Fashion magazines used to make me want to rip the pages out and paper-cut myself to death. Every issue featured tall, thin, flowy youths on whom clothes floated effortlessly without a bulge, wrinkle, or pucker. There was no way to live up to what I saw.  Then somewhere along the line, I started caring more about the clothes themselves than the bony living hangers they hung on (did that sound too snarky? Honestly, I bear no model malice!)

More often than not, a style I like on a size zero supermodel isn’t even available in my size (even if I could afford it) but I can take the concept of the outfit and generalize it to suit my own shape (and budget.)

Case in point: there’s a beautiful “Look for Less” spread in the April issue of People Stylewatch (p. 58) featuring Whitney Port in a fuschia wrapshirt with a mini-skirt and shiny patent and metallic accessories. I don’t wear minis. I’m well past being appropriately aged for them, and I’ve never been sized appropriately! (Maybe when I was 6 years old, but probably not.)

However, the concept of the outfit could absolutely work for me. I could wear the EXACT same thing, subbing in a pair of pinstripe trousers (with a bit of shine in the stripe even) for the skirt.

Here’s another perfect example from Ann Taylor. I would duplicate the top half of this adorable ensemble. The skirt, which is too short for me, I couldn’t do. I also don’t wear ankle strap shoes except with pants, so I might choose a more ankle flattering d’orsay style, or a pretty sandal.

Here are my picks for shoes and a skirt that would fit MY body better!  And really, isn’t that the point of fashion magazines (once we get past feeling inferior to models)…to inspire us to express ourselves through our own beautiful and unique styles?


Posted by: Treebelly | March 26, 2010

I’ve Lost 100 Pounds, So What?

People seem to want to revoke my membership in the “Plus” club lately because I’ve lost some weight. I’m here to tell you, I’m not giving it up! For one thing, I’m still waaaay heavier on the bottom half than the top. For another, I absolutely relate to any woman who has a hard time fitting her body because she’s not size 8 or under. And because we are NOT one-size-fits-all.

I’ve lost a hundred pounds and I still aint no size 8. XL or 14 on top, size 18 on bottom is about right. I have tree-trunk calves, thick, heavy thighs,  a large bodacious booty, and poochy, hippy hips. I wear a size 9.5 Wide shoe – the same as many drag queens I know.  (I’m not putting myself down. Believe me, I made peace with my body many moons ago!) But I’ve also been a size 20, 22, 26, 28 and even 32, so I feel the righteousness of my claim to know the plus sizes of which I speak.

I Belong!So there. I’m keeping my Plus Sister Membership Card along with the complimentary toaster!

Posted by: Treebelly | March 25, 2010

My Favorite Color Combo Today – Gray & Cream

I’m loving the color combo of cream with gray today. I’m wearing a cream blazer over a gray button up blouse. So much of my jewelry complements it, and it’s very sharp and professional together. Here’s an example of a cute jacket I would wear with this really pretty dress. Throw on some heels, and rock it!

  These are hot, and a great match, but a bit spendy. Definitely HOT though!    Here’s a more budget-friendly and lower-heeled option. Still right on trend!
Posted by: Treebelly | March 22, 2010

Three Spring Trends to Try and Three to Avoid

Ah, Spring…  Time to put away the winter clothes and try a fresh trend or two. Here are three Springtime trends that we plus-sizers and our skinny sisters alike should try on…as well as three I think we should leave on the mannequin!

Three to Try:Graphic Tank by Twenty8Twelve at Nordstrom

 1)      Bold graphic prints – yes… but maybe not head to toe. How about a great blouse or tank like this one under a jacket to punch up an otherwise conservative outfit?

2)      Studs – tough, edgy, and surprisingly wearable. Sport them on tops, jackets, and shoes…but avoid them on jeans unless you really, really need some extra attention on your butt, hips or thighs.

3)      One shoulder tops & dresses. If you are comfortable with your arms (or at least one of them) this is a great way to show off one of the most beautiful and underrated parts of the human body – the shoulder! It’s sexy without being too bare and very Spring.

I said three to try, so I’m not even going to touch on putty colored polish, gladiator sandals and fabulous wedges, global traveler gear, or satchel bags in every color… oh, somebody stop me!

Three That Should Die:

1)      Denim trends like the resurrection of acid wash are making me cringe this Spring. They’re calling them “white wash” because presumably that sounds fresher, but please, they’re a throw-back that should be thrown way back! Dump the ripped and torn boyfriend jeans while you’re at it. I can look dumpy and disheveled without visiting the JeanBarn, thanks. And denim on denim (like jeans with a denim vest). Please, no.

2)      This months’ fashion mags showed “stripes for any figure” but most of us don’t wear stripes well. If you feel you must indulge, I recommend taking some Polaroids first and making sure that the optical illusion the outfit creates is the one you want. Post them at Flickr or Facebook and get some impartial input.

3)      Romantic, sweet, flowy, florals. I don’t know why, but it seems to be extremely difficult for those of us who size in the double digits to pull this look off without looking frumpy. Or preggers. Or both. If you can rock it, more power to ya. I just know I can’t and neither can most of the plussers I’ve seen.

Disclaimer:  Feel free to disagree. Wear what you want and to heck with rules. I’m sure you’ll look great!

Posted by: Treebelly | March 11, 2010

Gold Cage Platforms, Hot or Hookerish?

Gold Cage Platform Heels

So what do you think of my new shoes? Nice and tall, pretty comfortable, plus they make me feel hot. Or do they make me feel just naughty and I THINK it’s hot?  Hmmmm…

Posted by: Treebelly | February 27, 2010

20 Ways to Wear a Sarong

I’m so sick of winter. But I’m not going to cry. You’d just make fun of me anyway. I know our Oregon winters are nothing compared to you in the Frozen North. But I’m sick of it still. Everyone I run into lately is just-coming-back-from or just-getting-ready-to-leave-for somewhere luscious and warm. My in-laws are in Hawaii now. FOR TWO MONTHS.

So to make me feel better, let’s talk sarongs. Sarong: also known as  wrapper, pareo, kikoi or kanga, sampot, and a dozen other colorful names. They can be batiked, flowered, plaid, striped, solid or any other combination, and can be made from cotton, rayon, silk or even poly – usually in a lightweight fabric.

Whether your sarong is a flat rectangle (most common in the US) or a tube of fabric (common most everywhere else), they are darn versatile and incredibly comfortable! There are several ways to tie the thing, and they have loads of uses. Let’s catalog a few besides the ubiquitous swimsuit cover-up:

  • Wrap it around your neck for extra warmth and comfort while traveling (or anytime).
  • Use it as a headband or to tie back a ponytail
  • Roll it and tie it like a belt over a simple solid color sheath dress.
  • Wear it as a skirt, bandeau dress or halter dress
  • Wrap it around your head turban style to add interest to any outfit (and cover up a bad hair day!)
  • Tie it onto your luggage to help you distinguish yours from the rest. (Wrap securely around the handle several times so there aren’t long, hanging tails.)
  • Throw it on over your shoulders like a shawl or pashmina.
  • Layer one over another for a color splash and better coverage.
  • Wad it up into a pillow to use when you’re forced to sleep away from your own bed.
  • Wrap it diaper-style and wear it under another skirt like bloomers when you can’t find your slip.
  • Use it as a sling for a broken arm.
  • Drape it over a lamp (careful not to touch the bulb) for mood lighting.
  • Wrap it smoothly around your chest and wear peeking out from under a tank dress (I never wear tank dresses because I like more underarm coverage…this could do it!)
  • What about this unique top… ( I made it up, so if you try it, send me a picture!) Fold the sarong in half or thirds to make it the length you want. Center the sarong behind your back, bring it forward under your arms, wrap it around the back of each arm and across over the chest. Tie in the center!

Ok, I’m feeling a little better about Old Man Winter now. He’s not the boss of  me! I’m going to dig out my sarong collection and make a throw pillow out of one of them. Then I’ll lay my head on it and dream of warmer climes….

Posted by: Treebelly | February 20, 2010

How To Do Casual Friday (Even if Your Company Doesn’t!)

We don’t have casual Friday at my office. We never have, and we never will. I still indulge. Not that I wear jeans and flip-flops mind you! But I look for ways to celebrate Fridays that make me feel more casual and relaxed (without breaking the dress code).

Take today. I’m wearing pin-striped trousers with a blazer. However, my blazer is in uber-comfy stretch cordoroy  and I’m wearing it over a logo tee. Not a holey ripped-up concert tee, but a cute one with some sparkle to dress it up!

My hair feels casual too, I’m trying out the slightly messy side-braid I keep seeing in the magazines. It’s comfortable, fuss-free, and fun.

Even my shoes make me feel like I’m just playing today. You wouldn’t be able to get away with these in every office, but I like to think I have a bit of latitude because I’m such a valuable employee. (I’m sure it’s not that, it’s probably just the tip of the iceberg of things they could chastise me for, so it doesn’t even make the list.) 

Thong Heels from ZapposHappy Friday!!!  🙂

Posted by: Treebelly | February 18, 2010

A Pop of Color in a Cardigan

Similar Cardigan

Similar Cardigan

One thing I think looks GREAT on most people is a pop of color over neutrals. I got a great little shrunken cardigan that highlights my waist and upper body, and I layer it over a black tank and black trousers to minimize my not-so-small lower half.

Here’s a similar one – I got mine in-store at Avenue.  Pick a bright color that flatters you – it brings color and life to your beautiful face and I promise you’ll feel like a shining star!

Posted by: Treebelly | February 17, 2010

Argyle Sweaters

Wikipedia  says the argyle pattern was mostly used in the 1900 by golfers, and that today, it’s used by the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team on their jerseys.

I don’t golf OR play basketball  – the closest I get to balls is rum balls (I apologize for that sounding way dirtier than I meant it ☺) – but I do like a good argyle sweater (the clothing item, not the comic strip).    I got a beautiful, soft, V-neck argyle at Macy’s this weekend. I’m in love!

Puppy Argyle

Here’s a similar one that I could buy for my doggie and we could be twinsies! (Ok, if that made you throw up in your mouth a little, I totally understand. I was just kidding. Besides, my dogs HATE to wear clothes!)

1)  Is it cold enough for you?

2) Are you all ready for Christmas?

3) Anything about Tiger Woods.

These are hackneyed, worn out and stale. Especially the Tiger Woods jokes!

Here are some holiday conversation starters and small-talk gems to use instead:

1) Are you doing anything new this Holiday Season?

2) Comment on a piece of clothing or jewelry they’re wearing. (Sincere compliments only.)

3) Remember something about them from a previous conversation and start a sentence with “Whatever happened with ____?” or “How did ____ turn out?”

4) Bring up books, movies, restaurants, or the food at the party.

5)  And finally, in the Pacific Northwest, “How ’bout them Ducks?”

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