Curves, Cats, and Creams

Keep Your Pants On Resurrects the Most Neglected, Yet Vital, Fashion Staple in the World; Belts!

For blog KYPO

Recently, I was introduced to KeepYourPantsOn.com, and I was so impressed that I agreed to take them on as a public relations client. Here’s why: founded in 2007, it’s the first and only website focused on the $1 billion women’s belts market, helping women to look sexier, feel slimmer, and accentuate their assets by creating a personalized retail experience, offering an exclusive collection of belts for women, including leather belts (both genuine and imitation), waist belts, skinny belts, stretch belts, hand-made belts, beaded belts, and much more.

For decades, women, especially plus size women, have used belts to make bold fashion statements, to breathe new life into old outfits, and to sculpt and shape their figures. Despite their vitality, women’s belts remain an afterthought to most major retailers, often hanging sadly on lifeless, “help yourself” belt racks scattered randomly throughout the store, resulting in a tedious shopping experience that lacks the same excitement and “thrill-of-the-hunt” associated with handbags, shoes, and jewelry.

The website offers hard to find indie designers and micro brands such as the breathtaking belt buckles by Kimberly Grace and Boston’s own designer Kathy Dichter of KDichter Designs. With an easy-to-use fit guide, customers can quickly identify the most flattering styles for their shape. KeepYourPantsOn.com even has a user-friendly DIY belt section, making customization and personal style simple for both the straight and plus size woman.

“We are doing to women’s belts what Victoria’s Secret did to lingerie”, says KeepYourPantsOn.com founder and CEO, Sivan Soffer. “We’re bringing this neglected fashion staple to the forefront by focusing on one thing only- our customers’ belt needs, which is why 90% of our customers purchased their first belt online with us.”

 

Visit KeepYourPantsOn at:

Web: http://www.keepyourpantson.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KeepYourPants0n

Twitter at @keepyourpants0n

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/keepyourpantson/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Keepyourpantson/posts.

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Love the Curves? Now You Can Love the Cause, Too!

For blog Love the Curves Love the Cause

Although my DDD breasts can sometimes be a nuisance (read: backaches, button-down shirts, etc), at the end of the day I truly do love them, which is why the thought of breast cancer scares the sh&t out of me. Besides the possible health risks, of course, I can’t deny that the fear of losing the feeling of empowerment and sexiness they give me is terrifying. And I know that I’m not alone; whether a woman is flat as a board or resembles a mountain range, her breasts help her to feel womanly, powerful, mature, and attractive. 

Which is why I desperately wanted to get the word out about “Love the Curves – Love the Cause”, a fundraiser for Medebra, a company which produces bras for those who have undergone breast reductions, lifts, augmentations, lumpectomies, mastectomies, and other chest surgeries. Money raised from this worthy event will provide Medebras to those who are unable to afford them.

Founder and breast cancer survivor Kim P. Haley reveals the inspiring story behind Medebra, “One of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had after hearing the words ‘breast cancer’ was finding the courage to choose a surgeon, set a surgery date, and tell those I loved my situation. When I went to the operating room on my surgery day, I didn’t know the outcome of what I’d feel or look like.

When I woke up and opened my eyes, the first thing I did was look down and reach for my chest, and I saw and felt this awful suit of armor they had strapped and zippered me into! My poor surgeon, a sweet, dedicated man, had no idea of the strong words I was about to say to him: ‘OK, doc, as if things weren’t bad enough, I’m waking up to feeling like a knight in Camelot! Okay…., yes… well, of course I’m grateful to be here and well, but as women, our femininity is a part of who we are! Couldn’t you find something pretty to put me into?’ So my sweet, dedicated surgeon smiled and acknowledged my words of wisdom and said, ‘Okay Kim, so your next challenge is to make something prettier for women post-op, okay?'”

Thus, the Medebra was born! To benefit countless others, Kim has turned her painful experience into a labor of love, making sure her bras are both beautiful and functional, even including features such as adjustable prosthesis and places for drainage bulbs.

Support all women’s curves by joining Kim and Medebra on Saturday, September 27th, from 6:30 – 8 PM, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Miami International Airport, located at 950 NW 42nd Ave. Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased at http://loveplusmiami.ticketleap.com/.

I think we can all relate to the passion behind Kim’s vision, “that Medebra gives other women some sense of power, strength, and feeling of femininity and allows them to realize that they are still the same person and they are still beautiful.”

To learn more about Kim’s journey and Medebra, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/663350807082164/ and medebra.com.

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#Plussizeplease; David and Goliath, the Plus Size Version!

For blog Plus Size Please

Having been a member of  Change.org, the world’s largest petition website, referred to as “The go-to site for Web uprisings” by The New York Times, for over a year now, I have seen the power of unity among the masses to create social upheaval and to encourage/force incredible changes that I would never have thought possible.

So when I stumbled across an article about a new hashtag called #plussizeplease, I was intrigued. #Plussizeplease was conceived by the blog Curvily to prove to retailers how much money they’re losing by not acknowledging the fact that women come in sizes bigger than 12.

Here’s how it works: If you happen to spot an outfit in a store that you simply must have, only to realize that it doesn’t exist in anything larger than a size 12, instead of lashing out at the poor sales clerk cowering behind the register, channel your anger and frustration into action! Take a picture of the outfit, including the brand and price, and post it to all of your social media sites with the hashtag #plussizeplease, preferably tagging the brand and retailer who had the nerve to ignore your existence. For example, “@Dolcegabbana, @BarneysNY, floral print sleeveless dress, $1,795. I’d buy it right now if it came in size X (or in plus sizes) #plussizeplease”. Afterwards, share it with your friends and network. Social media makes getting others involved ridiculously easy, so take full advantage of that to make your voice heard loud and clear!

After all, this is about more than just clothes, ladies and gents; this is about demanding equal treatment and respect. Unfortunately, plus size people are still often viewed as lazy, fat, and unlovable, so this is truly an opportunity to make your voice heard. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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Learn REAL Sex Ed With Plus Size Adult Film Star Kelly Shibari!

For blog Kelly Shibari

Although I consider myself a Catholic, I truly believe that God wants us to have great sex lives, and not just for the sake of producing children, which is why I simply had to interview Kelly Shibari, the very first plus size adult film star to be featured on the cover of Penthouse Forum. During our interview, I lost track of how many porn myths she busted for me; read on to find out more!

EM: Why did you choose to become an adult film star and what do like best and least about it?

KS: I used to be a roadie for a few years after college, and later became a production designer for mainstream films and commercials when I moved to Los Angeles from New York. Then the 2007 writers’ strike happened, which was a longer strike than usual, and affected writers, actors, and crew across the board. Most mainstream film industry work dried up in California.

Many people behind the scenes in mainstream Hollywood actually moonlight regularly as crew people in the porn industry. One of my friends who did that mentioned that I should consider getting into the business. At first, I thought he was crazy, mainly because I hadn’t seen any plus size women in porn.

What I like best is the confidence I get from people who watch my work and tell me I’ve encouraged them to feel better about their own bodies. It’s particularly awesome, especially since I was bullied as a kid for being a chubby kid, so I know what feeling negatively about your body feels like. I’m not necessarily a fat activist, but I do encourage people to be happy. And if my work does that for some women and couples, then I’m super thrilled.

What I like the least is the public perception of porn, especially in the States. I’m half Japanese, and moved to the States when I was 16, so the perception here about sex in general is very different. The Japanese are very reserved on the outside, but are rather sexual people in private, so I grew up in a sex-positive country. So many people here in the States have so many hangups about sex, and also have this misconception that people who are in the porn industry are uneducated, were abused as children, and/or are drug addicts, or worse. Just like any industry, you’re going to find some who have issues. In my case, I’m a college graduate from a happy, upper-middle class family – I didn’t get into adult because I had no other choice, but rather because I did my research and chose to do so.

 

EM: That’s so true. Do you feel that the porn industry takes you more or less seriously because you’re a BBW (Big, Beautiful Women) actress? Why?

KS: BBWs are finally being taken more seriously, I think. I don’t think we were ever taken “not seriously”, but plus size women in porn have definitely had an uphill battle in terms of being considered something other than a fetish.

In terms of award shows, we used to be lumped in with “specialty” porn, which includes little people, BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, masochism), fetishes, etc. Now many awards shows give us our own category – it’s really a great step towards acceptance of plus size women in all aspects of sexuality.

EM: I definitely think that’s a step in the right direction! Another one is having you as the very first plus size adult film star on the cover of Penthouse Forum! How were you chosen for that?

KS: My NY publicist has ties to Penthouse, and pitched me as an idea last year. It took a while, but the people there were looking to shake things up, and after taking a look at my work both on and off camera, they decided to offer the cover and feature interview to me. I’m so glad the reception has been so great – it certainly was a risk, and I’m honored Penthouse decided to use me for that ballsy move.

EM: They made a fantastic choice in you! What kind of feedback have you gotten since Penthouse Forum was published?

KS: Amazing! I’ve received so much more attention than I could ever predicted. It really has been overwhelmingly positive!

EM: That’s so great to hear. Do you think people are now just starting to look at BBWs as sexy or have they always and their voices are just being heard now?

KS:  I think that many people have always thought of plus size men and women as sexy, but it was something that has always been hidden by mainstream media. It’s becoming more popular and easier to find now, thanks to the Internet, social media, etc – and more people are coming out and saying publicly that they like their partners regardless of what size they are, and in many instances, that it’s their preference to be with someone who is larger.

EM: Nothing wrong with that! What would you say to critics who claim that encouraging people to accept their bodies will add to the obesity epidemic?

KS: I really don’t think that’s true at all. It’s all about being happy with the body you have and really learning how to best take care of it. Again, I’m not a “fat activist”; I just encourage people to be happy. There are plenty of messages every single day that tell people of size that in order to be happy, they need to be slimmer. I don’t agree with that notion – I think being emotionally healthy may even be more important than a number on a scale.

One project that I just finished is the very first plus size sex education film, Guide to Wicked Sex: Plus Size, which is a collaboration with Wicked Pictures and Jessica Drake. In addition to the regular “sex ed” stuff, like positions, we’ve included sections on body confidence and communication, which will help couples talk to each other about their bodies and better communicate what they like and don’t like in bed. Good sex is all about communication and feeling comfortable in your skin!

EM: Communication is truly everything, in all areas of life. What are your hopes for the next 5 years?

KS:  I hope that I am able to stay in this industry even after I have stopped performing. Regardless of public opinion, I really do enjoy working within this industry – these days, my PR and marketing work with Steme360, Fine Ass Marketing, and The PRSM Group, is keeping me really happy.

 

To learn more about Kelly Shibari, visit:

Web: http://kellyshibarixxx.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kellyshibari?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyShibari

Instagram: http://instagram.com/kellyshibari

Google +: https://plus.google.com/113716058823470380359/posts

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellyshibari

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Sisterly Love Comes Together to Create Huudaverti

For blog Huudaverti quote

 

Sisterly love creates beautiful things, including beautiful fashion! I recently had the pleasure of talking with Laurice, Jan, and Christine, the creators of Australian-based brand Huudaverti, three sisters whose belief in quality, ethics, and sustainability comes to life in every single one of their bold, vibrant collections. Read on to learn more about how these innovative women have truly helped to change the world.

 

EM: How did you come up with the name “Huudaverti” and what are its main points of difference?

Sisters:  The name was inspired by a family friend; a woman we admired as young girls who had great style. It is a variation on the spelling of her surname, so it does not mean anything; it works for us in that it is evocative, slightly exotic, but not restricted to an absolute meaning.

One thing that sets us apart is that everything we make is on elastic so our sizing spans two traditional size ranges. For example; our Small is equivalent to 12-14 and Large is equivalent 20-22. Production on the Summer collection for Southern Hemisphere will be starting very soon and we’ll be refining our looks for Northern Hemisphere Winter. It’s all very exciting!

 

EM: Why did you create Huudaverti and what challenges did you face?

Sisters: There are a few reasons: virtually every day while wearing our homemade clothes one of us would be complimented. That was a huge motivation to recreate our look on a bigger scale. We are not skinny (nor do we want to be). We are happy and comfortable with our sizes. We started our business at a time when there were limited options for plus size in the shops. I think everyone knows that feeling of going to buy something for a special occasions, or just for everyday, and feeling frustrated with the lack of choices available. We like sparkles, sequins, and bold colors and we could not find those looks in the shops in Australia.

The challenges we faced are those that all small businesses face: financing the next production line, finding fabrics that fit into our ethics of sustainability, and producing a line that does not buy into the “Fast Fashion ethos” that we do not want to be part of. The challenge then is to show that really beautiful clothes will last more than a few wears – and do cost a little more to produce and sell. That is tough in a market that is being swamped by the big box brands that deliver “fashionable” clothes that are cheap and not designed to last. We believe that it is best to spend a bit more and invest in how you look- quality shows, and keeps.

 

EM: Who were your biggest supporters when you launched Huudaverti?

Sisters: Our friends, family, and bloggers such as The Curvy FashionistaLily Pascuzzi, and The Runway Plus. People are very excited by the looks we create. Fiji Fashion Week has also been a great supporter by being one of the only Fashion Weeks that showcases plus sizes fashions and has done so for the last seven years.

 

EM: How do you feel that the combination of your educations from FIT, Queensland College of Art, and The Canberra Institute of Technology in Australia help make Huudaverti a success? 

Sisters:  Well, those places provide an academic slant on things, something that we needed to learn. Mostly though, we have learned through watching our mother and grandmother – both amazing seamstresses and pattern-makers. We always said that their clothing deserved to be on the runway, as they were so talented. They made clothing that was both well made and beautiful.

 

EM: What is your favorite piece in the current collection and why?

Sisters: I think we all probably have a different response to this one. We design collaboratively using a grid where we allocate spaces to each person. We discuss, critique, and develop each of the looks. It is a fascinating process seeing each garment come to life: seeing each other’s vision realized. In the current collection, I (Christine) love the gold cross top jumpsuit, the heart shorts, and the long splits dress – it is so easy to wear and a bit daring depending on how you wear it.

 

EM: I love that you use your off cuts as part of your packaging! What else do you do to minimize waste and be sustainable?

Sisters: One of our first goals was to donate to Water-Aid in Australia (where our business is registered). The fashion industry can be hard on the environment; both natural fibers and man- made fabrics use resources, so we use our off-cuts for packaging and we will use fabrics that we have in stock – in new and exciting ways. We strongly believe in recycling wherever we can, be it in our hand-made accessories or our use of fabrics. One thing that we have learned: like buying organic food, buying the most sustainable fabrics costs more.

Looking beyond the fabrics, we are also really strong supporters of developing sustainable livelihoods. To start, we pay our staff a living wage: this has enormous impact on the quality of their lives and that of their families. We also collaborate with small scale producers. For example, the crochet in the Summer 14 collection will be done by a women’s social development group in Fiji. The hats in the Fiji Fashion Week Resort Show were custom-made by a weaver in a small village called Urata in Vanua Levu (a beautiful island in Fiji). We continue to research where there are opportunities to collaborate.

 

EM: What would you say to critics who claim that encouraging women to accept their bodies as they are will only add to the obesity epidemic?

Sisters: Answering that depends on where you stand. For example, in the Pacific, there are big women; genetically big – so body acceptance isn’t an issue because size has never been an issue. What is the problem is the way that for so long the dominant look in Europe, America, and most of the rest of the world, has centered upon being thin and now ultra-thin, so anyone who is not a size 0 looks “fat”. That scale needs to shift back to seeing that bodies come in all shapes and sizes – just like flowers do – and that the size you are is the right one for you. That’s having a positive body image. But in saying that, we need to look at whether the size you are is actually a healthy size and if it is unhealthy what is causing it. Is it bad food supply – bad for you foods are way cheaper than healthy foods, lack of exercise (and we encourage all women to take an active role in keeping fit no matter what body type you are) or hereditary factors.

 

EM: I’m wonderful that Huudaverti was part of Fiji Fashion Week recently. What was that like?

Sisters: It was quite a ride! There is such a thrill in watching it all come together. Creating designs, finding the fabric, watching our talented production team create, like magic, the clothes that you see on the runway.

Our inspiration for this year was the Bowerbird, a bird native to Australia, Papua, New Guinea, and Indonesia; it is a special bird in that it builds these intricate architectural nests and then collects monochromatic objects like shells, seeds, and unfortunately, blue plastic bottle tops to decorate the nest. The summer collection is looking at elements of habitat – textures and colors. We have some fun pieces featuring forestscapes and other brilliantly colored or sequined pieces representing the colors used to decorate the nests.

We also launched our resort line, called Sand, at this year’s Fiji Fashion Week. And the finale looks for each show hinted at bridal – but in a very non-traditional way.

Like our other shows, the jewelry for this collection was handmade and we used coconut husk, rocks, semi-precious stones, and bright colored beads.

 

EM: Do you think Huudaverti would be successful in the US? Why or why not?

Sisters: We want Huudaverti to be successful anywhere that women appreciate beautiful clothing. The US market is so large and multi-faceted and it is a market that has space for a brand like ours; stylish, well-made clothes that are made to last and designed to be versatile and wearable. While also being different from the ordinary: fashionable, but not concerned with being “what’s in this season”, we have a broader picture in mind, when it comes to how we design clothes – we want them to become part of your long term wardrobe, that piece of clothing that becomes like a good friend- you know that you can rely upon to feel and look good. Our reception at Full Figured Fashion Week in 2013 was positive and people found our look new and refreshing.

 

EM: What are your hopes for Huudaverti and yourselves over the next 5 years?

Sisters: We are aiming for slow and careful growth. We do have dreams that will take awhile to accomplish: we have a third line in concept and we are thinking about a broader range of accessories; bags, jewelry, shoes, and even a very select line of home decor items. We will continue to do what we can for the environment and social development and hope that as the label builds so does our impact. But for today, we are appreciating where we are, what we have learned and hope that what we have achieved so far will lay a solid foundation for our future.

 

Visit Huudaverti at:

Web: http://huudaverti.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/huudaverti?fref=ts

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/huudaverti/

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Tia Lyn of Tia Lyn Lingerie Believes “Nothing Makes A Woman More Beautiful Than the Belief That She IS Beautiful”

For blog Tia Lyn Lingerie

 

I was privileged to speak with Tia Lyn, creator of Tia Lyn Lingerie and owner of the Madison, WI, boutique, Contours Lingerie, who has turned the lingerie market on its ear by winning the coveted “Best Plus Size Collection” award bestowed by the Contours International Lingerie Awards (CILA) twice thanks to her vintage-inspired pieces with an everyday feel for the modern woman. Tia knows what it takes to make a curvy woman look and, more importantly, feel sexy and gorgeous, and she was kind enough to share that secret with you, as she did with me for my second wedding anniversary!

 

 

EM: What do you feel are Tia Lyn Lingerie’s biggest points of difference?
TL: Tia Lyn Lingerie has always been complimented for our designs. I am constantly thinking about not only how my designs will look and feel on different body shapes but how they can be used in more than one way. I want all of my pieces to be highly functional both as inner- and outerwear. For example, the Essentials Collection was designed to be a series of slips that can be worn multiple ways and at multiple lengths to ensure that you’ll always have the perfect underpinnings for every dress. The camisoles in my Core Collection are often worn with a blazer or cardigan during the day but can be easily slept in as well. When I design, the intent is always for multiple uses.

 
EM: Why did you create Tia Lyn Lingerie and what challenges did you face?
TL: I have to admit: I started Tia Lyn Lingerie because I personally could never find lingerie that fit my bust! The more I looked into the lingerie industry, the more I noticed that a designer-quality lingerie brand for plus sizes was missing in the market. Not only were the cup sizes too small, but the silhouettes were geared towards a very young, college-aged consumer. I felt and still feel very strongly that women of all shapes and sizes needed something that made them feel pretty, fit, and flattered. So I modeled my lingerie on a full busted cup but kept it in the full size range of a small to a 3X. I can’t tell you how many friends I had who were relieved that they finally had beautiful and sexy things to wear that actually fit and helped them to reclaim their own bodies after starting a family or a career that had taken priority.

 

 

EM: What did you like best and least about attending New York City’s prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology?
TL: I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City as a part of a one-year program to achieve my Bachelor’s of Science degrees in Textile Science and Apparel Design through my education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I fell in love with New York City and the Fashion Institute of Technology! I was so excited to attend a school that had such a focus on fashion. I primarily studied intimate apparel design. I was enthralled that I could use my scientific side and my creative side to produce apparel that fought gravity yet were beautiful and airy. Professor Wong was definitely my inspiration. Aside from that, I fell in love with New York City and the fashion industry.

 
EM: Who were your biggest supporters when you launched Tia Lyn Lingerie?
TL: I would definitely have to say that Levan Lam from Golyta International was one of my biggest supporters with the Tia Lyn Lingerie line. She was always there to help with the multitudes of details on each garment and spend countless hours with me testing materials until we found the ones that were just right! I’m really glad I got to have her on this journey with me.

 

 

EM: What is your favorite piece in the current collection and why?
TL: My favorite item from the current collection would have to be the High-waisted Garter Thong from the Core Collection. I love that it can be worn as lingerie with garters and thigh highs as well as a regular undergarment paired with a coordinating camisole for a cute date night outfit. I think it’s very sexy with the garter and stockings.

 

 

EM: Who was your biggest competition for CILA’s Best Plus Size Collection award and why do you think you won it not once but twice?
TL: Receiving the CILA award was a great honor because it was judged by a panel of boutique owners who knew how important lingerie is to their own clientele. I think the Tia Lyn Lingerie brand has been a standout since it is one of the only lingerie brands that addresses the full cup and the full size range in a way that is light and airy. The brand is meant to celebrate all curves and flatter a woman’s figure in a way that she feels beautiful and sexy. Often times, when a company decides to make plus sized garments, they just make the garments bigger and it ends up looking very boxy. That is where my lingerie brand has an advantage as we design our plus sizes based on real curvy women and look at how we can accentuate their curves while keeping the garments detailed yet sensual.
EM: Why do you think so many designers refuse to create plus size lingerie?
TL: I actually think that the fashion industry is changing in that perspective. There are now several intimate apparel brands that cater to the plus size and fuller cup figure. Tia Lyn Lingerie is different in the respect that we do design for the full size range of a small to a 3X but address the full-cupped market at each size. I have designed my garments to compliment those boutiques that specialize in professional bra fittings. My store, Contours Lingerie in Madison, WI, specializes in professional bra fittings and my customers have loved finally have lingerie and undergarments that are meant for their curves!

 

 

EM: What would you say to critics who claim that encouraging people to accept their bodies as they are will only add to the obesity epidemic?

 

 

TL: I personally think that it is important that every woman deserves to feel beautiful and that doesn’t happen until you become more accepting of your own body. Once a woman accepts her own body, she begins to care for it a lot more. Women who are comfortable in their own skin, no matter their size, tend to make more choices that help them become more physically and mentally healthy. From personal experience, I have been multiple sizes in my life. Once I started to accept my own body, the healthy choices just came naturally. I have loved my body every step of the way.

 

 

EM: What are your hopes for yourself, Tia Lyn Lingerie, and the fashion industry over the next 5 years?
TL: I am seeing a trend already that smaller boutiques and independent retailers are extending their size ranges to include all shapes and sizes. I have also seen this push for healthy mental image, such as the outstanding Dove “Real Beauty” commercials, and I hope that that only continues into the future. The more the media accepts all shapes of women and the more different brands embrace natural figures and feature a variety of body types, women’s mental images of themselves will be healthier and they’ll see the beauty in their own body shape. I think certain celebrities, like Sofia Vegara, Star Jones, and Christina Hendricks from Mad Men, are great examples of role models in the spotlight who have healthy body image and I think that will only continue to inspire society as a whole.

 

For more information about Tia Lyn Lingerie:

Web: http://www.tialyn.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/2001tialyn

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TiaLyn_Lingerie

Email: sales@tialyn.com

Phone: (626)282-9822

 

For more information about Contours Lingerie:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Contours-Lingerie/285839077022

6102 Mineral Point Rd

Madison, WI 53705

(608) 237-6407

 

 

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Think the Fashion Industry and the Military are on Different Planets? Thank Again!

I’m the kind of girl who cannot possibly survive with less than 10 beauty products in my bathroom, believes that no outfit is complete without being fully accessorized, and shudders when the word “camping” is even mentioned. Needless to say, I’m not exactly the first one in line when the Army recruitment office opens in the morning.

Several of my family members are in the military, though, and I have the utmost respect for them and their fellow combat men and women. It would also make my blood boil if they were ever cast aside without proper care after fearlessly serving our country. Unfortunately, as we all know, that happens to too many veterans every day.

Which is why, even though it’s not in keeping with the plus size theme of this blog, I decided to do a post about the Fashion for our Forces Benefit Ball happening this Friday, July 11th, from 6 PM to 9 PM at Boston’s Harborside Inn, located at 185 State St.

The show’s producer Connie Diforo explains why she put together this event, “I’m doing this to bring awareness to people like me who a year ago thought veterans did not need any funds because they get help from the VA (US Department of Veteran Affairs). I learned after going to an event that they wait a long time before they can get benefits.”

Tickets are $35 and all proceeds will go to Veterans Advocacy Services, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “providing services to any veteran of the United States armed forces toward the resolution of any medical, economic, social, or situational dilemma that he might face. Services may include the presentation or prosecution of claims before the Secretary of the United States Veterans Administration, advocacy before public or private medical boards-of-review, or similar representation in matters obtaining to employment, housing (general, specialized & adaptive), or social supports. All client-direct work is performed by a Department of Veterans Affairs accredited agent.”

Mistress of Ceremonies Jacqui Driscoll, crowned winner of the 1996 Miss USA pageant, will be presiding over the show, which will feature the latest designs from collections such as Mesese by Diforo, INSTILLA by Valentina Oppezzo, Vienne Milano Hosiery, GBoutique, and Ortega Jewelry.

Honored guests include double-amputee Corporal Sue Downes and Doug Pickel from We The People Giving Back. a Michigan-based organization which helps ease the burden of families whose loved ones died bravely in the line of duty, who will be awarding Purple Hearts to three very deserving Massachusetts families.

Purchase your tickets at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/fashion-for-our-forces-benefit-ball-tickets-11443715461?aff=eorg and spread the word for others to support our fashion and our forces!

 

To learn more about Veterans Advocacy Services, visit: http://veteransadvocacyservices.org/

 

To learn more about We the People Giving Back, visit: https://www.wethepeoplegivingback.com/our-staff.html

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Who Says Modest Plus Size Women Can’t be Fashionable? Not Plus Size Muslimah!

For blog Plus Size Muslimah

 

“Curves are Sexy!” “Show Off Your Curves!” These types of slogans are used by the majority of plus size brands in order to appeal to a woman’s desire to look and feel sexy. While no one can deny that sex sells, there are some women who prefer a much more modest wardrobe, especially in the ever-expanding Muslim community. If the plus size market has been pushed aside, though, the modest plus size market has been pushed aside and locked in a closet, hidden from the light of day!

Thankfully, its voice is slowly being heard with the help of Plus Size Muslimah, a unique retailer that offers the modest plus size woman fashionable, tasteful clothes in a wide variety of fabrics, colors, and styles, including maternity and even bridal, all adhering to a modest dress code that’s appropriate when attending even the most conservative mosque.

Plus Size Muslimah gives these women hope with their belief that “the modest woman can be modest while also being feminine and far more than just utilitarian. We think she shouldn’t have to layer in order to be modest – layering is something she should do because she thinks it’s cute. We think the modest woman should have more choices and shopping should be fun. We believe in a creative approach to modesty that uses details, patterns, embellishments, and other accents to maintain a woman’s desired modesty level while making her feel feminine, beautiful, and well-dressed. We believe in making modesty the easy choice. We’d like to do our part to eliminate “making do” for the plus sized modest woman. We’ve just gotten started, but we are really excited about all that we can do at PlusSizeMuslimah.com.”

 

Question of the Day: Do you know of any other plus size sub-group that is ignored by the fashion industry? If so, do you think they’re ignored for political, financial, or other reasons?

 

Find out more about Plus Size Muslimah:

Web: http://www.plussizemuslimah.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Plus-Size-Muslimah/112047792251470?sk=timeline

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PlusSizeMuslima

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pluSizemuslimah/

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Do Curves Appeal to You? Lei Welch Says You’re Not Alone!

For blog Lei Welch

 

The body acceptance movement is gaining steam every day and projects such as Project Curve Appeal are an essential part of keeping it chugging forward, their mission statement being to “Correct the distorted perception of curvy females around the world while uniting, empowering, and educating curvy women to celebrate, embrace, and enhance their beauty, fashion, and their curve appeal.”

I was so proud to interview one of the women who is helping to keep the fire burning, Project Curve Appeal’s Birmingham, AL, city manager, Lei Welch. Read on to learn more about Project Curve Appeal and how you can get involved!

 

EM: Why did you choose to become Project Curve Appeal’s city manager?

LW: Actually the position choose me. I was asked to be the assistant manger and, when the person who was supposed to be the manager couldn’t take the position, I decided to take on the position of Chapter Owner/Manager here in Birmingham, Alabama.

 

EM: What specifically do you do as a city manager and what do you like best and least about it?

LW: It is my responsibility to grow the chapter and get exposure and to get like-minded women to be part of the journey. I have loved being part of Project Curve Appeal, which is a division of Pink City Corporation based out of Atlanta, GA, since 2008.

What I like least is networking; you run into people who want to charge you outlandish prices and offer sub par service.

 

EM: Having lived in both New York City and Birmingham, two very different cultures, would you say that curvy women are treated differently in both places? Why or why not?

LW: Yes, they are treated differently because, wherever you live, you are subject to that person’s prejudices.  But I do believe New York has more plus size designers than the south, unless I just can’t find them.

 

EM: Do people usually react positively or negatively when you tell them what you do? Why?

LW: No one reacts negatively to my face but every time I share what Project Curve Appeal is, the responses are positive and some people are shocked because they weren’t aware such a thing existed.

 

EM: Out of all the projects you’ve worked on with Project Curve Appeal, which one has been your favorite? Why?

LW: Our first fashion show, held on March 22nd, was called  “Spring in the City”.  I learned valuable lessons about interacting with people; the good, the bad, and the ugly. But, at the end of the day, I am ready to host another one.

 

EM:Do you feel that Project Curve Appeal has made a difference in the way curvy women are perceived by others and themselves? Why or why not?

LW: By all means, yes! The visual communication, the words of affirmation, and being around positive women who are forging relationships all make a huge difference.

 

EM: Who is your personal favorite designer and why?

LW: Ericka Murdock, a local designer that lives here in Alabama. I like her look because it compiles a lil of this and lil of that.

 

EM: Who has been the biggest influence on your own personal style?

LW: My mommy, for instilling in me the love of heels.

 

EM: What would you say to the critics who claim that encouraging people to accept themselves as they are will lead to an increase in the obesity epidemic? 

LW: I disagree with the critics that say self-love will promote obesity. It’s all about health. Whether you are slender or heavy, the possibility of being unhealthy is a threat. There is some truth that “we are what we eat” and to exercise will counteract that, as much as I hate to admit it. But I found something that fits my personality, which is Zumba; I love dancing. I suggest you find something that speaks to you, something that doesn’t become boring.

 

EM: What is Project Curve Appeal’s next big project or event?

LW: And the scroll unrolls…lol.  Our beach party “Curvy Style” is up next, and many other great things are on the horizon.

 

EM: What are your plans for Project Curve Appeal, the curvy fashion industry, and yourself for 2014?

LW: For Project Curve Appeal, to grow the business and have fun doing it. For the industry, inspire more designers to design with us in mind. For myself, to continue to do what I do until it’s done.

 

Find Lei on:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/lei.likedajuice?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Like_Da_Juice

 

Find out more about Project Curve Appeal on:

Web: http://www.projectcurveappeal.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/projectcurveappealmovement

Twitter: https://twitter.com/curveappeal

Google +: https://plus.google.com/104931208309641711373/posts

Instagram: #curveappeal101

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Meet Your Fashion Future With Crissy Ford-Leatham!

For blog Crissy interview

 

One of the best moments of my life came out of sheer boredom; I was perusing Boston.com for something to do when I stumbled across a listing which said, “Fashion Branding, PR, and Fashion Installation Workshop” and thought it sounded interesting. After all, I had nothing better to do, right?

Well, that “interesting” listing literally changed my life because the workshop’s hostess turned out to be Crissy Ford-Leatham, a fashion stylist, fashion editor, and overall amazingly successful and wonderful woman who takes time out of her crazy schedule to help aspiring fashionistas learn the ropes and connect with each other, forming lasting relationships that lead to countless opportunities.

Read on to find out more about Crissy and to learn about how you can participate in her next workshop, taking place in just two days, on Wednesday, June 18th, from 7-9 PM at Oficio, located at 30 Newbury St in Boston, MA 02116!

 

EM: What is the typical day of a fashion stylist like and what do you like best and least about it?

CL: There are many elements to being a fashion stylist. You cannot show up thinking all you do is put clothes on models, actors, and actresses and then go home. There is a lot to accomplish when you show up to a set to shoot. Your planning for styling starts with creating a “shot sheet” and “mood board”; these two put together give you the idea of what is looking to be captured during that shoot. When I arrive at the location, which is determined by the photographer and/or creative director, the first thing I do is connect with my team and make sure everyone has arrived and is ready to go.

Then I will move onto hair and makeup to be sure that I answer all their final questions about the looks they will be preparing on the model. I pull the  garments and accessories prior to the shoot, or sometimes the day of, so that means it’s game on to get the garments broken down by which model will be wearing them. I will put them on a rolling rack along with the model’s name tag so the model knows what looks she will be wearing.

Shooting the models is where the challenge comes in. Some models are new and this is their first job; however, as a stylist, it’s good to know this bit of information so you can schedule more time with that certain model. The creative director and the stylist will work with the client to help them capture the look.

If we’re working with seasoned models, we usually can get the shot we need and send them on their way. During the actual shooting time, I am on set to be sure the garments are not wrinkled, have stains, get in the way, show any hanging tags, or are simply disturbing to shoot. On top of that, you have hair and makeup on set, fixing and touching up the models so they have a fresh look. It would be awful to grab the best shot but hair and makeup were out of place; worst of all, Photoshop will not fix it the way you want. “Photoshop” is a limited term in my vocabulary!

Styling is all about finding the right beat to walk to and realizing that your beat can change at any moment. No editorial shoot that I have personally styled has gone exactly according to plan. I am OK with that, which is why I love styling. The hardest thing about styling is when you cannot use the garments you planned on or the model you were expecting to show up never did. These are real case scenarios and you must have real time answers. The answer is “make it happen” and “forget about the original plan”.

 

EM: What celebrities have you styled and who was your favorite?

CL: I have assisted in styling many red carpets; however, I worked on a shoot with Katherine Heigl and she proved to be the hardest to work with, yet the celebrity with the most fun back story I have ever had.

 

EM: Have you ever styled a plus size woman? If so, what were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

CL: I’ve styled my mother, and I found that it was not easy to shop for bigger sizes and find garments to accentuate her curves.

 

EM: Why do you think many designers don’t create plus size clothes?

CL: There are a few reasons. The most common is that they work on the standard size body when designing their garments. On the other hand, a model is hired to showcase the clothing in the best possible light without disturbing the garment itself; they look at the model in essence as a rack. With that being said, the garments are created to be long and very petite, sometimes not even fitting a model who is a size 0/2. It’s preference over product.

 

EM: Why did you create the “Models Against Bullying” campaign and what kind of responses have you gotten from it so far?

CL: I created the “Models Against Bullying” campaign to raise awareness of the effects of bullying, but also because I was bullied in middle/early high school and that carried on to a job I had here in Boston. The owner of the company I worked for would push me, scream at me, and degrade me. However, it made me stronger. I have never looked at myself as a victim, only as someone who has to overcome a challenge, which is exactly what I did. Bringing awareness to  models who are or have been bullied shows that they are happy adults with lots of lessons learned and are now sharing their stories with the world. Bullying no longer consumes them and that’s what we want others to see. While bullying will end, your feelings of being bullied will still linger. I want a community where fashion professionals can come together and have a place where they can relate to others in all ways.

“Models Against Bullying” has spread to India, Japan, U.K, Italy, and, of course, right here in the U.S. The responses I have received are amazing! Year-round, I try to continue to help children of the Jordan Boys and Girls Club with support from our followers by sending school supplies at the beginning of the year and providing  jackets for the children when winter is approaching. My next step is to raise funds through a silent auction to be able to send at least two children through their program.

 

EM: What kind of topics do you write about for Fashion Industry Magazine?

CL: I joined Fashion Industry Magazine because of the concept behind the publication. I cannot talk to many specifics with you as the first publication has not yet launched. I can tell you, however, that I cover a broad range of topics that relate back to the fashion industry.

 

EM: What will be Fashion Industry Magazine’s biggest point of difference?

CL: Since it hasn’t launched yet, I can only promise you that no one has launched a magazine such as Fashion Industry Magazine. Another crazy thing is that the name was available. How has not one person thought of  “Fashion Industry Magazine” until now? Crazy! And true.

 

EM: Will Fashion Industry Magazine include plus size fashion? Why or why not?

CL: I will not be making that decision because it’s not my publication, so I cannot answer that question.

 

EM: As a fashion editor at Fashion Industry Magazine, what exactly will you be doing?

CL: What will I not be doing?! Every day is different but the deadlines never change. You must be willing to give up free time if you want to step into the world of fashion editing. Since digital media is so heavily integrated with print media, there is a lot to accomplish day-to-day as a fashion editor, but I work more as a fashion journalist. A few things that keep me pretty busy are editing, PR, events, social media, and also blogging; they all fall under an my role as an editor. I also interview celebrities, so that’s pretty cool.

 

EM: What do you like best and least about fashion editing?

CL: Writing is a passion of mine, so I love to explore and gain inspiration from a variety of areas in my life and combine them all to make sense. What becomes tedious is when I reread the same thing over and over and over just to make sure it’s ready for my editor. Taking a break is the hardest thing for me to do, not because I cannot take one but because I learn so much every day that I feel like I might miss the next big trend (LOL).

 

EM: What do the PR/ styling workshops entail and why did you start hosting them?

CL: I started hosting the workshops because there was a void in Boston. I felt like I would always run into amazing talent that somehow lacked the knowledge on how to run a successful fashion business. We all have skills, right? We are artists in every sense of the word but it can be very difficult to promote and manage your brand without the proper guidance. The good thing is that in this business if you fail, you can pick up and start over.

 

EM: How do you choose the designers, makeup artists, and hair stylists you feature at the workshops?

CL: I met Crissy Kantor and Caitlin Plumpton of Chill Spa, voted New Hampshire’s best spa 7 years running, during the Boston Fashion Awards 2012. We immediately hit it off and she reached out to me when I had a cancellation for an editorial. I was thankful beyond belief and from there we just continued to work together. I met hair stylist Dominique Earle Coppola through a wonderful model, Megan Beauregard. Again, I had a cancellation and ended up working with Dom of Fulgenzia Coppola Image Design Studio.

Designer Toni Lyn Spaziano of Chances R Designs gave me an opportunity to use her garments to shoot editorials a few times. I am inspired by her line and the reasons behind it.

I also want to say that when I met Robyn, co-owner of Sedurre Boston boutique with her sister, Daria, was another incredible accident. I had an editorial shoot in 2 days and the garments from the designer had not arrived, so I went into a silent panic mode. The shoot was very specific; I could not just go find the clothing to shoot. She had what I needed. We built a relationship and I am fond of that.

Lastly, I met Taneshia, owner of The Haute House Design Studio at Emerging Trends Boston Fashion Week. She and I have been working together and have future plans for business together. So to generally answer your question, I think I met them all by accident. How ironic!

 

EM: What reason do most people give for attending your workshops?

CL: To build their business and to get insider tips on how to successfully gain press/media coverage. Many people who attend the workshops are extremely talented and are working hard in the fashion industry as we speak. The workshops have helped more than a few launch their design business, start a blog, style fashion editorials, design concept interiors for a luxury retail space, etc. The list is endless; I have others who come to gain connections from the contact list I give out. I am proud of seeing others succeed; that’s the goal of the workshops.

 

EM: Do you feel that the workshops have been successful so far? Why or why not?

CL: I believe I have a way to go to fulfill the feeling of “success”. I have completed projects that were successful based on my work but I am never quite fulfilled. I always feel like there is more, you know? I grew up near the ocean so I have always looked at the ocean and seen endless opportunities that I have to find and conquer.

 

EM: What advice would you give to your two children if they wanted to join the fashion industry someday?

CL: Go for it! I will support my children no matter what. It’s like marriage vows except the list of vows to your children are longer and more detailed. I will always give them great advice and my opinion but I will also let them go through their own failures in order to gain a true understanding of what life is all about. I always tell them “never give up” and “always get back up when pushed down”.

 

EM: What are your hopes for yourself and for the fashion industry in 2014?

CL: Fashion in 2014 should continue to grow, especially with incorporating plus size fashion weeks because it’s a great avenue to explore. It’s not easy to succeed with a plus size collection, but with persistence anything can be accomplished. After meeting plus size designer Dede Allure, I was inspired to follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook… call it social media stalking. Her models were from all walks of life and it was great to see that.

I also hope that as an industry we continue to value one another and work together so we can all have our dreams come true together. I would love to share the joy of success with other individuals who understand how hard it can be to make it in the fashion industry. In Boston, I have seen tight-knit fashion communities, but I have also witnessed bitterness. My hope this year is that when I get knocked down, I continue to have the strength to get back up and do it all over again. As you grow in age, you start to realize the importance of being connected to the proper individuals that will guide you towards the change you hope to see.

 

 

For more information and to purchase tickets to Wednesday’s workshop, visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/fashion-branding-pr-and-fashion-installation-workshop-tickets-10968578313?utm_source=eb_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=event_reminder&utm_term=eventname&ref=eemaileventremind

 

Find out more about Crissy:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crissy.leatham?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CafeCrissy

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/crissy-leatham/5/b75/8a6

 

Find out more about Fashion Industry Magazine:

Web: http://www.fashionindustrymagazine.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FashionindustryMagazine

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