Off the Rack ~ Reconciling Weight Loss & Body Acceptance

My husband and I recently decided we needed to make more of an effort to lead healthier lives. We set goals of eating better food (less pasta and meat, more veggies and fruits) and going to the gym twice a week (it’s located in our apartment building, so there’s really no excuse not to meet that bare minimum). It started about a month ago, so it was perfect timing for Hourglassy’s “Fit & Active October” series. And I was keeping up with that goal…until last week.

Unfortunately, a week ago, out of nowhere, my lower back was suddenly so debilitatingly painful that I could barely walk. Even now, sitting or standing for long periods is excruciating and it’s difficult (and painful again) to do much bending. For a few days, I actually had to have my husband help me dress because there was no way I could get socks on or tie my shoes.

I went to my primary care physician, and he thinks it’s a herniated disk. I have to go to more doctor appointments before anyone can really help me (physiatrist for an x-ray, then orthopedist for an MRI, then finally physical therapy if necessary), it takes several weeks to get each appointment, and I can only make each one if the previous doctor says I should. So it could be two months before I’m even able to start any course of therapy. The American health care system at its finest!

Anyway, the point is, my exercise regimen has been put on a major hold. I’m doing stretches every night and I’m on (non-narcotic) pain meds prescribed by the doctor, but I definitely don’t feel anywhere near ready to go back to the gym. So my contributions to this month’s theme may be a little slim.

However, there was one thing I was thinking about before my exercise plans went awry: How to reconcile positive body image with the desire to lose weight for health reasons.

I mentioned in a previous post that I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever weighed, but also have the highest self-esteem I’ve ever had. On the other hand, after several months of hot weather and wearing nothing but dresses, I recently pulled on a pair of jeans that I hadn’t worn since the spring and discovered that I could barely close them. It was a bit of a wake-up call that even though I like my body, I could still stand to make better choices, and that includes losing just a few pounds—not enough to visibly change my shape, maybe 3 – 5 so my existing clothes will continue to fit properly.

Still, there’s something about the effort to lose weight that makes me feel like I’m giving in to societal pressure, or turning my back on body acceptance. I have to keep reminding myself that health is the most important thing, and I shouldn’t maintain bad habits just to be stubborn or in some misguided attempt to make a point.

It’s very frustrating. As a woman, I feel like we’re either told that we’re fat and disgusting, or if we try to make improvements then we’re vain and self-hating.

I guess I just need to tune out everything around me and do what’s best for myself no matter what!


Off the Rack ~ Reviewing the Pinup Girl Clothing “Dorothy” Dress

Quick and short dress review this week: The Dorothy Dress from the Junebugs & Georgia Peaches collection at Pinup Girl Clothing.

When this collection first came out, I was super excited. There were several dresses that I immediately knew I’d be buying. But by the time the first pieces started becoming available, I was less interested. Still, I ended up trying two, the Dee Dee and the Dorothy.

Dee Dee

Dee Dee



I received the Dee Dee first. While the construction was really stellar, featuring a lined bodice and skirt, voluminous pockets, and darts under the bust and on the sides to make it boob-friendly, it just felt way too doll-like for my taste once I had it on. Luckily, the Dorothy is actually rather similar, featuring a contrasting pointed Peter Pan collar, sleeve cuffs, and belt, but with a less full skirt and hidden pockets, for a more streamlined, grown-up look.

Also like Dee Dee, Dorothy is one of the highest quality garments I’ve ordered from PUG. The bodice is lined in satiny fabric and the belt has grommets instead of being a stupid slide belt that doesn’t stay tight.

I measure 37″-29″-41″, and it feels a wee bit tighter in the waist compared to other size medium dresses I’ve purchased, but there’s enough stretch in the fabric that it’s not uncomfortable.

My photos are color accurate. It's more of a dark red than the bright cherry you see in the stock photo.

My photos are color accurate. It’s more of a dark red than the bright cherry you see in the stock photo.


As for boob-friendliness, it fits me beautifully, but I could see it being problematic for ladies with a bigger bust than mine due to the underbust seam and the way it’s gathered. The seam does remain cleanly under my bust, not resting on breast tissue, but the volume is all in the outer corners of the gathered section, so I suspect substantially more boob volume than mine might be a little squished toward the center.



My one real complaint about the dress is that the pockets stick out weirdly. I suspect it’s a combination of the stiffness of the fabric and that my hips are probably wider than the skirt is designed for. You can see the phenomenon in the model photos on the PUG site, though, so I think it’s probably unavoidable.



Lastly, it’s hard to see in the online photos, so take note of the fact that the back swoops quite low, and as such I found it difficult to get the zipper up those last two inches. And unless my husband is there to do up the hook and eye, the zipper tends to creep down those two inches throughout the day even if I manage to zip it all the way up.

In the end, I wouldn’t hesitate to say this is one of my favorite PUG pieces. I’m tempted to also order the black with cream trim, which has a cute Wednesday Addams vibe going on. I hope they continue to release more colors in future seasons!


Off the Rack ~ Sourpuss Clothing Roundup

I’ve been meaning to do a Sourpuss Clothing roundup for a long time, and finally I’ve gotten around to it!

Sourpuss is a brand that caters to “old school punk, tattooed pinups, vintage and kitschy oddities, retro monsters, tikis, and sailors.” Their website carries the house brand along with a handful of others that fall within the same style (Pinup Girl Clothing, Fred Perry, Hell Bunny, etc.). Sourpuss goodies can also be found on other vintage and rockabilly sites such as and many others.

Usually I buy direct from Sourpuss because they have great sales and coupons on a regular basis, and their prices aren’t all that high to begin with. Fit and quality do vary, though. While some garments are surprisingly great for big boobs, others are decidedly not. Since the fit is so hit-or-miss, I often buy two sizes and return whichever one doesn’t work. With all their sales, the extra $6 to ship something back still ends up being worth it. I really love the brand overall, so I’m sure I’ll keep buying and trying this way for years to come!

Some of the clothes below are long since sold out, but most are released in different colors or fabrics every few seasons, so my reviews should still be useful. I’ll link to similar items when I can, but bear in mind that if you’re reading this several months after publication date, the links may no longer be active.

My measurements in all these photos are 37”-29”-41”.

First up is a fairly old button-up shirt. At the time, it was just called “gingham top,” but Sourpuss has since made similar styles, which you’ll read about below.

I bought it in red and blue in size large, but they actually ran out of blue after I placed my order, so I got an XL instead. Since it has an attached sash to tie a bow in the back, it doesn’t matter how big the shirt is because I can always tie the waist smaller. The cotton/poly/spandex blend is super lightweight and features two-way stretch (meaning it’s woven in such a way that it only stretches left to right, not up and down).

Wearing it tucked into my beloved Freddy’s jeans.

Wearing it tucked into my beloved Freddy’s jeans.



Untucked, to show the length.

Untucked, to show the length.

Since I’m incapable of tying a bow nicely at my backside, I lay the shirt out flat and tie it loosely before putting it on, then I pull on the bow if it needs to be tighter, or pull on the sides of the sash if it needs to be looser.

Since I’m incapable of tying a bow nicely at my backside, I lay the shirt out flat and tie it loosely before putting it on, then I pull on the bow if it needs to be tighter, or pull on the sides of the sash if it needs to be looser.

There’s a bust dart and a waist dart up the front, as well as a pair of waist darts on the back. I was pleasantly surprised by this contouring even before tying the sash.

There’s a bust dart and a waist dart up the front, as well as a pair of waist darts on the back. I was pleasantly surprised by this contouring even before tying the sash.

The only problem is that the top button is quite low, so visible bra gore can be an issue. I’ve been meaning to add a little hook and eye to fix this.

The only problem is that the top button is quite low, so visible bra gore can be an issue. I’ve been meaning to add a little hook and eye to fix this.

The blue in XL. I can’t even tell it’s a bigger size.

The blue in XL. I can’t even tell it’s a bigger size.

Tucked into high-waist shorts.

Tucked into high-waist shorts.



Next up is the more recent incarnation of the gingham shirt, the “Darling” top, which is still available in this teal with dots, cherry print, black with white dots and embroidered bat, red with embroidered sparrow, and black with white dots and embroidered sparrow (reviewed below).

Since the large worked out well the first time, I went with large again. This one is a cotton/spandex blend, so it’s still pretty light but not as lightweight as the gingham. Again it has two-way stretch. The sleeve style is different and there’s pink embroidered trim on the collar that helps weigh it down a bit (you can see above that the gingham collars are kinda all over the place). It has the same bust and front and back waist darts and the same sash.

I would say it fits about the same, though the top button is (mercifully) a little higher.

Tucked into high-waist shorts.

Tucked into high-waist shorts.





The last button-up is the Darling top in black with white dots and red trim with embroidered sparrow. Even though it has the same name as the teal shirt, it’s quite different. For one thing, while the teal was 95% cotton, the sparrow is 50% cotton, 47% polyester, and 3% spandex. It is much thicker and heavier, and offers four-way stretch. Further, the sleeves are different. Whereas the teal had big poufy ones, these are shorter—more a cap-sleeve length—as well as being less poufy and a tighter circumference.

Additionally, even though this shirt is also a large, it’s much smaller. It’s quite tight around my midsection and across the chest. You can even see a little pulling at the buttons right across my boobs. I don’t tighten the bow with this shirt at all, it’s purely decorative. When I first got it, I was tempted to exchange for a size XL, but since the dots help camouflage the button pulling and the waist and stomach fit so well, I decided to just keep it.




The final shirt is the Sugar Sweater. It’s a soft, sweet, short-sleeved sweater with—my favorite—a double-dip neckline. This one I got in medium because I wanted it to be quite fitted. I think it fits well across my chest, but I wouldn’t mind if it were a little tighter below my bust so that it would curve under and follow the contour of my body better.

The light pink is just sheer enough that it requires a nude bra, and you can see the dual layers of fabric around the neckline and seams, which is a bit of a disappointment. But I just love the open neckline, gathered front, and pointy cuffed sleeves. Plus, the fabric is suuuuuuuuper soft. Made of polyester and viscose, it has a tiny bit of fuzziness to it on the outside, but is a smooth woven texture on the inside (so no itchiness!).

The pink is still available (and on sale!), along with red. It also came in black, but that color seems to be sold out. However, I just found a new, similar top called the Black Magic Sweater, which I’ve added to my wishlist. It’s 100% cotton and has the same neckline as the Sugar Sweater, but simplified sleeves.





Closeup of the fuzzy fabric.

Closeup of the fuzzy fabric.

Next up, I have three dresses, which is where I find things to get really tricky, fit-wise. First is the Shaken and Stirred dress. It has double-seams up the front and the back, but still isn’t super boob-friendly. This is one that I ordered in medium and large. While the large was roomier across my chest, the medium fit much better under my bust and at the waistband, so that’s the size I kept.

Even though it’s a little youthful, I simply adore the colors and styling of this garment. There are little martini glasses up near the shoulders and a large embroidered martini shaker on the left side (which I accidentally ended up hiding in photos. Sorry!).

The fabric is 95% nylon and 5% spandex, so it’s very stretchy. The front of the bodice is lined with the same fabric, giving it a little more structure. Unfortunately, the boob window makes picking a bra very difficult. You can see below that the bra peeks out in the corners, and is visible under the arms thanks to my boobs pulling the fabric forward. I’m wearing a Bravissimo Satine bra here, but I think I ended up determining that my Ewa Michalak CHP bra is the best for avoiding visible bra in the boob-window since it has more of a straight-across balconnet shape and wide-set straps. However, it also provides a ton of uplift, so there ends up being a lot of cleavage.





Though the Shaken and Stirred dress is no longer available, there are similar styles, such as the wiggle version, Shimmer Houndstooth Joanie, and the Tattoo Roses dress, a dead ringer in different fabric.

Next up is another not-so-boob-friendly dress, the Rosie. This dress is released in several new prints and colors literally every season, but so far none have captured my attention like the colors and cute ray guns of this particular one. I originally bought an all-over tattoo print version in the same order as the ray guns, but I was so disillusioned with the fit that I sent it back, and I’ve avoided buying any more since, even though there have been some prints that I really love. Though there are bust darts, the fabric is too floppy and the underbust seam way too high up to fit breasts well.

This is another I ordered in both medium and large, and I was really on the fence about which to keep. The medium badly gaped at the buttons, but the underbust seam also stayed under my boobs better because it was tighter in that spot. Ultimately, I ended up selecting the large due to the buttons, but also because I didn’t like the way the medium clung to my hips and showed panty-lines.

Unfortunately, the 95% polyester/5% spandex fabric is a little unpleasant. It feels scratchy on the skin. It also made me sweat a lot when I wore it on an especially hot day, which when mixed with the scratchy fabric made it feel even scratchier.

All that being said, teal and hot pink is one of my favorite color combinations (obviously) and I’m positively obsessed with the adorable ray guns, so I still wear this dress fairly often. I just find myself yanking the front down a lot! But unless they come out with another print or embroidery that I simply can’t live without, I would not buy it again. If you want one, though, search for “Rosie” on the Sourpuss site to see all the colors.


It fits so well from the back! What happened in the front?

It fits so well from the back! What happened in the front?



Lastly, we have one more success story, the Keep ’Em Flying dress. After looking at photos of regular folks in this dress, and considering the fit of the Shaken and Stirred, I took a chance and only ordered a medium. Luckily, it ended up being just right! It’s basically a dress version of the Sugar Sweater, considering it has the same neckline, gathering, and sleeves.

This one’s waistband hits at a good spot and everything stays in place around my chest. Additionally, while it’s also 95% poly/5% spandex, the fabric is much smoother than the Rosie (though it still wears a bit hot). Even though there are no darts, it’s stretchy enough and with a low enough waistband that I think it would work with a variety of bust sizes. Finally, I love the military colors and the screen-printed airplanes on the skirt.

Though this item is no longer available, the Polka Dot Dollface dress is the exact same style in black with big white polka dots and red trim—only made of cotton and spandex instead of stupid polyester!





Off the Rack ~ Styling Visible Bra Straps for Hot Summer Days

It’s been just disgustingly hot in New York this week. With my freelance work, I spend two days every week going around Manhattan and Brooklyn running errands, stopping at various clients’ houses, etc. There are subways and buses, but I still end up walking a lot (and the underground subway platforms are usually hotter than it is outside thanks to a complete lack of air conditioning, fans, or even the least bit of ventilation in some cases), which means I need to dress as cool and comfortable as possible.

Ironically, the last thing I want to be wearing on a 90+ (Fahrenheit) day is a strapless bra. The ones I own (Freya Deco, Le Mystere Soiree Bustier) are molded and slightly padded, and thus quite warm. Further, once I start sweating, they basically turn into sponges that hold a lot of sweat against my body. Ugh, not pleasant at all.

Rather, the bras I find most cool are all-over sheer mesh, like the Ewa Michalak BM style or the Claudette Dessous. Of course, these bras also have brightly colored straps that are difficult to hide. But this week I was inspired by one of my colleagues and a random girl I spotted (in the subway, no less!). Both were wearing a colored bra with visible straps, but both of them chose a bra that set off their strappy top in such a way that it looked intentional and did not look at all sloppy.

So here are my suggestions for ways to wear visible bra straps in the summer. Of course, this requires a bra collection that matches your wardrobe to a certain extent. I prefer to avoid white, black, or nude straps because, well, I think they’re just plain ugly! And there’s really no hiding the fact that those are bras. I just don’t think it’s possible to have these strap colors sticking out and still look intentional or fashionable.

For an example of how to do it right, here’s my sneaky shot of the subway girl:

Apologies for the blurriness; we were both walking quickly when I snapped this.

Apologies for the blurriness; we were both walking quickly when I snapped this.

As you can see, her bra, dress, and accessories are all earth-toned. The dress was a warm ivory and the bra a beige-y army green shade. I think it really helps that the bra band fits properly and is not riding up. Further, it had a thin band and thin straps that perfectly lined up with the dress straps. Finally, the horizontal string across the dress runs perfectly parallel to the bra band. I have no idea if this girl planned it so specifically, but to me this looks edgy and cool.

Since most of us probably don’t own skimpy bras that so perfectly pair with our clothing, I’d say the next best thing is to pair your bra with a top or dress that just matches in color, such as this pink-trimmed tank with a bra that has hot pink straps in almost the same shade:



Unless you’re looking really closely, I think the bra and the shirt blend into each other and just look like a shirt.

If you don’t have a bra that matches so closely, I think you can still get away with one in a similar color family. Here, for example, is a bra with neon lime straps with a tank that has minty green straps:



I try to avoid having any part of the bra other than the straps stick out.

As for my colleague, I don’t have a photo, but she was wearing a strappy racerback tank with a strappy racerback bra, only the two backs didn’t line up. However, they were both different shades of orange, so they were complementary, and the two sets of straps looked sporty and modern. Here’s my attempt at a similar look. I’m wearing the Passionata Starlight, which actually does stay hidden under every racerback tank I own, so I just paired it with the same pink and purple top as above:

Two sets of straps in the front.

Two sets of straps in the front.

Interesting shapes in the back.

Interesting shapes in the back.

Finally, what if you have colorful bras but no shirts to match? This requires a little more bravery, but in that case I’d recommend going all out with the bra! Pick a basic and neutral solid-colored top and the brightest bra you own. I’m even on board with letting some of the cups stick out if they’re colorful too. Here’s a black tank with my neon lime straps sticking out, and the camouflage print of this Dessous bra making a little appearance too:



I think the only way to “pull off” visible bra straps is to make it seem intentional. There’s no way I could have accidentally chosen such a bright bra to wear with this black shirt. But if I was wearing a beige bra, it would seem like I was trying to hide the bra against my skin (and failing). Black would seem like I was trying to get it to blend in with my top (again failing). And white…well no one wants to see our dirty, discolored white bra straps (you know they never stay white for long!).