March 2017 | 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

March 29, 2017

GIRL ON THE GO

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Let's keep it real. For every "put together" outfit I strut down the street in, I have five casual ensembles waiting for me to slide into the second I get home. While I love, love, love my yoga pants and sweatshirts, I hate that everyone asks me if I'm on my way to the gym. UGH NO. 

So, lately, I have been putting more effort into my casual ensembles beyond just piecing together my favorite workout gear. Which is why Dressbarn's DB Sunday line is the spirit animal of my new, relaxed outfits. The DB Sunday's slogan is "Get cozy on the couch, and indulge in some much needed me time." While I'm all about having a lazy day and some extra "me time," I think the line also works well for those #GirlBosses on the go who also want to be comfortable.

You all know that I love anything that laces up (exhibit A: Lace-up leggings, B: Lace-up dress, and C: Lace-up blouse). So it comes as no surprise that I gravitated toward this DB Sunday striped lace-up top. The material is thick, stretchy, and comfortable, making it a perfect piece for a day of running errands. And this drawstring mini skirt—it's actually a skort, but you'd never know—gives me the boost of confidence and a playful edge that I need to kick start my day. I topped the look off with a denim jacket and some white slip on sneakers.


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Photography by: Ghaffar Gbenro





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March 25, 2017

SPRING SHOWERS


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So March is almost over, and I'm itching to ditch my winter coat and shed heavy layers, but living in Chicago isn't making the switch to spring any easier. One day it's 80 degrees and sunny, and the next day it's pouring rain and chilly. So what is a girl to do when she can't wait to embrace spring pieces while living in a bipolar climate? Mix the best of both worlds, that's what.

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I paired this belted ruffled floral dress from dressbarn with a wool blend long vest from Eloquii for a day out on the town after a rainy morning. As spring arrives, I face the same conflict every year: I wear so much black, and very little color (and you can definitely see that by scrolling through my blog). But I'm trying to incorporate more colors, and this dress is a step in the right direction. I love how this dress flows with the wind and sways with every step I take. It's a fun (and colorful) piece. I'm wearing a size 16, which is the size I usually wear in dresses, and the fit is perfect! The dress makes me want to go take salsa dancing lessons because I love the way it moves.

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I scored the wool blend long vest from Eloquii during one of the retailer's huge sales. While the vest is currently out of stock, you can shop theses similar vests: Alfani tweed open front vest, Tart Melva open front cashmere vest, Boutique + long vest.

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Photography by: Ghaffar Gbenro

Dressbarn sent me this belted ruffled floral dress to review. All opinions are 110% my own!
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March 23, 2017

THE WHITE BUTTON UP, WITH A TWIST


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As both a blogger and working professional, a white button up shirt is a go-to staple in my closet because I can dress it up or dress it down for multiple occasions. Lately, I have been dressing my white button ups with a black bow tie or a sharp blazer, but I wanted to try a different take on this all- time favorite piece. This Long Sleeve Off the Shoulder Twofer top from Eloquii caught my eye. The blouse got me excited about the off the shoulder trend—which is circling back this spring and summer—and the top also gave me a new way to energize the white button up look. I'm wearing a size 16, and I would recommend ordering a size larger than your usual fit as the top can run a bit tight. However, I can't wait to pair this piece with leather skirts, more ripped denim, and a sleek pair of black dress pants.


Meet Chardline, my style twin for the day, and the fabulous blogger behind Plus Size Beausion!


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I scored this Long Sleeve Off the Shoulder Twofer top during one of Eloquii's huge sales, but I wasn't alone. Fellow blogger cutie Chardline, of Plus Size Beausion, fell in love with the brand's Faux Bustier Wrap Dress, which also incorporated that white button up look. Naturally, we joined forces to show you how we spice up the white button up and incorporate it into our own styles. Chardline took a bold approach by topping off her look with this gorgeous, striped skirt—I DIG IT! See more photos of Chardline's ensemble, and get all the details of her look here: Now This is How You Shop an Eloquii Sale

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Peep (and shop) what else I got from this huge sale below:

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March 19, 2017

PREPPY DAYS

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Ever since I scored this knitted cardigan from Zara, I have been getting some major school girl/preppy vibes from every outfit I top off with the piece. The pink tones in this cardigan would usually push me away from the garment, but the way the colors worked together, it reminded me of a Chanel tweed jacket, and since the piece was on sale, I just couldn't pass it up. I love wearing the cardigan to work with a black blouse or this white button-up with a black neck tie. The sleeves are a little long, but I think that was the look Zara was going for. I like to roll up the sleeves to accommodate for that extra length and give the piece a different look.

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Photography by: Katherine Davis

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March 14, 2017

STITCH FIX GOES CURVY

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What a time to be alive, ladies! Stitch Fix, a personal styling service, just expanded their size range to offer up to a size 24W and 3X. So many retailers are now offering and extending their lines to include plus sizes, which is a beautiful thing! And I'm glad Stitch Fix is following suit.

To get my fix and celebrate Stitch Fix's progressive move, the brand welcomed me to create my own style profile and sent me my very first Stitch Fix box.

I started out making my style profile, which tells Stitch Fix about the trends I love, the price I feel comfortable spending for each garment, and my sizing and measurements. Then, Stitch Fix assigns me a stylist who studies my profile to learn what trends I am currently sporting, and they hand-pick clothes to send me once a quarter. For those girls who love fashion, but don't enjoy shopping, Stitch Fix is perfect for you. But even if you are an avid shopper—like me—getting a Stitch Fix box every once in a while is a great way to familiarize yourself with brands you may not always see during your average trip to the mall.

My two favorite things from my box were the blush-colored Pistola moto jeans and the open-back Colette blouse. I also received a blue tank top maxi dress from PaperMoon and some fun accessories. My stylist even wrote me a note telling me that they loved my blog and Pinterest account! I think I may have found my new clothing fix and a new pen pal! hehe!

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Photography by: Ghaffar Gbenro

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March 12, 2017

FINDING THE RIGHT PLUS SIZE SWIMWEAR


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When I was a teenager, my friends and I would frequent the water parks and beaches, and I always sported a two piece bikini. Granted, I was a lot smaller back then, but still heavier than all of my friends. The point is, I have never shied away from being in a swimsuit in public. Sure, I may have felt a little insecure standing next to my skinny friends, but nonetheless, I shrugged my shoulders and rocked a swimsuit.

Five-ish years and 80 pounds later, it was difficult to find swimsuits that were made for my plus size, curvy body. And it was getting harder and harder to go to a pool or the beach feeling confident and sexy.

I think the most common thing that most brands get wrong about plus size women is that they think we aren't proud of our bodies and that we don't want to show them off. Personally, I am always looking for clothes that hug every curve, and you'll never see me turn down the opportunity to wear a two piece bikini. But a lot of swimwear retailers that sell plus size swimsuits only offer modest one pieces, tankinis with shorts or skorts, and a bikini ONLY if it comes with high-waisted bottoms.

But I want to wear what my skinny friends wear, even when it comes to swimwear. And Swimsuits For All understands that.

From their partnerships with blogger GabiFresh and plus model Ashley Graham, their swim offerings have provided women of all shapes and sizes with edgy, sexy, and modern swimwear choices that any woman can feel proud and beautiful in. While I usually opt for a two piece bikini, this Boss Underwire one piece with lace up sides and an eyelash bra makes me feel even sexier than my usual swimwear choice.

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Every summer I make a pledge to embrace my body to the fullest. I tell myself, "Don't opt for the pair of jeans when you can rock a mini skirt, don't hide your stomach when you can sport a cute crop top, and most importantly, wear whatever the hell you want to the beach." I have seen women (skinny and plus size) feel self conscious about wearing a swimsuit out in public because they think people will judge them. I'm here to tell you that no one cares what you are wearing. And if they do, and go as far as to say something to you, THEY HAVE THE PROBLEM, not you! Everyone has some sort of insecurity no matter how small, tall, short, curvy, skinny, or full figured they are. By stepping out in a swimsuit confidently, you never know who you could inspire to embrace their body, too.

It's time to stop hiding. So will you join me in embracing your body and rocking that swimsuit you have always been dreaming of? You've got this!

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Photography by: Ghaffar Gbenro

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March 9, 2017

MY DIGITAL DETOX ROUTINE

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We are so connected to our phones, tablets, and laptops today because we rely on our technology for so much more than just communication. To add onto our technology addiction, many of us sit at a desk typing on a computer or talking on the phone from 9-to-five. Basically, we are inundated with technology and it can get the best of anyone.

I can feel myself getting overwhelmed a couple of times a month. And once I do, I go on a little digital detox! If you are on the verge of cutting all the cords, take a deep breath, and try out some of my most coveted digital detox tips.

Restore and relax your muscles: While I love my 9-to-5 job, it takes a toll on my body—mostly because I sit and stare at a computer for eight hours—and as a journalist with deadlines, my stress levels can rise rapidly. I recently found out about a new service called the "Digital Detox Massage," offered by George The Salon, located in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. Needles to say, I rushed to the salon to try it out after one of the most stressful weeks I have had at work in a while. The massage concentrates on the upper body for 25 ($75) or 55 ($120) minute sessions, working out the tension in the scalp, jaw, temples, face, neck, and shoulders, which often experience the most signs of pain and discomfort due to day-to-day technology use. The massage helped with my poor posture and hand, neck, and back pain that I have inherited from my desk job. Shockingly, I was even more stressed out than I thought as my massage therapist reminded me to relax multiple times during the beginning of the massage. And once I finally tuned out the stress of wondering who was emailing me right now and thinking about the projects I needed to finish first thing in the morning, the massage put me on cloud nine, and technology couldn't get to me! If you are visiting or live in Chicago, you can book your very own Digital Detox massage by emailing ask@georgethesalon.com or call 312 923 9444.

Keep Track of Your Media Consumption: Try keeping a "media journal.” I do this at work to increase my productivity. I only allow myself one hour of cell phone use in the office. So every time I pick up my phone, I log the time (more about this in the next tip) There are also apps like Checky and Moment that you can download, which help you keep track of how many times you check your phone. They also allow you to disable certain functions on your phone, which will ultimately keep you away from it.

Set boundaries: After you have realized how much you rely on your phone or other digital addictions by keeping track in your media journal or with the help of apps, set some realistic boundaries for your digital consumption. Don't try to quit cold turkey. Start with boundaries like setting your phone to Do Not Disturb at 9:00 p.m., disable social media notifications on your phone, or set a time boundary that you spend on your phone (like I do at work).

Disable social media notifications: When my Instagram started receiving a lot of traffic, my phone began to consume me. Every single like or follow notification I received, I looked at. However, I disabled both my Facebook and Instagram notifications so that I could focus more on work instead of picking up my phone every three minutes. Social media can also create a lot of FOMO (fear of missing out), stress, and tension in our lives. Disabling notifications can relieve a lot of the stress and pressure you feel from social media.

Get rid of the clutter: Similar to the way social media apps can pull you back into your technology love affair, emails can too. But how many of those emails are actually important and worth your time? Probably less than half. Go to Unroll.me to unsubscribe from all of those spammy emails you signed up for to get a discount or a free tanning session. Weeding out the emails you swipe to delete is actually a really refreshing project. And instead of the triple digit notification on your email app, you may only see double or single digits. What a relief! 

George The Salon provided me with a complimentary Digital Detox massage. All opinions are 110% my own.  


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March 5, 2017

GLOW

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I have been on the hunt for a whimsical duster that can be worn in an office setting, but also with an easy breezy ensemble. I finally found this beautiful blush-colored duster in Forever 21's plus section, and initially I reached for the military green color, but my BFF Katherine guided me in the right direction toward this one. In the name of versatility, I avoided the green. (I'm planning on going back to get it. Hah)

I have had this dress for two years now, and I will probably have it for more years to come. It's just such a classic piece, and surprise, it's also from Forever 21. I can wear this dress anywhere, though. I love the different textures and the flow of the pleated tulle, but the fit of the knit under skirt. It's flattering, but also has that intriguing movement to it.

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Photography by: Katherine Davis

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March 1, 2017

PRO-TIPS FOR NEGOTIATING LIKE A BOSS

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Every year, I celebrate International Women's Day with either a pedicure, massage, or my favorite dinner. But this year, I'm being bold for change, which is this year's International Women's Day theme. 

There are so many inequalities facing us today, and with the recent political state, it is more important than ever to stand together in our differences and lift each other up. The gender pay gap and inequalities women face in the workforce has been something on my mind lately. As a young woman who entered the workforce less than two years ago, I have had the chance to work with women from all backgrounds and skill sets. It's been so empowering to work with other women and learn from them, but it's also been eye opening to see the struggle some of us endure when it comes to negotiate  salaries, corporate contracts, or even new government policies. Recently, I psyched myself out for my first annual review at my job. "I'm going to ask for a raise AND a promotion," I told myself. Did I ask for either of those things? NOPE. Did I deserve those things? Unfortunately, I don't really know. I questioned my worth and work ethic and whether or not I would be viewed as too forward or entitled (something women often do). Even other women in my life questioned my motives and labeled it "ballsy." Speaking of balls, I have seen men in the workforce nonchalantly ask for a raise and a promotion without a doubt in their minds—even if their work ethic wasn't the greatest—and they get it. Every time. But women have a knack for creating mutually positive deals, so why do we hold back from negotiating?

To learn the reason behind this, I'll be tuning into a free webinar called Women in Negotiation on International Women's Day, March 8. You can register for the free webinar by visiting this link. I wanted to sit down with the webinar hosts Jill Campen and Violaine Galland, negotiation consultants at Scotwork North America, beforehand to chat about the gender pay gap and building negotiation skills. I also scored some insight on what attendees can expect to learn from this empowering webinar. Read my exclusive interview with them below!


Natalie: Why do women struggle more than men when it comes to negotiating for themselves?

Jill and Violaine: As negotiation consultants with Scotwork, we’ve observed hundreds of women over tens of thousands of hours of negotiating. Through this, we see common differences between how men and women negotiate. Both men and women leverage their innate personality traits to their advantage. For women, we tend to be more thorough and methodical in how we prepare for a negotiation. This means we typically have a greater depth of understanding of the issues than men do. Probably no surprise, we are usually better listeners and are better at picking up on signals from the other side. Lastly, we tend to empathize better with those that we negotiate with, which means we are more apt to understand their needs more so than our male counterparts do. These qualities make women very successful at negotiating win-win deals. However, women are more inclined to apply these skills when we are negotiating for or on behalf of others. On the contrary, we find that many women negotiating for themselves struggle to apply their innate talents and therefore struggle when negotiating for themselves. We believe this has to do with our cultural conditioning.

Our culture has taught women to be polite, to let others speak first, to show empathy and to create harmony in relationships. These are all wonderful qualities except for the fact that it has led many women to feel that they can’t pair these behaviors with assertiveness or boldness to go after what they want. The women who are assertive and bold are often labeled as “bitchy” or some other negative attribute that is not associated to male counterparts exhibiting the same behavior. This has conditioned many women to not be as assertive so they can avoid the unfair negative judgment.

How does this lack of negotiation feed into the gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap has been an issue that has plagued the US workforce for decades. This issue will not be resolved by just one solution. Eliminating the wage gap will happen by motivated business leaders, daring policy makers, and individual women standing firm on their rights and how they are valued in the workplace. For many women, it also means they must be brave and fight their own conditioning. 

As an example, some women have the learned behavior to defer. These women typically wait for others to tell them when they are ready for a raise instead of pursuing a raise. We may even tell ourselves that we don’t deserve the higher wage, or we are too hard on ourselves, or maybe we don’t meet every single criterion stated for a job raise therefore we don’t even try. Contrast that with our male counterparts, who statistically, tend to minimize the self-criticism or stated criteria for success and will more aggressively pursue a raise. Interestingly, “not deferring” is also a learned behavior.

What are some key takeaways women can learn from this webinar?

We are encouraging women to be bold in their negotiations and to be strong in ways that will allow them to achieve their objectives while receiving the same positive allocates afforded to their male counterparts. Major takeaways from this webinar are focused on helping women understand their strength and leverage—in other words, her power—and how to use it to her advantage. We will also discuss tips for overcoming fear of conflict or rejection and execute negotiations with confidence to get the results they want.

Why is it critical today for women to learn these negotiation skills?

Gender roles are slowly disintegrating. Cultural biases are shifting. Women hold power in business today more than they ever have. According to SUM180, almost 50% of U.S. women are now the family breadwinners. Negotiation is a key component to not only being successful in business, but also in life. We negotiate every day. Whether you’re negotiating a salary, corporate contract, or just buying a new cable package, negotiation is a life skill that can be learned an applied effectively when the proper tools are used. It is essential to learn negotiation skills to navigate the new economy.


Join me on March 8 at 2 p.m. EST for this free webinar and get a chance to ask Jill and Violaine questions of your own during the live Q&A portion of the webinar

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