NATALIE IN THE CITY - A Plus Size Fashion Blog, by Natalie Craig

IT'S 2016 AND VICTORIA'S SECRET STILL DOESN'T OFFER PLUS SIZES

December 2, 2016

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Photo by: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
I have never watched a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, and I'm not going to start this year.

Victoria's Secret just wrapped the filming of its annual fashion show, and social media channels have been flooded with leaked images and behind the scenes footage. On Dec. 5, more than 10 million viewers will huddle around their laptops or TVs to watch it.

I have never watched the show simply because the brand doesn't cater to my body type. It's just not for me, and that's fine. But a friend and I were talking about whether we were going to watch it this year when my friend said, "I'm surprised they haven't put Ashley Graham on the runway  yet." I was surprised, too. But even if the brand wanted to appeal to and include different body types, it couldn't.

It's 2016, and Victoria's Secret still doesn't sell panties beyond a size XL or bras beyond a 38 DDD, and the company's Pink brand only sells up to a size large. A March 2016 Business Insider article said there may be a good reason why Victoria's Secret hasn't ventured into plus size pieces: Each lingerie size group requires a separate factory and set of patterns. So what they are basically saying is that, "It's more complicated than you think." However, that excuse doesn't explain why the Pink brand only carries up to a size large even though the clothing under that brand is mostly yoga pants, sweatshirts, and underwear.

MY FLORIDA GETAWAY

November 29, 2016


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It's been getting pretty chilly in Chicago, so I was really looking forward to a break from freezing my socks off every day with a trip to sunny Orlando, Florida. My boyfriend and I booked the trip in September, and figured that it would be the perfect time to make a break for it. We were both feeling drained and ready for a vacation. It was our first time traveling together and we didn't kill each other—so that's a plus. I am usually a solo traveler, so traveling with someone else always makes me worry what the outcome will be.

When we got to Orlando, we almost instantly felt relaxed as we walked the streets in search of Cubano sandwiches—we are obsessed with the movie Chef. We knew if we didn't enjoy some authentic Latin flavors while we were in Florida, we would regret it. So that was the first thing we did. We found Cuba Libre, an upscale Latin restaurant, and totally over indulged from drinks to desserts.

We stayed on International Drive, which proved to be so much cooler than Downtown Orlando. We designated a couple of days of our vacation to do nothing but lay out by the pool. We visited Universal Studios, the Florida Mall, and the Orlando Eye. And I got to break out some of my favorite summer pieces to sport, naturally. This outfit was one of my favorites!

Both the black maxi skirt with a slit and the lace up blouse are from Forever 21. I bought them last summer, but Forever 21 still sells variations of both styles. I will include shopable items at the bottom of the post!

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LONGLINE BOMBERS AND WOOLLY MAMMOTHS

November 23, 2016

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I'm a huge fan of bombers, but as the temps drop, I need a little more coverage than my go-to cropped bomber jackets. Which is why I scooped up this Rita Longline Bomber from Pink Clove, a U.K.-based plus size retailer. I like to keep my outfits simply-colored, so the nude tone with black trim really appealed to me. I also love that I could throw the bomber over an all black outfit to break up the dark tones.

And now, I am going to contradict my previous statement about "simply-colored ensembles" with this Beasts Small Wristlet from Coach above. I lived life on the edge—in my terms, at least—by choosing this mustard-colored wristlet over the black version of it. While my outfit falls in line perfectly with what I usually wear, I love that this wristlet is so unexpected. I mean, it has a freaking Woolly Mammoth on the front of it! The wristlet is from Coach's new Rexy line, and I have to say it has become my new favorite thing.

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MY THANKSGIVING RECIPE HACKS

November 19, 2016


Since the holidays are just around the corner, I am partnering with Meijer to share my favorite Thanksgiving recipe hacks, and the kitchen gadgets that make them possible!

Thanksgiving can be stressful time that even has top chefs scrambling to cook, craft, and perfect their version of a holiday feast. But this Thanksgiving, I am going to make sure that nothing stands in the way of enjoying the holiday, while putting my own personal touch and twist on some traditional Thanksgiving side dishes and deserts.

But every accomplishment starts off with a good plan. So I took a trip to Meijer to stock up on ingredients, kitchen gadgets, and appliances to put me on the right track. Some of my must grab items were Kitchen Aid mixing bowls, measuring cups and sppons, a whisk, a potato peeler, and a wire masher. I also picked up a Nordic Ware baking pan, a Farberware pairing knife, Pyrex bowls, an adorable kitchen timer, and a sillicon basting brush. 

Find out how these kitchen gadgets play a main role in my favorite recipes and desserts on Meijer Style!  
 
PUMPKIN BISCUITS 
(Serves six)

MAKE A SCENE

November 14, 2016

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Would you believe me if I told you that a company that made tractors and rugged work boots also made a trendy line of lifestyle shoes? Well, prepare to believe me.

Many of you may or may not be familiar with the brand Caterpillar. Growing up in Idaho, I saw the brand and its products across many cornfields, farms, and wide-open land. But I never thought I would be sitting down for brunch and endless mimosas at one of Chicago’s hottest locations with a tractor manufacturer. But here I was.

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Cat Footwear—Caterpillar’s shoe line—is hitting the road this season with the Make A Scene Tour to celebrate the launch of its Fall/Winter 2016 collection.

The Cat Footwear team invited me and other Chicago bloggers to the Chicago stop of their tour at SoHo House for brunch. I also got an exclusive look at Cat’s rugged boots for fall and lightened up textures and styles for spring that offer protection from unpredictable elements. 

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I scooped up these Cat Coax boots at the event, and I fell in love with the unexpected comfort of the high wedge and the durability of the boots in rainy conditions. The fold down ankle also makes this boot versatile as it offers a two different looks in one shoe. See how I styled them below!

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MY FAVORITE FALL OOTD

October 31, 2016

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This is the first faux button up shirt and blouse look that I have tried, and I really have come to like the trend. The top is from Suzy Shier, a Canada-based women's clothing brand with an amazing curvy collection called "Curve Appeal." The blouse is very versatile so I usually wear it with jeans or leggings, but I wanted to switch it up for this blog post. If you are also falling for this blouse, take a look around Suzy Shier's online store and Curve Appeal section, and treat yourself to 15% off your purchase with the code: "15SUZY" Check out my other favorite blouse from Suzy Shier here: Ditching Class

Now, my bag is one of my favorite things. Recently, I was in the market for a new, black, small purse or clutch—and I was willing to drop some MAJOR dough on it. I went to the Gilt City Chicago Warehouse Sale a couple of weeks ago with the hopes of finding the perfect purse. But I had no such luck. Just a day later, I stumbled upon this gem in TJ MAXX, and I thought, "Oh my gosh, this bag looks so expensive, and so perfect." I cringed as I looked for the price tag, but as I flipped over the tag, I realized it was only $35, and there was a girl standing behind me waiting for me to put it down so she could claim it. Needless to say, I ran to the register so fast. I have included some similar bags and pieces of my outfit at the bottom of this post for you to shop from. You can shop all of my looks at the bottom of each post. If you can't find a piece that I am wearing, email me at natinthecity@gmail.com, and I will try to help you find it!

Lastly, I get so many emails asking me where I find the perfect, wide-calf, knee-high boots. I get it, the struggle is so real. I bought these wide calf, knee-high boots from Comfortview on WomanWithin.com, but they are $50 cheaper on Amazon! They come in black, grey, brown, and beige, and I own all four pair. I LOVE them.

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I NEVER THOUGHT I'D SEE THIS DAY



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As some of you may have noticed in the past couple of months, I have been working very closely with Meijer. I have spent time in a variety of their stores here in Illinois, and I have even visited their headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During these visits, I met with the company's style and merchandising team who have repeatedly expressed their devotion to offering stylish, on trend, and affordable plus size clothing. They said "style at every size" was one of their top priorities.

But today, they announced that they are getting rid of their plus size section entirely. That's right. The Wall Street Journal broke the news, and I couldn't be happier. You may be asking yourself, "Wait. Why?" I'll tell you why: Meijer is eliminating their plus size section because they are integrating it into all of the other sizes. YES. In one rack, you can find dresses, shorts, and blouses, whether you are a size small or a 3X. Plus size women can now find clothes that fit them and make them feel beautiful alongside their straight size counterparts. 

There are currently 15 Meijer locations with size integration, but each of the retailer's 230 stores will become fully integrated by early 2017.

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I have expressed my wishes for this to happen, and I have been very vocal about it and how brands should not turn away the plus size customer or make them feel secluded or isolated. It makes no sense to me why a brand can make clothing in an extra small, but can't simply extend those sizes to include plus size women. Instead, most brands create a plus size section devoted to full-figured women, and oftentimes, these plus size lines are way behind the trends and don't provide plus size women with what she WANTS to wear. As a full-figured woman (and I have been all my life), I have always wanted to wear what my slimmer friends were wearing. I didn't want to shop in the dark corner of the store where clothes seemed more like pajamas. But now, I can shop with my friends and with EVERY woman, thanks to Meijer.

You guys, I am absolutely beside myself, and so proud to say that I know and love Meijer to the moon and back for this. I hope that other retailers and brands will follow suit, because THIS IS THE FUTURE. My goal as a blogger is to bring light to these issues and inequalities that plus size women face in the fashion industry. One day, when I have a daughter of my own, I hope she gets to grow up in a world where she is encouraged to love her body and wear whatever she wants because the media, society, and trendy retailers aren't telling her that she shouldn't.

Thank you Meijer, for leading the way and for truly making a dream of mine come true. 

"This inclusive approach in women’s apparel places sizes S through 3X on the same rack, so our customers who wear plus don’t need to shop a different area of the store. As part of this initiative, Meijer is also rolling out equal pricing for women’s apparel items. Plus sizes will no longer cost more than straight sizes, despite the higher production costs. We’re making this investment so all customers can have access to on-trend fashion at the same price. We’re making this investment because it’s the right thing to do. We believe that friends and families should be able to shop together, in the same section, no matter their size." - Meijer

THE BLANKET SCARF

October 27, 2016

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Fall is officially here, and I couldn't be happier! But to be honest, it's a little colder in Chicago than I remember it being last year, and I hear we are in for quite a chilly winter. To prepare for the low temps, I have started to embrace the "blanket scarf." 

This scarf can be wrapped, tied, and worn in so many different ways because it's literally a blanket. When I first tried the scarf on, I wasn't sure how I could work all of the fabric in with my day-to-day looks, but I decided to try. I got the scarf from Meijer when I was in Grand Rapids visiting the store's headquarters. The rest of my outfit—minus the knee-high boots—is also from Meijer. I have always wanted a fitted pair of military green skinny jeans, and I snatched them off the rack as soon as I saw them. Also, this sweater caught my eye since I am known to opt for a sweater with cut-out shoulders or holes opposed to the usual look. 

Lastly, you will never find me without some knee-high boots on during the fall and winter months. I bought these wide calf, knee-high boots from Comfortview on WomanWithin.com, but they are $50 cheaper on Amazon! They come in black, grey, brown, and beige, and I own all four pair. I LOVE them.

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COLLEGE FASHION WEEK RECAP

October 20, 2016

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I jetted over to Chop Shop in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood for Her Campus’ College Fashion Week show on Saturday night. Upon arriving to the butcher + deli + restaurant + bar, my first thought was that I put the wrong location into my Uber app. However, behind counters and refrigerators of butchered meat and a crowded bar, was a bright room and a handful of beautifully dressed girls.


It was the second College Fashion Week show that Her Campus has put on in Chicago. The first one was fun and exciting. But I knew this show was going to be one for the books as I slipped my VIP badge over my head and saw the runway crowded with some of my favorite brands. I walked away from the show coveting some goodies from these brands including a Fitbit Flex 2, a bottle of RiRi by Rihanna from Perfumania, a Rebecca Minkoff clutch, and more—can you say, “Score?!”

3 INGREDIENT CHOCOLATE PROTEIN POWDER PEANUT BUTTER CUPS + FITBIT GIVEAWAY

October 17, 2016

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For a little over a month now, I have replaced my breakfast with a chocolate Shakeology super food protein shake. I love all things chocolate, but the shakes were starting to taste a little "blah." However, Shakeology makes me feel energized, focused, and curbs my bad cravings throughout the day, and it also helps my hair and nails grow quickly. So I knew I couldn't just quit drinking it.

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Instead of tossing the shake to the side, I decided to add some banana and a scoop of peanut butter to my shakes, and it was life changing. I have the 30-day bag supply of Shakeology on auto-ship toward the end of every month, but I often find myself with product left in the previous bag when the new one arrives. So I started thinking of ways to incorporate Shakeology into other meals throughout the day. My first Shakeology spin will be these chocolate peanut butter cups, made similarly to Reese's peanut butter cups. This recipe is easy to make, and only calls for three ingredients: peanut butter, chocolate protein powder, and coconut oil. And since we're being healthy with this recipe, I thought I'd throw in a little giveaway for a brand new Fitbit Flex 2. Follow me on Instagram (@NataliexCraig), and tell me why you'd love to win a Fitbit Flex 2 in the comment section at the bottom of this post! I will be choosing a winner randomly on Friday, Oct. 21 at 12 p.m. CST. Now, let's get to the recipe, shall we?

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The recipe is rich and tasty, even though real chocolate isn't used. If you don't have Shakeology on hand, you can also use any other kind of chocolate protein powder instead. This recipe will make eight servings—depending on how thick you like your peanut butter cups to be.

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First, start by melting four tablespoons of coconut oil in the microwave. Then, mix two scoops of Chocolate Shakeology or protein powder in with the melted coconut oil, and stir very thoroughly or blend. Since protein shakes can be a little powdery or gritty, stirring this mixture well is important to get a smooth texture for your peanut butter cups. After your chocolate coconut oil mixture is ready, line a muffin tin with muffin liners. Then, pour a thin or thick (totally up to you!) layer of the chocolate mixture into each muffin liner.

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