The Reason I’m Doing this Blog

[These photos are how I used to dress before I figured out this fashion thing. I know they look bad. They are my sacrifice to knowledge.]

This post is different from the others because it’s not an outfit post. I wanted to take a moment to explain why I’m doing this blog. I was a stay-at-home mom for almost 20 years. Over those 20 years, I didn’t know what was in style or how to dress my body shape, especially since it was a very different shape from when I was younger. Usually, I looked at what the mannequins were wearing (I am not kidding) to see how outfits were being put together. As you can imagine, it wasn’t a good strategy. Usually I left the store with whatever happened to fit. I did not feel joy when shopping and usually came out of the store feeling pretty bad about my midlife body. It was very discouraging and I never felt good about my outfits. No wonder I hated having my picture taken.

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At least I have a jacket on, but, ooooh that necklace looks bad…..

Now, cut to 2014. I had just graduated from a grueling program at a prestigious school. I was excited to begin a new career! Nothing was holding me back! My girlfriend who had been in the working world told me she always wore black pants, black jacket and a colored shell underneath. Ok, I can do that. I went to JCPenney and found an all white blazer (it must be in style because it’s in the store, right?) and I even had the arm length hemmed to fit. I had a pair of decent looking black pants (how can you go wrong with black pants, right?) and I bought a pair of functional black pumps. Bare feet with pumps? Probably not for an interview, so I’ll wear black nylons. Gray print blouse that had a seam that was supposed to go under your bust but, of course, on me it cut right through, but who would notice since it’s a print and I couldn’t find any other blouse that would fit and I didn’t have time to go look for anything else.

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V-necks are supposed to be flattering right? Nothing left to the imagination with that shirt….Oh God, those heavy black shoes….Cringe…..

I walked into the interview and the woman interviewing me looked me up and down (yep, like it was high school) and I knew I was not going to get this job. Needless to say the interview did not go well and they had me out of there quickly. I realized I was going to be “interviewed” when I walked in, before they even looked at my portfolio or listened to my intelligent conversation. I had to figure out this fashion thing.

I started looking at fashion blogs to figure out what was in style. I started going to stores and trying on lots and lots and lots of items, though not buying anything. I went into stores like JJill and White House Black Market where the employees are so helpful and have stylist training. I did a smart thing and invested in a personal fit guide from My Private Stylist (no affiliation, no commission, no kickback) since I realized I needed professional help. It did cost money, but I knew I had already spent 10 times that amount buying bad items of clothing. It helped tremendously! I was reading everything I could find about what’s in style, what my personal style was, age-appropriate advice, professional dressing, most flattering colors…..Ack! There was so much to learn!

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Needless to say, I never wore this shirt again after I saw this picture and typical “ashamed of my body” pose

Through all this research, I still wasn’t finding advice about clothes that worked for my body, specifically a big bust and a wide torso. The plus size blogs didn’t work for me because, even though I’m not thin (size 16 top and size 12/14 bottom) the plus size clothing is too big. Plus, many of the plus-size models are hourglass shapes and I am definitely not an hourglass, nor could I fake it. I was looking up advice for apple shapes and they all say “this is the hardest shape to dress”. Great. Most of the sites have drawings of a woman with the apple shape (instead of showing a real human being) because there aren’t any models or celebrities who have that shape (one place even used Catherine Zeta Jones as an example of an apple shape, PUH-LEEZE). Plus, lots of the advice was confusing (emphasize your waist, don’t emphasize your waist, play up your bust, cover up your bust, etc.). Now, throw in the fact that I’m over 40 and it was a perfect storm of confusion, no real life images, conflicting advice and feeling invisible.

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Too many bad things about this outfit to even try to list

I knew if I felt this confusion there had to be others out there just like me. I see women all the time who have a body shape like me so I know we’re here. Since the internet covers everything, I was surprised that this demographic was not being represented. I took a deep breath and just started writing about what I had learned and I ignored the critical internal voice and just started taking pictures. I knew I had figured this out (and am still figuring this out) and I had to let others know what I had learned. Let me say, it’s still hard for me to look at my pictures because I remember I once was thinner, younger, and less tired, but now I feel I look good for my age and size. I like what I see in the mirror. I get compliments all the time. I think my clothes fit me and flatter me and I really love them. I have actually felt that uplifting feeling you get when you put on an outfit and you feel good in it. I have had an outfit change my mood from bad to good. It’s fun shopping again! I actually love getting dressed in the morning! It had been decades since I had felt a bit of confidence from my outward appearance, especially my clothing.

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This was the first outfit I felt good in in decades! Horizontal stripes? Wasn’t that supposed to be unflattering? Black moto jacket fit my style perfectly. Tall boots? This was my first pair ever.

So, stay with me on this journey as we continue to be seen and heard and have our needs addressed. I would like to start featuring other apple-shaped, big-busted women on this blog. If you are interested, pop over to the contact page and email me. How many years have we been trying to change our bodies to fit into their clothes when they really should have been changing their clothes to fit our bodies? I’m done with that. They need to change for us because GIRLS RULE!

Linking up with Not Dead Yet Style , Elegantly Fashionable , Style Nudge, Mama and More and Happiness at Mid-Life

 

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Easing into leopard print

So, if you’re like me you might be hesitant about leopard print, or really any animal print. I was envisioning Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company (kooky, over-the-top, flowy tunics), even though I was seeing it all over fashion blogs looking very chic. I’ve even heard it being declared a “neutral”. I still felt it was too flashy for me. Then, I read some advice to start small with the print. Maybe shoes or a purse. Nicky from Midlife Chic recommended these Clarks shoes and I bought them when they were half off. Bonus!DSC_0206

Now I had them how to wear them? I don’t have any brown in my closet so that was out. I could wear them with black. Ok, lame. Then, I saw them up against my bright green skirt (shown earlier here) and thought how beautiful they look with jewel tones. I’ve paired them with bright green, violet, red and now bright blue. I just made sure the colors were very saturated and not grayed-out or pastel in any way.

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I’m not quite to the point of declaring them a neutral but I am definitely looking for more ways to wear them. They are pointy toes so I only wear them on days when I don’t have to do much walking (I refuse to have my feet hurt for shoes) but I love how they up my fashion game.

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This jacket has some very cute style details. Fun, ribbed cuffs, military style buttons, cute stand-up collar and slightly stretchy denim fabric that is very lightweight. I took off the pesky hook and eye closures because they were gapping like crazy and even on the model on the website they are noticeable. It’s going to be in serious rotation this spring and summer.

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Shoes from Clarks are old but there are lots of cute leopard print pumps out there. Blue jacket is from inc. from Macy’s here and on sale! Linking up with these ladies at Curly Crafty Mom and another Michigan based blogger, Color and Grace here

I do not have any affiliation with any of the brands or stores nor do I receive any compensation. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned.

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The Myth of the Wrap Dress!

[This is a post about some of the fashion “rules” that don’t work for all body types. Even though I know the dress does not look good on me I still posed and styled the dress so you could see it objectively. The images are my sacrifice to knowledge.]

So, if you’ve done any research on what is a no-fail, universally perfect dress for any shape or age you’ve discovered the wrap dress. This is a dress that drapes the fabric to one side of your torso so you get the illusion of a smaller waist and it accentuates your bust, alluding to your femininity. Unfortunately, for those of us with a big bust this dress completely backfires. Oh, and you apple shapes? Be prepared to be asked “when are you due?” when wearing this.

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This was the first dress I bought when I was going back to work. I believed the hype. Even though in the dressing room I could see something would have to be done about the dip in the neckline since the fabric was pulled downward and outward revealing a great bit of my bra. But, I bought it, brought it home, tried it on with a black camisole underneath. Now the whole vertical look of the neckline was completely changed. No longer was it a long vertical triangle starting at my neck and moving down. Now it stopped in a horizontal line above my cleavage. It looked like I was overly modest.

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Then I decided I needed to have that v-neck to get the desired look so I stitched up about 5 inches of the neckline and tried it on again. Something still didn’t look right. I put it away for a few months then brought it out again. Maybe I was wearing it wrong? I put it on and my teenager told me it looked “matronly”. Death knell.

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DSC_0295What I realized is the reason this doesn’t look good on a big-busted woman is because it plays up the bust too much. The low v-neck is the focal point and divides the bust into two. Now, you have two gigantic breasts, completely outlined by the dress structure. Then the affect of the ruching creating the waist hits right below the breasts. If I had smaller breasts the ruching would be lower, closer to my natural waist. But, with the uptake of fabric by the bust and the inevitable low-hanging quality of larger breasts, the fabric is gathered almost underneath the breasts further silhouetting every bit of them. The resemblance to a maternity top is too much for me.

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Now, it is helped a lot by the “3rd piece” jacket. It reins in the width of the bust and hides the side silhouette of the waist, but I think the dress still just doesn’t look as good as a dress should look. But, if you’re ever in this situation, keep in mind the power of the jacket to, at least, make it acceptable.

I cringe when I look at these images but I wanted you to know that if you are built like me you will have to take the “rules” lightly and actually try everything on, view it critically and if it doesn’t look right in the dressing room, it is not going to look right at home. Linking up with these ladies Mama and More

Unfortunately, I will have more posts like these in the future since I have several more examples of items of clothing that don’t work for my body type. Learn from my mistakes!

 

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Pink of the season!

Loving this spring’s pink color. I really only try to buy a couple items in the “it” color of the season since it tends to look outdated very quickly. This spring it’s been this blouse, this purse and some super cute flats seen here. Then, I wear the heck out of them!DSC_0395

I do not wear long skirts much at all. But, not wanting to show my bare legs yet this spring and tired of wearing pants all of the time I’ve had to resort to a long skirt. Because I’m narrow-hipped I like to keep that silhouette straight and narrow and usually a straight or pencil-style skirt is my best option.

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Purse and necklace from TJ Maxx. Blouse from Loft here and on sale. JJill Skirt here and on sale. Old Dress Barn faux leather jacket.

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I don’t wear this statement necklace very often because it often looks too dressy but with this plain blouse and plain black skirt it fit right in.

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I also thought, since this is a blog for big-busted women, I need to start showing the side view of my outfits, rather than just the front view in the slimming “model” pose.

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And, yes I know you’re all getting sick of this black jacket but it is such a wardrobe workhorse. I love how I look in it and it works with so many outfits. You’ll probably be seeing it in the future. Enjoy spring! Linking up with these ladies Happiness at Midlife and The Pleated Poppy and I do deClaire and The Fashion Canvas

I do not have any affiliation with any of the brands or stores nor do I receive any compensation. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned.

 

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How to wear pointy shoes comfortably!

So, I like the look of the pointy toe shoes that are in style now but there is no way I’m going to wear something uncomfortable, especially on my feet. I found the solution with these flats! There is no heel so your foot doesn’t slide into the pinching part. And because it ties around your ankle they stay put when walking so your foot doesn’t migrate into the cruel part of the shoe. Plus the color! Love it!DSC_0135

Shoes are old but similar here and here. Jacket is old from Kohls but similar here.

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Black skinny jeans from White House Black Market are old but similar here

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Good shoes for spring because they show some foot but you’re not freezing. I paired them with skinny jeans that show a bit more ankle so you can show off the adorable ties. The color is on-trend and the style is on-trend so I’ll be wearing the heck out of them this spring and summer!

I do not have any affiliation with any of the brands or stores nor do I receive any compensation. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned.

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Wearing a sweater with a big bust!

So, having a large bust and wearing a lot of sweaters, one thing I have to look out for is how the front of the sweater hangs. So, this sweater, when it’s untied hangs out about 5 inches away from my body. It doesn’t have structure that pulls it back towards my body after it cascades over my bust. Yeah, it looks dumb. Luckily it’s cut in such a way that you can tie it in front (technically, you’re supposed to also be able to wrap it around your waist and button it in the back, not happening here) and bring it back closer to your body.

DSC_0312One thing I look for in sweaters, is some structure. Sometimes it’s a band in the back at the waist that just gives it some shape. Sometimes it’s heavier, drapier fabric so it hangs closer to my body below my bust. Sometimes it’s a button or zipper. One thing I stay away from is the waistband at the bottom of the sweater that a lot of cardigans have. They drape above the waistband and poof out a bit, so it gives more volume to your torso. And when you have a big bust, even if you have a tiny waist and flat stomach, there is the potential to look heavier than you are if the fabric hangs unflatteringly. DSC_0382

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Nic and Zoe sweater here. Jjill indestructible skirt here. Jjill long sleeve shirt here and on sale!

And this is an example of wearing a similar color up top to balance out the shock of color of bare skin when wearing tall boots. Still too cold to go bare-legged here, so making do! Linking up with Shopping My Closet here!

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How to wear a graphic tee with a large bust!

So, this is one area that doesn’t affect all women, but those of us with a big bust know that a graphic tee just doesn’t wear the same. Namely, the words and images get distorted — a lot! I found the best t-shirts are ones that have no definite beginning to where you start reading. Also, choose a t-shirt where you don’t need to see the whole image to get the idea. Or you can get a tee that has the words up high so it sits on your shelf for easy reading. Since I often wear a “3rd piece” over the t-shirt I usually go with more abstract designs. DSC_0237

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My Detroit Proud t-shirt. Jeans here and similar jacket here.

Linking up with Not Dressed As Lamb today here  for graphic tees! Fun!

This post contains affiliate links where I receive a few cents for each click or purchase. Thanks!

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My Solution for Spring Legs

So, I find spring to be the hardest season to figure out what to wear. I like wearing skirts and dresses and now all of a sudden it’s too warm for tights but too cool for bare legs. Also, I find tights at this time of year look prudish and like nylons (gasp!). Plus, I feel like my legs are not quite ready for their warm weather debut at this point. I don’t know if it’s all in my head, but they just look so shocked to be bare. Like I’ve put a just-hatched baby chick out in the cold (not the cute, yellow, fuzzy one but the one where it’s still wet looking and it’s eyes are bulging– I know, great visual). It’s not like I tan but after a month or two of getting my legs out in the air they seem more adjusted and then I’m ok showing them in public. I know some people put on self-tanning lotion just to smooth out the look but that’s just not my style. I honestly think it’s just my perception and getting used to the idea. Anyhow, I’m not at the point of going completely bare yet and won’t be for probably two more months and I don’t want to wear pants every day until then. So, what to do?

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I must confess, I didn’t come up with this idea but saw it on Orphan Black (excellent binging show!) on a character around my age (awesome kick-ass grandma). Tall boots with bare legs wearing a skirt! It looked fantastic on her! Now, she wore a fuller skirt but you could just see her knees and top of her calves. It looked great! Not frumpy. Honestly, it just looked like she just loved wearing her boots so much she didn’t want to put them away. I know many of you are sick of wearing boots after a long winter but I find them so practical and such a great way to make an outfit look contemporary and the wearer seem stylish. So, that’s my solution for spring legs.

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These are the  things I learned if you’re a bit shy about it like I was:

1. Have a pattern in your skirt. That way the color difference between your boots, skin and clothing gets blurred.

2. Have a similar color on your top half as your skin tone so it looks like it’s totally planned and the skin doesn’t draw more attention to itself (example coming in a future blog post).

3. Perhaps have a flowy skirt that has some movement so it’s not a straight line delineating your clothing from your skin.

4. Then, hold your chin high and say to yourself “I am one foxy lady”!

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White House Black Market knit turtleneck (old). JJill skirt (old).

I learned this by trial and error. I had a completely dark outfit on and dark boots and I have very white/pink skin and my block of bare skin was a beacon. Every place I walked into people’s eyes darted down to my knees, completely involuntarily. So, that’s what I figured would work for me. Anyone else wear boots this way? Any other tips?

Linking up with Visible Monday @ Notdeadyetstyle.com here. Great photos of other bloggers outfits!

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Spring jacket that fits a large bust

Hey everyone! If you have a large bust you know how hard it is to find a jacket that actually zips up and doesn’t look like a tent as it hangs on you. For most of my jackets, I don’t even pretend I will ever be zipping them up. The one time when a jacket has to zip up is when I need it for warmth, so fall/spring coats and of course winter coats, so I look for fabric that has some stretch and a strong zipper. If I can find a flattering shape (like this jacket where it slightly nips in in the middle then a bit of feminine flair) then that’s a plus too. This jacket is for spring with more of a windbreaker fabric but also with the cotton fabric under the arm for (I guess?) to keep cooler? Not sure. But, here in early April, with the snow falling all around me as I’m being photographed, I actually don’t need to be kept cooler! I also like this coat because it doesn’t have one of those silly belts of which I have no need!

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This coat comes with a detachable hood but if you have a strong, sturdy back like me you might want to detach it instead of adding more volume.

IMG_5793Jacket from JcPenney and way on sale here

And this is the outfit I had underneath. My very trusty dress with a white jacket that does not need to be able to be zipped up.

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JJill dress (old) but similar here

And because I always like to see the surroundings of bloggers photographs, here is where I was getting photographed.

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Dear hubby not knowing he’s being photographed and put on a blog!

This is on the western shores of Lake Huron in northern Michigan. Beautiful but cold beach. Great place for a relaxing, quiet get-away!

 

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Lightening up for spring

Hi everyone, after the last post on scarves I thought I’d do a post that shows the same outfit with and without a scarf. I think the look changes dramatically.

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Pants from Macy’s here. Jacket is old from Kohls. Lovely shoes (my most expensive, fear not) from Anyi Lu from last season.

Though the look with the scarf looks more dramatic and pulled together the outfit without the scarf really opens up the look and let’s it breathe. I would improve the scarf-less look though by adding a necklace, perhaps a long one, or at least longer than the neckline of the shirt, just to finish off the outfit. I wanted to lighten up my colors for spring so exchanged black for gray and lightened up with a white jacket. I also wanted to “spring up” the look with ankle pants that show a bit of ankle hinting at warmer weather on the horizon. The shoes are a navy blue and I wanted to add a pop of color but as I review these pictures I think a shoe that is more open on the top of my foot would go better with these ankle pants and look more springy and less heavy. People, please learn from my mistakes!

This outfit also shows the principal of the “column of color”. This is a flattering composition that has one vertical column of color going from the top to the bottom. In this case, it’s the gray color. A really nice look for us short girls because it gives the allusion of some height. The same principal could have been achieved with the jacket and t-shirt switching colors and the column of color would be on the outside edges of your body. Which look do you like best?

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