Heart and Solar System Dress

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As an odd print collector, I constantly search for eye-catching skirts and dresses. When I’m on a tight budget, I always check clothing swap groups before actually looking through pages and pages of items on a website. One of a girl’s ISOs (in search of) was this beautiful space print dress by Fervour, sold exclusively at ModCloth.

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Heart and Solar System Dress, $75
Currently available in XS

I was sad to discover it was sold out and if restocked, it would sell for $75. As a Fashion Design student I know that a simple unlined, cotton dress should sell for a lot less. I told myself that constantly, trying to convince myself not to buy it if someone returned it in my size. I decided to post it as an ISO item to one of the swap groups just in case someone wanted to get rid of theirs (yeah, right) and a few weeks later, a girl told me someone had returned a small one. I bought it. Yolo, people, yolo.  (Too 2013?)

I waited the two weeks it usually takes for a ModCloth package to get to my house and was heartbroken when I pulled this out of the bag:

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The Way I Galaxy It Dress, $42 (50 % off)

This dress was being sold for $85 when I got it.  I thought about keeping it but the material and the fact that it’s lined made me sweat without even trying it on. I did try it on eventually but the only thing that came to mind was “meh.”  A return. I remember chatting with customer service and how nice the lady was.  I asked her if the company was planning on restocking it and I felt a punch to my chest as she said no. I told the girl from the swap group about the situation and she was just as sad as I was because she’s been looking for the same dress but in a different size.

Before I could forget about the dress, I saw a message from her saying a small one had been returned again. I didn’t get excited, but I bought it hoping I wouldn’t receive the wrong one again. I wonder if the mailman found it odd when I didn’t grin as soon as I saw him approaching my house with a package from ModCloth.  I opened it and even though it was finally the right dress, I was expecting the worst, as if it had to have some sort of flaw. Well, it does.

CONS

  • The dress is too short for my liking. The hem hits 3 inches above my knee. I did see pictures prior to purchasing but I thought it would be longer on me considering I’m only 5’03” tall.
  • Runs small in bust area. I’m only a B cup and I had a major armpit-boob issue.

PROS

  • Breathable fabric.
  • Has pockets. Yay!

The story does not end here. I searched for the brand, Fervour, on eBay and voila, a medium Heart and Solar System Dress was listed at only $30. It had the option to start a bidding war but it had 7 watchers so I didn’t want to risk it. I’m happy to say that I now own a Heart and Solar System Dress that doesn’t give me armpit-boob. I returned the small one and saved $40.  Yay for used clothing!

Now please enjoy these pictures of my sexy self wearing the sexy dress.

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Da.art Photography

Want to know a little secret? I was told this dress *might* be getting restocked around August but you didn’t hear it from me! 😉

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Q & A with The Strawberry Bombshell

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I’ve been drawn to the pin up style since I saw Grease when I was a kid.  I started adding stripes and polka dots to my closet when I was 14 but the fear of looking even just a little bit costume-y held me back.  I know a lot of girls interested in this look would like to start off by simply adding some key pieces to their outfits to give a tiny hint of pinup and eventually work their way up.  It’s what I did and it made the transition from emo / goth kid to beautiful pin up a lot easier.

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Not knowing how to incorporate the pin up look to my modern, yet boring outfit for a job interview, I went where fashion inspiration is easily found—Instagram!  I came across The Strawberry Bombshell’s page after a few hashtag searches.  I noticed she’s familiar with the color palette and knows how to mix colors I’ve never had the courage to wear at the same time.  With pieces from Pinup Girl Clothing, Old Navy and Charlotte Russe, The Strawberry Bombshell has one of the most versatile and affordable wardrobes I’ve seen.

If you’re looking to get ideas for a special occasion outfit or for your everyday look, The Strawberry Bombshell will spark your creativity.  She agreed to do a Q & A and I hope you all enjoy getting to know her.  She’s been through highs and lows when it comes to confidence and tells us how pin up helped her feel comfortable in her own skin.

1. Have you always been into vintage-inspired clothing?  When did you start adding retro pieces to your closet?

My love for vintage aesthetic was a natural extension of my affinity for vintage music and that era of history. I grew up around swing music my great uncle and aunt played, and always had a pretty keen interest in World War II as a kid. I can remember being excited about swing revival in the mid-90s and early 2000’s, even though I was still pretty young; it was exciting to hear a fresh take on sounds I’d grown up with. Around that time I can remember really taking notice of vintage styles and lusting after Kate Beckinsale’s wardrobe in Pearl Harbor (2001). Unfortunately my self esteem was a bit lagging, and I tried to fit into trendy stuff in high school and university which usually made my self esteem worse. The first repro-style dress I bought was a cheaply made polka dot wiggle dress from the mall. I didn’t really dive in until I found Pinup Girl Clothing’s website in 2011. It’s been a full fledged love affair ever since!

2.  What is your go-to article of clothing that makes you feel confident?

Pencil skirt or wiggle dress. I used to try to hide my curves but always loved the look of a pencil skirt. To this day I wear them a good 3 or 4 days a week. My specific ‘dress-to-kill’ look? PUG’s Masuimi or Erin dresses. They are my go-to if I want to look like a bombshell but feel like I’m dressed in PJs! They’re so comfortable and sexy.

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3.  What are your favorite brands and why?

I think anybody that follows me close enough has noticed that I wear Pinup Girl Clothing almost everyday. This is a result of my support of their ethos and practice as company; their superior quality in product and service; and my embarrassing tunnel-vision when it comes to online shopping. I stick with what I know. I’ve written pretty extensively on why I love them so much, so I’ll just invite you to visit those blog posts and won’t bore you with the gory details again. I’ll be a life long customer, they impress me to no end. They’re life changers and very passionate about what they do.

I also wear a lot of Joe Fresh because their pieces are classic, simple, versatile and affordable. A lot of my favourite staple pieces are Joe Fresh; I was buying them on sale at a time when I couldn’t afford to online shop. My only gripe with them is that they don’t have the best track record with production and labour practices.

4.  Who is your style icon and why?

It’s a toss up between the entire pinup community and Jeanette Scott of J’s Everyday Fashion. Pinups from all over the world have inspired me to dress in a style I love and find comfort in. I started reading Jeanette’s blog in 2013 when I was unemployed, broke and unable to shop – and she completely blew my mind. She teaches her readers to take what they have in their closet and use inspiration photos to stretch the possibilities in her wardrobe. She is very much focused on a  ‘look for less’ approach, and she encourages everyone to plan their budgets, experiment with new looks, and take inspiration from everywhere. My style confidence increased a lot after reading her blog. I no longer wonder what I can pair certain items with – I can usually find 10-20 different ways to wear something because I’ve studied her approach. That, to me, is fashion practicality!  I highly recommend her blog to anybody; it makes fashion accessible and demystified.

5.  “When accessorizing always take off the last thing you put on.” – Coco Chanel.  Do you agree?  Do you follow other rules when accessorizing?  If so, what are they?

I think that people should wear as much or as little as they want; it has no effect on my life if they chose to over-accessorize. But for me, personally? I don’t have ‘rules’ per se, but I think I sort of have an internal compass which errs on the side of conservative, clean styling. You won’t find a lot of really blingy, trendy things or tons of accessorizing in my style. I’m pretty boring, and it always takes me a long time to come around to anything ‘trendy’ (I started wearing statement necklaces 3 years after everyone else). I always reach for my go-tos: pearl necklace/earrings, gold hoops and chains, cognac-coloured belts and shoes. If I do wear a statement piece, like a necklace or cocktail ring, I try to minimize other accessories and let it speak for itself.

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6.  Solids or prints?

In the last few years I’ve stuck to solids quite a bit out of habit, as I wanted to learn about colour palettes and experiment with mixing them. I am slowly (slowly!) coming around to prints. Again, it takes me a while to come around with experimentation. I push my boundaries slowly and stubbornly, but I do push them. I didn’t dare try print-mixing until this past year! Though I never used to wear leopard at all, I now use it a lot because it goes with literally everything – find me a colour that doesn’t go with leopard! It pairs nicely with polka dots, stripes, and the odd floral as well. In fact, I’m a bit of a fiend for those four prints because they are versatile and easy to style.

7.  What’s your take on how women are portrayed in media?  

Oh man, I could go on about this. Overall I think there’s still a pretty paternalistic treatment of women in mass media. Comments on women’s fashion choices and body shape instead of their accomplishments, job performance, or character are still sickeningly pervasive. There was an article I read a little while ago about an Australian newscaster who wore the same suit for a year straight without comment from his producers or audience; he wanted to prove that the heinous double standard needs to go. I think that the Dove ad campaigns (‘love the skin you’re in’) and recent uproar over Calvin Klein’s poor choice of ‘plus size’ model show that the conversations are changing in favour of body positivity, but I think we’ve got a long way to go in refining the dialogue. I think that a lot of curvy gals who felt sidelined by the status quo for decades feel the logical reaction is to bash thin women as ‘not real’, not realizing this prejudice is as hurtful as any that’s been leveled against curvy women. I’d really like to see the conversation turn towards ‘all women are real women’ to foster an inclusive mentality.

The good news is that the internet is nothing if not the largest peanut gallery in the world, and the bright side of churning out more university grads is that feminist discourse from the institution makes its way into the media and challenges sexism in weird and wonderful ways.  I’ve seen a lot of good blogs, tweets, memes, and articles which lampoon sexist remarks in the media. I’ve seen women put misogynists on blast and shame them quite publicly for their shitty attitudes, and it’s beautiful to watch. In addition, it provides communities of support for women who feel sidelined and alienated by what the status quo is turning out. Pinup is one such community, and you’ll find some of the fiercest defenders of feminism here.

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8.  A couple of months ago, Hollaback!, a movement started by a network of activists around the world working to end street harassment uploaded a video to YouTube of a woman being constantly harassed while walking around New York City.  Have you ever been harassed while walking down the street?  How do you deal with it?  What can women do to put an end to street harassment?

I’ve definitely been harassed while walking down the street, or in bars. My response isn’t usually very ladylike – I’ll flip them off or tell them to get fucked, that kind of thing. I don’t find it’s terribly productive to try to get into a dialogue with catcallers. I think that if you’re getting lewd comments from males in certain defined settings (i.e. ‘friends’ or acquaintances at a party, trolls on your social media page), it’s definitely a bit easier to get a dialogue going and call them out on their behavior and try to deconstruct their shitty attitude. It’s a bit more difficult to get into a conversation about why they’re a misogynist jerk if they’re at a stoplight in their car, or across a busy street, so I limit my conversation to crude retorts in those circumstances.

I think that the best response, if you have a chance, is to publically call out a catcaller for their poor behaviour. Let it be known that not only are you not going to accept the behaviour, you’re going to rip it to shreds rhetorically. If you’re quick on your feet, you can do that on the spot, but sometimes it takes a bit more time and effort for introverts or people who get flustered. I once wrote a letter and posted it on the door of my apartment building after I overheard some idiots making comments outside my window. I’ve seen some bloggers take screen shots of sexist comments on their Instagram and blast them. I also saw a brilliant – BRILLIANT – response to one woman’s catcaller blow up online. The gal totally lambasted this guy in a ‘Missed Connections’ ad. I’m not sure where the original post is now, but there are several articles written about it, this Huffington Post article being one of them.

As much as possible, try to engage the issues that inform the catcaller’s behaviour or attitude, rather than focus on attacking them as a person. Ad hominem attacks and aimless name calling usually fall on deaf ears and don’t accomplish much.

It’s difficult to get over the initial sting of the comment, but if you can harness that anger into a controlled and eloquent response then the payoff is wonderful. You’ll feel like King Kong and hopefully that guy will rethink his poor attitude. At the very least, hopefully he’ll stop catcalling!

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9.  We all go through moments of low self-esteem.  Do you remember a particular moment you didn’t feel so good about yourself?  If so, tell us how you got your confidence back.

I’ve spent a good deal of my life being uncomfortable in my own skin, and I know now that I’m not alone. Women of all shapes and sizes go through it! I didn’t really feel comfortable with my curves and size until I started dressing in pinup clothing on a regular basis. Some of my worst moments of self esteem in the last few years, however, were when I was sick and lost a lot of weight. My weight yoyo’d after a couple of bad bouts of ulcerative colitis and I remember crying myself to sleep because I’d lost my healthy curves that I loved so much and had become so proud of. It was a big turning point for me – to realize that I identified with my curves and size as something healthy and positive for the first time in my life. Sometimes we have to lose what we have to realize how much we miss it. I’m grateful that I had pinup clothing and communities in my life at the time, because even though I’d lost the weight and felt self-conscious after being sick, I knew that I could be beautiful at any weight in this clothing. A lot of pieces I own have fit me beautifully with 30-40 pound weight differences. That’s amazing peace of mind when you’re getting out of the hospital and learning to love your body again!

10.  Other than documenting your adorable outfits, what do you do for a living?  

I’m working in investment banking. I actually began documenting these outfits for myself as a creative outlet during some grueling professional exams last year, while I was trying to gain my licensure for securities trading. My style of dress is a little on the eclectic side for a business environment, so I’m lucky that our office is laid back about fashion choices. I’ve been in banking about 8 years now, and though it’s been an interesting study in people (more so than in numbers!), writing and literature are my first loves. I’m currently trying to figure out how to make my way back to them for a career.

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11.  Any advice to young girls on finding their personal style?

Don’t be afraid to experiment, even if it’s a little at a time. Stick with what works, ditch what doesn’t. If you’re not sure ‘how’ to wear something, or what to wear with it, do a Pinterest search to see that outfit in context. Study the styles of others, and use their inspiration. Emulate other outfit ideas until you find what you’re comfortable in. Fashion is an ongoing conversation, and your mode of dress is your voice in that conversation. It tells people who you are before you even open your mouth, so make sure you’re dressing true to yourself.

12.  As someone who practices practical pin up, what is your definition of a pin up girl?

Anybody who wants practice it. I was quite deliberate in my choice of diction for that phrase; most ‘practices’ do not come naturally, but as the result of habitual repetition. You practice until you make ‘perfect’, or at least become deft at it. The ‘practical’ in practical pinup is an expression of its accessibility. I see a lot of comments from women pinup sites saying ‘I wish I could pull that look off, but I don’t have the [body, time, patience, skill, money, etc] for it.’ They see it as being an unachievable ideal. What I’m trying to demonstrate is that you can pull it off to whatever extent you feel comfortable. It’s not something that is achievable for some and not for others. You can start as simply as incorporating a pencil skirt into your work outfit or going full-bore with glamorous pin-curls, red lips and corseting. You can buy expensive vintage pieces, budget-friendly vintage repro, or thrifted items which are retro-inspired. What matters is that you practice, and practice often.

For myself, I’ve decided my look is equal parts pinup, professional, and preppy. I buy vintage repro and thrifted items, and I incorporate current trends where I want. This is what I’m comfortable in, and that doesn’t have to look the same for everybody. It’s open to interpretation, and we don’t do any favours by having limiting ideas of what pinup should and shouldn’t be. You can do as much or as little of it as you please. The fringe benefits of practicing it are enormous: increased self esteem and body positivity; exposure to supportive communities and media; better understanding of feminism. A pin up girl is somebody who adores her body, respects the bodies of others, owns her sexuality, and dresses accordingly – that is channeling the spirit of pin up, and that can be for anybody. I’d encourage all women to give it a shot.

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For everyday inspiration, follow The Strawberry Bombshell on Instagram and check out her blog!

The Dangers Caused by the Misrepresentation of Women in the Fashion Industry

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The fashion industry has always had an impact on its consumers, especially women.  It’s no surprise they strive to look beautiful by imitating the models they are surrounded with each day.  They see them on billboards when driving to work, on the television when they get home and relax, when checking their e-mail inbox on ads in websites and right before they go to bed when reading a magazine.  It’s a fact that current models don’t represent the average woman.  Average women are between sizes 12 and 16 and fashion models normally have to be within sizes 0 to 3 in order to be successful, many of which admit to not having a healthy diet and getting through the day with only Diet Coke and lettuce.  Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman.  Today, she weighs 23% less.  Unfortunately, the misrepresentation of women will continue to be a part of the fashion industry unless those running it change their preference with models.

Those in charge of this industry are fashion designers and booking agents.  They are the ones who handpick models for their runway shows, commercials and fashion spreads.  In the 1950’s, women with a defined hourglass shape were favored.   Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot and Raquel Welch had the body women wanted to have and men wanted to touch.  The 1960’s came along with Twiggy, the English model known worldwide for her boyish build and curveless body.  Some blame her for changing the face of fashion but recently, she commented against skinny models saying that her weight was natural and not forced by the diets current models get into.  Twiggy gained international fame when she was just a teen, another reason why her body looked the way it did.  She was not fully developed.  Nowadays, designers still hire teens to model in their shows because of this.  In the 1980’s the fashion world was ruled by Naiomi Campbell, Tyra Banks and Cindy Crawford.  Oddly enough, these women were the size that today is considered plus.  Ten years ago plus-size models averaged between size 12 and 18.  Today the need for diversity within the plus-size modeling industry continues to be questioned.  The majority of plus-size models on agency boards are between a size 6 and 14, while costumers continue to express their dissatisfaction.  Even though it seems as if most people are in favor of having models with a healthy weigh sell a product, many don’t believe this is something that should become a reality.

Raquel Welch     Raquel Welch

Italian researchers, Dr. Luca Savorelli and Dr. David Dragone from the University of Bologna have concluded that putting women bigger than a size 8 on the catwalk sends a message to the obese people of the world that it’s ok to be fat.  According to them, “To promote chubby fashion models when obesity is one of the major problems of industrialized countries seems to be a paradox… Given that in the US and Europe people are on average overweight, we conclude that these policies, even when they are welfare improving, may foster the obesity epidemic.”  They claim that if we are surrounded by images of people who look heavier, it “induces people to become more overweight,” and thus impairs our health.  They warn that this trend will only worsen the “obesity epidemic.”

Obviously, putting more realistic women on the catwalk will not make overweight people feel good about being overweight.  Fashion Designers would make a huge step in the right direction by choosing larger models for their runway shows and by larger, I mean having a healthy weight and more meat on their bones.  I’m not sure why Savorelli and Dragone were concerned about this issue since there hasn’t been a dramatic increase in overweight models coinciding with a spike in the world’s obesity rates.  In fact, models are thinner than ever and obesity rates are the highest they’ve ever been.

It is said that another reason why plus-size models are shunned is that they tend to be overly sexy in ad campaigns and take the focus off of the product they are supposed to be selling.  All of a sudden the pages in a magazine are not a fashion spread anymore and it becomes a modeling portfolio.  Instead of the model being a real life hanger for the dress she is modeling, her curves stick out.  In other words, she is wearing the dress and the dress is not wearing her.

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Plus size model, Crystal Renn

Over the years, we have learned that sex sells.  I’m not the only one that believes that using a curvy model to sell a dress might boost a designer’s sales.  It is scientifically proven that men and women find models with a waist to hip ratio of at least 0.7 more attractive than those who don’t have a defined waist.  Naturally, they will stop and stare at a page in a magazine as their eyes start following the silhouette of a curvy model.  Also, most women in today’s society have curves and will relate to plus-size models, making them more likely to purchase confidently whatever the model has on knowing it will look similar on them.

Many blame the economic crisis on the continuous shrinking size of models and see it as a necessity.  It is not a coincidence that the thinnest models are used for Haute Couture fashion shows.   Haute couture is made to order for a specific person, it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques.  Haute Couture shows always showcase elaborate gowns that normally wouldn’t be worn in everyday life.  These can range from a light work suit made from newspaper to a 40 pound diamond covered dress.  An haute couture garment is made specifically for the wearer’s measurements and body stance.  Having in mind how expensive they are to make, designers save themselves a lot of dollars by using the world’s thinnest models as canvases.

A model presents a creation by British d

Haute Couture

While many people consider haute couture an art form, others don’t support it.  It is the goal of many models to walk the runway while wearing an haute couture creation and they know they have to shrink their size in order to make this dream a reality.  Although it wasn’t an haute couture show, Luisel Ramos, a 22 year-old Uruguayan model, died of heart failure caused by anorexia nervosa right after modeling in a fashion show during Fashion Week in MontevideoUruguay.  It is said that she had gone several days without eating in order to “prepare” for the show.  Also, she had adopted the Diet Coke and lettuce diet 3 months before.  At the time of her death, she had a body mass index of 14.5 which the World Health Organization considers to be starvation.  Six months after her death, her sister, Eliana Ramos, died of a heart attack due to malnutrition.  She was also a model and she was only 18.  Since the year 2000, at least 4 models have been reported to have died due to anorexia nervosa and 14 have committed suicide while still being an active model because of the pressure to be thin.

Right after the sister’s deaths, Madrid Fashion Week set a minimum body mass index of 18 for all models and Italian fashion designers banned size 0 models from walking down their catwalks.  Although this is an improvement, it is not enough.

Ramos Sisters

Current models still set a wrong example for women by not having a healthy body image and they continue to deteriorate their health.  Unfortunately, “thin is in” and it will be for a long time.  Women’s perception of beauty will change as soon as they find themselves bombarded with advertisements presenting a model that has a body similar to theirs and is happy with it knowing they are not at risk of losing their job as models just because their ribs can’t be visually counted.

Apparently, the fashion industry is holding onto the unproven theory that plus-size models will make us overweight.  What many people don’t know is that it’s possible to be healthy at many different sizes and shapes, and it’s their own internal bias that prevent them from considering that a larger person could be healthier than a smaller one.  Studies show that most health indicators, such as blood pressure and insulin sensitivity can be improved through changing health behaviors, even if they don’t lose weight.  When consumers realize that they’re being brainwashed into thinking they don’t fit the norm, and decide to not support fashion designers who feed them this idea, we will finally see a change in the fashion industry and the average woman will actually be inspired to accept herself as she is while models are allowed to look like a healthy human being.

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