Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dressing an apple shape - Camryn Manheim

SIA is having a girl crush on Camryn Manheim. 

Camryn is an apple shape in a plus size & she manages to look every so stylish because she knows how to dress for her shape.  

Her looks revolve around the following formula:

* basic neutrals (or strategic colour/print placement), 
* usually in knits or sheer wovens 
* with a flare from under the bust (empire bust)
* open necklines always (expose decolletage not cleavage)
* often bell sleeves to balance the bust
* often bracelet sleeves to expose the wrists
* fabulous jewellery/necklaces in fine layers - nothing chunky which bounces around the girls. 

Does anyone notice what she wears on the bottom? 
Usually black pants but it doesnt matter. 
She does it so well, that all the attention is on top, near her face. 

A line, vertical blocks of grey, covering the bum. 

Layering the jewellery over simple pieces. 

Another A line. The sheer sleeves & the
bell shape of the sleeves adds allure. 

More formula - sheer sleeves, open neck,
fitted boobs, floats over the hips. 

This is stunning & likely to be Max Mara. Open neck, sheer sleeves,
embroidery creates vertical lines, A line. Easy. 
An open blouse with ruffles helps to slim her front.
Three quarter sleeves add to the allure. 

This looks works in some ways & doesnt in others. It's way too long for her, swamping her.
The jeans are also way too wide. For a more feminine look, I would also swap the shoes for something with a low vamp. Otherwise not too bad for a non black boho look. 

Again, A line, bum covering, arm exposing, narrow pant legs but I would
substitute a shoe with a low vamp which exposes some of the foot.
Notice how to bright colour is limited to the front of the top - not making her look like a ten tonne tessie from a bright colour being wrapped around her torso. 

Notice the vertical lines on the lace pattern?
Also the band of lace that sits just under her bust
& emphasises that as the narrowest part of her torso.
This is how a "tent" top should work. 

Another gorgeous top - low cut, band under the bust & notice the
wide paisley band on the hem?
That helps to give it an A line shape which flatters her hips.
Also love the sheer sleeve panels. Sheer stops tops being too covering up. 
Another gorgeous empire line - but this one has an issue -
the section below the bust isnt long enough.
A one thirds to 2 thirds split is more attractive than the 1:1 of this top. 

More empire line, more layered necklaces, more flattery.

Another empire line - notice how this has a
vertical centre panel like it is a top & a cardi?
Great slimming vertical lines. 

This isnt an empire line (there is no seam under the bust) - but the way
the print is printed to reveal the white background is a terrific way of creating an A line.  

Pin tucks create a snug bust, floaty below the bust.
Bell sleeves add balance to a large top half. 

This top is magic.
Black upper minimises the bust, fanning into a print at her border.
Open neck as always. 
The age old trick of a scarf which isn't too bulky or wide sitting over the girls. 

This is one of the few I am not a fan of.
Why? The dark colours under her bust look
like they are sitting half on her bust & half off.
It seems to cut her off in the bust, looking too small in the cups.
I do however like the vertical dark lines flowing down the centre of the garment. 

Not a fan of short structured jackets like this on a plus size.
I would prefer clean lapels (ie: no lapels) and
that necklace doesnt work with such a heavy velvet fabric.
It may have been better of the top coming out from under the jacket was a bit floatier
& had a shape slightly different to the hemline of the jacket. 

This is gorgeous, showing you that structured can work on a plus size.
Longer line, clean lapels, contrast top.
Notice the cuffs are not too long?  Perfection. 

Another stunning business look. Probably from The Practice.
Probably expensive but stunning. The neckline, the cuffs. Perfection. 

This one has one big fail & that is that the grey band is not wide enough to
cover her breasts and highlight the
narrowest part of her torso immediately under the breasts.
Because the seam joining grey & black falls across her breasts,
the narrowest part of her torso is hidden. Not flattering. 

Love the way to necklaces are layered to mimic the scoop neck of the top.
This woman leaves nothing to chance. 

No one has fat shoulders. Expose one.
Simple. Easy. Why aren't you doing this?

Leave the neckline open, wear a cami underneath,
make it a print & all lumps
& bumps are hidden/covered. 

Low neck cardigans like this with one button done up always work well.
The shape has to be an A line, though - no straight up & down.
When you see one, grab it. 

Similar neckline cardi in a tie dye look. Perfect. 
Low neck, fitted bust, flare under the bust, bell sleeves,
sheer & vertical beading in your best metal.
It's a formula. Use it. 

This looks like a wrap knit, again fitted in the bust, open neckline. 

Floaty fabric & sheer sleeves. 

A wrap shirt (or dress) acts like an empire line as long as it starts
 to secure just under the bust & never  at the waist. 

The fitted A line knits she wears on Extant.

Do up one button or hook. & let the sides float outwards.
Never do up more than one button unless it's tailor made. 

Notice how she does the brocade outer up so only a small section is
coming together? Notice how that section is just under the bust?
Totally strategic. Totally works.  

Even though orange isnt her colour, the correct shade
of red in the jewellery & the lippy rocks this look. 

Please be really careful with high necklines. This is a pose &
anything looks good in a pose.
The reality may be a whole other story. 

This print is fattening. The only reason she remotely gets
away with it is b/c the pattern is printed in an empire line.
Very hard to find this in real life. 

Be careful with prints larger than the size of your fist - they can be fattening. 

When SIA grows up......

Monday, July 14, 2014

Michael Kors: Cash or Credit?

Michael Kors everywhere

In case you havent noticed, Michael Kors bags seem to be everywhere in Australia these days.

If you google a basic medium size tote with no bells & whistles, prices go upwards of $1,000.  Yet we seem to be able to buy them for $300 - $400 at the department store & other full price outlets.

What is going on?
Is Australia that much cheaper?

The answer is “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
The comparison of the $400 bag and the $1,000 bad is like comparing apples & oranges.

The $1,000 bags are the Michael Kors main line.
The $400 bags are from the cheaper diffusion line, MICHAEL MICHAEL KORS.

Michael Kors also has a KORS MICHAEL KORS line however it doesn’t seem to be doing bags at the moment.

The leather difference

Like any diffusion label, the biggest compromise is on the material because that’s where the greatest portion of the cost lies. For bags, it’s the leather.

The Michael Kors bag has a calf leather which is soft to the touch. Not nappa soft, just soft. As you use this, it will develop a patina which is what makes good leather wear beautifully.  Of course you need to be careful of colour transfer on light colours and to clean it regularly before grim builds up.

The MICHAEL MICHAEL KORS (MICHAEL) is “saffiano” leather. Saffiano is a coated leather which has an embossed cross hatch design making it hard to touch but extremely resistant to scratching & tearing. It almost has the same vibe as the Louis Vuitton monogrammed bags (which are coated in plastic).

I could not find on any site (& I looked at many), what the actual animal was which donated the leather for the MICHAEL bags. There is no mention of it – simply “saffiano”.

Saffiano is not to be treated with anything that rubs into the surface. No creams. But I have heard that baby wipes can work as a surface cleaner, even though the bag is designed not to dirty like normal leather.

Prada saffiano

Prada has been doing saffiano for a long time – with the same cross hatch design. But a similar tote from Prada costs around $1,000. No surprises that the Prada saffiano clearly states in its listings that the bag is made of “calf saffiano”.

This leads me to one conclusion – that the MICHAEL bags are bonded leather – that’s all sorts of leather sliced & pounded together to form the main body. This could easily explain the price difference. 

Think of a MICHAEL bag as the pressed chicken of bags. I will ask one of the local stores about this & report bag.

Reinforcing & structure

The Michael Kors bag has much better reinforcing & it comes up at each side providing curved “corners” which resist wear much much much better than the very angular corners of the MICHAEL. It also provides a stronger base - nothing looks worse than a buckling tote base.

The other big difference with saffiano is that it’s stiff & if used for a large item which isn’t filled out, the surface of the bag starts to ripple after a short while. This is a classic tote issue and is seen in the next photo.  

Saffiano leather rippling viewed from the base

Frankly, I don’t like the way this looks after a bit of use. However for wallets & briefcases, it’s ideal as their outers are reinforced with internal scaffolding.


I think The MICHAEL handles look cheap in that they flop around where buckled on the bag – the Michael Kors is far more streamlined.


There are posts on the net about Prada saffiano leather peeling. I am not aware of how long it may take for this to happen, but saffiano is treated with a top layer & down the track, this may be inevitable. However it's seems akin to car window tinting bubbling - which you would imagine is fault & not a wear & tear issue. 
All I can say is KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS.  


The bags have a lot of similarities – both have feet, both have a large open lined section, pockets, a zipped pocket.
The MICHAEL has the traditional circle MK bauble while the Michael Kors has the rectangular plate.


The purpose of this post is not to suggest you don’t buy the cheaper MICHAEL. It’s to make you aware why it’s so cheap & that when you were comparing prices I want you to be realistic about the quality you are buying for that price.

Please don't forget the SIA mantra "You get what you pay for."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Where to buy a black jacket better than Nina Proudman style

(Now defunct) TL Wood jacket

Nina's black TL Wood jacket in episode 8 of season 5 was a soft moto style.

That's a jacket with a round neck, but she left the neck folded over (that's code for flapping around). 

A moto style overlaps at the top & eases out at the bottom. 

Did you notice that leaving the jacket open like Nina looked sloppy - messy. This style is designed to be worn closed just like their close cousins, the double breasted jackets. 

It also is a soft fabric with little scaffolding - so it doesnt disguise any figure flaws - it just emphasises the wearer's figure, as it is. Great if you have a wonderful figure. Not so great otherwise. 

Who does this style of jacket suit?

Basically, a tall person with an hourglass shape. 

They dont work the best for:

rectangles - they don't create a waist;

* pears - the short style will make a pear look     larger than they are on the bottom half;

* apples - the excess floppy fabric isnt good       for the voluptuousness of an apple;

* busty - the excess floppy fabric makes the       bust even bigger;

* petites - anything with excess fabric is not a     good idea for a petite. The shorter length is     good, but sans the floppy top part;

* carrying excess weight - a longer style which   eases over the top of the hip is a better style     and any excess fabric is a no go zone. 

If you are not a tall hourglass, if you go for a classic single breasted style, you will be way ahead in the style stakes. For apples you may want to try something softer in shape (suggest a knit) with an empire waist. 

I happened to be in Zara recently, where i spotted the following beauties which are infinitely more flattering than Nina's style.

Zara Woman - the ruffle is removeable

Zara Woman - navy longer style more flowy

Zara Basic - a classic round neck style
without the extra volume of a moto style

Zara Basic - sculptural semi peplum style
with hook/eye closure

Zara Woman - Sgt Pepper style,
fabulous structure &
terrific for pear as it creates
an upper body presence

Zara Woman moto style with removeable sections.
This is a very structured piece, unlike
Nina's soft fabric floppy jacket.

Most of these Zara jackets are the main line, Zara Woman. This means the quality is excellent.

All are reduced.

Now is the time to buy. 
Not next week when you size has been sold. 

There are also many traditional jackets on sale now - both at Zara & everywhere else. Too many to photograph. 

Internet photo showing a classic/traditional jacket

Now is the time to buy.

There is also one Country Road number floating around, also reduced, which SIA loves.

$300 was the original price.

And the point of this post is.....

Pieces like black (or navy or chocolate or charcoal etc) jackets are the backbone of your closet, whether you are a boho, minimalist, rock chic or even romantic personality. 

They are workhorses - you'll wear them again & again, so they will pay themselves off, even if the initial outlay is stretching your budget.  

Think of it as a matter of priorities. Stay in for dinner a few more nights & all of a sudden, your jacket is close to funded. 

Pieces like this are cheaper in the long run because you aren't replacing them every season. 

But the real kicker however, is that you look better wearing them compared to the cheap & cheerful stuff on the high street.

Look better, feel better, perform better. 

That's Style into Action.