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.
 
 
- 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!
 
 
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.

 
 
It's time to revisit one of my favorite rants.  If you would like the primer for today's post, quickly check out Summertime Snafu from two years ago.
It really should be required reading for all modest dressers.
Done reading? Let's discuss.

When you make the decision to dress modestly you MUST come to grips with the fact that there are certain things you can NOT wear.  Attempting to modify any and all apparel will NOT result in flattering, good-looking outfits.

Case in point...

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This display has been driving me bonkers ever since it hit our Costco. 
Please analyze it while I go bash my head against the wall.

Mr. Darcy has repeatedly had to hold me back from climbing up, ripping it down, and running around the store screaming, "THIS IS NOT ATTRACTIVE! If you attempt to wear this to a dressy function, people with a sense of style and half a brain will wonder what is wrong with you!"
Do I think there is a place in this world for coverage tees?  ABSOLUTELY!
Do I own a mod bod tee? Yep! And a Shade tee and a couple others.
Are there right and wrong ways to wear these tees? WITHOUT QUESTION!

And baby, that ain't it up there.
Nor down here.
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This one annoys me less but only slightly so.  It's the casual vs dressy thing. 
Casual-layering gone wrong is easier on the eyes than dressy-layering gone so very wrong. 

The basic fact of the matter is that the silky vest should not have been an option. Or if she was absolutely set on wearing it, a jacket/sweater/blazer should have been added to cover the arms.  The third layer would have demoted it from a first-degree murder of style to involuntary manslaughter.

In order to look our very best, we modest dressers need to come to grips with the fact that spaghetti straps, deep cleavage, and sleeveless/strapless/backless items are no longer  options.  And that's ok!! I do not understand why there is such a war to incorporate these clothes into a modest wardrobe. At least in this unattractive way. 
I have some sleeveless tank-style tops/dresses that I like, but they ALWAYS go under a jacket or cardigan. They are the base layers, never the outer layers.  

When coverage tees first hit the streets the marketing was very logical.  The ads featured women wearing the tees to help cover the midsection when a shirt might rise up too high when the arms were lifted.  Or under a slightly too-sheer shirt/dress.  Or to fill in gaping underarms.  The key? The coverage tee was never the focus of the outfit.

It doesn't surprise me that these companies are trying to evolve their product into more of a center piece but a line needs to be drawn. For the sake of all things stylish, a line must be drawn by each woman in her own wardrobe. If you need some motivation, how about the threat of me and my phone camera finding you and featuring you as a What Not To Wear? I'm on a crusade, people.  It has to stop.
 
 
There are a few things you learn real quick as a mother.  First, ALWAYS prep and load your wipees.  Babies have lightening fast hands and feet.  There are few things more annoying in the diapering world than reaching for a wipee to clean up the messy diaper only to discover zero wipees sticking out of the dispenser. Since one hand is holding the kicking legs in the air, your other hand must fish for the end of the top wipee.  One of two things will then happen.  You'll either knock the whole dispenser off the changing table and perfectly out of reach or you'll pull on the wipee and it won't disconnect, dragging 50 more wipees out behind it. Prep and load! Pull out one wipee, making sure the second is also tufting out, and set the first wipee on top.

The second thing you learn is that time is not your friend.  Meal times come way too fast.  You rarely get the food prepped before the fussing begins. You never play with them long enough. They never sleep long enough.  There are never enough hours in the day.  And they grow up way too fast.  Most anything you do for yourself must be done extremely quickly and efficiently.  And I'll bet by now you're wondering what this has to do with good style.  Let me explain.  No, too long.  Let me sum up.  (movie?)

Style Assassins can be subtle.  And they can have nothing to do with clothes and accessories.  I'm talking about these.
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Ok.  I wanted to scare you straight with that first picture.  Most women aren't this bad.  More like this.
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Or this.  Look familiar?
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Why bother writing about this particular style assassin during the season you're least likely to wear sandals?  Because now is the perfect time to winterize your feet! 
This is one of those projects when a little time is definitely all you need. 
Not money.  Not tons of fancy products.  Time. 
Time and 2 steps.
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Step 1 - File every time you shower
Sometimes you'll have time to do a thorough job, other times you'll only have 5 seconds to run a quick swipe over your heels.  That's ok.  Be gentle.  Don't forget the callouses on the balls of your feet and big toe and don't get discouraged when the cracks don't disappear instantly.  Exfoliating becomes much more efficient after several moisturizing sessions.

This is the foot file hanging in my shower right now.  It's $2.00.  It has a rough and less-rough side, just like a nail file.  I bought it because it's the file nearly every pedicurist ever used on me.  Speaking of which, next time you get a pedicure, ask if you can keep the one they used on you.  Many state laws require the to salon throw the file away after each client. The one you buy at a beauty supply store will most likely be a little thicker than the one you take from the salon.

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Step 2 - Moisturize every time you wear socks

I read this little tip in a Shape magazine eons ago and it has meant the world of difference for my feet.  Slather on a good goopy layer before you pull on socks (not nylon stockings).  Don't worry, it won't soak through and ruin your shoes.  Do this whether you're running a quick errand, heading to the gym for a workout or not even leaving the house.  Keep the bottle of moisturizer in your sock drawer so you don't forget.

This is the moisturizer currently in my sock drawer.  My mom introduced it to me.  It's cheap and works great.  And don't wash the extra off your hands!  I don't like to get the bottle and my sock slimy so after slathering one foot, I rub the extra into my knees.  Then I pull my sock on.  After the other foot I rub the extra into my elbows.  While thicker is better, especially if it's formulated to exfoliate, most any moisturizer will do.  Maybe you have some body lotion you didn't really like the scent of.  Use it up on your heels! 

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A couple additional tips?  You don't have to buy some of the crazy expensive products out there. 

I've seen special heel creams topping $30. Most women don't need it.  And these Bliss moisturizing socks are $48 dollars!  Whether they're miracle workers or not I have a whole winter ahead of me and many better uses for $48.

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I was once given some moisturizing booties and gloves like this.  They're just really stretchy socks that hold in the lotion and are technically meant to be slept in, but that drove me crazy.  If you can sleep in socks, do that.  The uninterrupted moisturizing hours will work wonders on your feet.  I save my socks for those times I'm going out, will be wearing open-heeled shoes, and am taking more time to get ready.  I moisturize and slip them on right after my shower and wear them until I put my shoes on.

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Now go forth and conquer those cracked heels!  Your younger looking feet will return the favor.  (Cracked heels age you quickly.) You'll confidently slip on that first pair of sandals in spring and have a much easier time maintaining your smooth soles next summer.

 
 
Top 5 Items To Ban From Your Closet

One night during this Thanksgiving break, my husband and I were snuggled in bed unwinding from the day.  An L.L. Bean catalog had mysteriously arrived and so we decided to flip through it and play the "you have to pick one thing from every page" game. You know that game?  If it's a good catalog, picking one thing can be a hard decision. With other catalogs it's a question of the lesser of many evils and you start cracking up about having to actually have/wear the items.

As we were flipping, I was appalled at the barrage of unflattering pants I was seeing on the pages.  The stores I shop and recommend rarely carry these wretched styles so I've often asked, "Where are people still finding these?"  I now know at least one. L.L. Bean. 

There were some nice winter-wear options sprinkled around but always interspersed by these sorry excuses for pants.
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L.L. Bean

Take one glance at this photo and just try and tell me she looks good.  This is obviously a skinny model and that high waist and tapered leg are so unflattering!  Her legs look stubby and from crotch to waistband is frighteningly long!

Just imagine how much worse it is on an average shaped body.

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An elasticized waist, people!  What in the name of all that's fashionable!?!?  What designer is so out of touch that they actually continue to make these?  And who are the half-wit buyers who keep stocking them?

This was a Christmas catalog with free shipping and special sale prices.  They're trying to incentivize you to buy these pants!  Oy.  It started me thinking that many people are going to get new clothes for Christmas.  Hopefully not these pants!  And if you are one of the lucky receivers of new clothes, it might be a great opportunity to replace some of the less flattering items still lurking in your wardrobe.  I researched various lists that style and fashion experts have compiled of items that are unattractive and unflattering and should be banned from your wardrobe.

Here are the Top 5 -
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1.  Cropped Pants

Tim Gunn is especially outspoken against crop pants, particularly the kind with wide leg openings.  He points out that they make your legs look short and that's never a good thing.  If you do want to sport a cropped pant (and I think they can be cute if the style is right) choose a more tailored fit with slim leg openings.  And opt for high heels to keep the leg line long and counterpoint the cropped style.

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2.  Baggy Shorts

Shorts can be cute and I definitely appreciate them in the summer but the longer the leg inseam, the more tailored the fit needs to be.  Like the pair below, choose a slim fit (no pleats!) to keep the waist, hips, and legs long and lean.

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Nordstrom


Here's a much more flattering shorts option.

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3.  High-waisted Jeans

Thought I'd show you the picture again, in case the first one didn't scare you straight.  For a tutorial on how to avoid looking like this, visit the Mom Jeans post.  And please, if these are your only jeans... write a letter to Santa.  Leave him gourmet cookies. 

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4.  Oversized Sweatshirts

While compiling this list I realized that I had not one but two very oversized sweatshirts in my closet.  They were the perfect additions to our 72 hour kits.  (reduce-reuse-recycle!)  Swap these figure squashers for the more flattering layered look.  A cozy cardigan over a slim t-shirt is infinitely more stylish and won't add visual pounds.  

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5.  Ill-fitting Bras

Oh, stay-tuned, my stylish friends.  I have a whole fabulous tutorial on bras coming your way.  For now I'll just say, if you look like the left half of this picture, something is wrong with your bra, not your boobs.

 
 
While Jillian or Bob or your plastic surgeon have the answers for preventing your actual knees from getting baggy, this little tip is for your pants. 
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It's winter, most of us are wearing pants more often than we were a month or two ago.

Lots of sitting causes the fabric around the knees to stretch.  Doesn't matter if it's wide-leg suit pants or super lycra enhanced jeans.  Sit in them long enough and often enough and that area will stretch.

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Nordstrom


Once that happens, they won't hang nicely while you're standing.  Like this.

You'll lose your crease, if there is one, and it'll be oddly voluminous around your knees.

Luckily, there's a simple fix.  Right before you sit down, hike your pants up just a bit. 
Not so much that you have handfuls of fabric sitting in your lap.  Just let your arms hang down, grab the fabric at your thigh, and turn your fingers under. 
This will be enough to keep your pants from pulling at your knees while you're sitting.

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As for this... I know of no such easy fix. 
A million lunges, perhaps?

 
 
In case you own a holiday sweater (or heaven forbid, MULTIPLE holiday sweaters), this is your wake up call!  Your call to repent.  Your call to action. 

Please raise your right hand and repeat after me:
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"I will not wear holiday sweaters this or any future year.

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I will not voluntarily assassinate my own style.

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I realize I am over the age of 5 and will not attempt to dress like my toddler.

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I will not offend the eyes of my fellow joyous citizens who I may pass by.

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Should I be lucky enough to reach an old age when I am dressed by someone else,

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and that someone attempts to dress me in a holiday sweater,

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I will protest to my last breath.
And whack them with my cane."

These are the only folks allowed to wear holiday sweaters.  If you don't fit into one of these two groups, put the sweater down.
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With one possible exception... The Ugly Holiday Sweater Party.  These little shindigs have been gaining in popularity in recent years and frankly, I think it's worth keeping around one of these monstrosities.  If you don't see one of these parties on the horizon - throw your own!  It'll be worth it to see these things come out of the woodwork on your friends and neighbors.  Where else are you going to get to cherish moments like this one...
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just one of the many party images to be found
My family used to carol on Christmas Eve in snowman motif sweaters.  Many of us got married, leaving too few sweaters on hand, and so they were mercifully replaced with matching scarves. 

By the way, if you want to have a little fun, check out virtual holiday sweaters.  Spread some joy with a little competition to see who can come up with the ugliest design!