2016 | Natalie in the City - A Chicago Plus Size Fashion Blog, by Natalie Craig
Natalie in the City - A Chicago Plus Size Fashion Blog, by Natalie Craig

A PLUS SIZE LIFE + STYLE BLOG

December 27, 2016

THIGH'S THE LIMIT

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Did anyone else hang up their winter coat over Christmas weekend to enjoy sunny skies and a warm(ish) Chicago day? As soon as I saw the forecast, which was above 56°, I committed to taking full advantage of the warm temps. What a true Christmas miracle!

I just got these knee-high/thigh-high faux suede boots from Fashion to Figure, but I haven't worn them out yet because I wanted to keep them safe from the snow. I believe these boots just sold out on Fashion to Figure, but I usually order wide calf boots from WomanWithin and Lane Bryant. If you are able to get your hands on a pair from Fashion to Figure, make sure you double check the size chart and measure your foot. These boots have a lot of room and stretch and they are very comfortable, but just double and triple check that you have the right size! I'm wearing a size 8. 

I originally planned on pairing the boots with a pair of jeans or leggings and a sweater, but I decided on a pencil dress topped off with an unbuttoned chiffon midi dress—talk about polar opposites. I have worn dresses and skirts with boots before, so I wasn't opposed to it. However, I was a little weary to wear a dress with boots that come up to my lower thigh. To my surprise, I think this look worked well, and I will totally sport it again—maybe not until late spring, though. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday. I'm looking forward to what the new year has in store! I know I'm not the only one who can't wait for that clock to strike 12.

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Photography: Ghaffar Gbenro

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December 25, 2016

SURPRISING THINGS THAT ARE SABOTAGING YOUR SKIN

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There are so many ways that you are putting your skin's health at risk without even knowing it. And to be honest, I am guilty of committing every single one of these skin sabotages. Check out these eight things that you have no idea you're doing wrong, so you can improve your skin's health and enhance your radiant glow.

Skipping meals: When you skip a meal, you deprive your body of the nutrients it needs to store energy. This can affect skin by making it look tough, tired, droopy, and even dry.

Too many showers: Soap, hot water, and too much exfoliation can dry out skin and strip it of its essential oils, causing the skin to wrinkle, crack, and dry out. A common misconception is that the more you wash your face, the less likely you are to breakout, but this is simply not true. Giving your skin a chance to develop its natural oils is key for great, healthy skin. 

Caffeine: Your daily cup of coffee could also be drying out your skin and making you more prone to wrinkles. This doesn't mean that you should quit coffee immediately. Just make sure that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day to balance your coffee intake. 

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December 18, 2016

LEATHER TROUSERS

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Recently, I have been trying to push the boundaries on the trends, styles, and garments that I wear—hence my last outfit featuring a piece of lingerie. I keep a mental checklist of which jeans flatter my figure best, the kinds of blouses that I should stay away from, and the shoes I feel most comfortable in. But to be honest, a wardrobe based solely off of what is comfortable can get pretty boring.

When I first saw these leather trousers from ELVI, a U.K.-based women's plus size retailer, I knew I had to have them. Although they were like nothing else that I had in my closet, I was ready to take on the challenge they posed—the trousers defy all of my rules for what not to wear. I paired the trousers with ELVI's black check top and I tapered the pants at the bottom to create a skinny ankle. All-in-all, this fashion risk paid off, and I have a new appreciation for pants that don't hug every curve.

I'm wearing a U.K. size 20 (U.S. 16) in the blouse and pants. Pants fit true to size, but the blouse runs small. I would order one size larger than usual for the blouse.

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Photography by: Ghaffar Gbenro


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December 13, 2016

BEAUTY PRODUCTS EVERY #GIRLBOSS KEEPS AT HER DESK

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Since you are most likely sitting at your desk right now, let's go through a little checklist to see if you have what it takes to make some power moves—in beauty, that is. When I look my best, I feel my best. Have you ever had a bra strap pop off or a pimple unexpectedly show up right before an important meeting or presentation? Ugh, I have. Which is why every #GirlBoss prepares for beauty mishaps by keeping these must-have beauty products at their desk.

Every boss lady keeps some sort of fragrance or lotion desk-side. However, spraying perfume can sometimes cause your coworkers irritation, which is why a solid perfume compact or roll on perfume, is the perfect, yet subtle, fragrance pick me up. Dab a little on your wrists or neck when you need a refresher, without your fragrance traveling through the entire office.

Have you ever looked down at your nails just before meeting a client, source, or your boss and noticed that your polish is chipped? Most people won't notice, but you would right? Keep unscented nail prep and remover pads in your desk drawer to freshen up your mani at a moments notice.


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December 11, 2016

LINGERIE STREET STYLE

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Ever since Khloe Kardashian stepped out in a lace bodysuit and a pair of jeans for her Good American launch in October, I have wanted to recreate the look. I've seen more women sport a lace body suit or lingerie piece with a pair of jeans or leggings, which I think is a pretty cool trend. But how in the world are you supposed to keep it all from falling out when rocking this trend—know what I mean ladies? Sure, Khloe Kardashian has a bomb fashion team ensuring that there are no nip slips or wardrobe malfunctions, but it's just me over here trying to manage the risk of wearing an actual lingerie piece out in public. 

For my take on the trend, I paired this plus size eyelash lingerie teddy with a pair of skinny black pants and a pair of simple black heels. I also topped off the look with this leather jacket and kept my accessorizing down to a minimum. But like I said, I worried so much about support and coverage for my "gals." I tried pasties and I even thought about sewing a nude-colored patch into the bracelet part of the piece. None of those methods really worked out, though. So, I ended up wearing a nude push up bra, which obviously worked out with some patience and constant adjusting. While I love this look, it's not very practical. I think I might just leave it to the pros / Kardashians on this one.

I will say this though: This lingerie piece is stunning, sexy, and suits its main purpose!

I bought this plus size eyelash lingerie teddy on AliExpress. When purchasing things from AliExpress, check the sizing chart before you place your order. I am usually a 1x or 2x, but this piece comes from China and the sizing is usually way off. I ordered a 5x, and it fit perfectly!

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 Photography: Ghaffar Gbenro


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December 8, 2016

ASOS DEBUTS MEN'S PLUS SIZE LINE

This may come as a surprise to most of my readers—as it was once a surprise to me—but a lot of my readers are men. Whenever I meet plus size men who are familiar with my blog, they always ask why I don't talk about men's plus size fashion, and I don't really have an answer for them. I have always put the topic to the side and labeled it as "someday," but I think now is a great time for me to start catering toward my male readers—especially with this exciting news.

ASOS, an online British fashion and beauty retailer, has launched a men's plus size line. The ASOS expansion includes T–shirts, jeans, sweats, button-up shirts, and sweaters ranging in sizes (UK) XL-XXXXL. The line also covers a wide range of styles and tastes. Get a first look at some of the pieces below!

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ASOS PLUS Regular Fit Western Checkered Shirt
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ASOS PLUS Jersey Bomber Jacket in black






















ASOS launched it's women's plus size section "Curve" in January 2010. In 2014, ASOS saw a 132% increase in new product arrivals compared to 2013, and the line remains to be widely popular in the plus size community.

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December 4, 2016

SUN KISSED

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We just got our first snow fall here in Chicago, which is probably why I am scrolling through some of the outfit photos I took while on vacation in Orlando, Florida last week and wishing I could go back to warmer weather.

I wore this twist cocktail dress from Kiyonna, a women's plus size boutique, out to dinner while I was on vacation, which my boyfriend totally loved (shocker). The dress pushed me outside of my comfort zone a bit just because it isn't a style or color of dress that I'm usually attracted to. However, I couldn't resist the sexy shoulder and neckline details. The twist dress also enhanced the sun kissed look I scored at the pool earlier that day. 

This is the last summer look post I will be publishing for a while since Chicago will be blizzard-like for the next seven months! So prepare to bundle up with me for some cozy and cute winter looks. But for now, let's just savor the warm and carefree vibe of this beautiful dress! 

I'm wearing a 0x. This dress does stretch so I ordered two sizes down from what I usually wear to ensure a tighter fit. 

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 Photography: Ghaffar Gbenro

Kiyonna sent me this dress to review. All opinions are 100% my own. 

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December 2, 2016

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

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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.

But why do I care? There are so many plus size boutiques and retailers that now offer lingerie, yoga pants, sweatshirts, bras, and panties for full-figured women. It's not like the community has a demand that isn't being met. Well, I care because it's 2016 and the largest lingerie fashion show to exist is the least bit inclusive of multiple body types. Also, the brand that has been known to set the tone for what is "sexy," is leaving out the average American woman—who is now a size 16.

Why isn't Victoria's Secret trying to be more inclusive during a time when most brands aim for that goal? This is my theory: Maybe Victoria's Secret is sort of like Vogue. While Vogue's competitors—Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, and Glamour—are more relatable to the majority of women, Vogue retains fantasy, which makes it all the more powerful and elite. Although the "every girl" can't relate to the pages of Vogue, she dreams of it, and Vogue makes the big bucks off of those sold dreams. Vogue doesn't care to cater to the "every girl," and it doesn't have to. It will always be the bible of fashion and every girls' fantasy—until it isn't. And maybe the only reason Victoria's Secret doesn't dabble in plus size lingerie is because it doesn't have to. The Victoria's Secret models on the runway will always be "goals." Maybe Victoria's Secret thinks women will always be chasing after the body type that they deem to be "sexy"—that is, until women decide to reject unrealistic body and beauty standards.

From a business standpoint, I don't quite understand how a brand like Victoria's Secret could snub their nose at the plus size clothing industry, estimated to be worth more than $17.5 billion, by the way. But it's their loss.

The bigger loss is that the majority of women—a size 14 or higher—are being told that they aren't sexy enough to stand next to their skinny counterparts during the most anticipated lingerie fashion show of the year. What a shame.

Victoria's Secret has no problem accepting my money for their perfume and make up, but when it comes to lingerie, bras, and panties, my money is no good. I hope that changes one day, not because I can't find clothing and lingerie that makes me feel sexy, but because this world is moving toward more acceptance and inclusiveness, as it should. And if Victoria's Secret doesn't, I'm sure it will come back to bite them. Just look at Abercrombie and Hollister, they are comparatively not doing as well as Forever 21 or H&M, because unlike their competitors, Abercrombie and Holister have continued to ignore the plus size customer.

Victoria's Secret is obviously missing out on a huge opportunity to expand their customer base and, most importantly, the opportunity to help women and other brands change the way society sets beauty and body standards.

Sexy has no size. Just so you know, Victoria's Secret.

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November 29, 2016

MY FLORIDA GETAWAY


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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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Photography: Ghaffar Gbenro

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November 23, 2016

LONGLINE BOMBERS AND WOOLLY MAMMOTHS

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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.

I'm wearing a U.K. size 20 (U.S. 16). The bomber fits true to size. 

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November 19, 2016

MY THANKSGIVING RECIPE HACKS


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)

Ingredients:
  • 1 can Pillsbury biscuits
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bag pecans 

Gadgets:
  • Basting brush
  • Baking sheet
  • Pairing knife

Instructions:
  1. Remove biscuits from can and place on a greased baking sheet. 
  2. Cut six slices around the dough leaving the center of the biscuit intact and uncut. Repeat with all biscuits.
  3. Poke one pecan deep into the center of each biscuit.
  4. Melt butter in microwave for 15 seconds or more. Then, brush each biscuit with the melted butter. 
  5. Sprinkle each biscuit with a little bit of salt. 
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown. 



SWEET POTATO MASH
with cinnamon pecan maple syrup 
(Serves four)


Ingredients:
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1 can whipped cream
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup 
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar


Gadgets:
  • Potato masher
  • Whisk
  • Potato peeler
  • Mixing bowl

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes and rub with olive oil.
  3. Bake sweet potatoes for an hour, or until sweet potatoes are soft inside. 
  4. Put both potatoes, butter, and brown sugar into a mixing bowl and mash while hot. 
  5. Heat a small skillet on low heat, add maple syrup into the pan, and bring to a light boil. 
  6. Add pecans and cinnamon to the skillet and whisk sauce together. 
  7. Add sauce onto each individual serving of mashed potatoes, or serve on the side. Top mashed potatoes with a dash of whipped cream.

MINI CHICKEN POT PIES
(Serves two)


Ingredients:
  • Refrigerated pie crust 
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 chicken breast, shredded
  • 1 can cream of potato
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package mixed frozen vegetables

Gadgets:
  • Two medium ramekins
  • Basting brush
  • Baking sheet
  • Mixing bowl
  • Fork

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  2. Grill, bake, or boil chicken until fully cooked. 
  3. Shred or pull apart chicken and set aside.
  4. Roll out the refrigerated pie crust into a circle. 
  5. Melt butter in the microwave for 15 seconds or until completely melted. 
  6. Brush ramekins with melted butter, and line them with pie crust. 
  7. Prepare the filling by combining cheese, cream of potato, chicken, vegetables, garlic, and salt into a mixing bowl and stir. 
  8. Pour mixture evenly into pie crust-lined ramekins. 
  9. Roll out more pie crust into a circle and layer it onto of the pie. 
  10. Press a fork on the top edges of the pie crust to join. 
  11. Poke four small holes in the center of the pie. 
  12. Brush the top of the pie with butter. 
  13. Bake for 45 minutes or until crust is golden.



PUMPKIN PIE BITES
(Serves eight)


Ingredients:
  • 1 Pumpkin pie 
  • 1 can of whipped cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 

Gadgets:
  • Small- to medium-sized cookie cutter 

Instructions:
  1. Use cookie cutter to create mini pumpkin pie bites.
  2. Top the bites with a dash of whipped cream and cinnamon.

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