When I was very young I believed my parents were movie stars. Honestly, I really did. Family photos showed them dining in fancy restaurants, sitting with other couples at banquets, everyone dressed for the red carpet. They would have “date nights,” and go dancing at nightclubs with a live band on a stage. (Dancing to a live band! I know! Right?!) I would lie across their bed and watch as my mother dressed, usually in something snug that showed off her tiny waist and bombshell curves. Dad wore a sharp suit and tie, always.
My favorite outfit that my mother wore was an ankle-length black skirt with a slit as high as two inches above her left knee. She usually paired it with a white blouse tucked into the waist, the sleeves of which were slightly poofy with fabric that was fitted from wrist to mid-forearm. Each sleeve had six rhinestone buttons that I believed to be diamonds. I’d mimic her movements as she applied makeup at her dressing table. Mom never left the house without mascara, a “happy” coral lipstick, and a hairpiece that gave her a glamorous bump at the crown of her head, with carefully styled tendrils framing her face.
These were the most important things in our house: books, reading books, and telling each other about the books we read. Every subject was acceptable, from architecture and philosophy to past life regression and hypnotherapy. Acquiring knowledge with an open mind to new information was of the highest importance, and mom made sure we were living right.
A big night out for the entire family meant spending a couple of hours at the library. My younger sister and I would excitedly run off to the children’s reading room, while mom and dad browsed other topics. At the end of the night, all four of us would have stacks of books to take home.
My mother Sheila, intellectual, bon vivant, raconteuse, died on December 3, 2012, at the age of 82. As some of you may already know, she was diagnosed with lymphoma about four years earlier. I wrote about it here: Birthday reflections: cancer, aging and mom.
She was a child of immigrants and grew up in New York City. My grandmother was a milliner (that means she made ladies’ hats, kids), working in Lower East Side sweatshops. My grandfather was a letter carrier, or as he would say proudly, “I worked for the United States government.” The arts were very important in their household, and grandma and grandpa frequently took my mother to galleries, museums, and Broadway shows (you could afford them back then). They saw the original cast performances of Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, The Pajama Game, and pretty much everything else. She saw Consuelo Velázquez (of “Bésame Mucho” fame) and Frank Sinatra sing in movie theaters before the feature started, when they were just kids starting out. She saw Martha Graham dance.
My mother was the first person in her family to receive an advanced degree. She graduated from Hunter College with a degree in English (she told me she used to do her homework at the Russian Tearoom), and she studied anthropology with Margaret Mead at Columbia University. Later she earned her Master of Library Science from Southern Connecticut State University. She described herself best when she said, “I am an information specialist. I know everything that anyone would want to know, and if I don’t, then I know where to find out.”
She was an animated storyteller, and very often our bedtime stories were about her adventures when she traveled Europe during the 1960′s to see the art and architecture that she loved. She preferred to just arrive at the airport in London, Rome or Paris, and minutes after getting off the plane she would ask a cab driver or newsstand proprietor to recommend a simple, clean room with hot water. She did all this without a travel agent or discount website. And then she met and fell in love with the handsome Greek sailor who would become my father. I had hoped to videotape her telling these stories, but we never got the chance; the end came too quickly. I’m still working on forgiving myself for missing that opportunity.
Although my husband and I begged her for many years to move in with us, she was ornery and refused until last July. The day she arrived at our house we sat in the sun reading aloud to each other, something we had done since I was a kid. That night she announced with a laugh that she should have moved in years ago, because our house was like a resort!
As I would get ready for work each day she would call out, “OK, let’s see what you’re wearing!” And she would make adjustments to my outfit during our morning fashion show: “Sweetheart, I like that necklace but not with that dress. I think we can do better. Now what about those beads you had on the other day?” She was always right.
And, she refused to compromise when it came to her own wardrobe, even if she was just slowly walking from the bedroom to the living room. One morning, mom glared with disdain at the shirt-and-pants combination that I had set out for her. “You want me to wear that?” she quipped. “I know I’m old, but I’d at least like to wear an outfit.”
I wanted to give her space, let our house be her home, and not make too much of a fuss over her, but within a few days of arriving she quietly asked me if I would “tuck her in,” when she went to sleep. I am so glad that she did. It became our nightly routine, and we shared intimate thoughts and talked about everything, often while watching whatever was on PBS, or taped episodes of “Honey Boo Boo.” She seemed to feel very motherish toward little Boo Boo, and she admired Mama June’s endless enthusiasm to create fun, inexpensive activities for her family.
A couple of months before she passed away, she asked if she could wear old T-shirts of mine to sleep in. She said it made her feel like I was hugging her all night. She began to cry when she said it, and then we had That Talk about death. She said that she wasn’t crying because she was afraid, but because she knew how hard it would be for me and that she hated to see me unhappy. She said that she was ready, and that I had to “let her go.” She didn’t know what was coming next, but she felt certain there was “something,” and that she was ready to find out.
I know that death is a right and natural part of life. I know that she lived a rich and full life. I know that she loved me. And, of course, I am glad her suffering is over. But none of that matters in the middle of the night when I am awakened by the distant sound of her voice calling me, and all I have is this aching in my heart and I want to scream to the heavens because my mother is dead. How can I be expected to know who I am or what I think or even what I want without her to help me analyze and prioritize and understand?
I want her here with me. I want the easy, fun-filled conversations that we had. I want more late-night giggling. I want to feel her adoring eyes on me, telling me that I am beautiful and smart. I want to listen from the kitchen while she and my husband watch programs set during World War II and she shares her memories of growing up in New York City during that time.
And I want to hear her say those things she would always say … about me: “You were a beautiful baby, a devil of a teenager, and now you are an angel.” … about her marriage to my father: “We all make mistakes. But you and your sister made it all worthwhile.” … and about what made life worth living: “Love,” she would say, “is all that matters. That and a good book.”
A few weeks after my mother died, a very dear friend of our family told me something mom had said to her one day while I was out of the room. My friend had recently lost her baby boy. Mom told her that as soon as she “passed over to the other side” she would make sure to look for him first. And that was so like mom, discussing her own death in a way that comforted someone else.
I have endeavored to make this blog a place where I celebrate the twists and turns that come in life, rather than complain about the things that I don’t have. Now that both my parents are gone, I am posting this to begin letting the light back into the place where I have only wanted to cry. I am so very thankful to have this outlet where I can share with you, whomever and wherever you are. (This is that moment at the party when the host gets a bit weepy because she really loves you, man. Really.)
Thank you mom, for telling me that it’s OK to stay at a nice resort as long as I leave the property a few times and meet the real people. Thank you for encouraging me to audition for plays even when I was terrified, and musicals even though I’m not that good a singer. Thank you for giving me curfews, not because you were strict, but because you knew I needed them. You were the best mom I could have had, the perfect mom for me, and I am grateful for you. I won’t say goodbye, because you are still with me.
My winner is Jennifer N. Yay! Congrats!
She will be hearing from the Weetacon administration very soon.
For a list of all of the winners please visit http://weetacon.com/igigi-at-weetacon-2013/
DISCLOSURE: The dress in this post was provided for review purposes by IGIGI. The content of this entry was not dictated by IGIGI, but I kept the dress for my personal use. Links to the IGIGI site in this entry are affiliate links for Weetacon.
I feel incredibly fortunate to know Wendy Bix. She is witty, beautiful, creative and inspiring. And, if I am smart, I make sure to board an airplane and get myself to the magical land of Wisconsin for the yearly conference she hosts/plans/organizes. She is a powerful women and so.
As in past years, those of us girls who are larger than a size 12 have the opportunity to receive an Igigi dress. In these pics I am wearing Sommer, in size 14/16. Since there is no standard sizing in women’s clothing lines I will share with you that I am 5’7″ and usually wear a 1X, or 16/18 in non-plus sizes.
I love the pattern, and I love the easy wearability of the soft stretchy fabric. I was a little nervous about the style because my boobs are rather generous (ok 42DDD), and I tend to spill out the top. I am thrilled that it fits in the front! I also really like the Shapestylist aspect of the Igigi website, which helps you figure out what size to order based on your measurements and body type. This was very helpful and as you can see, the dress fits like a dream. My one complaint is that it is a bit clingy in the back, but since I usually wear a body shaper under my clingy dresses it isn’t really an issue.
I do plan to have it shortened so that the hem rests just above my knee.
Now seriously go look at the other reviews! Go to our Weetacon IGIGI page. You should check out the all the reviews because once again there is a give away!
How to participate in the IGIGI Weetacon Giveaway: Go to the IGIGI website and pick out your ideal dress for a special occasion, important business meeting, date night or what have you. Then leave a comment on this review, telling us which garment YOU want and where you plan on wearing it. You can increase your chances of winning an IGIGI gift certificate by leaving comments on each of the other Weetacon IGIGI reviews at this page. Comments must be received by May 14 at midnight PST. Winners will be notified and announced on this page and the IGIGI at Weetacon 2013 page by May 18th
I have a love/hate relationship with fashion week. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend several exciting, glamorous Fashion Week runway shows over the years, not as media, but as somebody with friends who were in a position to put my name on a list. Thank you, you know who you are, and I still owe you a bottle of wine.
I really love the fashion shows. I love watching those lanky models pout and strut. I love the fantasy world created by theatrics and expensive fabric. I love the swag bags. And honestly, I have never felt upset about not seeing plus size models on the runway because I just enjoyed the show.
I do hate the extra mid-town traffic during fashion week, the (even more impossible) impossibility of getting a reservation at my favorite New York City restaurants, the photographers everywhere crowding sidewalks.
I arrived at the One Stop Plus show a bit late and while I would like to blame it on traffic, the truth is I left the house about an hour late. I believe that time actually moves faster when I am fretting about what to wear and what not to wear. I would like a phycisist to research my theory. Call me, ok?
Sadly I missed the champagne reception before the show but I was very pleased with the delightful staff who found my name on the list and got me to my seat. Thank you One Stop Plus for the excellent seat with a perfect view of all the models and right across from all the celebs.
I was directly across the runway and oh-so-close to KayCee Stroh of High School Musical (A movie I have seen several times because Zac Efron is dreamy. Yeah, I said it), Tyra’s Pick and America’s Next Top Model Whitney Thompson, the lovely and talented model (and quite frankly one of my personal style icons) Emme, the adorable and talented Nikki Blonsky, and the extremely talented Gabourey Sidibe.
Click on each pic to see larger version.
I will admit that I was a bit nervous that this was going to be a train wreck, and while I won’t go that far the best I can say is that One Stop Plus pulled off an entertaining runway show, which is truly an accomplishment. I can not say that One Stop Plus presented a fashion-forward collection but they did present a cohesive on-trend collection that featured cute separates and some evening wear.
The separates in the collection offered cute tops with shiny embellishments, while the pants shown on the runway had a lot of variety from fitted to draped fabric. Some of the evening wear was actually quite lovely. Many of the dresses featured goddess draped fabric, working the ancient Greek look without becoming too cheesy. Every outfit was perfectly accessorized and the models were gorgeous. From now on I will miss the presence of fuller figures in other runway shows.
One Stop Plus famously owns several plus size clothing companies while exclusively featuring size 0 and 2 models on their websites and in their catalogs. Seeing the amount of publicity gained I would say that this is a huge success for One Stop Plus. Whether or nor this is also an achievement for plus size fashion will only be clear in time. I am eager to see what happens over the next couple of seasons but I am feeling more optimisitic about seeing fuller figures on a runway, and having more designers include plus sizes, than I’ve ever been before.
Today I am pleased to present a dress review of the Igigi “Modena” gown. Igigi sent me this dress this past March to wear to a weekend party and I promised to provide a product review. They sent the wrong size for me but the perfect size for my sister Greek chick Jessica, and thank goodness it worked out this way because I love her writing. So witty! So descriptive! And so pretty in her new dress! Please take a moment and leave a comment for Jessica (by clicking the word “comments”) after reading and wish her a Happy Birthday while you’re at it.
My Horribly Overdue Dress Review by Jessica
Igigi “Modena” Gown
I guess it is every girl’s dream that eventually, one day, she’ll be Cinderella. A fairy godmother shows up, gives you an awesome dress and shoes, and lets you blow your house-cleaning responsibilities for a night of kicking it with Prince Charming. I never thought that at 31, I’d be a living version of Cinderella with TWO fairy godmothers and my big ball being bar-hopping until the wee hours of the morning in Green Bay in the dead of winter, but I also never dreamed that MySpace would become completely irrelevant.
I guess my story is one of being at the right place at the right time. The Tribe, as we call ourselves, was preparing for our BIG NIGHT OUT at the Bad Bar. Now that I’ve officially donned the title “Old Married Lady” for almost a year, I had resigned myself to wearing a fantastically low-cut sweater, tight jeans, and boots; gone were the days of Friday Night Fuck Me Pants and barely-there tops. I noticed a bunch of lovely ladies donning these gorgeous gowns (I had missed the e-mail to order one, it seemed), and I had a twinge of jealousy, but at least I would be snuggly and warm and non-descript as I guzzled my Schlitz.
Corinna was dashing down the hallway with this pretty dress in her arms looking for Mo. I couldn’t help but notice the ooh-ahh inducing royal blue color, the way the dress swayed in the plastic wrap, and I commented on it. Her eyes opened as she said, “WHAT SIZE ARE YOU?!?!”
Oh God. Because if there’s anything us women of heft don’t want to admit out loud, let alone to ourselves, is our weight and size. Corinna is the non-judgemental type, though, so I said “Um, 22ish.”
“Great! Take this! Have it!”
What? I am not the person who gets stuff for free. I was the girl on the college campus filling out credit card requests only to be told that today’s t-shirt/bobblehead/fleece blanket has been sold out, but would I finish my application anyway please? To have a gorgeous gown (“Look at this fabric,” murmured Corinna as she showed me the dress) handed to me was something I was admittedly skeptical of since I knew it wasn’t going to fit. It couldn’t fit. Could it?
My husband’s wolf whistle sealed the deal. “Wow, babe! You look amazing!” Indeed, the dress fit and looked pretty darn good. That is the magic of this dress, ladies.
I will say initially I was not a fan of the fabric; it’s a polyesterish blend. I thought for sure that I would sweat right through it leaving unsightly stains and even worse odor. Not only did I NOT sweat through this dress, but like Under Armour, it wicked the sweat away from my body! Magic!
Need further proof that this fabric is magic? Since I went out bar-hopping in this dress (I KNOW), I happened to be sitting on a table that an enthusiastic and drunk young man decided to stand atop of to lead everyone in inebriated song. You can see where this is heading: the entire contents of the booze-fueled table spilled and soaked my skirt. After a bit, I noticed there wasn’t a stain on my gown. Amazing!
About the fit: the dress is fantastic for the pear shaped among us who are not built like linebackers in the shoulder department but definitely are not lacking in the hip-butt-thigh area. The wrap top perfectly accents cleavage without constant nervous adjustment and embarrassing gaps. The skirt hides the flaws and accentuates the good parts of curves, without looking deliberately like it is trying to hide anything. I also had a very drunk lesbian loudly hit on me at breakfast at three in the morning, so win-win!
As for the negatives, if you are in the 5’6” range or shorter (like me), you will most definitely need this puppy altered. It dragged on the floor for the majority of the evening, despite me wearing super-high heels (courtesty of my second fairy godmother, Susan) and my best efforts to not let it hit the bathroom floor (gross). I found the sleeve-length to be flattering, but annoying. The dress also has a slight itch factor to it; I suppose the magic fabric cannot be perfect. All in all, I’m definitely looking forward to wearing this dress again, but not to bar hop in.
Recommended for: making your high school boyfriend jealous at your reunion, going to an opera, attending an awards banquet in your honor, hot role-play with the hubby wherein you play the famous Oscar-winning actress and he’s your bodyguard, fall/winter evening wedding.
Not Recommended for: a graduation party, (despite its ability to combat errant beer and booze spills) bar-hopping in Wisconsin, wearing to sporting events, spring/summer weddings.
**Since this dress is hanging in my closet, this counts as a compensated review. Thanks to the good folks at Igigi and The Tribe, and especially my fairy godmothers for making me oh-so-pretty!
Here is my video of my day at Playtex. Please leave a comment and share your bra shopping stories. Go and get your boobies a proper brassiere fitting and remember – point ‘em up and out to God!
Jennifer June you have really truly won a free bra from Playtex and A Celebration of Curves.
A great thing about being able to give things away is that it is really so much fun for me. Giving you free stuff makes me feel like a rich bitch. Another great thing is that I get to meet so many wonderful interesting people, some of whom are writing awesome blogs.
People you should go go go and read read read the witty writings of Jennifer June at her blog, The Lady’s Lounge.
So here is the bra dealio…the nice bra lady at Playtex asks that Jennifer June go to a store and get a free fitting. This means trying everything on. Because getting the right fit mean trying things on. There is a theme here (I think you can see it developing) involving JJ going to a store and trying on bras.
When she has a style and size that makes her happy and lifts her boobies up in that perfect shape that she has long dreamed of, she’ll let me know what she wants and she shall receive her free bra in the mail soon.
OK Lounge Lady – go get fitted.
Congrats and thanks for reading A Celebration of Curves, at least long enough to leave a comment and get yourself a free bra. Hey, that’s all it takes.
More contests coming soon!
Yesterday I went to the Playtex HQ in midtown Manhattan. A few months ago Playtex asked women to write in and say why they would want to win a bra makeover. 10 women from around the U.S. have been flown to New York City and this week they have been filming their “webisodes” showing them being fitted for their new bra wardrobe.
I was invited by Playtex to share their experience. The pic you see above is the contents of the goodie bag that I was given as a gift for participating.
Years ago I wrote off Playtex bras because I just didn’t think that they had anything for me. Yesterday I found out that Playtex in NOT your grandmother’s bra anymore. The fabric is very pretty but more importantly, gone are the bullet boobs.
Mary, the Playtex fit consultant (AKA “boobie expert”) worked with me for over an hour. We tried on lots of bras and working with the inventory that they had in the showroom, I found three styles that worked for me. There may be more Playtex bras that I could wear and I’ll go to Macy’s or Penney’s to try on more. Also, I am a 38 or 40 DDD depending on the style of bra because just like any other item of clothing, they are all cut differently.
Next week I’ll be posting a video of my time spent with Mary and we’ll share some important information on fit, style, and comfort. I even get fitted right on camera to show you exactly where to place the measuring tape. Until then, here is a video on their website to help get you started on the path to perfectly fitted bras.
And now for another giveaway! Please leave a comment below saying why you need a new bra. Winner will be chosen by a random method and posted here one day next week, probably next Thursday but sometimes I’m a day or so late with these things.
You can get fitted for a Playtex bra and Shop for Plus Size Women’s clothing at macys.com
Congratulations to commenter lucky 13 – rishabree has won the $100 gift certificate to Igigi. She has generously agreed to send in pics when her shopping arrives. I am looking forward to seeing her new outfit.
This is officially now the Summer of Contests! Another contest will be announced tomorrow.
Thank you to everyone who played along and posted a comment and a link. There will be many more chances to win something so stay tuned.
What a (mostly) fun week this has been! If you read my last post, Visiting the House of Igigi and a Contest, then you know I had dinner plans with plus-size fashion industry leaders, Lisa and Jim Dolan from Lee Lee’s Valise, and Yuliya and her right-arm, Ozlem from Lee Lee’s Valise. We ate a fabulous meal at Print restaurant, which is midtown on Manhattan’s west side.
As an aside at this point I want to say that I have received no compensation for telling you that I love eating at Print and I highly recommend it!
I consider myself very fortunate to have been a part of a wonderful evening of conversation. Professionaly, it is always a pleasure to spend time with business owners who care about the consumer. As a member of the plus size fashion industry, it is especially delightful to spend time with those who are dedicated to providing their customers with quality apparel, and an exceptional shopping experience.
When I left the restaurant I found that my car had been towed, even thought I had parked in a legal spot. New York City is a very exciting place and sometimes our Department of Motor Vehicles gets a bit over eager. I sat in the DMV impound lot from 1:00 a.m. until my husband could take a 6:00 a.m. train from Westchester to come into the city. He arrived at the lot a little after 7:00 a.m. Thankfully, he was very sweet about the whole thing even though he had to take a day off and make an unexpected early morning trip to NYC. I thanked him for rescuing me and he took me to breakfast. By the way, if you are married you might want to check and see if both your names are on the registration. It will affect who the car gets released to if ever impounded. I learned the hard way.
Yesterday I got back to having fun when, Yuliya Raquel and her business associate Ozlem Arpaci from Igigi visited Lee Lee’s Valise for the first time. Our day together was fun and educational. We discussed the plus size industry from our different backgrounds and business models.
After lunch, Lisa and I had the opportunity to give a very appreciative Yuliya some honest feedback about her clothes – giving her detailed information about what we like and what we felt could be improved.
I was even asked to model some of Igigi’s items so that Lisa and Yuliya could check how different cuts and styles worked on my body type.
My Igigi friends fly back home to San Francisco early Sunday morning and I will really miss them. Thank you ladies for a lively visit.