Why is it children can wear nearly anything and look fabulous? 
Adorable without even trying. 
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Last month, Working Mommy held a giveaway of a Pumpkin Sack from Knotted Wear.  Pumpkin Sacks are wearable baby blankets that can go from car seat to stroller to anywhere your baby goes.  Even though my twins just transitioned to front-facing car seats (ack! choke! gasp! Where did that year go?) I still entered because the blankets are customizable and so cute and my sister-in-law is about to have a baby girl in May.
Perfect gift.  And I won!  I headed straight over to Knotted Wear's Etsy shop.
Where I spotted these.
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I knew the poncho would be a big hit with my 2.5 year old, so I emailed Carlee to beg a prize swap.  No problem!  And she proceeded to be fabulously helpful and generous in the completion of the poncho.  It arrived about the same time as a cold hit our house and it snuggled Princess Peanut day, after day, after day of the cold that never ended.
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I could never look this good in a poncho. 
It's super snuggly and reversible! 
(not that a 2.5 year old will cooperate and allow Mom to photograph the other side.)
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And there's been much spinning and dancing in the "bootiful Sleeping Booty cape!" 
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Thanks to Working Mommy and Knotted Wear for the stylish addition to her wardrobe.
 
 
I love dancing.  Always have.  I DVR the Ballroom/Latin Dance championships when they're broadcast and always remind Mr. Darcy that someday we WILL take lessons together so he can whirl me around the dance floor.  And though I hate subjectively judged competitions (they're not "sports"), I like ice dancing in the Olympics for the dance factor. 
And where there is competitive dancing... there are costumes.
 
Elegant costumes.  Like these.
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All pictures Getty Images at Yahoo Sports or NBC
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Authentic costumes.  Like these.
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Kimono inspired and gorgeous!
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Fabulous Indian costume!
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And then there were these.
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The French version of cowboys and indians.
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The most tolerable of the country group. More cute/dance-hall, less trashy.
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And outfits that shouldn't be seen anywhere, let alone on the world stage. It even included the Tramp Stamp.
Most mind-boggling was this.
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There's been a lot of hullabaloo about the offensiveness of the Russians' program.  And while I have never seen an authentic Aboriginal dance, as a spectator, many of their expressions and moves were clearly demeaning.  The whole caveman/hair pulling move? Seriously?
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The above is a picture of their original costumes that they were forced to tone down.  It obviously didn't help.  The NBC commentator (Dick Button, I believe) made me laugh when he said they looked ridiculous.  I say heavy points have to be awarded for good costumes and docked for bad costumes. If there's going to be judging, it should start the minute you step on the ice.  Before the music even starts. The world is watching you - if you offend our eyes, your score should reflect that. 

The thing that cemented the stupidity of subjectively judged competitions is that this...
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...still ended up ahead of this!  (3rd place vs 4th)
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Appalling.  Made me hope even more that one of the top Canadian or US contenders will win that gold and break the 50 year streak the Russians have in ice dancing.
 
 
After all the fun with the Bra Series last week... I caught a cold.  Wretched little virus.  So while I'm battling it, I'm also enjoying the Olympics.  Since I have trouble being witty with a runny nose, I thought I'd at least highlight some of the Olympic fashion we've been seeing.  I couldn't find a good shot of the Japanese speed skating uniforms. They are very cool!  Make me think of the Body Worlds exhibit.
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Did you know it was actually 72 degrees in the arena?  I think the Bermudan's were the only ones who got that memo.  You may have noticed lots of shed coats once the athletes were seated.
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Azerbaijan had some great pants.  I love anything remotely paisley.
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Czech Republic also had fun pants.  Very 80's influenced.  I had a painters cap with a similar print.  Remember those?
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This is what Ralph Lauren designed for the USA Snowboarding team. The "jeans" are actually Gore Tex.  How cool is that?  Plaid is very popular right now and I love the combo. Snowboarding is at its roots a casual sport with a rebel edge and I think the jeans reflect that perfectly.
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And then there are the Norwegian Curlers and their argyle pants.  Apparently the standard uniform for curling is black pants and solid shirts.  That the Norwegian's just turned that tradition on its ear is the understatement of the year.  Let's face it, curling isn't exactly the hippest sport at the Olympics.  But it just got a whole lot more fun to watch! I'm going to definitely have to check out these pants furiously sweeping their way down the ice.
 
 
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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a pair of breasts must be in want of a good bra.
As we wrap up the Bosom Series there are several topics that still need attention so lets dive right in!

Style vs Size
In order to get that correct fit we've been talking about, many of you are going to have to look outside the most popular sizes and stores.  The popular sizes being 32 to 36, B to D cups.  And that's fine!  It's far better to have a bra that fits and flatters you properly.  Many stores only carry a limited range of the most common "vanity" sizes and will push to get you into one of them.

The style of bra plays a significant role and it can be hard to reconcile style and size.  Not all styles will suit you.  If you're like me, you have more fullness in the bottom of the breast than in the top, causing some styles of bras to gap, even if the band and underwire fit great. I found some bras would technically "fit" but the way the cups and/or straps were styled just wasn't flattering.  They'd create back bulges or the wires would come too far up under my arm or the cup pulled awkwardly.  So I moved on. 

Some women have wider breasts, fullness in the top, or narrower breasts.  If the sizing seems good but the cups still aren't quite right, try a different style, and not just more sizes in the same style.
Calculators
I came across many measurement calculators and recommend that they are a place to START, and start only.  Many said to add 4 or 5 inches to my ribcage measurement.  Huh?  How was that going to get me the snug-fitting band I know I need?  I believe it was Eternal Voyager, who I blogged about at the beginning of this series, who gave the great example that when shopping for panties you don't add 5 inches to your hip measurement! Victoria's Secret says to start at the back band, wrap the tape measure under your arms and up over the top of your boobs.  I did this and the resulting band was huge on me.  You can trust the calculator more if it says something along the lines of "measure your ribcage snuggly and around the fullest part of the bust gently."
Color
Wondering what color to buy?  NUDE!  Always wear nude under whites, not white under white.  Yes, that also applies to my fellow LDS sisters.  Trust me on this one!  White bras glare through white shirts.  Nude bras disappear.  And when I say "nude" I mean nude for you.  The bra closest to your skin color.  For my Caucasian skin even a pale pink bra is better under whites than a white bra.  I own only one white bra.  You can wear any color bra you want under dark shirts... except white! Certain lighting will make that white bra glare brightly through black/dark shirts.
Putting on the Bra
Let's remember the look we're going for.  Supported and shaped.  Like this...
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There's a certain amount of scooping required to properly seat your girls within the cups of a bra.  I wasn't doing enough.  Many women (me included) will put on their bra's and while holding the underwire, tug a little bit at the top of each breast.  Several sites said to scoop a little more or even hold an underwire in each hand, bend over at the waist and give your chest a good jiggle.  For me, a solid swoop and scoop, beginning under my arm, works great.  Once I started doing that my cups fit much better.  So, clasp the band, slide the straps, swoop and scoop into the cups.  Voila!  Supported and shaped.
Parting Thoughts
There are a few items in every woman's wardrobe that don't just NEED extra attention, but DESERVE it. Jeans, swimsuits, and bras.  These three things, perhaps above all else, warrant your all out shopping efforts.  When any of these three don't flatter they are absolute wastes of money.  You are guaranteed not to wear them often, if more than once.  The payoff for dedicating time to the hunt is huge. 

A woman's breasts will change many times over her lifetime.  Puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight gain/loss, age.  Bras must evolve with the boobs.  And they have.  Technology has created nearly weightless bras that do a wonderful job of supporting and shaping us.  Who knows what the future will bring.

I hope you've learned a little from my bra quest thus far.  I'll keep you posted as further events warrant!
 
 
The next installation in the Bosom Series will be out later but I wanted to take a moment to post this. Alexander McQueen died this week.  No details have been released yet as to how but it's certain the fashion world lost one of its most innovative designers. I posted here about some of his amazing creations.  
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Drew Barrymore wore the above dress to a premier and while she dip dyed the ends of her hair black, completely detracting from the overall look, it still didn't kill the utterly amazing craftsmanship of that gossamer, lacy overlay.  Incredible.

He could be wild and crazy.
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And then bam - there'd be something I would love to wear.
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His Fall 2008 RTW will remain as one of the most romantic and incredible collections I've ever seen.  What a tragedy.  He'll be missed.
 
 
It's the second installment of our Bosom Week series and today we're discussing the ins and outs (or maybe better put, the ups and downs!) of bra fit.

Lift  and love, ladies.  Don't shift and shove.
Sculpt and tease.  Don't heave and squeeze.
If there's one thing I've learned so far on this quest it's that the size on the tag doesn't matter.  Fit is everything.

Here are the 2 key points to remember:
  1. The band should be SNUG.
  2. The cups should HUG.
Let's expand on Point 1, because this one is the most crucial, and according to a zillion sources, the one where we women are making the biggest mistakes.
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Bravissimo

Snug means the band should run horizontally from the bottom of the cup to the back clasp.  And when it's new, it should do this on the loosest hooks so that you can maintain the fit as the bra ages by tightening the hooks. If your band is too big it will ride up in the back.  As soon as that happens, the support is lost and the bra is a failure.
If you've been wearing loose bras for a long time that snug fit that's correct might feel weird or uncomfortable.  Give it a week!  You'll quickly find that having properly supported breasts with nice shape is much more comfortable than sagging free.

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Intimacy


When I started trying on my existing bras, I was shocked to find that even on the tightest hooks, most of them rode up in back.  I'd put them on, turn to the side, and whoops! - a nice diagonal line from the bottom of the cup up to the hooks. And it wasn't because I had the straps cinched too tight.

Hook your thumb under the clasp of your bra and pull it away from your back.  You should not be able to pull the back of the bra more than an two or so inches away from your body.  If you can't pull it at all, it's too small. Snug doesn't mean tight. You should be able to slide a finger or two under the band all along the sides and back.

Almost all the support should come from the band and cups, NOT from the straps.  Many women keep tightening their straps to lift their breasts when in reality, the band and cups should be handling that job.  According to Intimacy (the miracle-working bra specialists frequently showcased on What Not To Wear) 90% of the support should come from the band, and only 10% from the straps. But it's hard to gauge whether your band is doing 90% of the work.  We might think it's doing 90% when in reality it's more of a 60/40 split, or worse. 
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Bravissimo

Now about Point 2.
A good hug goes all the way around.  Applying that concept to the underwire of the cup means it should "smile" all the way around the bottom of your breast.  One end should sit under your arm, slightly behind the breast so that it doesn't dig into the breast.  The other end should stop between both breasts.  And it should lay flat against your ribcage, not flat against the bottom of your boob.  At no point should it gap away from your ribcage or sternum.  If it does, it's too small.

That was another mistake I was making.  The cups were too small on many of my bras, with the underwires tilting away and starting somewhere in the side of my breasts, instead of flat under my arm.

The cups should not gap, pucker, pull, or create quadra-boobs.  You shouldn't swim in them nor bulge out of them.  The style of the bra will have much to do with this (which we'll discuss in the next post).  If the band and underwire fit you well, but the cups don't, try a different style of cup; full coverage, balconet, demi, angled, etc.   Here's a nice little video covering the finer points of good bra fit.
Fact: Most women are wearing band sizes too large and cup sizes too small. 

Join me for the next post in the series when we'll talk about color, calculators, and reconciling style vs size!
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Here are today's links:
1. The Top 10 Bra Mistakes at Intimacy.
2. A nice Full Experience bra fit video from Bravissimo in England.

*Eternal Voyager, whose Bra Matrix I linked yesterday, let me know she would be happy to answer any questions about bras, fitting and breasts through her blog.  She's done a lot of research on the Bra Matrix and I've learned a lot from her.
 
 
Bosom Week has arrived! 
I've been looking forward to this series of posts for a while and am anxious to exchange information on a feminine issue we all face. 

Like many women before me, I embarked upon a quest to find the perfect bra. 
Not that there is only one perfect bra manufactured out there somewhere, but the perfect bra for me.  I am still on that quest and I want to share with you what I've discovered so far.  Like me, you will probably already know some of this, but hopefully you'll learn something new.

Today, we're going to examine the reasons WHY women need a good bra, and part of what that entails.
  • ALL women need support and shaping, no matter how large or small your breasts.  Even the tiniest of breasts can flop, giving up on its job of enhancing your feminine figure.  Don't make the mistake of thinking boobless can equal braless.  The picture below illustrates what happens when a bra doesn't do a proper job of supporting and shaping.
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That's not a happy breast on that left side.  Down and out is not a good description on any terms. 
 - Proper support helps preserve breast fullness and firmness while preventing back pain and poor posture. 
 - Proper shaping helps more than just the look of the breast.  As you can see on the "before" side, the breast has sagged low on the ribcage - encroaching on the smallest part of the woman's body.  Any woman will look better if she can keep the area from the bottom of her breasts to her waist as long and lean as possible.  This is a crucial style tip!  The only difference in the two halves of the above picture is an ill-fitting bra vs a well-fitting bra.  She looks 20 lbs thinner and significantly taller in the "after" half. 
In the next post in this series we'll go in-depth into how a bra should fit to properly shape and support your bosom buddies.
  • A good bra saves money.  Make no mistake, well-made bras aren't cheap, but they can save you a small fortune over time.  Several years ago a friend of mine was lamenting how much she had spent on clothes that year and still wasn't happy with her wardrobe.  It was easy to see that one of her main problems sagged, I mean, sat squarely on her chest.  She was full-bodied up top and was clearly wearing bad baggy bras.  When she asked for advice, I told her that getting a few great bras is where I would start.  She balked at the idea, stating that "expensive bras don't do anything special." I told her I didn't mean "expensive" I meant "well-made and well-fitting."  She finally agreed to get fitted and at least try some on.  And as expected, she was amazed by her transformation.  Miraculously, most of the new clothes she had complained about now looked great, as did a mountain of clothes she had stopped wearing.
  • A good bra is one that shapes, supports... and perseveres!  The elastic in bras simply doesn't last forever, but those that give up the ghost too quickly are a waste of money. If you have a bra that refuses to do it's job after a month or two of wearings, steer well clear of that line in the future!  That being said, you shouldn't wear the same bra two days in a row.  Elastic needs time to rest and retract.  Your bras will last longer and wear better if you rest them between wearings.
  • Bra sizes are a joke.  Did you know that while band size is fairly standard, CUP size varies by manufacturer AND by band size?  That's right.  An A, is not always an A.  The volume of breast that a cup holds will vary depending on who makes the bra and what band size it is attached to.  This stunned me!  I had no idea.  I know many women who think like I did until recently, that their cup size is pretty consistent but their band size can vary.  In actuality, the reverse is true!  Just like you should disregard clothing sizes and buy what fits and flatters - the same holds true for bras.  It's best you learn to laugh at the sizes and search for what truly fits. (We'll discuss the fine art of bra fit in the next post.)
  • Fitting "experts" can be anything but!  When I started this quest I'd read on many blogs the horrible experiences other women had had with "expert bra fitters" and I must say, I ran into some who took the term "pushy saleswoman" to new heights.  One was so unabashedly condescending I had to remind her I was not the scarecrow in search of a brain but a woman in search of a bra.  And the bras she put me in fit terribly.  The bra quest is not for the faint of heart!  You have to be prepared to strap a pair on!  Boobs, I mean.  And not be afraid to question the fitter.  Armed with the right information you will be able to find bras that fit you properly - you're just going to have to break a few saleswoman's hearts in the process.  Collateral damage is often unavoidable. 
I love the video clips from Cold Comfort Farm I presented at the beginning of this post.  The fact that it was just as crucial in Elfine's makeover to get her "a bit of uplift" as it was to get her educated.  Once you learn what to look for in a great bra, it'll be easy to weed out the sagging from the supportive.  You won't waste money on bras that just sit in your drawer and you'll look much leaner, shapelier, and more youthful under your clothes. 

Please share your experiences and advice!  How did you find your great bras?  Or are you still struggling against the sag?

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Throughout this series I'll be posting links to other useful or humorous bra-related sites.  Here are today's:
1.  An absolutely hysterical and informative look at breaking out of the Bra Matrix! 
2.  A rant against the fitters!