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Tag Archives: Made in the USA

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New Store Alert: Beefcake Swimwear

Beefcake Swimwear logo

I am sort of excited to talk to you about this brand because of how different they are. They aren’t completely new, but they only came on my radar a few months ago and I haven’t really heard anything else about them since. Today we are talking about Beefcake Swimwear. They are a company with a unique concept who got their start through Kickstarter.

Beefcake Swimwear logo

What makes them different? Quite a lot actually, but lets start with the most obvious things. First of all their designs are based on vintage styles from the Victorian era. Because they are Victorian era inspired designs, in addition to offering a little more coverage than that of most modern swimwear, it also means the styles are unisex. And before you ask, no I did not make a mistake, they are a completely gender neutral swimwear company.

There are some other pretty great things about this company. They are made in the USA, based out of Portland, OR. And that is manufactured in the USA, not just designed here. And to top off the proverbial sundae they only use 100% recycled polyester and spandex.

They currently offer two suit designs, The Original and The Dreamboat.

The Original Beefcake Swimsuit

The Original

The Dreamboat Beefcake Swimsuit

The Dreamboat

Each style is available in three color options and a wide range of sizes. They are available in sizes XS to 5X. Make sure to check the size chart before ordering as this is unisex sizing, but I found the 2X measurements to be pretty standard for a woman’s plus size 2X.

Beefcake swimwear really seems focused on inclusiveness. It’s written all over their website and Instagram. I love that they are using real people, of all shapes, sizes, and genders, to model their swimsuits. And their plus sizes aren’t model perfect. Their real, with real bodies you see walking down the street every day.

 

I actually got a chance to ask the Beefkcake Swimwear’s owner and creator Mel Wells’ a few questions recently about the swimwear and where she sees the company going. Here is what we talked about:

Me: I see you started out in book publishing and nonprofit administration, what inspired you to start a swimwear line?

Mel Wells: The inspiration for Beefcake Swimwear came from a good friend who identified as female but dressed very masculine. She struggled to find swimwear and mentioned that she wanted a suit like the 1920s one-pieces. Naively, I offered to make her one. I’d sewn a few items of clothes in high school and college (I’ve always been super tall and struggled to find clothes) but sewing a swimsuit is hard. Other people who heard what I was doing thought it was an awesome idea, so I began toying with the idea of starting a small business making these suits. Mostly I needed to find a professional to do the sewing!

Me: The concept of your swimwear is not like the average swimwear line. What made you decide to create something both so vintage looking and unisex?

Mel Wells: Perhaps it’s because I’ve been in Portland, Oregon for over 10 years now, but a gender-neutral swimsuit didn’t strike me as radical. When I researched one-piece suits from the 1920s and 1930s, men and women are pretty much wearing the same thing. I wanted to stay true to that inspiration, well, except for the little skirt thing some of them had. 🙂

Me: I see you have two patterns available on your website at the moment. Do you have any plans on adding any other patterns?

Mel Wells: I definitely have more patterns and colors in mind! The most challenging part is that with the current choices (2 designs, 3 colors, 10 sizes, and a shelf bra option), we have to stock 120 swimsuits just to have one of each. Not only does this present a storage issue (we’re operating the storage/packaging/shipping part of the business out of a tiny one-bedroom apartment), but it’s pretty expensive to make 120 suits in the first place. So, additional colors and designs will have to be rolled out over time.

Me: What is your dream for the future of Beefcake Swimwear?

Mel Wells: Honestly, my vision is to make the best possible version of these suits and stay alive as a small business manufacturing in the USA. The very best part of running this company is hearing from folks who haven’t gone to the beach or got in the pool in a decade, and who now feel comfortable and confident in a swimsuit. The black Original suits are by far our bestsellers, so I can see us making those for a long time. It’s daunting to know that H&M or Forever 21 could do this style of swimsuit tomorrow, and probably do it super cheap, but my hope is that we would still appeal to folks who are concerned about the human beings who do the super labor-intensive and skilled work of sewing receiving fair wages. I’m also really excited about the new Italian-milled recycled polyester we’re launching this spring–environmental responsibility is another big concern of ours.

Me: I love that you have a pretty inclusive size offerings. If someone were to not fit your sizes, do you do custom pieces?

Mel Wells: Thank you! It’s important to me that our sizing be as inclusive as we can afford. (I already mentioned the challenges of producing and stocking inventory.) I wish we could offer custom suits, but it is prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. We’d need to pay the pattern maker to adjust the pattern, the designer to adjust the markers on the printer and dial in the colors and printing, and then custom-print that single suit, all of which would cost hundreds of dollars. This isn’t just me at my kitchen table with scissors and a sewing machine–there is a whole team and process involved in making these suits. Of course, I still package suits at my kitchen table and respond to emails personally, but even that happens on evenings and weekends since I have a day job. Honestly sometimes I wonder if this whole endeavor is bananas, but I’m going to keep doing it for as long as it’s sustainable.

 

I also hope she manages to keep Beefcake Swimwear going. This may not be the swimwear to everyone’s taste, but I definitely think it fills some gaps that needed filling. I can see Beefcake Swimwear appealing to several markets beyond just those looking for gender neutral swimwear. I know you vintage lovers as well those of you into Steampunk will want to get your hands on these. And I think that there is a rising market for modest clothing, and I would assume that would include swimwear. And the conscientious buyers take note of this company as well. Lets all help get the word out about this swimwear line.

Tell me in the comments what you think of Beefcake Swimwear. Would you wear a gender neutral swimsuit?

 

 

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A Summer Romance With Zelie For She – An OOTD And A Review

As stated in previous post, I have been making concerted efforts to try new brands, styles,…well everything really. And as my valiant effort continues, one of the brands I tried this summer is Zelie for She. If you do not know about Zelie for She, it is a made in the USA plus size designer brand. The designer Elann Zelie makes designs that flatter the a woman’s curves. They are a bit street style meets what’s trendy, always fashion forward. Zelie for She is not for the woman who wants to blend in.

Now I ended up placing two orders for a total of five items, but this comes with a bit of an explanation. In my first order I got the pink one size fits all dress and the teal two piece halter set.

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I instantly fell in love with the fit and look of the two piece set. However I had an issue with the pink dress that I ended up having to send it back for store credit. I have seen many pictures of other lovely blogger and vloggers wearing that dress. I however was totally confused by it. I tried and I tried, but I just could not figure out how to tie it so that it would fit my body right. No matter what I did I ended up with a massive sag at the chest and a giant bunch of fabric in one or two spots around the waist.

I really hated sending it back. The color and the fabric were so phenomenal. But I did get store credit, so I was able to exchange for something else. So I went for the other style of two piece in the zebra print.

wild child

I haven’t had the opportunity to wear this one yet, but I have tried it on and am extremely happy with the fit. But I have worn the teal two piece and have pictures to share from one of our outings a couple of weeks ago. Don’t be too surprised, we went to another art event of sorts. It was an outdoor play at a local amphitheater.

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They hold a lot of concerts and plays here in the summer. We went to see Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. At this particular facility they allow you to bring a picnic basket and drinks in. And for seating you can either get actual seats, or for a much more economical price you can bring a blanket and you get a space big enough for four people. We got the blanket spaces and friends got adjoining spaces.  So I thought this would be the perfect time to wear this outfit. When I go somewhere that I will be sitting on the ground, a long skirt is a must. Its hard for me to get up and down due to my back injuries, and I find a long skirt allows me to place my legs in any comfortable way I want and when I get up I don’t have to worry about anything showing.

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I just threw on some sandals and a headband in a similar shade, as well as some statement earrings. I was going to go with a necklace that matched the earrings, but I found that it really just didn’t work well with this neckline.

On me the top is crop top like. It hit me in a spot that ended up showing just a sliver of belly. I think, based on the other women I have seen wearing this that it really depends on how tall you are as how crop the top is. I am 5’8″and carry most of my height in my torso. I will also say, the skirt is quite long. I had to have it altered for length, which does not happen often to me. They had to take almost three inches off the length in order to keep me from tripping when I walked. To give you an idea of their sizing, I ordered all of my sized pieces in a 3X, and I did feel their size chart was right. I typically wear a 2X or a 20W at Torrid and Lane Bryant. But based on the size charts if you are a 2X at those stores you could go either way, so make sure you pay attention to the size charts before ordering.

With this I did a eyeshadow in a slightly lighter shade with a natural shade lipgloss.

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I was really pleased with how the whole look turned out.

 

Now if you have actually visited the Zelie for She website, then you probably know by now that none of these pieces are available for purchase any more. And I am really sorry for the tease, but we have unfortunately had unusually cool weather most of this year a long with way too much rain fall that kept me back from going out the earlier part of the summer. But you will find on the website now the fall prelaunch items. And there are a couple of really special pieces I am already eyeing. And in case you haven’t seen them yet, here is just a little peek at one of the few looks available.

Stripped

So tell me, have you bought from Zelie from She before? Are you a fan, not a fan? Did you get any of the pieces I did, and if so how did you style them? Also, if anyone got one of the one size fits all dresses, can you please tell me what was the trick to making those work?

 

 

 

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