Category Archives: clothing

The Girdle. Undergarment from Hell.

The dreaded girdle.  Oh, how I hate thee.

When it was time for my mom to show my eleven year old self what to do with those weird looking, foot-long, crazy-thick pads in the pink box under the bathroom sink, she also gave me a strict word of advice: You MUST wear a girdle with these in order to keep them in place.  We’ll go out and buy you one today so you can start wearing them right away.

Me?  A girdle?  What was I, eighty?  Well, you decide for yourself because this photo is almost identical to the actual one that my mother made me wear:

Chevron Panty Girdle

I hated the girdle – and I mean, hated it. Yes, even more than the 2 inch thick Kotex I had to wear; and I balked every time my mother made me wear it. After a year or so of constant complaint she finally gave up and said, ‘Fine, don’t wear one. But you’ll be sorry because you NEED them to help keep everything in place.  But if you want things hanging out all over then I guess there’s nothing I can do about it.’ Did I mention that my mother is famous?  You know her – everyone does.  She invented the Guilt Trip. 

Challenging as it was having a celebrity for a parent, I was able to free myself from the confines of girdle-hood for many, many years. And life was good.  

Fast forward um, about….three decades, and apparently I have crossed over into the Twilight Zone because I am eating those words.  I now completely understand how important it is to keep jiggly bits from flopping around.  For a while now I’ve been trying to find the perfect form-fitting undergarment. Gravity is having its way with me; things are starting to fall further and further towards the ground and I’m finding myself actually looking for a magical underwear to stop it. So far, I have been unsuccessful.

My mail carrier must be noticing it as well because for the first time ever, I recently received an unsolicited catalog in the mail by a company called Spanx, tucked in between an Omaha Steaks brochure and this week’s flyer for reasonably priced maid service.  (Seriously, how do they know that I’m having a hard time keeping my floors free from dirt?) 

I set down the mail and picked up the catalog. I was mesmerized.  The girdles of today look NOTHING like the girdles my mother used to make me wear.  There’s one that concentrates on lifting your butt; one to smooth your legs, and one for lifting your breasts.  There’s even a whole body girdle that promises to slim and smooth all my bumpy parts at once! 

I had to find these Spanx and try them on just to see if they worked.  I jumped in my car and drove straight to the mall.

Heading for the intimate section of a store I looked specifically for Spanx but couldn’t find that particular brand, however there were plenty of other brands that had very similar styles, and so I grabbed as many as I could carry and headed to the biggest dressing room I could find. 

First up:  the full body girdle sorry…. ‘body shaper’.  (I’m so stuck in 1981). 

Getting these things on is quite the challenge.  It took me over 5 minutes to yank and pull and I was darn near out of breath by the time I pulled it up over my shoulders. Looking at myself in the mirror I wondered, ‘how exactly is this supposed to make me look better?  I can still see every roll. The only difference is, now they’re all uniformly beige in color!’

Next, I tried on the ones that look like bike shorts, except these have butt lifts in the back (no joke!).  They did make my butt look perky, but when I went to move around a bit, the waist band began to roll down my stomach a bit.  Not good. 

Finally, I tried the thigh slimmer, butt booster, waist whittler all-in-one.  This one looks like the previous one, except there’s extra fabric that comes all the way up to the ribs.  I’m assuming it’s purpose is to help eliminate that rolling I was talking about.  Hmm.  So far, so good.  I went to sit down on the bench and see how comfortable it was.  As soon as I sat down, the fabric at the bottom of my thighs began rolling UP.  *Sigh*

Okay, ladies – time to help a gal out.  So many questions…..

First:  how many of you admit that you actually wear one of these contraptions, and more importantly, are they comfortable? 

Do they work?

How do you keep these things in place?  Have you ever tried on one that won’t stay put? 

…and most importantly:  how do you know what size to get?  I have tried on my size according to the charts and it was so tight, it felt like I was being prepped for a mummy display at the Museum of Natural History. 

…stopping now…..temples throbbing. 

Pour forth any words of wisdom for this almost 43 year old woman who clearly doesn’t know how to shop in today’s world.  I’m listening. 

Like, this is a totally righteous clothing post

Clothes are kind of like language.  They are forever evolving.  I remember my first day of high school. By the end of the day I became fully educated on which jeans were the ‘IT’ jeans to have.

Can you believe that teenagers begged and pleaded with their parents for this style of jean, which they wouldn’t be caught dead in now (I think these are now referred to as ‘Mom Jeans’)  I owned neither of these pairs of jeans, nor did I own the Izod short sleeved shirts that you were supposed to layer one on top of the other – collars up of course. 

By the time I entered college, my wardrobe didn’t matter much.  I spent 75% of my time in the art department and what you wore was based on what class you were taking.  Painting?  You could get by with a slightly better look in that class because you wore a smock over your clothes.  Photography and Interior Design?  Now, these college kids dressed for success.  What was I wearing for pottery class and graphic design?  Easy: worn out jeans with holes in the knees and Genesis T-shirts (graphic design wasn’t necessarily messy, but I was too lazy to change clothes between classes). 

As I became heavier and heavier I swapped my old jeans for sweatpants.  Like, that was a rockin’ wardrobe – fer sure!  lol

By the time I finished college I weighed over 200 pounds and every time I walked the mall I’d stop at The Limited, where I fantasized about being able to wear such clothes.  I think they catered to a maximum size of 12 if I remember correctly.  So, I applied for a credit card at Lane Bryant and shopped there for years when I needed something stylish.  Still, it wasn’t the same.  At that time, all plus sized clothing was labeled muumuu clothing.  In other words, extremely oversized, non form-fitting, and LOUD.  Most of the time you could find me shopping at the Goodwill, or in the men’s section of Wal-Mart:  sweatshirts and sweatpants.  All the better to hide your fat, my pretty!  Or, so I thought. 

When I finally hit my 130’s I went into The Limited and looked around. I was excited beyond reason because I’d had this vision in my head that I would finally feel like I ‘belonged there.’  But you know what?  All of the clothes were too dressy for me.  I was working with handicapped adults and children and still painting.  What was I going to do with a satin top and pressed trousers? 

Ah, well.  Live and learn, right? 

Now that I’m quickly approaching 42 I wear whatever I want.  I still have no need to dress up so I don’t visit The Limited, but sometimes I wish I did.  My sister works in a hospital and she is always dressed like a true professional.  I own one nice dress – if you don’t count my wedding dress, that is. 

If you happen to enjoy Limited clothing but aren’t the appropriate size, I am here with good news!!  The Limited has a new line of clothing out for Plus-sized women and they are planning on opening stores all across the country at some point.  Their website is called eloquii by The Limited and they specialize in sizes from 14 – 24.  Some really nice, tailored looks there. The prices look reasonable, too.   The best part:  free shipping AND free returns.  Check it out, if you’re interested.   

Just don’t expect to see any parachute pants there.  Or legwarmers.  Or door-knocker earrings (ooh, remember those?)

Have a totally rad day, everyone.  See you back here tomorrow for group therapy. 

 

XO,

~Ellen

Promises, promises

Today’s post is all about You!  Well, those of you who have asked me questions on various topics, that is. 

Question One:  Would love to see a pic of your bathroom when you get it done. 

I’ll do you one better.  How about a series of photos?  The half-bath has gone through multiple facelifts over the years. By the way, all photos were taken from just outside the doorway. 

 

This is what it looked like when we moved in seven years ago. 

 

The bathtub was unusable and in sad, sad shape so I came up with an idea to hide it altogether.  Here’s makeover number two, done about 3 years ago:

 

Our contractor was a bit confused when he first saw my makeshift bench.  When I told him it’s purpose was to hide the bathtub, he said, “Oh!  I was wondering why you would have a seating area in a bathroom.  Personally, I wouldn’t want anyone sitting there watching me use the toilet, but that’s just me.”  Har-har, Mr. Contractor.  You are a funny guy. 

Once we found out that our sub-floor was rotted, we decided to take the tub out and move the toilet.  If you can’t already tell, it was a pretty tight fit in there.  I could sit on the toilet and wash my hands at the same time!  Here’s the final look, after adding a few finishing touches over the weekend:

 

Look at all that ROOM to walk around!!  I am looking for the right apothecary-style cabinet to complete my vintage ‘look’ and will put it in the front left corner.  The plant and painted footstool may or may not stay.  I’m not sure yet. 

Anyway, I’m just grateful that after three long months of on-and-off construction, our house is ours again. 

 

Question Two:  How was your Thanksgiving? 

After writing this post about my difficulties with the holidays, I had some anxiety about going to my mother’s for Thanksgiving.  Thanks to your wonderful comments, my husband and I decided to place little expectation on the day and instead concentrate on creating our own traditions between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I am happy to report that things at my Mom’s went without incident.  At the last minute, my handicapped brother decided not to attend, instead, wanting to eat at his group home.  So, for dinner there was my husband and I, my mother and my sister.  We four had an intimate, relaxing dinner and it was very pleasant.  Whew, and Yay!

Question Three:  How are those new jeans fitting (aka, George)?

I’ve worn George on and off within the last couple of weeks and he’s been washed twice.  I have put him through a slew of stretches while waiting for my hips and rear-end to conform to the fabric as I was told they would.  It is also just about time to send Aaron, my Nordstrom consultant, the photo I promised him of me wearing my jeans, proudly verifying that I indeed bought the correct size (even though I told him that I thought they were too small).  Just for fun, I thought I’d include two photos for Aaron.  The first one shows me right after my purchase, back at the hotel.  Now, before you think I’m some weirdo who’s gone a bit crazy, I’m trying to be funny here by imitating the abominable snowman in the Bugs Bunny cartoon that I posted here

On the other hand, I am still calling my jeans George. Hmm….Maybe I am weird.

 

As for the two-week photo, here is what Aaron will get in his early Christmas card, and here’s a lesson to you all:  when I say I’m going to do something – even if it’s following through on a thought this was a good idea at the time but now it’s a little embarrassing promise to send a photo of me in a pair of jeans to a young fashion consultant that I probably will never see again, by God – I do it  ;) 

If you have no idea why I’m sending photos of me to a young man named Aaron, then you need to read the post about my Chicago trip in search of the perfect jeans, which you can find here.

 

 

 

I am thanking him because – he was right.  These jeans have done exactly what Aaron said they would.  Even after I wash them, they stretch out just enough to fit where they are supposed to, with no butt-sag (see above photo), and not enough of a muffin top to spill a single teardrop over.  I am happy.  My husband is happy.  My wallet is a bit less happy, but it will get over itself.  This was my Christmas present to myself.  Ho-Ho-Ho!

So, to wrap up my riveting Saga of the Jeans series, here’s what I will remember the next time I need to go shopping for a pair:

  1. If I try on a pair and they fit perfectly, try on a size smaller – especially if there is any stretch to the jean.  Do NOT expect them to fit perfectly right out of the dressing room.  A good pair of jeans needs to be broken-in and will stretch to fit my body in time. 
  2. When trying on a pair, make a fist and slide it down the backside of the jeans as a test to see if there is too much gap.  If the fabric doesn’t fit flat against the small of my back, I need a smaller size. 
  3. Because I am short, a petite boot cut style will look best on my frame because the break in the jean will make my legs look longer.   Petite sizes don’t always work out for curvy women, however. If I find the perfect pair and it’s way too long, don’t look for a boot cut style.  Instead, ask for a straight leg jean.  The reason for this is because the break of the leg will fall improperly on a boot cut jean since it’s meant for a taller person.  Since there is no break in a pair of straight leg jeans, they’ll flatter at any hemmed length. 
  4. Jeans come in many different washes.  Notice where the whiskering and faded placement are on the pair I’m trying on, as those are areas meant to be accentuated.  If I don’t want those areas to stand out, I need to opt for another pair of jeans.

Well, that about wraps up the Q&A for the Day.   I always enjoy doing posts like these so keep bringing on those questions, and I’ll see you all back here on Wednesday!

XO,

~Ellen

Jean Quest in the Windy City

My trek to Chicago on Monday with my husband was fun.  Before heading to Nordstrom – the one place that claims to have everything under one roof.  I had to hold up my end of the bargain and go shopping with my husband to American Science and Surplus.  Not my kind of store, but he LOVES it. 

Munchberry made a comment that she’d never heard of the store so my husband asked that I pass along a proper definition of this magical place to her:    "It’s one-stop shopping for gizmos, gadgets, science stuff, lab equipment, tools, parts, and a whole lotta stuff you didn’t know existed." 

…and I can prove that statement since I had nothing to do but wander around the isles snapping photos to share with you so you could see for yourself:

 

Oh, and that’s not all AS&S has to offer.  Check these out:

 

 

OK, all kidding aside, this store has stuff you’d never find anywhere else.  I guess that’s why my husband finds it so appealing, and I was happy to stroll around snapping random photos while he blissfully looked on every shelf for that special something. 

 

Next up….Nordstrom! 

I figured the best way to share my experience was by posting photos along with snippets of conversation between the three people involved in my quest for George:  Me, Husband, and Aaron (my consultant). 

3:30 PM.  Arrive on the third floor of Nordstrom.  I look at one rack of jeans and immediately begin to notice no petite sizes.  Literally, within seconds, Aaron came to my rescue.  Here’s where our story begins:

Aaron:  You already look lost.  Do not worry because I am here to find you the perfect pair of jeans.  Now, what dress size are you? 

Me:  Um…I think between an 8 and a 10. 

Aaron:   Just look around for a moment and I’ll let you know when your dressing room is ready.  (Wow!  This is WAY better than the pick ‘n git that I’m used to around my neck of the woods!)

Less than 5 minutes pass Aaron has my dressing room ready. 

Me:  Can I bring my man in with me? 

Aaron:  Your man can come right on in and make himself comfortable! 

We get settled into the dressing room where I suck in my breath and stare at these:

 

and these, which husband is balancing on his lap. 

 

 

Here’s where it started getting frustrating.  All of the jeans I tried on (the 28’s) felt OK.  They didn’t look great, as you will see in these next photos,

…but they felt, OK.  Knock on the door.  It’s Aaron.

Aaron:  How are you doing? 

Me:  Terrible.  They just don’t look very good. 

Aaron:  Oh, these jeans are a whole size too big.  You need to go down a size. 

Um….Wha???

Me:  But I am already showing a little bit of a muffin top on these.  If I go down a size, my fat will literally hang over the sides like silly putty.

Aaron:  Let me show you something (pulls the waist of the jean away from my body, which left about 2 inches of space)  Do you see all that extra fabric?  If you buy any pair of jeans where you can stick your fist down your lower back and into your pants, you need a smaller size.  Also, jeans are never supposed to feel good when you first try them on.  You have to break them in, like a pair of heels.   I’ll be right back.  Keep trying the rest of those on, though (and points to the pairs on Husband’s lap). 

Me to Husband:  I don’t understand.  I’m supposed to buy jeans that make me look like an Oompa-Loompa? 

Husband:  Honey, he’s probably helped more women fit into more jeans today than you’ve ever tried on in your whole life.  If you keep buying jeans like you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting the same droopy butt results, right?  I’d listen to him. 

So, I try on a few more pair, one looking just as bad as the next: 

 

Aaron brought me in a pair that was ‘my size’ – a 26.  I tried them on and couldn’t even bring myself to look in the mirror.  He said, ‘Ellen Honey, I swear to you, in a week these will stretch out and will fit you.  I swear it.’

Me:  So, you are basically telling me that I wear these pants; I just can’t leave the house in them for a week.  Is that right? 

My husband interjects right about here and tries to lighten my mood a bit. ‘Ellen, you can’t just wear the jean.  You have to be the jean.  Tell her, Aaron.’

By this time we’re all laughing.  Aaron hands me a few more pairs, goes next door to help a girl named Lauren and says, ‘How you doin’ in there, Lauren?’  but before Lauren could answer, I say, ‘Lauren is doing a lot better than I am!’  Lauren says, ‘Get the smaller pair!  They’ll fit, they really will!’

I look at my husband and ask him which pair it was that fit the best.  He says, ‘This brand is called Lexie Kimmie Curvy Bootcut.’ 

“No.  No, honey – that’s just the cut of the jean.  Who makes it?”

“Um…For All The Number 7 Mankind, whatever that means.”  My sweet, sweet husband. I don’t bother to correct him.  I like it better the way he says it, anyway.

 

OK, then.  I guess these are the ones:

 

On my way out of the dressing room I told Aaron that he was going to receive a photo from me in two weeks with these jeans on, and we’ll see if they look better on me by then.  He was so confident that they would look great, he gave me his card and a hug, and said, ‘I’d better get that photo in two weeks.  I’m going to be looking for it – I’m not kidding!’ 

Oh, Aaron.  I’m not kidding, either.  Maybe I should plan on practicing yoga in these.  That will speed the process along, huh?  If these jeans actually do magically conform to my body after being broken-in after a couple of weeks, this will mean that I have been shopping for jeans the wrong way for most of my adult life.   I’ll not only owe him a photo, but a huge apology – and a thank you.

Come back in two weeks, dear readers.  Aaron will be getting his photo, but not before you see it right here, first!

,

XO,

~ Ellen