Category Archives: shopping

Plus-sized Fashion Part 1: Shopping Resources

When it comes to style, being fat ain’t easy.

The fashion industry seems to think that larger girls like me do not require stylish, flattering or comfortable clothes like the rest of the population. There are very few retailers that cater to anyone above a size 12, even though the average North American woman is up to a size 14 now, and our segment is growing steadily.

Curvy, Rubenesque, voluptuous, BBW, large, zaftig – whatever you want to call us, we deserve our place in the fashion world. Just because we’re not tiny size 6’s doesn’t mean we don’t have style, flair, beauty or fashion sense.

Here’s an interesting excerpt on the plus-size apparel industry in Canada I discovered via fashion industry research company fashion.infomat:

“One of the most under-served markets in the fashion industry is the women’s plus-size clothing market. As the average age of women in Canada rises, so too does the need for larger size apparel. This market offers great opportunities in clothing women who not only demand more variety, but also have the income and desire to spend. Very few retailers specialize in plus-size women’s clothing in Canada, but as demand for such products grows, U.S. clothing suppliers should find plenty of opportunities in the Canadian market.

1. WOMEN’S PLUS-SIZE APPAREL MARKET OVERVIEW

Presently, the average North American woman hovers between a size 12 and 14, and in Canada, roughly 30% of women wear size 14 and over. As the largest consumer group in North America of 35-45 year old women continues to age, so too will the percentage of women requiring plus-size clothing. The 5% of retail space that is currently devoted to larger size clothing scarcely meets the needs of women today, and in a few year’s time, will certainly not suffice.

[…]
Presently, Canadian children and young adults are less active than they were two decades ago, resulting in not only increased health concerns, but also mounting obesity figures. As the population of obese children ages, so too will the demand for larger size adult clothing.

[…]
Compared to the choices that are given to women sizes 0 to 12, the plus-size clothing selection is truly lacking. In Canada, companies such as Cotton Ginny Ltd., Shirmax Fashions Ltd. and Reitman’s Canada Ltd. dominate the plus-size clothing market. Very few other chains carry clothing in sizes greater than 12, for example Laura Plus.

Shirmax Fashions Ltd. operates 195 retail stores specializing in women’s plus-size clothing in Canada under the store names Addition-Elle and A/E Sport & Co. In 2001, they saw their market share grow from 4% in 1999 to 6.8%, a growth that was partly explained by the aging baby boomers’ needs according to their vice-president of marketing.”

So where does one go to find fashion that will fit? Well, here is a list of stores (Canadian and some American) that I know to carry true plus sizes. I base this list on whether I can actually shop at these stores and find a wide selection of decently-fitting clothing.

Pennington’s
If you’re large, you already know about this store. They have a good collection of clothing for all age ranges as well as basic wardrobe staple, business, lingerie, sport, outerwear, casual and some hoochie club stuff (MXM line).

Addition-Elle
Another plus-sized staple, they carry higher end and some designer items, and are sister-store to Pennington’s. A good place for younger, more fashionable styles (a better collection in my opinion) however they also come with a higher price tag! Staples, business, fashion, sport, casual, hoochie club, formal, lingerie, outerwear.

Reitmans
This store is a split between regular sizes, petite, plus-petite and plus. They have some good wardrobe staples and I find their pants fit me better. You won’t find anything flashy here, but they’re my go-to place for comfy casual and some work apparel. Also winter coats. Their prices are more reasonable than AE or Pennington’s, yet they are part of the same company! Staples, casual, business, sport, outerwear.

Cotton Ginny
Another split store, they carry mostly casual, comfy clothes, and their style could be expressed as “active mom”. I like their eco-organic cotton t-shirts and yoga/athletic wear and wardrobe basics. They don’t really have anything super-fashionable, but the price is right and they are decent in fit and quality. Staples, casual, sport, outerwear.

Sears
They carry a plus-sized section, and some of their regular designs also come in plus sizes, too. I find their clothes run more towards the dowdy older woman, but you can occasionally find some nice, classic pieces. Their prices are average and the quality is good, and you can order from the catalog for more choice. Staples, business, casual, sport, outerwear, lingerie, formal.

The Bay
Similar to Sears, but a little more up-market. They have a small plus section in their stores and tend to carry higher-end items that appeal to an older business demographic. They can be good for some really nice formal or business stuff, as well as designer items, but they also cost a lot more. Fashion, business, formal, casual, sport, outerwear.

Maximum Woman (GTA Only)
This is a great little boutique I recently found. They carry different lines of clothing (compared to the heavy hitters AE and Pennington’s) and have friendly staff. The store owners are plus-sized themselves and hand-pick all the fashions. They cater to the younger crowd mostly, but have good items for the middle age, too. They have some formal and some designer stuff, such as the Baby Phat line. Fashion, business, formal, lingerie, hoochie club, outerwear.

Voluptuous (GTA Only)
This is another boutique that has recently expanded to several locations and specializes in club wear and fashion items. They have some nice stuff, but you definitely need to have a special kind of confidence to be able to wear some of the items! They also run a bit smaller, only going up to a size 20 or small 3X which sadly shuts them out of a large part of the plus-sized market. The prices are a little high for a lot of viscose, rayon, lycra and polyester, IMO. Hoochie club, fashion, outerwear, lingerie.

Wal-Mart
They carry a small selection of plus-sized clothing in their store brands as well as the slightly more fashionable George label. They have great prices, however most of the clothing is cut poorly and made of cheap materials and likely to fall apart shortly after purchase. However if you’re on a budget, want some basics or want to try a new style with minimal risk, they are the place to go. Staples, casual, hoochie club, lingerie, outerwear, sport, cheap fashion.

Lane Bryant (US Only)
If you get a chance to visit the US, make sure to hit up this store! They carry a wide range of everything for most ages. I find their clothes generally more flattering and well-made than anything in Canada, and also just the right mix of fashionable and classic. They have a special lingerie section with the best bras and undies I’ve ever found, and have decent prices. They also offer online ordering in Canadian currency, but watch out for those shipping charges! Staples, business, formal, casual, hoochie club, lingerie, sport, outerwear, fashion.

Torrid (US Only)
I love Torrid because it is the plus-size version of Hot Topic. They cater to the younger crowd with edgier fashions including bondage pants, skulls and corset tops. Love it! They have a decent selection of items, some are higher quality than others, and the prices are a little high. But you won’t find some of these things anywhere else! Fashion, goth, hoochie club, casual, lingerie, formal.

The US has loads more plus-size shopping options so I’m not going to detail them all, but here is a short list. Please email me if you have any additions to make!

JC Penney
Macy’s
Catherine’s
Fashion Bug
Dress Barn
Kiyonna
Avenue

This list I have provided may seem as though there are lots of options… but if you compare this measly list to the multitude of “regular” sized shops, you’ll see just how few plus-sized retailers there really are!

Are you plus-sized? What kind of challenges do you encounter when shopping? Have you found any great new stores you would recommend? Do you feel that our plus-sized shopping options are getting better, or worse? (Selection is increasing, but the ridiculous prices are, too).

Please share with me your thoughts on this issue, and pass the link to this post onto your plus-sized friends—maybe it will help them find more shopping options!

Stay tuned: I’m going to do another post featuring some stunning plus-sized models, and additional fashion resources!

Avast, ye scallywag!

I went to the Pirate Festival last weekend and have been meaning to post some photos of my booty!

…Not that booty, guys! Sheesh!

The haul is as follows:
Handmade chainmail necklace (yes, that’s me modelling it in my pirate garb)

Next up we have a beautiful handmade beaded necklace. The woman actually strung the whole thing together including the flowers and dragonfly. Can you believe it?

Here I am modelling it…

And finally, I got this awesome handwoven copper bracelet with shells, quartz, carnelian and czech glass:

I got another set of clothes for my pirate/renaissance look too, mainly a natural cotton top and a green skirt to go with my existing black bodice. My first outfit was a black bodice/corset over a bright red juliette dress.

Oh, what the hell. Here are some images of the outfits… first the saucy red:

And now the green one… which makes me look a little dumpy since I haven’t got it on properly. The pose is awful, I know. It makes me appreciate internet anonymity even more.

The good news is these outfits make my tits look huge and my waist look thin. The bad news is I have yet to be ravaged by a handsome and swashbuckling pirate man.

I managed to get all this for roughly $200 which is excellent by Pirate Festival standards. Some of these places charge ridiculous amounts for period costume! I’d say that all in all I found some good treasures!

See you at the tavern later for a pint o’ grog?

I love vinyl wall stickers. Oh yes.

I just can’t help myself, I’m in love with the wall stickers over at Loomis/DeSerres.

There’s a shop right near my office and I walked by the other day and caught my eye on their window display. I went in and picked up a booklet on all the designs available and now have sticker lust in the worst way! (What is it with me and vinyl stickers on random objects like my laptop?)

Since my new roommate and I want to make our place more homey, we’re looking at ways to decorate. So far we’ve painted our TV/guest room a light cream colour, and we’ve picked up some art to hang on the walls. We’re still deciding where to put the art though, since we’ve got weird walls in the apartment.

I found out that the sister of one of the girls at work works there and can pick up our decals for 30% off, so it makes them way more affordable! I’m seriously considering quite a few… if you judge by my blog layout I’m sure you can figure out which ones I fancy…

These are some of my top choices, though I can’t say for sure if they’ll make the cut!

Countryside, $44.95

Japanese Cherry Tree $44.95

Small Tree $47.95

Birds and Buds $47.95

Flower Fan $47.95

Birds $19.95

Butterflies $32.95

Arabesque $44.95

Rococo $44.95

They’ve got even more choices on the website. I’d say there’s definitely something for everyone! My only question is whether they are easy to apply/reapply?

*sigh* I love decorating!

Splenda Fine, HoneyBunch!

You know that I love youuuuuu! I can’t help myself… I love you and nobody else! Dun Dun DunDun! (do you remember that commercial?)

Haha I’ll bet you’ve got that song/jingle stuck in your head now!

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I’ve been simultaneously busy and exhausted. I keep getting home and falling asleep, then waking up at midnight. blerg.

Anyway, I found an awesome freebie over at SmartCanucks.ca that I thought I’d share with everyone:

Get 3 Free full-value coupons for Splenda sugar substitute!

I happen to like Splenda as far as fake sugar goes. I also like that I can bake with it (Maybe I’ll start posting some of my recipes? I don’t cook a lot but it usually turns out awesome). I’m definitely going to redeem these coupons… Splenda can be expensive!

Have you seen any other great freebies or deals lately?

I’m in a money crunch still, so I’ve been trolling SmartCanucks, Save.ca and RedFlagDeals.ca a lot lately.

Oh, and Craigslist. We mustn’t forget Craigslist!

The Frugal Bachelorette Weekend

In my post below I outlined a few of the things that we did for my best friend’s bachelorette weekend. What I didn’t mention is my surprise at how little it cost us in the end.

Just for perspective, I was estimating the personal cost to be somewhere around $200 each for the weekend, since it was only M and I picking up the tab.

I thought I’d lay out approximate costs for each activity, as well as the ways we were able to cut costs without sacrificing fun! First I’ll list our activities and ways that we saved, then I’ll do a grand tally of all the costs.

Friday Night

M and I drove up to Vaughan Mills to pick T up. We took her by surprise, she thought she was going to visit her fiancés friend that weekend instead! We stopped at a Pizza Hut on the way back because she wanted some. We saved money by having water to drink and sharing the garlic bread, medium pizza and salad.

Once back at my place, we broke out some of the booze we had purchased earlier and did a few shots, then moved onto a nice bottle of wine and a card game/drinking game/girltalk for the rest of the night. M and I had purchased snacks in bulk and booze earlier in the day.

Saturday

We had a nice bacon & eggs breakfast at home, then headed out to the St. Lawrence Market to do some shopping and pick up the food for dinner that evening. A great experience and we saved a small fortune by purchasing exactly what we wanted for dinner and cooking our steaks and veggies at home. Not to mention much of our food was local, which is good for the environment and our pocketbooks!

We did head out to a pub for lunch, but once again cut costs by drinking only water, and M and I shared a lunch entrée.

After lunch, we headed back to my place and watched a movie I already owned, bummed around then made our supper. It turned out quite delicious! T wasn’t feeling very well so we decided to stay in for the evening, and played cards all night instead.

Sunday

Another leisurely breakfast at home followed by an outing to the Eaton Centre (it was pissing rain that day). I am particularly proud of the fact that I did not purchase anything new on the trip, despite seeing several fashions and new purses I thought I would die without. I did spend about $5 on lunch in the food court, but T’s was free because M had some gift certificates to use at Quiznos.

Soon after we made a stop at the MAC on Bloor since T especially wanted to visit it. I ended up buying 2 new shadows, but I consider those an investment. I also abstained from buying the matching eyeliner. T paid for her own purchases in this case.

Following the makeup lessons at MAC, I took both of the ladies to the Windsor Arms Hotel for High Tea. There really wasn’t a way to save money at this, so we just enjoyed it and made the most of it. What a lovely experience!

Next up, we went home for another meal, and also began primping and pre-drinking for our night on the town. T had no idea that we were taking her to a strip club! M’s sister and cousin joined us for drinks, then we all headed out to Remington’s Men of Steel to catch a few buff men! What a hoot! Although it was much too expensive to drink ($6.75 for a basic drink) we had a blast. Saved money by only buying a couple of drinks each.

Now it was our turn to do the dancing, so we grabbed a quick cab over to Clubland and went to my usual haunt for some slightly cheaper drinks and cover charge. I introduced the girls to jagerbombs and we danced til closing.

————————–

Ok, so I’m at work as I write this so I don’t have exact costs for each thing that we did, but it all broke down to $145 each for M and I. Not bad for 3 people! We saved a lot by cooking and drinking at home, and also not renting movies when we could watch ones I had or play cards.

If you’re curious, the high tea costs $24 each for a cream tea which includes tea, 2 scones with Devon cream and petit fours. Yumm.

I Wrote About YOU, Dear Bloggers!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, and I feel guilty about neglecting my blog and readers! But I had good reason, this week has been crazy!

I’ll just do a quick update on things and hopefully I’ll be able to write some more posts this weekend, I’ve got a few topics I’d like to explore.

This week was crazy because my boss who is awesome is heading back to Australia :( and we’re trying to get the new gal up to speed on everything. We also just moved into a new office space, so getting organized and finding everything again has been a big task.

On top of that, I had a “challenge” to complete that was laid out in my 3 month review. I basically had to pick a topic and present it to my directors to prove that I could work on my own, meet a deadline, present and be comfortable with the information.

As bloggers, you’ll be interested to know that my topic was YOU! 😀 I did “A Blog Primer” where I explored the blogosphere and what makes a successful blog. One of my clients has a blog that it just languishing out there, so I tied it all in to how we could improve that blog.

I am happy to report, I had glowing reviews all around! They said I exceeded expectations and basically blew them away 😀 My boss said he would give me 10/10 for it, and my director said she’d write down all the positive comments to keep on my file. This is great news! I was very stressed about doing a good job on this. I want more money and they said in July I would have a salary review, this should definitely help my case!

Some more positive news is that on Sunday I had my Jenny Craig meeting, and have now lost about 10 lbs and 6 inches! Yippee! I don’t really care about the poundage, I’m more thrilled that I’m almost 2 sizes smaller than when I started. I’ve been holding off on spring/summer shopping for this reason, but I did purchase this dress:

And it looks awesome on me! :)
Well, we’re having a BIG going-away party for my boss today/tonight/into the morning, so I’ve got to run and grab some beer. Sometimes I really love working in advertising! Partying starts at noon!
Talk to you soon, folks!

The Vespa Investigation

A while back I blogged about possibly getting myself a scooter to get around the GTA in the pleasant months. I was hoping to get one pretty soon, especially since the TTC strike put a real kink in my plans.

However, after a little investigation into costs and logistics, I’ve decided to put off my purchase until at least the end of the summer.

This weekend I encountered a few people that asked me about scooters and the cost and stuff since they were interested too. I am by no means an expert, but here’s what I found out.

The Scooter
There are lots of brands out there to choose from! Vespa is perhaps the most popular and well-known, but other brands include Honda, Yamaha, TMC, Piaggio (Vespa), Kymco and more. After doing some research online I decided that a traditional Vespa was probably what would satisfy me the most. I didn’t want to be a brand whore, but I just couldn’t say no to the Italian styling, quality assurance and familiarity the brand presents. Though I did seriously consider the Yamaha Vino, and may still revisit it.
I spoke with a dude at the Vespa store here in T.O. and we assesed my needs. I wanted something with enough “get up and go” to take me from Toronto out to some of the surrounding cities/burbs, that could carry two people, had suitable storage and a possible top case or rack for more carrying capability.
The Vespa LX 150 in Plum fit the bill.


The Cost

Ahh, now the not-so-lovely part of the Vespa buying experience. The cost. It’s a whopper.

The list price for the LX 150 isn’t too bad. A little on the high side compared to other brands, but they can command what we marketers call prestige pricing because of the name and reputation they carry.

List Price: $5,700

And we mustn’t forget the freight, PDI and documentation costs involved in a new vehicle.

Freight: $250
PDI: $100
Documents: $75
Taxes: $796.25

That brings us to a total cost of $6,921.25 for a brand new Vespa.

One thing I will point out though, is that there is room for negotiating with this price. There is no way I would pay full price right off the bat. I would probably try for at least a grand off the list price, but I have no idea what I would actually get.

I did find out from the cute counter staff that it’s much cheaper to buy at the end of the fiscal year, for obvious reasons. Either that, or at the end of the season. I found out when their fiscal ends, but I shall keep it as my little secret so all the good bikes aren’t taken before I get there!

Additional Costs

Another thing to factor in when purchasing a scooter is that you will require an M licence, insurance and plates.

I would estimate insurance to be around $500/year. I estimate the M license process would cost around $200-300 total, and that the plates cost $20, then $42/year to renew.

This is starting to get expensive! And the testing process for the M license is time consuming. First you read the little motorcycle booklet and take a written test. Then you have a 90-day permit (M1, similar to G1) to learn how to ride your scooter sans passenger, alcohol and night-time driving. Then you take your M2 road test at some obscure location and have that license for the next 22 months, or 18 months if you take a safety course.

All the while you’re paying a premuium on your insurance because you are an inexperienced rider. What a bummer. The rates should go down after you get your full M though.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I’d need to buy a helmet for about $150, and any accessories such as rack or top case would cost more, too.

Summary

So there is my rundown of costs and hassles involved in getting a scooter. What I have therefore decided to do, is purchase one either new or used at the end of the season/fiscal year to help save me some money. My dad will store it in the garage and I’ll go for my license, etc. next spring. I’ll then be able to ride it for the entire spring, summer and fall next year :)

If I am paying approximately $50/month in insurance and $20/month in gas, I will still be paying less than the cost of my TTC pass! And scooters are pretty good on emissions, so I don’t feel as though I am creating too much pollution. I will be able to get around when I want and go where I want and have an easy way to carry things like groceries and friends. I can also park for free in the city of Toronto. Whoopee!


So, have I convinced you to buy a scooter yet?