Off the Rack ~ Wedding Dress Shopping Part I

As I mentioned in a previous post, my fiancé and I were considering getting legally married this October so I could finally have health insurance, but doing the actual wedding a year or so from now. Well the little legal ceremony is definitely happening. We’re holding it at my parents’ cabin in the countryside of upstate New York, with just immediate family.

We’re not doing any décor, no wedding cake, no rings…we really want it to not be a wedding, because we want the “real” wedding to be next year with all our friends and family; and we don’t want two weddings. The one thing I did need (well, “need”) to get for the mini ceremony was a cute little white frock that isn’t a bridal dress.

Giving myself a budget of $150 or less, I searched around online and came up with the following options:

“Ava” dress in blush from Pin Up Girl Clothing.

“Ava” dress in blush from Pin Up Girl Clothing.

This was the first one that popped into my mind. But it was completely sold out, so it turned out not to be a possibility. It’s also available in a bright white (they even call it “bridal white”), but as a pasty, pale girl, bright white is generally not my friend. In hindsight, I also think it’s a little mature and not quite as playful as I was looking for.

“University of Marilyn” dress from Modcloth.

“University of Marilyn” dress from Modcloth.

PUG put me in the mood for something vintage-looking but young and cute, so I next checked out Modcloth. They had some very cute short dresses, but they were a little too young for me. This Monroe-style frock was an exception, and it even went on clearance shortly after I found it…but the fabric looked cheap and it seemed a little too obvious.

Suzi Chin “Pleated Jersey Dress” from Nordstrom.

Suzi Chin “Pleated Jersey Dress” from Nordstrom.

A nicer version of the Modcloth dress. I really like that it has straps instead of a halter neckline (yay for wearing a regular old bra!). But it’s perhaps a little too ethereal for me. I prefer more tailoring.

“Honey” dress in antique white satin from Trashy Diva.

“Honey” dress in antique white satin from Trashy Diva.

I actually first came across this on Modcloth even though it’s a Trashy Diva frock, which I was planning on looking at anyway. Seeing all the reviews on Modcloth (with accompanying user-submitted photos), I was really on the fence with this one. I love the style and I know TD is high quality and that their sizing schema fits my body, but I was warned to stay away from this particular dress because it’s not aesthetically boob-pleasing. After looking at all the photos on Modcloth, I tend to agree. The under-boob swoop is not really designed to rest under your bust—it spans across it around two-thirds of the way down your boobs, even on smaller-busted ladies. It’s also very square-looking instead of rounded, especially on bigger-busted ladies.

“Ballerina Mini Dress” in ivory satin from Trashy Diva.

“Ballerina Mini Dress” in ivory satin from Trashy Diva.

The Honey dress wasn’t my only TD choice! I could be happy with practically any of their white/ivory frocks, but this one stood out the most after the Honey. I liked the full skirt and the clean, tailored torso.

“Alika Circle Dress” in off white from Bettie Page Clothing.

“Alika Circle Dress” in off white from Bettie Page Clothing.

This is the same dress Mia wrote about in her recent post, only in white.

Can you guess which dress I ultimately chose? The Alika! At first I was going to order four or five dresses and try them all on at home, then return the ones I didn’t want. But there’s a Bettie Page store in Manhattan, so I started by going there in person. And the second I pulled that dress over my head, I knew it was the winner, no contest.

It fits like a glove. The only other garment I own that fits this perfectly is a vintage dress from the ’50s that I inherited from my grandmother. Small wonder that the BP dress fits the same way, since Bettie was famous during the same years! It is just beyond flattering. My boobs look full without being over-emphasized, my waist looks tiny, and the skirt flares so perfectly out from my hips.

The fabric, too, is really wonderful. It’s hard to tell from the photos online, but it has a large white-on-white dot-within-a-dot pattern and a very subtle all-over oil slick-like sheen. That sheen makes me think it could match a range of shoe colors, which is good since I don’t plan on buying new shoes to go with this dress. Since I’ll be on grass, wedges would probably be best, but I was thinking about wearing these pink cuties that I purchased years ago from Aldo:

You can’t get more appropriate than heart shoes, right??

You can’t get more appropriate than heart shoes, right??

Finally, here is a shot of my in the Alika dress. I don’t plan on wearing my purple nerd glasses on the day-of and I desperately need a haircut, but you get the idea:

IMG_0858

Finally, my mom is in town for our yearly trip to the US Open, so we’re also going to get in a little dress shopping for the actual wedding, at David’s Bridal. It’s more of a research trip since I still don’t totally know what I want even after looking through a bunch of bridal magazines (all the ads show the same style—lacy mermaid or giant ballgown…boooooooring!), so expect another bridal blog post very soon.

Best Breast Forward: Runniversary

This past weekend I returned to my hometown of Flint, Michigan to participate in the Crim Festival of Races 10 Mile Run. I was proud to celebrate my Runniversary by finishing the race with a personal best time.

big bust mia tutu

No race would be complete without a tutu.

On August 24, 2012 I completed my very first race, a 5k. I had never been a runner. As a matter of fact, I used to say, “If you see me running, call the police because someone is chasing me!” I needed to develop a fitness routine and with three children and a husband, was in desperate need of some “me time”. I did some research online and discovered Black Girls Run. (Featured in Darlene’s July Running for a Fitting post). It hasn’t been easy, I’ve had hard runs and easy runs, but I have never had a run I regret.

big bust mia first half marathon

First half marathon in April 2013

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Contrary to popular belief, running IS NOT a cheap, equipment-free sport, especially if you have a large bust. Before you hit the road (or treadmill), you MUST have a properly fitting sports bra and a pair of running shoes specific to your needs. Do not guess and just pick up what’s cute or in your size. Try out both items.
  • If possible, visit a shoe store in your area that specializes in fitting runners. Some of these stores even allow you to take your shoes out for a run and if you don’t like them, they will exchange them for a pair that are a better fit. Remember, bad shoes = bad posture = back pain (doubly true for us busty ladies).
  • When choosing a sports bra for running, keep in mind that there will be continual bouncing for an extended period of time. That means your bra needs to be snug. Try on the bra and seriously jump up and down in it. If the girls are partying, you need a different size or brand/model. The last thing you want is to start your run off with two boobs and end it with them having mated–their twin offspring protruding from the center of your bra.

I started off wearing the Panache Sport bra. It was great, but I lost weight and an inch around my band, going from a 34H to a 32HH-J. They do not offer larger than a H cup. A word of caution. If you are going to purchase this or any other sports bra with an underwire to use for running, BUY TWO. You will most likely be running 2-4 times a week, and the rubbing of your arms on the armpit area of the underwire causes a lot of wear. Having an underwire break through and jab into your sweaty underarm in motion is a pain I’d like to spare you.

big bust panache sport

Panache

I now wear (and love) my Shock Absorber bra. It’s not as flattering a shape as the Panache but this baby holds the girls in so well I forget they are there!

big bust shock absorber

Shock Absorber

If you think you’d prefer running alone, do so, but for me, joining the right running group has made all the difference in the world. I recommend an all-women’s group. You will be less self-conscious and be able to speak freely. Groups that include women of all ages, weights and fitness levels are extremely helpful to new runners. You get to run with those at your level while being inspired by those ahead of you.

Running is a very personal experience–more so if you plan on running anything beyond 5k. Who wants to spend 30 minutes or more, several times a week with people they don’t like? If you join a group and find you don’t like it, graciously resign and find a group that fits.

Running has been quite a journey for me this past year. I’m sure you will have a story to tell all your own. It takes baby steps. Walking, jogging, and/or running, I’m getting further and further, always moving forward . . . and she’s coming with me.

big bust first race number

My daughter’s first race number

Details Make a Difference

Today’s post isn’t big-bust related because I couldn’t get the bobbin winder on my new sewing machine to work in time to finish what I really wanted to write about, which is how to make a scoopneck L.L. Bean tee even scoopier. Instead, I’m going to follow up with an experiment I mentioned in April about extending my legs.

I’ve been wearing the black Naot sandals in the photos on the left for longer than I’ve been writing this blog. You’ve probably wondered, “When is Darlene going to buy a decent pair of sandals?” This year, as it turns out! It took half the summer, but I finally found a pair of Fly London sandals that fit my orthotics, sort of match my skin tone, and even give me some height. I feel more put-together when I leave the house in my new sandals.

big bust comparing black and nude shoes

However in studying these photos, even though there is a difference between the left and right columns, I don’t think that the photos on the left look as bad as I felt like I looked before I bought my new sandals. This raises an interesting question: How much is a detail worth? Ideally, it should only be worth whatever we can afford, and it shouldn’t cost us our sense of well-being if we can’t afford it.

There are a lot of resources, including Hourglassy, that tell us how to dress, and it would take an unlimited amount of money and time to follow every tip, rule and suggestion. Since money and time are limited, it’s up to us to prioritize. If a particular detail doesn’t make the cut–say I had to choose a well-fitting bra over more flattering sandals–I shouldn’t allow my inability to wear more flattering sandals cause me to feel bad about myself.

That’s the ideal. In reality, however, it takes comparison photos like the ones I’ve posted today to realize that when I spend any angst on details that I can’t afford, I’m paying more than they’re worth.

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I can’t resist exploring an application of this principle to the world of D+ bras. Each of us knows at least one woman who is running around in ill-fitting bras because she “can’t afford” one that fits. Personally, a well-fitting bra is one of the most important details I can think of, especially because right now I only have ONE bra that fits, an amazing Cleo Alexa in 34H that I bought from a reader last month. Because I can’t wear the Alexa every single day, it’s a big challenge to get dressed the day after I’ve worn it–it’s literally a let-down to revert to one of my stretched-out bras. If there’s one detail that almost justifies a bad mood, it’s a poor-fitting bra. But is it really worth the angst? I’m tempted to say yes! It’s that angst that is pushing me to go bra shopping tomorrow (I’m going on a field trip to Zoe & Co. in Westerly, RI; does anyone who lives nearby want to meet up?). It’s hard to believe that anyone who has experienced the dramatic difference between good and bad fit would ever fail to make it a priority. Yet there are women who do, and I need to respect their decision in the same way that I want them to respect my choice of sandals.

Corporate Curves Report: Stress Relieving Hobbies

Today I was meant to write a post about cardis as I found a perfect V-necked cardi last weekend from a supermarket store. Also I have another asymmetric one that I want to show. I’ve been meaning to do that post for a long time as I’m not a fan of traditional cardis and never ever wear those ladylike or preppy ones. But . . . I’m soooo exhausted in a good way that I simply don’t have the energy to take the photos now.

I’m exhausted because I was able to start my dear hobby that keeps me sane and in good spirits even under enormous work stress: horse riding, particularly dressage. Everyone needs something to balance the work life, and animals are such great shrinks! Especially horses who you have to completely focus with and forget everything else while you are at the stables. Horses also teach great leadership skills!

And you can do so much with horses!

Western riding.

Western riding.

Dressage

Dressage

Trail riding - Spain, Ireland and Portugal.

Trail riding – Spain, Ireland and Portugal. The top picture is a few minutes after me and my horse got chased by two of those black bulls on the background! Was scary but now a funny memory :)

Today I attended a ground work course that my works horse club organized. Was so much fun and got a real taster of western horsemanship.

More and more adults are starting horse riding either again or as total beginners. I ride with a few on Mondays that have learned horse riding in their forties! They absolutely love it and say it’s the best stress reliever they’ve ever had. Great life balancer and a way to get to know new people – and even network professionally!

To add a busty twist, a great sports bra is essential.

I would love to know what other people find as best stress relievers or stress handling techniques. Any new ideas are more than welcome. 🙂