I'm having trouble finding a fashionable plus-size outfit for a semi-formal lunch coming up soon. I was surprised to find that, even online, the dressy clothes tend to be tarty or tent-like, but nothing in-between.
Non-Plussed, Mid-Levels

The Dictator: Who cares? I don't care what size you are. Dressing well is not a result of confidence, it's a path to it. Before we start holding hands and oversharing, let's get to work. Custom tailoring is your best friend. For your imminent event, I understand your frustrations. A top retailer proudly told me its sizes go up to XL, which it equates to a US10, UK14, French 44, or Italian 46. (Always check each retailer's size guide). You didn't tell me your exact size. Begin at Marina Rinaldi, where XL equals US22 or UK26. The colour-block pansy print tunic top with tapered trousers is our top choice (HK$3,980 and HK$3,180, respectively). Also, try the elegant dresses (HK$6,380 and up), silk blouses (HK$5,780), print trousers (HK$2,780) and long jackets (HK$6,980). LoveIt lets you shop by body shape and carries up to a US16 or UK20. Under "Apple", for example, a long list of cute, LoveIt brand dresses are suggested (HK$1,200 to HK$2,200). Neimanmarcus.com has a Special Sizes section, as do most American department stores. They carry gorgeous brands that do larger sizes, including Rachel Pally, Eileen Fisher and Johnny Was Collection. And when stuck for inspiration, check out blogs such as TheCurvyFashionista.com


Help! My beloved old obi bag got mysteriously stained at a party. I took it to my dry cleaner, but they couldn't help. It's hard to replace as they're becoming harder to find. I thought of trying to clean it myself, but I can't find a good YouTube tutorial on home fixes.
Obi One, Chung Hom Kok

The Dictator rules: Stop! Although you may have heard me balk at Dry Clean Only labels in the past, this is one item you should not touch. Don't point at it, don't even look at it. Instead, go straight to the source. And that could mean Japan. I consulted Kazumi Lomri, who has been making beautiful bags from vintage Japanese kimono and obi fabrics with her mother, Fusako Nakanishi, since 2003, under the brand Chako. Never try to clean it yourself, Kazumi says, adding, "Obi and kimono fabrics are delicate so they should always be dusted, wiped with a soft cloth and aired after each use. Then they should be stored where there is no high humidity." Take a picture of your bag and email it to [email protected] so Chako can assess the damage. Often, they recommend that the bag be sent to a professional kimono and obi cleaner in Japan, and will facilitate the process. A 10cm stain could be cleaned for HK$250 or more. Turnaround time including deliveries would be about three months. If you're reconsidering replacing it, we know where you can still find them, of course. Chako bags are sold at Sabina Swims (HK$388 and up) or online at etsy.com and shoplatitude.com

Got a question for The Dictator? E-mail her with your name, or alias, and address at: [email protected]