Getting Out the Door When I Know I’m Not Going to Fit In (and Filling the Gaps in my Wardrobe)

One reason you’re not reading about new year’s resolutions from me this month is because I went through a spate of goal-setting in November and December that had me updating my LinkedIn profile (almost done), cleaning and organizing my basement studio (done!), and attending networking events once a week so that when my shirt issues are finally solved, I can reach out to the women I meet who need them (ongoing). That last goal is the reason for my underdressed uniform fail.

The week after that experience, I ventured to hear a panel of female creatives talk about their work in digital media. Having learned my lesson to look like you’ve just come from work, I came up with the following combination, hoping that my polka dot blazer and tights would somehow say “creative”.

overdressed uniform fail

Instead, my outfit said “overdressed outsider.” Here’s what everyone else wore at the Razorfish offices that night.

overdressed for creatives at razorfish

Fortunately, I’d already met my greatest challenge that evening: getting out of the house. I doubted anyone at the event would be part of my target market, and it was so comfortable at home, that I could easily have sat under a blanket in front of our television all night. I persuaded myself to walk out our front door by looking at the evening as a research project.  I would find answers to questions like, What do creatives wear? What do they do at their jobs? What do they care about?

With this plan, I no longer had to worry about blending in! When other attendees asked if I was also in advertising, I just said, “No, I’m in the garment industry, and I’m here to find out how women in your industry dress and think.”  It led to some pretty interesting conversations even though the night confirmed my suspicion that my shirts aren’t a priority for busty women in digital marketing.

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My next event was on waaaaay more familiar territory because it was sponsored by women lawyers. Up to this point, I’d made do with the uniform I told you about yesterday, but now I went into high shopping gear looking for a black pencil skirt. I decided on the Sloan pencil skirt from Banana Republic and found it on sale for $35. The heavy stretch cotton makes it versatile for dressing up or down, but the color keeps it serious. I wear it all the time, including yesterday with my Lord & Taylor tee shirt and my new rain/snow bungee boots that I adore–now this is an outfit I could have worn to Razorfish!

blue tee black skirt bungee boots

Yes, I desperately need to accessorize. Maybe this will be the Year of Accessories. More on that in another post.

When I walked into the lawyer event, I knew I’d nailed the look: pearls, white shirt, black and brown woven blazer from my law firm days, black skirt, black tights, and black shoes. It’s a good thing I felt comfortable in my clothes because I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable in my skin. The event was a clothing drive and holiday party hosted by the Association of Black Women Attorneys, and I worried that I’d be seen as forcing my way into a support network where I had no business. This time “research project” didn’t give me any courage. Now as I waffled over whether to leave our house, I remembered advice I’d read recently about how to introduce yourself: instead of focusing on what you DO, focus on WHO you HELP. That was all I needed to overcome my shyness because I’m passionate about how my shirts help busty women. The event was a success for everyone, and I met some amazing women. I even helped another busty woman that night!

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This post is turning out to be more about how I’m learning to approach events where I’m unlikely to blend in than it is about filling the gaps in my uniform that I promised you yesterday. So far I’ve only told you about my new black pencil skirt. It filled the biggest hole, but I also needed a few pairs of dress pants to give my khakis a break, and I didn’t have even one pair of jeans that fit. I also wanted a nicer pair of black shoes to wear with skirts and dresses.

You never know what you’re going to find at thrift stores, but I hit the gold mine for these basics in Florida last month. Here are the shoes ($4 each) and belt (99 cents!) I scored at my favorite Goodwill. (Shoes are always a major challenge for me, so finding these was a big deal.) I also got two pairs of jeans that fit perfectly for $4 each that I’m sure you’ll be seeing in later posts.goodwill accessoriesNext up was the thrift store beside my sister’s art studio–the one where she found my purple dress in November. There I found tan and charcoal dress pants for $2 each. You’ll definitely be seeing these in future posts. I’d like to brag and say that I created my own luck by being so aware of my uniform and what I needed to complete it, but I’ve searched for these things before to no avail.

Before flying to Florida, I also found a pair of Donald Pliner kitten heels on eBay for $60.

leopard

I’ve been wanting a pair of leopard print shoes for more than two years. I’d like to say that it’s better to invest in the hard-to-find accent pieces since inexpensive basics are easier to find, but I know that’s not always the case either. Sometimes it’s the perfect basic that’s expensive and the trendy accent piece that’s cheap.

I guess it’s the not knowing that keeps things interesting. I love seeing how the other Hourglassy writers approach their wardrobes (Leah and I couldn’t be more opposite!), and I’d love to hear what you do. Also, be sure to check out Astrid’s latest post–The Busty Gal and the Accidental Capsule Wardrobe. I have a feeling we can all relate!

 

It’s All About the Busty Base: My Wardrobe Core

Here’s how I propose discovering the must-have pieces in your wardrobe: pack for a couple of back-to-back trips, take lots of photos, then notice what you’re wearing in practically every photo. That’s how my recent travels showed me I was reaching for the same favorite pieces again and again.

The number one piece that I reach for? My knit polka dot blazer from the Loft. It keeps me warm on the plane, isn’t too hot in Florida, and is great for layering in the cold. It’s like a cardigan but with a little more presence, and the polka dots give it personality.

polka dot blazer on the beach

On the beach two days before Christmas.

white shirt polka dot jacket boiled peanuts

Finding my favorite snack at a gas station in South Carolina while driving my mother-in-law from Florida to Pennsylvania in November.

Sadly, this jacket has gotten too big for me and is now looking kind of shapeless, but I just can’t quit it without a replacement. Last week I got a mailing from Express that showed this checkered knit blazer from their spring 2015 collection, and it looks promising. It’s not on their website, but their solid knit blazers are, and they’ve received lots of good reviews. Have any of you tried them?

big bust find express checked knit blazer

In the beach and peanuts photos above, you see two more of my standbys for my upper half: my $10 Lord & Taylor brand tee shirt, and one of my white Campbell & Kate button-fronts. Together with my French blue Campbell & Kate button-front below, I really don’t worry about what to wear to fit my boobs. These pieces pretty much go with everything.

blue shirt posing with Lisa Dolan Lee Lees Valise

Posing with Lisa Dolan after Leah and I toured her brand new lingerie store–Le Piege des Boobies— in November. Lisa herself has designed the amazing sleep set you see between us. She cleverly accounts for multiple big bust considerations in the design, and once I find my notes from our meeting, I’ll share them with you!

Then there are my khakis that you see above, which together with my denim pencil skirt have carried me everywhere for the past several months.

My final core piece is the blue Lauren by Ralph Lauren surplice dress I shared with you in June. I wore it to Leah’s wedding in October!

big bust dress success to leahs wedding

If I had to, I could probably make it through the rest of the year wearing only these pieces, but I’d get pretty bored and everything would wear out. However, realizing what my favorite pieces are is helping me a lot with my wardrobe planning. Instead of being distracted by everything in the stores, I know the base that I’m building from. I’ve also discovered some gaps that I was able to fill with a few trips to thrift stores and sales. More on that tomorrow!

 

Corporate Curves Report: High Street Shirt versus Campbell & Kate Shirt

Well hello again to you all. This week I planned to deviate a bit from the recent US shopping trip reviews with a review of this spring’s grunge style, but let’s get back to that next week. The reason for this sudden change of plans was the Campbell & Kate parcel waiting for me when I got home today, and I just had to try it on immediately to compare it to the high street shirt I had been wearing.

The high street shirt from Seppälä – a Finnish chain store. It sort of fit without peekaboo gaping, but it’s obvious that it’s too tight around the bosom.

Easy to guess which was a better fit–the Campbell & Kate shirt of course! The high street spring trend coral shirt was a very decent fit for what the shirt is, especially it being from a Nordic high street store which tend to be bigger around the bust and roomier around the shoulders. That is because statistically the Nordics are a busty and tall region on the world map. I’m only 5’4″ myself, though, only an inch taller than Darlene.

Campbell & Kate shirt, fits like a glove! Material is soft and nice and has enough elasticity to make it comfortable to wear. Personally like it most when buttoned all the way up! Dress pants are by NYDJ and the jacket is the Nine West one that you’ve seen in the past weeks.

Please excuse the bra. I was only trying the shirt on after work! I’m not wearing it outside like this. 🙂 I’m so happy to finally add a comfortable and well-fitting classic white shirt to my wardrobe and to start styling it. I have tons of styling ideas buzzing in my head and would love to hear your favorite ways of wearing a classic white shirt–with jeans and casual shoes to lunch on a Saturday or strictly to the office?

A note from Darlene: I promise I didn’t put Tina up to writing this post, and she paid for her own shirt, but of course I’m thrilled that it looks so amazing on her and that she wanted to write about it. You can see two more photos of her wearing a C&K shirt last October on FB (front view and side view), including shirt and bra size information. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings if you have any critical observations to make in the comments. Personally, I can’t wait to see how else she wears it.

 

Big Bust, Small Budget: Wearing My New Urkye Mala to a Spring Benefit

When I catch up with an old friend on Friday night, we’ll be doing it over dinner at a spring benefit she’s invited me to. The dress code is “festive attire”.

I’m interpreting “festive attire” to include “little black dress”. Fortunately, another friend of mine just purchased the Urkye Mala dress in size 40 44 00/000, decided it wasn’t for her even though she looked amazing in it, and sold it to me for $50 including shipping. After reading Erica’s review of the Mala dress, seeing it on my friend, and trying it for myself, I’m convinced that the Mala dress is a wardrobe sure thing for every busty woman. You can find my quick rundown of its pros and cons after the jump.

In preparing for Friday, I’m remembering one important lesson that I’ve learned from attending other New York City benefits where people dress up: Don’t try to be something I’m not. One thing I’m not is a woman with an unlimited clothing budget. I can’t afford to buy the kind of dress that will pass me off as a socialite who can’t afford to be seen in the same dress twice.  Instead, I need to concentrate on what I’ve been learning since writing this blog: try to be the best me possible.

Fortunately, the Mala dress serves as a great foundation for this goal, and after a quick trip to Marshall’s on Sunday, I put together the following looks for Friday night. None of them say “look at me“, but I think they avoid “hide me”. I welcome your opinions because there’s still time to try something else if you point me in the right direction!

P.S. I’m also experimenting with extending my legs with dark hose and black shoes, or beige shoes that match my skin tone. After the jump, I post a pic that convinced me that nude legs and black shoes are not an option. Also, shorten the dress an inch, or is it fine as it is?

great big bust LBD from Urkye

I was wondering if I had time to order from Sleevey Wonders when I had the idea of finding an inexpensive, tight sleeved top to create my own version of a Sleevey Wonder by cutting away everything but the points where the sleeves are connected to the bodice. I also remembered XLHourglass’s addition of sleeves to a formal dress last December: http://xlhourglass.blogspot.com/2012_12_01_archive.html However, in this photo, the entire Max Studio top fit under the dress and would require just a little pinning to hide the neckline.

versatile busty lbd from urkye

You can’t see it, but this $25 Nine West cardi has gold thread woven throughout, which dresses it up. When I see myself in the mirror in this outfit, I really like it. When I see it in photographs, I think it looks too office-like for Friday night.

bust friendly lbd from urkye

I think this is my favorite look, but I’m not sure why. I borrowed the wrap from my friend, so it’s also the least expensive look. (Excuse the thigh highs sliding down in the pic on the left!)

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