Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Shopping surprise: Dress Barn Woman

My husband and I were out shopping the other day, and the gigantic strip mall we were visiting happened to have a Dress Barn/Dress Barn Woman store. I was not very excited about going in there--I've found very few stores that have clothes I like that are affordable and actually fit me--but in we went. Toward the front of the store were some very casual clothing that I wasn't interested in at all, and some really nice fancy dresses that I don't need (no dress-up-worthy events for a while). Then we got to the career clothing, and the sale stuff in the back of the store. I was still not sure how much I liked/would fit into what I was seeing.

My husband found this black and white striped seersucker blazer in a size 20W and insisted that I try it on:

Much to my surprise, it fit beautifully except for a little extra length in the arms. This was a coup of sorts, since regular blazers almost never fit me right--usually they are too long and have too much room in the back, and those are the regular-size ones, not even the plus-size ones. I had expected to be swimming in a plus-size blazer of any size, except where my boobs and belly were concerned. I was so glad to be wrong! And hooray for my husband for finding it!

Then, we found this "butterfly" skirt, which is probably supposed to be mid-calf length or thereabouts but came about down to my ankles:

The butterfly print is much prettier in person. Purple is my favorite color, followed by blues and greens, so I really like this skirt. There was something a little strange going on with one of the seams in the back a few inches below the waist, but since I almost never tuck anything in, that probably wouldn't have been an issue.

I tried it on with a pretty purple shirt in a 1X that fit me perfectly. (I am much happier when a 1X fits me than I am when I need a 2X. LOL.) I really wanted all 3 items, but I stopped myself. I don't want us to wind up in debt because of my clothes shopping habits. I couldn't decide what, if anything, to buy, so I left empty-handed. There's always the website, though...

I do think Dress Barn Woman is doing pretty well with making things that fit and flatter the average plus size woman. Some plus petite sizes would be nice, but since I did manage to find good stuff anyway, I can't complain too much.

Anyone else have positive/negative experiences with Dress Barn?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Geeky casual, my sweet tooth, and some pretties

My OOTD: comfy, casual, geeky.

That's my "The Time Job" T-shirt from Teefury, men's size 2XL because that was the only size I knew would fit me. I'm wearing it with my dark wash Old Navy Sweetheart jeans, which are bootcut and very stretchy and flattering. These are size 16P.

I'm sorry about the photo quality, but that rather dark hallway with the full-length mirror is the only place I have to take pictures of myself, and no one else is around to take that's what you get!

Here's a better quality photo for you. My mom came over yesterday, and we ate these:

Mmm, macarons. My sweet tooth is one reason why I've never really been "thin," and I accept that. I don't like to deprive myself of sugary goodness. I usually try not to go too overboard, though. I just love sweets.

I know there is a whole debate over whether a plus size person can be healthy or not. I'm not going to get in the middle of that one. My answer to that is, I don't know. I've had health problems since way before I became obese. I just try to be the healthiest version of me that I can be, and that is all I can do.

In the meantime, I try to make myself feel attractive (when I'm not totally dressing down like I am today!) with tops like the ones that can be found at The Smiling Turtle eBay store. Maybe I will eventually lose the weight again, but I'm not holding my breath, and I'm not going to wait until then to feel good about my appearance.

Speaking of the eBay store, I've just gotten in some amazingly beautiful fair trade scarves from India, so please feel free to check them out at the link above if you'd like. They're being auctioned at a high-ish price for eBay, but like I said, they are fair trade (from an organization that is certified by the Fair Trade Federation). And did I mention they're amazingly beautiful?

I'll post more about fair trade eventually. It is one of my passions. It bugs me that everything I buy/sell cannot be fair trade, but the world just hasn't progressed that far yet.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Jennie Runk, and my own ramblings

Today, I've been reading about Jennie Runk. She is the incredibly beautiful plus size model who was evidently featured in H&M's new beachwear campaign, which I have not seen (and am not sure where to see). There are pictures of her in swimwear in this article she wrote and in this article about her, but the only pictures of her that I can find on the U.S. site for H & M are in the specifically plus size section.

(Picture taken from H&M's website at - note its very extensive plus size styles - what?!)

She is nowhere to be found on the U.S. site's swimwear pages. But I digress. I like her. A lot. She writes about her awkward adolescence, and then says:

Having finally survived it, I feel compelled to show girls who are going through the same thing that it's acceptable to be different. You will grow out of this awkwardness fabulously. Just focus on being the best possible version of yourself and quit worrying about your thighs, there's nothing wrong with them.

Amen. If only I could reach out to adolescent me and tell me just how NOT FAT I was. We all had our pre-teen and teenage awkwardness (for goodness' sake, I had a perm and bangs that were often poufed up as far as I could get them with a curling iron!). But really, I look at the pictures now and I think "I was so cute! And I thought I was so ugly!" And it makes me sad. Actually, this really isn't what she's talking about. But it's the truth.

She also writes:

There's no need to glamorise one body type and slam another. We need to stop this absurd hatred towards bodies for being different sizes. It doesn't help anyone and it's getting old.

I think this is wonderful. I don't spend much time criticizing people for being overweight (after all, the last time I was below a size 12, I was a teenager and everyone else seemed to be a size 6). I do criticize skinny people, though ("She should eat a cheeseburger!" and the like), and maybe that should stop. Sure, I worry about thin people having eating disorders. I also worry about the health risks associated with being overweight. But this isn't about health. It's about acceptance of other people.

Jennie, you are a good role model, as well as being a fabulous model.

There are other questions these articles by and about Jennie leave me with, though. One is, where does "plus size" officially start? I know the fashion industry thinks a model who is a size 10 or above is a plus size model, but to the rest of us, size 10 is generally not thought of as a plus size. Then there are the stores. When I try to get petite sizes, some brands come in sizes up to 14P. Others go up to 16P. To get bigger than that in a petite size, I need to shop online, and usually not at the same stores but at stores that cater specifically to plus sizes.

When we're not talking about plus petite sizes, though, there are stores that go up to size 20 (and/or size XXL) before getting into the plus size department. And the plus sizes may start with 12W or 14W, but heck, I wasn't introduced to the world of "plus sizes" until I became size 18W. And what's up with that W, anyway? I imagine it must stand for "Women" or "Woman," but I confess that I can't help always reading it in my mind as "Wide." I don't know why. I just do.

So, what IS plus size? What ISN'T plus size? Can I truly define myself as plus size if I wear a size 18P on the bottom and XXL on top? I can, and I do, but I wonder what others think about all this. Is anyone over a 12 plus size? Over a 14? 16? 18?

Of course, it doesn't really matter what we think, it's all about how the fashion brands and stores want to organize themselves. There are no real dividing lines except the ones they set up for us.

Meanwhile, there's the Plus Petite woman. Where does she fit in? None of us look like Ms. Runk. She is what the average model is to the regular Petite woman - the ideal presented to us by the fashion industry. I'm not saying I couldn't have rocked a swimsuit when I was her size (only much shorter). I'm saying that I am shaped differently - narrower shoulders, shorter torso and shorter arms and legs - and that so far, I feel that women in this category are largely ignored as far as fashion goes. Are we really such a small minority? Maybe we are? Or maybe we're just extremely hard to fit?

What do you think?

I don't know the answers. I just hope I can help a little bit in my own way, both by blogging and by selling things in my eBay store that I think will make us look and feel pretty.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day outfit

Hi! Back again, with a new profile pic courtesy of my husband. Today's outfit is brought to you by Lands' End. (No, they're not sponsoring this blog or this post in any way.)

I know it doesn't exactly scream fashionista, but I feel pretty cute in it. The pants are Women's Plus Size Petite Cotton Spandex Jersey Boot-cut Pants in Navy. I also have them in black. They are super comfy and I didn't have to shorten them at all, and after washing they were still the perfect length. I wear a size 1X/18P in pants and generally like a 27" or 28" inseam. (Again, I'm 5'2.")

They have a high-ish waistband that isn't too tight on me (and I have a large waist), but I can imagine it would work for smaller waists, too, since it's stretchy and comfortable. The pants have a flattering boot cut shape. I love them.

As for the tunic, it can be found here but as I type this, they only have size 0X left. I wear a 2X in their tops. The tunic's not a petite size, but it's not too terribly long and also looks good with jeans. I can imagine it would look good with leggings, too, if you like leggings (which I don't, but to each her own!).

The sandals are Clarks Lexi Linden in black. These add a little height (2.5") but aren't painful, which works for me. Also, I like the name. (Lexi was my childhood nickname!)

This outfit was approved by my mom. ;-) (I spent the day with her and my grandma.)

Happy Mother's Day to the moms out there! Hope you enjoyed it! What did you wear?

By the way, in case you are interested, I can be found in many places on the Internet: on Twitter at @smilingturtle2, Pinterest at, and Facebook at My official website is

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A few current fashion trends I love

Like I said in my last entry, I'm not super-trendy. I do, however, keep track of the trends when I can. I also go to stores, and of course I do some people watching. And really, trends are unavoidable, unless you want to just wear old clothing all the time (in which case you probably wouldn't be reading a fashion blog!).

Here are some of this season's trends I really like:

Polka dots. Small (but not too small), tasteful ones, like on this shirt by Lane Bryant (photo from their website):
(I own the shirt. The sleeves are a bit of an awkward length for my short arms, but I love it anyway.)

Florals (depending on the color and size of the print). There are some really nice bright floral prints around this season. No rules here - big or small flowers are fine with me, as long as they're pretty.

Peter Pan collars. Need I say more about this one? I just think they're adorable.

Blues and greens. Cobalt blue and emerald green are really "in" right now, and I love them. Oh, and yellow, too.

What trends are you into this season (if any)?

Soon to come: an entry about current fashion trends I loathe. ;-)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Awkward Introductory Entry

Hi! My name is Alexis (aka Lex). I have my own business called, you guessed it, The Smiling Turtle. This consists of a small Etsy store in which I sell my handmade creations and a small eBay store in which I sell a whole bunch of things, including plus size clothing.

I am newly plus size as of about a year ago. The correct fashion term would be "Plus Petite," since I am only 5'2". I recently pointed out to my husband how little sense the term "Plus Petite" makes (Plus implies "big" and Petite means "small"), and he likened it to "jumbo shrimp." Mmm, I love jumbo shrimp. Maybe I should just call myself a Jumbo Shrimp? LOL. It's close enough to the truth: I am a big short person.

I've never really been a small size (well, except for about a year sometime in my teens). I was a size 10 for a while, then a 12 for a long time, then a 14, then a 16; then I went on Weight Watchers and got back to 12; then I went off Weight Watchers and gradually (edited to add: actually, not so gradually! Pretty quickly!) got to where I am now. I'm not especially proud of it, but here I am.

Now that I am plus size, I've realized that there's a distinct lack of clothing in my size that I actually like. I do not like to wear tight clothing (this has always been true), and I do not like to wear tents. I am not super-trendy. I'm in my 30's, I don't want to dress like a 20-something or a teen, and I don't want to look frumpy. I'd like to avoid having to take all my clothes to the tailor to be altered. This seems to be a lot to ask of the fashion industry for someone my size and shape, so I'm going to be trying to take The Smiling Turtle to a new level to try to help people like me find clothing that makes us feel and look good, and I'm going to use this blog to document some of my experiences.

I invite you to come along on this journey with me. As well as blogging about my own eBay store, I'll also share where I've found some of my own clothing essentials, and I'll blog about fashion trends and other related things - and maybe some unrelated things. I'll probably offend at least a few people along the way. Honestly, I don't really know what direction(s) this blog will take, but maybe it'll at least be a fun ride.