We're closing out our study of coverage tees today with Darks and Fall/Winter looks.
If you need to catch up, you can check out Part 1- Spring/Summer
and Part 2- Lace/Sheer.
Darks can swing to the tricky or easy side. Let's analyze.
  1. #'s 2 and 4 above are pretty easy. One is lacy, the other slightly sheer, so a black coverage tee underneath is a safe bet. White or nude tees that don't exactly follow the outline of the shirt would create odd shadowing under the shirt, so you're better off with black. 
  2. #3 above can be tough. The coverage tee will be front and center at the neckline so if the black of the dress and the black of the tee don't match, it will jump out in a bad way.  Compare them in both natural and indoor light. If they don't match, choose a contrasting color. Anything you like! Red, white, blue, etc. And since the sleeves are already modest, consider a beaded or sparkly tank instead of a coverage tee to dress it up more. A plain layer in a contrasting color will dress down this dress. A matching black or embellished layer will dress it up. As will the choice of shoes & accessories.
  3. #1 was chosen to discuss necklines. Just a little bit of coverage is needed under this top. Personally, I think a flash of red or baby blue under this top would be great. White or black obviously work as well. But you can easily see that if the neckline of the coverage tee comes way up to the collar bone, the entire look will be thrown off. You'll look at it and think, "There's something not quite right but I just can't pinpoint it." Again, since the sleeves work, a tank or cami with a lower neckline will work better.
  4. #5 is a good example of choosing color.  You could choose a coverage layer from any of the colors in this dress. A nude or white under this dress would just look wrong.
Fall/Winter layers are when coverage tees are at their most useful. They become the extra layer you need without adding bulk. A couple things to remember:
  1. As shown in all the examples above, TUCK that tee in if it's going to hang below your outer layer. No need to make yourself look shorter and wider.
  2. With the short-sleeved example (2 from L) you could also wear a long sleeve coverage tee. Short sleeves on an outer layer can look cute and casual with long sleeves underneath.
  3. Don't forget that coverage tees are extremely casual. To elevate your sweater, don't forget the smart look of a button down as the under layer. If you haven't seen them already, check out The Skinny Shirt (pictured below). I think this is a brilliant idea. It's a normal button down collar and cuffs, but the body of the shirt is slim and stretchy. It'll stay smooth under your sweater! Genius. Wish I'd thought of it. (SkinnyShirt has no idea who I am.)
  4. For extra warmth, layer them under shirts that don't "need" the tee.  Choose coordinating colors (much better than matchy-matchy) and leave the shirt unbottoned a bit. The fitted nature of the coverage tee will provide a sleek look under the shirt.
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The Skinny Shirt
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  I'd love to know your thoughts on these shirts and if you have any questions that I didn't address.
 
 
- Part 2 -
We're continuing our look at how one can stylishly employ coverage tees.  We started last week with some Spring looks and major Do's and Do Not's. 
Today's it's Sheer and Lace!

I've been getting emails from folks asking, "What are you talking about with these shirts? Are people seriously wearing them like that?" While modesty tees can be found most anywhere, I don't think anyone can deny that the looks I showcased in How NOT to Wear Coverage Tees are mostly a "Utah thing" or a "Mormon thing." I love that Utah is the hotbed of modest dressing. The Mormon community definitely carries the torch for modesty high. But admittedly, it can be a challenge to inject variety into a wardrobe with some pretty defined rules. It seems that when these coverage tees hit the big time, more than a few folks figured they could be used to wear anything and everything. And that's where we ran into some serious style trouble.
But no more! We're getting the coverage tees back on track!

Lace and chiffon are big for spring! I've always loved both! They're so feminine and romantic. Coverage tees work perfect under these items and you can make them work best with a few simple tips.
  1. Stay within the lines.  You'll find the most flattering and stylish look if you keep your coverage tee within the boundaries of your top. That means FIRST choosing a top with generally modest lines, as showcased above.
  2. Try some contrast.  You don't always have to choose a flesh-colored or white coverage tee. A coordinating color will make the layering more interesting, especially with slightly sheer, lace, or open knit (think crochet) items. If you're nervous to add bright colors to an outfit, layering a bright tee under a top like these is a great way to experiment.  
  3. Tuck your tee.  It bears repeating. You'll look shorter and wider if your coverage tee is sticking out of the bottom of your top and ending down at the top of your thighs.
Yesterday's post was getting long so I saved this tip for today. 
FASHION TAPE!
Get it. Use it. Love it.
There's no need to wear an entire coverage tee just to help with the tiniest of gaps that might happen at a neckline. A little strip of double-sided fashion tape at the underwear/bra line will keep that top/dress in place all day.  You can find it at most sewing supply stores and online. I like the pre-cut strips as opposed to the rolls.  They're much easier to remove from the backing and you can take along a couple extra strips.
A few tips for expert taping:
  • Make sure the skin where you'll be sticking is dry and cream free.
  • If you've never used it before, practice once or twice. The placement can be tricky. You want your top to lay flat, not pull or pucker. Stand up straight, position your top then slip the tape under. Remove the other backing and stick down your top. Press firmly.
  • You can stick cloth-to-cloth, if that will look better than cloth-to-skin. This works well with wrap or crossover style tops, even button down blouses that gap at the bust.
  • Don't mummify yourself! If more than a small strip or two of tape is required, move on to layering or forget the top entirely.
 
 
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She was truly stunningly beautiful.  But also a great actress. I love the original "Father of the Bride" and "Father's Little Dividend" movies.  "Giant" was fantastic. Love her, and her dresses!, in "A Place In The Sun."
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She definitely lived the life of a superstar and left a lot of beauty behind.
 
 
- PART 1 -
Alrighty - let's get to it!  As I mentioned in "How NOT to wear coverage tees," I'm on a mission to eradicate the crimes against good style that some folks are committing with these useful, but often misused, fitted t-shirts.
For anyone just joining us, a "coverage tee" or "modesty t-shirt" is a very fitted tee with a higher neckline, longer length and sleeves ranging from small cap to long.
Let's tackle this by season and by style. Since spring is upon us, and the worst coverage tee crimes occur in spring and summer, this is the best place to begin.

The DO's...
  1. Choose shirts with arms that are already modest.  (see 2,3,4 above) The #1 crime people commit with coverage tees is putting them under tank or halter style clothing. If you have a sleeve that is already modest, but perhaps gaps a little when you move, then a coverage tee will fill in that gap but still be discreet. For example, coverage tees work great under kimono or bat-wing style sleeves that show too much underarm or even flash your bra when you raise your arms.
  2. Take advantage of the slim fit and layer under jackets or shirts.  (see 1,3,5 above) When early spring and early fall days call for jackets instead of coats, a coverage T is a good base layer choice. I also like layering them under button down shirts that I leave open. It gives added warmth on those cooler days and some interest to the outfit with the different colored layers. But bear in mind, these shirts are supposed to be fitted. If you don't have a figure that is flattered by a very fitted shirt, don't remove your jacket!
  3. Tuck it in! As shown in "More Bad Coverage Tees", having your tee poke out under your outer layer isn't flattering. TUCK IT IN! The longer length of these tees was created to combat extremely low rise pants. But butt-crack-baring jeans are officially "out", thank heaven. You can easily find jeans in low, mid (my favorite) or the now trendy high rise.  Higher-waisted jeans and pants are slimming and leg-lengthening.  They help you avoid muffin tops; that dreaded pooching that happens when low-rise jeans squeeze too tightly around your hips. (Also avoided by buying the correct size!) You don't have to sport the mega high-waist jeans with the 70's look but do consider raising your waistband! 
  4. With a vest, choose a 3/4 or long-sleeved coverage tee.  I don't mind a vest, it's a fun way to add a touch of menswear to an outfit. If you're wanting to put a coverage tee under a vest (instead of a real t-shirt or blouse, choose one with longer sleeves instead of cap sleeves. The difference in proportion will avoid the "I'm trying to make it seem like I'm only wearing the vest." look.
The DON'T's...
  1. Do not wear a coverage tee under a tank top or halter top. This includes dresses! Please see "More Bad Coverage Tees" and "Summertime Snafu" for examples.
  2. Do not wear a nude colored coverage tee thinking it will "disappear" under tank top or halter top style clothing. Since you're already going to obey #1, this should be a moot point.
  3. Do not make a coverage tee the focal point of your outfit. If you're going to wear a simple "jeans and a t-shirt" make the t-shirt a nice one with some visual interest. A v-neck, boat-neck, or baseball style (my personal favorite). Leave the extremely simple and extremely fitted coverage tee as a layering piece.
  4. Never wear a coverage tee under cocktail or formal attire. Under casual up through business attire is fine.
  5. Don't be afraid to choose a standard tank top. If all you're wanting is a little cleavage coverage, consider a fitted tank top instead of a coverage tee. I have many more of these than the tees in my wardrobe, from lots of different stores.  The necklines are a little lower and still provide the right amount of coverage. All too often, the necklines of coverage tees are way up by the collar bone and simply aren't flattering. The really high neckline just looks awkward under certain other necklines. A silky stretchy tank will serve you better in those cases.

The bottom line is this.  Coverage tees shouldn't be the basics of your wardrobe. 
But for many women, they became that. They somehow replaced your classic white button down, perfect v-neck tee, polo shirts, etc.
They are a basic in a wardrobe, not the basic.


Stay tuned tomorrow for laces and sheers! And fall/winter!
 
 
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Q: Let me preface this by saying I'm not a fancy person. I'm a mom, but a few weeks ago I received a letter telling me that I've been nominated as a candidate for "Young Mother of the Year" for my state. I have two fashion opportunities coming up--a luncheon and a gala. Can you help me? What should I wear? I'm 5'4" and 140-ish pounds.
Thanks! - J.

First off, CONGRATULATIONS! This sounds like such an honor and the opportunity for a fun, unique event. I wanted a little extra information from J. and didn't get to post this before the luncheon but I'm going to address it anyway, in case the information is useful for anyone else.
1. Don't dress down. A luncheon of any type calls for "dressy casual." An AWARD luncheon calls for a step up from that.  For an event like this, I'd go with a dress, although the trousers and blouse combo would also work. Just no denim. Period.
Formal wear - be it Cocktail level or Black Tie level - is especially tricky for modest dressers. If a dress is long enough, it tends to show too much skin up top. If the top is covered, it often goes no lower than mid thigh. If the front is covered, it's backless.  If the back is covered, it has a plunging V-neckline! It's quite a conundrum.  If you ever find a formal dress that's timeless, flattering, and modest without modification - BUY IT!
You'll wear it someday, I promise, and it'll be worth every penny. 

J. purchased the dress you see at the top.  She might want something different for next year, so we're going to address the options.
  • Think, "Neckline/Kneeline." Repeat this while you're shopping. Neckline/Kneeline. Neckline/Kneeline. Arms are the easiest thing to cover. If the neckline (including the back) and hemline work without modification then the dress is a definite possibility.
  • Never wear a camisole or coverage tee under a formal dress. Never. A camisole under a formal gown is death!
  • Use a SHRUG, not a cardigan, to cover your arms. A shrug - especially one with some shine, sparkle, texture, or beading to it - will not detract from the formality of your dress. If beading or satin isn't your thing, I once saw a black leather shrug that would give the COOLEST touch of toughness to a formal gown. I was so bummed it didn't come in my size. Definitely should have bought it since it would have fit me now. A shrug is also more useful than trying to keep a wrap around your shoulders and arms all evening. To dress down your cocktail dress (like the middle one on the bottom row) for a more casual event, add a colored cardigan.
  • Buy neutral first. If your social life doesn't require you to attend formal events often, buy a neutral dress. Either a metallic (like the gold dress above or champagne dress below), black, navy, or gray. Prints age a dress more quickly. I bought the tiered dress above, bottom left, and pair it with a black shrug with sparkly silver threads all through it.
  • Avoid "Mother of the Bride." You know the dress I mean. Skirt or gown with matching bolero in satin or taffeta. 
  • Avoid The Prom. When I say, "Age Appropriate" below, it's because these column or slightly flared gowns won't look like you're trying to be too young. They're figure flattering without aging you.
The formal skirt/white button down shirt combo has been hitting the red carpet for a while. And I really like it because it's versatile. The skirt can be paired with different button downs, a brocade tank and shrug as shown above, or a cashmere twinset for less formal occasions. But it has it's own set of rules.
  1. It must be truly formal. That means in both shape and material. A simple straight black skirt that you would wear to church is not a formal skirt. Satin works here, a fit/flare shape, something with a train, fancy beading, full with a crinoline, etc. It has to carry the full weight of the formal requirement.
  2. You have to tuck.  Leaving the shirt untucked kills the look. You don't have to tuck a twinset, but it should be form fitting to balance the fullness of the bottom. Teeter-totter!!
  3. Formal skirts can be hard to find outside the holiday party time of year, so start looking this fall and tuck it away if you find one.
Accessories

J. says she's "not a fancy person" so I don't want to overwhelm her with jewelry options she might not be comfortable with but I still want her to have fun with it. And choose things she could use again and again.
For J.'s dress, I suggest long, sparkly earrings and a tennis bracelet or slim bangles.  Maybe a fun cocktail ring.  She has short hair, which will play nicely with the earrings. Chandelier earrings would be lovely. They'll also leave the neckline open and long, which will draw nice attention to the face.

I've also suggested she kick her shoes up a notch. The lower heel with this dress pitches toward frumpy. A higher heel in black or a neutral metallic will be a better option.

If she's not sure how to do evening-event appropriate makeup, I suggest booking an appointment at a makeup counter (Sephora or Nordstrom?) on your way to the event. Or at the very least, a few days before so they can give you a tutorial.

J. sent me a few pictures of last years gala.  There was some sparkle, lots of under-dressed shirt/skirt combo's, several frumpy "Sunday Suits", even a few pants.
I'd have loved to fix up the whole group in a makeover suite!

I think the dress she chose will be appropriate for the room as well as for the occasion.  We don't want her in floor-length sequins with a sweeping train if the rest of the room is in Sunday dress but we also don't want her dressing down just because others don't know the meaning of "Formal Gala Event."  Under-dressed people should never dictate what's appropriate, but too often, it's the properly dressed folks who feel silly. Always dress for the occasion and then wear it with confidence! You'll own the room! And hopefully inspire someone else to dress better next time.

Good luck, J.! We're excited to hear when you win!
 
 
I was going to launch my post to answer Julie's question about dressing for a gala event, but luckily I heard back from her today with the extra information I'd asked her for. So I'm tweaking that post to form a more comprehensive answer.  In it's place, please enjoy these Modest Moment's from the Oscars.
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Amy Adams in L'Wren Scott
An absolutely gorgeous color on her. Beautiful dress.
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Cate Blanchett in Givenchy
This dress fired up a lot of debate. It was basically either totally love it or totally hate it. I applaud her for the risky move that it obviously was, she's good at those moves.  And I for one don't mind it at all.  I think the chartreuse accents at the neck/shoulder detract from the look. Had those been the same pink color then your eye wouldn't have zeroed straight in on them, distracting from the other interesting details of the dress.
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Melissa Leo, unknown dress
The detail on this dress might look like cutouts, but no.  They're actually metallic shards affixed to the gown to create the pattern. Not exactly the kind of dress that makes you a great waltzing partner. Ouch! Neckline is too low.
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Michelle Williams in Chanel
I loved this dress.  I would really love this dress in a less "wedding" color to use for future fancy events I might ever attend.  I don't know if it's her haircut or what, but it didn't come off looking nightgown-ish, like another gown with a crew neckline and sleeves might have. The original version (that I'll actually be showing in another post) widened a lot as it reached the floor, giving it a much more trapeze silhouette.  I like how it was altered to be more sleek and form fitting here.
 
 
This really has nothing to do with anything but if you're wondering what makes for a perfect Wednesday, here it is.

Finding your two-year-old twins taking all the stuff out of your wallet and managing not to snap at them...

putting everything back in place and finding nothing missing/torn/chewed...

noticing that you are now 20 pounds lighter than the weight listed on your driver's license (that you totally lied about in the first place when you were 20 pounds heavier than what you put on the license).

 
 
As requested, I am working on a post about how to correctly utilize coverage tees.  While you're waiting, study these examples I found today.
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Appropriate Application of a Coverage Tee

It's fine. The neckline is way too high, which has long been another gripe I have with these undershirts.  Modesty does not have to mean covering from your collar bone to your wrist!  But the overall look is fine.

She'd look much slimmer if the bottom of the white shirt wasn't poking out under the sweater.

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Criminal Application of a Coverage Tee


No, no, no, NO NO!!!
What the...???
On what planet is this attractive?!?
Nothing in this solar system.
Nor anywhere the Hubble will ever find.


As I said last week in "How NOT to wear coverage tees," some clothes just won't work.  This looks like she put her swimsuit on over her cover up because she's REALLY worried about sunburn.

These examples came from Apricot Apparel, a company I had not heard of until today. I'm sure they make a fine product (lower the dang neckline!) but their marketing campaign is par for the course with their competitors.

Yes, there was more head bashing when I saw this shot.

 
 
I'm putting an APB out on Julie who submitted the question to Ask Image Interpreters about what to wear for her state's "Young Mother of the Year" events.
And CONGRATULATIONS on being nominated!!

I've emailed you a couple of times to get a little more information from you but I'm betting the emails were filtered away to your junk folder.  And now I fear I've missed helping you.  If you see this - please check your email! I resent the message again just now.  If I don't hear from you, I'll post what I have so far and hope that it helps.