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By Deborah Gregory

UBC is proud to present award winning writer Deborah Gregory. Ms. Gregory is the author creator of THE CHEETAH GIRLS and CATWALK (Delacorte Press). CATWALK: Strike A Pose, the second novel in her purrlicious new fashion-forward tween teen series, pounces on book shelves September 8th and has been optioned by the TEEN NICK network for TV series development.

As a former fashion model, Deborah is bringing us some plus size tips and favorites. Please welcome Deborah Gregory!! PURR!!


Yesterday, I was plopped on the quaint wrought iron bench outside of my favorite Bagel Shop on First Avenue in Manny Hanny (that’s New York to non-fashionistas) with my pooch, Cappuccino, relishing a tasty turkey burger bagel dripping with chipotle sauce. Sarah, one of the ubiquitous neighborhood ``bench warmers’’ who indulges in the same morning ritual—sans the bagel or coffee (actually, the only thing I’ve ever seen her consume with gusto is gossip), turned to me and chirpily commented, ``You look like you’ve lost weight!’’

The truth is, I have been on a diet for the past seven weeks—my first in three years. I hadn’t planned on embarking on the pound-reduction plan until I hit bottom with a resounding thud—literally. Seven weeks ago, I was running errands, climbing out of the danky underground with my hefty shopping bags so slowly that the agitation from the agile, impatient ones behind me was so palpable it raised the (real) hairs on the back of my neck. ``Keep it moving, BIG girl!’’ shrieked one of the limber losers. Given my agitation at being singled out for slowness it’s not surprising that I became distracted, lost my footing and tumbled to the bottom like Alice in Wonderland disappearing in the rabbit hole. Luckily, I wasn’t hurt, but the fall from grace woke me from a deep slumber.

See, I’ve been a fashionable plus size person for twenty years—after having spent the previous years as a five-foot-eleven-inch, 130-pound slenderella who even modeled, for one memorable year, in Europe. In my opinion, the transition from slim to sizeable was, well, seamless. Sure, I had less dates—but frankly, I needed the rest, okay and I’m looking for quality not quantity. But that morning, I faced a hard truth—no way would I be comfortable being physically debilitated because of my size and clearly that was the direction I was moving into. That day, I started my ad hoc diet then (basically three meals a day and one snack). Four weeks later, I weighed myself and was shocked to see that I weighed 285 pounds—and that’s after four weeks of dieting—which means I was teetering close to 300 pounds and didn’t even realize it!

As the saying goes, too much of a good thing is exactly that. So I shared this truth with Sarah and revealed my goal weight: 185 pounds. She looked at me in disapproval. ``If you weighed 130 pounds when you were a model, why not go back to that size? You would look fabulous,’’ she coaxed me.

I answered her truthfully: ``Because I don’t want to ever weigh 130 pounds again!’’ I honestly, truthfully, want to weigh 185 pounds—not a pound less! Sarah was reticent about my decision, but I’m not. After having been thin and obese, I can honestly say, I want to be purrlicious and plus size, puhleese!

At the moment I’m a size 22 and weigh 275 pounds—and I’m 90 pounds away from my goal weight, but still completely interested in looking fabulous. As a matter of fact, I have just received my box of fall clothes from London, England that I ordered from my absolutely favorite designer in the whole world: Anna Scholz. If you don’t know who that designer is, do yourself a favor and check out her website: www.annascholz.com. After having worn her clothes for ten years, I can tell you this: buy less and pay more and it will pay off in fashion dividends. What I ordered for fall: 1. A pair of fabulous black fitted crepe slacks with a flared bell bottom. 2. A pink and black boucle wool singled breasted coat. 3. A long burgundy t-shirt with a black bull dog wearing a rhinestone choker! And the piece de resistance: a matching long scarf! 4. A black satin double-breasted trench coat with ruffled edges. 5. A black pullover sweater with puffed sleeves accented with pink hearts. Meowch, indeed! The one thing I have learned from my weight journey from 130 pounds to almost 300 pounds—no matter what your size, work your wardrobe for points on the Dow Jones, okay. ALWAYS.

Major mistake numero uno: Do not punish yourself because you’re bigger—and do not justify dressing shabbily with the excuse: I’ll wait till I’m thin. Guess what? Not gonna happen.

Tall, plus size women should always take it to the brim with hatitude: fedoras, berets, cloches and work the long, flowing scarves. Another absolute basic: black flared pants—go even wider with the flare like the ones I just ordered from Anna Scholz. Flat waistband, fitted through the hips and legs, then a furbulous flare like a gypsy dancer. These can be worn with boots or high heels. Pair with a longer, fitted black top. One of the most flattering is: the cross over bodice with a sweetheart v-neck. This gives cleavage and can be worn with a push up bra for the most flattering effect.

Don’t be dainty when it comes to dresses. Animal prints, graphic prints like the ones favored by Melissa Matisse (at neimanmarcus.com) will last forever. Solid colored mid-knee or longer dresses with the cross-over bodice also give the same effect. Wrap dresses are sexy and flattering, but sometimes the clingy fabric shows a little bit too much in the back area for my taste so please make sure to wear a structured one-piece undergarment underneath to smooth the lumps and bumps.

It’s a wrap for fall. Every tall, plus size woman should own a wool shawl or wrap. My favorite fling: The rosette detailed double-ruffle black wrap of pure cashmere from the Magaschoni Collection. Statuesque divas can also work the double-breasted trench coats in jersey, wool, boucle knits. Fierce.

As for the shorter plus size divas: Single breasted coats that fall right above the knee are best. When you’re shorter, lengthening lines are crucial. Pants should be tapered to the ankle or even Capri length are purrfecto!

Turn to monochromatic dressing: wear black with black; grey with grey. Tone on tone dressing creates longer lines.

Whether you’re tall or short and plus size, please don’t scrimp on your wardrobe. The truth is, a slender girl can dress tawdry and get away with it, but there is nothing less flattering than seeing a plus size woman squeezing into clothes that are too tight, or look inexpensive. Instead of buying several items that are inexpensive, then spend your wardrobe dollars on that one expensive item. Trust me, it will pay off in wardrobe dividends and divine compliments. I may be big—and the tawdry have told me so to my face, but no one has ever said, I don’t dress fierce!

Comment by Phala Wright on August 28, 2009 at 6:52pm
This is very inspiring and you give good practical tips plus are funny and fabulous. Thanks for sharing!
Comment by Lola on August 28, 2009 at 6:54pm
Wow what a beautiful lady! These are some great lines to choose from too. Something different...I love it.
Comment by Tosha on August 30, 2009 at 2:58pm
Respresent for the thick gals Deborah! Beautiful!!!
Comment by Cali Love on August 31, 2009 at 9:14am
I love that cashmere wrap!
Comment by Bittah Sweet on September 1, 2009 at 12:47am
i like the cut of that animal print dress quite a bit.
Comment by Hair ETC. on September 1, 2009 at 2:37pm
I have to admit I love the Cheetah girl series. I read them to my daughter...lol!
Comment by Makeupfrvr on September 9, 2009 at 3:37pm
Go head Ms. Gregory. I love your sassiness! Grrrrrr!


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