Busty Dressing with Dolman Sleeves

Each of us has a personal set of cardinal rules for D+ dressing, and for many years mine has included “No dolman sleeves.” Dolman sleeves fit a large chest, but is the fit worth looking like a lollipop? I dismissed anything like the top below whenever I browsed store racks.

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Last year, however, a few dolmans slipped into my wardrobe. One was the purple jacket I included at the end of my fall roundup of busty blazers and coats; another was a super snuggly sweater that I found for super cheap on Black Friday; and the third was the Rock Cotton tunic that I lived in while on vacation.batwings for the bustyNO ONE has complimented the purple jacket or the snuggly sweater on me, leading me to believe that dolmans truly are off limits (I refuse to abandon my snuggly sweater, however). I wonder if it has something to do with my height or average-to-short torso? After all, Sarah over at Stackdd is quite a bit taller and longer, and she has written about her great success with dolman tops (also here) and sweaters. To test my theory, I shipped the items to Leah, who also has a long torso. She’s going to take pictures of herself in them and give us her take on dolman sleeves this Friday!

In studying these photos, I realize that all dolmans are not created equal. Here are my observations:

  1. Length matters. If a big balloon of fabric is going to hide the top half of a torso, don’t end things suddenly. Keep going. I look leaner in the sweater (it’s all relative!) and the tunic than I do in the blazer because the hems fall below my hips.
  2. Knits trump wovens. Drapey fabrics give a little definition where they skim the body. Stiff fabrics stand out from the body.
  3. Contrast helps. The dark sleeves in the tunic distinguish my arms from my waist.

My friend Renee Lowry of Braology added her own insight on the subject with the help of this handy napkin diagram.extreme batwingIn her experience, the most flattering dolman sleeve tops are ones where the sleeves don’t take over the waist completely (blue lines) but instead allow for some fit and structure (red lines).

A representative for Saint Bustie, also weighed in on the subject in a recent email exchange:

Dolman sleeves can look super stylish, but it’s wise to choose carefully. Most importantly, don’t wear them to try and hide anything. To wear them well–particularly but not exclusively with big boobs–avoid dolman sleeves with too much volume or draping. Be ultra careful if you have broad shoulders–big bust or no!–as they can make you look somewhat triangular.  At the end of the day though, it’s how you wear it that really counts. Accessorize well and wear with confidence, and you will look fabulous!

One of her favorite dolman sleeve dresses at the moment is the Lauren Dress, seen below in garnet red, which also comes in black, blue and ivory white.

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Finally, Angie at YouLookFab has a great overview on dolman sleeves, including this specific pointer for petite, full busted or strong shouldered women: keep the volume [under the arms] fairly subtle. And as one commenter pointed out, if you fall in love with a top that’s too voluminous, it can be a pretty simple alteration to narrow the sleeves and waist.

It looks like I won’t be snubbing every dolman sleeve top that I see in stores anymore! Instead, I’ll be experimenting with these new discoveries and looking for more.

 

 

 

 

 

Off the Rack ~ Introducing Miss Candyfloss (a Review of the Odette Dress)

I’ve long admired the brand Miss Candyfloss, especially after seeing a few reviews on the Miss Victory Violet website. It’s a vintage reproduction brand that’s inspired mostly by styles of the 1940s. Some of the garments are totally era-accurate, while others have a more modern twist (such as the many jumpsuits they make). If you’re looking to cosplay as Peggy Carter (from Marvel’s Captain America and the Agent Carter TV show—the new season of which premiered this week!), this is the brand to buy.

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Ms. Carter in Season 2, Episode 1. I wish you could see the amazing pants and wide belt she’s wearing, but this was the best outfit photo I could find.

However, prices are a little high and the brand is located in Sweden (with manufacturing in Transylvania), so the Euro exchange rate is usually not in my favor, I’d be limited to under $200 per order to avoid US customs fees, and shipping is expensive. Occasionally, a piece will pop up on ModCloth.com, but those are few and far between. I’ve been scouring eBay for the last year, but the brand rarely shows up there either. It seemed I would be limited to admiring the clothes from afar.

But then I got really lucky, and was given the opportunity to shop through a pre-sale offered by a US-based sellers’ group—at a heavy discount, no less! The first two times I opted into the pre-sale, there was a 4-quantity minimum for each garment, so only the most popular items ended up being available. But I was able to purchase my number one coveted item—the signature Odette dress in navy blue.

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The Odette dress is Miss Candyfloss’s most signature, well-known item, appearing for sale on several other European retail sites. It features a pleated bust, high collar, cap sleeves, zipper up the back, and full flared skirt, and ranges in size from XS all the way to 5X. It also comes in a long-sleeve version called Vedette. A combination of polyester, viscose, and lycra, the fabric is soft and not too heavy, so it’s appropriate for all seasons.

I wore Odette to a wedding last week, and went full vintage (well, vintage reproduction) with brown low-heeled Oxfords, pearls, and red lips. I’m so in love with this dress, and it’s amaaaaaazingly boob-friendly. Let’s get to the (many) photos, and then I’ll discuss fit. (I thought it looked really swell with my custom Etsy coat that I reviewed last year, so I included a bunch of poses with that as well.)

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Miss Candyfloss’s size chart puts me between medium and large for bust, and between small and medium for waist. As such, I’d say I’m probably a medium, but of course that size was sold out. Luckily, I was advised that this particular item is stretchy and very forgiving, so I would be safe to size down to a small.

Readers, it fits like a glove. It holds in my midsection just a little, like built-in light shapewear, and there’s more than enough room for my boobs thanks to the pleating. However, I would probably go with medium if I were to buy the same dress in another color. I think a medium would be a better fit for my shoulders, and the pleating on the bust wouldn’t be pulled as flat as it is here.

However, even in the small I felt perfectly comfortable, and could eat, drink, and dance to my heart’s content. In fact, after the wedding when everyone changed into street clothes for the after-party, I kept my dress on instead. It was more comfortable than the jeans I’d brought with me!

I was so taken with this dress when it first arrived that I immediately had to have more from Miss Candyfloss. Sadly, my number two most coveted item, the navy Margit top, didn’t have enough interest to be included in the pre-sale. But then the jumpsuit version popped up on eBay as the “ModCloth Ship Off the Bold Block” suit for a mere $30. So I bought the jumpsuit, took it apart, and added a new zipper to the back, leaving myself with a crop top and offering the pants to a seamstress friend. It ended up being even cheaper than buying the real shirt!

ModCloth's "Ship Off the Bold Block” jumpsuit

ModCloth’s “Ship Off the Bold Block” jumpsuit

My altered top.

My altered top.

The fabric content is different than the Odette. I don’t remember exactly what it is since the care tag was attached to the pants, but there’s significantly less stretch. In this case, medium was definitely the right choice, as a size down would have been way too tight around my waist and very difficult to pull over my shoulders. The boobs are just about perfect. So I’ll definitely be sticking to size medium going forward. In fact, just recently the minimum order quantity was done away with and there was another pre-sale, so I bought two more dresses and two tops, including a—GASP—button-up blouse. I can’t wait to report back!

 

 

Off the Rack ~ Fitting the Bottom Half of the Hourglass: Freddies Jeans Revisited

Two years after my initial review of jeans from Freddies of Pinewood, they finally had a sale (10% off on Boxing Day), so I could justify buying more. Ironically, I ended up buying two completely different choices than I originally planned. Once again I love them both, though they certainly fit differently than my original two, the 1940s Button Pants and the New Jeanies.

I bought the same size as my earlier pairs (30) and my measurements are still 29” waist and 41” hips at the widest point (with a height of 5’6”, though keep in mind I have short legs and a loooooong torso).

First up are the Utility Jeans, which feature a straight, slightly wide leg, a side zipper, and folded over flaps on the front pockets. The flaps are what really drew me to these, because it made them stand apart from my other vintage repro pants.

Initially, I was interested in the Norma Jeans and the Rivet Jeans, but ultimately I decided the Normas were too similar to my Lady K Loves Hug Me Baby jeans, and the Rivets weren’t quite different enough from my New Jeanies. Then the Utilities caught my eye, and I was sold!

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The zipper is on the side seam, instead of hidden inside the pocket like the New Jeanies, with one button.

The zipper is on the side seam, instead of hidden inside the pocket like the New Jeanies, with one button.

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The first thing I noticed about the Utilities is that they fit more tightly than the New Jeanies did around my waist, upper thighs, and butt—even though the Jeanies are supposed to be 2cm smaller around the hip. The Jeanies have two buttons at the closure, and I sometimes wear it on the tighter setting. But the Utilities have one button, and it’s a bit of a snug fit. Denim stretches with age and wear, though, so I suspect they’ll become just a touch looser over time.

On the plus side, the denim doesn’t feel nearly as stiff as my Jeanies even though they’re both 100% cotton, so it’s a lot easier to bend over to tie my shoes, or to sit at a desk all day.

Additionally, while the Jeanies and the Utilities are supposed to have the same inseam length (82cm), the Utilities are definitely shorter. I have to fold up the Jeanies a few inches to keep them from dragging on the ground, but the Utilities are a perfect length, just barely skimming the ground when I wear thin sneakers:

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Even though they’re snug around my midsection, I love love love these pants! I think the pockets are really cute, and they’re getting more comfy with each wear. Considering that I’ve worn them at least twice a week since they arrived, they should be perfect very soon.

Next up is something I never expected to buy—a jumpsuit! Yes, the kind that requires undressing fully in order to pee! I’ve always been anti-jumpsuit for this very practical reason, but then I fell in love with the Trashy Diva Hepburn jumpsuit, and now I’ve been turned to the dark side. My long torso, however, means jumpsuits that fit will still be few and far between, so don’t expect to see many more of these in my wardrobe.

In any case, the Chain Gang jumpsuit was on sale for a great price (and there are still two sizes left!), plus US customers get 17% off automatically from the VAT removal, plus there was the 10% Boxing Day discount, so I ended up paying about $48 before shipping. Pretty good considering the full-leg Grease Monkey jumpsuit is £95, or $137.

The Chain Gang has capri-length legs, almost elbow-length short sleeves, buttons up the front, a pair of chest pockets, and a belt. The buttons are sewn on a little loose, and one popped off when I first tried on the suit (as you’ll see in the photos, since I’ve been too lazy to sew it back on yet), but otherwise it’s the same stellar quality I’ve come to expect from this brand.

I purchased the charcoal grey striped option, which is made of 98% cotton and 2% elastane. I’m really glad there’s elastane (aka spandex) in this fabric, because it is a little short in the torso on me, and the little bit of stretch means it pulls and bounces back nicely when I reach for something and stretch the length out. I am pretty much obsessed with how cute this suit is, so I have lots of photos, and even threw on a red bandana for a truly Rosie the Riveter look (I also have new glasses and new lipstick, so yay for showing those off too!):

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I feel so freaking cute and sassy in this thing! I can’t wait to wear it this spring. Unfortunately, it’s way too cold right now!

I have the sleeves folded up once and the pants folded up twice. The pants are definitely an awkward length on me without folding, but I think they could look good either way, so this just means ladies of different heights can wear it safely:

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Now, since this suit has a top half, obviously I have to talk about the fit on my boobs! It has the unusual construction of no underbust or side darts, but has darts leading from the shoulder to the base of the pockets, as well as an inverted pleat on the back. As such, it achieves a blouson shape that’s actually very boob-friendly, especially combined with the fitted waistband. While my long torso means my body pulls the fabric taut, if I yank it up so that the top half isn’t being pulled down, you can see that there is no gaping even with the missing button:

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I further appreciate that the tummy and crotch are not super tight. It adds to the comfort and I don’t feel like my belly is being emphasized. However, I do have a couple small complaints: Aside from the torso length being just a touch short on me, it kills me that there are no pockets in the pants. I need pockets! I know there are a pair on the chest, but they’re too small for an iPhone, and who wants to store lumpy things like keys and lip balm on their boobs??

Additionally, since there are no holes or grommets, the belt does not stay tight. It immediately loosens up and almost falls out of the buckle. I’m probably going to use a blank tie tack to pin the end in place to keep it from sliding around.

Still, this suit has really made me think my next Freddies purchase should be another one-piece item, like perhaps the Dungaree Dolls. How cute are they??

 

Getting There

Magazines are 30% off at Costco, so every time we go, I have to browse. On Sunday, I couldn’t resist the cover story, “Love Your Body Even When Nothing Seems to Flatter”.

February 2016 Instyle cover

The article began with big busts.

InStyle Dear Ample Chest

The biggest positive: the writer has discovered F and G cups.

The biggest negative: she seems to think the bra alphabet ends at G and that you have to pay triple digits to own one.

But even if a G is the new double D, progress is being made.

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Speaking of progress, I’m still figuring out how to balance sewing with the rest of life–hence my extremely short and late post this week.