If You Can’t Show Cleavage at a Casino . . . .

The picture below is of a woman who was thrown out of a casino in 2007 because her dress was considered too revealing.  It’s far more revealing than Rita Wilson’s Golden Globes dress that I commented on last week, but there are two places that I would think any amount of cleavage is acceptable:  the red carpet and a casino.  Whether it looks good or not is another story.

If I had seen this woman leaning over the roulette table, I would have made a snide remark to Mr. Campbell because I’m mean like that.  But suggest that she be kicked out?  Never.

Helen Simpson’s and her boyfriend’s comments in this article are enough to make me regret my hypothetical snide comment.  “The most humiliating thing was that everybody knew,” said Helen.  “All the staff were staring and the group of guys that complained–I’m sure it was them–were smiling.”  [My note: Guys complained?  Incredible!]

In her complaint to the casino’s management, she wrote, “Being well-endowed in the upper region is something I did not choose in life and something I’m certainly not proud of.  Have you ever been shopping for a formal cocktail dress that is accommodating to a size 14 woman with the top half demanding a size 20?”

Said her boyfriend, “She’d changed quite a few times before we went out and I thought she looked really nice,” he said. “It’s just disappointing.”

The Rack– F is for Feminism

But is 34F?

I was raised by a single mom- she worked 2+ jobs all my life to support my sisters and me. Without going into too much of an estrogen-fest, I will say this: We grew up in a house that she bought on her own unimpressive salary, in a town with great schools. We each attended some combination of dance/piano/art/singing lessons and played multiple sports. We rarely ate meals that weren’t home cooked. We were taught to be kind and honest and brave. We all did (or are still doing, in the case of the younger two) well in school. My mother is, in short, a powerhouse of a human being.

I mention her because I think it’s important to preface what I’m about to say with a bit about my core values. I grew up with very little male influence, and while I will be the first to admit a fatherless existence has its shortcomings, I will also be the first to celebrate the strength and beauty of women. I was raised to stand on my own two feet, to create my own destiny, to be whatever I wanted to be. I was taught that confidence and beauty come from within, to embrace imperfection.

For all of these reasons, I want to be against plastic surgery. I want to say that we have to fight back against the oppression of social and cultural ideals by owning our bodies, loving them the way they are, letting it all hang out! (Or not.) I want to burn my bra, and then I want to get naked and sing about it on Broadway!

Despite all that, I have spent a great deal of time lately thinking about a reduction. I have looked at hundreds of before and after pictures, read dozens of testimonials from women who have undergone the surgery. I have found doctors who claim they can perform a reduction which will not interfere with breastfeeding later on. I have spoken to someone my age who had one. I have called for a consultation.

This is how I feel: I will never wear a bra because it is the norm. I will never change my body for someone else.

I will wear a bra so that I can move around comfortably, work out, and live my life. I will know my options. And I will consider a reduction- not because I’m ashamed, not because I care about what other women think, or what men might think, or because I don’t love myself, but because I believe that strength and feminism mean more than just celebrating ourselves— they also mean power. The power to be whatever we want to be, and the power to choose. If I choose to get a reduction, it won’t be for anyone else. It will be for me.

Tit for Tat: Tailoring Tradeoffs for Large Breasted Women

As the song goes, “Once you have found him, never let him go.” I’m talking about your perfect tailor.  I’ve been searching for him/her in New York City since December 2008.  In fact, looking through my past posts on the subject, I realized I can devote a separate page on this blog just to the tailoring/custom-made options available to us.  Look for it soon.

Last night I finally visited Ros Tailoring to redeem the Plum District coupon I purchased in December.  Our eyes didn’t meet across a crowded room (okay, no more “Some Enchanted Evening” references) because the weather was so miserable that I was the only customer.  It was great.  I was able to drop off my Carissa Rose Justina shirt and ask questions to my heart’s content.

My biggest question had to do with reader Karen, who shared with us in the comments on Tuesday that she wears a size 28K bra.  I asked the tailor what would be cheaper for her:  custom-made clothing or  breast reduction surgery?  He didn’t miss a beat with his answer:  surgery.  He didn’t feel she would be able to find anything off the rack.

I don’t like his answer at all, but at his prices, I can see why he gave it.  A custom jacket from him costs $2000; a custom suit $2500; and a custom shirt $300, with a four shirt minimum.  Simply altering my Justina shirt cost $100.  I know that there are less expensive custom and made-to-measure options out there, even if it means a trip to Vietnam.

However, my conversation with the tailor reinforced what we already know:  finding clothes that fit us can be costly and/or time-consuming.  We have to choose our battles.  Sometimes “good enough” is fine.  But other times there’s that gorgeous dress or jacket that just needs to be tweaked, and it would be perfect.  Should we buy it and have it altered?

According to the tailor, it’s worth altering a high quality piece of clothing that you find on sale for 30 cents to the dollar.  For instance, someone can bring a Dolce & Gabbana suit to him from an end-of-season sale, and he will re-cut it for them to wear.  On the other hand, a customer recently brought a suit to him that “looked cheap”.  For the price of altering it, he told the customer that he could buy a much better suit that would fit from the beginning.

I think the 30 cents to the dollar rule is a good frame of reference, but other variables figure into my decision-making:

  1. Even if it’s cheaply made, do I love it so much that I will get tons of wear out of it before it falls apart?
  2. What do I have to give up from my clothing budget in order to afford the alterations–more versatile accessories? a more practical pair of pants?
  3. How likely am I to take it to the tailor to begin with?  Will it just sit for months in a bag by the front door?
  4. How much confidence do I have that the tailor can make a difference?

I’m curious to hear how you decide to get something altered.

I once read that a large-breasted woman should just swallow her pride, shop in the plus department, and have everything altered.  I asked the tailor about this last night because I have a feeling that means a lot of changes.  (Could you imagine how complicated it would be for Karen to get a 1X to fit her frame?)  His answer:  “Anything can be altered to fit.  It just depends how much you want to spend on it.”

Gravity: Just an Age Thing?

You may have missed Rita Wilson’s Golden Globes gown, overshadowed as it was by so many other beautiful dresses, but I don’t think it would be possible to overshadow her boobs.  I discovered them thanks to a tweet from Mary Marino of Flashionista.  According to Mary, “Gravity doesn’t seem to be on her side. That’s just what happens when we get older, sigh.

Do you agree?  I may be overly optimistic here, but I think it’s just a matter of the right bra, and this dress doesn’t give her the chance to wear one.  I don’t think she could have successfully worn this dress even 20 years ago (although I’m still trying to find a picture to compare.  Please share if you find one!).


Of course, you may think she looks fabulous in this dress, and I’m sure her husband does.  Here’s one more observation that struck me today:  Rita Wilson doesn’t care what we think about her boobs in this dress.  She posted this picture of it on Twitter.  There were no angst-ridden tweets about looking saggy.  She was too caught up in the excitement of the Golden Globes.  And that’s where we need to be as well–caught up in the excitement of living. 

By the way, she’s going to be in The Good Wife on February 15.  She tweeted a picture from the episode that I post after the jump.  Big difference.  Where’d the boobs go?