Fitting In: Button-Front shirts for the large bust.

In real life, when I’m not blogging  or playing music and pretending to be the re-incarnation of my idol Patsy Cline, I work in technology for a Wall Street firm.  Assertiveness, self-confidence and that quality of being self-assured is (for better or for worse) here in droves.  Most of my colleagues are men.  At least 50% of them are multilingual and hail from places around the globe.  What I have in common with all these techies is my nerdiness.  What I have that is tremendously different is another X chromosome and very large breasts.

I bring up all of these things to underscore just how important it is for me to present a professional image and how vital it is to have an impeccable foundation and well tailored, professional looking attire to fit in at my work place.  There is an unspoken uniform on Wall Street and it’s shirt that buttons.  My hunt for a well tailored button front blouse was epic.  What follows is a brief review of those I tried or considered.   All but the Front Room shirts that  I tried were purchased in my own name with my own money.

Here is what I’ve found:

Pepperberry

Wearing 36H, 38G and 40H bra various times over the past few years has had me at or slightly above the 18SC in Pepperberry’s shirts.  They were workable only underneath a sweater or with a particularly high-waisted skirt.  Why?  Too short.  I’m not opposed to others baring their midsection, and I’ll proudly sport a bikini on the beach.  But to be taken seriously in the workplace, I need the shirt to be longer.  The fit was fine across the bustline, but the fit in the arms was wonky, and they showed off a wide swath of my mid-section.   I brought a couple of these to last year’s Hourglassy clothing swap, and they found a home with someone a bit smaller than me.  It looks like from customer feedback, the newer Pepperberry shirts are a couple of centimeters longer, but until I travel across the pond and try these in person, I’m hesitant to place another order.

Carissa Rose —

I never got around to trying these, and they don’t appear to be in business any longer.  I kick myself for not trying these, because she absolutely had tunic-length shirts that I’m certain would have been plenty long enough for me.

Rebecca & Drew —

I tried these.  Back in the day, you could order via your bust size.  This was pre-2008, I was then in a 38G, and went for a 38H to give a little extra space.  Back then, I was ignorant of the difference between US & UK sizing and have no idea which R&D were using, but it was a pretty good call, fit-wise.  Even their tall option was a bit short for me, but not so bad that I didn’t keep it, as it’s fine with high-waist jeans.  R&D’s logic went to InStyle and the shirts were to be manufactured in China and a whole lot cheaper.  Has anyone tried?  Looks like they aren’t in business any longer.

BiuBiu — 

These are the shirts that made me realize the power of bloggers.  The lovely Georgina Horne modeled two of these, looked good and looked enough like my shape that I just had to try them.  Thus began a realization that anything she modeled was quick to sell out in my size, so I should not wait for a sale if I want something specific.  This is a line I want to shout to all manufacturers — My size always seems to be out of stock.  Clearly there are alot of us.  Please make more.   Powder blue & white button- downs became mine.  Better than Pepperberry, better than R&D, but not excellent.  I also ordered a fuscia shirt that I wore over the best bra I ever owned and the color ran, turning my white KrisLine bra into a bizzare greyish pink shade from which it won’t recover.  Lesson here – match the shade of the top to the bra.  Always.

Campbell & Kate — 

To be honest, I still don’t fit in an off-the-rack size from C&K and needed to go the custom route so it isn’t a perfectly fair comparison, fit-wise, to the other lines.  As expected in a custom made shirt, the fit is spot on.  But it isn’t just the fit quality that makes these stand out.  The fabric quality and tailoring are above and beyond the others I tried.  Above and beyond.  Rolled up, the sleeves look good.  The weight of the fabric is substantial, and I never have bra show-thru.  I haven’t had the color run and stain another garment.    I wash, shake out and plop onto a hanger to dry and they are ready to wear again within a day.  Because I was getting these custom made, I went for French cuffs on two of them.  I picked these cuff-links up at the airport in Rome when I had a few euros to use up before returning stateside.  Details matter.  My boss wears cuff-links every day and I feel powerful with these, like they are my secret weapon.

Campbell & Kate, with French Cuffs

Campbell & Kate, with French Cuffs

If you fit into C&K’s standard sizes, I envy you.  If you don’t, please join me in pestering her to do more custom work.  With pink, blue & white in my wardrobe now, I could use a few more colors.

 Front Room —

It was a delight to find morefrontroom.com.  Melanie Love graciously sent three tops for me to try that I will review in detail over the next few weeks.  They arrived just before the holidays and I’m in love, love, love with all of them.  So much so that I’ve gone and ordered another essential silk utility blouse plus two more tops from them.  If, like me, you are at or slightly above the largest sizes offered by most full-bust clothing manufacturers, give them a look.    In a 40H bra, the XL fits me nicely, even generously.  From their site:

Is this a plus-size line?

We have some plus-size crossover (can nobody come up with a better term than “plus”??) because so many of us have to size up to accommodate our boobage.  So someone wearing size 18 to 20 with big boobs may be able to size down and wear our XL, especially straight and hourglass shapes.  The key to fit is selecting the size that works for the largest feature of your body.

What I’d been hoping for since first finding Pepperberry is that someone would make more clothing to fit my size and shape.  And my prayers were answered.   I don’t care if a line is called “Plus-sized.” I only care that it fits.  And these do.

Front Room is having a year-end sale, with 60% off and free shipping on orders over $99 CAD. 

Fitting In ? Let It Go, Let It Go . . .

Let it go, let it go . . . .

So goes the refrain from the movie Frozen, and it’s the song in my head as I’ve been decluttering my home this year. Have you heard of Marie Kondo’s book? Her slim best-selling volume promises to change your life if you follow its dictum, and it’s true.

It really is life changing and magic and all good things rolled into one brilliant technique for deciding what to keep and what to purge.

Does it spark joy?

Yes = keep.

No = toss.

Week after week, bags and boxes of clothes we won’t wear, shoes I no longer need, books and household goods we haven’t picked up since the 90’s have been headed out the door, to the thrift store if usable and to the trash if not.  But I’ve set aside some nice pieces from for the upcoming SWAP.

Have you RSVP’d yet?

Two years ago, when headed to my first SWAP, I was certain there would be nothing for me to take home.  I’m used to being sooooo busty that I’m sporting the largest breasts in the room.  There was the promise of my custom made Campell & Kate shirt that was ready for pick-up, so I was certain not to leave entirely empty handed, but I didn’t expect to find goodies in the SWAP.  I could not have been more wrong. There were lots of things for all sizes, including for me–someone who wears at or above the top range of Pepperberry & BiuBiu.

Both times, I’ve come away with some clothing goodies.  But more than that, I’ve come away with so much more.  It’s a fun afternoon with a diverse bunch of women sharing clothes, style tips & ideas.  Please join us if you can.

Fitting In ~ Hot Stuff

My summer has flown by, but I’m still here! What has kept me absent from blogging is the newest addition to our family — Meet Rusty….

 

Our Newest Addition

Our Newest Addition

This little guy was a stray found by a loved one. He was quite scrawny when found, and we spent a few months trying to fatten him up a bit while finding his rightful home. Now, we’re certain, his home is with us. This isn’t my first dog, but it’s the first dog we have when we didn’t also have a fenced in yard, so 4 times per day we need to take walks and sniff out all the interesting things in the neighborhood.  My spouse and I try to divvy up the walks fairly – and I try for the first of the morning and last of the evening when it’s cooler. Because it may be September, but it’s still hot.

Speaking of hot — what this busty girl has been using to beat some heat-related discomfort is the following:

BAN Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths —

BAN Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths

BAN Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths

These were given to me as a sample, handed out on the streets of NYC. My commute takes me past a spot that is popular with people handing out samples of new potato chip flavors, snack bars, new Vitamin Water flavors and I was handed these without ever having seen or heard of them. A search on Amazon shows that they’ve been around a while. It looks like I was handed a sample of a new scent with the baby powder finish. I expected them to be exactly like babywipes or some other pre-moistened cloth but these are different. They leave your skin with a drier finish. I could see myself keeping a few in my purse or at my desk for mid-day refresh.   I’m still working through the dozen or so I was given a few months ago as a sample. I’m not sure how quickly I’d use these up or when I’ll be buying more.

Monistat anti-chafing gel.
http://www.monistat.com/vaginal-health-products/complete-care/vaginal-chafing-relief-powder-gel

Earlier this summer, Darlene gave a Stressless Dressing for D+ at Bottomless Closet and one of the attendees mentioned this product. OMG. OMFG. She’d mentioned that her husband even uses it for where he might, ahem, chafe. I purchased this at CVS. A Google search of the active ingredient in the product will reveal that it’s the same active ingredient in Smashbox Face Primer, but at an incredibly steep discount. If you have trouble finding Monistat’s anti-chafing gel, that’s why. But if you do find it, anywhere your body may get chafing is a good place to try this.

Monkey Butt Powder.

In addition to my Ariats and Enell Sports bra, I never go riding without this stuff.

In addition to my Ariats and Enell Sports bra, I never go riding without this stuff.

Back in my horseback riding days, we would use this on our thighs. I picked this up at Tractor Supply when I was getting a new pair of Ariats. It’s worth having if you’ll be in the saddle for any length of time, but I only use it when riding.

Better Fitting Bra — We’ve all heard the statistic “80% of women are wearing the wrong sized bra.” and everytime I see or hear this, I’m thinking, well…no joke. Even among those of us who are quite knowledgeable about fit, who’ve been fitted by the best (love you Freddie from Eveden!) we are still in the wrong size and it’s a function of mathematics. Women come in an infinite variety of sizes and bras come in a finite number of sizes. What fit close to perfectly at one week in my cycle doesn’t fit at all well in another week and this is normal. Then there is the non-menstrual variation in bra size. Gain or lose a few pounds and your bras fit differently, causing chafing or itching. The better the fit, the less I seem to chafe. But sometimes I have to make do with what’s clean and in the drawer so I turn to the gel.

What are your tips for beating the heat?

Coming to the Swap? I’ll have both the BAN Cooling Cloths and the Monistat gel with me.  Be forewarned, my phone has dozens of doggie pictures and I’ll be ready to share those, too!

Practically Perfect in Everyway

Practically Perfect in Every Way…..

By the time the wind has blown the weather vane around
I’ll show you if I can
No matter what the circumstance for one thing I’m renowned
My character is spit spot spic and span
I’m practically perfect in every way….

I have a special spot in my heart for Mary Poppins and would love a tape measure like hers.

 

Where to you measure up?

Where to you measure up?

Quite sure I’d fall between Stubborn & Suspicious and Prone to Giggling, not good at putting things away. I am both in equal parts.  Assuming perfect means “as good as it could possibly be, with no room for improvement” I whole-heartedly embrace the Perfection is Not the Goal idea. In that sense,  perfect is elusive as we’re in constant flux, getting better and improving in some ways and becoming worse at others over time. This is even more apparent to me with an aging body. Even if I could regain many of the qualities I had as a child or young woman, who I am now appreciates everything all the more.

Still, there were these ideals of perfection I remember from childhood.

Nadia Comaneci

 

Much was made of the first ever perfect 10 in Womens Gymnastics.

Much was made of the first ever perfect 10 in Womens Gymnastics.

I remember this well (I rooted for Olga Korbut, however) and I was in gymnastics class at the time.  The goal was to get some exercise, have fun, and be out of my mother’s hair on Saturday mornings.  Neither I nor my parents had any expectation that I would compete, and it wasn’t long before gymnastics were replaced by other interests.
Another “10”

Bo Derek

Bo Derek in "10"

Bo Derek in “10”

I never looked like this — never been that thin, or had a graceful long neck.  Ms. Derek’s character being a “10” was somewhat tongue in cheek, but the image quickly became iconic.

 

From a fashion perspective, I think there is much to be said for remaining a work in progress. Coco Chanel famously advised getting all dressed and accessorized,
but then removing one thing. Did she think that perfect was a bit over-done? Did she agree, as I do, that motion, flexibility and potential are equally important;
that almost finished can seem more alive and vibrant than completely finished? I’m more drawn to Impressionist art than I am to realistic representations. It’s
something about the motion, depth and suggestion that comes from the not-quite-perfect images. I do think I take Coco’s advice too far in that I find myself leaving
something out, often unintentionally. It’s only after-the-fact when i see pictures that I realized how one MORE accessory might have pulled everything together.

Last month — you saw my middle-aged self modeling bathing suits in un-retouched photos. How could perfection be the goal if I’m starting with a clearly imperfect
body? It’s a long way from perfect, to be sure, particularly if we accept that perfect means it couldn’t possibly be better. However, there’s another way to define Perfect.  “Great,
with a boost” as Darlene used it in her intro is a good one.  In that sense it could be synonymous with “this suits me fine” and that, my friends, is a worthy goal indeed.

And a coda…

OK, so there’s an Alabama song (# 1 in 1982) by the name of “Close Enough to Perfect” that became my earworm when Darlene first suggested the theme “The Goal is not Perfection” for July.   If ever there were a perfect lyric:   Don’t you worry about my woman / Or what you think she ought to be.

If I were still a Radio Station DJ, I’d send that song out to the NYTIMES on behalf of Serena.