Archive for February, 2011

February 28, 2011

Best Actress in a Supporting Role….

 

Shape

And the award goes to that magical mystery marriage of fabric and engineering – the brassiere!  The coveted hourglass silhouette is simply not achievable without one.  As a very curvy girl, I am a big believer in the transformative power of a truly great bra.  It can push things up, smooth things out, reshape things, create what isn’t really there, reduce what is …and they can even manage to look pretty great doing it!  But the need for excellent underpinnings is not restricted to the more generously graced among us – every woman, petite to voluptuous, needs to always wear a good bra. 

What *is* a good bra? Well, that’s a fairly complicated question to answer.  Every woman is going to have a different answer depending on their needs, body, budget and preferences.   I do have two criteria that apply no matter what your needs are – quality and fit. 

I find it interesting that most women have many tops in their wardrobe but probably only five or six bras at most, sometimes less.  And we wear that handful of bras hard – every day, for many hours – and usually well past their prime.  We rely on them to provide us our foundational shape, enduring frequent wearing and washings yet we spend less on them then on the tops they are under and replace them less frequently!  Now, as a big girl I don’t get to do this, the feats of engineering I require do not come cheap, not even a little bit.  But I also believe I more than get my money’s worth and I suggest you could do the same.  This is not an area where a girl should scrimp – buy good quality and replace regularly so that your bras never let you…ahem…down. 

Just as important as overall quality is fit; every bra you wear should be a garment that is well constructed and most importantly FITS YOU PERFECTLY.   This means you need to be fitted by a professional bra fitter.  No exceptions, no excuses, and not just once either!  Our bodies change – we lose weight, we gain it, we age, even a change in your workout routines will change your body and things move.  Whenever they do we need to make sure the bras we are selecting are right for our bodies as they are NOW, not five years ago.

Bra fitters are available at department stores, at chains like Victoria’s Secrets and at smaller lingerie stores.  I have also had excellent experiences with the fitters at Nordstrom, clearly they get some training and are knowledgeable about their products.  I am fortunate enough to live relatively close to several terrific lingerie stores that specialize in bras and in fitting everyone – all sizes and special needs too.  I personally think these shops are the very best place to go as these folks study all of the brands, understand what will work for different body types and needs, and will give you the best possible advice and fitting.  Wherever you live, I highly recommend taking the time to find a store that has trained fitters for a truly great fitting.   

Getting fitted is going to be a little uncomfortable – nothing like standing essentially topless in a small dressing room with a woman you may have only just met – but get over the shyness, it will be worth it.  Many women discover they are wearing totally the wrong size or type of bra for their figure.  Not all shapes are the same so trying several (or many) different manufacturers and styles will let you compare options so that you find the garments that will be comfortable and still do the most for you.  Just trying on  bras all from the same manufacturer may not give you a good baseline of what will work best.  I had stayed with one brand for many years but the last time I was fitted got to try a new line and WOW!- it was way more comfortable, narrowed my torso a bit and was really pretty too.

Once you do get the fit correct and you get used to how that fit should feel, you will find that you feel better and look MUCH better.  No more binding, slipping straps, odd bagginess in the cups, etc.  The right bra is going to provide you with shape – your “girls” are going to get uplift, proportion, position.  I always suggest wearing or brining along a fitted white t-shirt when you go bra shopping, so you can try it on over new bras and see how they look under clothes.  While you would never wear a racy red bra under white, you will get a sense of what that red bra will work with and what shape it makes you and yours.   

A girl is going to have many bra needs and there are soooo many types of bras, colors, styles, etc, far too many to delve into today.  But getting the fit down is the best and most important step, so do yourself and your girls a favor and get fitted!

February 27, 2011

Getting Comfortable

Just lounging

 

I must confess that I am a loungewear and pajama addict.  I cannot resist checking out the sleepwear and loungewear sections of my favorite retailers.  I simply adore the feeling of cute, coordinating jammies…and while I am NOT the silk nightie kind of girl (although I sure admire my girlfriends who are!) I do try to put a little care into my loungewear and pj’s.  Especially since I am not the only one having to look at them!  Who wants an “I don’t really care” look, even at home?  I think that behind closed doors is the BEST time to make yourself feel good about how you look.  And if you live with someone else, looking delectable can be even more….hmmm….well….delectable!

For throwing on after work I have several sets of velour sweats and some tops and pants that are in yummy but washable fabrics so I don’t care if the dogs get in my lap for our end-of-day cuddle.  I also have a very small collection of oversized tee shirts and jerseys emblazoned with my beloved NBA team’s logos which even I can’t part with – they are definitely not fashion statements but I try to create intentional outfits with them so I don’t look like I just rolled out of bed or as if I am about to go clean a bathroom or paint a fence or something. 

For actual sleeping I like soft, stretchy knits that don’t bind my legs or other parts of my anatomy.  To keep them from looking like workout clothes and to make myself feel pretty I select matching sets with feminine details in the colors, prints or trims.  My beloved refers to these as “Doris Day” pajamas and while they are definitely not sophisticated or remotely racy I am assured they have their own appeal.  Moreover, I feel good in them, even when I have a nasty cold. 

Now I challenge you to cast an editorial eye towards what you wear when you unwind.  How do you feel?  Do you run diving for cover when the doorbell rings?  Are there items you wear that tend to trigger your significant other to ask if you are coming down with something?   Yep, we all have ‘em – the faded granny nightgowns, baggy sweats and raggedy tees, the stained tanks and holey flannel pants.  While these pieces feel okay, they can look pretty depressing. What to do? 

It’s not time to jettison all of your beloved comfy clothes.  And there is no need to invest in a whole new wardrobe for just at home.  But give yourself an opportunity to put a little thought into what you have and how you wear it.  Comfortable does not need to equal ratty or unflattering.  So make yourself a little time to take a look at your comfy stuff and how you look in it and touch it up a bit. 

For example, I have this oversized sweater/sweatshirt tunic that I simply love for its comfort, but even I realize makes me look about 8 ½ months pregnant.  Unwilling to part with it, I spent a few minutes one Sunday morning to figure out a better way to wear it.  What I came up with was to belt it with a soft sash borrowed from a t-shirt dress over a pair of leggings and my ballet flat slippers – it suddenly looked cute and like an *outfit*. 

I also regularly challenge myself to let go of those items that are really past their prime or never had a prime to begin with.  No matter how wonderfully comforting they may be, if they are starting to look like gardening clothes its time for them to realize that destiny…or hit the rag or charity box.  I strive to be honest with myself about the items that didn’t work in the first place – like those darned capri pants that were such a cute color I couldn’t resist buying them and that were soooooo unflattering – then take note, remember it the next time I am tempted to buy a similar garment and resist

If you are ready for some new things, this *is* the time to indulge your inner self whomever she is.  If you have an inner girly girl go for it- ribbons and bows may not always be okay for every day, but they are perfect for bedtime, as is pink, lace, flowers, even chiffon if it tickles your fancy.  If you aren’t ready for full-on Diva during the day, try it on at home.  I love the harem pant look but realize I don’t really have the right place to wear it – except at home!  Relaxing at home is a great opportunity to change it up, even if it’s just wearing colors that you would never dream of wearing out and about. 

We don’t have to go completely the other way here, with babydoll gowns and robes so sexy that they would make your average pole dancer blush.  There is a vast and happy middle ground of pretty and flattering, and its time to embrace it, with no loss of comfort!   You can be the sophisticate in silk and cashmere, the diva in caftans and maxi dresses, the sporty girl in yoga-like knits – all terrific options to meet your personal comfort, practicality and sartorial wishes.  Work with what you have and what works for you to build this part of your wardrobe.   There are some great options and some of them are probably already in your closet…so go get ‘em! 

February 22, 2011

Underneath it All – The Boys’ Turn

Okay, you men out there are not off the hook this month.  Boys, lets be honest, if you ask the woman in your life what she thinks about your underwear she is likely to be so shocked she will be unable to give you an honest answer.  So let me do it for her.  Consider it a favor.    

Let’s get right down to the, er, bottom of this.  First and foremost, gentlemen – tighty whiteys do NOT have that Tom Cruise or Michael Jordan charm going for them once they are frayed, have moved from snug to severely baggy and/or have become that slightly unsavory beige/gray color they all get.  Even when they adorn the most adored behind in our world, they look grubby and unappealing. 

If you aren’t into plain ol’ Fruit-of-the-Looms, there are other great options.  Tried and true boxers are comfy, I am told, and can be pretty sexy in a preppy/professorish sort of way.  Snug boxer briefs look awfully sporty and don’t leave the guy’s equivalent of Visible Panty Lines.  And there are those men who can work a bikini – although I don’t suggest this look once you and your physique head into middle age.  When deciding on fabrics – cotton is always a primary, but if you are feeling adventurous there are some terrific blends out there, and silk feels nice, really nice. 

When it comes to colors and prints I always recommend staying traditional and manly.  As always, black and white are mainstays, when they are their original colors.  If you are a little tough on your laundry or do your own, jersey gray isn’t a bad option as it’s already an indeterminant color so it will resist laundry sorting mishaps and look better longer.  One look to avoid: those screen printed boxer briefs that have popped up.  I have to say they look a little bit like the action hero undies that little boys wear.  So NOT sexy.  No no no.  

Is that all?  Well, no.  Through the years the standard undershirt has become the every day t-shirt and somehow wearing an undershirt for many men has drifted away.  Now sometimes this is fine, but gentlemen, we beg of you, not always!  There are still times when a good undershirt is a very good idea.  These need to be true undershirts, not a baggy or colored tee or, heaven forbid, one with a message on it.  If you tend to overheat or feel constrained with too much fabric around your arms try a tank or sleeveless style.  Again, you may want to try fabrics beyond cotton – cotton blends, silk or rayon are cool, smooth, and hold their shape well, and some are even designed to wick away perspiration.  Whatever style and material you prefer, be sure you have some clean, white, nicely fitted undershirts at your disposal.  Your dress shirts, your laundress, and those who love you will thank you! 

For both tops and bottoms, consider fit – garments should be well fitted but not tight, and certainly not droopy or baggy, especially not if they are so baggy they show through your clothes.  Rumpled-butt is a no-go!  In all cases, go for crisp and clean.  Once underwear get discolored or ratty, let them go.  Most of it isn’t so terribly pricey that you have to wear things to ribbons.  Looking sleek, clean and well cared for is always appealing.  Trust me!

See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?   And now you know!

February 19, 2011

Underneath It All – For Her

Underneath it All

I’m baaaccckkk! I have returned from vacation and re-entered reality (whew!) and now I can get back to blogging.  When last we chatted the topic was lingerie.  Although February 14th is behind us, we are not done yet!  Today’s post is for women (sorry boys) and we continue with that most essential of fashion necessities, undies! 

Our underwear is probably the most neglected portions of our wardrobes.  I bet if each of you took a close look at your lingerie you would find at least one item that is the wrong size for your current self and at least three things that are faded, discolored or so generally worn and ratty that you wouldn’t want anyone to see them.  At least!  And yet, there they are.  And in the rush of morning they get grabbed and worn, time after time.

Here is a part of our wardrobes where function and beauty can and should marry but never seem to do more than have a brief hook up.  Now I recognize that not all comfortable or functional underwear is all that gorgeous, and sometimes lacy thongs must give way to plain old cotton panties.  But generally speaking, a little care and some planning can at least give you something to smile about.  Let’s face it – it’s pretty hard to feel sexy in a faded bra and granny pants – no matter what you are wearing on the outside. 

A dreary winter afternoon is a great time to take an hour and go through that panty drawer – sort out what you wear and what you don’t.  Take a look at each piece – toss the stuff that looks really ratty, has unintended holes, doesn’t fit or doesn’t feel good.  Figure out why that cute thong never gets worn – Fit? Color? Feel?  Learn from what you do wear and what you don’t.  Which items are really worn out? Usually those are the ones that you wear the most; perhaps its time to replace them, or get the same style in more than one color.  Take notes! 

Now take the keepers and lay them all out – do you have panties that match each bra you wear?  If not, here is an easy and not too expensive way to create an “I feel pretty” moment.   Even the most basic cotton bra and bikini look pretty darned sexy paired together in racy black or demure white.  What else do you see?  Too much beige?  Not enough? 

To keep it simple, select a color palate for your underwear that works with your wardrobe.  If you wear a lot of white or light colors make sure you have plenty of nude lingerie; if you wear a lot of black you can go all black or pick some more daring colors.  Sometimes you don’t have to wear beige or nude to blend in under lighter colors.  For the fair skinned, there are some pale, soft pink hues and for the darker some dusky rose hues that I find work just as well as beige and are much prettier too. 

While you are planning, I suggest using the rule of three – three panties to each bra, and if you tend to wear a top (hence bra) with certain bottoms (and therefore panties) plan accordingly and make sure you have useful combinations.  Anything missing?  Start a list!  Then when you hit the lingerie sales or have a temptation moment you will be ready and know what you need, what really works for you and what may not.    

Whatever you select – sleek or lacy, basic or colorful – put together a plan that works under your wardrobe and injects a bit of gorgeous at the same time.  Make sure you give yourself some variety and some “I feel beautiful” pieces.  Not all functional bras need to be beige.  And even suck-it-in panties now come with lace trim. 

The next time you are out buying your unmentionables treat them as part of your wardrobe rather than a separate entity.  Nice under-things help you start every day feeling just a tiny bit more together.  I personally LOVE the feeling of wearing a very lacy bra and pant set under a severe, no-nonsense business suit – even if no one else knows or sees them I know.  It feels powerful and fun, like a really juicy secret.

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