[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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!