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.

AMadesShop a

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

A1stDressSummer a

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.

ArdyBootMaker

 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.

AGoddessOnTheGo

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

AKetuts Fixed Price 2013 a

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.

ADivineDiva

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

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