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#FearlessFashion: It All Starts with The Right Bra

"Change your bra, change your life." ~ Oprah

I was shocked to learn a few years ago that 80% of women were wearing the wrong size bra. That number has come down to 64% but that's still a big number of women who are walking around with ill-fitting bras. Add to that, 24% of those women know that they are wearing the wrong size and just deal with it.


I was one of those 80% a few years ago and what led me to my first bra fitting as an adult was an influencer event. I was just starting out as the Blog Editor for PLUS Model Magazine back in 2013 and got invited to an event at DreamDry hair salon being hosted by Nicolette Mason and Panache Lingerie called Bras and Blow-outs

At the time, my go-to bra was a wireless Just My Size full coverage bra I bought at Walmart. It was comfy but not supportive at all. As I got fitted at that event, I was shocked to see my breasts actually lifted and the bra was gorgeous. I walked out of there with 2 of their new Sculptresse bras courtesy of Panache and a new attitude when it came to bras.

Underwire is not comfortable but I got used to it over time. However, I still had my issues where the wire would poke through or I would constantly have to "fix" myself. So thus, my journey to finding the right bra for me began.

Since that event, my career has involved me going to many more events and wearing the proper bra is key, especially with evening wear. Now that I am a fit model, wearing the right bra is a necessity because it affects garment fit and can ultimately affect how seams are placed in the bust area when being fitted. My agent told me during our first meeting to make sure I invested in some great bras. 

During this bra journey of mine, I have learned some key things that have stayed with me always and have helped me in finding bras that fit well and work for my lifestyle.

#1: Find the style that fits you well and that you like.

There are tons of styles out there to choose from... plunge, balconette, t-shirt, bralette, etc. It's so important to arm yourself with information. Ask questions in-store. Your breast shape has a lot to do with what styles will work for you. I wear balconette, full coverage and plunge styles because I want lift and those styles work with my breast shape.

To learn more about breast shapes, ThirdLove has a great Breast Shape Dictionary that I think is amazing:  https://www.thirdlove.com/pages/breast-shape-dictionary

One of my faves... Elomi Matilda Plunge Bra (I have it in black - see below). It's sexy but offers so much support.

My fitting at the Elomi offices in NYC (see how my breasts look higher and my overall posture is better)

#2: Get a bra fitting twice a year.

I cannot stress this enough. As women, our weight always fluctuates and that can affect your bra size. Also, you may be different sizes in different bra brands. So knowing your "bra zone" and being knowledgeable of sister sizing is key. 

I usually get fitted twice a year, every six months. That may sound excessive but is necessary since I'm a fit model. At least once a year, you should be fitted. My bra zone is now between 44F to 46DDD. As someone who is a size 26/28, I was shocked to learn that I could fit into a 44 band. But don't ever let your clothing size make you think you should be wearing a larger bra size. We all carry our weight differently and are shaped differently. So you could be the same bra size as someone who wears a size 22/24. 

#3: Know what little details you need to have it fit right.

I tend to look for a wider strap for more support and I always make sure to adjust the straps to where they feel the most comfortable.

I also learned that you should wear your new bra with the first hook closed. As your bra stretches out over time, move over to the next hook. 

When putting on your bra, lean forward and do the scoop and swoop technique:

The front gore of the bra (the middle area) should rest against your chest and not float in the air. And if your cups are not sitting under your breasts or your breasts are leaking through the bottom of your cups, you might need to size down in the band and up in the cup size. Your breast tissue should be contained in the cups and your band should be comfortably snug, which will lift your breasts high (no sag!). This is why a bra fitting is so important.

According to Eveden National Fit Specialist Frederika Zappe, "the underwire should surround the entire breast, with the back end of the wire sitting behind the breast tissue on the bone." Now I have met Freddy and she knows her stuff and is also one of the nicest people I have ever met. If you Google her name, several articles will come up with her dropping major gems of wisdom on bras and getting the fit right. So she knows what she's talking about.

I know that's a lot to take in. But arming yourself with this info is EVERYTHING. 

After you get fitted professionally and properly, you then get to choose what bras to wear. I have my personal favorites for work, events and even everyday wear.

Check back this Friday for my blog feature dedicated solely to my favorite bras and places to shop for bras. It will not be a sponsored post, trust. I only share what I truly love. Wearing a bra ain't fun so if I can make your life easier by sharing my experience, I'm down for it.

Please comment below and let me know of your bra fitting experience. I would love to hear about it and chat more about this important topic. Let's change our lives, people!!!! xoxo

Size Inclusivity, Size Privilege and Mean Girls

"I'm sorry that people are so jealous of me. But I can't help it that I'm popular." ~ Gretchen Wieners, Mean Girls

Last week was a real eye opener for me that made me reflect on my feelings about the fashion industry and my place in it.

I got invited to cover The Femmy Awards and Gala, taking place at Cipriani 42nd St. This event was sponsored by The Underfashion Cluba non-profit fashion industry group dedicated to "all facets of the intimate apparel industry: foundations, daywear, sleepwear, robes, and loungewear".

As someone who is considered media via my job at PLUS Model Magazine, I will admit I get some amazing opportunities to attend events like the Femmy Awards.

So I decided to put on a red dress (from Catherines) that had been sitting in my closet for the last 6 weeks. I was sick with bronchitis for about 5 weeks so my 2019 actually started on 1/25. Wearing red is always something that gives me some extra uumph, which was needed for this night.

See, this was not a plus size event. The theme of this year's awards and gala was body positivity and plus supermodel Emme was hosting (YES!), BUT this was an event where there would be media and some heavy hitters from the Intimate Apparel industry. Folks from Kohl's, Dillard's and other major brands were in attendance.

They were also having a design contest featuring six Fashion Institute of Technology students studying intimate apparel. For the first time, students’ designs were on exhibit via mannequins from size 7 to size 2X, in keeping with the theme of “Body Positivity.” The three top finalists won $5,000 and an all-expense paid trip to Paris.

Me with the gorgeous Emme

Emme hosting the Femmy Awards 2019

I was basically walking into a huge event, not knowing a soul and possibly being the biggest girl in the room. Of course, in Fearlessly Just Me fashion, I did just that.

People stared and looked but not for the reasons I was used to. It was because I was wearing red in a sea of black and because people wondered who I was. I mean, I'm a gorgeous big girl wearing a body con red dress with short hair. And I'm walking up in there, like I own the place, lol.

The Intimates Apparel industry is a tight-knit community too, I learned later that evening. And they accepted me with open arms, actually intrigued by the plus size industry and how they can bridge that gap between mainstream/straight size and plus sizes.

Words cannot explain how included I felt and it had nothing to do with seeing someone else who looked like me. It had to do with being seen as more than a plus size woman. They saw me as someone who was their equal, someone in the media who came to the table confident, humble, professional and engaging.

My size was actually an asset in this situation as they now had access to someone who was visibly plus, looked fabulous and proved that plus size women can be stylish too and know their stuff. People came up to me, introduced themselves, asked where my dress was from and just wanted to know about ME.

I left that evening with a clutch full of business cards, including a few requests to be interviewed or featured on their website. As I walked out of Cipriani and to my waiting Uber, I skipped and danced a little, with a smile on my face.

I feel like we are now experiencing a shift in the industry where plus sizes are becoming mainstream. If you're a size 20 and under, you have become mainstream as almost all plus size brands and companies who expand on sizing, always offer up to a size 20. Those who offer above a size 24 are considered radical and really pushing boundaries in an industry where many brands think women above a size 20 don't shop or buy stylish clothing.

Why should my size speak for how I should dress? Why should there be an immediate asumption that separates how women view style and fashion according to their size?

As a size 26/28, I should not feel like I am outsized and not accepted by my own community and industry. But I do.

TCF Style Expo 2018 - Size 24+ panel

I just want to be around women who get me. But I also want to be around people who are looking past my size and seeing who I am as a person and what I bring to this industry as I have a seat at the table.

The use of the words "curvy" and "curve" have become the norm. And I feel like women like me have become lost in the shuffle.

I can't shop everywhere I want and while the fashion industry is changing, when I am vocal about my struggles with shopping, women smaller than me try to challenge that by saying they experience the same issue. NO.

I feel like I have to remind them that their situation is totally different than mine. If you're under a size 20, you can shop in mainstream stores like The Gap, NY & Company and countless others. I recognize that smaller women have their own fit issues but they have more options than I do when it comes to fashion.

Most plus size brands stop at a size 3X and 24. So while I get excited when a brand expands their sizing into plus sizes, I can't help but feel a little deflated when I see they are still not carrying my size.

Having empathy for other bodies is a part of being body positive. Admitting your own privilege instead of playing the victim is a sign of growth and truly being someone who believes that all bodies are beautiful.

The Femmy Awards taught me some valuable lessons.  It showed me that you don't have to be around people who look like you, to fit in. At the end of the day, I am more than a plus size woman and have much more to offer as a human being.

It also showed me that there are people out there who want to be educated more on the state of plus size fashion and that as a visibly plus size woman who does not have access to all plus size fashion, I have a strong voice that can help with that.

While I may encounter the "You can't sit with us" mentality at times, I want to focus more on where I do sit and use that opportunity to educate, engage and network. Not being able to sit at every table doesn't limit my worth in this world or stop the work I am doing. 

I'm more focused on inpiring the next generation of designers to embrace designing for ALL sizes and not just a range that excludes women who want to dress just like their thinner sisters. 

As I chatted with the six design student finalists from F.I.T., I had hope for the fashion industry in becoming more inclusive. They all spoke so passionately about wanting to design for plus sizes with many of them even offering to create a dress for me! I never thought I'd feel or experience this in my lifetime but I am! 

I'm excited to see what the generation of fashion holds for ALL women, especially those of us that are excluded at times from the plus size range AND the conversation.

You can find my Catherines red dress here and it's on sale for $40, up to size 5X including petites. (I'm wearing a size 3X petite)

You can follow those amazing F.I.T. fashion design students below on Instagram - hit them up if you need some custom lingerie or dresses:

Aura Alvarez: @aurahalvarez
Breanna Childers: @bre_childers
Laurel Yau: @yauleru
Dorshelle Guillaume: @dorshelleguillaume
Jessica Trusio: @jesstrusio
Sierra White: @intimatelysierra

Let's support and educate the next generation of fashion.

Self Care During The Holiday Season: The Art of Listening

"Listening is being able to be changed by the other person." ~Alan Alda

Dealing with grief and the effects of it on my life has taught me many lessons. One of the greatest ones has been to listen more, talk less.

It's so easy to judge someone from your own experiences when they are confiding in you. One of my best friends reminded me of that this morning. We look at the situation from our own perspectives and how we would deal with it, not taking into account that not everyone deals with things in the same way. And we never know the full story; only what is told to us.

Our initial reactions is usually to start talking, offer advice and try to "fix" the problem. We mean well but honestly, ask yourself, have I really listened to the other person? Did they ask me for advice? Or did they just want to be heard?

Most times, it's the latter.

Trust me, when someone wants help, they will ask for it. But many times, many of us make the assumption that if someone confides in us, they want our help. And that is not a correct assumption nine times out of ten.

For me, I yearn to be heard, especially now. I am far from perfect but know my shortcomings. I know where I need to be better and I know what I need to do. But I also yearn to be able to confide in someone and just be heard. Emotions are not easy to keep contained because the weight of them can sometimes be overwhelming. This is why letting go and talking about them feels so amazing. It makes our spirits lighter and it feels good to talk some things out loud and gain more clarity outside of our emotions.

However, this is where you learn the hard way that you can't confide in everyone. And you also have to understand that people are human. Not everyone is a listener. Everyone plays a role in your life and not all are meant to be those who you can confide in.

This holiday season will be a tough one for my family and I since it will be the first one without my niece Teรก. For me, I will be completely honest and admit that I struggle but I also take it one day at a time. So for me to be able to lean on those I know I can confide in without them trying to "fix" me is such a welcomed thing. 

To be able to talk to someone who doesn't judge you and just listens and offers support is something that is invaluable. With the holiday season being tough for many, having someone to talk to is key. 

I am also still in therapy, four years later and I am not ashamed to admit that publicly. Seeking professional help is one of the best things you can do for your self care. There is nothing wrong with doing so either. My therapist has saved my life. She has helped with me becoming more self aware and becoming a better person. She offers me the space to talk and not be judged. And she makes sense of things that I don't. It helps tremendously to be able to speak freely and have someone get it.

You don't have to understand what someone is going through to know the right thing to say. There is never the right thing to say. But we all have the capacity to love and support someone unconditionally without inserting yourself into the situation. It's not about what you would do but instead how can you help. 

Most of the time, that help is just listening to the other person and supporting them.

If you're feeling down or depressed this holiday season, just know you are not alone. And again, there's nothing wrong with seeking help and someone professional to talk to. Here's some ways to reach out if you are in need...

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Their network of crisis centers provide emotional support and guidance to people in distress and are also available via a chat service and a special hotline number for the hearing impaired: 1-800-799-4889.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
SAMHSA’s behavioral health treatment services locator is an easy and anonymous way to locate treatment facilities and other resources, such as support groups and counselors, to treat and manage depression.

You can also call your health insurance provider and ask for some therapists in your area that accept your insurance. No insurance? Head to Google to see what groups and centers are in your area that can offer low-cost counseling or group meetings.

I, for one, will be listening more this holiday season and holding space for those who need it, as I know others are doing the same for me. I know I am not alone.

Be kind to yourself and always remember that self care matters. Love you all.

Why is Age Such a Big Deal? Asking For a Friend...

"Some guy said to me: 'Don't you think you're too old to sing rock n' roll?' I said: 'You'd better check with Mick Jagger.'" ~ Cher

Hey, I'm over 40! **gasps**

I was watching The Ellen Degeneres Show this week and she talked about how her age is always stated when she is mentioned in the media. And she wondered why the media felt the need to always mention her age instead of her accolades and achievements. 

Hell, why not mention her job title or even her eye color? Nope, just her age. And for the record, she is 60, to which I was shocked to learn. She looks damn good.

I also noticed that when I typed in her name on Google, the first suggested search that came up was "Ellen Degeneres age" above her name. 

Actress Julia Roberts, Ellen's guest during this show, also expressed her annoyance with news outlets front-loading their stories with a celebrity’s age. It rarely happens with younger folks or even older men. Julia is 51.

So why is a woman's age such a big deal?

Peep this. 

  • Suzanne Collins was 46 when she wrote "The Hunger Games". 
  • E. L. James was 46 when she wrote "Fifty Shades of Grey". 
  • Iris Apfel is a major fashion icon at age 97, having been the face of Australian brand Blue Illusion at age 94 and was a visiting professor at University of Texas at Austin at the age of 90. 
  • Ann Dowd earned her first Primetime Emmy Award nomination at the age of 61 for her role as Aunt Lydia on Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale.

Now I ask again, why is a woman's age such a big deal?

I recently saw Ann Dowd speak at Glamour's Women of the Year Summit and was in awe. It was that day that I decided I wasn't going to hide my own age anymore and not be too hard on myself for not getting everything I wanted accomplished by a certain age.

She spoke about getting her big break late in life (in her 50's) and how she learned to create her own timeline. We are fed this notion that we have to do all these things before a certain age because God forbid we do some amazing shit when we're "old".

Me doing some amazing shit at the age of 47

What is "old" exactly? Just like size, age is often judged by its number and we are more than a number.

Getting back to me (yes, I was deflecting cause I fully admit this is hard)... My name is Marcy and I am 48 years old. 

Yep, I'll be 50 in two years and I have been struggling with that BIG TIME. 50 seems like such a major milestone where you are now crossing over from young to old. It's that median mark where now you're like, damn, I am a half century old. 

I don't feel 50. I mean, what is 50 supposed to feel like? Or look like?

I see other women who are my age or around my age and some look much older than me and some don't. I am blessed to not look my age and still get the dropped jaws when I tell people how old I am. So for me, it feels weird to get older because time seems to be flying yet I feel like I am standing still. Does that make sense?

I've also encountered ageism in the sense where I have been told I shouldn't do this or that, shouldn't wear this or that, and etc. I just want to know who created these rules and why should we follow them?

So many questions and no answers. But I have learned that the answers to these questions are subjective. WE ARE WHO WE ARE. WE FEEL WHAT WE FEEL. And age should not have anything to do with that.

Sure, from a physical standpoint, things are changing. I have menopause to look forward to (NOT). I'm now wearing reading classes because after spending most of my life with almost perfect sight, I am now far-sighted. I suffer from arthritis and now have to get extra tests at the doctor to check for illnesses that happen after a certain age. 

However, from a mental perspective, while I feel like I am wiser and more self aware, I still feel youthful and free. I still feel like I can conquer the world and I admit I still love to get on a swing at the park or run around freely in an open space. Plus, I still have my hot mess moments where I sometimes question what the hell am I doing.

The notion that you have your life together when you're a certain age is BS. Life is a journey where you are always figuring things out. I think as long as you are open to the possibilities and have committed to nourishing your relationship with yourself, it's okay to not have it together.

Nothing is perfect and your age should not be some indicator of life and where you should be. Self love is a lifelong journey that never stops and it shouldn't. The relationship you have with yourself is the most important one you will have in your life. 

So I remind myself daily of what Ann Dowd said on that stage...

Keep the love story alive; the love of what you do. Celebrate the small wins. Stay humble and grateful for every single day and everything that happens in that day. It will suit you and support you. Always remember the answer is within you because your heart and soul are your compass to life. Don't obsess on the How. Just remind yourself in the mirror that you are in charge of who you are. 

Yes, I am 48 but that doesn't define who I am by a long shot. Get ready 2019! I am fully prepared to do some more amazing shit going into Year 49. 

And maybe I should start thinking about what I will do to usher in Year 50. Turning a half century old is kind of cool, when you think about it.

Read Ann Dowd's speech here on Glamour's website. #BeInspired #ICertainlyWas

#FearlesslyMoving: Walking into Winter Like...

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. ~ Lao Tzu

Winter is coming. And I'm not ready.

I suffer from osteoarthritis so my joints tend to get inflamed in extreme weather, hot or cold. But more so in the winter time. I experience joint pain, swelling and stiffness on almost a daily basis. So it's key for me to keep moving even though I just want to crawl back into bed and suffer in silence.

Taking that first step out of the house is always the hardest. 

Once I am moving, the pain lessens and I feel better. Stretching is also key and a must for me. I don't have a gym membership because I fully admit I am still working on not being self-conscious in a gym. But I don't let that stop me from getting my exercise in because movement is a form of self care for me. So I choose to walk. 

That is what #FearlesslyMoving is all about to me.

My legs and feet have already taken me to incredible places in my life already so why not keep walking? 

Walking is free and I live in New York City where you can walk anywhere and see something interesting. Never a dull moment in the city, let me tell you.

To help motivate me to take that first painful step, I make sure what I am wearing is cute and comfy. I'm not a coat person since I grew up near the beach and have a thick skin when it comes to cold weather. I get hot very quick and don't like to feel weighted down by clothes. 

Coats are bulky and I don't want to look like the kid from A Christmas Story. But this year, I took a chance and am happy I did. Because at the end of the day, fashion is a form of self care for me as well.

I saw this magical pink coat over at Catherines and was in love. It's lined in faux fur including the detachable hood, has adjustable side belts and cute gold tassle thingys at the ends of the hood straps. And hello, IT'S PINK!!!!!

It has pockets and is a nice low hip length where it provides coverage in my booty area. The sleeves have a ribbed knit cuff that makes it stay in place so that no cold air sneaks in up my sleeves, which I hate. I usually think puffer coats are the devil because I don't want to look larger but I took a chance on this because sometimes we have to get out of our heads and take a chance.

And WOW! I looked in the mirror and loved how it looked on me. I always size up one size when buying coats in case I need extra room for a sweater or am wearing something bulky underneath. So I ordered a 4X in this coat which equals a size 30/32 on Catherines' size chart. I'm glad I sized up because it fit perfectly and zipped up with no issue. If you are my size (26/28) and want extra room to wear layers underneath, I would get the 5X, to be honest, as coats typically do not offer stretch. For the record, my measurements are 57"-51"-68".

On this day of walking and exploring, I decided to wear a cozy sweater, my absolute favorite jeans in the world and some comfy booties, all from Catherines.

I love a great doggy sweater and this one had a doggy wearing a leopard print bow and dark pink cat eye glasses so I had to have it. I'm wearing a size 3X in the sweater. 

The jeans are Catherines' Right Fit Jeans in Curvy, which have been my go-to for years. I usually have to wear a belt with my jeans since my waist is smaller than my hips. These jeans are the ONLY jeans I wear without a belt. They have side elastic panels in the waist that prevent gaps. They are AMAZING.

I'm 5'6 but have short legs so if I buy regular length, I have to roll them up. If I want a cropped length, I get petite. I like that Catherines offers me those length options and also gives me size room to go up or down to get the fit right. In these jeans, I'm wearing a size 24. Yup, you read right!!!! A size 24. If I want a boyfriend slouchy look, I size up to a 26 regular and roll them up.

I also have large 23" calves and these jeans fit them nicely with no tightness. My upper arms measure 21" around and the sweater fits well in that respect as well.

The boots are a true wide width where I felt like I had wiggle room AND they are super comfy. So I can wear double socks with no issue. I walked around all day in them and my feet did not hurt. I love how brown looks against pink and it ties in with the leopard bow on my sweater.

I don't usually post pics of me sitting down because I used to think it was unflattering. But now? I know it's all in my head and if I feel good about something, who cares what others think? I don't anymore. 

I also don't wear makeup when I am out walking around because I just want to be comfortable and natural. So yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. I am not wearing any makeup. Just some Vaseline lip therapy on my lips.

So I will be wearing this pink coat and booties all winter long and living my best walking life. The booties also come in black so I have to have them. 

There's so many great things to do in NYC during this time and I will be sharing some of my adventures as a plus size person in some future blog posts coming up. So be sure to check back here to see me #FearlesslyMoving and having fun while doing it.

Shop my look from Catherines via the links below:

Photography by the amazing Karizza.

You can find her on Instagram here and visit her website here. I love to work with photographers who are body positive so expect more magic with myself and her in the future. I highly recommend her.

*This post is sponsored by Catherines but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

"Everybody wants me to be what they want me to be. I'm not happy when I try to fake it." ~ Easy, The Commodores

I talk a lot about my dad and how he spoke life into me on a daily basis growing up. I know I was blessed to have a dad like I did and not a day goes by, that I don't think of him. It's been 7 years since he died and he is always with me, even in my style.

I definitely got my love for camo from him. He never left the house without his camo jacket and hat. He loved combat boots and jeans. The first pair of jeans I wore as a plus size teen were courtesy of my dad's closet. I never gave those Levi's jeans back! And he didn't mind because I think he knew what they meant to me. When I wore those jeans, I felt normal and like everyone else. 

Watching him in his camo and denim, I was inspired. People stared at him -- he loved his camo safari hat, which always drew attention. And my dad didn't care. That was his style and that was how he expressed himself. He wore what he loved. 

And by me wearing what I love every day of my life, I am honoring his legacy of being true to who I am and embracing that. My style has always been different from others. I love streetwear but I also love being girly. I love sequins, faux fur, pearls, lace and all that. So I always incorporate a feminine vibe into my streetwear like how I paired this camo jacket from Lane Bryant and sneakers with this super girly mesh skirt with pearl details.

I love the floral embroidery on the camo jacket which gives it a feminine vibe and some pops of color. I also have issues with jacket sleeves being too short and tight in the upper arms. But this one fits well and comfortably with no snugness. I also love the frayed hem, which reminds me of when I was a teen and used to fray and deconstruct my denim with a razor blade.

And the tee... well, I had to have to it. That line "Easy Like Sunday Morning" is so meaningful to me. My dad loved the Commodores and "Easy" was one of his favorite songs to sing. I grew up in a house full of music but that song had so much meaning for me and hearing my dad's deep voice singing it, just puts a smile on my face and reminds me that it's okay to be different. 

I want to be free to know the things I do are right... that may be a love song but for me, the song empowers me to live my best life. And that includes wearing camo, a girly skirt and graphic tees.

Life is short. wear what you love no matter your size or age. That's my daily mantra.

Shop my look here:

Graphic Tee: Lane Bryant

Camo Jacket: Lane Bryant

Skirt: Lane Bryant

Sneakers: Puma

**I'm wearing a size 26/28 in the Lane Bryant pieces.**