Plus Size Fashions

Universal Standard Alex Waldman Polina Veksler Interviews Style

Universal Standard Is Breaking the Plus-Size Industry with Their Beautiful Clothes

Before an event, Universal Standard cofounder Alex Waldman lamented to her friend Polina Veksler: “I have nothing to wear.” Puzzled, Polina wasn’t convinced that such a thing could be true for someone within such close proximity to Fifth Avenue. But really, Alex had nothing to wear.

“I think that’s when the penny dropped for Polina,” Alex says of her Universal Standard cofounder. “Non-plus women don’t know how difficult it is to find decent plus-size clothing.” The two friends decided to take action by creating their own plus label, introducing elevated, quality clothing to women of every size. “We want Universal Standard to break the plus-size industry,” says Alex, who, along with her cofounder, seeks to make fashion more accountable for its representation of women. “We would really like to lead this movement in the right direction.”

We caught up with these fierce female entrepreneurs to learn more about how their brand shatters the status quo of the plus-size industry and to find out what’s in store for their fashion revolution.

READ THE INTERVIEW

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Plus-Size Summer Essentials Guide

Breeze through summer with our five wardrobe essentials styled with new shoes, bags and bling for sunny, sultry looks. From swimsuits to straw hats, see them all—and how to wear them—in our Plus-Size Summer Essentials Guide.

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A+ Plus Style Advice from Model Candice Huffine

Plus-Size-Style-Advice-from-Model-Candice-Huffine-on-set-with-Nordstrom-03On set with Nordstrom

Self-proclaimed Nordstrom fan and plus-size model Candice Huffine has cultivated a unique sense of fashion that comes with working 15 years in the business. The New York model’s recent work includes the ‘Flowers for Ferdinando’ editorial for CR Fashion book, photographed by Tom Ford and styled by Carine Roitfeld, along with a portrait and interview in the April 2014 issue of Vogue magazine. She’s also graced the pages of W and Vogue Italia, and she’s shot campaigns for Marina Rinaldi, Lane Bryant, Maidenform, Marks & Spencer and Addition Elle, just to name a few. We got the chance to pick her brain about her favorite trends, celebrity wardrobe envy and taking the size out of style.

On her wardrobe strategy: “It’s all about having fun. I love breaking the rules, being loud and playing with different trends—anything from grunge to preppy. My fashion mantra: just commit.”

On the blessing and curse of the color black: “I don’t like to cover myself in a sea of black because it seems like such a 1999 mentality for curvy women. But I’d be lying if I said the color didn’t show up in some of my key pieces… it’s a chic color… and I live in NYC. ‘Nuff said.”

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Save The Date: HauteLook Hosts Curvy Fashion Event

The official last day of summer is September 21, which means there’s still time to embrace the warm weather with a quintessentially hot look. Hautelook will be hosting four events this Saturday, featuring some of the best brands from our Encore division. New events start every day at 8 AM Pacific Standard Time, so be sure to bookmark this site.

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Get This Look: Marie Denee, blogger behind The Curvy Fashionista, models a one-shoulder Rachel Pally gown that will be available during tomorrow’s Hautelook event.

Stock up on fashion essentials from Calvin Klein, Jessica Simpson, Rachel Pally, Suzi Chin, and more!

Not a member of Hautelook? Sign up here to preview all the great events taking place on Saturday, August 3!

HauteLook hosted a Google+ Hangout in support of their event. If you missed it, check it out here. Join the curvy conversation using hashtag #HLCurvy.

Don’t miss out on our Anniversary Sale! There’s only three days left to snag a few perfect plus styles.

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Marie Denee: A Curvy Girl’s Summer Guide to Style

To conclude our shapely summer style guide, we turn to our resident plus-size fashion guru Marie Denee, who takes us behind the scenes of a Nordstrom.com Encore shoot and fashion presentation.

Fashion from a plus perspective is what you will find on my blog, The Curvy Fashionista. For over four years—I turn FIVE this December!—I’ve uncovered brands, interviewed designers and profiled models all within the plus-size community, to show you, the plus-size shopper, that we have a market and that our stylish opinions count too! Throughout the years, I have been fortunate to work with top magazines, brands and retailers such as Nordstrom, which want women to feel confident about their curves!

In pursuit of the latest and greatest in plus-size fashions, I turn to Nordstrom’s Encore department because you can find great brands both online and in over 100 stores across the U.S. With their exclusive offerings, Nordstrom has brought us the inception of White Label by Rachel Pally, the launch of Lucky Brand and partnerships with Vince Camuto and Nation LTD, just to name a few. Everything Encore stands for—style, fit and inclusive size options—resonates with me as a shopper and the mission of my blog.

Last summer, I approached the Encore team about hosting events and curating the best of their offerings, and they obliged!

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Since teaming up with Nordstrom, I’ve been able to share my favorite picks from their vast assortment, serve up style advice and dance next to Encore buyer Breanne Holcomb (pictured, right) at the spring photo shoot!

And let’s not forget the fashion events! From the South Coast Plaza store in Costa Mesa to the Michigan Avenue store in Chicago, I’ve been able to host intimate runway presentations on seasonal trends to show you how to put looks together in unexpected ways!

Have you shopped The Curvy Fashionista picks on Nordstrom.com? My picks refresh monthly with the new arrivals that I think should be on your radar. When I work with the Encore department to make my monthly selections, there are a few things I look for: 1) designers that my readers love and give feedback on, 2) unique and playful silhouettes that will enhance a shoppers wardrobe and 3) trendy items that we’ve seen walking down the runway that are made in plus! How refreshing is that to say?!

This entire opportunity has been amazing. The chance to showcase brands and looks I love with designers that I admire and respect, all with a retailer that gets it—you could not ask for more! I seriously love that Nordstrom hasn’t stopped either! With the addition of Junior Plus, I see the Encore department only growing and introducing more plus-size designers and brands that cater to us!

Join the curvy conversation, and find @MarieDenee on both Twitter and Instagram.

With two months of summer left, make sure to stay on top of your style game with transitional pieces for fall. Find all your curvy closet essentials at Encore.

Portrait photo credit: Marie Denee for Evans

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Meg van Huygen: A Curvy Girl’s Summer Guide to Style

In the third part of our Encore summer style series, we meet up with Meg van Huygen, one of Nordstrom’s own marketing copyeditors, who describes how she makes vintage pieces part of her work-to-weekend wardrobe—and, by doing so, creates a uniquely modern statement. 

I’ve been passionate about thrifting since high school—right around the time the grunge era hit here in Seattle. It was a unique time and place to be a teenage girl and learn about one’s fashion tastes because pretty much anything was game. I remember my mom being, ahem, put off when I asked her to take me school-shopping at the Federal Army & Navy Surplus in my sophomore year (where I picked up a sweet Russian military belt that I still wear today).

Work-Ready: Calvin Klein Fit & Flare Dress, Lois Hill Small Cutout Stud Earrings and vintage pumps

It was after college, though, when I started delving beyond the army-boots-and-skater-dress alterna-standard and really got into vintage. In my late 20s, I became a lot bolder and started experimenting, comprising old and new pieces, seeing what worked and what didn’t. It’s definitely an art form—when I get dressed in the morning, I think of it as compiling a collage to reflect how I’m feeling that day.

As I’ve reached my 30s, I’ve started focusing more on mid-century vintage, with a special interest in cocktail dresses and Western accessories. My dress collection is somewhere around 150. I’m tall, so I’ve always worn a lot of dresses and skirts anyway—rather than mess around with pants, trying to find the right inseam. I’m really stoked to see the fit-and-flare silhouette make a comeback in the fashion world these days, as it really flatters my pear shape—I have at least a dozen Eliza J and Taylor fit-and-flare dresses from the Encore department at Nordstrom! These A-line silhouettes really evoke the ’50s and ’60s for me, so I’ll often add accessories from that era, for a luxe, polished look. E.g., I can never resist adding a vintage belt to a fit-and-flare dress, just to sort of gild the lily.

Coffee Break Chic: Calvin Klein Sleeveless Fit & Flare Dress, Lois Hill Granulated Drop Earrings and a vintage scarf with a mallard print

I play the piano and accordion in cabarets around Seattle, and that’s what I save my most fantastic old cocktail dresses for: the stage. When I’m at work, though, rather than going full vintage, I like to pair subtle antique accessories with a modern dress or top. Lately, my thing has been to aim for as sharp of a contrast as possible, like putting an embroidered bolero matador’s jacket from the ’40s over a designer LBD, or adding a novelty scarf to a Calvin Klein dress. Sort of like a mixtape of vintage and couture.

Because I’m 5’11”, I’ve worn flats almost exclusively for most of my life and have been shy about heels, afraid that people would stare at me if I walked around at 6’3″, but I’ve been doing it anyway lately and just trying to rock it. It’s kind of empowering! I’m finding that stiletto pumps are especially fun with tea-length dresses, which can make a lady’s calves look short otherwise.

A Few of My Favorite Things: Here are a few highlights from my vintage collection!

I have a more-or-less comprehensive knowledge of where almost every single vintage piece I own came from! What can I say; it’s a gift. The Turkish evil eye bracelet came from a gigantic flea market in San Antonio. The string of glass beads belonged to an old boyfriend’s mom. The cat earrings are from my childhood, actually, when I was a miniature crazy cat lady. I found the black ’80s necklace at Archie McPhee, of all places. The pearls are Japanese circled pearls, repurposed from a broken necklace of a friend’s grandmother’s. I adore that pretty little purse mirror; I’m not sure which decade it’s from, but I got it at a plus-size clothing swap a few years ago. The Western belt that ALMOST has my name on it (!) came from the reigning queen of all Seattle thrift stores, Lucky, in the University District. And there’s my old Russian military belt buckle from the army/navy surplus store, way back when.

I also like to fashion my own accessories; the cable car pendant is just a sterling Christmas ornament that I found (along with the sunnies) at Buster Drake, a great little antique shop near Pike Place Market, last weekend and slapped onto a silver chain that I got in Mexico City. My new favorite piece! It’s a similar story with the cloisonné fish; it was originally a keychain that I found at a street stall in New York’s Chinatown.

Mix Master: Alexis Bittar ‘Lucite®’ Skinny Tapered Bangle (Nordstrom Exclusive) and FELICITY & COCO Stripe Jersey Maxi Dress; paired with a Chinese fish necklace and sunglasses from the ’80s

I have a big personality and I love bright colors that pop. I’ve got a weakness for geometric prints right now, particularly chevron patterns that accentuate my waist. As well, I love what I’ve been calling the “dazzle camouflage” trend that’s so popular lately. I’m also a total mark for prints that are objects—I have an Eliza J dress with origami birds all over it, a ’60s sweater with helicopters on it, a polyester blouse from the ’70s with a deer pattern, etc.

Seattle’s not exactly known for its balmy weather, and so for most of the year, I’ll dress up my long legs with colorful tights. Because I work for Nordstrom, I always go straight to Encore for hosiery that comes in plus AND tall sizes—Donna Karan is my favorite brand for cute, trendy, durable tights in my size. In the summertime, I find that SPANX are a godsend for plus ladies who like to wear skirts and dresses—if not for shaping reasons than only to combat the nefarious thigh rub that can happen when tights aren’t an option. (They’re also nice to have when you’re too tall for your vintage skirt from another, when-women-were-shorter time, and you need a little extra coverage!)

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of The Curvy Girl’s Summer Guide to Style featuring Marie Denee, the creative force behind The Curvy Fashionista blog.

−Photos by Jeff Powell

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Allison Teng: A Curvy Girl’s Summer Guide to Style

Allison Teng, the blogger behind Curvy Girl Chic, joins us for the second installment of our Encore summer style series. We find this California-based cutie jet-setting around Europe. Find out how she creates a chic tourist look with ease.

Guten tag from Germany! I’m Allison Teng, blogger and shopaholic of CurvyGirlChic.com. I’m checking in from Bavaria, as I’m on a three-week trip through Europe, and I wanted to share a couple of my vacation looks with you!

While fashion is my greatest love, an extremely close second is travel. I love exploring new places, and an ongoing resolution of mine is to visit a new part of the world every year. The fashion, architecture and lifestyles of other countries are always an inspiration for me! This year, I’m lucky enough to be cruising through Europe along the Danube and Rhine rivers, stopping in Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and the Netherlands. Each destination has been beautiful and so full of history!

Perfect Plus Packing Essentials: Here’s what you need to recreate my look—Olivia Moon Linen Bomber Jacket, Lauren Ralph Lauren Drawcord Linen Vest, MICHAEL Michael Kors ‘Nikko II’ Wedge Sneaker & Vince Camuto ‘Call of the Wild’ Chevron Bracelet (Nordstrom Exclusive)

My 8-to-5 takes place in a professional environment with a dress code, and while I still have fun with prints and colors on a daily basis, my time off is when I get to go all out with trendier pieces, accessories and colors!

When you’re doing lots of walking and exploring, chic sneakers are a must! You can’t go wrong with sparkle and studs, and my MICHAEL Michael Kors sneakers were a no-brainer for me when packing. Also, with Europe’s unpredictable weather, a cool jacket is essential. I love leather accents regardless of season, so leather-sleeve utility jackets are a favorite!

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After a long day of discovering new places in tomboy gear, a girl looks forward to dressing up for a night out. You can always find Rachel Pally’s dresses in my luggage because they go from day to night perfectly and pack beautifully—for someone who hates ironing and steaming, this is a big deal!

A Chic Sail Away: Have a look at my figure-flattering must-haves! A dress with a sleeve is sexy, yet still leaves something to the imagination. MICHAEL Michael Kors Print Faux Wrap Jersey Dress & Jessica Simpson Cold Shoulder Matte Jersey Blouson Dress

When I travel, I’m constantly juggling my camera, phone and other necessities, so a crossbody like this one from IIIbeca by Joy Gryson is essential! I love how the bright kelly green pops against other colors and prints.

If you’re getting ready to do some passport-stamping, check out the items listed for each photo caption for some stylish inspiration. Bon voyage!

Be sure to follow @CurvyGirlChic on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with Allison’s European adventures.

Come back tomorrow and meet Meg van Huygen, a Seattle native on a mission to look retro and rad.

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Denise Caldwell: A Curvy Girl’s Summer Guide to Style

For the first article of this Encore summer style series, fashion insider Denise Caldwell shares how she maintains a chic fashion statement while working in the non-stop city of New York.

All of my clothes have to be functional and practical, but still have a touch of glamour to reflect my personality and on-the-go lifestyle. I am a stylist, and for almost a decade, I have been exposed to the best brands on the market. Yet, to me, looking stylish is not about the label I am wearing but more about feeling good and knowing that I’m wearing something that complements and accentuates my body, my curves and my height.

My style is ever-transforming, but one thing remains a staple, and that’s dresses. Also, no outfit of mine is complete without a pair of amazing shoes, a killer handbag and one jaw-dropping statement accessory to take the look to the next level. I have always been a fan of Alexis Bittar jewelry, especially all the gold and Lucite pieces. I’m a sucker for large cocktail rings too, like Bittar’s ‘Elements – Cordova’ Stone Ring. Divine!

Now we can’t forget the basics! Nothing says chic like a classic pencil skirt. It whittles your waist and highlights your best assets. The pencil skirt can also be the subtle base of an amazing outfit, because it instantly creates a feminine silhouette.

I am curvy and also petite in height, so I have to be careful not to wear an outfit that overpowers me physically, and that’s where structured shapes and high heels come in. In the summer, I like to slip on nude or cocoa-colored strappy heels and platforms to give my height an edge—and to also elongate my frame.

Whether I am shooting an editorial spread or an accessories lookbook or preparing a celebrity for the red carpet, I dress for the way I feel, which varies from fashion-conscious professional to urban femme Brooklynite.

I always recycle a piece from my day look into my evening ensemble, which could be a jewel-encrusted bracelet paired with the statement necklace that I wore earlier, as there’s hardly ever time to run home and do a full outfit change. When going from the studio to a premiere fashion event with a client, I’ll refresh my look by adding some drama to my makeup and throwing on an accessory or belt—both are easy to transport to and from work. Embellishments and finished details are another outfit perk; they convey who you are without you having to speak.

One question I always get from clients is “How can I maximize my wardrobe potential?”

The answer is simple: you need to shop your closet. Invest in timeless staples and work in trends that enhance your basics. You can pair your tried-and-true LBD with a newer, trendier item, like a brightly colored moto-jacket. Don’t underestimate color—it can boost your appearance, and it’s an instant mood-enhancer. If you’re skeptical about going full-on with color, try a bold beauty hue in the form of a lipstick or nail polish. I’m obsessed with coral!

Finding the perfect underpinnings for your figure is also VERY necessary for any wardrobe. Brands like Chantelle Intimates and SPANX offer great shapewear to help you dress your best features up while downplaying your WIPs (works in progress), regardless of your size. One of my all-time favorites is the ‘All Dressed Up’ Underwire Bra by Wacoal, because the horizontal seams lift and enhance your silhouette.

My days are somewhat choreographed in terms of my schedule, so that’s why getting dressed with fashionable ease is essential for my lifestyle. My motto is “be the best you,” so you’re ready to go wherever life takes you!

Follow Denise on Twitter @DCFashionista1 for more fashion-related banter.

Join us tomorrow and get to know Allison Teng, a serial shopaholic and the blogger behind Curvy Girl Chic.

Photos by Jeff Fried

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The Curvy Girl’s Summer Guide To Style

From Vince Camuto to Lucky Brand to MICHAEL Michael Kors, the Nordstrom Encore division has the brands you love and the trends you crave and—most importantly—has them in the sizes you want.

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Bold & Beautiful: Find the perfect plus-size head-to-toe looks online.

Finding clothes that accentuate the body is essential for any woman who’s looking to curate a confident wardrobe. Yet with so many options both online and in stores, the task can be daunting for even the savviest of shoppers.

On the hunt for figure-flattering solutions, The Thread enlisted four shapely fashion influencers to share how they learned to cultivate a unique personal style by embracing their curves. Meet our guest-bloggers for the week!

Denise Caldwell: A stylist and fashion commentator with a curvy point of view.

A New York-based fashion insider, Denise Caldwell has 8 years of experience working alongside many of the world’s top stylists at Harper’s Bazaar−Brana Wolf, Melanie Ward and Mary Alice Stephenson. A wardrobe expert herself, Denise has outfitted the likes of Leighton Meester, Michelle Monaghan and Tyra Banks. When she’s not playing dress-up, Denise serves as contributing fashion editor for the menswear site MindTheChap.com. She is also a fashion authority on all things curvy and has appeared on FOX News and Good Day Live, offering on-camera style advice for women of all types of shapes and sizes.

Tune In: On Tuesday, Denise gives the scoop on how she keeps it chic while maintaining an on-the-go New York lifestyle.

 

Allison Teng: A serial shopaholic and the blogger behind Curvy Girl Chic.

A self-professed shopaholic and plus-size style expert, Allison Teng is always finding new ways to fit more clothes in to her closet. Based in the O.C., she gravitates toward fashions that fuse a city edge with a Cali-chic vibe. She is the creator of the plus-size fashion focused blog Curvy Girl Chic and is also a Lucky magazine contributor. Allison’s fabulous point of view on all things curvy has garnered her features in glossies such as Seventeen, People and Glamour GRE.

Tune In: On Wednesday, we head to Germany with Allison, who shows us how she looks fab while traveling on holiday.

 

Meg van Huygen: This Seattle native is on a journey to look retro and rad.

A proofreader for Nordstrom.com, Meg van Huygen has enjoyed a multifarious career, majoring in classical piano performance at Cornish College of the Arts before stepping into journalism, tech and fashion worlds. She got her sartorial start in the grunge era, vintage-picking at the consignment stores in Seattle’s University District, and has amassed a collection of over 150 cocktail dresses from myriad periods. Her niche fashion focus is on the murky, underrepresented Venn intersection of tall and plus size.

Tune In: On Thursday, Meg will reveal how she incorporates vintage accessories into her modern wardrobe to create a freshly individual fashion statement at work and on the weekends.

 

Marie Denee: This L.A. style expert is the creative force behind the plus-size blog The Curvy Fashionista.

Keeping it curvy since 2008, Marie Denee is the mastermind behind The Curvy Fashionista, a fashion and lifestyle blog catering to full-figured, confident and chic women. Since launching her blog, Marie has been determined to show the fashion world and fellow plus-size women that they too can don the latest and greatest trends and styles. Marie was voted top 20 bloggers of 2012 by Black Enterprise magazine, writes for The Curvy Blog for Vogue Italia and curates her favorite plus-size fashion finds for Nordstrom.com.

Tune In: On Friday, go behind the scenes of a Nordstrom shoot and fashion presentation with our resident curvy style guru.

Get your fashion fix with our Anniversary Sale Curvy Trend Guide.

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Introducing Sejour: Plus-Size Fashion Exclusives

We know “plus size” and “fashion” can sometimes be a challenge. That’s why we’re excited to announce our newest line, Sejour—modern clothing at fantastic prices and exclusive to our Encore department. A line designed with only the plus-size customer in mind, Sejour features wear to work, dressed-up casual and casual pieces in an array of styles from classic to trendy.

We gave a sneak peak of our new line to a number of plus-size fashion bloggers to get their honest feedback. Marie at The Curvy Fashionista writes, “…the fabrication, cuts, and shapes of the collection were spot on! I was loving the softness of the cottons! Like Butter for me! : ) Especially the leggings!”

Monique at Curves and Chaos says, “The thing I love the most about Sejour is the fact that they are going to feature looks that are great for layering. This includes great fabric manipulation and fun textures like sequins, beading, and embellishments for the season.”

Check out our newest line (more coming this spring) online and in stores, and let us know what you think.

SHOP SEJOUR

Have a look at what our other reviewers are saying:

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