Saturday, October 13, 2012

Just Who Makes These Rules, Anyway?

It’s really important to me as an advocate of style options for curvy women, that we have as many choices as we need in order to bring our personal style to reality.

Yet if I were to compile a list of all of the "rules" that I have heard for tops for busty women, it would go something like this:

  •     No patterns
  •     No lace
  •     No ruffles
  •     No high necklines
  •     No low necklines
  •     No bright colors
  •     No empire waists
  •     Nothing tight
  •     Nothing clingy
  •     Nothing loose
  •     No spaghetti straps
  •     No bust/neckline detailing

Phew, what an exhausting list. Based on this, it's little wonder that so many busty women feel confused, and turn to basic, solid-colored, v-neck t-shirts as the only shirt option available to them. Now, I love V-neck tees, and I actually think that they can be a nice, flattering, basic style for most women- not just the large-busted. But, I think that if that's all we wear, we're missing out on a lot of opportunity for creativity in our wardrobes. Too many women hide under these styles, and while I think they can be great and have no intent to diss them entirely, I think that a wardrobe full of them can be quite boring. Not to mention that said t-shirt isn't appropriate attire for every single occasion.

Now, obviously, most women don’t follow all of those “rules” exactly, especially seeing as some of them are downright contradictory. But I do see a lot of busty women limiting themselves unnecessarily, and I find that sad.

I’m not actually sure that these tips are even the most flattering! I have actually found that certain types of detailing can be quite nice. While I don’t want an emblem, slogan, or ruffle directly over my chest, I love details like soft cowl necks, draping, ruching, shoulder details and cutouts, any sort of gathering or draping, asymmetrical hems, flowing sleeves, etc. I also don’t see why busty women should have to stick to solid colors- patterns and textures such as lace can be lovely, especially if they cover the whole top and aren’t just focused on the bust area. I have actually found that such detailing is often much *more* flattering on a curvy figure, and it doesn’t scream, “hide me!” Frequently, when you work hard to draw attention away from your bust, you're also drawing attention away from what's right above it- your beautiful face.

I actually feel that compelling women to follow such an extensive list of "rules" is overly restrictive, possibly sexist, and certainly an example of prejudice against big breasts. Lots of women have big boobs, they’re not really such an unusual feature to have, so I don't see why a large chest has to be something that causes "fashion experts" to throw up their hands in despair and tell us to just cover them up in boring solid tee-shirts. Taken to its logical extreme, what they are really suggesting is that our breasts are so shocking, and so mutant, and so inherently, overtly sexual, that we need to draw as little attention to them, and to ourselves, as humanly possible.

In my opinion, a flattering garment doesn’t just hide, or “slim” you. It also has to highlight the parts of yourself that you love, and it has to feel right for your personality and style. If V-neck tees (or whatever you are told you “need” to wear) aren’t your thing, you should feel free not to wear them, and to wear what makes you feel good about your body. I’m not saying to totally abandon flattering your figure, and wear whatever you want even if it’s hideous on you. That is only another method of hiding your body. Flattering your figure involves both celebrating it and working in harmony with it, not hiding it. Dressing big busts needn’t be nearly as restrictive as some people make it out to be. In my experience, I find that as long as my clothes fit well, and show the shape of my waist, I have a lot of freedom in terms of what I can wear well.

Unfortunately, companies that make clothes for busty women tend to assume that we want to follow these rules too strictly, assuming that they are what is most flattering on the busty figure. And the fact that so many women believe it creates a self-reinforcing cycle. But we can still request other styles, and when shopping at “normal” stores look for things that fall outside of these rules, even if you need to get them altered or choose things with a lot of stretch.

My advice? Experiment and decide for yourself what you like. You might be surprised by what works. It is your right to have a personal style. The size of your chest should absolutely not change that.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Review: The Big Bra Bar Black Shirt

Nikki at The Big Bra Bar was kind enough to send me this shirt for review. I decided to try to do a sort of vintage-inspired, creative work look with it.
The top is quite long, and it could either be worn as a tunic, or tucked in as I’ve shown here.

I love that it’s not quite the traditional button-up shirt. This shirt is a really fun style, with dramatic puffed sleeves. I think that they in addition to being a great detail, the sleeves also help minimize a larger bust, because they add contrasting volume. However, if you have a highly conservative work environment, you might prefer a more traditional style.

Ideally, I would have it fit a little smaller at the waist (isn’t that the story of my life, though? ;-) but since I’m somewhat outside the recommended size range, I can’t fault the shirt at all! It fit impressively well in spite of that fact. The buttons are sturdy and there was absolutely no gaping.

All in all I think this is a nice quality shirt style for busty ladies with a fun design. If you like it, or want to check out what else The Big Bra Bar has to offer, go check them out!

Shirt: The Big Bra Bar
Skirt: older style from Trashy Diva

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Big changes for me, and Star in a Bra Updates

Hi All! I am writing this from a cafe in Berkeley, California, just outside of San Francisco.

Many of you learned from my Star in a Bra adventure that I lived in North Carolina. I’ve lived there for roughly 14 years, but originally I was born on the West coast and lived in Oregon until I was almost 10. Gregory, my fiance, and I started talking about moving to the Bay Area several years ago, because he’s a computer programmer. There just aren’t many opportunities for programmers in a small tourist town in NC. And then earlier this summer we had the occasion to visit this area- my first time back in 14 years- and what really sealed for us that we needed to move was how I felt.

You see, most of you don’t know this, but I’ve struggled with health problems for years. Nobody could ever figure out what exactly they were- I went to numerous doctors, both traditional and alternative. Finally it was decided I had Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which basically mean “We have no idea what’s wrong with you, but we do have a handy name for your collection of symptoms!”

But then I was better in California. Surprisingly better. We began to suspect that I’m allergic to *something* in the environment in NC. And then after getting back, our house in NC started to have particularly bad mold problems. (Fairly common in humid, damp NC.) I began to have trouble breathing and broke out in hives. Yep, allergies. Probably to a species of mold which isn’t able to grow in relatively cool, dry California. Now that it’s clear what it was, it seems so obvious, yet at the same time, I’m still surprised at how much better I feel over here.

Anyway, for now I’m staying with some friends here. Gregory’s still in NC, frantically applying to programmer jobs. And we are trying to find somebody to take over our lease. And it’s generally all quite crazy.

But besides the benefit to my health, I’m really excited about the opportunities living in a bigger city will give us. I think this will also be helpful for this blog- finally I’ll be able to go to more stores, try clothes on in person, and be able to share my findings with you.

Oh, and speaking of Star in a Bra, just in case you weren’t following along on Facebook (which probably means you didn’t vote! **Wags finger with stern face**) I didn’t win- I came in 3rd place, after winner Krista Cousins and 2nd place Cristyen Fowler. I won’t say I’m not sad, because I know that I could have made a bigger difference if I’d won, than I can just sitting here blogging! But Krista seems smart and wonderful and positive, and it’s awesome that the first ever USA Star in a Bra winner was also the first ever black woman to win! So, congrats Krista, you rock! I’m super sad that Krista was the *only* top 10 contestant I didn’t get to meet, because she lives in NYC already and therefore didn’t stay in the hotel, and was scheduled for a different day of shooting than me.

Well, this is long enough, so that’s all for now. If you know anybody in the Bay area who wants to hire a wicked talented programmer, though, pass them on! ;-)