Garment of the Week

Our latest weekly blog special is our Garment of the Week.  Each week here at Diva Central, we will choose a garment that stands out to us.  It might be a personal favourite of ours, one we’ve had great feedback on, or something that we think will suit an upcoming event or season.  

plus size Felicity dress

We are pleased this week to be featuring the Felicity Dress

This popular dress is a classic design and has a flourishing print which makes it perfect for summer BBQ’s or lunch with friends. It can be styled different ways, and comes with a black snakeskin-look belt to toughen up the pretty print.  It is fully lined and has an A-Line skirt. 

plus size

As our Garment of the Week, for every order of the Felicity Dress, we will also give our customers a free $25 Gift Certificate.

Conditions of Special Offer
Offer is available until Sunday, 13th November 2011 AEDST.  Orders must be purchased via Credit Card, PayPal, or Direct Deposit and is not available to Lay-by customers.  This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other current special offer.  These goods are subject to the  current Style & Substance Returns Policy.

A message to our Divas

Hello beauties, I realise that (for most of use) we only connect here on Facebook and may well go our whole lives without meeting. As the owner of Style and Substance, I strive every day to present to you a positive spin on life and to embrace and love the organically beautiful woman you are.
Today I have been accused of pretending to have a mental illness, and of all the accusations that can and have been made about me; I have never been cut so deep as now. So, today and yes, even after a cute post I recently made about selecting outfits for a weekend I have been reminded more than ever that you should not judge a book by its cover. I suffer clinical depression, and some days to get out of bed is more than I can possibly bear – what drives me, is that perhaps today might be the day, that someone buys a dress from me that changes their life and helps them to realise just how wonderful and unique they are.
That is all I can manage right now, just remember to love yourself first – you are the most important person and should be the most cherished person in your world. 
Kxx

Discover Australia in Style

“I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!”

This sums up South Hedland the place where I live, it’s harsh climate and hot, hot summers, it’s scorching red soil and balmy nights, a place with wide open spaces and amazing natural landscapes.  South Hedland is part of the Pilbara and more affectionately referred to as “the engine room” of Australia. We have a massive mining industry here, predominately salt and iron ore.

But a short six-hour drive north of South Hedland is beautiful Broome and its amazing sunsets and sandy white beaches …. or a seven hour drive south to the Ningaloo reef and the gorgeous Coral Bay.

So living in a town that is so hot, dressing during the summer means looking for clothes that are light and airy ….. and this is where Style and Substance is my friend.

And looking through the assortment of beautiful summer clothing on offer at Style and Substance, I couldn’t go past the gorgeous Santorini Sunset Tunic. What a perfect addition to any Australian women’s wardrobe.

This beautiful tunic made of a light and breezy multi coloured chiffon fabric is so versatile it can take you from day to night with just a few adjustments.

Melanie at the stunning Coral Bay with her Santorini Sunset Tunic styled in one of the six possible ways
Melanie styling the Santorini Sunset Tunic at the Esplanade Hotel, teamed with black capri pants

From the morning rush of getting four children ready for school, and not much time to really get dressed myself, I would slip on a pair of Oasis Cropped pants in a nice Khaki colour with the Santorini Sunset Tunic, wearing it with both sleeves over my arms. Perfecting the modern mum look with a pair of strappy sandals or ballet flats. And a simple Boho gold beaded cuff to complete the look.

The beauty of the Santorini Sunset Tunic is it is extremely versatile, allowing one to wear it, one shoulder, strapless or over both shoulders covering your arms, depending on the wearer’s preference

Another outing, another style. Melanie at Bloomoons Restaurant, Port Hedland

The Santorini Sunset Tunic is a winner when attending a luncheon or a movie at the local Matt Dann Theatre. A pair of Oasis Cropped pants in a conservative black with a pair of coloured espadrilles, wearing the tunic over just one shoulder and teaming it with the gorgeous ‘Bella Donna Gold Earrings’, sure to be a head turner at any event. And whilst the temperature is rising in the afternoon Pilbara Sun, the Santorini Sunset Tunic is so light and airy you will feel cool and comfortable no matter what the temperature.

An evening out at the Bloomoons Restaurant in Port Hedland or a day at the Port Hedland Cup ….. the Santorini is your answer. With balmy 25-degree summer nights, wear the Santorini Sunset Tunic as a strapless, and team it with the elegant Mon Cheri Skirt in Black. Pop on a pair of your highest silver platforms and the divine ‘Metropolis Necklace Set’ and you are ready for a gorgeous evening out.

The Santorini Sunset Tunic is REALLY that easy and versatile, not only can it take you from day to night, it can also take you from season to season.

A purchase wisely made, is to invest in this beautiful addition, with its light fabric, explosion of colour and versatility it will not disappoint.

Post by Melanie Pritchard. Photos by Geoff Pritchard from Golden Orb Designs

The Other Side of Zero

Before this journey began I need to fill you in on my life’s journey… I have Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) an autoimmune disease which in the end… if it wins… will see me replacing my heels for wheels. So I intend to adventure before dementia! So what’s this got to do with my recent travels and you? About 2 months prior to leaving my PsA flared which leaves me immobilised and in severe pain. Alas part of the treatment was Prednisone or steroids. Those you who have had the joy of this drug know where I’m heading… The ups and downs, the rage, hair that grows where no hair has grown before and so should not in any woman! and yes of course the weight gain! In 2 months I had gained 27kg … An all time weight record for me and surprisingly a whole new world.

Never being a slight creature I have always had the philosophy of plenty more numbers on the scales. Well this experienced challenged my philosophical attitude to my weight! I had crossed that great barrier….. The zero on my home scales! Who knew that was even possible? It had never occurred to me that I could weight beyond my bathroom scales! Obviously I have met people who do this but it was a first for me… And surprisingly I had to deal with a first…. a non fat world!

I have never been challenged by my weight… I’ve had it all my life and I am comfortable with my body but for the first time these numbers (or lack of them) seemed to bother me. Added to this was the new world order that comes with an extra 27kgs… my clothes no longer fitted! Underwear became my enemy… I felt like an 18th century woman in a corset as my bra enveloped me as if a python was slowly crushing the life out of me… Even my beloved shoes had joined in… Squeezing my feet till the pins and needles made it harder to walk than normal.

So embracing my new girth I just went shopping… Plenty of more dress sizes right?

Oh how wrong could I be!!! A usual size 20 but now a 24/26! What a rude awakening to find that regular shops don’t stock many of these sizes… Even the fat shops! Oh and the choice or lack of it!!!! What was I to wear on my journey? Fortunately S&S to the rescue… here size doesn’t end at a 22!

But this was just the beginning of my journey. My suitcase was now fuller and heavier than ever before… My clothes were bigger so they weighed more! I had to pack emergency clothes in my hand luggage cause if my luggage went missing where would I buy new ones in my new size?

Then came THE plane… The look of fear in fellow passengers eyes… Please don’t let her sit next to me!!!! As I struggled to fit up the aisle without swiping everyone as I passed. As I squeezed into my allocated seat then came the next issue – What a shock to realise that plane seats in economy don’t come in plus sizes!

Working out new laws of physics on where best to accommodate my mass as I the struggled with the seat belt! To the apparent amusement of the flight attendant I was asked “do you need an extender?” (hmm seafood extender would be nice but I’m trying to fit into my seat belt!). Nodding in complete ignorance an extra bit of belt arrived… You know the ones they give to parents with kids sitting in their laps…. Yes my waist was now 1 adult and 1 child! And didn’t the size 2 flight attendant let me know that by that subtle yet very real body check!

That all settled and I sat in quiet though about this experience…. I knew I’d put on a few kilograms but the impact in to the everyday world I never expected. The looks by strangers, the condescending help from staff and the overwhelming feelings I’ve never experienced before…of being fat!!! I always knew I was fat but now I felt it!

Next came dinner…. Oh dear the tray table doesn’t fold down…. My belly’s in the way!!!! Working out how to balance my meal tray in turbulence without the tray was only part of it. I now became the fat entertainment on the plane…. Fat chick juggling food! I am “so” only flying business class from here on in!

As I began my journey the world of the under zeros emerged! Bus seats were too small to have my Dad sit next to me, looks at the buffet and dessert bar, seats in cafes and restaurants needed assessment before I sat down. I found the extra walking challenging in the heat, even going to the movies became interesting. Shopping in the bazaars and souks even surprised me… “sorry nothing in your size” or if I did, well it cost a fortune… “need more material because of your size!” Even the jewelry didn’t go around my neck or wrists and forget about bangles and rings! And then there were the comments from other passengers…not to me… but to my Father who was travelling with me… “pity about her weight” or “she’s a big girl isn’t she!”

Interestingly… when they learnt my new shape was from medication their attitude changed.

And that’s when I decided to write down my experience… why do attitudes change about weight if there is a societal approved reason? Was I not the same person a moment before? Why did an explanation change your attitude and perception of me?

I have never thought about being larger than usual and it was very interesting to walk in the shoes of others. It made me question if, even as a size 20, did I too look at the “plus 0’s” differently? Did I consider myself the thin one? Did I participate in the looks of disdain that other’s fleetingly give as a “plus 0” walked by? It really made me think!

As my medication has changed and with a slight modification to my diet, over the past few weeks I have been fortunate to shed a few kilos; I’m now returning to my size 20 world, however being a “plus 0” has been a life changing experience for me, and one that I do not think I can, or would actually want to, forget.

The Gift

plus size clothingThis week has been full of gifts. Some were expected and others were true gifts…

A gift by definition is the transfer of something without the expectation of receiving something in return. Although gift-giving might involve an expectation of reciprocity, a gift is meant to be free.

My gifts this week included a great lunch with my work colleagues – the gift of their friendship and laughter, a special something extra in a package – the package I expected –  the extra – the gift! An old friend rediscovered on face book, the baby guppies in my fish tank and oh yes! my new house cleaner. What a gift HE is! There was also that large package from the Style and Substance plus size boutique that gave me the feeling of Christmas as a kid!

One of the greatest gifts I received this week was from a complete stranger. I was sitting eating lunch in a food hall of a large shopping centre and she came and sat next to me. As my eyes made contact with hers I saw in them an exhausted worn out woman who seemed lost in the world enveloping her. I smiled at her and she smiled back relieved that some one in this world noticed her existence. I could see the joy of this simple act to her. We often don’t acknowledge people who transit through our day but the smile I received back was a gift in its self.

To me a gift is a souvenir of life exchanged by those who are important to you and it doesn’t have to be tangible!  It can refer to anything that makes the others around you simply happier and can include concepts such as forgiveness and kindness including compliments.  We are not always great at accepting these gifts nor are we great at acknowledging them!

We often take our lives for granted… we ignore the simple joys and focus on the dramas and the negativity that comes with living in today’s world.

When was the last time you stopped to smile at a stranger, smell that flower which grows just for you in the garden, or really appreciated the person who watches you as if you were the only thing in the world?

I know gift giving can be hard…not everyone likes your choice of gift and many are never unwrapped, some even try to return your gift for something else. But as the old cliché goes… its better to give than receive. I guess the important thing here is that gifting starts from within and it becomes contagious.

Be kind to yourself that way you will know how to give kindness to others, embrace your imperfection – it makes you unique and often mysterious, package the gift well – everyone loves a well wrapped gift with that pretty paper and matching ribbons and bows. Be confident that you can choose the perfect gift.

You see I think we are all gifts just waiting to be given… wrap yourself up as a present and share yourself with others and don’t forget one of the best bits of giving is the receiving!

So simply go and smile at a stranger – you never know it may be me!

Reflections From Society’s Mirror

A few weeks ago I participated in a discussion on Facebook concerning tattoos… and the social impressions and values placed upon those who participate in body art. It was quiet a heated debate… both the for’s and against! It was interesting as I never really given much thought to tattooing… to me it was a personal choice, one I’d never do, but it is a growing trend. But it did challenge me to think… did I have a preconceived idea about the person behind the tattoo? Does a tattoo represent the person in the best light? What image are they projecting to society? Do I succumb to the projection? Would I hire or deal with a heavily tattooed person?

As the debate raged I considered this from a point of view closer to home… if this is the reaction to tattoos, then is this also the case with plus sized people. So I asked the question to this debate… How then do you perceive the obese, and their choice of clothes – essentially our “fat tattoo”?

Well I was astounded by the reply, enemies became friends and joined forces to denigrate the plus size:

“They are ‘lazy’”
“No reason to be fat in today’s society”
“They dress ugly to hide the fat!”
“Not worthy of pretty clothes until they lose weight”
“The darker the better”
“I always get the fat sweaty person sitting next to me”

Even the words such as “stupidity” were used!

Whilst I support a healthy lifestyle with a well balanced diet and exercise, I am one of the many who, no matter what I do, remain plus sized. So, to society, am I lazy and stupid, have no reason to exist and should be denied the opportunity to look pretty?

Is the way we dress – especially in the plus sizes – one big tattoo to society?

Do we get to choose our fat fashion tattoo from the current fashion suppliers or are we made to dress this way due to lack of choice. A choice, allegedly based on supply and demand, but from where I sit, I see more demand than supply.

The answer is apparently YES! It would seem that the plus size population are nameless and faceless creatures that are to to dressed based only on accessibility not personal flair or preference. To be plus size, is a social taboo, and to encourage the plus size person to present themselves to their very best potential, is to encourage and condone being overweight or obese!! How many times have you had the choice of two garments for that special event and compromise on the one that looks better but just isn’t right. Why do we do this – because there is no where else to go unless you are talented enough to sew or create fashion marvels with garbage bags.

I disagree with the value society places on body image (and sport for that matter but that’s a whole different blog!). Bodies, no matter how slender, toned, or muscular, are all imperfect, yet the obsession with physical presentation in our society has gained a momentum of its own. It’s all about how we look not who we are on the inside. I have to ask should we be reinforcing that system? I like to think that the human race is still evolving, moving toward a more sophisticated means of assessing one’s value to society, but for now it stands. Society has conformed to push us into target markets so we can be sold things more easily. I can’t help but be a victim at times – societal conditioning is that strong, it’s that pervasive. It’s everywhere! I believe I dress appropriately for the time and the place, while not losing my personal flair. Quite a challenge for plus size gal!

My point here is that anyone, no matter their shape or size, should be able to wear whatever they love and find flattering garments, without judgment or ridicule by society. I reject those arbitrary standards. I reject the imaginary line between “normal” size and “plus size”. These archaic concepts trap us, and constrain us. Why are my fashion choices so different from the “thin” ones in society? I think by taking a stand we can slowly re-adjust the thinking.

We all have the right to be unique. Criticism by society is just a way of disempowering you and putting you back into the round hole they like us to be in. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you look like, how much you earn, the colour of your skin or what gender you are – you need to feel liberated and comfortable to be you! We now have a choice! A chance to stand out, to be fashionable, comfortable, feminine and unique! So embrace society full on… be stylish, dress to impress, feel the inner glamour everyday. Don’t subscribe to the fat dark side…show your coloured plumes!

Let me promise you one thing. I will NEVER stop being visible, online and offline because not only do I have a right to visibility, but I have the right for it to be be loud, multi-coloured, glam and fully coordinated!

In the words of one of my mentors, Aunty Mame…

Life is a banquet and most of us are starving to death… don’t forget to go back for seconds… life is too short not to have the cream!

Don’t Look at Me, I’m FAT?

Inside me is a girl dressed in her fairy dress with sequins, tiara sitting proud, high heels on, wearing my mother’s perfume and lipstick – bright red of course. I am cute as a button and just a little chubby, but that’s okay for now, no one else seems to mind.

Today, when I look into the mirror, I see an accomplished woman, well-educated, well-traveled and living life to the full; I am fit and healthy – I just happen to be a size 20. To me, this size means very little – it is merely a gauge for shopping convenience, however in a society where age, gender, sexuality, race or religion can no longer be used to define my abilities, I am constantly amazed that I am judged by my dress size.

My dress size dictates what I wear, how I wear it and even the activities that I am allowed to participate in. Why? I am so much more than the label printed on the inside of a garment! I want to wear pretty, stylish, feminine clothes that define me as the woman I am, not the number printed on a label. It is bad enough that I am relegated to shop in the back corner of the department store, you know somewhere in the far reaches of the men’s or children’s section; or worse still, next to maternity wear. Ignored and lied to by shop assistants, I have had to learn the secret fat code for sizes and am greeted in-store with names like “big girls” clothes, “larger than life”, “big is beautiful” – cliché after cliché meant to flatter and entice me to buy?

The general expression of disdain on the faces of sales staff in mainstream fashion stores clearly indicate that I’m supposed to only go into a fat store when shopping whether alone or with my mainstream-sized friends, but even while I’m in these stores I feel I must hide the dress tag so not to be embarrassed by the number.

My garment choice is available in only two colours; the essential black and formal black; my fabric options are stretchy, crinkly, layered and clingy. Executive work wear and formal attire merge into a convenient all-in-one figure-enveloping tent-like ensemble, designed to ensure I merge into the shadows and remain relatively unobtrusive. My heart breaks for the plus-size bride…you actually dare to think you can get married dressed as the bride of your dreams?

To society I am an invisible, obese 40+ de-sexualised being who lacks self control, and is eating herself into an early grave;

“Oh but what a pretty face! If only you could lose some weight!”

This is the well-meaning phrase, spoken by friends that I know by heart; they should know better.

ENOUGH! Its time for fat princesses like me to be heard, its time for action! I refuse to buy one more poorly made, ill-fitting, over-priced, mass produced garment; I want to be able to shop for variety, style, fabrics, occasions, the gym and swimwear with out the looks; I want sales and new arrivals, I want colour! I want to have it delivered to my door!

Well Ladies… it is time for us to shed our nylon layers and be seen! It is time to accept your inner goddess and dress her as she deserves. Over the past few years a group of visionary, international designers have realised the demand for accessible, quality, affordable, stylish and fashionable plus size clothing.

Style and Substance has recognised the need for these clothes to be available in Australia and now brings to our doorstep, an amazing collection of princess and goddess wear made to fit my personality, my lifestyle and me.

I am beautiful and I have curves. I have style and substance! And guess what… so do you! Put on your party dress and shoes and remember what it feels like to be a princess… tiaras are optional!