A Sizeable Concern

I’ve been AWOL for a while, trying to sort through a few things, but this is a post I have to write. In fact, this is a post that has been a long time coming.

Australian Fashion Week kicked off a few days ago, immediately sending the media into a frenzy, but not over the fashions. Models at fashion legend, Carla Zampatti’s runway show appeared visibly underweight and very unhealthy, including former Australia’s Next Top Model contestant, Cassi Van Den Dungen. Many of the same models then lined up for Alex Perry’s show.

Former Australia’s Next Top Model contestant Cassi Van Den Dungen for Alex Perry. Pic via news.com.au.

Now, I have a number of naturally very slim friends who have faced criticism over their weight, so I’m not about to attack skinny women, but there are extreme differences between being naturally thin and healthy, and being forcefully underweight and unhealthy. These girls have sunken cheeks, hollow eyes, and a sallow, drawn look, even with all their make-up. They look tired, and not at all healthy.

So, my question is, what the hell fashion industry? I get many of these models have just returned from the catwalks of Paris, where they are expected to adhere to French standards of fashion. I get that clothes hang better on women who are on the smaller side of the scale. And I totally get that the better the clothes look, the more people are going to like them. The problem is, it’s hard to pay attention to the clothes when the models are so glaringly unwell. Not to mention the fact that the clothes are wearing the girls, rather than the girls wearing them.

This problem of size goes well beyond the runway. Sizing and fit of clothes has become almost as random and unpredictable as the weather, with even my thinner friends complaining that they are now forced to try on everything, where once they used to simply grab their usual size. I am hardly on the smaller end of the scale at the moment, so I struggle whenever I go shopping, but it’s ridiculous that my wardrobe currently contains sizes fourteen through twenty-two. It makes zero sense that even in the same brand I can be three different sizes, and that’s if I can even find my size, because it seems many companies haven’t figured out that the average Australian is a size sixteen.

And this isn’t just a problem in clothing. My mother bought a pattern the other day, assuming it would be plenty big enough, as she’s a pretty standard size fourteen and the pattern included a size range including a size twenty. However, on measuring herself against the pattern, it turned out that she was equivalent to a size twenty-eight. Twenty-eight! That’s seven sizes larger!

What the hell fashion industry?!

Come on guys! Can we go back to the days of Elle Macpherson and Cindy Crawford, when models were fit and sexy, rather than skeletal and wan? Is it really so hard to make the samples a couple inches larger? Why are we allowing this dangerous culture of super-skinny to be okay, just because it’s accepted elsewhere? If Australia can be responsible for making the mini-skirt trendy, why can’t we be the leaders in creating a more standardised, women-friendly industry? Right now, it seems like the fashion industry is ignoring the needs of the many, for the delight of the few. In fact, maybe that has something to do with why so many of Australia’s high fashion brands are going under. After all, if women don’t feel good in something, they’re hardly going to want to buy it—and no girl feels good buying a larger size.

What do you think? Is the fashion industry not listening to the needs of its consumers?

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Spectacle Spectacular: Sneaking Duck

Today is a slightly exciting, slightly scary day for me. Exciting because I got my very first lot of try-at-home frames in the mail, scary because when I decided to start this project, I also decided I was going to show you pictures of each frame on my face, which mean…photos of me. Eek! This freaks me out for a million different reasons, but there are three very big ones. To start with, I’m one of those people that are biologically disposed to taking bad photographs—something happens when cameras are pointed at me which results in an unnaturally bad representation of my appearance. Secondly, the weight I’ve gained over the past few years while fighting against my less-than-helpful body, shows in my face. Lastly, you will all know what I look like, and my romantic notion of you picturing me as a Christina Hendricks look-a-like will be forever gone.  I’m starting out with a bang too, because these particular shots are taken on my shoddy webcam with no makeup on—so, be kind, yeah?

Okay, enough about my tragic insecurities and bizarre fantasies, to the glasses!

To start with, I picked up my lovely Versace frames on the weekend and was super excited to see what kind of response they’d get from my family. Nothing. Seriously, not one person noticed them. Thanks for caring family, I’ll just go sit in the corner and be invisible. Or show someone who cares:

Snapshot_20130814

Those will be my everyday frames, but I’m still desperate to get something more fun. Enter Sneaking Duck—the first of my Spectacle Spectacular contenders. They arrived yesterday in a basic plastic parcel pack, which I was a bit worried about because I know how rough couriers are with parcels. Inside, was a simple black case which, on opening, reveals a row of frames, all individually tagged with the frame’s name. The parcel also included a postage-paid return envelope, and an order form.

Sneaking Duck pack image

All the frames are fitted with plano (non-prescription) lenses, with the individual frame’s serial number on the left arm and “Sneaking Duck” on the right arm. The arm hinges seam nice and sturdy and, on most of the frames, are actually set into the arm, rather than just stuck to it. While all the frames are lightweight, they don’t look or feel cheap as can happen with plastic and wood frames.

The first frame I picked was chosen more for the name than anything. Scrumper’s Delight sounded like something absolutely wonderful…until I looked it up and discovered that “scrumper” actually means an utter loser. These frames are far from that description. A mid-brown wood frame, with almost-perfect circle lens-space, and a wide bridge, these frames create images of old-timey accountants, or snivelling evil sidekicks. They feel very comfortable, and fit neatly to the face, without pressing at the side of the head like some firmer fitting frames do. Sadly though, I think they are a little too petite for my face.

Sneaking Duck - Scrumper's Delight image

Frame two: the aptly named Decision. This was a frame I liked, but kind of knew I wouldn’t love. That said, this frame is still quite lovely. The top and arms of the frame are a true black, fading from the half-way point to a mottled black-clear mix. The small silver arrow-points at the temples are a nice feature to the slightly oval lenses, and the narrow bridge helps them to sit nice and high on the nose. I think if I was looking for a basic frame for everyday wear, these would absolutely be in contention, but in the fun stakes, they’re probably a bit on the tame side.

Sneaking Duck - Decision image

The third frame I threw in because it’s similar to the shape I usually always go for, so I knew it would suit me. That, and I’m in love with the name—Peek-can Pie! Cute, right? This rounded oblong frame is a much wider fit which I wouldn’t consider if I had a petite face, as it would be far too big. For my wider face though, these are a great fit, complimenting my shape and skin colour really well. Another mid-brown wood frame, Peek-can Pie’s arms are a lighter, more pine-like colouring tinged with burnt-wood trim. If I could afford a spare pair of everyday frames, hands-down these would be the purchase.

Sneaking Duck - Peek-can Pie image

I had high hopes for Blue Hole, although secretly thought they’d look horrible on me. I was pleasantly surprised—they look pretty good! This beautiful blue-grey distressed wood, and pine-armed frame is trimmed perfectly with silver arrow-head details at the temple. Verging towards square-oval rather than circle with a key-hole shaped bridge; these are a perfect cross between classic and modern. They sit, perfectly haughty-like on the nose, and fit around the head comfortably. I’m seriously thinking about these as sunglasses.

Sneaking Duck - Blue Hole image

Last, but certainly not least. In fact, Noggin is my favourite frame of the lot. With a lens shape very similar to Scrumper’s Delight, this slightly larger frame gives the appearance of the old-school dorky, bookish kid—precisely what I’m looking for, strangely enough. The classic tortoise-shell frame is complemented nicely by the black arms and rectangle temple features. These frames fit a bit firmer than the others, with the arms curving around to hug you head, and the wider bridge allowing the frame fit the nose, rather than simply resting on it. For what I’m currently looking for, I think this was my favourite of the lot, but these certainly aren’t a frame for the faint of heart.

Sneaking Duck - Noggin image

Overall, I was really impressed with Sneaking Duck. The delivery time (ordered last Thursday, arrived today) was pretty on-par with other parcels I’ve received from Sydney. The box they came in, while a little dusty and worn, was nice, and made the whole experience all a bit more fun. Free return postage is also a big win for me, as I probably wouldn’t have bothered if I’d had to shell out twenty dollars to return them.

The frames themselves, as I said earlier, seem to be of reasonable quality. They’re certainly not in the top echelons of glasses frames, but they are a far cry from many of the better-known brands in the same price range. Speaking of which, at $AU180.00 for the first pair of prescription glasses, and $AU90.00 for each additional pair, Sneaking Duck is definitely value for money. They do charge an additional $AU60.00 for stronger scripts, which is worth noting if you’re on the more visually impaired end of the sight scale.

An added bonus is that Sneaking Duck also does prescription sunglasses. These are a bit more expensive, but at $AU230.00 for the first pair and $AU140.00 for additional pairs, they are still well within the cheaper range for prescription sunnies. The collection of frames for sunnies is the virtually same as that for regular glasses, with a few additions, however the sunnies are not currently available as try-at-homes. That said, ordering the regular frames allows you to test them out just as well, and without the annoying inability to really see because the lenses are too dark.

Spectacle Spectacular - Sneaking Duck verdict

Spectacle Spectacular: The Prologue

Yesterday I went to the optometrist for the first time in three years. I was so excited! How sad is that, right? But I love my optometrist, and I have had my old glasses for so long that there are more scratches than there is clear lens. I’ve also had the same frame for over six years, and I’m thoroughly sick of it.

As much as I adore my optometrist, because he is quite small the selection is rather miserable, and I really struggled to find anything I loved. So I headed to the nearby OPSM, where I fell in love with these babies:

I promptly took them back to my optometrist’s office, and am now waiting with bated breath for next week, when I will get to share them with the world.

That could be the end of the story, but it’s not. The thing is, as much as I love the frames I’ve picked, they’re not really what I wanted. I wear glasses. I don’t like wearing them all the time, but since I have to, I want to really wear them. I want them to be an accessory, rather than just a necessity.

The frames above are lovely, but they’re bordering on bland. What I really want is something that stands out. The style I was looking for is something ultra-nerdy. The kind you would have turned your nose up at when you were a kid—the Steve Urkel kind. Unfortunately, they’d never suit me. Neither does the current trendy oversized, square black frame. What does suit me, and what I secretly love, is the ultra-round style—think Harry Potter, or Henry Walton (aka Indiana Jones).

So I did a bit of research last night, and not only did I find stacks of nerd-tastic frames, I also discovered a whole bunch of sites that allow you to try before you buy. The way it works is really simple: you pick five or so frames you like, give your credit card details (and with some a minimal holding fee), and they send you out the frames to try. After a week, you send them back, they refund any holding fees, and you can order any that you just can’t live without.

I love this idea so much, because it gives you the opportunity to sit with the frame for more than five minutes and really get used to it as part of your style, rather than a foreign object you’ve just picked up.  Because I’m so sold on this idea, and because so many sites have frames that I just adore, I’ve decided to have a Spectacle Spectacular. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be ordering try-at-homes from a number of different websites. I’ll write a review of not just the frames themselves, but the companies as well, so you can get an idea of the easiest processes and best value for when all you other four-eyes need new glasses.

Watch this space for the first instalment of the Spectacle Spectacular this time next week.

Fashion Friday: Paperface Studios

I opened my computer racking my brain on what to write about tonight, and found I didn’t have to worry at all—I’d already left myself the perfect reminder. Wasting time this afternoon, I came across Paperface Studios on Etsy and, falling totally in love with the beautiful jewellery, left the page open to blog about it later. And then promptly forgot. I have the memory of a fish.

But enough about me, let me tell you about Paperface Studios. Marcella’s Etsy store is filled with whimsical and lovingly crafted jewellery, all hand-crafted and made from beautiful materials like sterling silver, brass, and glass. Her current items include an array of stunning necklaces, sweet earing, pretty bracelets, and intricate cufflinks from the downright cute (little black sheep), to the charming (real dandelions in lockets). What’s more, she does custom orders, so if there’s something you like, but want to change it up a bit, she can totally do it for you.

Fashion Friday - Paperface Studios

 Store: Paperface Studios

Store Locations: Online, via Etsy

International Shipping: YES! See delivery info for details.

Best Bits: Handcrafted jewellery made from sterling silver, brass, glass, and resin. Great range of styles and intricate designs, many coming in a number of colours or shapes. Ready-made and DIY items available, as well as custom order options. Great quality images and descriptions, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Reasonably priced—even more reason to buy up big (not that I need it). All necklaces include chain at no extra cost.

(All prices in AUD, based on current exchange rates)

1. Tarnish-free Silver Antlers on Sterling Silver Chain: $30.65

2. Silver-plated Wishbone Necklace on Sterling Silver Chain: $24.52

3. Silver-plated Pinwheel Necklace on Sterling Silver Chain: $22.48

4. Sterling Silver Bird Bracelet: $20.43

5. Red Heart Glass Locket Necklace on Sterling Silver Chain: $26.56

6. Tiny Sand Dollar Necklace on Sterling Silver Chain: $26.56

7. Dandelion Locket Necklace on Sterling Silver Chain: $26.56

My Endless Love: Pretty Woman

The weather here is unbearably wet. It has rained almost non-stop for the past week or so, and isn’t supposed to stop for a few more days yet. Everything has that sticky, damp feel to it, and smells slightly musty. And every one of my joints feels like it needs a good oiling, which is why I’ve been absent—my hands especially don’t like the wet. Yuck.

On a completely separate note, let’s talk about movies. I love a good movie, especially when it’s rainy, but usually seeing a movie once is enough. There are, however, a small collection of movies that I could watch a million times over and never tire of at all. Top of this list is Pretty Woman.

I’m not even sure why, but Pretty Woman has always been one of the few movies I can’t pull myself away from, no matter how many times I see it. The other night I was just passing through the lounge on the way to bed, when I noticed it was on. Suddenly, I’m curled on the sofa waiting for Richard Gere to punch Jason Alexander in the nose. I don’t know what happened—some kind of ovaries-magnet they build into certain Romcoms?—but I couldn’t tear myself away, even though I was exhausted.

One thing I do know is that the fashion in that movie, even though it was made in 1990, is wonderful. Yes, there are a few very eighties/nineties moments, but the key scenes are styled so well that much of Julia Roberts’ attire would very easily work today. To prove my point, I trolled the web and found a few examples of the most pivotal wardrobe pieces. Because I know not everyone has a Hollywood budget (uh, me, to start with), I’ve found a few different price ranges for each item.

The Red Jacket

The jacket Vivian wears in the opening scenes—the red and black one that goes oh-so-well with her belly-baring, hooker attire—is actually pretty darn stylish. It was clearly designed to look a bit raggedy, but with an update, I reckon it would look something like this:

(L-R) Nina Ricci Polka Dot Silk Chiffon Dress, from Luisa Viaroma - $AU3,108.00; Howard Showers Polka Dot, Twist Neckline Dress, via Birdsnest - $AU179.00; Sienna You Soon Dress, from Modcloth - $US67.99.

(L-R) Stella McCartney Matilda Jacket, via Polyvore – $AU1,600.00; Denim & Supply by Ralph Lauren Military Jacket, from ASOS – $AU270.98; Grelin Bond Blazer, from Piper Lime – $AU41.80.

The LBLD

Remember when he walks into the bar to meet her for their dinner with Mr Morse and his nephew? BAM! He’s knocked out with how much of a knockout she is (see what I did there?)! That Little Black Lace Dress (LBLD) is perfect—sexy without being slutty, classy without being mumsy. Every woman needs that dress.

(L-R) Valentino Black Lace Dress, from Stylebop - £1,965.00; Jaeger Scalloped Lace Dress, from Jaeger - £199.00; ASOS Midi Bodycon with Lace Off Shoulder, from ASOS - $AU49.27.

(L-R) Valentino Black Lace Dress, from Stylebop – £1,965.00; Jaeger Scalloped Lace Dress, from Jaeger – £199.00; ASOS Midi Bodycon with Lace Off Shoulder, from ASOS – $AU49.27.

That Red Gown

Okay, so it was the end of the eighties, puffy sleeves and gloves were big. But the eighties have made a comeback, and the scene where he sees her in that gown was easily one of the best moments of the movie. I actually really like the original dress but, alas, this is the closest I could find:

(L-R) Prabal Gurung Silk-Crepe Gown, from Lane Crawford - $AU4,530.00; JS Collection Cowl Back Maxi with Rosette Detail shoulders, from House of Fraser - £260.00, CD-1357, from The Rose Dress - $US76.00.

(L-R) Prabal Gurung Silk-Crepe Gown, from Lane Crawford – $AU4,530.00; JS Collection Cowl Back Maxi with Rosette Detail shoulders, from House of Fraser – £260.00, CD-1357, from The Rose Dress – $US76.00.

The Polka Dot Dress

Who could forget the polo match, where Julia’s character handled herself so well, even with Stuckey’s smarminess bothering her? And her outfit—flawless! Every time I watch the movie, I spend the next few months pining for the perfect polka-dot dress. Somehow that dress is going to make me cool, sophisticated, and fantastically attractive to all men-kind.

(L-R) Prabal Gurung Silk-Crepe Gown, from Lane Crawford - $AU4,530.00; JS Collection Cowl Back Maxi with Rosette Detail shoulders, from House of Fraser - £260.00, CD-1357, from The Rose Dress - $US76.00.

(L-R) Nina Ricci Polka Dot Silk Chiffon Dress, from Luisa Viaroma – $AU3,108.00; Howard Showers Polka Dot, Twist Neckline Dress, via Birdsnest – $AU179.00; Sienna You Soon Dress, from Modcloth – $US67.99.

While we’re on the topic of cool, this scene from the movie (one of my faves), repeated twenty years later = brilliant:

What movie can you watch over and over?