Category Archives: fashion

Review: Jessica Biffi For Addition-Elle Fall Collection

Just got my order in from Addition-Elle; I ordered 4 pieces from the new Jessica Biffi fall collection.

First thought: Not impressed.

I have this feeling, it feels to me like this “collection” was a bit rushed and lacking heart. The capsule this fall is much smaller in terms of overall number of pieces as well as versatility compared to the spring launch. Not to mention that it is only available via Addition-Elle, with no accompanying pieces from their MXM or Pennington’s lines.

After seeing the post-season sales racks at Pennington’s I’m not overly surprised (I wasn’t a fan of that capsule, it was very cheap-looking and ill-fitting. Trust.)

But yeah, I’m a little bit disappointed. There wasn’t very much hype or notice about this collection (though I may be biased because I was jilted and didn’t get my invite to the launch party this season) and it just feels… lacking. There really isn’t much else to it. I expected a lot more from Biffi/AE’s sophomore collection.

The colours include a beautiful purple and shades of olive and teal green with hints of (what I assume) is Biffi’s signature bronzey-gold in the details. The remainder is black. I’m cool with black (what blonde isn’t??) but after her spring collection I was hoping for some bolder fall colour choices.

The pieces and my thoughts below.

Jessica Biffi Military Dress

(here)

I mostly like this “dress”, though let it be noted that I am prone to military-inspired looks and crisp shirt-dresses! As with the spring collection, this dress has been constructed well compared to standard AE fare. I’d say that it fits true to size, though the hem hits a little lower on me since I am not an Amazonian model.

The colour is actually a bit darker than appears online, but it goes well with the gold details. I would call this more of an olive shade rather than khaki. But I would also call it more of a tunic than a dress. You definitely need some leggings or skinny pants below this baby!

I like the crisp clean lines, pockets and waist-narrowing effect that the belt gives. But let’s talk about the belt for a minute. It’s crazy. It took me about 5 minutes to figure out how to buckle the damn thing because the prongs kept sliding all over the place. There also wasn’t a second loop on the buckle head to hold the tongue (?) down after it passed through the buckle.

I had to reference the photo on the site several times in order to figure this thing out. Definitely not user-friendly!

But once I got it in place the look was quite nice indeed! The belt cinches your waist a little while the bottom and top of the dress flare out a little, giving a nice hour-glass shape. The mandarin collar opened to a V also directs attention to your face. I like the 3/4 sleeves–I think that any other length would have looked awkward on this piece.

Verdict: It has earned a place in my closet.

Jessica Biffi Black Skinny Leg Denim Pants

(here)

These pants are… ok. Though I wouldn’t really call them denim; they’re very, very thin and also very stretchy which is nice in a pair of pants like these, but I don’t think they qualify as denim.

I like the detailing, the construction is solid and I’m digging the real pockets on these bad boys! None of those faux pocket-slits here!

Length is good though I don’t think you would want to be more than 5’8″ and wear these. If you’re apple-shaped like me you may also want to try these on in-store before purchasing as the waist doesn’t hold you in much at all. Low-rise indeed.

I don’t have much else to say about these pants. They’re adequate but not mind-blowing. I’ll keep them and likely wear them with the military tunic as well as my spring tunics from Biffi’s collection as well.

Verdict: It has earned a place in my closet

Jessica Biffi Printed Shark-Bite Top with Smocking

(here)

You know, I had mixed feelings about this top when I saw it online. On one hand the smocking and camouflage-effect of the print interested me, but on the other hand WTF is up with shark-bite hems this season?!?!? Can we say EWWW???

I decided to give it a shot anyway. I didn’t like much of Biffi’s spring stuff on the models or rack, but when I put it on it looked great. Maybe this would be the same?

Uhhh…. No.

Unfortunately this shirt has the ability to make one look preggo, especially if you have apple-tendencies such as myself. I thought the smocking and pattern might counter that effect (it is empire-waisted after all so I should have known better) but I was mistaken.

This may work better on gals with a larger bust, or gals that have a longer torso, but on me it didn’t really do much.

The pattern is a little cheesy (most patterns are) but when it’s all together the colours actually work quite well together. It’s a shame this didn’t work out for me. Did you have any luck?

Verdict: Return to sender.

Jessica Biffi Warrior Draped Top

(here)

I’m going to do this bullet-point style…

  • Colour is gorge.
  • Fabric is not
  • Neck is actually a cowl-neck and not a random V like the photo shows you
  • Shoulders are weird but mostly ok
  • Epaulettes are a mixed bag… they seem a little small and strike me as somewhat tacky (icky gold braid) but overall they add to the look
  • Definitely lives up to the “warrior” name!
  • Hem smocking is a good width however it may travel up your rump so beware!
  • Clingy fabric may accentuate your middle roll
  • Good for the club but you’ll sweat for sure! 95% viscose!

I sort of ordered this so I could get the discount online. I didn’t really think it would work for me, other than the colour which is one of my power colours.

With it on I actually like it a little more than on the model, however it DOES show off my roll a little bit and seems like it might be a bit snug across my bust which is odd. I want to keep it because of the colour and overall idea (I look like a warrior! tee hee!) of masculine & feminine blended into a purple shirt, but the fit just doesn’t flatter me much.

I think some gals will be able to rock this, and rock it hard. But I think a lot of gals will also fail horribly with it and come off looking like a fashion victim. I think this is a shirt that takes a certain kind of personality to pull off. It’s  a strong top. I know that epaulettes and stuff are really IN right now, but I don’t think it will last long and it’s a really niche trend that has the potential to become horribly overdone. Do YOU want to contribute to the downfall of the cowl-necked, epaulette-bedecked fashion top?

I didn’t think so. Make sure you know what you’re doing before purchasing this!

Verdict: On the fence.

So those are the pieces I have tried. The rest of the collection is only so-so, however I may give the dress a shot if I’m near the store anytime soon. But the bubble shape scares me. Fat girls should avoid bubbles like the plague.

I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has tried this collection and what their thoughts are? Are you as disappointed as me in the lack of selection and odd cuts?

SOUND OFF (one, two…) in the comments below 😉

Review: SWAK Designs Redux

Me in my Veronica SWAK Dress

After my negative review in March of my Sealed With A Kiss items, the company contacted me and wanted to know how they could make it right.

It seems that my post on this blog and also in the fatshionista! community had caused quite a stir, and the CEO contacted me himself so they could better understand my beef with their clothes and how they could improve.

Right off the bat I was impressed. It takes a certain kind of person and a certain kind of company to step up and take responsibility for their inferior product. Not only that, but they were willing to go straight to the source (aka me, the shopper) to find out what I really want out of a clothing retailer. Believe me, I had lots of suggestions to make!

After several long and educational conversations (for us both!) I am happy to report that SWAK appears to be one of those companies that want to go the extra mile and please their customers. They listened to my suggestions and addressed many of my issues and I feel that if they can run with this and actually implement some lasting changes/improvements they could become a major player in the lucrative plus-size clothing market.

To show their improvement progress, they sent me their new Veronica Maxi Dress to test-drive.

Here’s what I think

I like this dress. For around $60 CAD it’s not a bad buy and is a marked improvement over the last two dresses I purchased from SWAK.

A very long maxi dress, this garment comes with adjustable straps and a waist tie which helps you adjust the dress to your figure. Thank goodness because at 5’6″ I was almost too short to rock this!

I really liked the pattern on the fabric and the colour choices. I received it in the violet colour and it looked great. The pattern was an appropriate scale and had enough visual interest to not only make a beautiful dress, but also to give me a more slender look when I wore it.

The “boobie cups” at the top (I know, I’m so technical, right?) were molded foam which gave my chest a pleasant shape. With the adjustable straps I was also able adjust how much cleavage I wanted to show.

In terms of construction and fabric… well, you get what you pay for. For a $60 dress it wasn’t too bad. The polyester/spandex material was rather thin, but draped well for a synthetic. I also enjoy the silky feel to it and how it feels swooshing against my legs as I walk.

I wouldn’t recommend wearing it on a very hot day, however. The material tends to keep the heat close to your body (as all synthetics do) and could easily become uncomfortable. I didn’t actually get a chance to wear this until today since the weather has been SO hot and humid!

I might also try and hem the bottom a little bit. Most of the stitching and seams were solid enough but I worry about the flimsy hem on this dress. It skims so close to my feet that I’m worried I will step on it and tear the fabric.

All in all, I am pleased with this dress and would recommend it to my (taller!) friends. I can see myself wearing it a lot more this summer, since I got a lot of attention in it today as I was out & about! (and my mom wants to steal it)

I like that it’s not too expensive, it feels comfortable & stable and that the colour and design are so eye-catching.

I also want to mention that it looks better in person than on the model!

Worth it?

I think so!

Tea Party: The Fashion

You may recall that I  issued a challenge to my friends:

You must dress up. Using your existing wardrobe, create an outfit that expresses YOUR interpretation of “tea party”.

I was stoked to see what all my friends came up with! A lot of them were panicking about what to wear but I wasn’t concerned. I told them “no denim” and left the concept for them to explore…

Most proper tea parties have some kind of dress code, from smart-casual all the way up to formal dress. I decided that for mine I wanted everyone to make an effort to dress up since this was a special occasion. Of course I didn’t want anything too crazy, which is why I told the girls to use their existing wardrobe and not to feel as though they had to buy something new for this event. We’re not made of money!

Here are the results!

Yours truly - doing the "Marilyn" pose in front of the fan!

Aren’t their outfits totally FAB???

A lot of white, but it was nice! I mean, how often do you really get to break out the white dresses, anyway? I love that two of my friends wore hats for the event, and the last one was even channeling the India Tea Company of old!

I was really pleased to see the effort put into these outfits, and I thought my friends looked so lovely! And I think they really enjoyed dressing up, too! There just aren’t that many reasons to dress up anymore, know what I mean? I think it’s great to take some time out to pick some nice clothes and slap on some girly lipstick!

I will definitely be doing more dress-up or themed parties in the future. As long as they’re relatively easy for people to pull together, they can be a lot of fun!!!

Do you and your friends ever dress up for events or get-togethers? Is it a regular thing, or do you stay casual most of the time?

Jessica Biffi Collection @ Addition-Elle

Well, there’s really  no excuse for me not writing any longer. Things have settled down a bit so I thought I’d hammer something out on a cool experience lately.

Last week I teamed up with The Asian Pear and Melanie for a shopping expedition! As loyal members of the Addition-Elle rewards club, we were invited to the launch party for Jessica Biffi’s new ready to wear collection at Addition-Elle.

The event included a night of shopping at the flagship store at Yonge & Temperance with hors d’oeuvres, fancy drinks, door prizes and a chance to hang out with Jessica B herself!

It was a blast. I love shopping parties, but I love shopping for my fat clothes even more! As plus size women we are rarely represented, so I was tres excited to check out the new Biffi line.

In case you don’t know who Jessica is, I’ll fill you in. She was a contestant on Project Runway and a plus-size woman herself. In fact she used to work at that Addition-Elle location! After the show was over she was able to slide into the fashion scene and has been busy with a bunch of shows. She recently signed on with AE to design a women’s wear capsule for AE, Penningtons and MXM.

Jessica is a very talented designer, so needless to say I was waiting with bated breath to see how her designs would translate not only to mass, but also to plus size fashion. I had high hopes, but tried to keep them low. As anyone can attest to, plus-size fashion these days is going down the tubes. Styles are trashy, ill-fitting, poorly constructed and quickly moving away from comfortable and durable natural fibers to a heavier mix of synthetics which no one likes!!!

I realize that trying to design clothing that flatters the majority of customers can be a very difficult thing to do. But my reasoning is that if Jessica Biffi can do it, why can’t plus-size retailers hire more designers like her? No one wants to wear a polyester tent.

Whew! Now that I’ve got that off my chest,

let’s talk about the clothes!

Overall, I was pleased with the Biffi collection. While many of the materials used were synthetics, they were markedly better than what AE traditionally uses. The colours were vibrant, the cuts and draping were flattering to many of the women there (I camped out in the change rooms for a while so I can say this with truth!).

The construction was also superior to what is normally offered (again, why can’t ALL the clothes be like that?). I was a little sad that the collection was so small, but I guess for a first run it ain’t bad.

On the rack, the garments didn’t really look like much, to be honest. The website doesn’t do them justice, either. What I was most impressed by with the collection was that the garments looked good on the bodies of the  majority of women who tried them on. Personally I looked fantastic in everything except for the red dress, but I blame the awful bubble hem and pleating for that. It looked off on a lot of people.

I think I tried on just about everything, but here’s what I bought in the end:

Jessica Biffi printed top with knotted back

Jessica Biffi solid top with knotted back

Jessica Biffi red trench coat

My favourite item has got to be the red trench. I am in love with it. I have worn it every single day since I got it, even when it was too cold to do so! I like that it’s made of cotton, and the belt and collar are very flattering on me. And of course the colour. The COLOUR! I love red. I am known for red. It is a colour you don’t wear lightly. I love the bold statement this trench makes. It catches the eye–I see people looking at me everywhere I go! (BTW, Mel got this coat and it looks fab on her, too!)

I love the two shirts, too. I tried on the coloured one at the insistence of… someone? haha I can’t even remember since I was talking with so many ladies that night! It looks kind of blah on the rack, and also on the model up there. What you really need is a nice wide belt to spice things up! There is a belt in the JB collection but it’s not on the site. Any wide belt would do, though. It balances out the tunic top (over leggings, jeggings or skinny jeans!) enhances the bust area and makes everything look a little bit better. Magic. I use the belt for both tops and go from day to evening easily!

I almost bought the pair of skinny jeans on offer too, but sadly I ran out of money. Hooo boy those things are tight! But they’re supposed to be. It must be incredibly difficult to design a skinny jean for fat girls, but somehow Jessica has done it! I loved the dark wash of the jeans, and they way they hugged my curves. They looked fantastic with the two tops I purchased and I only wish I could have got them! Anyone reading this want to send me a pair?

All in all it’s a great start for Jessica in mass, and hopefully a sign of things to come from both her and the plus-size retail world!

I met the president

One thing I also want to mention about the evening is that I had the distinct pleasure of conversing with Kerry Mitchell, president of Addition-Elle herself! Of course I shared my thoughts with her on the state of plus-size fashion and my sentiments outlined above (what blogger wouldn’t grab that opportunity?!) and I quizzed her on what AE plans for the future.

Looks like we may be in luck! According to Kerry, AE is interested in doing a fall collection with Jessica Biffi. Talks have not yet begun with the designer but I think everyone’s fingers are crossed that this will go through. According to Canada NewsWire Group, the collection has been a hit with consumers so we can only hope to see more of JB’s fab fashions at our local shops.

Wanna know something that made me feel really good? Kerry herself is a plus-size woman. It’s nice to know that “one of us” is running the company. She was also delightful to speak with.

I met the designer

I also got a chance to hang out with Jessica at the event. She is one cool cat. And she buys her shoes at H&M! LOL. She was very down to earth, wore her own clothing and had a smile for everyone. I didn’t get the sense that it was all a front, like some celebrities put up (again I can say this with authority, my job brings me to hang out with celebs often enough that I can make these judgment calls). I feel good buying clothes that she designed, simply because she was a nice person. I like to support good people, and I vote with my dollars. You should too.

Anyway, she had real cool hair 😉

Photo evidence!

Review: SWAK Designs Plus Size Clothing

(Edit: SWAK responded to my post, my follow-up review is located here)

Since becoming more active in the plus-size fashion community I have been making an effort to beef up my wardrobe with some key pieces that can be used over and over again.

But as well all know, fashion in general is expensive these days, and plus-size fashion is even more ridiculously overpriced. And if you live outside of the US you can pretty much forget about finding anything of quality at a good price in your stores!

So I sure was excited when I found plus size retailer Sealed With A Kiss Designs (SWAK), an online shop with some cute designs, affordable prices and free shipping worldwide! Yippee!! I had read some reviews of their clothing in the fatshionista! community and they sounded ok.

I quickly placed an order for a few things I had had my eye on for a while, confident that what I would receive would be of sufficient size and quality for me. I even checked my measurements to make sure I picked the right size. Now, for the price range that SWAK sells, I wasn’t expecting beautifully handmade items in natural fibres… but I DID expect something more than what I ended up getting :(

Here is what I ordered, and my thoughts.

Alicia Shirt Dress ($49.60 CAD)

Looks pretty cute, eh? I love shirt dresses, they look fantastic on me. I wanted another one in a lighter colour and this fit the bill for colour and price.

Unfortunately it didn’t fit the most important thing–ME.

I ordered it a size up from what I normally wear because I was afraid of sizing issues. It is easy for me to take something in, but if it’s too small there is nothing to be done!

When I tried this on I was so surprised! The damn thing was too small! Even in the bust area where I am less endowed the buttons were gaping. Actually, along the entire button line it was gaping. The dress is mostly cheapo spandex so I expected it to give a little, but I looked like a khaki sausage wearing it. After trying it on I estimate that I would have been better served if I had ordered 3 SIZES LARGER than what I normally wear.

Why is the sizing so off on this dress that I would need to order 3 sizes larger than what I really am, just to get it to fit?

Not to mention that the fabric was very thin–I know that for a $40 dress you can’t expect TOO much, but I really thought it would be a bit less see-through, you know? The stitching was also a little bit loose and overall the dress felt cheap and low-quality.  I suppose if I were to lose another 20 lbs I might be able to wear this without inflicting pain on everyone who sees me.

I’m very disappointed.

Plus Size Stretch Leggings ($24.80 CAD)

I have a pair of leggings from Torrid that I love, so I thought I’d get another pair to wear with my skirts & dresses in the colder weather.

These… are ok. They’re basically thick tights with a seam and no feet. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t fit since they’re one size fits all, but I managed to get them on. They feel ok but I think I prefer my cotton-blend full leggings from Torrid more. These ones are a little too close to being tights for me to truly love them, but I think I will be able to use them.

Not a total loss, but I wish the site description was better.

Anastasia Interchangeable Wrap Dress ($80.61 CAD)

I have mixed feelings about this dress. I had originally wanted the Monif C Marilyn dress, but at over $200 I thought it was a little excessive for some shapeless jersey material. This SWAK dress seemed like a good alternative.

This is probably the best thing out of my whole order. I love the feeling of the fabric, it hangs well and doesn’t look too cheap (I was worried about that!) and I think with some practice I will be able to wrap it really well.

The drawbacks I encountered with this garment was the inferior workmanship. I found the skirt piece was cut irregularly, with a giant piece of uncut fabric actually hanging off the hem! I couldn’t believe it! I cut it off myself before I thought to take a photo. I was not impressed. I haven’t made sewing or cutting mistakes like that on my garments since I was a kid!

I also noticed that the stitching around the circle skirt and the straps was rather poorly done. I would have reinforced the stitching much more than what they had done. Already I have heard some threads tear as I lifted it over my head so I’ll have to be careful with it moving forward. At least I could probably sew it back together if it falls apart?

I’m debating whether I could make this for myself cheaper. I think I may take a gander at the costs of making one myself–if it’s cheaper then I’ll make some for me and my friends, but if it’s not cheaper then this is the one piece I think I might actually purchase again in different colours.

A Belt

I also purchased a stretch belt with some cute buckles in front. It’s no longer on the site so I can’t post a photo of it, but it was a BIG FAT FAIL.

The belt came as a one size fits all… but only if you’re “regular” size! I’m a 2x and I could hardly get the thing done up under my breasts (which is the smallest part of my abdomen) even with the stretchy material. I am so frustrated by this–I literally cannot wear it because it’s so tight it hurts. This is another example of SWAK’s wonky sizing. If you’re selling a plus-size belt, it should be able to fit larger than a 1x person, especially if it’s touted as one size fits all.

Overall Impressions

Shop at your own risk. Expect low-quality items and be wary of the cuts and styles you purchase. However, if you go in aware of these issues, you may be able to find some good deals if you don’t mind the quality too much!

Personally I would be willing to try them again if they had an awesome sale and introduced some better-quality pieces.

Nooo!

My heart is breaking!

I just found out that the Monif C bathing suit that I was dying to get has been sold out and they’re not making any more! I even went so far as to call New York to see if I could get one…

I can’t believe it!

I finally made the decision to shell out all that cash for it and they’re gone! Gone! Gone into the ether! I even got my aunt to agree to have it shipped to her place so I could buy the damn thing!

What am I going to do??? Will anyone else ever love it as much as I do???

I was actually planning on using that for one of my photo shoots coming up, paired with some sexy red lips, red pumps and big hair! It would have been fantastic!

I am SO SAD. I have no more words.

*cries*

Clothing Swap FAQ

Are you wondering what the deal is with these new-fangled clothing swap things?

Are you thinking of hosting or participating in one? Look no further! I have complied the answers to a few frequently asked questions about clothing swaps.

Behold,

Ginger’s Clothing Swap FAQ:

What IS a clothing swap?

Organized by a fashion community or group of friends. Everyone brings their gently used clothing, shoes and accessories they no longer want to the swap. Then the madness begins! You are free to choose and try on as many of the donated clothes as you like, and bring them home for free! The best swaps are when there are loads of clothes and ladies to try things on.

Is it really free?

Yes! A swap is an excellent way to get rid of your old things, and get some new-to-you duds at no cost. Perfect for anyone on a budget!

How much do I have to bring to a swap?

You should try and bring as much as possible to a swap, keeping in mind that your donations should be nice enough that someone else would actually want them.

It’s OK if you only have a few items though, someone may really like what you have brought! Ideally other women will bring large quantities to swap, so things usually even out in the end.

Check with the organizers first to determine whether you can attend a swap without bringing any items to donate.

What is the swapping process like?

Every swap and group will be different, but in general everyone pulls out their items to donate and quickly displays them to the group, then places them on a table or pile for someone to scoop up. If you see something you like you can grab it off the table or call dibs on it.

Part competitive free-for-all, part fashion show a swap is a really fun experience with the right group of ladies. If everyone remembers to be fair and gracious it will go swimmingly with a feeling of sisterhood and friendship all around.

What happens if two people want the same thing?

This part is a little tricky and can bring out the mean in people. Try and be on your best behaviour! Generally the person who indicates interest first (by touching the garment or calling dibs) will get to try it on. If they like it, they keep it. If not, the next person (second dibs) gets their chance with it. And so on.

If someone grabs something you like first, be sure to call second dibs, just in case they change their mind!

Is it really competitive?

Sometimes. Everyone is looking out for themselves, so there is a bit of competition and testing of wills in any clothing swap, particularly if you have two or more women with the same sense of style and size!

I would recommend calling dibs as fast as you can on pieces that are most likely to be a “win” for you. That is, garments that you have been searching for specifically (such as a Little Black Dress) or something that you know instantly will look gorgeous on you. You should know your shape, colours you look best in, and also clothing cuts you look best in before going into a swap. This will help you focus on winning the pieces best suited for you.

You may also consider tag-teaming with a friend. You can keep an eye out for things that your friend would look good in, and she will do the same for you. This can also help you bargain with other ladies when there is a hot item up for grabs.

What if there is still a bunch of clothes left over?

This is an easy fix. If you held your swap in a consignment or thrift store (both popular locations) the store will look through the remainders and take whatever they think will sell at their location. Anything that is left over after that step should be donated to a charity or women’s shelter.

It’s a win-win-win all around!

Is there any other swap etiquette that I should be aware of?

Most likely, yes. If you are ever unsure of a process or have any questions, you should contact the organizers of the swap and ask away! It is much better to ask and receive clarity than risk raising someone’s ire at the swap itself. Some ladies can be very aggressive!

Depending on the swap and group involved, there may be ground rules that you should be aware of and observe. If nothing specific is said, remember to employ common decency and fairness, but also remember that the whole point of a swap is for YOU to benefit, and to spiff up YOUR wardrobe! Don’t be afraid to dive in!