31 July 2007
30 July 2007
Two beautiful women with toned, healthy figures, both of whom went down the ASJINE-endorsed path of neutral, simple and elegant, but as you can see below, in a very not ASJINE-advised fashion.
Onto Catherine (here in Michael Kors, exiting the "Live! with Regis & Kelly" set).
Tuesday night, I found her.
Wednesday morning, I ordered her.
Thursday, all day, I waited for her.
Friday, after work, I received her.
A *perfect* short-and-sweet timetable for a *perfect* blouse, right?
As is obvious in the picture above and in the two below, the blouse, aesthetically speaking, is beautiful: the silk hearty, the pleating well constructed, the cap sleeves meticulously stitched, and the color, oh my god, forget about it -- gunmetal at its most gorgeous.
But despite all that good, there was the all-important issue of fit, an area in which my new Banana Republic dress shell most definitely did not excel.
Not only does the blouse run quite large - I'm almost exclusively a size "S," but as you can see here, I'm shapelessly swimming in extra fabric from the sleeves down - but it's also uncompromisingly boxy, a shape with which the slim pencil skirt, high-waisted or otherwise, is completely incompatible.
Whilst slow-baking shoreside on Saturday, I realized I have two choices, the first of which is to send the "return" label back to Banana Republic HQ, collect my $80.32, and continue on my quest to find another silk cap-sleeved pleat-neck blouse.
The second option, a much more involved option, is to use the "exchange" label, wait for my "XS" to arrive, evaluate the up-top fit, and assuming all drapes well from the shoulders to the chest, take the blouse to my trusty seamstress Alicia and have her craft a much more tailored, contoured shape.
In any other situation, with any other wardrobe component, I'd go with the former, but given how long I've been looking for an affordable version of this exact design and given that its gunmetal color exceeded my unreasonably high expectations, I decided to follow my instincts and opt for the latter.
Normally, I wouldn't include you so intimately in my do-I-keep-it-or-return-it? inner dialogue, but in light of how much interest this blouse generated last week, I thought I'd warn potential buyers to (1) order a size smaller than you normally wear and (2) be prepared to invest another $15-$25 in tailoring if you're planning to rock the slim-tuck.
Two more snaps of the *perfect* blouse fitting my frame far from perfectly:
29 July 2007
27 July 2007
26 July 2007
I'm a busy worker-bee today and thus unfortunately don't have the time to opine at length over the horrendous powder blue pencil skirt or the five-inch cherry-red faux patent leather slingbacks I saw on two separate but equally offensive women on my way back from lunch.
What I can do in lieu of critiquing this and railing against that, however, is finally post something I've been meaning to share with you all for some time now:
Warning: these beats and suggestive lyrics will make you regret slipping off those heels before you stepped out of the office -- each one of these gems was made for fierce female strutting, not bowlegged, little girl flip-flip-flopping.
"Baby Did a Bad Thing" by Chris Isaak
"Downtown" by Peaches
"Sharp Dressed Man" by ZZ Top
"Panama" by Van Halen
"The Girl's Attractive" by Diamond Nights
"Devil Inside" by INXS
And my shout-out to the mitten-state:
"Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes
I realize not all of you climb out of bed each morning giddy with Christmas-Eve-like excitement over which all-black ensemble you'll assemble for work.
Just like I'll never understand how my brother can find unadulterated joy in creating "elegant code," most of you probably can't relate to the all-over tingle I experience when I discover the outfit to which Monte has given his final approval is a never-before-worn permutation of this black pouf-sleeve satin-piped boatneck blouse with that black tri-acetate ultra-slim pencil skirt with those black 4.25-inch croc-embossed almond-toed pumps.
Honestly, an all-over tingle.
To many, all-black, regardless of the cuts, the of-interest detailing or the richness of the fabrics, is representative of a kind of fashion safety - conformity, even - that perpetuates all that is wrong and boring and too-conventional on DC's professional style scene.
Pish-posh to that, I say.
But instead of launching into another one of my there's-nothing-wrong-with-all-black analyses, this time I'll go another route and acknowledge what the vast majority of the public wants, which in the case of a can't-wait-to-wear-it-to-work dress is likely not a simple black bought-in-11th-grade Banana Republic sheath. No, some of you like prints, some of you like non-black neutrals like grey, brown, navy and ivory, and still others - individuals I enjoy looking at but with whom I share very little professional-style kinship - enjoy draping themselves in this thing called "color."
With all that in mind, here is a selection of non-black (grey doesn't count), office-appropriate** frocks assured to start your day off on an I-feel-beautiful note and that will no doubt earn you "Love the dress" compliments on your way into, at, and on your way home from the office:
Abel print dress by DvF ($241.50 at pinkmascara.com)*
*dresses your Editrix might consider
**office-appropriate for those who are not required to wear a suit everyday
25 July 2007
Silk pleated cap-sleeve top ($68 at bananarepublic.com)
And in case you need a memory jog, the blouse that started the quest:
Though I only enjoy to a minor degree the frustration you've described, believe me when I say I have nothing but sympathy for you.
Well, that's not completely true.
You're 5'5", a size-6 and rock a 34D bosom -- professional clothing dilemma aside, you must know how fortunate you are that you get to look in the mirror every morning and see what most women - and men - would call the ideal female frame.
Now before I start in on work-appropriate, heaving-rack friendly, above-the-waist wardrobe components, I first encourage you to make sure your up-top underpinnings are the correct size and provide your girls with a sufficient amount of support. For those with a large C-cup and over, starting your day off with an ill-fitting bra can not only cause pain to the shoulders and lower back but more devastatingly, have you looking droopier, misshapen, dumpy, even (gasp) heavier than you really are.
If you're not sure if you have the right bra, I'd recommend heading over to the fine department store nearest you and hit up the nice woman in the "intimates" section with the tape measure around her neck. There's no pressure to buy that $84 Aubade t-shirt bra, but remember, for you larger-chested ladies, an inexpensive, thin-strapped demi-balconette with Chantilly trim is just not in your professional future. One of the few downsides of bigger breasts is that your day-to-day bras are not going to look as cute and strip-teasey as you might like. Please don't fight this.
Once you've locked-and-loaded the girls in a properly-fitting bra, let's discuss the kinds of tops you should avoid:
Anything with an empire-waist (you'll look bosomy and waist-less), a deep-plunge neckline (you might as well draw an arrow to your cleavage), and busy-in-front detailing (excessive ruffling, adornments, tuxedo-bibbing, or a billowy cowlneck will only add more volume to the area you're trying not to highlight) is off-limits. Additionally, anything emblazoned with a print that's made from a delicate, gauzy fabric (think single-ply cashmere or superfine merino wool) has to be left out, for the simple reason that design-distortion almost always occurs when a big chest meets thin, stretchy fabric.
With what does that leave you? Fewer options than most but let's not forget the second most important part of this equation -- your small waist.
The problem with trapeze/empire silhouettes on a frame like yours is that the only cling that takes place is the one at your chest, leaving everything from the bottom curve of your breast downward swimming under a tent of silk, linen, cotton or whatever fabric you happen to be wearing. The taut size-6 waist you've worked so hard to achieve will look to you and those around you two-to-four sizes bigger, depending on the thinness of the rest of your limbs (I've learned the neck, ankles and wrists are the most helpful predictors of a woman's overall shape).
So yes, once again, I advocate shirts, blouses, sweaters, shells and jackets that allow you to demonstrate in spite of your heavy chest you don't have a heavy mid-section.
I also propose simple necklines - scoop, square, boat, Mandarin, subtle-sweetheart, etc. - and incorporating your personal flair with accents farther away from your chest, an effect that can be achieved with a showpiece sleeve (think flutter, cap, tiered, or pouf) or unique hemline (think scalloped, piped or contrast-colored). I know the button-up shirt is every large-chested girl's worst enemy, but your only choices with this style are to either swear them off entirely or do as you mentioned in your question and visit your friendly tailor after purchasing the size that fits snugly, yet keyhole-free, across your girls. When it comes to button-ups - and for the most part, suit jackets as well - with proportions like yours, my dear, tailoring is the only option for a proper drape.
My last two cents are to go neutral up top (nothing says "look at me here!" like a bright color or wild print) and always opt for a slim, lower-rise fit from the waist-down. Were I you, I'd altogether avoid the wide-legged trousers, lampshade-shaped A-line skirts and high-waisted anything, because even if you stepped out at 5'9" in a pair of ASJINE wishlist 4-inchers, a large chest and a wide leg - and likewise, a large chest and a waistline hiked up to the ribcage - do not a size-6 look. The proof is in the pudding.
Here below are a few styles - a starting point, mind you, not an exhaustive list - I hope will satisfy both your inclination toward professional modesty and your desire not to look like the middle-aged secretary who gave up her quest to find a heavy-chest-flattering wardrobe two decades ago.
Silk puff-sleeve top by August ($58 at macys.com)
Frilly sleeve top by Sara Berman ($119.90 at nordstrom.com)
Silk charmeuse wrap-top by BCBG Max Azria ($178 at nordstrom.com)
*I love this blouse, but I would recommend you try to find something with a more severe, less gradual shoulder-to-waist taper (remember, these are starting points!)
24 July 2007
But think black pointy-toed, ankle-strap heels instead of boots and a boxy navy pinstripe blazer atop a denim button-up instead of an olive t-shirt.
In case you hadn't heard, Jane, one of the small handful of wry, extraordinarily well-written, substantive-but-not-too-substantive fashion magazines has been "let go" by its parent company, Condé Nast.
I wasn't robbed by a shortened subscription or devastated because Jane was the magazine at the center of my if-I-could-have-any-job fantasy (that would be Marie Claire), but I am nonetheless heartbroken both because the writing was that good and for as long as I can remember, it - along with Lucky - served as my reliable, get-me-through-my-layover one-two punch.
With its subtle feminist message, salacious word-choices, generous mix of low, mid and high fashion promotion and the audacity with which its writers intruded upon celebrities' lives instead of simply recycling the tired "tell us how you became so fierce!" fare you find in every issue of People, Glamour and Cosmopolitan, Jane will no doubt go down in periodical history as the foul-mouthed tomboy of the fashion mag crew.
The hot foul-mouthed tomboy with a brain, ambition, glowing skin and a fantastic rack, that is.
Considering its reputation and penchant for being much more Betsey Johnson than Anna Wintour, it's only fitting that for its farewell issue, editor-in-chief Brandon Holley chose as her cover girl the saucy, "I work hard for my body and yeah, I like it" Cuban treat that is Eva Mendes.
Enjoy, and be sure to remember those three magic words...
Click. To. Enlarge.