12 February 2007

How to address intra-top fit issues

Believe it or not, there is a downside to having a 32C chest, a muscular back and a size 4 waist.

Every time I try on a button-up blouse or any top in a structured fabric, I face the same infuriating dilemma: nothing fits everywhere. The size I need is always the one in between this one and that one. In other words, I need a size that doesn't exist.

You can counter this problem to a small degree by wearing a projection-minimizing bra or by not caring that you have a full-on draft coming through the openings in between your buttons when you twist your torso, but I have a different suggestion -- buy the bigger size and go to your neighborly, highly-recommended tailor.

Unless, that is, the fabric is an extremely delicate one (like this black satin Cigana top, $265 at girlshop.com), in which case, you probably just have to let the dream die. Even for the most capable and conscientious tailor, fabrics like silk, satin, lace and chiffon pose a sometimes insurmountable challenge. And unless you are seriously overweight with a substantial amount of chest-age to lose, I would advise against the concept of a "goal blouse." I have three or four of these in my closet, all of which I adore and none of which, no matter how thin I get, will button properly.

The first rule of blouse shopping is to buy the size that fits comfortably around whatever body part - be it breasts, back, hips or tummy - protrudes the most. Once you've accommodated that, you and your tailor can work together to make the silhouette as perfectly tailored to your figure as possible.

If your breasts and waist are just too large and too tiny, respectively, and the disparity between them is so great that the integrity of the blouse would unavoidably be compromised by invasive reconstruction, then once again, you might just have to buh-bye the idea you'll ever fit in the top in question. The same goes for tops in busy, bright patterns (like the above right striped Sailor Girl Blouse with puff sleeves and Nehru collar, $88 at anthropologie.com); cutting out significant swaths of material, even if non-threatening to the shirt's overall shape could still affect the overall look if the stripes, flowers, polka dots came together in awkward angles.

I've only discussed button-up tops in this post primarily because pullovers tend to come in stretchier, more forgiving fabrics and hardly ever put you in a between-sizes pickle. We still need to be cognizant of tight-versus-fitted when it comes to pullovers - especially if you have a picture or delicate pattern emblazoned on the front - but there is much more room for error when you don't have the potential for mid-chest peek-a-boos.

And just because I'm still distressed about it, here at left is the silk dotted Banana Republic blouse ($68 at bananarepublic.com) I waited a month after first seeing in the December issue of Marie Claire to buy, then went into the store, tried it on, and couldn't find a single size that could reckon with my chest. Even when I was swimming in waist fabric three clicks above my regular size, I still had puckering at button four.

Whatever, like Harvard, I'm so over it.


nyc admirer said...

You'll never get over Harvard. It's the one "failure" that humanizes you, my dear.

One of my favorite memories of you is when you were explaining to me how a car with a Harvard bumper sticker had more of a right to drive recklessly than a car with say, a Swarthmore or (gasp) Ohio State bumper sticker. You really believe it, and that's what's so funny about you - your ridiculous rationalizations!

congrats on the 250th post, by the way! you're a machine!

Johanna said...

It's true. The only car that trumps a Harvard car is the one Dick "Hotcakes" Cheney is riding around in...

I miss Brown said...

Please write a post telling us all you're actually kidding about the whole Veep crush...PLEASE!