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“It’s Martine… With Extra Curves”

The Daily Mail had an article last Thursday pointing out that Martine McCutcheon is currently more curvy than in her TV advert for Activia. Does it matter, it is really worth writing about? Those ads were probably made months ago. The article also quotes Miss McCutcheon as not wanting to fly a flag for being unhealthy and overweight or being too thin either.

It is sad that the Mail used Miss McCutcheon’s curves as a basis for the article which goes on to provide some publicity about her career. Why does it discuss her curves first (in a negative tone) and career second? Do we not enjoy her presence on our screens for her acting talent or do we all rush to watch her on screen because she has extra curves? It is equally baffling as on the same day the paper had quite a feature on “regular people” a set of 5 couples (all over 30) finding out what they thought of each others bodies after a number of years together. This article had a relatively positive tone about body image.
Curvy Marine McCutchoen looking Fabulous
So it was ok to talk about about body perception and weight with non celebrities in a positive fashion but then to subtly criticise Miss McCutcheon for her “extra curves”? Martine McCutcheon is a beautiful woman with a successful acting career and her weight fluctuates like a lot of other people and she looks fabulous regardless. There is no perfect weight and is sad that people automatically associate that being overweight means you are unhealthy. Being skinny can be also be bad for your health and I’m not simply referring to very thin people.

It is perfectly possible to be healthy and be over or under an accepted bodyweight for your height. And it is possible to look good too. Curvy is just as good and as beautiful as skinny, so if you are a curvy bird then hold your head up high and use your curves to express your personal style. Celebrate your talents, skills and achievements and don’t measure yourself on the basis of how other people think you look because of your weight.

Joanna

Image ©DFS

Joanna Davis | Vida Moda | Designer Fashion for Curvy Women Size 14 to 24

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Crikey! What’s happened to Downton?

Crikey! What’s happened to Downton?

Downton Abbey Ladies

"Downton Abbey Ladies"


I enjoyed the first series of Downton Abbey but feel the second series has become somewhat of a parody of itself (maybe it is supposed to be like this). Why has it gone downhill? The actors playing the characters all seem reasonably well suited to the parts they play and the premise is there for a good yarn But this series is lacking. Perhaps it is the way in which we hop from scene to scene, there is too much going on, too many individual story lines being covered, and all of them without satisfactory endings.

In the last few episodes an injured solider turned up who could have been the legitimate heir to Downton but was physically unrecognisable due to his injuries. Now this story had potential for intrigue, drama and full blown confrontation. Instead the character wimped out and scuttled off (we didn’t even see him scuttling), presumably never to be heard of again.

What is the point of “Ethel’s” story? Yes it shows how difficult life was for single mothers with illegitimate children, but then why is there a new maid in residence who is also a single mother but who is a war widow. (we now know, she is likely to be naughty with Lord Downton) We’ve never seen her child and she puts a pained face on whenever it is mentioned. (I’m desperately seeking skullduggery of some kind in this small story)

Richard Carlisle From Downton Abbey

"Carlisle"

The only character with a hint of proper devilment is Mr Carlisle who issued a threat with some menace to Lady Mary who didn’t really bat any eyelids at all. Oh, and Matthew seems set to recover, his wheelchair went over a bump on Sunday night and low and behold he clearly feel something downstairs, and no it wasn’t a maid. Most of all I have felt some dismay for Lord Downton, Granville or whoever. He has had to strut about in a uniform at home for weeks and he didn’t even have anyone to have Luncheon with this week. He also appears to have lost any real story lines as does the whole programme.

What of the youngest daughter, Sybil (aka Lady Florence), what on earth is she doing with the Chauffeur? Nothing, absolutely nothing, for weeks, mind you he did put a hand on her waist this week. (shocking). Anytime there is potential for drama they snuff it out straight away, what about the tractor driving Edith kissing the farmer? Bang! Letter from the farmers wife telling her she is no longer required. Story over. Instantly, she was demoted to concerned librarian for the next two weeks.

Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey

"Bates"

What about BATES, and Anna. Anna seems ok and has the odd good line or two. But BATES seems to have overdone it with the Botox, he’s permanently canted over to the right with a look on his face that implies he has recently sat on a very large blunt thumb tack. Oh, and who the heck buys arsenic and leaves it lying about in the kitchen?

It is such a shame, this series is not a patch on the first and all it goes to show is that ITV cannot manage period drama in quite the same way as the BBC even though I’m pretty sure Julian Fellows is an excellent writer – he doesn’t seem to be allowed the freedom to develop story lines properly over the series. The costumes remain excellent (I don’t know how authentic they are to the period) but it all goes to show that window dressing is nothing without the story.

Update from last weeks episode!!

Did you see it? Matthew’s miraculous recovery, he sprang from his wheelchair to catch Lavinia to prevent her falling. He did this after months of not being able to move his legs and with no rehabilitation. Yes I know it’s television, but really some of it is so far fetched! It lacks the sense of space and time that would make it anywhere near credible and detracts from the reality.

Its the last episode of this series tonight, will there be a third? I fear it is too late to properly conclude any of the current story lines. Oh and there is a Christmas Special coming… maybe that will be better. Mind you I did like some of their jewellery!

Joanna

Joanna Davis | Vida Moda | Couture for Curvy Women

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Adele – A Down To Earth Celebrity With Plus Size Style

I happened to catch a little of Jonathan Ross’ new chat show on ITV on Saturday, it was exactly the same format as he had on the BBC albeit with a slightly more robust and expensive looking set design! His three guests were Sarah Jessica Parker, Lewis Hamilton and Adele. I didn’t see the interview with Sarah Jessica Parker as I tuned in (such an old fashioned expression!) too late. She did look glamorous but appeared to have extra hair and teeth, and dare I say it very thin, and bear in mind that TV cameras make you look about 10lbs heavier than you actually are. I don’t know a lot about Ms Parker as I never watched her TV Series “Sex in the city” so I can’t really comment further.

Lewis Hamilton seemed like a nice chap but God the interview was shallow and a bit boring, couldn’t “Wossy” have asked him a more probing question or two other than his driving habits when he is in the company of his celebrity girlfriend? Well maybe not, maybe their lives are not that interesting….

The third guest was Adele and what an impression she made! She was like a breath of fresh air. Adele looks to be a size 16 or 18 and she is tall. She was simply dressed in a black velvet dress that suited her perfectly, it was stylish and understated and she made it look glamorous. She combined this simple dress with her big hair and large false eyelashes a la Dusty Springfield to create a powerful but feminine look. Importantly the dress was the correct size for her. She hadn’t tried to pour herself into a size smaller and as result she looked wonderful, to the extent I’m guessing at her dress size. It is amazing how many women think they have to squeeze into a small dress to look small. In actual fact all that does is make them look bigger. One of the key factors key to dressing well if you are a plus sized woman, is to wear the correct size so the item of clothing flows as opposed to being very tight.

Adele might now be a celebrity and according to “Wossy” “Huge in the States” but it doesn’t appear to have affected her too much at all. She was very down to earth, no airs and graces, no celeb simpering or fawning, just honest with a “take me as you find me attitude” an infectious laugh and sense of humour to match. Quite a change from the glitzy, smiley dolly birds we normally see on these sort of television shows. It’s so good to see an honest “projection” of a personality on TV, if that wasn’t her real personality then she is a fine actress.

Mr. Ross did ask Adele a real question or two about her song writing and it was clear she is an artist feeding on her emotions for her artistic output, I’m not convinced we get to see too many of these kinds of artist on television today. More often than not we see “manufactured acts” solely geared to generate money for a record company, ultimately they are a short shelf life product. Adele appears to be the opposite, she is natural, a real musician with soul, who likes performing but doesn’t like touring, such a pleasant change from the female “singers” we normally see promoting an album. She went on to sing and unsurprisingly sounded fabulous. I look forward to hearing her new material and hope that she continues with her successful career for many years, she is truly a rare talent in a sea of mediocrity.

Joanna – Vida Moda | Designer Clothes For Curvy Women

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Does Dress Size Matter?

Does Dress Size Matter?

A recent survey using three-dimensional computerised body scanners of more than 11,000 volunteers aged 16 to 95 (male and female) found that the typical British woman is 5’4.5” tall and weighs 143.5 lbs. The average bust size is 38.5”, the typical waist is 34” and average hip size is 40.5”. Researchers at the London College of Fashion concluded that 38% of women are overweight and 12% are underweight. Although British women have become heavier in the last 50 years, we still have a way to go to catch up with American women.

The study was supported by the Dept. of Trade and Industry and retailers including John Lewis, M&S and House of Fraser. Shops that have been using the data have found a fall in the number of returned clothes and some have made adjustments to the size labeling of their clothes. This explains a lot. I have often looked at slim women and judged them to be a size 10 to 12 only for them to declare they are a size 0 – what is that? No such size ever existed before. Or likewise, judging someone to be a size 18 to 20 for them to declare themselves a size 14 to 16.

Manufacturer and retailer sizing systems vary and the only reliable way of finding your size is to know your measurements and trust that the labeling accurately reflects the garment’s dimensions. Generally, many of us tend to stick with brands whose fit and sizing we trust in relation to our own size and shape although the sizing may not strictly fall within the calibration for the generic size 12, 14, 16, 18…….. Of course, we all quote our size according to the most flattering sizing system.

So what happens when you are out shopping and you are between sizes when you find something you like. Do you buy the smaller size and promise yourself you’ll lose a couple of pounds and fit into it? Or do you buy the bigger size? I’d love to know! Add a comment with your view and share it.

At Vida Moda I take care to measure the clothes we stock because each brand is different and their designers interpret sizes differently. We publish the measures and size interpretations for each of the brands we carry so you can buy with confidence. I also comment on the general fit of each brand in our sizing guide.

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Having It All? – Hilary Devey – Telegraph comment

I read with interest yesterday’s Telegraph article in which new Dragon’s Den member Hilary Devey comments “women can never have it all – it’s how God breeds us”. This is actually something I’ve been pondering a lot recently. I was born in the 60s, grew up in the 70s and have never questioned the assumption that women can have it all. The feminist movement, socialist politics and general optimism of those eras really did inspire girls to see their lives as full of unlimited possibilities, which to an extent they were.

I attended a large comprehensive girls school in central London where despite being a single sex school, almost all subjects were available to study. Suddenly the prospect of university education for working class girls was a reality and no longer was the prospect of a House wife’s life considered the norm. However, now in my late 40’s I sadly have to admit that Hilary may be right. Having worked full time all of my adult life, been in a long term relationship and having children I now realise that I haven’t been able to climb to the heights that I expected I would. When it comes down to it, the ultimate responsibility for childcare rests with me and quite honestly that feels right. I never had any ambition to be a career mum and certainly don’t consider myself to be a helicopter mother but childcare is always the first consideration both in terms of how I juggle my time, the employment I take and the salary I accept.

My own parents both worked full time and I remember mum working all day in one factory, rushing home to give us four kids and Dad our tea, then rushing off to work in another factory at night. She did all the shopping, housework, everything. I remember being ill and mum taking me to school and telling me not to tell anyone I felt ill because she had to work. That’s the way it was then and I’m sure mum never felt she had it all – she was too busy and knackered to stop and think of anything like that.
I am a lot more fortunate than she was in many ways and can’t say my life has anything like the slog hers had, but it is extremely difficult trying to carry on working because I enjoy it and achieving anything like what I could have if I didn’t have to spread myself around so much. Of course it’s easier (logistically) for women who are in high paid jobs because they can afford the Nanny, Cleaner, Personal Assistant but is it really about that either?

I can remember being sent to school holiday clubs because mum worked and absolutely hating it, being envious of friends whose mum’s didn’t work and were with them during school holidays. I remember school friends who used to go home for lunch because mum was there to cook for them and sometimes I’d go with them – it was lovely. That’s why I really want to be with my children during school holidays, after school, when they’re ill. Actually I enjoy being with my children and feel that they’re my greatest achievement.

I don’t know if Hilary is right in believing that mother’s feel this way because it’s the way God breeds us. For myself it could be my own childhood experiences or it could be genetics but I suspect it may be a combination of both. Certainly I feel at the age of 48 I am heading for burn out in trying to achieve it all and rather disappointed that it appears to be impossible but I would still encourage young women to try. What do you think? Add a comment reflecting your opinion!

Joanna Davis

Vida Moda | Designer Fashion for Curvy Women Size 16 to 24 | 50% off Summer Sale Now On!

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Plus Size Models on Vogue Italia June 2011 Cover

What Is Plus Size?

What is a Plus Size and why can’t the fashion industry deal with it properly?

This is an area under debate at the moment and some people are clearly struggling with it. They know that plus size is popular and is a hot topic for discussion and they wish to participate and comment on the plus size market. But what is “Plus Size”, what does it mean and how do we view it?

The words “Plus Size” are used to refer to clothing for larger people, there is a wide area of debate around what is considered to be large, where does it start? Size, 10, 12, 14 or 16?. The debate then also becomes associated with health issues as many people consider that larger people are automatically unhealthy (this is untrue). The Fashion Industry is totally focused on how people look and larger people do not figure on mainstream fashion’s radar. This is regrettable as a lot of people are larger than the models generally used by the fashion industry (they are then expected to buy clothes modeled on thinner women). It is interesting that the fashion industry is associated with thinness which itself can also give rise to health issues. It seems that people (both large and thin) slightly outside the “norm” are viewed and treated differently though interestingly in certain circumstances both are perceived as being “unhealthy”

However these perceptions are being challenged somewhat because people are getting larger and what used to be considered “plus size” is now much more common than previously. Dress sizes have become larger over the years but have remained labeled as previously known as “Vanity Sizing” to make customers feel good about themselves. Typically the fashion markets are driven by designers setting trends. Their work is an art form and is displayed in an artistic manner. Ready to wear on the high street takes it’s cues from these trends although you also get designers who set their own trends for their market.

Ready to Wear is worn by much wider age and size groupings than shown on the Couture Catwalks, and a lot of the trends seen on the catwalk do not necessarily transfer well to the normal market. So while the “Plus Size” market may not be “media” popular they represent a good portion of people who shop for clothes.

The term “Plus Size” is commonly used in the USA but is less common here in the UK, it is a commonly used search term on Google but it’s not really that well used here in the UK. Media doesn’t really know how to handle it and this was never more clear when we saw the Vogue Italia cover for June 2011. It features 3 beautiful women photographed in lingerie. These women are plus size models and while it is wonderful that Vogue featured them on their cover is a shame that they felt it necessary to photograph the women semi naked and with one of them posed somewhat inappropriately.

Plus Size Models on Vogue Italia June 2011 Cover

Editor in chief Franca Sozzani launched Vogue Curvy in February and the June Cover of Vogue was aimed at helping promote Vogue’s new affinity with plus size women. It is excellent that Sozzani has a launched Vogue Curvy, is this mainstream fashion recognising that there are lots of women out there who are curvy or plus size and who demand that their fashion needs and desires be catered for? On an equally positive note Sozzani is also campaigning against web sites that actively promote anorexia which the fashion industry has been blamed for encouraging in the past. So well done to her for taking an active stance on this issue. In time perhaps the fashion media will focus on fashion as opposed to the size of the individual wearing it. After all everyone has the potential to be elegant and beautiful regardless of their size.

“The Cut” blog also posted an article “No One Seems To Know What A Plus Size Model Really Is” and they featured some quotes from Madeline Figueroa-Jones editor-in-chief of Plus Model magazine. Interestingly “The Cut” also featured a photograph of one of the covers from Plus Model Magazine and of all the covers they could have chosen they chose a cover with models wearing lingerie and posing provocatively. Plus Model Magazine has plenty of covers showing larger women wearing beautiful clothes. So it was a shame that both of these well traveled web sites chose to somewhat cheapen plus size women by showing them in skimpy lingerie (however well photographed).

Both Vogue and The Cut could have chosen photographs showing plus size women wearing beautiful clothes and illustrating the fact that larger women can look just as fabulous as other women and that fashion should be about fashion and not body size. Designers could also look at the world slightly differently and if they were brave they could view curvy women as presenting them with an opportunity to design clothes that flatter curves and to allow them to make a different and new fashion statement. At Vida Moda we argue that curves are required to wear clothes really well! It is part of our mission to find beautiful clothes for larger women that will flatter and make them feel and look wonderful.

One of the things we’d like to know is what term you use to describe your size when you are shopping for clothes or discussing clothes with friends? Do you use any of the following terms, Plus Size, Curvy, Larger-Size? if not then please tell us what terms you do use. Add a comment here or vote for the terms in the poll on our Facebook page.

Vogue Italia Cover Image June 2011 courtesy of The NewsFeed and Vogue Italia

Designer Fashion Size 16 to 24 From Vida Moda | Stylish European Plus Size Designer Clothing Collections For Ladies | Browse Our Online Store For Clothes For Curvy Women.

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Carole Vorderman Rear of the Year 2011

Does my bum look big in this? – and isn’t it ok if it does?

The title of this post is perhaps a common question, but we do wonder if it is ever uttered out loud! We are sure many of you mentally ask this question, but perhaps only quietly to yourselves. Why? Are you frightened of the answer? or perhaps you don’t wish to be ridiculed by your spouse, family or friends. Well fear not, it is perfectly OK to have a “big bum”, indeed fashion history shows that at points in time a large rear was de rigeur. In Victorian times (1870′s and 1880′s) we had the “bustle” a built up area of cloth at the rear of a dress to accentuate a ladies rear! This combined with rib crushing corsets and a resulting exaggerated bust meant that Victorian Woman while being prim and elegant was also encouraged to massively exaggerate her body shape.

Carole Vorderman Rear of the Year 2011

Carole Vorderman Rear of the Year 2011

In the modern era we have “Rear of the Year”, an award of some 30 years standing that is typically awarded to celebrities who then get to pose themselves and their award winning rear in the sponsors garments. It is awarded to both a male and female each year. The Rear of the Year website makes a very valid point around the way the fashion industry influences the perception of how women perceive the size of their bums and how acceptable that size is. It goes in phases, so one year we will be in “athletic” mode where bums are trim and toned and maybe even masculine, then there is a reaction where the trend moves back towards the more voluptuous derrière.

This explains why Fiona Bruce won the award in 2010 (trim and athletic) and Carole Vorderman (more rounded) won it in 2011, beating Pippa Middleton into second place – well done Carole! The more rounded and full derrière is in fashion at the moment as it was a few years ago when Jennifier Lopez seemed to catch the “rear” limelight. Clover Stroud covered this subject in her well written article “Better from Behind” in the Sunday Times Style Magazine last weekend. Her article was humorous and Clover rightly encourages women to embrace their generous bums and to be proud of them.

Pippa Middleton came in for some commentary at the Royal wedding about how she looked in her dress (very pretty) but dare we say a little ordinary from behind? We can but wonder what the reaction from the commentators would have been if it was Kim Kardashian following Kate Middleton up the steps. We fear that some of the older male commentators would have had to reach for emergency BBC or ITV oxygen supplies while younger colleagues may have been verbally flabbergasted. These days we are lucky that cameras for this type of event are on good solid stands or the picture may have wavered somewhat too!

So on a more serious note ladies, while you may wish to shed an inch or two, be proud of your plus size belle derrière, embrace it, have fun with it, look after it and if you’ve got it flaunt it!

Of course we’d love to hear your opinions, do you have a big bum, are you proud of it? or do you wish it was somewhere else? Can you help us get to the bottom of the issue? :-) Add a comment, share the article and let’s hear other peoples views!

Vida Moda

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John Lewis and the value of “Beigeness”

India Knight has written an excellent piece in her Sunday Times column today. It’s all about John Lewis thinking about changing it’s image to broaden it’s appeal, to shake off it’s “fuddy-duddy” image. Craig Inglis who is Director of Marketing at John Lewis is reacting to the accusation of John Lewis being “beige at times”. John Lewis is embarking on the biggest revamp revamp of it’s marketing and advertising in 147 years according to an article in Marketing Week Magazine. India is somewhat aghast at the notion that John Lewis is going to change it’s approach and lose it’s “Beigeness” to compete with the likes of Tesco and other large supermarkets. India presents a good set of arguments for not making such a change, all of which I agree with.
Never Knowingly undersold
If john Lewis did greatly change it’s approach I would be somewhat dismayed. John Lewis is not that “fuddy-duddy” or indeed that “Beige” yes I’m sure it needs to revamp and update many of it’s stores. We have a lovely John Lewis store in the Grafton Arcade in Cambridge, it is modern, well stocked and very popular and not just with “ladies of a certain age”. John Lewis in my mind occupies an almost unique position in British retail, it has a personality, this is expressed really well through their staff whose attentiveness and ability to provide excellent customer service is well documented. I cannot think of single other high street retailer that currently has such an effect. Marks & Spencers is an obvious direct competitor to John Lewis and Waitrose, but even though they are good, they don’t have the same level of personality that John Lewis has.

John Lewis has managed to maintain it’s retailer dignity rather than be consumed by the retail commerce conveyor belt and the shallowness of celebrity glamour and instant satisfaction that others seem to suffer from. People buy from people. John Lewis is all about people. You go to John Lewis because they represent in no particular order; quality, top products, fabulous customer service and reliability. Its not a shop to rush around in, it is a lovely browsing experience and you’ll always discover or spot something new that you didn’t know they stocked. They don’t get everything right but they are streets ahead of other retailers on actually having a personality.

Tesco is totally soulless, it represents a core function, the weekly shop – which we all need – and that is fine, it has it’s place too. They are very good at what they do, they are cheap, obviously lots of people like that. However they don’t have the best quality produce and they’re not great at customer service, that may be fine for their customer base. So I hope Mr. Inglis knows what he is doing, I’m not saying don’t change anything, change is proactive and should be happening all the time BUT be very careful about changing the personality of the retailer, especially one with such a unique reputation. If John Lewis has to stoop to the level of Tesco to compete on the high street at the expense of it’s personality then it will be a sad day for British retailing.

In setting up our online business we have modeled our philosophy on certain elements of a number of retailers, elements that we admire and feel are important to customers. John Lewis is one of the retailers that we admire. Tesco’s isn’t.

So next time you are in John Lewis, have a little think about why you’ve gone in there, how you feel while you are there and what you like about shopping in John Lewis. Appreciate it because it may not be the same in a year’s time. Please feel free to add your comments to this post so others can read your thoughts about the importance or not of British retailers having a “personality” and don’t confuse this with “brand” or “marketing” because it’s not actually the same thing at all.

This post is inspired by India Knights Sunday Times Column on Sunday 5th June 2011 titled “Sing – nice and softly, mind – if you’re glad to be beige”

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