Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Momentary Identity Crisis

I don't know what's up, but I'm in some kind of mood where I want to make heads turn. It's not my usual look, but I want boobs and an attitude and messy hair that makes people wonder what I've been up to and careless smudgy makeup. Kind of like this: Or maybe more like this: Although if I were going to showcase my bra, it would probably not be of the nude and functional-looking variety...not sure what is up with that. Either way, I apparently am having a Mia Tyler moment. My Mia Tyler essentials include: Nars lipstick in Manhunt (available at Sephora). The key here is in the application - I don't want perfectly outlined, Grace Kelly-esque red lips. I want smudgy red lips that look like I just got done making out with some guy in the bathroom (granted, in my case, "some guy" = my husband). To get it right, apply the lipstick to the center of your lips. Then use your fingers to smudge it around the rest of your mouth. To avoid looking clownish, stay within the lines. Create perfectly imperfectly lined eyes (a pseudo sexy rocker must) with Bobbi Brown Gel Liner. Layer it on and then get to bed- this stuff looks a million times better the day after (and even the day after the day after, if you can believe it). Cleavage doesn't create itself - even those who are well endowed need a little lifting and wrangling for maximum appeal. Lane Bryant's plunge bras do the trick for me - and I'll feel sexy from the inside out with this Chandelier Lace version. Too obvious? Even if I go all 1980's-scissor happy and cut a plunging neckline? Yeah, maybe. Well, the point isn't necessarily that the execution is perfect (I know, the fashioney side of me is cringing right now!), but more that we all embrace those moments of wanting to be someone else. It can be a fun way to get out of a fashion rut- or to remember why you like a certain style in the first place.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wish I Was Wearing That

It's Monday morning, I've showered, coated myself in lotion, have begun working on my hair and should be looking through my closet for something to wear. Instead, I'm sipping my coffee and browsing through my virtual closet (all my favorite stores online) wishing I was going to wear: Textured Godet Skirt from Lane Bryant. Emilia Blouse in Tomato from B & Lu. The cinched waist of the top balances out the kicky skirt perfectly. Plus, I love the contrast between the classic wrap top and almost-but-not-quite over the top ruffles. This Modern Vintage "Erica" pump looks sleek and demurely sexy (perfect for the office) and looks like it wouldn't slow me down - great for all the meetings on my calendar today. Since I'm fantasizing, might as well throw in some diamonds, right? The design of these Circlet earrings from Tiffany feels of the same vintage vein as Erica pumps.

So, that's what I'd be wearing if my virtual closet sprang to reality. Instead, I'm going to use this outfit as inspiration to go create something similar with what's in my real closet. Happy Monday, Bombshells!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Anna Scholz Site

Anna Scholz is one of my favorite plus size designers. She creates really beautiful, stylish clothes that are designed to highlight and celebrate every curve on a Bombshell's body. Anna's launched a new (and much improved) web site that really does justice to the clothes featured on it.

One of my favorite looks from the spring collection is this double silk caftan dress. It will look great on a variety of body shapes - top heavy, bottom heavy, curvy waist, boy-shape - and has a Mad Men-era influence that's classic and trendy all at once. I'm also in love with this linen print maxi dress. And, while it's completely out of my price range, this puff sleeve cotton trench is to die for.

Photo credit: AnnaScholz.com

Beauty Moment- Results of Pro X

I'm finally finished with my test of Olay's Pro X line of moisturizers, and my skin couldn't be happier. Although things got off to a pretty good start (I was happy with the moisture levels and smoothing properties of both the day and night creams, and thought the eye cream felt great and didn't irritate my eyes), things went downhill after week 2. Almost overnight my skin became incredibly dry - it yearned for my regular moisturizers. I stood strong, thinking that my skin was just making a final adjustment before fully embracing Pro X. But no.

The dryness continued, turning into flaking and irritating my rosacea. At the end of the 5 week experiment, my personal experience doesn't allow for a ringing endoresement of the Olay Pro X line of moisturizers for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, my skin (which is not especially sensitive) didn't take to the Repair Lotion with SPF 30 or the Wrinkle Smoothing Cream. And, while these products are being touted as department store quality skin care at drug store prices, they're not exactly cheap - about $47 for each cream. The only Pro X product I came away liking was the Eye Restoration Complex - the cream is light but very emollient and is a really good foundation for under eye concealer. However, at $47 it's pretty spendy.

Bottom line - only you and your skin can decide if Pro X is for you. I'm really disappointed in the results I got and in the price point and won't be buying more.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Twilight Inspired

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I am a fan of the Twilight series of books and the newly released DVD. I'm not exactly "line up at midnight outside of Best Buy to be the first to purchase the movie," nor am I storming the aisles of Torrid to pick up Twilight t-shirts. By "fan", I mean that I watch the DVD whenever I'm alone and snap it off the minute I hear my husband's keys in the lock (I just don't want to deal with the snickering). And that I've read the first two books, unable to help myself from casting scornful looks at the husband, thinking, 'Why isn't his hair as dreamy as Edward's? And why doesn't he love me with the passion of a vampire who could just as easily kill me as kiss me?"

The movie version of Twilight is delightfully gloomy and blue, everyone with pale skin and rosy lips. That fits my mood at the moment, as rain falls (and falls and falls) here in St. Paul. It's inspired my own Bombshell interpretation of the Twilight look and feel, as translated into fashion and beauty: Like Bella, these light-wash jeans are casual but cool. Not as crisp as white jeans and less conventional than a dark wash, these jeans are a little unexpected without being a complete standout. Available in super long inseams and up to the equivalent of a 3XL, Alloy's Truck Five-pocket Flares in Bleach Denim. Bella's into layering and would definitely be into this short-sleeved Grandpa cardigan. Wear it over a long-sleeved t-shirt when it's cold; pull it on over a tank or tee when the rain stops falling and the temps perk up. The whole movie has a kind of washed out, faded color theme. Kind of like this cool plaid tee-shirt. This summer, avoid the sun and don't even bother with the bronzer. Take a beauty tip from the cloudy Pacific Northwest by going for pale skin. Accentuate it with a little color on the cheeks, compliments of Bobbi Brown Rouge Pot in Pink Raspberry. Swipe a touch of this creamy blush on your lips and then top with Pink Blossom lip gloss.

Photo credit: Alloy.com; BobbiBrownCosmetics.com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring-ify Your Hair

My hair has split personalities. From October-late March, it's straight and silky. It's predictable and easy to manage. I wash it every two or three days, deep condition once a week, and tame it as needed with a flat iron. Come April, the alternate personality comes out, urged on by spring rain showers, fluctuations in humidity and rising temperatures. "Alternate Hair" is, at various times, curly/wavy/fluffy. I still go a couple of days between washing but replace the weekly deep conditioning with a daily UV Spray that contains an SPF (to protect my hair color now that the sun is finally out - and so am I) and leave-in conditioner. Attempting to coax as much curl out of it as possible, I dry my hair with a diffuser. Daily touch-ups with a curling iron are essential.

To prepare for the sudden shift in hair style and texture, I'm going to spend the next few weeks getting my hair ready. After a fresh cut and color, I'll be alternating these products: I reach for L'Oreal EverPure Moisture Deep Restorative Masque every few days to keep my hair conditioned and the color rich and true. It helps combat the dry frizzies that crop up from split ends and general environmental wear-and-tear. Women with dry, coarse hair will seriously dig this conditioner; my curls enjoy the added moisture and tend to be on their best behavior for a couple of days after using it. And the scent of rosemary mint is decadent and spa-like. (Can you tell I like this stuff? Yeah.) I've written about Bain de Terre's Sugar and Fig Scalp Massage Scrub before - it's seriously, my year-round go-to hair fixer uppper. Your scalp is skin, so it makes sense that it looks and feels better after a little exfoliation. The foundation of your hair is the scalp, so if your scalp is in good shape your hair will look good too. For best results, get your hair wet and squeeze half the tube of scrub into onto your fingertips. Massage your fingers all over your scalp. Once the scrub begins to work through your hair and onto the scalp, squirt the rest of the product onto your fingers and continue massaging. It smells like heaven, feels ahhhhmazing - you'll wonder how you lived without this stuff. Fighting the frizzies can be a full-time job. For every woman on the planet with unruly hair, there's a hair serum that promises smooth, silky hair. And those serums? Can cost a lot. I trust good my frizz to good old John Frieda. Frieda products can be found at almost any drugstore or discount store for cheap. While the original Frizz Ease serum is great, I like the Frizz Ease Thermal Protection Serum. The formula protects hair from heat styling and UV rays, while also making hair of all types more mangeable.

If you're looking for some new ideas on how to style your hair, or need a little inspiration for a new cut or color, check out Misikko's collection of articles and how-to videos. It's one of my new favorite web distractions.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Best of the Green

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, check out a few of my favorite green finds: Ophelia top from B & Lu. MAC eyeshadow in Humid. It makes blue, brown and violet eyes pop - smudge it into your lash line for a subtle touch of green. Topped with a crisp denim jacket, Old Navy's green ruched jersey dress jump starts spring. Step lightly with this pair of Via Spiga "Monique" sandals. A glimpse of Essie's Greenport on your toes is sure to make you smile.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Inspired by: Joanna Garcia's Fresh Look

One of my favorite actresses right now is Joanna Garcia. She used to be on the sitcom, Reba (don't hold it against her...) and is now on the CW's Privileged. The show is pretty good - fun and witty - and Joanna is definitely the glue that holds the whole thing together. I like the wardrobe she wears on the show, and I'm inspired by the combination of her sultry dark hair and fresh looking makeup. Check her out: So cute, right? I've been playing around with my makeup, trying to recreate her look for myself. Here's how to do it:

Apply tinted moisturizer all over your face. I like Stila Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15; it has tiny reflective particles that make your skin glow.

Spot cover any blemishes, redness or under eye circles. Top with translucent powder to set; Laura Geller's Balance and Brighten won't get cakey or too dry. Add a little bronzing powder to mimic that California glow Joanna's rocking - Bobbi Brown's bronzers look really natural, not orange and fakey.

The cheeks are key to this fresh look. Choose a blush that is a little mauvey-rose. It compliments most skin tones, adding just the right touch of berry-colored flush. Try Clinique Soft Pressed Powder in Plum Gorgeous.

Define your eyes with a creamy eyeliner - avoid a dramatic color like black, instead opting for something softer like dark brown or gray. Highlight your brow bone by sweeping on a reflective eye shadow, like Stila's cult classic, Kitten. Place a touch of Kitten at the corner of your eyes (right near the tear duct) to make them look wide awake. Joanna herself has said that she likes L'Oreal Bare Naturale Mineal Infused Mascara because it makes her eyes pop.

And finally, for lips, Joanna also likes L'Oreal Bare Natural Lip Conditioner. She's been quoted as saying, "It's moisturizing and feels great on my lips." Soft Bloom will add a hint of berry color and lots of shine.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This is cute: An easy top to throw on over black pants and heels for a night out, or over fitted jeans and sandals for errands on a warm weekend. If the plunging neckline feels a little bare to you, layer a black tank underneath. Now all we need is a warm weekend...

Photo credit: Babyphat.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Beauty Moment- Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF 15

Don't you love it when the Beauty Godmother sprinkles fairy dust all over you, when you're least expecting it? That's exactly what happened to me at Macy's this past weekend. I was on a mission - get in, buy what I needed, get out - and wasn't looking at discounts, deals or shiny new things. All business. To the point that, when my super-cute sales associate Kate offered, I almost turned down the free sample of Bobbi Brown's newest foundation. Then I saw the adorable, teeny tiny little foundation bottle that she was waving in my face. It was love at first sight.

Now, I am way too savvy to have my head turned by an incredibly cute little sample bottle. So I went home, washed all the makeup off my face (as my husband asked, "Did you not get it right the first time?"), and reapplied beginning with the new foundation. Skin Foundation SPF 15 is supposed to feel like absolutely nothing. It's water-based, so the application is sheer but not transluscent. Rather than seeing all of your skin through the foundation, you only see the good parts. Does that make sense? If not, go to your Bobbi Brown girl and demand a sample. Because this foundation is revolutionary.

I was surprised by the consistency - it's very thin and watery. Then it hit me that, duh, this product is water based. A little bit goes a long way; the liquid smooths onto the skin, sinking in quickly, and is nearly imperceptible. My skin looked like skin, just without the blotchiness. And it wears well all day. After a long day of running around, I come home, wash my face and am actually taking product off (rather than staring into the mirror wondering at what point in the day did my foundation fade away, leaving me a hot mess with shiny, blotchy skin). The product won't cake - even if you apply a few layers to get the right coverage. For instance, I have a lot of redness on my nose. So I coat my nose, spot apply to the rest of my face, and then go over my nose again. It looks completely natural.

Once trick that I learned is essential - either moisturize or prime before putting this foundation. It dries down almost instantly and if your skin is dry, it will appear powdery. This isn't to say that your skin will begin to dry out when wearing the product. Quite the opposite is true, thanks to some kind of magical hydrating technology. At $45 for a 30ml bottle, this stuff ain't cheap. But if you're in the market for fabulous skin and a bit of a beauty splurge, this foundation is worth it.

New Plus Size Lines Launch

Do you remember Tommy Hilfiger's last incarnation of plus size clothing? It was a lot of the same styles that are featured in his straight line - oxford button-downs, sweater vests and potentially dowdy-looking skirts that are great when you get it right, but look matronly when you don't. The last time I remember seeing plus sized Hilfiger was at a Herberger's in about 1999. It was so forgettable that I honestly can't tell you if I just quit looking for it or if it disappeared. I'm going to guess that it disappeared because Macy's is excited to announce their exclusive partnership with T.H. I like the Hilfiger aesthetic but have never thought his designs were especially body-concious. Which has me a little scared when it comes to this new launch. Untailored lines and square-cut shift dresses are not going to do any Bombshells any favors. However - I do think Macy's knows what a plus sized woman wants and is willing to deliver that. And if a top or dress is a little shapeless but otherwise cute, a tailor could work some magic to enhance the fit. So I'm hopeful that my spring wardrobe will contain a few American-classics from Tommy Hilfiger. Available online and in select stores right now. Check it out and if you like what you see, buy something - the only way to convince retailers to carry more lines in our size is to show them the money.

Cheap-chic discount chain Forever 21 is launching a plus size off-shoot called Faith 21. The line will feature tanks, shirts, dresses, skirts, leggings, and jeans in sizes XL-2XL. I'm not sure how those sizes will compare to measurements, but I'm excited about this launch. The clothes will range in price from $3.50-34.80. Forever 21 is a great resource for trendy clothes that will spontaneously combust at the exact moment the trend is over. It's not exactly quality clothing but sometimes a girl needs to pick up a trendy top for a random night out with friends - perfect for Faith 21. The store will open in L.A. (ironic, yes? I mean, do they even let women over size 10 within the city limits? Apparently.) on May 1st and will hopefully expand from there. I'm assuming their selection will be available online. More to come... In the meantime, check out the first few images from Faith.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

To Be 16 Again...

I don't actually want to be 16 again. I'd just like to have a reason to wear this dress sometime soon:
How great is Evans' Bow Detail Dress? I so would have worn this to my prom. The silhouette is 1950's at its best - absolutely made for a Bombshell body. And the pistachio color, while very retro, makes the dress feel fresh and modern. To reinforce the modern side of this look, I would accessorize with metallics: Because the length of the dress may hit around the thickest part of a Bombshell's calf, pair it with shoes that are open along the ankle. It will elongate your leg in a way that shoes with an ankle strap won't. This pair by Naturalizer features a 2.75 inch heel so you'll have a little height but will be able to walk and dance. You know, the important things. The bow detail on Nordstrom's silk flap clutch mimics the dress's bow, which is a nice way to unify the dress and bag without being too matchy.

Photo credits: Evans.uk.co; Nordstrom.com

Monday, March 9, 2009

Beauty Moment- Favorite Multi-taskers

As I've become (a little) more mindful of my income to necessary-beauty-buy ratio, I tend to look past products that are one trick ponies. Of course there are some products that simply are what they are - mascara, for instance. But whenever possible, I'll choose a product that makes me look great in more ways than one. Here are a few of my favorite multi-taskers: L'Oreal EverPure UV Protect Spray blocks the sun's UV rays - the very same rays that fade and compromise your hair color. The lightweight spray also rejuvenates second-day hair. Flip your head over, spritz along the ends of your hair, flip your head back over and enjoy manageable, glossy, un-frizzy hair. Your strands will smell fresh and clean, too - of rosemary and mint. Longer-lasting hair color and instant rejuvenation definitely make me feel worth it. Several makeup lines have a cream blush that's meant for cheeks and lips. The only one that actually looks good on my cheeks and lips is Mac Blushcreme in Posy. Unlike the competition, Posey isn't too bright on the cheeks or too opaque on the lips (or some other combo of "wrong"). This rosey pink looks frighteningly bright in the pot, but goes on so sheer and light that you'll appear to be glowing from the inside out. I like to apply it to my cheeks with a blush brush, focusing on the apples, and then blend it out with a makeup sponge. For my lips, I dab it on with my finger and go. Finally, I'm semi-obsessed with my hands. I'd like to avoid old-lady hands for as long as possible and so am diligent about applying hand cream throughout the day. What more could I ask out of a hand cream than general moisturization? How about SPF 20 and the ability to make my raggedy cuticles look smooth and well-manicured? Sally Hansen Flawless Hands Skin Brightening Hand Creme delivers instantly pretty hands and cuticles, while fending off paper-thin paws in the future. The cream is thick but not globby; it melts and dissolves into your skin without much effort. And it has an ever-so-subtle lavender scent, calming without over powering. Find it wherever Sally products are sold.

Photo credits: Lorealparis.usa.com; Macys.com; SallyHansen.com

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

LB's Newest Bra - Push Up Demi

Well-placed breasts are so important for a Bombshell's silhouette. If your breasts look droopy, everything else is going to look droopy - including your posture. Hoist them up so they rest at the mid-point between your shoulders and the crook of your arm. You'll stand taller, look curvier, and inevitably feel better. If you're looking for a new bra to do the hoisting, let me recommend Lane Bryant's brand new Push Up Demi.

It's no secret that Lane Bryant's Cacique line of bras and panties is a favorite of mine. They're the best at creating quality, beautiful underwear for plus size women. Cacique understands that support and comfort are important, but that pretty and sexy are just as essential in lingerie. I bought one of the Push Up Demi bras this weekend (in a juicy Watermelon color, in case you were wondering) and have been strutting around in an almost comically confident way. My husband accused me of batting my eyelashes at him (guilty). Red lipstick & black eyeliner seem absolutely necessary. My new cleavage is positively empowering. I've never felt like more of a Bombshell.

Even if you don't go off the deep end (like I did) over this bra, I think you will appreciate a few things:

1. The cups are smooth and seamless, so you can wear this bra under slinky tops and tee shirts alike.
2. The straps are convertible.
3. The demi cup is low enough to accomodate a low-cut top but not so low that your breasts will jiggle when you walk.
4. The bra has really pretty lace accents.
5. It's available in sizes 38-48 C-H.

At $34, the Push Up Demi bra is a great deal. It's even part of LB's Buy 1, Select 1 Half Off promotion. And, as if that weren't enough incentive, take advantage of a limited time Friends and Family Discount in-store and online.

Nautical Style

I love nautical-inspired clothing. The color palette- white, navy blue, red, black, yellow - is so crisp and clean. The style is easy and always on target- it's a classic and an annual springtime trend. Avenue has a great selection of separates to help you take on this look and make it your own. Sailor pants flatter the curviest of figures, thanks to a wide waist-band (which I love for its ability to control and smooth my tummy) and wide legs. The classic sailor pant has a side-closure which can make fit a little tricky, depending on your shape. If you need to go up a size to accomodate the side zip, you're not alone. I think sailor pants look best a little long - they can make your legs look miles long! If you're going to do the sailor look, you've got to have a thin-striped tee. I like this updated version that features a square, smocked neck detail. Pair your stripes with accessories in a pop of red or yellow. These red patent slides are so cute - I love the nod to rope and nautical knots with the chain link detail across the toes. The sandals are available in wide widths. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that this white woven bag costs less than $17! Snap it up because this tote will see you through the entire spring and summer with style. A pop of color near your face is like an instant face-life. These sunshine yellow earrings compliment lots of skin tones and complete a sassy nautical look.

Photo credit: Avenue.com

Beauty Moment- Beautiful Brows

I don't think eyebrows get enough beauty attention. They can make or break your look, yet so many women don't give them much consideration beyond basic plucking or waxing. Here are a few of my favorite products to whip them into shape (and keep them that way).

Anastasia's Goof Proof Stencils and Tweezers. Initially, eye brow stencils seemed silly to me. Until I actually used them and was amazed at how easy they make it to shape my brows. I place a stencil over one brow, fill it in with my brow marker (more on that later), remove the stencil and then pluck anything outside the shape of my brow. I use Anastasia's tweezers because the point is incredibly sharp, which means that even the smallest of stray hairs can be grabbed and yanked with minimal pain.

Laura Geller Brow Marker. Most women's brows have a couple areas that are sparse. Mine are a little spotty right above the arch and require some help from Laura Geller. You should also consider filling in your brows if you make a dramatic change in hair color - nothing screams unnatural hair color more than eyebrows that are too light or that are off a couple shades. Brow Marker looks like a felt-tip marker and comes in three shades. The marker is nearly budge-proof because the product adheres to the hair and skin underneath the brow. It's easy to use; just sketch lightly across your brow, building the color and coverage as needed. Philanthropic Bonus - for every Brow Marker sold, $1 goes to Joan's Legacy which is working toward a cure for lung cancer.

Cover Girl Professional Natural Lash Mascara - one of the first beauty products I was allowed to use, this clear mascara holds brows in place just as well as pricier counterparts.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Beauty Moment- Gilette Venus Embrace Razor

I was recently sent a Venus Embrace razor to review. When I opened the box and saw the razor, I was a little confused. I've never really thought of razors as a beauty product. It's more like a wash cloth or a shower puff - something that you need in your shower, but not something to put a lot of thought into. I've never spent much money on razors - I usually buy a four-pack of Noxema razors once a month. They cost less than $4 and come in fun colors. Good enough for me. Or it used to be.

Now, I'm all Venus Embrace. The first time I used the razor, I couldn't believe how smooth it was. It felt less like I was shaving my legs and more like a gentle exfoliation. The five blades and flexible head get every little hair without nicking the skin- even around dicey areas like the knees and ankles. The head features a solid ribbon of moisture (is it soap? is it lotion? I don't know) that gives the razor just the right amount of slip. Slip is important; it's one of the reasons I forgo shaving cream in favor of hair conditioner. I slather my legs and shave away.

I almost had a coronary when I went to Target to buy refills for the razor. $14 for 4. But I've reconsidered the beauty status of razors. Plus, I'm able to get a solid 2 weeks of use out of each razor. And my husband appreciates the fact that I now enjoy shaving my legs and do so on a daily basis (even in the winter! I know!) - so the price is fully justifiable. Shaving now feels less like a chore and more like a bona fide beauty treatment.

Party Dresses

Springtime welcomes flowers and green grass and open-toed shoes, among other things. It's also the season of prom and weddings. Half the fun of formal functions (or maybe more than half, depending on the function...) is in planning what you're going to wear. As Bombshells, for whom formal wear can be a little less accessible than for our size 12 and under counterparts, planning ahead is essential. To make sure you look exactly the way you want to at your formal event, keep these tips in mind:

The Internet is Your Friend.
Grab a measuring tape, a pad of paper and your computer. Measure yourself (hips, waist, bust, etc) and write down the numbers. Refer back to those numbers every time you log in to a new web site. Sizes vary by almost every retailer, and because fit is incredibly important in formal wear (hell, in anything you wear, really) it's not safe to assume your size 22 at Lane Bryant is the same as Torrid's is the same as David's Bridal.

If possible, order a few dresses so you can try each of them on. Check the return policies before ordering, so you can be sure to return whichever dress doesn't make the cut. If you're not sure what size you should order, go for the larger of the two that you're debating between. Your dress will probably need alterations anyway - make sure you have enough dress to work with.

Scope out my favorite online sites for formal wear:
Coco Myles- as close to custom-made, couture-esque clothing that most of us will ever get to. Create your own dress by choosing from a variety of styles, colors and fabrics. Or customize celebrity-inspired gowns.

House of Brides - features a great selection of plus size wedding gowns. You'll find a wide variety of styles - I especially like those by Mon Cheri.

Prom Girl - whether your dream prom dress is all out princess or something a little sexier (Seriously my teenage Bombshells, go for the princess dress. You have your whole life to show off your boobs), you'll find it here. And for those of us whose prom has come and (long) gone, don't discount this site for your next formal dress. There are quite a few grown-up selections to choose from.

Igigi - features formal dresses and a new selection of wedding dresses.

Make an Appointment
If you're heading to a store, whether it's a formal wear shop like David's Bridal or a department store, call ahead and make an appointment. Tell the sales person what size you are - this will ensure that you don't make a trip to the store only to find that there's no selection in your size.

When you come to your appointment, plan on spending at least an hour - probably more- trying on dresses. Wear a strapless bra and bring shoes that are the same height as those you will probably wear with the dress. Bring a friend who's already seen all your lady bits - you'll need her to help you in and out of the dresses. I also suggest bringing a snack and your favorite source of caffeine.

A few of my favorite formal wear stores include:

David's Bridal - you can buy formal dresses off the rack or order one if they don't have what you want on site. Their selection of wedding dresses in plus sizes is, to the best of my knowledge, unmatched. I bought mine there; it was the best experience, and I LOVED my wedding dress.

Nordstrom - sure, you have to slog your way through lots of beige sparkly jacket/shapeless dress combos in the Women's World at Nordstrom but your search will be worth it. Nordstrom carries a good selection of formal wear in plus sizes, and their personal shopping service is fantastic.

Dillards - I hold a soft spot in my heart for Dillards. It's where both of my prom dresses came from. They've been working harder in the past few years to have more fashion-concious selections in our sizes.

Your local wedding dress shop - while it's true that a smaller, local dress shop probably won't have much on hand for you to try on, that doesn't mean they can't get it. Give them a call, let them know what size of dress you're looking for and they'll probably be able to work with you.

Get it Altered
Most women wear formal dresses just a few times in their lives. I believe that if you're going to do it, do it right. Get the dress altered - make sure it's the perfect length, that there's no gaping at the back, that it falls flat over your butt, and that the bust fits perfectly. A few nips and tucks will make a huge difference.

From Igigi. From Prom Girl. From Macys.