Monday, December 19, 2011

My Ulla Takes Me Everywhere

The holidays are a hectic time, no doubt.

On Friday night, December 9th, my husband asked me if I'd go with him to the holiday Open House at our golf club on Sunday, December 11th for prospective new members! I turned my head toward him, rolled my eyes trying to affect an "are you nuts?!?" look. But he quickly interjected, "Oh come on, I'd like to sponsor Randy for membership." Oh great, now Randy's golf membership is on my holiday to-do list too!

Then I thought for a moment, I really didn't need more time than that. I figured 'what's the big deal?' I don't need to shop, clean or cook for it and with Ulla I have a great outfit, holiday sparkled, at the ready. So I said, "Sure, why not? Yes, in fact, I'd love to go!"

We went and had a great time. Everyone was in a festive mood. The club looked gorgeous and the buffet and holiday punch was delicious. I chatted with Randy for a bit and was reminded how lonely he was at Christmastime. His wife passed away four years ago and it had happened during the holiday season. He told me how excited he was to join the Club, give himself the gift of membership for Christmas and how having golf to look forward to in the Spring would make the holidays so much easier.

Then I recalled that I had almost said "no" to going to the Open House to sponsor Randy. I was disappointed in my selfishness, perhaps more so at this Season. There was a time in my life, that a last minute invitation gave me anxiety because I worried about how I'd put a flattering outfit together with limited time. Perhaps subconsciously, a little of that fear may linger.

Today, I have Ulla in my closet and the message I have for my sistas who wear plus size is that there should never be a time when you decline an invitation because you fear you 'having nothing to wear.' Life is just too short for that!

Happy Holidays!


Ulla Popken Blogger & Stylist

Be your personal best.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Life of One Spectacular Jacket

My grandmother was truly elegant. It was a different time and a different place, but even now, although my lifestyle is pretty casual, I long to 'be a lady' once in a while.

When my grandmother was almost 50, a frightened three year old little girl came to live with her and Gramps - me. She went 'to business' every day but managed to be a mother to me, attend my school functions, and keep our family together.

She didn't have a ton of clothing and jewelry, but what she had was well-chosen, even spectacular. She wore Pauline Trigere and Abe Schrader, got her hair done on Tuesdays and 'combed out' on Fridays, while those around her looked like they shopped at Woodstock.

When she'd visit my school, I was so proud of her. She moved quietly. It was only in meeting up with my former elementary school teacher a few years ago, that I learned that the envelope I carried to school each Monday with my milk money had enough in it for every child in the school who didn't have milk money. She raised the bar on elegance in our provincial little town, without being pretentious - she was quite a lady.

Understandably, I'd reminisce during the holidays, but there's something in the Ulla collection that prompted me to write this, the Sequined Swing Jacket, #15340. My grandmother had a similar sequin cardigan and a coordinating sequin handbag that she wore for at least 30 years. Why? Because it complemented everything she owned. It was a gracious, elegant combo and she carried it well. So, why change it? That's how she bought - for the long term.

When holidays or family celebrations came around, she didn't need to run out for a new dress. Quite the contrary, what she already owned transcended the decades and snickered at the fashion trends because they were already so right, spot-on and always worked well for her. I can picture the dresser drawer where her special cardigan and handbag waited at the ready, to be called up for yet one more celebration. The memory of the fragrance of that drawer with its delightful orange and clove sachet overwhelms me now.

I keep my Sequin Swing Jacket and Rhinestone Evening Bag, #15945 in a drawer with an orange and clove sachet and wear it when I want to be reminded of the woman I called Mommy and what being an elegant, well-grounded woman is all about.

Here's to you, Mommy!

I hope you'll share similar memories!

Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Bead-Dazzled for the Holidays

Looking for a gift for a woman who wears plus size but you want to avoid the size-trap?

Check out Ulla's jewelry! I'm lovin' our Three Strand Necklace, #21032 and coordinating Beaded Earrings, #15957 - Pink, Purple, Plum - Oh My!

Jewelry is the first cousin of attitude. Important, well selected pieces offer drama, whimsy, style and richness in ways that are impossible to measure. When we feel beautiful and stunning, we look the part.

Why jewelry for the plus size woman?

  • We need big impact jewelry. Layering jewelry provides big impact and deep interest with abundant light and movement. That's why I love coordinating pieces, which also offer the opportunity to partner with someone to give the gift as a set, perhaps earrings and a necklace.

  • We often wear dark neutral, tonal or monochromatic palettes, which are the perfect background for big impact jewelry.

  • We may not have a lot of time to dress in the morning, which makes coordinating sets of fantastic jewelry very welcome.

  • Size-able, chunky pieces look rich and important.

  • Consciously or unconsciously, we may avoid loud trendy clothing, but we can more than make up for it with "wow" jewelry and other accessories.

I'm so excited about Ulla's jewelry, it's gorgeous, affordable and proportionate to our size. Girlfriend, this is one time our real estate comes in handy!

How do you avoid the size-trap?

Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best

Monday, November 28, 2011

Three Steps to Holiday Polish

Black Friday came and went.

The goal of 'Context, Proportion and Comfort for the Holidays' remains.

Time to set up a few go-to outfits that can take me everywhere I need to go over the next month or so. Holiday traditions and shopping are revving up and so am I. Here's one of my go-to outfits and I thought I'd share my thought process with you.

Three Questions:

Question #1:
Can one outfit take me to work, to shopping and still later in the evening to a social gathering?

Remember my last post? Build from the bottom - up. I'm loving my Matte Jersey Straight Leg Pants, 02635.

Comfort and sleek tops my list of dressing priorities when I've got people to see and places to go!

Question #2:
Can the outfit be tweaked to reflect the context and joy of the Holidays and my size as a plus size woman?

I'm adding my Ulla Gilded Foil Knit Top, #15554.

Does the embellishment on this top echo joy for the Season or what?!?! The proportion of the embellishment is so right for me as a plus size woman.

Question #3:
Will it be comfy, stylish and able to handle the 'wear and tear' required by the Season?

I'm accessorizing with my:

Comfort Ballet Flat, #14924, pewter

I love to mix metallics and I'm opting for the comfort sole.

Eva Graham Filigree Chandelier Earrings, #14935

These earrings are high volume impact, very 'holiday,' and very light weight to wear (and the Ulla Gilded Foil Top already says so much!)

Easy as 1-2-3 and out-the-door!

What's your Holiday go-to outfit?

Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger
Be your personal best!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Early Plus Size Clothing Holiday Musings

Earlier this week, a client invited me to lunch to discuss refreshing her wardrobe for the holidays. She arrived, decked out in an outfit I had styled for her two years ago. Back then, it looked great. Now, however, it no longer looked so flattering. What had changed? The style? Not really. The color palette? Nope.

Lets be honest, what had changed was that she either had gained some weight or her weight had redistributed itself around her tummy.Gosh, can I related to that, or what!

So I had a choice, do I bring it up or wait and see if she does. I figured I'm here to help and certainly I know first-hand of what I speak. I broached the topic by saying, "Talk to me, you seem uncomfortable." She looked at me, held my glance for an extra second, burst into tears but managed to blurt out, "Babe, I turned 50 last year and almost to the day my tummy popped out, I'm so uncomfortable in everything I own - What a birthday present!" Ah, the old "menopot" strikes again!

I can't change menopause but I do have a tip that can help and I think you'll appreciate it all the more as the holidays get closer. Build an outfit from the bottom up. Find a pant that gives you comfort and sleek at the same time. Where is such a delectable item to be found? Smack in the middle of Ulla's Matte Jersey Collection. I recommend trying the pant in two different cuts, the Straight Leg Pants, #02635 and the Wide Leg Pants, #91624.

Here's why you'll love them as much as I do:

* Elastic waistband, 1 inch thick so it doesn't roll down
* Stretch throughout the tummy, hips and thighs
* Matte Jersey fabric, thick enough to cover the cottage cheese and thin enough to pour over curves like creamy warm cocoa - forgive the food analogies :)
* Cut that manufactures a very flattering silhouette

Give yourself a gift for the holidays before they get here, a pair of pants that lets you, breathe, laugh heartily and look smashing and sleek.

What else are you thinking about giving yourself for the holidays?

Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger
Be your personal best.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Psycho-Graphic More Than Demographic

Recently. I learned the term "psycho-graphic," and as a stylist and blogger, it really turned me on! Typically, merchandisers look to the traditional elements of demographics to produce items that will be purchased by plus size baby boomers

Let's look for a moment, however, at who we are; a psycho-graphic peek, and what that might mean for the clothing we buy:

1. We don't dress like our mothers did. Which means we are figuring it out for the first time, for ourselves.
2. We believe 50 is the new 40 and reject the traditional boundaries of middle age.
3. We dress to please ourselves.
4. The balance between "fade" and "focus" is a continuous, but creative challenge.
5. We seek harmony between self-adornment, self-improvement and self-esteem.
6. Our spending power is staggering.

So what does this have to do with dressing? Quite a lot. I appreciate having access to clothing that projects my concept of self-worth to the world, fits comfortably and looks amazing!

Yes, there are items that shout, "Count me in. The day is fresh and... 'I'm worth it'." Ulla's Layered Peasant Top, #15539, is such an item. It's gorgeous, the color is rich and the embellishments are alive.

What does this top say to you?


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Effortless Plus Size Dressing

Have you ever eyed a woman in your travels and thought, "Wow, she looks great and it all looks so natural on her, like she's not even trying?" Effortless dressing is a goal for those of us 'of a certain age.' When I say 'effortless' - I mean in terms of appearance and in terms of energy expended. Yup, that's why 'dress' rings loud and clear when discussing effortless dressing. That's why I love to wear dresses.

Look for a dress that embraces the 'now' of your lifestyle and your body. Take pride and dress your body well, after all, it is the body that allows you to be all you are. Embrace it. Love it. Dress it well.

Look for a dress that has four elements working for you:

* shape
* drape
* line
* detail

A great example of effortless dressing can be found in Ulla's Matte Jersey Sequin Sleeve Dress, #95207. The fabric, poly with a healthy amount of spandex, supports the cut of the dress and makes it soft and comfy to wear throughout the day, and the style offers a great silhouette with coverage and pretty details.

If you want to rev it up, pair it with Ulla's Scrunch Dress Boot, #15923, in Leopard, or if you want to wear a flat, consider Ulla's Essential Skimmer,#15936, either the purple, gunmetal or black.

Please share what effortless dressing means to you.

Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sexy and Sleek

Recently, I was thrown for a loop. A relative whom I hadn't seen in 18 years came to Baltimore and we had dinner together. Seemingly in a time-warp, I was transported back to being "such a pretty face" which was really a euphemism for being fat. CRASH! BOOM! BANG! STOP! ...Put the brakes on that 'stinkin' thinkin' Babe!

The moment passed and I got dressed for dinner in Little Italy. I have tools and insights I didn't have 18 years ago and no one, I repeat, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." (Eleanor Roosevelt)

I chose my Ulla Double Ruffle Stretch Knit Dress, in Black, #15229. The complete outfit I wore to dinner is actually one of Babe's Winter Picks. I walked into the restaurant and just knew I was the sexiest, most sophisticated woman in the joint! Amazing what a great "little black dress" can do for a woman.

The dress is:

* made of sleek, viscose rayon spandex, and trust me, it may not sound sexy, but it is!
* pretty V-neckline enhanced by a double ruffle giving 3-dimensional texture to the dress.
* long and sleek like a tall cool drink of water.

I had to laugh, my relative couldn't wait to snap my picture, several times in fact, to show to the folks back home; and after that initial wave of anxiety, I couldn't have been happier!

Please share thoughts on your feelings about family visits.
Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger
Be your personal best.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Smart Dressing that's Not Studied

Have you ever noticed a woman who always seems to be well-dressed? Adjectives like smart, elegant, effortlessly-put-together seem to radiate from her? You can be that woman too!

The trick is to find a few 'uniforms' that work with your silhouette and lifestyle and refresh them seasonally. One example is the inner black column (tank and pant) with a go-to cardigan or jacket.

Ulla's Big Button Cardigan, #15547, is such a go-to piece. It comes in three colors, black, camel and port and is made of cotton/acrylic, 60/40, so it's comfy, drapes and keeps its original shape well.

A close cousin of this look is to use another monochromatic colored inner column, such as our Matte Jersey Tank, #94568 and Straight Leg Pants, #02635, in plum, with either a.) a tonal cardigan, say the port color, with a tonally matched flat shoe, such as the Essential Skimmer in purple, #15936, or a contrasting cardi, like the camel color, with a shoe that is also tonally coordinated with the pant.

While the term 'smart' usually refers to a look that is sleek, uncomplicated, upscale and uplifting - my guess is that the woman who takes advantage of this look is a pretty smart cookie, herself!

What are your 'uniform' looks?


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Good Coat - The Cornerstone of Confidence

Think gift wrap. Have you ever received a gift impeccably wrapped and couldn't believe your good fortune? The anticipation of the treasure inside compelled you to treat the package gently and with great appreciation. The presentation of the outer wrapping called you to make a judgment: something really fabulous was inside and must be treated accordingly.

Think of the coats in your wardrobe in this way. People will judge you in a nanosecond; your coat is your wrapping that creates the first impression others will have and will likely keep of you. Perhaps more importantly, it engenders the feeling you get about yourself as you move around through your day.

Outerwear is important and usually expensive; however it presents one-stop shopping for "fade and focus." The cut or shape of the coat will provide much of the "fade." The style details will provide the "focus."

Two Ulla coats are masterful renditions of "fade and focus" ---

The Funnel Neck Coat, #15112
Front and back yokes, vertical seams, on-seam pockets, 36" length and A-line fit provide great "fade." The strong single line of rich tonal buttons leading to the funnel neck creates "focus" right up the middle, framing the face.

The Ultimate Dress Coat, #15115
Roll-back raglan sleeves, on-seam pockets, 48" length and A Line fit provide the "fade." The "focus" is provided by the mandarin collar and four significant tonal buttons which create a vertical line pointing to the face.

Please share styles of outerwear that give you confidence.


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Full Body Photo Project

I met a very smart young woman in cyberspace, Jessica Kane. She reminded me how important it is for a woman to appreciate her whole body. After all, it is your whole body that makes your life happen, not just your head. The Full Body Photo Project is a celebration of all of YOU! The Project invites women who wear plus size to share a full body photo of themselves on a collective site. Several plus size specialty retailers are sponsoring the Project and offering prizes, of course Ulla Popken is a co-sponsor as well.

I remember back to the days when I was ashamed of my body because I was fat and the world of plus size fashion was lean. A lot has changed since then on many levels:

* Beautiful plus size clothing is plentiful- my favorite, of course being Ulla!
* The definition of beauty is expanding
* The paradigm has been changed forever - from the pity party to the pretty party!

Whew! What a relief!

A lot has changed for me too. I'm proud to work with Ulla Popken, where personal best is a combination of how you present yourself and how you live. "Dress U.P.," where our customers share pictures of themselves wearing Ulla clothing is actually a forerunner of the Project. Moreover, the very existence of Babe's Picks is evidence of a vision where all women belong and all women can be beautiful.

I hope you'll participate and put your personal best out there. Pictures that exude joy, comfort and pride may be rewarded with a gift card from one of the Project's sponsors. The Project, collectively, however, does something much more important, it unabashedly expands and redefines beauty and beckons all of us to be included.

Ulla Popken Blogger & Stylist

Be your personal best.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Jeans Give-away!

Diane*, you're a jean-ius! We will GIVE-AWAY a pair of jeans to the first 10 women to comment on my blog, Talking It U.P. AND send the comment to All we ask is for a review of the jeans within 30 days.

The launching of our new jeans is something we are very excited about and proud of at Ulla Popken. They are a representation of why we claim to be the 'better choice' in plus size fashion. Our jeans, Stretch Denim Button Zip Bootleg Pant, #14823, Stretch Denim Slim Jeans, #14824, and Stretch Denim Jeggings, #14822, have been completely rebuilt from the bottom - U.P., no pun intended - okay, maybe a little pun :)

* The fabrication is 99% cotton and 1% spandex, allowing the jeans to stay soft and well-fitted throughout the day while still giving a bit of stretch for comfort.

* The cut has been worked and reworked to embrace the curves of all of our customers. The doubled waistband sits at the navel, creating the sleekest silhouette possible.

* We sent the whistles and bells back to our daughters, where they belong, allowing our jeans to fit smoothly, agelessly, and serve as a back-drop for great tops and accessories, both casual and dressy.

* The pockets are positioned to 'lift' and smooth the appearance of the tush in a flattering way.

* The washes, Dark Denim and Denim have depth and a ruddy richness that is quintessentially American and usually only captured by designer jeans costing 2-3 times more than ours.

Did we get it right? You be the judge. Check out our VIDEO where we asked four Ulla associates, sizes 12-20, to take them for a test drive.

Yes, great jeans are an important foundation of a well-dressed woman's closet. They're versatile and therefore a no-brainer investment in a modern woman's wardrobe who wants to present herself as sharp and tuned in.

We want your opinion! If you have already tried the new jeans, we'd love to hear what you think.


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be Your Personal Best!

*Diane Cantor is the VP for Merchandising at Ulla Popken.

Monday, September 26, 2011

When A Bargain is a Bargain

Every woman I know loves a bargain. I'm no exception and neither are my girlfriends. So when is a bargain just that?

Look for bargains that freshen, replenish and expand your wardrobe. When shopping sales it is best to choose apparel you have some familiarity with.

Recently, a friend of mine, who shops Ulla, asked me to help her spend up to $100 to freshen her Fall wardrobe. Separately, in the comfort of home, we simultaneously went online to the Sale page of the Ulla site.

Here's what we chose:
  • 1 Surplice Tee, #92545, hibiscus
  • 1 Long Vented Knit Tunic, #02566, cherry
  • 1 Layered Sweater #95529, raspberry
  • 1 Beaded Cardigan, #05512, black
  • 1 Ponte Knit Pant, #11635, black

We kept her selections in a similar color scheme which she already wears well, to maximize using an existing set of coordinated of accessories. We chose items which she already knows well and counts on, Ulla tees, tunics and cardis. The only unknown was the pant, but another pair of good black pants - well worth the "risk."

What did she get for $100?

Five pieces that...

  • will freshen her wardrobe.
  • allow for varied Fall weather.
  • will lessen the wear and tear on her existing favorites.
  • will work with go-to items and accessories already in her wardrobe.
That's when a bargain is a bargain!

Please share how you shop bargains.


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best!

Monday, September 19, 2011

2 Items that Cover 4 Sizes

Reluctant to buy clothing when your weight is in flux? That's understandable, clothing is an investment. Still, it's important to look good, feel good and be your personal best all the times.

Two Ulla items strike me as good examples of investment pieces when you don't want to commit to one size:

the Stretch Knit Wedge Dress, #15230 and the Animal Print Boyfriend Sweater Cardigan, #15550. Why?


* have a well-defined, shapely silhouette
* start out fitted in the shoulder and begin to widen at the tummy and hips
* give extra room where it's traditionally needed
* narrow just below the hip

In fact, the wedge dress, well-edited at the knee, is very flattering because it has more length with which to extend the narrowing effect. Look for a cocoon or wedge shape. This will allow you room while you are larger and still look shapely when you are smaller.

Buy the smaller size and add a 1/4 inch Dolman shoulder pad - it will sharpen the shoulder line creating a prettier drape. Ulla's sizing is 12/14, 16/18 and 20/22... While I usually wear the 20/22, for these two items, I would go down a size. The cut already gives me extra room where I need it. I don't need more fabric or bulk, where I don't.

I'd love to hear tips for shopping when you are between two sizes.


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Richness, Depth and You

The wine, aubergine, and berry palettes that are flattering on so many women are abundant in our Fall and Winter collections - and for good reason: they work well for many complexions and especially well for women who are over forty. What is even more interesting in the Ulla collections is the way the prints, patterns and details have been combined, they yield richness and depth.

How do you put an outfit together that boasts richness and depth? Look for a dominant color, hold the item (or picture in the catalog) close to your face. Does it make your eyes pop? If it does, it's the right color for you. Next, look for a secondary color within the same item, this may be the color you choose to coordinate your jewelry and accessories. For the look to come together, the colors need to be clear and obvious that they work well together.

Here are some "look-fors":

  • Abstract florals with impressive size and depth
  • Bold geometric prints
  • Prints and solids of glorious jewel tones
  • Embroidery and embellishments that are thick and substantial
Outfits that are rich and have depth reflect well on the woman who wears them. The message is one of "presence and self-esteem." How do you achieve that quality in what you wear?


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, September 05, 2011

When Black is Not Enough

I wear a lot of black and have no plans to change that in the near future. The color black absorbs light so it disguises lumps and bumps; and therefore trumps all other colors for looking sleek. End of post? Not so fast!

There are other colors, fabrics and surface textures that do a great job of concealing puffy areas; when used together, they should not be overlooked.

  • Choose rich soft neutrals and jewel tones
  • Avoid weaves and textures that create bulk
  • Choose a fabric with a matte surface quality for areas you want to "fade" (down-play)
  • Choose a fabric with a shiny surface quality for areas you want to "focus" (draw attention to)
There are several Ulla fabrics, essentially in the matte jersey family, that bid a broader selection of color, and you can still be confident you'll look sleek: viscose rayon spandex, viscose rayon, modal rayon and polyester blends (especially with spandex.)

What's your favorite color and fabric "when black is not enough?"

Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Silver Lining

Okay, so I'm in love with Ulla's Silver Jewel Jacket (#15321.) It's dramatic, contemporary and ageless. But it's more than that for me as a woman who wears plus size, this jacket is a microcosm of my own fashion evolution imperatives.

Mademoiselle Chanel's stunning comeback in the '50s reminds us of the powerful quality of fabric with buckled surface for flattering a woman's shape. The fabric of this jacket, humbly 100% polyester, is pure genius, because it:

* is soft to the touch but firm enough to define the shoulders
* shapes the torso
* smooths over anything that's not smooth
* provides complete ease of movement
* is richly textured and embellished, and
* is bulk free

The huge, faceted stones provide great juxtaposition to the smart simplicity of the cut of the jacket. This jacket is a plus size celebration of what is timeless and chic. It reminds us that if Chanel isn't thinking of us; Ulla is.

I'd love to hear your favorite Ulla picks for what is timeless and chic.


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tone-On-Tone Dressing

"The best color in the world is the one that's right on you." So said Coco Channel.
A tone-on-tone outfit will always looked pulled-together, expensive and have depth. Tonal dressing is different from monochromatic dressing in that it is not necessarily one color from head to toe. Yet it is easy and fail-proof.

Here are two takes on the look:

1. Layering items of a wonderful flattering color near the face and enriching it with similarly colored accessories (slacks can still be black and jeans work too.) For example, this season Ulla is using raspberry and aubergine colors that have coordinating accessories like tonal impact necklaces, scarves, handbags and footwear. Necklaces and scarves are always a stylish way to bring colors together and draw the eye upward.

2. Working with a similar palette (not the exact same color or tone) head-to-toe. Select one of your most skin-flattering colors to create combinations that have the lightest tone at the top, a midtone meeting point and the darkest at the bottom. This could be a.) a light camisole, a midtone jacket and darker slacks, or b.) a tunic that gets deeper as the eye moves downward over dark slacks.

Darker at the bottom will ground your look and create a sleek pathway to your footwear. In fact, you can elongate your silhouette by choosing a shoe that matches your hem. Wear a black shoe or strong color when wearing dark slacks or jeans, the eye is drawn straight to the feet, inferring extra height.

How do you use tonal or monochromatic combinations?


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Jeggings and Leggings

I often recommend "build from the bottom...up." If you look in your closet, I think you'll find at least four tops for every bottom you own. Nothing wrong with that, but here's some new inspiration to try.

Two new Ulla products have inspired me to wear a look, a youthful, playful look, that I thought I couldn't wear previously, our Stretch Denim Jeggings, #14822 and our Stretch Ponte Knit Boot-Cut Leggings, #14621, or Stretch Ponte Knit Slim Cut Leggings, #14622.

  • Leggings inspire a current vibe, well-interpreted for the woman who wears plus size using a mix of feminine shapes.
  • When the bottom is fitted (and it is a slim fit, you may want to order a size up) it begs for a full, relaxed top. (AHHHHH!)
  • For an ageless, pulled-together look, pair leggings with matching accessories, especially great ballet flats.
  • Use matching accessories, such as jewelry to rev up the sophistication-quotient even further.
Leggings are the backbone of a look that is relevant and tuned in to the contemporary fashion landscape in a way that flatters the plus size woman. This is precisely our goal at Ulla, to be the better choice by providing contemporary styling, accurate fit and better fabrication.

If you've worn Ulla's jeggings or leggings, please share your thoughts with us.


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Only Good Shoes Worn Here

There is no way to appear assured, pretty and sexy when your feet hurt. It changes everything – from an aching body, feet, legs and back to an aching disillusioned spirit.

Uncomfortable shoes change the way we walk, how much we walk, and how much we complain about walking.

The corollary is bad too. Many women have opted out of wearing good-looking shoes and instead wear shoes that should be restricted to gardening or work as a correctional officer in a maximum security prison. It doesn’t have to be that way!

At Ulla, we all know “Joe knows shoes!” (Joe is the shoe buyer at Ulla.) While a majority of our customers choose good-looking flats, Joe has given us other beautiful options too. I wear a size nine, double wide and thankfully, there is as much for me to choose from, in Ulla’s collection, as anyone else. Yesss!

A few footwear faux pas to avoid:

  • Don’t wear shoes with ankle straps; it chops up the lengthening effect we always seek.
  • Don’t wear shoes that have high vamps; it thickens ankles and legs.
  • Never wear light shoes with dark hosiery; it cuts your legs off and makes you look shorter and heavier than you are.
  • Don’t wear shoes if your feet spill over or seem to bulge out.
  • Don’t allow shoes to appear uncared for and worn.

Check out our many Ulla-styles – they are comfy, well-fitting, contemporary, and come in a variety of heel heights. Please share what you count on as “tried and true” in footwear.


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, August 01, 2011

A New Generation of Shapewear

There’s no doubt that shapewear can be a friend with benefits. The object is to find intimates that shape, smooth, and firm. Look for items made of soft, substantial, stretchy materials to enjoy a sleek silhouette and still remain comfortable.

Choose wisely:

  • Undergarments that hold you in too tightly in one area usually create an unattractive bulge in another area - “Being held in” is less beneficial than being “smoothed out.”
  • Buy intimates that have no seams or lace that show through clothing -Smooth is always the goal.
  • Do not buy an item that is too small for you thinking that it will make you look slimmer and better - It won’t.
  • If an item shrinks or you get larger - Get rid of it.
  • If shapewear loses its firmness or shape - Replace it.

This season I took my own advice, opened my mind, and revisited an item I had previously sworn off, and I’m glad I did. The Ulla Body Wrap Soft Cup Bodysuit is such an item. New generations of fabrication have simply improved the effectiveness and comfort of shapewear, immeasurably – and may, therefore, be an old friend worth getting to know again.

If you’ve tried some of our new intimates – I’d love to hear your opinions.


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What’s a Smart-Cut Camisole?

The latter half of summer can be tricky in terms of balancing the desire to keep cool and look great. I have a few favorite items that do a fantabulous job of both. While they’re from our Fall collection, they are nevertheless light weight and somewhat sheer. (Come on now, stay open-minded!)

Introducing a few great tunics in our recent video, Ulla VP for Merchandising, Diane Cantor reassured us that she was hearing our concern for fabrics that are too sheer versus fabrics that are opaque and often bulky.

Today I want to focus on a certain type of Ulla tunic that is so appropriate to be worn in late summer and well into the Fall. The two tunics pictured here are very light weight but they come with a “magic bullet.” Each of them comes with their own tonally matched slinky opaque camisole – brilliant!

So what’s so great about that? The barely-there camisole is smart-cut; it creates a flattering outline, hardly visible under the tunic but yet enough to provide excellent coverage and enough to manufacture a very flattering silhouette. I'd love to hear some reviews of our Embellished Animal Tunic Set, #14427 and our Dip Dye Embroidered Tunic Set, #14426.

Diane, I love you!

Babe Hope

Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Fabric Born at Ulla!

What if I told you there was a fabric that was so flattering and comfortable that it would make you look sleek in a snap? There is such a fabric! For the time being, we are calling it viscose spandex (because that’s what it is) but that name doesn’t begin to extol its virtues!

I’m talking about a fabric that is being launched in our Fall collection. I love it for several reasons:

  • It skims over and conceals what’s puffy
  • It has a flat, matte, elegant surface quality
  • It has enough weight to support the line of the garment
  • It’s soft, stretchy and not bulky

Some of the items in our catalog and web site may look like traditional styles, but when cut in this fantabulous fabric…beautiful things happen.

Personally, I’ve started my own viscose spandex collection. I’ve begun with three outfit-makers:

The reviews are coming in and they're wonderful! We'd love to hear your opinion of this magic fabric!


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Affirming Your Personal Best

Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. Hold a good thought and become what you aspire to be.

Just for today,

I will expect the best of everything;

I will not revisit yesterday nor contemplate tomorrow;

I will celebrate this day and rejoice in all that is good in my life;

I will walk with my head up, calmly, confidently and soak up all that surrounds me;

I will acknowledge and be grateful for my importance in the world and be my personal best because it celebrates God’s love and plan for me.

I’ve adapted this affirmation from “Just for Today.” (Narcotics Anonymous Works Web site, NA World Services, Inc.)

Many people and organizations use affirmations to uplift and instill self-belief. I do too. I often copy inspirational messages on an index card, slip it into my handbag, and read from time to time through the day. Personally, I’ve found “talking the talk” has helped me “walk the walk.”

Please share affirmations and other microcosms of self-esteem. You might have the words that another reader needs.


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Wearing Fire Works

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the US commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. This special day is celebrated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches and ceremonies. Hmmnn…What to wear, what to wear?!?

I love clothing that sets the mood and conveys a message. I love clothing and symbols that make me feel like an integral part of something important, something that came before me and will endure long after me. Often, when I meet folks for the first time, they are able to read my enthusiasm in a nano-second. Life is too short to choose basic black when there’s fire works in your heart.

If you feel so connected, open up your closet and reach for red, white and blue. Pair a great top with jeans, a skort, or white slacks and party on!

What will you wear to a great party?


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Our Personal Best

I became an author and stylist for women who wear plus size as an act of catharsis. Selfishly, I challenged clothing and style to facilitate the life I wanted to live but found that it connected me to my sistas in deeper ways I could never have imagined. Just when I thought it was about improving one’s appearance, I learned it was more about improving one’s life.

While a beautiful wardrobe is not the ultimate achievement in life, I’ve found, and many of my clients have found, it’s a great place to start, because it is a tangible act of self-love and self-respect.

In fact, it is the beginning of telegraphing your worth to the world. Personally, I find so many Ulla styles do just that because they’re stylish, flattering, and thankfully, comfortable. The jacket I’m wearing in our recent video is long and sleek and the camisole is rich with metallic embellishment, a pretty-combo, a power-combo. Often, the right outfit makes my confidence soar and subtly says to the world, “stand back – she’s going for it!”

This is, however, just the beginning for Ulla clothing. Some of the most beautiful items I’ve seen anywhere are about to be unveiled in our Fall and Winter collections. The hope is that our customers will love our clothing, see it as an opportunity to be their personal best and “go for it.”

So, girlfriends:

  • Where does beautiful, flattering, comfortable clothing rank in your own spectrum of being your personal best? What’s more important to you? What’s less important?
  • How can Ulla help you look and feel your personal best?

We want to help you invest in much more than clothing, we want to help you invest in being your personal best.


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best!

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Personal Best

Our son’s high school graduation came and went. It was beautiful, truly a moment to savor. It was gratifying on more than one level.

I remember when our son entered the school, a prep school, how proud we were. A little daunted by the costs but overjoyed by the opportunity. Yet, I wondered, (as a family,) can we keep up? Self-interestedly, in the back of my mind, I actually thought, “How do I stack up against the other mothers? Ninety-nine percent of them are thin, exercised, well-coiffed and look, effortlessly, like they belong in a Ralph Lauren ad. Guess what? I don’t and never will, but much has happened for me in 12 years – I’ve embraced being my personal best.

The day was warm and the sun soaked through the mature trees. One thousand seats were set up outside Founders Hall. We arrived a half hour early but found that most of the seats were already filled or reserved. As we made our way to find 3 seats together I got an opportunity to check out the “landscape.”

Yes, I’m probably still the heaviest mother of the class, and (not but) I looked terrific! Frankly, I looked great 12 years ago too, but was looking in the wrong mirror. What’s different for me now, and the reason I connect with Ulla Popken, is that it’s all about looking and being your personal best, regardless of your weight or size. Trust me, there were countless women there, who weighed half of what I weigh, who were not at their personal best.

They call it commencement for a reason. Find a mirror that reflects a new standard - being your personal best. How do you distinguish “your personal best”?


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Amazing Grace Tops

Look in your closet, the tops have it four to one. For every bottom we own, we probably own four tops. Purchasing a new top is a quick way to create a new look, a fresh look, with minimal expense.

I’ve coined the phrase Amazing Grace Tops when a top boasts four features:

  • It enhances YOU; your skin tone and coloring look amazing.

Look for tops that make your eyes pop and accent it with tonal jewelry.

  • It falls in a graceful drape that flatters (doesn’t try to hide) your curves.

Avoid boxy shapes and stiff fabrics. If you’re constantly pulling at or fluffing the top to make it stand away from puffy areas, it’s the wrong top for you.

  • It’s long enough to make you feel comfortable and pretty with your every move.

Try it on in the comfort of your home; sit, stand, walk and move around in ways that reflect your real-life activities.

  • It has a contemporary vibe.

A smaller investment than other wardrobe pieces, choose tops that are a little flashy, even trendy and well-embellished. Be playful!

If, in terms of fashion, you should ever feel “out of touch” or you look in your closet and it seems “out of date,” a true Amazing Grace Top just might save the day! What do you look for in a top?


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Love your aura!

Improving your aura or charm doesn’t cost a dime and yet it’s worth a fortune, because it can enhance your people skills, attractiveness and general mood.

Think of a woman you consider sexy, assured and comfortable “in her own skin.” Pick a real woman, a colleague, relative or friend, not a celebrity whom you really don’t know. When you look at the outer package, the woman may or may not be beautiful. There is a very real chance that she wouldn’t make it to the cover of a fashion magazine, yet this is the person that comes to mind when you conjure up “sexy and assured.” Most women wouldn’t mind being thought of in this way.

Take this process a bit further and try to isolate the characteristics and qualities you admire and may possess. Some of the characteristics may be:

  • CALM

With body language that is conscious (“Fake it ‘til you make it.”) –

you can be this sexy and assured woman. What qualities are YOU drawn to?


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Be your personal best!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Elements of Good Design

“One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.” Oscar Wilde

You can count the elements of good design on one hand. Look for items that provide these five features and you’ll be a discerning shopper who has left the days of feeling like a desperate buyer in the dust!

  1. Frame your face. Choose tops with beautiful, open necklines that frame your expressive face.
  1. Shape your torso. Define your shoulders, select shaping cuts and sleek fabrics that enhance your curves.
  1. Elongate your silhouette. Use details like a linear row of buttons, vertical seaming as well as color, monochromatic and tonal palettes, to draw your longest line, head to toe.

  1. Fade, camouflage, areas you feel are less attractive. Use deep toned, matte fabrics and gently grazing cuts to fade.
  1. Focus, bring attention to areas which you love! Select rich, wonderful embellishments that reflect what’s fun and exciting for the season.

More often than not, selecting well-designed, flattering outfits is really about recognizing and renewing our most flattering “uniforms” with contemporary trends, colors, fabrics and embellishments that resonate with our sensuous side.


Ulla Popken Stylist & Blogger

Feel good in what you wear.