I Found the Gown

Soooo, quite a bit of exciting stuff¬†has been happening in the Powell household over the past few days. First off, Sunday night was Yelp’s Fire & Ice Ball, the HUGE 1000+ person event that I’ve been planning for the past couple of months!

It was, in a word, AWESOME. So many amazing businesses were there offering delicious food, sips, hair styling, massages, tarot card readings, painting classes, and more. Entertainment ranged from a string quartet to a rockin’ DJ to parkour performances to a FIRE DANCER (true story!), and it was just an awesome, awesome time.

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Did I mention it was awesome? ūüėČ

Plus, in addition to getting to promote awesome businesses from all across Northern VA, we raised almost $3500 for the SPCA of Northern Virginia!

And as if surviving¬†throwing Yelp Northern VA’s¬†biggest event of the year wasn’t enough excitement for one week, a couple of other fun things have been happening around the Powell household. For example…

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I am super happy to announce that my sister, Jen, is pregnant again! My beautiful niece Mia is going to be a big sister (to another little girl, yayyyyy!) come the end of August/early September, and our family could not be more thrilled.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen that Jen and Mia are in town visiting, so we were¬†finally were able to snap a photo¬†of this adorable pregnancy announcement. And by “we,” I mean, Ben, our brother and actual professional photographer. I call the above¬†photo, “Skeptical Mia.”

A picture from tea on Thursday that Jenny wouldn’t let me post on social media because she hadn’t officially announced yet, haha.

I’ve actually been trying (and probably failing) to keep this news under wraps since DECEMBER, if you can believe it. My family all found out about Jen’s new bun in the oven when we were down in Macon for Christmas. I KNOW. Clearly my sister does not share my desperate need to¬†put my entire life up on the interwebs in realtime, haha.

Speaking of which… the third piece of exciting news from the past few days is that… I purchased my wedding dress!

Spoiler alert: this is NOT my dress, hahaha. Fit & Flare = not my friend.

Unflattering silhouettes did not stop me from finding The One, and I totally said yes to the dress. And my credit card statement next month will remind me of it dearly, I’m sure.

Now, let it be said that I did not PLAN to have my dress be the¬†first¬†thing that I’d be crossing¬†off my wedding checklist. After all, I¬†haven’t even chosen¬†my¬†wedding venue¬†yet (I’m pretty close to making a decision though), which means I¬†technically don’t even have a date yet (although I’m pretty sure what it’s going to be.)

So, yes, I know that venue/date is usually the first (and, um, most important) step in wedding planning. But¬†I really wanted to go dress shopping while my sister was in town, given that she’s my Matron (ha!) of Honor and general goodtime bestie.

My dress shopping entourage: Taylor, Jen, Anne, and my fabulously hatted mom!

So, we crammed in various bridal appointments over a few days before the Fire & Ice Ball took place, and I tried on a LOT of dresses. Turns out that while I do have a particular style I gravitate towards, within that style I basically like everything. So making a decision was actually very challening for me! Anyway, after I was able to try on all the dresses I was interested in (and I was interested in a lot of them, bahaha), I agonizingly narrowed it down to a couple of top contenders. Then, after the madness of my Yelper Party had died down, I went back to the bridal salon to finalize my decision!

I plan on going into more detail about my whole dress shopping experience later (I have some tidbits to share on what it’s like to go dress shopping as a plus-size bride, how my embarassing love for all things wedding¬†kept me from having what I’d considering a¬†“traditional” dress shopping experience, and how I didn’t have a “this is the one” ugly crying moment… well, not at first, anyway) but for now, let us just rejoice in the first official wedding decision having been made!

It works out that I took care of this early, anyway, since my dress is going to take up to six (SIX!) months to come in. Womp womp. At least I have lots of beautiful photos of it to keep me warm at night, right?

So, there you have it! Quite some exciting happenings, um, happening around these parts lately! And they’re just going to keep, er, happening, because this weekend I’m off to Texas for Sean’s cousin’s wedding in Dripping Springs (between Austin and San Antonio, as I understand it).¬†The first wedding I’ll be attending as an engaged lady!

The rehearsal dinner is taking place at¬†The Salt Lick, which is a famous BBQ place that Sean has¬†literally been telling me about since we started dating. Needless to say, I am PSYCHED about that (pre-wedding diet, what?), oh yeah, and I guess there’s also the whole meeting the rest of Sean’s family and going to a celebration of love thing. ūüėČ

Hopefully I’ll get to check in here again before I leave for the Lonestar State, but either way, I’ll see you soon!

My Body, Dressed My Way (Giveaway!)

Hi my internet loves. I know I’ve been MIA for the past couple of days (not that this should really come as a huge surprise to you all at this point, of course), so I think a proper “hello” is due! So, I received a lot of questions about the lace dress I wore to my¬†extravagant¬†birthday dinner¬†that Sean treated me to last Thursday. And I held off on answering those questions because I actually had a very specific post in mind in which I would talk about it.¬†I actually had planned on posting about it Tuesday, but in light of the tragic events in Boston, it just didn’t feel right doing so. I still don’t really feel “right” about posting, but I missed blogging, and I missed you guys, and shocking though it may be to hear, my¬†Hunger Games birthday party¬†wasn’t the only thing to happen over the past week.

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That’s right. MELTED CHEESE AND FLAMING CHOCOLATE HAPPENED, TOO.

What was I talking about? Oh, right, the dress.

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To preface this, let me say that despite my 60-pound weight loss… and then 15-pound weight gain… and wherever exactly it is that I’ve landed now (I’m admittedly a little scared to weigh myself after my birthday dinner AND Melting Pot date with Aileen¬†and Ai Rei¬†AND¬†birthday party–hahahaha,¬†weight loss blog, schmeight loss blog) I have always had a fairly defined body type. Whether at 250 pounds or 186, size 20 or size 12, plus-sized or straight-sized or somewhere in the great unknown between, my general body shape has stayed pretty much the same: hourglass, with large ladies on top, wide hips, and a soft belly.

That’s me. And it’s taken a long (long, long, long, long) time to come to accept that. To accept the fact that no matter how much weight I lose or how thin I get, my body is probably never going to look like Rachel Bilson’s or Mischa Barton’s or, well, I’m not sure why I’m using actresses from The OC as the golden standard of ideal bodies, but you know what I mean. I’m not lean and lanky, I’m not slender and willowy, I’m curvy and tall and thick and–short of being seriously malnourished–will likely always be this way to one degree or another.

Now, let me be clear that I am not complaining about this fact. Not anymore, at least. Sure, I may not have a flat stomach (I cannot even tell you a single period in my life where my stomach has EVER been “flat”) or “thighs that don’t touch”, but even at my current weight, I can still appreciate my body for the things it does have. The things that some other women probably complain about not having. Boobs. A butt. Height. Long legs. A defined waistline, even if it’s got some extra padding around the front.

All that said, being comfortable(ish) with my body does not mean I wake up every morning with a huge smile on my face, thinking, “Oh! Glorious day! I feel beautiful beyond compare!” Accepting that my body is the way it is does not equate to having full, unbridled self-confidence. It does not automatically mean I feel beautiful and put together 100% of the time. It generally takes at least a modicum of effort on my part to feel confident and sexy in my own skin, and to achieve this, I need to ensure I am wearing clothes that A) fit, B) flatter, and C) I actually like. With an always-changing body that most definitely does not conform to Hollywood standards of beauty, this is not always an easily accomplishable feat.

To satisfy the A) criteria, I first have to accept that the size label on the inside of my clothes means NOTHING. Far more important than the actual number, is how the clothing fits. But, of course, that’s not always an easy pill to swallow, especially for those of us who have long equated clothing size (in addition to the scale) with our self-worth. But a size 12 is not a size 12 is NOT A SIZE 12. And because they’re all jerks, J. Crew and Old Navy and H&M and Loft and NY&Co and Forever21 all have very different ideas of what each size means.

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Sized up to 14 for this dress. Also, BAM. See what I mean? There’s no denying them curves. Oy.

Sometimes this works in my favor, like when I’m in the dressing room and I realize I need a smaller size, and suddenly all I want to do is announce to ALL THE NAKED LADIES in the dressing room with me that I can wear a size M sweater. Buuuut more often than not, it means that I have suck up the fact that I might need to size up, but that doing so does not make me less of ANYTHING.

To satisfy the B) criteria, I need to embrace clothing that flatters the body type I talk about above. This means getting over the fact that there are certain fashion trends I cannot pull off (farewell, sack dresses), and getting INTO the ones I can (like anything that belts at the waist).

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So while I absolutely love the blue Calvin Klein empire waist dress that I own (and wore to dinner with my two Ais on Friday in the pic above), I have to admit that it doesn’t really do much for me. It makes me look wider and thicker than I am, which, in turn, doesn’t make me feel great about myself when looking back over these pictures. Although, given the amount of melted cheese we consumed, I maintain that wearing something loose at the waist was probably a good call, purely from a practical standpoint.

Which brings us to point C): finding clothing that I actually LIKE, in addition to fitting and being flattering. I know, right? How much more can I possibly demand of the clothing industry?! Back when I was larger, I would settle for clothing that wasn’t particularly appealing all the time, simply¬†because¬†it fit. Did it matter that I didn’t particularly care for those colors? Did it matter that it pinched my underarm a little, or wasn’t the right length? Of course not! It fit over my head, it zipped up, it buttoned. That was the only thing that really mattered, because surely I didn’t deserve to actually feel fashionable or cute or sexy or beautiful. It didn’t matter that the clothes might not have been my style, or even that I HAD a style (which, if you were wondering, falls somewhere in the vintage/romantic/feminine/preppy aesthetic… I think). No, I just needed to find clothes that fit, that were more socially acceptable than the XXL hoodie and stretchy pants that I really wished I could have been wearing.

NOT ANYMORE. Enter, my newest closet acquisition:

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Shabby Apple I’m Late! I’m Late! Navy Lace Dress

Shabby Apple approached me asking if I would be interested in hosting another giveaway for you guys. (I held one waaaay back when that ended up being quite popular, for good reason!) I told them that I absolutely was interested, as long as they were comfortable with me using the giveaway as a means to open up a discussion on what it means to try and dress for your body type. Thankfully, they were MORE than on board, and let me pick a dress from their site to illustrate my point. I ended up choosing the I’m Late! I’m Late! dress from their Mad Hatter Collection (best collection ever, amiright?) and am could not be more pleased with my choice.

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Given that I’m not 100% happy with the weight I’m at right at the moment, this dress made me feel elegant and beautiful, while also making sure I didn’t feel self-conscious about the way my arms looked thanks to the lace sleeves. Cap sleeves tend to be a larger-armed girl’s worst nightmare, and it’s really difficult to find a vintage-style dress without them, so at least these had the extra covering too. The cut of the dress nips in at the waist while skimming over my hips, which is my ideal silhouette. I received SO many compliments on this dress! (It comes in purple, too, just saying.) In my opinion, this is very much a dress that exemplifies all three criteria: it fits, it flatters, and I don’t just like it, I LOVE IT. (It is just a smidge longer than is ideal for flattering my legs, but I think it’d probably be easy enough to hem up the lace on at the bottom.)

So now is your chance to find something that makes you feel equally as good! I’ve got a $50 Shabby Apple giftcard to give away to you guys, and all you have to do is…

1. Like Shabby Apple on Facebook.

2. Leave a comment back here telling me something you’ve learned (or are learning) to LOVE about your body!

That’s it! I know this is pretty much old hat by now, but I like giving you guys as many opportunities to win as possible, so–as always–extra entries are given for liking HISTG on Facebook, following me on Twitter, and tweeting/posting about this giveaway. Just makes sure you leave separate comments for each one, and in order to win you MUST like Shabby Apple’s Facebook Page. Unfortunately, this giveaway is open to US residents only.

ETA: I’ll be picking a random winner on Wednesday, April 24th! Sorry for forgetting to mention that little nugget of crucial info, ha!

Fashion Friday: Lady in (Too Much) Red

So I was all set to do yet another holiday fashion post for you all, focusing on what I wore for Sean and my big cheese-y Melting Pot NYE date. Since, you know, the holidays are a pretty fabulous time to get all fancy and take advantage of my extreme vanity. (You know, the kind of self-obsession that propels me to post photo after photo of myself during these so-called “Fashion” posts every couple of weeks, hahahaha.)

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But as I opened up Lightroom to edit this batch of portraits, something struck me. A pretty intense wave of deja vu. Almost as if I’d seen something oh-so-similar before.

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Dress: BCBG Max Azria Outlet | Boots: Sole Society

But where? Where, oh where, could I possibly have seen this before?

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Oh yeah.

Untitled Work Hard, Play Hard

And oh yeah… and yeah.

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And ohhhhh… yeah…

Haaaaaaahahahahahahaha. Okay, just one more, I promise:

Granted, this picture is from my sister's wedding in 2008, but I just thought it helped make my point nicely. Plus, recognize anyone familiar in the wedding party? Hehe.)
Granted, this picture is from my sister’s wedding in 2008, but I just thought it helped make my point nicely. Plus, recognize anyone familiar in the wedding party? Hehe.)

So, yeah. Kinda taking that whole lady-in-red thing literally, am I not? I’m thinking this is probably a trend I should take a break from. Embrace some of the other wonderful colors in the spectrum, you know?

Back when I was in high school, I made this sweeping declaration (since you all know how much I do love to make sweeping declarations) about how my signature color was going to be orange (mainly because every other girl I knew was obsessed with pink and I wanted to be different), so I made a point to wear an item of orange clothing, or an orange accessory, EVERY SINGLE DAY THEREAFTER.

Unsurprisingly, there are very few photos of me from back when I was in high school readily available on the interwebs (remember when we only had ONE computer for the whole family to share?! Oh, those were dark days indeed) but if you look closely at this random picture from, oh, I dunno, 2002? that I found on Facebook, you can see my super sweet orange Hawaiian-patterned halter top buried under my sister's head.)
Shockingly, there are very few photos of me from back when I was in high school readily available on the interwebs (remember when we only had ONE computer for the whole family to share?! Oh, the dark days!) but if you look closely at this random picture from, oh, I dunno, 2002? that I found on Facebook, you can see my super sweet orange Hawaiian-patterned halter top buried under my sister’s head.)

Until, you know, I came to my senses… eventually.

2005. I still have that jacket.
2005. I still have that jacket.

Thankfully, that obsession with having a signature color has faded, but OBVIOUSLY there are still certain colors that I tend to gravitate towards more than others. I’ll work on broadening my color horizons for my wardrobe’s sake though, promise. (And in other news, that is probably the most vapid-sounding thing I have written/spoken/thought in a long time, hahahahaha.)

Are you/have you ever been the same way? Do you have a favorite/signature color — whether it’s purposeful or accidental?

Holiday Fashion

So you guys know how I’m a little crazy about Christmas, right?

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Okay, good. I won’t need to go into an explanation about how I bought an entire outfit solely for the purpose of wearing it to the 10 PM Christmas Eve service. Which basically meant I wore it for these pictures, and then an hour of sitting in a pew singing carols. After which, I promptly shed it and put on my Christmas jammies. Hahahahahahaaaa.

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Yes, yes, I know how silly it is to buy a brand new dress (and shoes) for something like that, but it just seemed so lame not to have something new and pretty to wear as I rang in Christmas! And hey, at least I get a fashion post out of it, eh? Also, it should be known that I bargained-shopped for these beauties. The dress is from the Anne Taylor LOFT outlet and was over 50% off, and the shoes were on sale at DSW. Bangarang.

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So, there you have it: my Christmas Eve outfit 2012. Santa, perhaps you should have brought me a few more holiday events instead of my beautiful new ice cream maker, seeing as how I really need some more reasons to wear this gorgeous dress before the year is through. Red can totally be a New Year’s color too, right? Right???

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See? Crazy person. *bows*

I hope you all had an absolutely wonderful holiday! Full Christmas recap to come soon.

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Peace, love, and schnauzers,
Gretchen

Fashion Friday: Peacocking

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The title of today’s post has its obvious relevancy to my outfit, yes. But before I get into anything else, I would also like to point out the other source of its inspiration: this scene from Seventeen Again starring my boyfriend Zac Efron. You’re welcome for that little snippet of joy on this Friday morning.

Aaaanyway, moving back onto the actual topic of today’s post, the inspiration to start doing fashion posts of my own came from 1) being incredibly self-absorbed and 2) following a few too many actual fashion blogs. Reading fashion blogs is simultaneously helpful and disastrous for me, since it has helped me define my own style (feminine, vintage, hipster, twee?) but also makes me want to buy ALL THE CLOTHES.

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This dress, in fact, was discovered on Dorothy Perkins, a UK-based clothing company that I had never even heard of before seeing a different dress (which I also bought, haha) on Girl with Curves. Ah well, at least this particular site doesn’t run me a zillion dollars. I think this dress was $69.00 and I had a 15% off promo code, plus free shipping, and they are ALWAYS running sales and promotions. (Note: even though it’s a UK company, they use US sizing and pricing on their site as long as you make sure you’ve indicated “United States” as your region.)

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Dress: Dorothy Perkins (no longer in stock, but same print here and here, and same silhouette here.)
Shoes: Nine West (old)
Eelskin Clutch: gift from parents
Pearls: gift

This is my ideal look for a nice date night. Maybe to take in a show at the Kennedy Center, maybe have dinner at a nice restaurant… with a fantastic and colorful print like this, I try to keep everything else pretty minimal. No flashy bangles or giant rings this time, just a long string of pearls (it can be worn as a double-strand as well), and some neutral heels. I would normally have gone for a neutral bag as well, but the colors of the dress just happened to match up so wonderfully with the eelskin clutch my parents brought my back from one of their overseas trips that I couldn’t resist.

Here’s hoping that I have an opportunity to actually wear this outfit sometime soon, eh? (Hint hint, Sean ;)) Have a fantastic weekend!