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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29 Comments

  1. Greatly appreciate your real life knowledge of dressing for your body type. So enjoy your willingness to show your “before” photos. You are a brave and intelligent woman.

    Respectfully,

    Dawn

  2. I love love love this post! Your honesty, and your mission to attack the “problem” and absolutely nail it with that last outfit, and more than anything the surge in confidence! So happy to have discovered this post through the #AllAboutYou linkup

  3. How inspiring!

    I’m just a tad older than you but of a similar body shape and trying to find what works for me. Your blog is so helpful. Thank you!

  4. Oh, I so enjoyed reading this post! Thank you for being courageous enough to put yourself out there. You look simply fabulous in your striped dress, moto jacket and boots. Love it!

  5. Nice that this blog exists. It’s not really my shape/age but it really fills a gap given that almost all the full-bust blogs are hourglasses in their early-mid 20s. It’s nice to have it as a resource to recommend to people who are looking for fitting advice for large-busted apple shapes.

  6. I love your honesty and wilingness to show your before and after photos. You’re so right — there just isn’t that much good information out there for appley women who are over 40 and need/want to dress professionally. It’s pretty surprising–and depressing, really.

    There is such a need for info AND clothing — often I find myself in stores wanting to shout, hey, I have money, let me spend it on your clothes! But, the salespeople would probably be shocked, LOL.

    In addition, I do not want to be told that apple-shaped (or O-shaped) women should wear maternity clothing. Even if I don’t have a waist, I’m still not built like a pregnant woman. And there is no way I’m going to shop in a store filled with slender, pregnant women in their 20s.

    BTW, I saw the same Catherine Zeta Jones “oh, she’s an apple” reference while searching the internet for fashion advice. Give me a break!

    Excited about your blog — please keep it up, and thank you!

    1. Thanks for reading and please spread the word. I am committed to continuing this because of readers like you and your thoughtful comments. We’re not going anywhere!

  7. I think there should be awards for heroic women like you. When I look at the last picture and compare it to the ones above… there is only one conclusion: you nailed it. That black and white outfit looks so nice on you.
    Greetje

  8. Julia, you are fearless. Thank you for speaking up for all the women who have been negatively “looked up and down” in their life. I think your hair is lovely and learn a lot about flattering colors and styles from you. Well done:D.
    Dawn

  9. I was so happy to find your blog via Style Me Confident. My hormones & some health issues really changed my weight and shape. Although I used to love shopping, it became utterly disappointing and frustrating. I am 5’2″, definitely an apple who carries my weight in my tummy, I have a larger bust, but gravity doesn’t make that as much fun as I thought it would be when I was younger. Ha!

    I have to try everything in in multiple sizes. I bounce between petite, missy, plus, and petite plus. It can be exhausting to try to pull the components together, and then accessorize to give an outfit that polished look.

    And although I consistently worked from home while I was raising our kids, it felt like I was back to square one when it came to reentering the workplace full force in my 40’s.

    I had some “mean girl” bosses who critiqued me ruthlessly (with great pleasure). I was open to polishing up my style, and did; but their comments were extremely damaging, inappropriate, and possibly even legally discriminatory.

    I left that position with my head held high, but secretly torn apart by their abusive comments. It has taken me almost a year to rebuild my courage to “get back out there” again.

    I really appreciate you sharing your story and what you are learning along the way. This stage of life has its own challenges. It’s nice to find a friendly, practical voice to help me navigate it with more style.

    1. Nancy, your comment made me really sad for you. Women can be so mean! Welcome to a truly supportive community of KIND women.

      1. Thank you, Bette. I appreciate your concern & kindness.

        Dealing with those mean girls makes me appreciate supportive and kind people even more!

    2. Oh Nancy I’m so glad you’ve found us. Yes, this part of our life is already difficult and women should not be tearing down women, but with that said, you still held your head high. Good for you girl! We must refuse to shoulder someone else’s perception of us. Plus, you’re going to be looking fabulously dressed pretty soon!

  10. Thanks, Julia. I look forward to learning along with you. There is such a need for realistic fashion tips for our niche. I’m glad that I found you!

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