Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mythbuster #1: Button-down shirts are the end-all, be-all of professional, work-appropriate tops.

I must, I must, I must find that elusive button-down shirt!

Having followed the busty blogs for several years, one of the top complaints I find is that women want button-down tops that work for larger chests. I've only just recently found button-down tops that work, and beforehand didn't have any reason or need to wear them. As nice as it is to find that miraculous button-down, it's important to note that there are plenty of other blouse-styles out there that work for us busty women. They look just as polished (if not more so) and just as professional as a button-down. It's much more professional to have a non-buttoned blouse that fits the bust properly than to wear a buttoned blouse that gapes. Additionally, buying a professional top doesn't have to break the bank. When putting together a work outfit, the shirt can (and maybe should) easily be the least expensive part of the ensemble.

Here are a few tops I would consider taking a look at in stores this season, in various price ranges.

Layering Shell | $36.90 | The Limited | 

This is an classic top that will go beautifully with both skirt and pants suits and comes in different colors. One thing that's great about The Limited is that they always have one kind of awesome sale or another, along with their clearance section. To fit the bust, you may have to sacrifice a fitted waist -- however, I always tuck my work shirts into my skirts/pants, so the extra material provides a nice, bloused effect.

Liz Claiborne Cap-Sleeve Popover Blouse - Plus | $23.99 | JC Penney

I highly, highly recommend JC Penney for affordable dress tops. They have a fairly large selection of tops, and this is just one example of a blouse that would likely work for a fuller bust. The pattern can be toned down by a jacket, and it doesn't really hurt to have a little pattern in the workplace! My friend, who's a teacher, was able to get a blouse appropriate for work for only $2 because the shirt was on clearance. If that doesn't motivate you to at least give JC Penney a try, I don't know what will! Also, I used this blouse as an example specifically because it is for plus sizes -- JC Penney carries a good variety of plus size clothing as well as good variety for the other size ranges.

Geo Print Cowl Top | $58.99 | Banana Republic
I have completely fallen in love with Banana Republic. I also hardly buy things full price there. This, however, is just a great example of a sleeveless top that would still be work appropriate in most situations. Some offices have dress codes, and I wouldn't go sleeveless in a court room. However, if you're just in the office and it gets a little warm, this cowl neck is perfectly acceptable (and super cute!). If I were questioning a witness on the stand, however, I would keep my suit jacket on. Personally, I'm waiting 'til this cute top goes (more) on sale! It's also worth a shot to check out a Banana Republic Factory Store, if you have an outlet mall nearby.

I plan on doing reviews of clothing I own to give some better ideas on how things fit, but I hope this suffices for now! I'm in the middle of preparing for the July bar exam and I just moved, so I'm still settling in. If any of you have questions about Shopping Like a Professional Because You Are, In Fact, A Professional, please ask in the comments!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Modesty Panel

This post is part of The Modesty Panel, a series focusing on the concept of modesty from the perspectives of various bra bloggers. Each of us has experiences, beliefs and assumptions about modesty that influence how we blog about breasts, and this week we are taking the time to share our views. Make sure to check some of the other posts out!

A lot of people have commented that I dress “modestly.” At first, I was surprised by that. Modesty, as a goal in itself, has never been a real focus for me. I wasn't raised with any particular religious or moral admonitions on how I should dress. In fact, in my opinion, I’m unusually comfortable with my body for an American- there are photographs on the internet of me in lingerie, for pity’s sake! Sure, when I showed up at the Star in a Bra photoshoot, my outfit choice showed significantly less cleavage than many other contestant’s clothes... but I was there to be photographed in my underwear, anyway! 

When the word “modesty” is on my radar, it’s usually because I’m fuming over yet another person talking about how some women “deserved” sexual violence because she wasn't dressed right. Modesty is a really complicated issue- a whirling mess of religious beliefs, rape culture, slut shaming, moralistic lecturing, and so on. It so often feels like an impossible tightrope line to walk- it’s that old, overly idealized false dichotomy between “slut” and “prude.”

What is modesty, anyway? The definition isn't even very clear. Yes, it’s generally connected to women‘s sexuality and hiding it or not, but that’s still very vague. Some people would argue that anything beautiful or attention-gathering is immodest. They would say that if you even try to wear pretty clothes, you’re being immodest, because you’re drawing attention to how you look. By this definition, even bright colors could be seen as immodest! Others would argue that maybe pretty colors are okay, but the clothes should not reveal your shape. And others would say that modesty is about how much skin is showing, and nothing more.

I believe that when people call me modest, they’re using this definition, as I love beautiful colors and prints, and regularly wear clothes that are fitted to the shape of my body. However, I tend to only show a small amount of cleavage, wear skirts that come to a minimum of a few inches above my knees, and I prefer higher waisted pants and skirts.

Comparatively speaking, I was lucky that my upbringing included as little body shaming as it did. I did have my share of body image struggles, but I think that they were more about my overall self esteem and self image, and that my body image was a manifestation of those issues. As such, my body image journey has been more about learning, literally, to be comfortable in my own skin, and happy with who I was, such that I could feel confident enough to express my personality through my fashion choices. That, perhaps, is why I haven’t been so specifically focused on being “modest” or not.

As a teenager who was depressed, bullied, lonely, and who hated myself, I wore baggy clothes from Goodwill that hid my shape. Even though I practically dressed like a bag lady, I still got in trouble several times at the high school I attended for dress code violations- I was not only already curvy, I was tall, and at the time low rise jeans and short tops were in fashion, which meant that it was nearly impossible for me to find shirts long enough and pants with high enough rises, so that I wouldn't show midriff when I lifted my arms at all.

I think that lots of curvy women have similar stories. For many of them, showing skin is empowering- a way to take control of their bodies and their sexuality. I think that’s wonderful! I support everyone in making the fashion choices that make them feel beautiful and happy and powerful. However, just because showing skin can be empowering for some women, and just because people need to learn to mind their own business and not be judgmental or victim-blaming about a woman’s fashion choices, doesn't mean that I should have to show more skin than I feel comfortable with in the name of protesting these issues.The whole point of feminism- at least the model that I espouse, is about having the power to make personal decisions that feel right for the individual person. For me, my preferred choice is to cover slightly more skin. I think that there can be a big difference between covering up out of shame, and covering up out of a place of deliberate choice.

As to why I prefer to dress this way, here are some of my thoughts on what has influenced me to prefer it:

My personal style is sweet, girly, and heavily vintage-inspired. I often feel like I was born in the wrong era, fashion-wise. While many of my fellow bloggers and curvy women love the pin-up inspired fashion, the actual street fashions of women in the 50’s and earlier covered much more skin. I love the way that styles back then revealed a woman’s curves... while still covering her up. To my eye, this is just a prettier, more balanced, and even sexier look. I also feel like by showing a little less skin, I’m making the statement that my breasts are not my only attractive feature, and I don’t intend to treat them that way, and forget about the other parts of myself I like. I try to bring attention to my face in several ways- for example, I've gotten very interested in the past year or so in personal color analysis (something I want to talk about in future posts.) My overall goal is to have the focus be *me,* not the bright color I’m wearing, not my cleavage, but my overall personality, essence, and features.

I also feel more comfortable in “modest” clothes. When I wear more revealing clothes, I feel like I have to be hyper-aware of my physicality and movements. Suddenly I’m stressing about flashing somebody my underwear when I move my legs the wrong way, or leaning too far forward and giving somebody an eyeful I didn't intend. Clothes with more coverage stay put better as I move. Again, there are other choices I make that are related to this preference- I also never wear really high heels, I have a strong preference for fabrics with a little bit of stretch, and I prefer flowing skirts to stiff pencil styles. I want to feel like I can move around in my clothes, and be prepared for whatever adventures that might come up.

My family upbringing, of course, was an influence for me. While I mentioned that I wasn't raised super religiously or conservatively, my family was definitely still a factor. My family on my mother’s side is French. It would be poetic here to write all about my grandmother’s utterly fabulous style, all silk scarves and fancy perfume, and how it inspired my current fashion love while I was still a wee tot digging through drawers to play dress-up... However, she has never, to my knowledge, been nearly as glamorous as the American legend of the Chic Parisian. In fact, she prefers wandering about her garden in stained cargo pants and a wide brim hat to prancing around city streets looking chic or whatever fashionable French women are supposed to do.

However, I certainly picked up a few tidbits of French culture in my upbringing, and one thing my mother told me is that for French women, a little mystery is considered far sexier than revealing everything. It always made sense to me. It’s a well-documented psychological phenomenon that the body parts considered “sexy” vary by culture and by what tends to be covered most of the time. The Victorians considered ankles to be erotic, because they were always covered. In cultures where women are expected to cover their hair, their hair becomes seen as far more sexual than it is in cultures where their hair is not routinely covered.

So, in a certain way, covering more skin is my own way of taking charge of my own sexuality. I get to choose when and for whom I’m going to reveal my body. In the end, what matters the most is that you feel powerful in your clothing choices.

This blog is one of many that is participating in the Modesty Panel Series….Please check out the following links to read more great posts about Modesty!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Introducing... Laura!

I have an announcement to make here at Thin and Curvy... 

I want to introduce you to Laura. As you've all probably noticed, this here blog has become a bit much for me to keep up with regularly. I wanted a way to keep things updating a little bit more often, as well as provide you with a different perspective. Enter Laura.

I met Laura as a Freshman in college, and we've kept in contact since. Via Facebook, I noticed that she was just as passionate and knowledgeable about bra fitting and big boob issues as myself. I wanted to give her an expanded platform in which to share her knowledge and passion. I know that you'll love her! 

Don't worry, though... I'm not going anywhere. I will still be posting here as often as I can (which will hopefully be more frequently than it's been the past few months.)


Hi everyone!

My name is Laura, and I have a problem: I'm addicted to bras and proper fit. GASP. Oh, and milkshakes.

I'm 25 years old and I've lived on the East Coast my entire life. My passion for properly fitting bras began when I was in high school, when I discovered the Livejournal community thirty_twod. Big boobs run in my family, and believe it or not, at 32HH/J, I am the smallest! Back then, though, I was a much smaller 34D (or so I thought -- probably 32DD). I learned a whole lot about proper fit and where to buy bras before I even realized I needed those resources -- I just thought it was interesting, at the time. Once I hit college and my boobs grew out of the ever-so-limited Victoria's Secret size range, I finally went to Nordstrom and learned a great deal about bras for gals like myself. I fell in love with brands like Chantelle, Le Mystere, and Simone Perele, and eventually, Freya, Fantasie, Panache, and beyond.

I love the feeling of a good quality, well-fitted bra. My posture straightens, my mood improves, and I feel beautiful and confident. I've become a bit of a bra-vangelist, trying to get all my friends fitted as well! My first truly successful fit was my mother, who went from wearing a 40G to a 38JJ. From there, I fitted a friend who went from 38DD to 34F/FF (depending on the bra). I worked on another friend for years, trying to get her to buy new bras. The four bras she owned when I met her were hand-me-downs from another girl. They were so stretched out that I could literally see the wrinkles of the fabric under her shirts! I was able to convince her to buy a few new bras at the time. She went from wearing ratty, hand-me-down 34Bs to wearing well-structured 34Bs, though I'd tried to get her to try a 32C then. Just recently, I was able to take her bra shopping as part of my 25th birthday present! She'd grown a bit since her "34B" days, and I got her out of a 34C and into a well-fitted, very flattering 32DD/E (depending, once again, on the bra -- see a pattern?).

Just like a well-fitted bra can boost my mood, so does well-fitted clothing. I just finished up law school, and in a few months will be taking the bar exam. Having to find properly fitting, appropriate professional clothing has been a bit of a challenge, but I embrace it head-on. Thank my mom for that, since she's the one who's encouraged the love of shopping in me.

My hope, in contributing to this blog, is that I will be able to shed some light on dressing professionally with a big bust, and to answer any questions readers may have. I am all about body-positive shopping experiences, and I believe that not nearly enough women have them. I'd like to help instill some body lovin' and appreciation in my entries as well.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

DD Atelier- A Review

I am really in love with DD Atelier. It fills some huge holes that were previously in the big bust clothing market, sweeping onto the scene with clothes that are simply wonderful- gorgeous, well made, and stylish.

DD Atelier is a company that recognizes that busty women have different needs, different lifestyles, different personal styles. They make clothes for work and for play, for date night, for hot summer days and cold winter evenings. Every time I browse their site, I think, “Oh, I’ve always wanted that!” They make coats. Coats, you guys! It has been bothering me to no end for *years* that busty clothing companies tend to ignore coats. (Dear clothing companies, while our boobs might seem like they add a sufficient amount of winter insulation all on their own, we in fact still need warm clothes, just like everyone else. Love, me.)

They’re not afraid to break the rules a little- some items have featured things like chest pockets and a variety of necklines, including cozy turtlenecks for winter. But if that’s not your thing, they also have lots of more traditionally flattering items. Their styles run the gamut from classic, investment pieces that are perfect for work, to trendy styles that won’t make you feel like you have to be matronly just because of your bust, to feminine, romantic pieces (my favorite!), to a few boho pieces as well- a style that’s usually very unfriendly to curves!

DD Atelier’s clothes are really nice quality. They use lots of breathable, natural fibers- cotton, viscose, and wool, even silk. This comes as an especially refreshing change from the trend of so many companies using cheap polyester. When you buy a piece from DD Atelier, you can trust that it’s going to be an investment that will last you for a while. I also loved how well-tailored the pieces were- I often have trouble with clothing from other “busty” companies being too snug/straight at the hips, but not so with DD Atelier. The clothes, for the most part, fit like they were made for me, and I feel like DD Atelier really understands the hourglass figure. My only complaint was that a few things were a hair shorter on me that I’d like- but since I’m pretty tall, I definitely can’t fault them for that.

 The Rosie dress- This might have been my favorite. It's just such a sweet, pretty, simple summer dress!

 Denim Jacket- It fits me perfectly!

I love how you can layer over this dress for Spring or Fall, or wear it on its own for summer- and it looks great with the denim jacket layered on top!

 All of DD Atelier's clothes have lovely details, like this twisted waistband on the Rosie Dress.

The Diva Dress really classy. As other reviewers mentioned, it does wrinkle a bit easily, however it makes up for that inconvenience by being a versatile and elegant dress.

 Gorgeous buttons!
 Because I'm tall, this Pink Striped Blouse is a better length for skirts than jeans on me- but I still don't have all of my clothes with me in California (sigh) and so I didn't have a good skirt to photograph it with. This blouse impressed me with the tailoring at my waist and hips, especially.

 They tell me this wrap dress is one of their most popular styles- I can see why! They also sell a wrap blouse version. The fabric is thick, stretchy viscose.

DD Atelier is offering a discount to readers of Thin and Curvy! Just enter the code thinandcurvy at checkout for 10% off. The coupon is good until June 30th, so go check them out soon! :-)