, but have never been compelled to try them. This time was different. I found a large selection of wide-calf boots (be careful to check your calf measurement to ensure they are a correct width as they do vary a lot) and fell in love with these ones… The buckle trim boots for a tidy $79.99. I’m a big believer in buying quality, BUT, the style also needs to be right and to be honest I haven’t found the correct style in the higher-end offerings – yet. $79.99 bought me a style I’m really happy with in a synthetic material boot. I know they won’t last long, but I was extremely happy with the quality of the finish and they are super comfy too. I especially love the detail at the back of the boot and it’s flattering to my leg.

Colour is also important to me, I’m a big lover of black, but it’s rare that I wear all black. I find it important for me especially during the dark & dreary winter months to add a splash of colour, it helps lift my mood. A simple way to do this is to invest in some great accessories such as scarves.

Some of my favourite accessories (as you’ve read before) come from Coussinet a fashion accessories company that believe in beauty inside & out. This season my winter selection of accessories include another two beautiful Coussinet choices, the Italia Scarf and the Val Gloves. 

VAL_GLOVES_FUSCHIA_largeThe colour of the gloves sets off the gorgeous complimentary colour in the scarf, so I can accessorise with reds (as in the photo below) or I can wear a black outfit with my gorgeous scarf and bring out the fuschia colour instead of the red in the scarf. The gloves fit – well – like a glove! They are soft and warm, and feel just right. I want to wear them all the time!

Scarves shouldn’t be tricky, there are literally hundreds of ways you can tie your scarf! Here’s a great video I’ve referred to that is a great resource for getting the most of each of your scarves.

Janine1Janine2

I could go on forever about my favourite winter garments & accessories but let me end by raving about a new product that I KNOW you’re gonna LOVE!

photo

Hosiery. My experience (and I know from the hundreds of questions I get each season, yours too) is that hosiery is a tricky subject. I have scoured the globe for the perfect hosiery over the years and I have to admit that I’ve always been happy with my super stash of we love colors. They’ve served me well over the years. However, new to the Australian market is an amazing brand called Sonsee Woman. Sonsee Woman have actually cracked the jackpot! Their hosiery is Australian designed, made in Italy. Apart from the fact that they fit, the thing that stood out to me was that they are supportive, without that uncomfortable feeling of being restrictive, they’re stretchy whilst being supportive and not rolling down or sagging, AND they last much longer than usual – in fact I’ve worn the same pair three times so far! Here’s some key points about the brand:

• 3D & 360 degree elastane stretch technology allows Sonsee Woman hosiery to fit the lower legs, thighs, hips and waist without sagging, bagging or the dreaded “muffin-topping”.
• An Anti-Roll Waistband so hosiery can be worn high or low on the waist.
• Extra reinforcement at the thighs for greater durability.
• Unlike shape-wear – this product is both comfortable & smoothing with broad ranges in sizing, products and seasonal colours.

With options from a basic sheer 20 denier right up to 100 denier, and in both normal or footless, they have it covered. WOW! The price tag is around the AUD$25 mark – but take my word for it, they are a super investment (these aren’t your wear it once and throw them out type tights!).

meetsonsee1Oh, and if I wasn’t already convinced by trying the product for myself, a quick visit to their website sold me on the spot. I LOVE a company who knows how to market to their target market (yep you got it, real size curvy women in tights – completely identifiable). Yep I know, you know how passionate about that I am already :-)

So ladies, there you have it, my loved items for the winter season.

Love your shape!

Janine x

Need some help with where to shop for your curves… check out my e-book “The Curvy Girls Guide to Shopping” with everything you need to know

 

Haute Couture… my experience

Every girl has an image in her head of that special dress for her special day. When Pete proposed to me on my 40th birthday in July 2011, I suddenly I realised I had to start thinking about what MY special dress would be? Our plan was for an intimate wedding with close family & friends, in the bush in Western Australia. What style of dress will best reflect me and our marriage?

I started googling dresses, typing in the words “plus size wedding dresses” bought up thousands of options, but as I scanned the images hopeful for some inspiration I didn’t see one dress that looked like ME.

I was keen to have a more relaxed, less formal style dress, I knew I wanted some type of lace detail and I was keen for it to be white, but I wanted something say, boho. So I started googling BohOriginal Ideao wedding dresses.  This image caught my eye. I loved the casual cool cotton with relaxed detail, chic and beautiful, but relaxed. Obviously the dress was designed with a non-plus-size figure in mind, but my mind was adapting the feel and working out how to apply it to myself and what would work for me.

I was grateful for the kind offers of a dress from many Australian plus-size retailers and brands, very grateful. But to be honest, none of the designs were what I wanted for ME.

Then suddenly it hit me, I needed to have my dress made, for my body. Mmmm, took me a while! So I made a call to my girls at Hope & Harvest. Now most of you will know Hope & Harvest have their own amazing plus-size designs, but I was really asking a huge favour, would they do me the honour of designing a dress just for me?

A phone call later and the gorgeous Harvest was almost more excited than me that we were designing a dress together! YAY!

The first step was to share the images I had sought with the girls, and we talked about roughly what I was hoping to achieve. The wheels were in motion and the excitement was building.

Step two was to select the material. I had already decided that I wanted a simple white cotton for the main part of the dress but I was looking for some lace embellishment to make it special. Harvest & Ainsley met me at Clegs in Brunswick one warm Melbourne morning in April and we spent a lovely morning exploring the options.

Ainsley Janine

Ainsley holding up the lace I chose.

Funny thing is, during this process of choosing material, the original design I’d had in my head had already started to morph into something else. I remember I had butterflies during the whole morning, it was really difficult to pick fabrics for my idea, to be honest, I didn’t even know if it was going to look good on me or not.

Harv and Janine

Harvest explaining to me the options within our design with this lace

Reflecting on this whilst I was walking around Clegs, I realised something. When you walk into a store there are usually more than 2 garments you are attracted to and want to try on. Often, I try them all on, and often the one I thought would suit is the one that didn’t or vice versa! So to be smack bang in the middle of a process that was making a dress from an image of a dress style I’d NEVER tried on was really a little crazy! I started to relax a little and went with my gut. Harvest was amazing, she truly understood what feel I was after, and she understood my body shape. Even more impressive (and I wasn’t to truly understand this til further down the process), Harvest has an incredible talent for haute couture, it’s like the design just flows out of her.  The lace I chose that day was calling to me, I fell in love with it, and it became the foundation of the design with the dress evolving around it.

Janine

With my lace – very excited!

There was plenty of time, so we planned the next stage. I would visit H&H HQ for my first fitting a week later.

The first fitting day was quite an experience, not only was it FREEZING COLD, but I really didn’t know what to expect. When I arrived, the girls had made a “toile”, which is the beginning point of a Haute Couture design where you make a “test garment” sewn from the same material. The toile was hanging on a hanger, it looked like a bag or sack with pieces of cotton loosely threaded at different points around the pieces. Quite confusing for someone who had never been through this process before.

I peeled off my warm clothes and subjected myself to the elements. Goose bumps appeared - not only because I was cold but because I was nervous! Don’t get me wrong, these girls are amazing, and I KNOW that they knew exactly what I was after, but I just couldn’t get my mind around this sack of material turning into the dress I had imagined!

Trust the process I kept telling myself… and boy am I glad I did.

The process was amazing. In front of a mirror, the talented hands of Harvest fluttered around me as she placed, pulled and prodded the material into place around me. We tried this and that, gathered, ungathered etc. and finally we all agreed that this wasn’t it! Slowly, I began to see in front of me, with the help of this toile and the talents of two amazing designers, what would look great on me and so in front of my eyes the design evolved into something completely different! I went from wanting an unstructured dress with a boho feel, to a very structured dress with a boho feel! I GOT IT! This process of Haute Couture although quite scary, was truly remarkable. Harvest worked tirelessly and seemingly effortlessly to draw all over the toile and pin here and there, until she was satisfied. Then it was quite an effort to get out of the toile without pricking myself! Reassuringly, the girls told me they’d work their magic and see me in two weeks!

Visit three saw me arrive to a more complete toile, which was sewn in the structured design we’d come up with. I was amazed at how a sack with lots of pins and pen marks had been transformed into a toile that fit like a glove! I turned toward the mirror and realised this was IT! Hooray, the design was taking shape. I gave the ok to go ahead and MAKE the dress! That felt incredible. The next step was to work the lace into the dress once the base was complete.

Fitting four took place the morning after my Hen’s Night. We were all very tired but excited to weave some magic with the lace.

Arms

Harvest working on the sleeve with the lace. This part of the process was all about looking at what worked and how I felt.

Fish Tail

Harvest & Ainsley working on applying the lace to the skirt. I just LOVE how they made it flatter me, there was a beautiful “tail” at the back where the lace kicked out, and it draped over my hips to a point at the base of my back.

WOW, This was looking amazing. I was so excited, and couldn’t believe how different, yet how perfect this had all come together. Off the girls went with my dress pinned and ready to be completed.

The final stage was another visit to H&H HQ where we had the big reveal.

One of the important steps to having a dress that is made well and fits well is to chose correctly fitted foundation undergarments. I did a lot of research on foundation undergarments and spent a lot of time trying to find the right fit for me. In desperation I even purchased two control wear garments online from overseas, but when these arrived I had to contort myself into such strange positions to get them on that I just knew that that wasn’t going to cut the mustard! Interestingly, even after visiting some specialist stores I still couldn’t find THE perfect fit - that was until I visited my local Autograph store. I know right, not where I was expecting to find what I was looking for in undergarments, but I was wrong. I’m happy to say that I found exactly what I needed and left the store with a beautifully fitted Rita Lace Underwire Bra in Pearl (oh and I bought one in red too because I loved it so much – but that was for the honeymoon!), and the Essentials Panty Girdle in Café. Now I ummed and ahhed about the Girdle as I just think it’s not that attractive right? But I hate having separate garments with shapewear, I’m a bodysuit girl (but that’s another story). The Girdle is beautifully made, very comfortable and the wide elastic silicone trim on the waist sat perfectly under my bust and bra band and didn’t roll, not even once (and the lace detail at the top of the leg made it feel a little less ugly)! It felt as though I was wearing a bodysuit and it worked well to create a great silhouette under my dress. So for me, this combination worked a treat and added value to my dream dress. Having the foundations in place BEFORE building the dress was an important part of the process.

Two weeks before our wedding I very excitedly drove to H&H HQ and picked up my dress. The feeling I had when the girls helped me put it over my head and zip it into place is indescribable! We put everything into place and then I turned around and looked into the mirror – HOORAY! I felt amazing, I felt beautiful, this was my dream dress! All three of us cheered and hugged with tears of joy.

 
Ainsley, Harvest and I celebrating – the finished product!

JANINE WED

Mum gifted me a beautiful citrine & diamond pendant for my birthday this year, it’s just stunning, exactly the same setting as my engagement ring but it’s oval instead of diamond shaped. I found my string of pearls and the pendant clipped perfectly into place, the most gorgeous adornment for my dress.

3photo

The beautiful pendant given to me by my mum for my birthday and as a wedding gift.

Flash forward to our special day, surrounded by family & friends, I walked down the “bush” aisle with my gorgeous son Zac and beautiful mum Dianne, I felt amazing, special, beautiful, curvy and loved, but most of all HAPPY. I did my own hair & make-up (and after many hair trials with curls, and all sorts of do-dahs, I decided I wanted to look like ME so I went for my usual style!).

janine_and_pete_032

Entering the ceremony walking down the aisle with my son Zac and mum – so happy! (Image by David Entz)

Bottom of Dress & Shoes

I loved the detail of the tail of my dress! We stood in a heart shaped with rose petals (Image by David Entz)

janine_and_pete_179

Married to my Superman Pete and wearing “Janine” by Hope & Harvest, Dryandra Village, Western Australia 14th September, 2013.  My bouquet was specially made for me by my sister-in-law Donna out of native flowers from my parents-in-laws’ garden. My shoes were purchased on e-bay and are Beige Leather Bernardo Farfalla - just loved them! - Perfect x (Image by David Entz)

I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to have such an amazing wedding dress made just for me. THANK YOU Harvest & Ainsley, you were both incredibly amazing during this whole process and I am forever grateful for the experience and honour of wearing one of your designs.

Thank you.

Love your shape!

Janine x

Are you a curvy bride? Here’s my top 6 tips for brides to be…