Saturday, 27 May 2017

{Plus Size Fashion} Electric Activewear: Sporty Spice

Hi everyone! Okay.. I know I have some explaining to do. It may seem that I vanished into thin air over the past few months - which isn't true. However, I certainly have felt invisible and vulnerable recently. I have only been minimally keeping up with my social media (i.e. a weekly Instagram post). Reason being, I'm not really doing much that is exciting anymore.

I have not been entirely hush hush about this, so some of you may already know details of the following. I experienced a Spinal Cord Injury and required emergency surgery in March. Right now, I am not planning on getting into the specifics in this post. I do plan on providing a recap and update here on the blog (pretty soon in fact). Ultimately, I have been in the hospital and inpatient physical rehabilitation for the better part of this Spring. I am finally back in the city after spending a month up in the suburbs with my family. 
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 Now, I spend a lot of my time commuting to and from the rehabilitation hospital (2-3 times per week) for outpatient appointments (i.e. physiotherapy). One of the challenges I have encountered, due to my spinal cord injury is having some difficulty getting dressed. I am spending a lot of time in activewear as of late. It's easy to slip on and be comfortable all day. I also need to steer clear of items like: tight jeans, rompers and trip hazards
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Also, from hereon out, expect to see A LOT of these Nike runners. I practically have to live in them now (sorry not sorry).
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I do want to draw your attention to the following. I look better in these photographs than I feel and actually am. It may look like I am able bodied, but I am not. My walker was just out of the photo frame. I have terrible balance and endurance since my operation. I had to hold onto the wall in between takes. I am now working on building up my activity tolerance & have taken a new liking to active living and healthy eating (who am I???). 
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Outfit Details// T-Shirt: Addition Elle (available here); Leggings: Addition Elle (available here - on sale for $22 CDN!!!); Choker: Penningtons (similar here); Sunnies: Penningtons (available here); Shoes: Nike (via Nike Outlet)
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I am determined, I always have been. I am determined to continue blogging, despite my spinal cord injury and the challenges it brings.  I have been through so much more than I ever expected to in this lifetime. However, I know that the worst is over and I just need to work hard to overcome the roadblocks along the way. If you need some motivation today, all I have to say is this: Keep up the fight. Work diligently on your goals. Take care of yourself. 
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Thank you all for your patience, understanding, love and positive vibes during this challenging time.
xoxo Erica Exposed

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

{Beauty Review} Deciem Abnormal Beauty Company Skincare

 My BFF Allie and I went shopping on Queen Street West, Toronto in February. Allie asked if I would want to go inside The Abnormal Beauty Company.  I had never even heard of the company, let alone visit the store -- but of course, I entered anyway. The storefront itself was a minimalist dream that I did not want to wake up from (an exposed brick wall... swoon!). Lately, I've noticed many sponsored advertisements on social media about The Abnormal Beauty Company aka Deciem. This is what I like to call, "The surge of Deciem Consumerism" as my feeds are constantly decorated with images of friends losing their 'Deciem virginity'. I finally decided to share my 1st experience with the store and some brands within. 

Before purchasing skincare from Deciem, I highly recommend that you do your research! What are you really looking for? What do you consider to be a problem, challenging, lacking, dull, etc. for you?  In the store, I was overwhelmed by the number of products (and brands!!!), their purposes and their vague names. I'll admit, I didn't know much about the differences between minerals and the purpose they serve in skincare. Deciem has all of their products listed online with in-depth descriptions of their functions. The vague descriptions on products made me feel that I was picking from a bit of a crap shoot. I hope that this honest review helps you find the products you want, need and deserve!
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The Ordinary
Silicone Primer:
I stumbled upon the brand The Ordinary, and was drawn in by their unbelievably reasonable prices. If you are looking to try out new skincare items (or to experience the magic of products you didn't even know existed), I would highly recommend that you checking out The Ordinary brand. I was in the market for a great but cost-effective face primer. I noticed the High Adherence Silicone Primer which rung in at $4.90 CDN (OMG!) and gave it a try. Honestly, hands down - this is the best primer I have ever used. Its silky, lightweight formula moults into your skin, blurring pores instantly. The primer leaves your skin feeling as fresh as after a facial. Foundation/Concealer sits nicely on top, and actually lasts throughout the day. I actually *just* ran out of this, and will be needing to make a trip to pick some up ASAP.
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Blemish Formula:
I was curious about the other products (serums, acids and creams - oh my!) but wasn't sure where to begin. I ended up picking up the High-Strength Vitamin and Mineral Blemish Formula (Niacinamide 10% Zinc 1%). The purpose of this product is to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion. I'm pretty sure you've heard of the at-home-hack of putting toothpaste on a zit to dry it up... right? Well, the Niacinamide & Zinc Blemish Formula pretty much does the same thing. It's worth the purchase for only $5.90 CDN (yes.. that's correct) if you prefer to put actual skincare filled with nutrients, on your zits.

I can appreciate this product, but it unfortunately, wasn't really catered toward my needs at this time. Soooo I'm not really sure why I picked it up (oops!). I actually don't get too many breakouts. Rather, I have some smaller red spots on my face from my PCOS symptoms (i.e. bumps from waxing).  I did notice my "spots" drying out, but didn't feel that the formula reduced the appearance of my blemishes, as the product claims to do.
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Hylamide
Pore Delete:
I ventured out of the first section to find Hylamide - which comes in at a higher (yet affordable) price point. I was drawn in by the adorable and colourful packaging. Definitely aesthetic goals. I was interested in trying out the Pore Delete to help minimize my giant pores. Pore Delete is described as a "next-generation prismatic liquid for immediate visible blurring of pores, shine and textural irregularities". I think that the description over-advertises itself a bit, and didn't really notice much of a difference. The consistency of the liquid was tacky after application, which left me feeling pretty uncomfortable. The packaging says that you can use it as the last step before makeup.. but I never felt confident enough in the product to do that. I opted for the silicone primer (mentioned above) to do the same trick. At $19 CDN it wasn't a huge loss, but I definitely could have picked up something else instead.
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I'll definitely be heading to The Abnormal Beauty Company ASAP. I need to restock on my silicone primer. I also am eager to try The Ordinary's Rose Hip Seed Oil and their foundations (OMG!!). I need to find my perfect shade, because spending $7 on foundation instead of $37 would make a world of difference.  

What products are you curious to try from Deciem (or have you tried)?!?! Let me know in the comments! XOXO Erica

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

{Mixed Emotions on Valentine's Day} Embracing Self Love and Addressing my Shortcomings

Happy Valentine's Day, loves! Whether you're single af like me (perpetually, to be honest), attached, or somewhere-in-between, I hope that you have a wonderful day filled with positivity, warmth and ideally, chocolate. I am spending my Valentine's Day at work, which is alright, since I'm practically married to my job. After work, I will probably slip into a warm bubble bath and call it a night. 
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I celebrated pre-Valentine's Day this weekend, with one of my BFFs and also by participating a fun V-Day inspired/self-care photoshoot. I was so happy when my friend, Yani reached out to me, and wanted to shoot a fun collaboration. Yani is an amazing photographer based in Toronto that specializes in commercial, editorial and fashion photography.  Yani describes his photography as a "documentary style" with a "clean, modern and romantic" vision. He prides himself on capturing the fun, candid moments in an authentic way. Yani made me feel unbelievably comfortable during our shoot. I do know Yani personally, but even if I didn't, he has a warm personality that anyone could instantly connect with. You can find Yani's Portfolio online and you can connect with him on Facebook and Instagram. He is available for bookings, and I promise you, you will not regret it!
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{probably thinking about pizza}
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Can we please talk about this Forever 21 jersey (^). "Mixed Emotions" perfectly describes how I'm feeling right now. First things first, I am a believer in true love, fate, and soulmates. Recently, I thought that I had found my "person". I felt instant chemistry, attraction and a deep sense of care for this individual in a short amount of time. I found a desire within myself to do better, and be better, for them. My head was spinning around in circles, and I thought to myself, "Wow, I haven't felt this way in a long time". I had opened myself up to the possibility of romance and a connection with someone. Which was especially difficult for me to do. Unfortunately, we decided that we were not looking for the same thing, and that was kind of soul-crushing. I am still thankful that I met this person, in an unconventional and somewhat serendipitous way. If it wasn't for him, I probably would still think that I am not capable of feeling love (note: I did not/do not love him). Now, I know, that my heart hasn't entirely turned black, and there's a glimmer of hope for me yet. 
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 I do have a tendency to come across as guarded and am very selective when it comes to dating. Meanwhile, I am really the mushiest gal you ever did see. After some much needed soul-searching, I realized that I am probably this way for two reasons. They are to do with attachment and rejection, and are deeply rooted in my childhood/adolescence. Growing up, I was the fat kid (no surprise there... cause I'm still fat) and I was rejected on the regular. I went solo to my grade-school graduations and Prom, and rarely dated in high school or University. Instead, I channeled all of my energy into my education and career (note: I have an amazing job in healthcare now and I get to help people everyday). Regardless, at the end of everyday, I was left wanting more. More social interaction, more attention, more love... and I never received it.
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{here I am, walking away from everyone I have ever loved}

I also have divorced parents, and honestly, I am scared to let someone in because I have seen it all fall apart. I hope and pray that true love exists. I mean, I know it does... but faith and hope can be tested when there is nothing tangible to grasp.  For some reason, I haven't been so lucky in finding love. I have put my heart on the line countless times, only to have it used and discarded. I too have broken a few hearts, because I am afraid of getting hurt. It can be a self-sabotaging cycle, that I am hoping to break with this blog post. Deep down, I know that I am worthy of love and appreciation. We are all worthy of love and appreciation (yes, you!). In many ways, I am tired of dating. I'm not really sure where that leaves me... perhaps back on the path to self-discovery, yet again.
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Outfit Details// Jersey: Forever 21+ (available here); Turtleneck: Yours Clothing (available here); Pants: ASOS (similar here); Boots: Penningtons (previous season)
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Soon, I will be some more of my thoughts on love, as well as more photographs (and kind of an outfit change?) from my shoot with Yani! Stay tuned. Xoxo Erica Exposed
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Monday, 13 February 2017

{Makeup Monday} My FIRST Youtube Video: Perfect Red Lips for Valentine's Day

I can't believe that Valentine's Day is tomorrow... 2017 is moving so fast! I guess that makes today Galentine's Day (read: a fictional "holiday" created by Leslie Knope of Parks & Rec). Galentine's Day is a day to celebrate the ladies (preferably over breakfast). Due to my perpetual singledom, for me, every day is Galentine's Day (more about this on the blog this week). Although, today I made it *extra* special by making myself a scrumptious breakfast before heading out. 

Last week, I spent an afternoon at the DubLoft in Toronto. The DubLoft is a studio space owned by DubDub (they have locations in Toronto & Montreal - and are expanding to NYC) where I was able to curate, film, and edit video content, all in a few hours. I decided to participate in their #RedLipCampaign by filming a review the best 'reds' to achieve the perfect Valentine's Day look. The content was then edited with DubSuite - which is free on the iOS App Store. Anyone can download, and use the video editor-- it's actually pretty easy to use! I plan on shooting many more videos with the DubSuite team in the upcoming weeks! They were so knowledgeable and supportive during the filming of my first video (read: I was pretty darn nervous!).

ALSO, I just launched my Youtube Channel, which you can check out here
My hope is to create and share interesting and engaging videos, on the regular. What you can expect to see on YouTube if you follow me: interviews, rants, tutorials, hauls and reviews. Maybe I'll even do some Astrology segments.. we'll see! 
Watch my video here and on YouTube! Let me know what you think in the comments - I'd love to create more video content for you! 

In my *first ever* video, I compared five red lipsticks in pursuit of uncovering the perfect Valentine's Day Red Lip. Here is a list of the five products I tested and where to find them:
1. YSL Vinyl Creme in 402 Rouge Remix (available here) - $42
2. Anastasia Beverly Hills in Serafine (available here) - $26
3. Maybelline Liquid Matte in Rebel Red (available here) - $8
4. Huda Beauty in Famous (available here) - $26
5. Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Outlaw (available here) - $24

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day tomorrow. Whether you are taken or single, don't forget that you are worthy of love and kindness (especially from yourself). I will be sharing some of my self-care strategies, pictures from a recent self-love inspired photoshoot, and some of my dating misadventures this week on the blog - it's a big week FULL of content. 

Xoxo Erica Exposed



Monday, 12 December 2016

{Plus Size OOTD} Step Inside my 9-5: Office Wear

Last week, I shared my interview with Canadian comedian and plus-size fashionista, Sheena Snively. Today, I want to bring you further into my 9-5 life.. my day job! Although, I don't actually work 9-5, or even in the daytime for that matter... I work evenings.

If you didn't catch this tidbit of information on last week's post, I work as an Emergency Department Social Worker. This typically means, I am on my feet most of the evening, sometimes physically running from location to location to help our patients. Typically, I style my outfit around my shoes of the day, in a bottom-up approach. I cannot highlight enough how important it is for me to have comfortable footwear on daily. I have a go-to pair of Nike sneakers that I wear most days, but I do  switch it up, once in a while.
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I am blessed/cursed with a job where I am able to wear "street clothes" to work - meaning, I don't have a uniform. It's hard to say whether or not I'd be more interested wearing a uniform -- much like scrubs, day in and out. On one hand, it would be the most convenient. but on the other, I would probably feel that I've lost the ability to creatively express myself (*cue 8th great uniform debate here*).
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You never know what you might come into contact with in a hospital (I'll spare you the specifics, but it is a lot of unpleasant viruses, infections, infestations.. etc). This is not something that I necessarily thought about when choosing a career, and it doesn't actually affect my passion for the job. However, because it's often of unexpected nature, I need to ensure that my clothing can be easily washed/dried as soon as I get home--just in case .
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This is an outfit that I would actually wear at work, on an average day. My entire outfit is comfortable, which is most important. Often, I sacrifice a bit of my stylistic edge at work to maintain comfort. These shoes here are so comfortable. I will never go back to wearing flats from Payless Shoes to work. Ever. 
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Outfit Details// Sweater: Addition Elle (unfortunately it appears to be sold out online - but check in stores); Dress Pants: NYDJ via Hudson's Bay Company (available here); Shoes: Naturalizer; Purse: BCBG via TJ Maxx (available here); Ring: Addition Elle; Lipstick: Pillow Talk - Colourpop
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There are two qualities I possess, that I think make me stand out as a Social Worker. They do go hand-in-hand (from my perspective) and they also tie into the theme of individuality and uniqueness that this post seems to share.
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Number 1: I am a dreamer. This means that I am always thinking about how it could be better. I am often lost in thought. I spend a lot of time engaging in self-reflection (how to improve my practice, etc.). I stand up against injustice on a daily basis, because in no circumstance is inequality and injustice, "okay" or justified.  Number 2: I am a creative thinker and problem-solver. I am willing to go the extra mile and pursue any avenue I can to help someone. I will try and try again, to make something right. I am far more right-brained than left (although I am pretty logical) and my first and forever love, is my ability to dream, create and inspire. The foundation of my Social Work practice is very much rooted in self-expression and autonomy. Therefore, I try to mirror this in how I carry (and dress) myself. 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

{Interview} Sheena Snively on Women in the Workforce

I've been wanting to experiment with different elements and adding dimension to my blog. As you might have noticed, most of my posts are centralized around fashion and beauty. However, I have always felt there was something lacking in my content, that limits me from being a unique plus size/curvy/fat blogger.

Today, I am featuring one of my biggest inspirations in the plus size stratosphere. Somehow, I have been blessed with the ability to call this woman my friend for 3 years -- Sheena Snively! Sheena and I met at the 1st Annual Consign Your Curves event, hosted by our mutual friend, Carlie. We see each other at these events every so often, but I was not able to attend this past year, so I missed my girl Sheena! 
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Sheena & I at an event ~ 2 years ago

I used to follow Sheena on MTV Live and The Jersey Shore Aftershow on MTV Canada. I used to tune in to scope out Sheena's style (plus size representation in the media say what!) while watching mesmerized, as she stole the stage with her comic relief. After becoming a new mom, Sheena is back with her own digital series on CBC Comedy, titled, "That's What Sheena Said!". To check out her digital comedy series online, see this link HERE. Sheena is a pure gem in the comedy scene - she is a breath of fresh air, and she surely holds NOTHING back. I love how Sheena is able to be unapologetically herself; this is something I truly admire. I was curious as to how Sheena thought her personality shines in relation to her outfit choices and styling options, especially when she's in the public eye, and plastered all over the Internet. So, I took the opportunity to ask Sheena a few questions about what it's like to be a woman in the workforce, from her perspective.

Erica: What is your go-to work attire? 
Sheena: So… I wish I was Dolly Parton in the movie 9 to 5, but in reality I am just not! Truth Bomb, there can only be one Dolly. Instead I wear something slightly more down to earth. My Go to work attire is simplistic; always a healthy dose of Black partnered with something that really pops.
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E: What tends to influence your decision about choosing a particular outfit for work? 
S: Well it depends on what Job I am heading off to. If I am heading off to a shoot for My digital CBC Comedy show #ThatsWhatSheenaSaid then I will Jazz it up, wearing clothing that will show well on camera. Since the show features mainly celebrity interviews from the waste up, I try to wear tops that stand out, such as floral patterns, and bright colours. I also work as a Part Time Professor at Mohawk College in their media and entertainment department. That being said I feel that I need to set an example to the students; by dressing to impress. I always show up to class fully done up. I wear comfortable shoes so it’s easy for me to be on my feet lecturing for a couple hours at a time. I think it’s a good sign when your students ask you for fashion tips for the workplace, which happens to me often.


E: Women have been fighting to break down the glass ceiling for years. The reality is that there's still a large gendered wage gap. Do you think that women do and/or need to use fashion as aid to help "find a voice" in the workforce?
S: I definitely think fashion is something that can help set women apart from the crowd in a competitive work environment. I really see fashion for women of all shapes and sizes as a good thing for those who choose to embrace it. Especially for someone who works on the hustle and bustle of Bay street. Guys don’t really have great options in the business world. I mean who wants to wear the same suit day in and out. Side note: I have often wondered why suits don’t come with shorts for the summer months. WTF? How is that not a thing for men’s fashion?! Not my bag baby!

E: I follow a dress code at work, is there anything like this in the freelance/entrepreneurial field? Are there any general guidelines you stick to?
S: I don’t feel that same pressure to wear the “formal” outfits when it comes to my freelance work. I have no dress codes to abide by. Being a comedian anything goes really. It can even be a trade mark for some individuals. Like Whoopi Goldberg and her wild shoes, or Janeane Garofalo and her glasses. I don’t feel like I have a specific trade mark, unless you count my crotchless panties, but I guess you would never really know that. Bahaha, too crude?

E: I am an Emergency Department Social Worker. What do you envision me wearing to work? 
 S: I am assuming as a social worker you don’t want to go all Glamisaurus Rex when you are dealing with people in crisis. On the same token I am sure you want to exude a certain amount of professionalism but also positivity.

That's What Sheena Styled (for me)!
Therefore I would love to see you in the Francesca Dress from IGIGI (seen here). It’s simple and kind of a blank slate that you can do allot with and wear repeatedly without your fellow co-workers catching on, also in the words of some dude that wrote Game of Thrones “Winter is Coming” so the quarter length sleeve is key! Because you are going simple on the top I suggest going wild on the bottom, perhaps these Leopard Print Leggings from Forever 21 (seen here). Something to add a little pop to your outfit. Working in an Emergency room I am sure you are on your feet quite a bit, so I am thinking comfortable non heeled boots (Due to up and coming weather, otherwise I would suggest flats with No socks). I am suggesting the Lolla short boot by Sorel which can be located at Browns Shoes (seen here). Sticking with the wild animal theme, I highly suggest the “Saber tooth pendant in brass” by Mafia Jewelry (seen here). I was so excited to see this as a new addition to their web site, that I showed my husband, in hopes that he would buy it for me for Christmas. The only thing he said was “Sheena don’t you think someone wearing a skull in an Emergency type job is a little insensitive?!”, I guess I see his point, but I just love it soooo much! I have several pieces made by these 2 Thai designers, and they are literally staples that I wear every couple of weeks.
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[I took Sheena's recommendations, put my own spin on things, and here we are]
I thought her husband's commentary on the sabre tooth/skull pendant was hilarious, and oh so true. So, I opted for this tiger bracelet instead.. RAWR!
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I had definitely expected Sheena to pick out something BOLD for me to wear to work. Albeit, I was a bit shocked when she suggested animal print at work.. I definitely have never done that before. Animal print isn't usually my go-to for work, because it is quite bold. I often work with clients in crisis situations, and would hate to distract them from their concerns with my attire. That being said, the all-black-attire helps to balance it out, and I could totally see myself wearing this to a day where I am facilitating a workshop or something. It is definitely comfortable, which is a WIN in my books - because I'm on my feet all day. For my typical shift in the Emergency, I'd probably opt for a floral patterned legging, or a black-on-black animal print legging.
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Outfit Details// Tunic: HM+ (available here); Leggings: Forever 21+ (available here); Boots: Winners (Canada); Purse: BCBG via TJ Maxx (available here); Bracelet: Forever 21; Lipstick: Colourpop in 'Pillow Talk'
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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

{Plus Size Fashion} Bestie Sleepover x The Sleep Shirt

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Allie and I were recently approached by The Sleep Shirt, a Canadian sleepwear company, who hoped we could collaborate on a ~sweet~ blog post. We were excited to hear that The Sleep Shirt recently expanded their size range to include PLUS, so naturally we said yes
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The Plus line of The Sleep Shirt are one-size fits all (their website indicates it would fit an XL-2X comfortably). However, I am a solid 3X (20/22) and the sleep shirt fit me just fine. I was actually impressed with how wide cut the bust and shoulder/arm areas were (which is something they highlight in their product descriptions), because that is where I carry most of my weight. What is most important to me when selecting sleepwear, is comfort. I do not want to feel constricted while I sleep (note: bed time is my favourite time). It is honestly really refreshing to work with a company who are aware of the challenges plus size women are faced with on a daily basis.
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It's important to note a couple things, especially if you're interested in being a conscientious and ethical consumer. The Sleep Shirt's products are all Canadian-made (fun fact: based in Montreal and Vancouver) - this means NO to: sweatshops, horrendous environments, and exploitation of workers. The company is also created, owned and operated by women (take that - wage gap!). 
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OK sorry but how catalogue do these look?!
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If you've stumbled onto The Sleep Shirt's website yet, you may have seen that their prices are not cheap (ranging from $161-$318), which 100% reflects how ethical and unique their business is. The sleepwear is made from 100% cotton (Japanese cotton in most cases) and is extremely high quality. At first, your sleep shirt will feel a little stiff, but honestly, it moults into your skin within a few hours of wear. Let me say that this is not your average "nightie". You can feel and see the difference (note: I actually left Allie's house wearing the sleep shirt as a top with jeans, and no one was any bit the wiser). Also, I once read something that stuck with me (related to the purchase of $$ fashion) -- "If there's something you'd like to buy, but aren't sure how to justify it, think about it costing about $1-$2 per use.. if you'd wear it that many times, it's worth it). I would wear this 80 times a year, easily. 

The Sleep Shirt I chose is currently on sale for $191 CDN (regular $272). ALSO: I have an *exclusive* discount code for our readers - just enter "SLEEPPRETTY" at checkout to save an extra 20%! The discount code makes the blue and yellow stripe Sleep Shirt only $160 which is super reasonable in my opinion. It would make an especially good Christmas gift ;) 
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