Weekend Reads #44

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weekend reads

It's very easy when you work from home and work for yourself to feel isolated and turn that isolation into anger, jealousy, paranoia, and frustration. I've been down about the whole influencer world. So much fakeness, so much deception, so much competition. It's hard to find peers to trust and bounce ideas off. I miss the community of working in an office. Coworking spaces help, but it's the working together on the same project that I miss most. Individually we have unique skills and strengths, together we work out problems, discuss potential scenarios, and come to bigger, greater things. I'm not sure how to achieve this collaborative creative community as a blogger unless I was big enough to be able to afford a staff, so in the meantime, a lot of my support and bouncing off of ideas happens by text. Yesterday was International Women's Day; I planned on writing a post about the influential women in my life but real life intervened and I never get both the time and the creative mojo at the same time to do it justice. So here is a special dedication going out to allll the fine honeys who keep me sane, occasionally read copy and tell me when I am having my tangent go in the wrong direction, have mad GIF skills, and reply to my rants and freakouts with some of the best damn talking off ledge advice. To Beth, who is one of the realest and one of the most hardworking women in this field and sort of a mentor to me. To Dani, who reminds me that it's not me who is crazy but the profession and helps me laugh about it all. To Carelia who reminds me that the best way to do this job is to not take it too seriously and put real life first. To Shelly who is one of the fiercest women and badass entrepreneurs, I have the pleasure of knowing and calling a best friend. To Debbie who I'm damn lucky to have as my sister and has absolutely no fear of telling me the truth, which is very rare in this field. To Rosana, who is my work wife even though we don't work together by giving feedback, working through problems, listening to rants, celebrating wins, keeping me sane, and constantly pushing me to go farther while sticking to my beliefs. And to Sylvia who Thursday night hosted one of her dinners where she brings together her best influencer friends at a fabulous DC restaurant. I am honored to be one of them as it is a group of very intelligent, stylish, and talented people; people who were funny and friendly that evening and restored my faith in influencer humanity. 

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Weekend Reads

I've been a size 4, I've been a size 18, and it's frustrating how hard it is to find quality fashion when you're plus sized. You usually don't wear what you love but what is available that isn't awful and then it likely doesn't fit right. I'm so glad to see some companies extend their size range and new brands come on the scene that specifically design for women sizes 10 and larger. I wish more brands would extend their size range; the average American woman is 5'3″ and a size 16/18 yet those average American women have few places where they can spend their hard-earned money on clothing they like and deserve. I've been angry (how many times have I ranted about Everlane?) but I've also done my research to learn to add a couple of larger sizes isn't easy. I am not excusing any brand that is large, successful, and continues to ignore the majority of the female population with its limited size range. However, I do feel it is important to educate yourself to have the most successful arguments and to have the greatest success at achieving positive change. 

  • Fashion-Incubator is a fantastic resource for understanding the business and mechanics of fashion.  A few articles from Kathleen Fasanella's archive worth reading are Why Existing Manufacturers Don't Add Plus Sizes, Grading is Not Morphing, Why Isn't Women's Clothing Sized Like Men's, and What Is a Size Break
  • This article from Quartz lightly goes into the issues with increasing sizes.  You can't just take a size 8 dress and enlarge it here and there to fit a size 20 woman.  The larger your size range, the more fit models you need.  And if you think clothes fit terribly when you're on the smaller or larger end of the size spectrum, it's because you're further away from the size and shape of the fit model. A lot of plus size lines fail because brands don't put in the money for multiple fit models and take into consideration that women's bodies come in a variety of shapes, more so as they wear a larger size, and they need to factor that into the cut. This is why I love Universal Standard, built into their business model is multiple fit models to have pieces fit whether you're a size 00 or a size 40.
  • This article from CNBC touches on a few of the issues as well, and one that isn't brought up often but is well known by any Project Runway fans – plus size fit and fashion isn't taught in school.  Put a highly skilled designer in the situation of having to create a dress for a size 26-woman and he is completely lost (this is why I adore Christian Siriano and Michael Costello, they may have not been taught it but they took it upon themselves to learn it). 
  • This piece from Refinery29 is great because it breaks down the main reasons why brands don't extend into plus size.  Again the biggest reason is that straight sizing is easy and plus fashion requires some skill, more darts, more thought, and more care. I truly think this is the biggest issue; plus-sized fashion takes more skill and care and a lot of brands skate by with mediocre fit, construction, and details.  
  • This article from Self also dives into the fit issue of plus sized fashion.
  • And this article also from Self sums up the issue in one paragraph, “In order to showcase more size diversity on the runway, many designers would have to develop a different manufacturing process, which can require months of forethought because the samples must be made in multiple sizes. That can add time and money to the typical production schedule because more fabric is used, more fit model fittings may be required, and more samples must be made. In addition, clothing patterns have to be rearranged to work for curvier body types. The same pattern that works on a size two, won't necessarily work for a size 22 because the proportions are different. So, when you're designing a line to work for plus-size women, you have to keep that in mind from the start, and finding the perfect fit requires a lot of trial and error.”

Essentially, it's not easy but it's possible.  It requires an established brand to turn their business completely on its head, and financial reports aren't enough to understand a brand's business model, its costs, and its ability to make such a radical change.  New staff, new costs, more time to prepare for a season's launch, different patterns, more fit models, and the ability to have a season or five (because two isn't enough) where things aren't quite right and you're listening, really listening to your customers to improve the process. I can see it being a scary concept, especially after seeing so many brands try it and fail (though I think it's because they didn't give it enough time and didn't do enough research or communicate with their customer to improve) and I can see the board of many brands just want to keep things as they are, if it's not broke why fix it and possibly go bankrupt in the process?  Again, not excusing but trying to explain the complexity of it all.  When we're armed with this information, we can make more educated arguments that will be more likely to be heard and respected.  

And now onto other topics…

It's easy to ignore a lot of what is going on in politics if you think it doesn't affect you, it doesn't relate to you. But the thing is, it all does in some manner.  And one program our president is terminating will force a woman who lives in my city and in this country legally with two children my daughter's age to be deported and sent to a country she hardly knows.  It's easy to read it and say, “Oh, that's a shame” and then click to see what you want from one of the sales above, completely forgetting it.  Here's some tips from my neighbors to make it easy to make change:

  • There are bills currently in the House and Senate that are focused solely on Liberians subject to the March 31 DED expiration. The Senate Bill is S.456, with both Maryland Senators cosponsoring. The House Bill is H.R.1169.
  • You can read more about this issue in this article from Roll Call or this article from the website of Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline.
  • To understand why she never became a US citizen, read this article from The Washington Post.
  • You can contact Steny Hoyer's office and request he sign onto the House bill and use his power as House Majority Leader to move that bill forward.
    • Hoyer's website where you can email letters and find his phone number, mailing address, and even fax number.
    • A neighbor shared what he wrote in his letter as a template for others and I am sharing it as well to make it easy to contact Hoyer: Dear Congressman Hoyer,
      Afomu Kelley came to the U.S. when she was 11 to escape the First Liberian Civil War. She's lived here, legally, for nearly 30 years, and now lives in Greenbelt with her two daughters, ages 9 and 11. President Trump has elected to terminate the “deferred enforced departure” (DED) program which has allowed her to remain in this Country, and after March 31, she will be faced with the choice of returning to a country she barely knows or remaining here illegally.The Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, which would provide a way for Afomu and other refugees from Liberia's Civil Wars to remain in the country legally after March 31, is currently before both houses of Congress (Senate Bill 456 and House Bill 1169).Both Maryland Senators are co-sponsors of S.456, but I notice that you have not yet signed on to the House bill. I urge you to not only support H.R.1169, but also use your considerable power as House Majority leader to get it passed expeditiously.

      Thank you.

An interview providing behind the scenes of the Allure cover shoot with Lizzo, but also a discussion about being fat in the fashion world. (Allure)

This week I got my custom ordered Bauble Bar phone case and well… it's just as awesome as it looks online. They're not cheap, there are no fancy bells and whistles, and it takes a full six weeks to arrive but I don't regret the purchase.  FYI, I got the red with orange and pink which I don't see on their site any longer, but it was a tough decision between that and the brown leopard (though all of them are awesome). 

Whether or not you have a tween or teen, the Vimeo short film Pocket is a 17-minute peek into the life of a kid that age growing up in the social media age. The Atlantic reviews the film and provides a link to it

Did you love Mad About You?  Well, it's coming back! (TV Line)

I'm on a big and small screen kick this week and here's another article I enjoyed – honoring its 20th anniversary with interviews with the cast and crew of Cruel Intentions.  Very cool to hear how they made the film look so opulent on a shoestring budget. (Broadly)

“#DeathBeforeDecaf, however, is not really about a love of coffee. An Instagram quote worshipping coffee demonstrates something more performative: that the poster is rising and grinding; they’re hustling; they’re putting their hair in a messy bun and handling it. They’re making Mondays their bitch. All of this may be perfectly true, but like everything else on Instagram, there is subtext: ‘I drink coffee because I am very, very busy.'” Just one of many quotable parts of this piece about decaf coffee. (The Goods) I for one, enjoy decaf, we get this coffee in both caffiene and decaf and I have been mixing them to reduce my caffiene intake. And for you coffee snobs, we've served this to coffee snob friends and they thought it was French press.  So great for travel!

As someone who positively adores Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray (let's go back to 2015 for my love letter to the product) I enjoyed this piece from Fashionista.

For Your Entertainment

Music can make you smile, make you laugh, make you want to dance, to punch a hole through a wall, make you reminisce, make you cry, and make you realize you're not alone. This song by Amanda Palmer is not one to make you laugh, but wow is it sad and beautiful. 

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Maybe it’s just my eyesight but I find the italicized font really, really difficult to read in the beginning of your weekend reads posts. (which is a shame because I always like hearing your thoughts!) Since the redesign, in general I struggle with reading the font on the site, but the italicized is difficult. Not that you need to go and change it for me, but it might be worth thinking about for the future.

  2. Oh I loved Mad About You, but the last season and the arrival of Mabel, how the writers destroyed the relationship they’d spent so long building–just killed me.
    Also, will they be able to get Ned back? Because…dog-walker.
    I also have really mixed feelings about bringing back a show that’s been gone for so long–I loved those characters so much and reviving them at this point seems almost–rude.

  3. I’m a plus-sized seamstress. Please, all you gals that buy ready-to-wear (store bought) clothes….dont’ let the fashion industry fool you. Sewing for plus sizes does NOT take more skill or some unique sewing magic. It’s math. Once a designer makes a “block”, they can use that block to draft designs of all kinds. Yes, design schools don’t teach how to draft patterns up to larger sizes – but that’s part of the bigger problem of fat women being overlooked and disregarded in many different areas. If stores like Avenue, Lane Bryant, Torrid, etc can make fun, pretty, clothes for women, they ALL can.

  4. Love the Weekend Reads! As a former darkest, strongest roast coffee drinker who had to make the switch to decaf for medical reasons I love finding the article about decaf. I now start the morning with green tea and can say I much less irritable and anxious. But, I LOVE the smell and taste of dark strong coffee! I’m in touch with the UK roaster mentioned in the Vox article and let them know I found them through you. 🙂

    Also, want to say I’m looking forward to the Mad About You reboot. As a dedicated viewer, one of the best compliments I ever received was from someone say, “I bet you get this all the time, but you look a lot like Helen Hunt.” It was literally the ONLY time anyone said it, but I feasted on it for a good decade. LOL.

    1. Oh I’m so glad you found that roaster through the article! And I get it, I remember when someone said I looked like Drew Barrymore when I was in my ’20s and I milked that for all it was worth!

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