Carmen asked how I would style my circle skirt besides the black cardigan I pictured it with in the last post. In fact, I don't wear the skirt with the cardigan I pictured anymore. I have a much more fitted, v-neck sweater in a thin, sleek knit that goes perfect with it. The cardigan is too big on me and a little too slouchy.
As I talked about in this Fashion Architecture post about proportion, I need to teeter-totter all the fullness on the bottom. 
  • Fitted tops - I love it with a slim white button down! The perfect showcase for bright necklaces and brooches. (And I'll always roll up the sleeves.) The black and white pattern make it ideal for nearly any solid colored top. Tops with a little whimsy (like the pink top with the bow) are also a nice compliment.
  • Jewelry with some pop - the boldness and volume of the skirt call for the same in the accessories. Delicate necklaces or bracelets would get lost. But nothing too overwhelming either, I myself don't want to get lost in a noisy ensemble.
  • Structured bags - I didn't picture any here, but I'll pair it with structured bags. Slouchy hobo bags with a bohemian feel just don't complement the style.
  • When I make a circle skirt in a solid color, I'll follow these same fit guidelines but add pattern to the top. 
Carmen also asked if I thought it would look good on a short-waisted body type.  I myself am pretty short-waisted, and I have read in various style books that skirts like this won't flatter us but I think they're wrong. I feel it depends more on the thickness of your waist rather than it's height in relation to the ribs.  Pairing a circle skirt with a similarly colored top will keep the line long, as opposed to cutting you in half.
Hope that helps! Thanks for the great question, Carmen!
 
 
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!

 
 
Ain't it the truth!!  I get a good chuckle out of that little ad so I had to include it.  Hopefully it brought a smile to your face, since usually any discussion of our current size and shape prompts growls and grumbles.  But discussed it must be! 

It's a basic fact that our bodies change over the course of our lifetimes.  Weight gains and losses, pregnancy... even those blessed thin and fit from birth will have to deal with the effects of gravity.  I'm still coming to terms with the fundamental alterations my own body incurred from my recent twin pregnancy.  (These sweet little girls were so worth it!)

Knowing your own shape really is crucial to looking good.  Accenting it, enhancing it, sometimes camouflaging and counteracting it.  Even an elementary understanding of how best to dress your shape will simplify your shopping and have you creating outfits more confidently.

But get ready for a roller coaster ride!  You probably grew up hearing about the basic 4,  Hourglass, Rectangle, Apple and Pear.  Made sense.  But nowadays there are many more ways to define body shapes.  Here is just a sampling.
  • Trinny and Susannah (brilliant British ladies and originators of What Not To Wear) revealed 12 shapes in their Body Shape Bible. Click here for some very realistic pics to go with the 12 shapes!
  • Imogen Lamport from Inside Out Style uses 7 shapes; 8, O, A, I, V, X, H.  And explains them very clearly in various posts on her blog.
  • myshape.com does it with letters, 7 to be exact: M-Y-S-H-A-P-E
No matter which method of the many you use to determine your shape, grab a measuring tape and do your homework!  (Determining your shape will always require you to take your measurments.)
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For a basic beginning on how best to dress your particular shape, I've posted the highlights (with edits for modest dressers) of a great article from the February issue of InStyle magazine. For a fun activity, click here to visit their Fit Profiler

Curvy Hips:

  1. Draw eyes north with bold or light colors on top and dark shades on bottom.  *Light-reflecting earrings invite upward glances.
  2. Broad necklines (boatnecks or off-the-shoulder shirts) equalize your figure.  For modest dressers, think broad lapels, strong shoulders (not shoulder pads!) and puffy sleeves.
  3. Jackets, long cardigans and dress shirts worn open create a lengthening effect, minimizing the appearance of wider thighs. 
Petite:
  1. Baggy clothes have a body-shrinking effect.  Ensure fit; get things tailored if need be.
  2. Be creative with waistlines: Drop-waist tops make torsos look longer while high-rise bottoms add inches to legs.
  3. Too billowy a blouse or dizzying a print can overwhelm.  Classic, structured shapes concoct an illusion of tall and narrow.
Busty:
  1. Foundation is key: INvest in a good bra with sculpted cups and sturdy straps to maintain allover smooth lift and to prevent side bulges.
  2. Avoid bulky turtlenecks, which make you look heavy from the waist up.
  3. Subtle accents on top complement decolletage while bold details (like, yes, stripes) add unwanted volume.
Boyish:
  1. Enhance a smaller chest with necklines that expose a bit: Pick ones with a flirty dip, like a sweetheart or a deep V.  (For modest dressers - go ahead and pair a bright or sparkly camisole with those deep V necklines!)
  2. Add curves to narrow hips by wearing a thick, low-slung belt with jeans or trousers.
  3. Experiment with new fabrics, like boucle or ones with sequin, that give a little dimension to a straighter figure.
Full Figure:
  1. By keeping the silhouette close - but not snug - to your body, you look trimmer than you would trying to hide under baggy clothes.
  2. Dark palettes minimize, but you can also go lean with bright, monochromatic hues.
  3. Too tight sleeves accentuate arm bulge.  Fabrics should skim upper arms.  Bell sleeves are always chic too.
Hourglass:
  1. Accentuate your profile with a few pretty belts and cinch everything (from dresses to blouses) at the small of your waist.
  2. Jersey and silk lightly graze curves.  Wool and tweed add bulk.
  3. Defined, structured shoulders and exposed necklines (think V-neck) flatter busts.
Mom-To-Be:
  1. When dressing up, wear bottoms that rise over your belly for the smoothest lines under tops.
  2. Go for clothing basics, but make a statement with jewelry like bold necklaces or cocktail rings, which can be trotted out post pregnancy too.
  3. Don't spend a fortune on maternity wear.  Empire-waist blouses, cardigans and dress shirts untucked and open all work.