What’s in a name?

Thank you, thank you, thank you. For your messages, calls, DMs. For your kind words and support. It means the world to me that you’ve embraced the concept of Sisu & Finn. It is an exciting, albeit very scary, adventure which is driven by wanting to give women of all shapes and sizes clothing options.

Since the announcement, I’ve had quite a few questions about the name; so here is the context.

The last two years have been particularly challenging for me. Through that process I’ve had to look into the black abyss that’s inside all of us and use sheer grit, and determination to overcome the challenges that presented themselves to me. With most things in life, nothing is absolute. So the process continues for me. However, I knew that to support my big, ambitious soul, I needed to create something which reflected me, my passion for pushing boundaries and serving the broader community.

With that in mind, the words which helped create the name were always going to play an important role in the overall ethos of the brand. And when I stumbled across Sisu, it instantly resonated with me and I loved it. It felt right. It’s a Finnish word (hence the Finn) which means stoic determination, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness. It’s about taking action against the odds and displaying courage and resoluteness in the face of adversity. Doesn’t that perfectly describe what’s needed to live an authentic life?

It summed up what was required of me the last two years, but on further reflection, my whole existence. Being what society hasn’t considered ‘normal’ has always demanded an extra level of grit and determination. I see that grit and determination in your words and faces too. And Sisu & Finn’s purpose is to help support you; to give you options and to be a place where you can be comfortable to express yourself.

So that my dear (petite, curvy, ‘normal’ and plus sized) friends is how Sisu & Finn came to be.

Feel free to check out the site. As it is a work in progress, feel free to send feedback to info@sisuandfinn.com.au and tell me what you want from the site. And if you agree with the ethos, please share the post with your friends and family.

An exciting new adventure

My dear long lost friends…..sorry to be MIA.

I’ve had a few things on my plate, of late. Surviving is one. OK, that might be slightly dramatic, but that’s how it can sometimes feel.

More excitedly, just shy of 6 months ago, I decided to start my own business. I am so unbelievably excited by this and since then, I’ve had this unfamiliar feeling of satisfaction, freedom and fulfilled. It’s also terrifying, but lets not focus on that.

As you know from my ramblings on this site, I have a passion for people and clothes.  So, I’ve decided to pull those passions together and build an online store for the plus size woman. For me, and for you.

It’s in the process of having final touches added but it should be launched within the next couple of weeks – don’t worry, I will let you know when it’s live.

After a LONG time debating a name, I chose Sisu & Finn. I LOVVEEEE this name and as soon as I understand what Sisu meant, it felt right. I was debating other names for 2-3 months before stumbling across the word Sisu.

Sisu is a Finnish word which loosely means stoic determination, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness and is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. … It’s about taking action against the odds and displaying courage and resoluteness in the face of adversity.

It perfectly describes my last two years. My world has been turned upside down, back to front, pulled up and down. I’ve spent this time questing my identity and what’s truly important to me; maybe now there will be some purpose and peace. I want so much for myself, and for you too.

The site isn’t live at this stage, but please add your details into the holding page so that you can keep up to date with all the exciting new developments as they happen. I will still blog, so you will still hear about my adventures here.

Thank you for your patience and support!

Laters baby (if you can figure out the reference, I will send you a virtual kiss).

 

 

 

Plus Size Styling Tips

Don’t Hide from Your Curves 

Wearing oversized clothes can sometimes work against you. Overly baggy clothes can make you look bigger, less stylish and less confident. When I started experimenting with clothes, my confidence soared. The way I viewed myself evolved and by choosing more fitted items, it actually became more flattering and representative of my style. Mixing one fitted item with one loose fitting item typically gives me the balance of style and comfort which suits my body.

Try on lots of sizes

Sizing is just a number. So, why are women slaves to a number? There are so many factors that go into sizing – brand, cut, fabric, style. So, try on lots of items as the sizing range will often surprise you.

Find clothes that flatter your specific shape

Not all bodies are the same. Understand your shape and which styles work best with your look. So simple yet so powerful.

Take some risks and stop the fear

Fear is the enemy of living a truly authentic life. Try new brands, fabrics or styles. Try on that dress you love but you’re convinced will look terrible on. Take the risk because sometimes you just don’t know until you give it a try. Live a little – I can guarantee you will not regret it.

Know your fabrics

I’ve said this before, and say it again. Know which fabrics feel good on your body, and understand which fabrics highlight the parts you love and hide those you don’t. It makes shopping so much easier. Whether you’re an online shopper or not, it makes the shopping experience more enjoyable and well…practical.

Tailor it!

Tailoring can make a huge difference to your overall look.  It can be the difference between an outfit looking great, or a little lack luster. Tailoring is a great option if you’ve lost, or put on, weight and want to use the clothes you have. It’s cheaper than a new wardrobe and you’re not adding to landfill.

Focus on certain shops

If styling isn’t your thing, then why don’t you take the leg work out and shop where they give you tips. You can see how an outfit looks overall and it will save you time and money not wasting time and money with returns or a pile of clothes which don’t work with your wardrobe.

Wear what makes you feel good

Life is too short to be caught up with what other people think. Easier said than done, but the only way to improve this line of thinking is to do it. That part is simple. Life isn’t a test run, so be happy.

 

 

Plus size bloggers changing the game

There continues to be a gaping hole in the marketplace for on-trend, stylish, great quality and flattering plus size clothing. However, as brands are slowly starting to come to the plus size party, helping lead this charge is an increasing group of fabulous women. Women  with curves who have great style and the confidence to show them off.

With so many curvy ladies with various shapes and sizes it’s great to see women who truly understand style and demand that old school views of bigger women and clothing don’t apply.

This movement is so important for more reasons than to just look pretty; great style is a right, not a ‘nice for some’.

 

Here is a list of some of my top curvy bloggers. I hope you’re prepared for a lust fest!

Nicolette Mason 

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Gabifresh

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Jay Miranda

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Tanesha Awasthi

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7 Habits of Stylish People

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Image: Stylecaster.com

There are very few people who can be considered genuinely stylish.

It’s easy to wear the hottest labels but this approach isn’t always sustainable. This can be very expensive and there are some bills which should always take precedence, but also because many fashionable items are no longer in vogue six months down the track.

Scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest the personalities are often wearing the same brands and if you squint your eyes start to morph into one another. Boring!

Then you stumble on personalities which are amazing;  chic, cool, interesting and unique. These women know their bodies. They understand their shape and style and what transpires is a visual love fest. They frame their bodies with clothes, the way an artist frames their paintings.

These women are truly stylish and from which we should aim to take our fashion inspiration. So, here is a list of 7 habits highly stylish people to help inspire you’re style journey.

1. They don’t copy exactly what they see
With Pinterest, Instagram and blogs aplenty there is so much fodder for your style inspiration. Remember it’s fun to admire but it’s not always healthy to emulate.

2. They aren’t afraid of any store—and can find something almost anywhere
Legitimately stylish women will visit any store with zero snob factor, yet they manage to stay true to their look. A stylish person understands quality, quirky and interesting items can be found anywhere from a Vinnie’s rack, Target or Louis Vuitton.

3. They know how to style themselves to their own taste
Most stylish girls will say “I’ve had this blazer for 10 years” and mean it.

The blazer itself is nice, but it’s the way it was styled; great-fitting jeans, loose shirt with an extra button undone, heels, and added a killer pair of modern statement earrings.

4. They always look radiantly natural 
Highly stylish people are often in the habit of always  standing out from the crowd in any situation.

They might wear a pair of sneakers when the others are teetering on sky-high heels, or pull her hair into a top knot when everyone else has long beachy waves. Small elements often make them look more natural but still polished.

5. Confidence is key 
The most stylish women are ones who have confidence, and who know they don’t need the $700 jumper or $2,000 handbag to make themselves appear cool.

A confident person can light up a room in a t shirt and jeans.

6. They aren’t slaves to fashion
Some of the most stylish people are able to have fun with fashion and follow trends without looking like a slave. If you don’t like a trend—even if every blogger under the sun is wearing it—don’t buy into it. It’s that simple.

7. They dress for themselves
During a time where the comparison game is strong, highly stylish people dress for themselves, their lifestyle and what looks good on them.

It doesn’t matter if those heels are the hottest around, if you can’t walk in them, it’s not stylish.

 

Q&A: Shelly Horton, Journalist and Founder of ShellShocked Media

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Shelly Horton and Philippa Giles @ The Wine Library Woollahra

Shelly Horton is journalist with one of the bubbliest personalities in Australian TV; one of the most opinionated too.

At the end of 2015, and with nearly two decades of journalism experience under her belt, Shelly and her now husband Darren quit their jobs, moved house, got married in Mexico and founded a video proaction company, Shell Shocked Media.

The name, a play on her name, also fits with the type of clients the dynamic duo want to represent; those who are happy to be a bit controversial or need to shock to get attention. Her personality shines talking about topics that would make most people blush.

 

I have followed Shelly’s story through Instagram over the last few years. I love her boldness, and openness to share a variety of life’s challenges – including her challenge with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); a condition I have too.

I am so proud to have had the opportunity to sit down with her and share her story with you as the inaugural Q&A on A Quaintrelle Life Blog where we discussed love, work, family and PCOS.

Q&A: Shelly Horton, Journalist and Founder of ShellShocked Media

 

When did you launch Shell Shocked Media?

We launched in late January 2016 but I feel like I was working on the business for a year! I was surprised at how much went into starting a company – legal, website development, business names – it’s overwhelming. But six months in everything is calmer and we’re kicking goals!

Who are your first clients?

Our first clients are Target, Vagasil (because I love talking vaginas!) and the McGrath Foundation for its new campaign. I’ve also been brought on by Triumph bras as an ambassador to discuss minimizers (which I incorrectly thought were just for old ladies) It’s like shape wear for your boobs! Did you know you can choose your breast shape? You can choose to be round or tear drop! Who knew?

 

How does Darren deal with constantly discussing ‘lady issues’?

Well, it’s not just listening to it. He does all the video editing so he sees and hears it on loop. When we did the Vagasil video, he joked he heard the word vagina 4000 times in one day. He said never wanted to hear that word again. Poor guy. He has been amazing.

How has it been working with your husband in a new business? 

I love it but it has been a huge test on our relationship. During our four year relationship he has worked six nights a week which gave me plenty of me time. Now, we work together 24/7 in the same space. We work and live in the same loft so I cannot even slam the door and have some alone time. The bathroom is the only alone space we have. But we are ying and yang; I am on camera and doing various activities off camera, while he is the workhorse behind the camera. I am finding his work ethic is harder than mine, and I’m a workaholic.

How do you like working for yourself? 

It’s not all roses! But I like being my own boss. I have a bit of an issue with authority – I can be quite lippy! I’ve had a few jobs where I’ve felt I could do to the job of the boss but it wasn’t my dream to do so. Even when I had a team of 30 staff, I didn’t enjoy it – most of it was management work and I wasn’t doing the work that I love! So, my plan with ShellShocked Media is to keep it small and niche.

How do you manage the pressures of a new business?

We’ve only just started having one day off on the weekend because we were working seven days. I was getting quite antsy but my agent reminded me to breathe and have a day off otherwise I’d likely fall in a heap. If I collapsed what would the point be of having these dreams?

How do you unwind? 

We’ve starting going for a swim together at the end of the day. It’s so nice because the stress of the day is wiped off. During summer we did go down in the middle of the day but when you go back into the office, the work is still there.

What else keeps you busy?

We are also working on a travel series. We even did some work in Mexico while on our honeymoon. We did a story about the Day of the Dead, which is a really beautiful way at looking at death – it takes the sadness out of it. We then travelled to the Bahamas and did a story about swimming with the pigs – friggin giant, wild pigs! The story is awesome! The pigs have learnt to swim. You look at them and think, ‘what the hell’. I was actually a bit scared but some of piglets were cute.

When we went back to the Gold Coast over Christmas, we also did a story about catching sand worms with our hands. I grew up doing this, so it was really nice to relive a childhood memory. I interviewed my Dad, Kev. He was amazing on camera. Darren said, ‘Now I know where you get it from!’ Dad has the gift of the gab – his nickname is Captain Have A Chat.

With a large online following, is trolling an issue?

I typically only get trolled when I say something on TV and people don’t like it – they just attack and say the most horrible things. Doesn’t matter what I say, they will get really personal and makes comments about how fat I am. In one particular incident when we were discussing the dog laws, I had over 100 messages saying things like ‘I am going to bring my dog around and have it rip your throat out’.

Do these threats scare you?

I’m not scared people will follow through; I am more scared that it will affect my mental health. I was friends with Charlotte (Dawson) and she committed suicide two years ago because of online bullying. That’s where I am very aware and I have been very vigilant. So, if people put nasty comments up I delete it straight away. I used to leave it there because I thought people had a right to say what they want but then I thought no they don’t – it’s my page, my profile. Some of my followers would then defend me but I didn’t want them getting involved in those types of conversations either.

You’re confident and vocal about issues important to you – do you think that’s why some people follow you?

Absolutely. That’s why I have no problem posting photos of me beetroot faced at the gym or the one when my cyst burst and I had a massive hormonal break out – not many people would do that – that’s our PCOS life! And it sucks!

 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a topic you’ve helped bring to mainstream media. As it manifests differently in each person how do you manage your PCOS life? 

I would bleed for three weeks at a time. So many years ago I had an IUD inserted; it goes up your razoo and my period completely stopped. That was really good but then I was still getting the ovarian cysts and they were bursting, so I had three operations to help manage those. If you’ve ever had a cyst burst, you will know that it is horrendous! Your body freaks out because it thinks it’s bleeding internally; at one stage I was projectile vomiting and had diarrhea at the same time. The pain at times was also so bad. Since then, I’ve seen Dr Ginni Mansberg as she specialises in hormones and women’s health. She wrote a book called “How To Handle Your Hormones” which was really helpful, because I gave it to Darren for context. When we were really trying to lose weight I would lose 600 grams a month and Darren would lose 6kgs; I was doing more exercise than him! It completely destroyed me. So he came to Dr Ginni with me because I needed her to give him the medical advice first hand. He even asked Dr Ginni if I had secretly been eating mars bars! It’s clearly a hard situation anyway but particularly when that’s what people think.

Dr Ginni then put me on the pill and that controlled the ovary pain. I’m still getting the hormonal pimples, and back acne, which is charming! Really! It really is the most unattractive syndrome to have. Hair growth can also be an issue. Early on in the relationship with my husband, we were having breakfast at a local cafe and while he was reading the menu, he looked up to see what was on my face – it was a long chin hair! I was mortified and called my laser service straight away.

Why do you think PCOS isn’t talked about very often?

A lot of doctors don’t seem to understand it and it doesn’t help that the symptoms are so different in each person. My mum was never diagnosed but she had a hysterectomy at 32 because she had so many problems – now they have a definition for it. When I was 13 my doctors put me on the pill because of my extra long periods. Unfortunately what that did was mask the bigger issue, and just dealt with the immediate symptoms.

How do you deal with having PCOS?

It has been a long battle, and honestly, I still battle it with.

In addition to your intense gym sessions, what else do you do to build exercise into your daily life? 

Walk and talk meetings! Everyone has embraced it.

You recently got married, tell me about the dress. 

I bought mine for $187 from Etsy! It was a size 20 so I knew it would be too big and would require being taken in but it was exactly what I wanted. I also had to buy a corset, which meant going to a fetish shop in Newtown. As I’ve never had a waist in my life, it was awesome; even though I couldn’t breathe. I was so happy!

I paired it with a Viktoria Novak crown and as I walked down the isle, Darren was crying. The first thing he said to me was ‘It looks like you’re going to the Oscars’. And that’s why I married him!

Where was the ceremony? 

In Peurto Vallarta in Mexico. It was a gorgeous restaurant called Le Kliff; I changed into a reception dress designed by my talented friend Catherine.  I wanted something feminine that I could dance in. And boy did we dance.

How did you meet Darren?

I walked into a bar. I was invited to the Vanguard in Newtown for a themed Burlesque night  – batman Burlesque! So six of us turned up, I saw Darren and I was so shy I couldn’t speak. Me? Part of why I couldn’t talk was because he looks like my celebrity crush Michael Chiklis. Actually, Darren is better looking than Michael. I didn’t end up talking to Darren that night – I just smiled at him like an idiot.

What’s the most romantic thing Darren has done? 

Before we even had our first proper date, he asked to be my boyfriend. We were texting back and forth and before we had a proper date we knew everything about each other. He didn’t want to wait till date night, so he invited me over to his place for lunch and my first thought was ‘what do I wear to a day date?’ I got a blow dry and then messed it up so it didn’t look like I had been for a blow dry; matched with jeans, shirt and blazer. As I drove to his place, and turned the corner into his street, he was standing there waiting with a long stem, red rose. I wound the window down, and he kissed me without saying anything. WOW.

What’s the best present Darren gave you?

Darren peeled off the label from the first bottle of champagne we shared, dried the red rose he gave me on our first date, found the text where he first ask to be my boyfriend and then had a calligrapher write it out. He put it all together and framed it. 

Biggest potential dating mistake?

I nearly gave up the initial evening date with Darren to watch The Voice.

What do you drink?

I like red wine and champagne but I love an orange Bacardi Breezer.

Least and most favourite part of your body? 

My tummy. My boobs are awesome, massive but awesome.

What did the teachers say about you at school?

She talks a lot. A guidance councilor even said to me I was too opinionated – I decided then that was what I wanted to do!

Dating philosophy?

Be cruel to be kind.

Life philosophy?

Fake it till you make it. 

What’s your must have winter fashion item?

Knee high boots from Ted & Muffy made especially for girls with big calf muscles. I ordered them from London about five years ago and I still love them. You measure your calf muscle and give your foot size and they make them just for you.

In the cooler months, what’s your must have beauty item?

Moisturiser! I use Evidence Based Skincare (ESK). The bottles aren’t pretty, the product doesn’t smell pretty but it makes your skin pretty and with PCOS that’s what I need.

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Shelly Horton

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Shelly and husband Darren in Mexico

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Shelly in her reception dress

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Honeymoon: Shelly and Darren

NB: Images courtesy of Shelly Horton

 

 

 

 

 

Tips to have a clutter free wardrobe

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As all my friends will attest, I do not lead the clutter free lifestyle. I don’t buy junk or nick knacks, but I have a small apartment with minimal storage space, and I have so many clothes. Most of my ‘stuff’ is clothes. I just really, really love clothes. So in order to tame what some may consider a disaster, here are my top tips to keep my wardrobe functional and relatively clutter free.

CREATE AN ORDERED, STRUCTURED WARDROBE

A wardrobe which has been with designated to maximise the space and with specific spots for shirts, dresses, skirts, pants is an ordered, easy to use wardrobe. When I designed my wardrobe, I specifically wanted sections for clothing categories. This was the best decision! When I’m short on time, I know exactly where to look for the perfect party dress, or that favourite shirt and skirt combo. I even take it one step further and colour code (white through to black); this may be over the top, but again, it helps me make a decision fast while showcasing all my beautiful clothes.

DON’T OWN CLOTHES YOU DON’T LIKE

Why is it that the ugly jumper your mum gave you for your birthday 5 years ago still in my wardrobe?  with several holes you bought five seasons ago still necessary? You might plan on using it to paint your future house, but what purpose does it play in your life now?  How many ugly sweatshirts are you hanging onto just because you might wear them to paint the garage some day? Put those suckers out to pasture. (And when painting day comes, we promise you’ll find a way not to be topless.)

WHAT TO DO WITH CLOTHES YOU LOVE, BUT NO LONGER NEED

Style changes but there are items in my wardrobe which I still love, and no longer need. My size also changes faster than I would like to admit. I find the best way of unloading these items, giving them to charity (the feels are good with this option), sell directly to friends (who get a ridiculous bargain) and eBay . Local markets are also an option but that’s a significant time and energy investment.

HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Clothes are highly emotional tools. An outfit can change the way you feel about yourself, so why would you own clothes which don’t make you feel like the slayer you are or want to be? Unless you feel like a goddess in it, throw it out.

THEY DON’T DISTINGUISH BETWEEN SUMMER AND WINTER WARDROBES

The beauty of buying classic, great quality items is you want to wear them all year round. They look and feel great, so with a few minor additions a summer wardrobe can easily be turned into a wardrobe suitable for the cooler months. A good rule of thumb: Your entire yearly wardrobe should fit in your drawers and closet. If it doesn’t, you need to purge.

WHEN YOU BUY A NEW ITEM, THEY THROW OUT AN OLD ONE

I was discussing space (or rather, a lack of) with my aunty and she told me that for every item she buys, she throws an item out. Ever since I stick to this rule like glue. When I buy a new pair of shoes, I throw a pair out. If I buy a new top, I throw an old, hole-y top out. Because I like to bend the rules, I sometimes throw something else out. I buy a new dress, so I throw some old sheets out. Whatever the case, if I buy something new, another item has to go.