InTheThickofIt – Best Outfits of 2015

These were the most popular posts on InTheThickofIt in 2015. It was a fun year for me that included my first trip to Tulum Mexico and I was in a @proudmaryfashion Fashion show. 

Thanks as always for the love!

Outfit 1 – Greetings from Chicago Anna Scholz Dress

Outfit 2 – Transitional Stripes Eloquii Dress

Outfit 3 – Plus size Beach wear in Tulum by Asos

Outfit 4 – Lace for Spring

Outfit 5 – Proud Mary Fashion Show

Outfit 6 – How I rock a Crop Top

Outfit 7 – Winter Tunic and Leather Jacket

On Plus Size Advancing Style

Lately I’ve been drawing inspiration from some of the women of Advanced Style. Now I realize I’m not in the Senior Citizen category, but I so greatly admire women older than me – as mentors, as icons, as wonderful friends. 

I am solidly over the age of 35, which still feels like a surprise to me. As a queer person, I never really knew what my life-path would look like, but I knew it didn’t have a lot of roadmaps. The folks I knew growing up that were older than me fit a very heteronormative path. They got married, had kids, wore J. Crew, strived to be a certain size.  I never felt those people were my people. I have known for a long time that I have a different path. It’s been such a journey! In my late teens, I found new role models like drag-queens Divine and Leigh Bowery and oh goodness the fun I had experimenting with all sorts of pieces of me.  It took me a really long time to learn to accept  myself in the body I have and get over a plethora of self esteem issues.

Oh and what does that have to do with fashion? Well a lot really – in that I always assumed  when I was younger that women in their late 30s dressed in frumpy shit – I mean there’s a reason why the term “mom jeans” exists. And frankly most of the options for plus size women women of any age were just embarrassingly bad and frumpy up until very recently. Posting photos of my outfits has always been to fight against those assumed norms.  

So here I am, a 36 year old plus size woman. I have no kids. I am (queer) married. I love fashion. I hope that my life can be a marker of what is a possibility. Now on to the clothes…(and my sweet little pixie hair cut that i’m just loving this summer) 

Cricut Plus Size Maxi Dress – via Gwynnie Bee – Sz 2X
Black Faux Leather Belt – Forever 21 – 2X
Black Faux Suede Shoes – Urban Outfitters
Glasses – SEE Eyewear
Clutch – Vintage
Bar Necklace – Dana Rebecca

Summer Days in Los Angeles

My birthday is smack dab in the middle of the summer and when I was a kid, I just hated the fact that all my friends were away on vacation when my big day came around. It made for a lot of family filled birthday events – I guess it helps that I have FOUR siblings.

Keeping with the family theme for birthdays this year, I planned a trip to visit my sister in L.A. Usually when I visit, I stay on the west side (UCLA area) and stay with her and my lovely nieces and nephew.  This time, I still spent lots of time with her, but S and I wanted to check out some stuff in other parts of L.A. We booked a gorgeous little airbnb in Silverlake – our hosts had two sweet pitbulls and a lovely patio area for us to hang out on. We spent a lot of time between Silverlake and hollywood.

Our trip was so fantastic – I want to share my favorites with you!

The best coffee in Silverlake was Dinosaur coffee by far – they had delicious almond milk lattes for S and I am an iced coffee or iced mocha girl and all were perfection. The pastries were also just to die for – the strawberry croissant just took me to a new level. I also loved my rice bowl from Sqirl – a hearty and filling breakfast at this hip brunch spot.

Of course no trip to LA is complete without a visit to Lucky Scent’s Scent Bar where I sampled lots of delicious perfumes and bought Kilian’s Imperial Tea which smells like sticking your nose into a big glass of iced tea (and it was my wedding day scent!) – perfect for a summer night.

There was record shopping at Amoeba Records and browsing for tchotchkes at Wacko/Soap Plant. My favorite dinner of the entire trip was the vegan mexican food at Gracias Madre. The patio was perfect and the food was unbelievably good (and with a hot queer chef to top that off!)

I also experienced the largest Forever 21 plus size section I’ve ever been in while at the Ontario Mills Mall – I highly recommend a trip if you’re anywhere in the area.

OH! Also I chopped off my hair! Fat girl pixie cut and silver toned 🙂

Gray hooded dress – 2x – Forever 21+
Necklace – Forever 21
Glasses – SEE eyewear
Bag – Rebecca Minkoff

White/Black shirt – 3x – Forever 21+
Black skinny jeans – 18 – Torrid
Silver sandals – Sam Edelman
Glasses – SEE eyewear
Bag – Rebecca Minkoff

Summer Road Trip – Detroit/ Ann Arbor

Why not a road trip? Why not the sheer maxi dress that has become my summer uniform this year? 

I needed some art and some fun, so S and I headed to Detroit to see the Kahlo Rivera exhibit at the DIA. What a perfectly fantastic museum experience!!!! It was breathtakingly beautiful and I could have spent days there. I was just overwhelmed with the Dutch Masters rooms and the Contemporary spaces specifically. After many hours of looking at art, we drove around Detroit spent some time at the John K King book store after our museum visiting. Since S had to do some work in Ann Arbor, we stayed there, visiting several of the great indie coffee shops (we loved Roos Roast) and we had a great vegetarian dinner at the Arbor Brewery. It was such a good time.

Oh and how can I forget our side excursion to middle-of-nowhere Indiana to stop at Albanese CANDY FACTORY – holy moly! 

Sheer Floral Maxi – 3x – Proud Mary Fashion
Denim Cut-off Shorts – 20 – Ava & Viv (destroy wash)
Tank – 1x – Forever 21
Dr. Marten Boots
Nail Necklace – Redbud Jewelry 
Sylvie Rose Diamond Necklace – Dana Rebecca
Glasses – SEE Eyewear

Lace for spring, how groundbreaking!

Lace is about as floraly as I tend to get – and now that it’s finally warm enough in Chicago that I don’t have to wear a heavy coat constantly, well it’s time for this lace skirt.

I bought this skirt last year at Nordstrom Rack. I found it in the straight size section and figured I could probably wear it since it had an elastic waist. Well, I’ve gained a bit of weight since last year and what do you know, it STILL fits. I’m not sure what the intended fit shape is supposed to be, but I think it works as it is on me. Proof that it’s worth investigating straight size sections in any store!

Paired with some short booties and my always-present denim jacket, well here you go – a decent spring outfit. 

What are you wearing for spring? 

Lace Skirt – Nordstrom Rack, Sz XL
Sheer button-up shirt – Forever 21, Sz 2X
Denim Jacket – GAP, Sz XL
Sam Edelman suede booties
Necklace – gift

Plus Size beach and resort wear – aka My Honeymoon in Tulum and Akumal Mexico

I haven’t really ever been on a beach vacation, so some plus size swim and resort wear was necessary for me this trip.  My first stop was swimsuitsforall for a new suit. I picked out the mega-patterned Junglebook underwire.  The pattern reminded me a little bit of a Mara Hoffman pattern and I just salivated for such a cute suit in plus sizes. I paired it with a dip-hem lace coverup that I purchased from city chic over christmas and of course a big floppy hat to keep my skin from burning.

Of course I also needed some pretty clothes to walk around town. Tulum has beach on one side and jungle on the other.  The jungle side has lots of mosquitos, so I was glad I brought a pair of jeans with me. I paired my skinny jeans from Target with a loose tank and floral chiffon top from Forever 21.  As with all my outfits for the most part – I had to wear some beachy shoes.  These lovely birkenstocks were absolutely perfect for all our adventures.

My other favorite find was an amazing patterned coverup from Asos Curve. I absolutely adore the colors and it worked great over my bathing suit but also as a piece to wear into town over my black shorts and black cami

It was such an amazing trip. We stayed at Vista del Mar in Akumal – a sleepy little town with some great restaurants including La Buena Vida and Turtle Bay cafe. We also enjoyed some of the best massages of our lives at the Budah Day Spa off the main drag. Akumal is great to just rent a bike in and get around. We took our bikes to the beautiful lagoon Ya-kul to look at turtles and fish in the breathtaking surroundings (the area is filled with beautiful bronze sculptures). After a few days there, we drove down to Tulum – and stayed in the gorgeous Coqui Coqui hotel and parfumerie. We chose the Eucalyptus/Cedar scent for our room – it was a perfect choice. The hotel had great beach seating and a beautiful boutique and restaurant. It was also across the street from the famous restaurant Hartwood, which we enjoyed on our last night (and we bumped into Maggie gyllenhaal while we were there). One of our favorite excursions was to Coba to see the huge ruins – but we also just enjoyed the drive there which was through several really cool little towns. It was a beautiful place. The town of Tulum was vibrant and filled with lots of “off the beaten path” sort of folks (I kept calling it “Burningman beach”).  Of course we came home to cold Chicago, but we are filled with sun and happiness and cannot wait to return.

Early Winter

Mentally I’m just not prepared for how early winter has seemed to hit the midwest this year. I’m trying to adjust, but honestly all I’m doing these days is listening to sad music and reading books and watching gilmore girls. I also bought a few LUSH gift baskets to enjoy over the new few weeks. I love the spicy winter scents like Hot Toddy and Lord of Misrule. What are you doing for self-care these days?

This skirt I’m wearing here is a bit of a departure from my usual looks, but I really love it. It’s got an elastic waist, pockets and that cool handkerchief hem. I paired it with leggings (well it is FREEZING outside) and my new Sam Edleman booties.  My hair is a little crazy here I’m on the way to get it done today. It’s fun to try a slightly new/different look though.

Yoko Draped Skirt – via Gwynnie Bee – sz 2x #gwynniebee
Sheer black button-up – Forever 21 – sz 2x
Nude cami – Nordstrom Rack – sz XL
Leggings – Spanx – sz XL (I’m so sad these are no longer made and I have to find mine at nordstrom rack, but they’re almost totally gone)
Ankle booties – Sam Edelman LUCCA bootie from Nordstrom Rack
Necklace – Forever 21
Waxed Denim Moto – H&M+

I still absolutely adore my gwynnie bee membership – if you haven’t managed to sign up yet – DO IT!!

Animal Print and Stripes and Brunch

Sunday brunch in the neighborhood calls for a summer spin on a favorite outfit. These new bermuda shorts from the plus size line at target are just the right length for me to feel comfortable (I don’t care for short shorts or capri styles).

Of course I also had to try out my new animal-print glasses from SelectSpecs.  These adorable frames with lenses were under $20!  What a bargain!!!  I highly recommend them for those of you who wear a lot of glasses and like to have variety. 

Stripe shirt – Topshop maternity, Sz XL
Denim shirt – Forever 21, Sz 1X
Black Bermuda shorts – Target, Sz 16
Shoes – Sam and Libby for Target – Sz 11
Bracelet – Forever 21
Necklace – Forever 21
Onishi Gray Bag – Valhalla Brooklyn
Animal print Glasses – SelectSpecs Savannah


When Old Is New

I am sure you all know how difficult it can be to find cute plus size vintage pieces.  A good vintage dress with the right accessories can be a perfect staple in any wardrobe.

I was thrilled to discover Stranger Bird Vintage an etsy shop that features a wonderful selection of plus size vintage pieces. This lovely black lace-sleeve dress jumped out at me specifically and I’m so happy to own it. Since it still isn’t actually warm in Chicago, I’ve paired it with a light scarf and boots.

Stranger Bird Vintage is offering 15% off to my readers with code THICKOFIT15

Lace-sleeve dress – Stranger Bird Vintage – Vintage size 16
Belt – Forever 21, Sz 1XL
Black Boots – Vince Camuto
Scarf – Dorothy Perkins
Glasses – SEE Eyewear
quartz earrings – gift

Topshop Leopard Muppet Sweater and my day off

When I saw this fuzzy sweater at topshop, I gasped out loud.  It reminded me so much of sweaters I loved from my teenage years in the 90s, and it was just so cool and weird.  I am always wary about falling in love with clothes at topshop because it is one of those places that doesn’t really carry any traditional plus size lines.  But a lot of their clothing is stretchy or “oversized” which makes it worth it to try things on. I have to thank Nicolette Mason for turning me on to even bothering to look at their clothes.  So I tried on and fell in love with this fuzzy pink/green/black leopard print sweater.

Today being a day off for me, I decided to wear my new sweater to get my hair cut by the always-amazing Patrick at Fringe Salon (use my name – Amanda Stilwell or blog name as a referral when you book your appointment with Patrick and get us both a discount!). I also popped in my favorite corner diner for my usual order of cheese omelet, hashbrowns and pancakes and a mug of coffee. and since the salon is across the street from Wormhole Coffee, I also popped in for a hot chocolate before my haircut.  What a lovely day to myself. And NEW HAIR!!!

The bottom photo is of me and S and a friend of ours (S is wearing a necklace from Tarnish also!).  I’m wearing the same outfit and I just love this photo of us.

Leopard Print sweater – Topshop – Sz L
Faux leather skater skirt – Forever 21+ – Sz 14
Fleece-lined Teggings – ReDress – One Size (these are the new reformulated ones that stay up and are SO WARM!)
Black boots – Dr. Martens – Sz 11
Earrings – Tarnish (So excited – we’ll have a Tarnish item in the march giveaway!)
Gold and black wrap Bracelet – Forever 21
Frosty Glasses – SEE Eyewear
Gold studded black Bag – H&M