simple is beautiful
Too Fat For Fashion
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gok it goin' on

As the proud owner of Double D breasts, I loathe underwear shopping. Just awful. You ping into Agent Provocateur, or Myla, or even good ol' Marks & Sparkles, hoping for... silk! Satin! Pretty, frothy knickers! Little slips of delicate fabric, chiffon ribbons, gorgeous colours, yummy delicious girlie smalls.

And yeah, you find them. In an A cup. As you progress through the racks, the frills 'n' froth disappear, to be replaced with inch-wide straps. Four-hook bras. Giant cups that cover everything. Some of that is just practical: I like a wide back to my bra as much as the next large-breasted girl. Wide straps under a T-shirt for day? Great. But what about when you're wearing a low-cut top? Not even necessarily in a racy way, just... nothing makes you look more sow-like than encasing large boobs in a poloneck. I can't see how covering the top of the breast with the cup provides any extra support. Whither the balconettes, the 3/4 cups?

A bunch of you emailed the Ask TFFF hotline asking this very question. A special shout-out to reader Sarah, who we were too late to help, but kindly emailed us some pics of her awesome finds, and who's basically eye-meltingly hot. So, well done her! But clearly, we're all having trouble finding everything from fancy bras to basic knicks.

Thank heavens then for women's champion Gok Wan, who has teamed up with online lingerie purveyor Simply Yours to create an 11-piece range of underwear in non-electric-shock-giving fabrics, not repellant to the eye (I know I'm not alone in owning any number of grandma-esque parachute bras that have to be kept firmly hidden away), in the following sizes:
  • Sizes 8 to 32 (UK)
  • Cup sizes A to G
  • Back size 30 to 46
On the downside, Gok was also responsible for the naming of the pieces. Those familiar with his TV shows, How To Look Good Naked and Miss Naked Beauty, will be aware that he is fond of a stupid name or two for faintly titallating body parts. 'Bangers' is, I think, my least favourite - we're adults, for goodness' sake. They're called breasts. I'll also except boobs, but a banger is, in any case, a sausage, and heaven help you if your breasts look like sausages. Anyhoo, names for the Simply Yours range:
  • Banger Booster (aaaaargh)
  • Slicker Knicker (ugh)
  • Boobylicious Basque (please, please stop)
  • and Sex Kitten Corset (when will the lambs stop screaming?)
However, one thing I love, love, love about the collection is the styling in the photographs:

Clockwise from top left: Divine Outline, £45; Curve Controller, £55; Sex Kitten Corset, £45; and Sassy Slip, £55; all Gok Wan Lingerie For Simply Yours

You know why? These are photos styled and shot by people that are genuinely plus-size friendly. You might not be able to see in these smaller sized shots, but the high-res versions I have show that the stretchmarks on the model's stretchmarks have not been airbrushed out. There's nothing shaming about stretchmarks, and if you're big, you're likely to have them. These photos acknowledge that.

My most favourite thing though? The dude in the background. It's subtle, but brilliant, and something I'd love to see more of when marketing clothing for plus-sizes: the acknowledgement of plus-size sexuality. These pictures are sexy.

I think the general theme of the shoot is basically your average lingerie ad: Sunday morning, airy loft apartment, you've got the newspapers and you're trying to figure out where to go for brunch. Boyfriend wears his pyjama bottoms, girlfriend the top. Pillow fights, slo-mo, so far, so familiar.

In this scenario, girlfriend eventually gets it together to get dressed, amusingly modelling her new underwear, while her hottie mctotty of a boyfriend takes photos of her, flirts away, and tries to persuade her that pancakes are lame anyway, they should just stay in and have some awesome sex.

Seriously. This is how a straight-size underwear shoot would be styled. The extra-special cherry on the awesome icing on the yummy cake? That's a straight-size male model right there. It would have been so easy, and so wrong, to hire a plus-size male model to be the plus-size model's fake photoshoot boyfriend. I've nothing against plus-size men or plus-size models of any gender getting work, obviously, but how great that the photos acknowledge that hey, not only are plus-size women attractive and sexy, but universally so.

There's no qualifier, no 'attractive... to other fat people' or 'attractive... for what they are'. No weird plus/thin miscegenation-style antics going on. No. It's just a lovely curvy girl being admired. Which, frankly, rocks. I may even forgive Gok the name 'Banger Booster'.

Gok Wan Lingerie For Simply Yours, from £22. Simply Yours; 0871 231 2000

Monday, November 10, 2008

My massage brings all the boys to the yard

It's the first real post of our return and I'm going to be entirely selfish and talk about Neal's Yard, massages, and beauty products, rather than dive right into the nitty-gritty of plus fashion. (All that stuff to come, promise!)

London's super-cool Neal's Yard, the tiniest, shoppiest courtyard in the capital

Right, we've had Halloween (I came as the credit crunch, thinking I was all clever, then I read the Halloween post on Stuff White People Like and had my dreams once again kiboshed), then there was some sort of election, not sure if you guys heard about that... and swiftly on the heels of that, came Guy Fawkes Night, at least if you're British. (This is where we incite religious hatred by burning effigies of Roman Catholics to celebrate the defeat of Medieval terrorism. And there are toffee apples.)

Anyhoo: the calendar moves on pretty fast in the autumn; all that's left is Remembrance Day tomorrow, and then we're on the home stretch to Christmas/Chrismukkah/Happy Birthday Jesus Day/present-giving. November through December is basically an unholy combination of cold weather, festive parties, and a hella lot of shopping. (How you guys cope with Thanksgiving in the mix is beyond me.)

One of my favourite brands, Neal's Yard Remedies (they of the beautiful blue glass bottles and delicious-smelling organic goodies), has introduced the Retail Therapy massage throughout the UK for Christmas. The massage comes in two "flavours", Refresh, and Relax, which was my chosen option.

I'm not a crazy fan of massage, as I find being touched by people - even friends, relatives, boyfriends! - quite uncomfortable, but this was genuinely a revelation. As a long-term certified insomniac, I can say it's the best sleep solution evah. I slept like the dead after my 30-minute massage last Thursday.

This somnambulant miracle was brought to me by the hands of Denise Monroe, former model and wife of jewellery designer Alex Monroe, which added a level of glamour to proceedings. Incidentally, how beautiful are these Alex Monroe pieces?

Jewellery by Alex Monroe; 00 44 (0)20 7703 8507;

Er, anyway. One post at a time! Retail Therapy massages are available at Neal's Yard stores throughout the UK. £35 (London) or £25 (regional)for 30 minutes, including a gift box of two products to take away, worth £10. These also double as excellent presents/stocking fillers (depending on how generous you are), as I can attest, having already pawned some off on friends pretending I was treating them. I'm a charmer! Call 00 44 (0)1747 834634 to book, or visit the website.

Refresh is quite zingy, all geranium and orange, whilst relax is arnica, rose and pomegranate. I'm currently also using Neal's Yard orange flower shampoo and conditioner (£10 each), which is doing excellent work and smells delicious - combining nicely with my housemate's Christmassy-scented ginger and vanilla. (Organic Ginger and Vanilla Bath Oil, organic Ginger and Vanilla Body Lotion, and a Ginger and Vanilla Candle, £27.50 the set.)

Anyway, like I said I'm not usually a big massage fan but this really was the business, totally soothing, sorted my sleep problems out for a night or two, and at only half an hour didn't interfere with my ridonk schedule. Plus anytime a beauty treatment comes with products included in the price, it's a good thing, particularly PCC (post credit crunch).

Keep tuning in for a review of Gok Wan's new lingerie range and latest TV show, Miss Naked Beauty - and a shout-out to reader Sarah for her awesome underwear (in a sisterhood yay! sort of way rather than a creepy old dude in a basement way) - and then we'll finally get round to answering your questions, I've been wading through the 50 or so emails (!!!) we've got and trying to triage according to whose wedding/party/outfit emergency is soonest!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

You go back to her, and I go back to blog

Hi, everyone!

Yes, it's been a million years. No, we have no excuses. The dog did not, in fact, eat our homework. Mr Nobody didn't do it and run away. Your TFFF correspondents just got busy: Miss J and I both upgraded from semi-professional fashion hacks to the real deal, and goodness, but that was a shock to system.

But hey, we're back now. I'm not promising that we can bring you thrice-daily updates, or anything, but then we never did. But a regularly scheduled dose of fat-friendly fashion coverage and a stern critique of the industry a few times a week? That, we can do.

We'll be doing a bit of a re-design, too, and bringing back long-neglected features such as Ask TFFF* (we might actually answer the questions this time around, instead of nodding sagely and saying, "What a good question" then scampering off the Starbucks for a dark cherry mocha (so good) and forgetting all about it), perfect 10s, how tos, and the like.

What else can you expect from the return of the blog? In the next few weeks, look out for:

  • A look around Europe's biggest shopping centre, Westfield in London's White City. Is it a white elephant or sparkling monument to capitalism? (Or indeed both.) And, more importantly, how many shops in the 43-acre development cater to plus-sizes?
  • Christmas round-ups: the best gifts and goodies that are both size- and purse-friendly.
  • Clickity-click! We review, compare'n'contrast the many 'virtual wardrobe' sites that have sprung up around the web over the last year: the good, the bad, the plus-sizes available, the irritating software you have to download and cram your hard drive with just to play Cher-inClueless with your clothes.
  • How to wear winter's hot trends and wear to buy 'em, from ruffles to leather trousers.
  • Tightening your belt: how to update your look in these (yawn) credit crunchian times.
  • The joy of Retail Therapy massages at Neal's Yard, available throughout November and December for stressed UK shoppers.
  • First Lady Fabulosity: the Michelle Obama look! How to look as chic as Mrs O.
  • Reviews and lush pics of cool girls' champion Gok Wan, plus editorials on Miss Naked Beauty and more.
  • All the TFFF-related fashion, beauty and celeb news and gossip as and when it happens.

*Yes, Ask TFFF has quite a backlog of emails and questions! Mea culpa. Rest assured that these will be trawled through over the coming weeks and we'll try to answer as fast and as best as we can.

In short: yeah, baby - we're back.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stardust Memories : Who Got It Right?

And were back! The red carpet doesn't stop for one second and in the past few weeks curvy stars have been front and center displaying their fashionable finest - but not every look is a hit. While its up to us to keep track of who is wearing what - its up to you to tell us just what you think about these looks. First up we have Jennifer Hudson at the MTV Movie awards in a crisp white number but what is up with the visible bra? Not just the straps but almost the entire bra is on display. Are you feeling the overt cleavage? Or do you think less is more?

Now I personally love Beth Ditto's continuing parade of McQueen that she's been wearing lately. This is no exception - I think the print is phenomenal and it goes so well with her wild hair and accessories. This might not be everyone's cup of tea but for me this is an ace in the hole.

Nikki Blonsky's all black and lace ensemble is a little too safe for my tastes but you can't deny that she looks great. The red belt is a nice touch, I wouldn't have minded seeing more of that bright color on her.

Rounding out the bunch we've got my least favorite of the group. I think this faux-Pucci print on Jill Scott does nothing for her. There is something about those geometric prints that makes me think Tron...

Now I've made my picks but how do you feel about this month's dose of star style? Love/hate them all? Like them OK? Anyone who can explain that pastel Tron sack Jill Scott is wearing in a logical manner gets bonus points.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Miss Piggy

We're not shallow, lipstick-and-shoe-obsessed girls here at TFFF Towers, y'know...well, we're not just shallow, lipstick-and-shoe-obsessed girls. Sometimes we expand our cultural horizons and watch the telly, read magazines, or, er, shop for homeware instead of fashion. How deep is that?

On that note, let's talk Live Action Telly, or, as it's more commonly known, theatre. The papers here are currently full of news 'n' reviews for the latest Neil LaBute play to be staged in London. Fat Pig, starring TV's Robert Webb (of the embarrassingly excellent Peep Show), Kris Marshall (of, um, the BT ads), Joanna Page (of the piss-poor Gavin and Stacey, that people will keep insisting is good, even though THEY ARE WRONG (I'll brook no argument on this)), and Ella Smith (of that Holby City episode, one time) as the eponymous 'fat pig'; is basically a theatrical version of Shallow Hal.

Robert Webb's Tom falls for Ella Smith's Helen; his colleagues, Joanna Page's rejected Jeannie, and Kris Marshall's Carter, mock him soundly for dating a fattie. Meanwhile, from what I've gleaned, Helen happily chows down and teaches them all valuable life lessons. Or something. Given it's LaBute, I'm guessing there's not an awful lot of hugging, sharing and learning going on...

Robert Webb and Ella Smith in Fat Pig, at Trafalgar Studios

Now, your correspondents haven't actually read or seen the play, so I can't pass judgement, but I thought I'd share some of the stuff that's floating around, and open it up for discussion.

Here's some choice quotes from the articles and reviews:

"Other people may consider it a problem – they think that if you wanted to be thinner, you could, and there's also that transition we make from fat to lazy. But why are we so judgemental about other people? Helen is insecure – she says she's 'pretty OK', but that's not really OK. Not that that's anything peculiar to people who are overweight."
Neil LaBute
The Independent

"Famed for exploring the heartlessness of America's heartlands, LaBute treats the Tom-Helen affair with superb emotional accuracy. Their first encounter is beautifully done: Helen swathing herself in self-deprecating irony ("big people are jolly, remember?") and Tom, in a don't-mention-the-war manner, desperately trying to avoid all size jokes. All their scenes ring tenderly true, with LaBute showing how two people, in spite of social pressures, can be drawn together by shared tastes, sexual appetites, and matching conversational rhythms."
Michael Billington
The Guardian

"LaBute is often described in interviews as a bear, even a big cuddly bear, and in the programme he makes it clear that he identifies with Helen, the 'overweight, sensible and perfectly lovely heroine of Fat Pig' who, like him, is 'a stress eater'. But as he would agree, there's a rather obvious difference, which is that she's a woman and more easily mocked than most plus-sized men. Indeed, Kris Marshall's Carter can't disguise his hilarity when his office chum, Robert Webb's Tom, falls for Ella Smith's Helen, who stuffs herself with pizza or whatever else is going."
Benedict Nightingale
The Times

"He is uncharacteristically soft on his fat heroine. To be as overweight as Helen is not normal, but LaBute doesn't inquire why she has put on so many surplus pounds, jeopardising both her health and her romantic life. All he's concerned with is the cruelty of the thin mocking the fat, and our lack of courage in accepting human differences."
Charles Spencer
The Telegraph

So, opening this up for discussion -- a change from our remit of fashion, I know, but worth talking about nonetheless. For me, a lot of the reviews (particularly that Telegraph one) focus on 'why is Helen fat?' rather than on the broader (no pun intended) points of the play; preferring instead to judge the character (and therefore the actress) as 'not normal', unhealthy, greedy, all the usual suspects.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Barneys & Friends: Simon Doonan Does Plus Sizes?

And now for something a little bit unexpected, fashion week fixture and Barney's Creative Director, Simon Doonan has expressed interest in creating a plus sized line.

If Simon Doonan designed a clothing line he'd focus on an oft-overlooked demographic. “I would love to do a plus-size line,” he told us at last night’s El Museo gala at Cipriani. "I think there’s a huge opportunity for doing clothes that are size 12 and up."

Doonan noted it's ridiculously hard to become a somebody as a fashion designer these days. "There’s more designers than the world would ever need in a hundred million years, there’s more clothing lines, there’s 400 bloody shows in the New York fashion week. So there’s no shortage for womenswear. But I think there’s an opportunity to do insanely great things in the plus-size market," he said (ahem, Project Runway alums). He continued, "As a freakishly undersized male, I understand the plight of the oversized female. You know that thing of looking for clothes and they’re not there."

Having a selection of plus sized clothes at Barneys would be heavenly but will this ever come to fruition? My inner skeptic says no but perhaps I'm just jaded. This is one of the few times I have ever heard anyone in his position express interest in making plus sized clothing but as we all know having an interest in doing something and actually taking the initiative to do it are two very different things. He does however make an excellent point - there is a need for high quality clothing in plus sizes, only a handful of designers are making anything for the plus sized market. I'm sure Mr. Doonan would be a welcome edition - he has loads of personal style and his book Eccentric Glamour was a witty ode to fashion non-conformity. Lets see if he puts his money where his mouth is.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Gossip Girl: Beth Ditto In Nylon

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Our girl Beth Ditto has got 8 pages in this month's Nylon, outlining what fashion means to her, the Gossip's plans for the future and how fame has changed her life. While I am not a fan of the no eyebrows look on Beth - or anyone of that matter - I think the pictures are quite fierce. Got to love that custom Jeremy Scott dress - very Beth if you ask me.

Do you love it? Or are roadway sign dresses and glitter leggings not your thing?