Posts Categorized: reader requests

Reader Request: Altering a Wardrobe for New Curves

dressing to hide a belly

Reader A had this request:

My body composition has changed over the years and I’ve suddenly got a belly—and a wardrobe of clothes I used to wear with pride but now need shapewear in order to have a nice silhouette. I’ve invested in a couple of dresses that suit my “new” figure, but I really don’t want to have to get rid of all my clothes that I love. Any ideas/tips for altering or transitioning wardrobes to accommodate changing bodies could be helpful. My clothes all fit (I’m the same size in the same brands as before); they just don’t fit right.

It’s such a strange sensation to see your body shifting around, isn’t it? Curves that were high are now low, areas that were big are now small, and it can make you feel like your body is just a big bag of stuff that gets shaken every so often and the bits inside settle wherever they please. Now, this isn’t to say that all these changes are bad: New curves can be quite exciting, as can new flatnesses. But it does make getting dressed a bit challenging when, as A says, your clothes still technically fit, but they no longer look quite right.

Today I’m hoping to offer a few tips for continuing to wear clothes you love even if how they fit has become slightly wonky due to the arrival of curves. Some of these tips will fall under the “traditional figure-flattery” heading since A has indicated that she’d rather downplay her new belly. All together now: None of my figure flattery advice posts should be considered gospel, including this one, and I fully expect you to read them with a grain of salt. Style “rules” are merely guidelines, no matter who is dispensing them. I trust you to use your judgment. And I trust you to take what applies to you, discard the rest, and assume positive intent.

Get some great jackets

If you’ve got dresses that are bulging a bit around the tummy, throwing on a jacket can help make the bulge a little less noticeable. The jacket needn’t be oversized or even flowy, just a style that hangs well when worn open. Moto style jackets like the ones shown above are great, though they can be a bit boxy. If you want to show off your waist, choose something that nips in instead.

Try tunics

If you’ve got skinny jeans or pants that you’re loathe to part with but that may be pulling a bit more than usual, pair them with tunics. You’ll want something that hits mid-thigh for the best proportions (on most but not all figures) and to cover any whiskering. Tunics can also be a bit formless, so seek styles that aren’t too voluminous.

Wear prints

Hopefully some of the clothes you want to keep are prints because solids are revealing in ways that prints are not. So long as they’re not incredibly ill-fitting, printed or patterned clothing will downplay any new curves you’d prefer to keep out of the spotlight.

Direct focus where you want it

A foolproof technique no matter how you’re dressed: If you’re self-conscious about a particular body part, wear something bright, sparkly, colorful, or otherwise eye-catching somewhere else. Ideally near a part of your body that you totally love and want to show off. Statement necklaces draw the eye up, bold shoes draw it down, a gorgeous scarf keeps the focus near your face, bright red pants direct it toward your legs.

Consult your tailor

If your new curves are causing minor pulling in any of your favorite garments AND you’ve got a tailor you trust, ask for input. Taking in is always easier than letting out, but that doesn’t mean your beloved burgundy blazer might not have an extra half-inch to spare. It never hurts to ask, and your tailor might have solutions you never would’ve thought of.

Images courtesy Boden

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.

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Reader Request: Reclaiming Your Style

reclaim your style

Reader A emailed me this question:

Have you done a post on reclaiming one’s style after major life changes? I’ve had a LOAD of life changes recently and I feel lost.

Divorce
Living on my own with 2 teenagers
Coming out
Career exhaustion
Weight gain because of all the aforementioned items

I’ve lost my way and have developed a uniform — likely just because it’s easier and there’s no risks involved. It’s almost as if I didn’t want to have to think about the clothing I wear because it was just “one more thing…” A friend and I went shopping yesterday and I just felt “off” in everything I tried on. I felt ridiculous though I walked away with 2 pieces that I needed in my closet so, not a total loss. But they were pretty safe pieces. So my question is – how does one start to reclaim style when there’s so many things that have just beaten me up?

Since I know many of you have had to juggle multiple massive life events at once, I wanted to share what I told her in hopes that it might help you, too:

First off, be gentle with yourself. Any one of those changes would be enough of an excuse to downshift away from sartorial creativity and into uniforms. All of them together is a lot to deal with, and bound to make you push some things to the back burner. It sounds like now, you’re starting to feel more even-keeled and ready to feel connected to your personal style again, which is FAB … but you’re a new you, so do your best to accept that it may take a while to either reclaim or retool that personal style.

Whenever anyone says that they’ve gone shopping out of a need for new items, didn’t like anything they tried, and couldn’t put their finger on what was wrong, I recommend writing. You might not have been able to pinpoint what wasn’t working in real time, but giving it a nice, long think afterwards and taking some notes can prove revelatory. Were you gravitating toward things that felt too safe or staid? Did you experience fit issues and not recognize your body? Did you feel too tired or overwhelmed to give shopping your full attention and energy? Was your friend pressuring you, or were you comparing yourself to her/him/them? See if you can suss that out.

Also write a bit about what you miss about your former style. Was is color or pattern? The ability to express yourself visually? Specific items that you just loved to wear? What’s missing now that was present then?

Then snap a few photos of your current uniforms. Don’t do anything with them immediately, just snap and stash. After a week or so, take a look at them. They are your current baseline. Before you jump back into assembling super-creative, wildly colorful outfit masterpieces, start by either tweaking these formulas or finding ways to perk them up. Add more jewelry. Switch a solid top for a printed one. Try a more daring shoe. Add a jacket. Take some baby steps for now as you work your way back toward a more expressive-dressing groove.

Since weight gain was one of the changes you mentioned, consider getting the stuff that doesn’t fit out of your everyday closet. If you can’t bear to part with it now, that’s fine – put it in storage and re-evaluate in six months or so – but move it. Staring at it every day is likely making you feel confused and lost and upset, and that won’t do. Try on the things that you like to wear now, and make note of the shapes and styles that suit you. Can you be on the lookout for more of those styles, or related styles? What about them works and feels good? If something is close to perfect but not quite there, what would make it so?

Finally, if you do all of this stuff and still feel out to sea, I recommend working with a stylist. You can get a free personal shopping session at Nordstrom or Macy’s, and those people are total pros and know their inventory back to front. You might be in a place where you need some outside input to see what’s going to work for you. HOWEVER, try to do all of the other stuff first and bring that work to the stylist. You don’t need someone to make you over or tell you how to dress, you need someone who can help you find your way back to a style you once loved.

Any other advice you’d offer to A? Anyone else going through something similar? What worked for you?

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Reader Request: Styling Sequins for Holiday

sequins holiday party

Reader Magnolia had this question:

Now that the holiday season is around the corner, this year I am feeling very attracted to glitter and sequins and all things shiny. I am loving this Adrianna Papell dress in lead color. [Shown in image above, plus size version here]

But, this is the first time I am thinking of wearing something SO shiny. I am wondering how to style this? If nude pumps will be fine or I need to wear high metallic heels. I feel like going all glitzy but totally unsure how to go about it. May be you would like to take this up for one of your posts? How to wear sequins and glam for the holiday season?

FUN! This is such a gorgeous dress and can definitely have a life beyond the holiday season.

In terms of how to style it (or something similar to it), that depends on several factors:

  1. What time of day is the event? Afternoon and early evening gatherings are generally less formal – and therefore, less over-the-top sparkle-friendly – than dinners, cocktail parties, and later evening events.
  2. Where will it be? If you’re going to a hotel ballroom for a charity event or work gathering, that’ll be dressier by nature than a house party. You can wear this dress to either of course, but depending on your preferences you might want to subdue it a bit for a dinner with friends.
  3. What’s the climate or temperature like? If I were to wear this to a holiday party in Minneapolis, I’d likely have to figure out hosiery and possibly a way to wear snow boots to the venue and swap in party-ready shoes on arrival. If you’re in Miami, however, neither will be a concern.
  4. How comfortable will you be with the people there? Or does that matter? I’m thinking, is this a gathering of your significant others’ bosses and coworkers that might make you feel a bit more self-conscious than usual? If so, would you rather turn down the sparkly a bit? Or are you totally fine going all-out regardless of the guest list?
  5. Will there be dancing? Four-inch heels might not be your best bet, if so.

In case listing out most of the possible decision-making factors didn’t make it plain, how you style a glamorous holiday dress or look is very much up to you. Your tastes, coverage preferences, and mood day-of will also influence your choices. As will he climate of formality in your region: A soiree in Manhattan might be far dressier than a gathering in Denver … or it might not. So, obviously, these are just suggestions.

If you want to be sparkly but subdued …

… I’d recommend layering. So with this specific dress, a jacket or wrap would do the trick. If you’ve got a sparkly skirt, jacket, or pants you want to wear, make that item the sole source of sparkle. That means patent shoes will work, but metallic or highly embellished ones won’t. Keep jewelry relatively small and free of large, faceted stones. Plain gold or silver is great, and a few cabachons are fine since they tend to glow instead of glitter. Simple hosiery, a minimalist clutch, and hair worn down or in an easy up-do. Makeup can go either way, in my opinion: A subdued-glam outfit can work with dramatic makeup, but you can also tone it down and look equally elegant and party-ready.

If you want to go all-out glam …

… skip the layers. I’d still recommend a single sparkly piece per outfit, but your secondary pieces (if there are any) can be more metallic, textural, or eye-catching. With all-over sequins, though, solids will be less overwhelming than patterns when it comes to pairings. Embellished or glittery shoes can work here, as can tamer footwear. Jewelry can be bolder, though a single statement piece should do the trick. With Magnolia’s dress, I’d say go for some elegant chandelier earrings. Layering jewelry OVER a sequined surface can look awfully busy. I’d still opt for simple hosiery, but a glittery or ornate clutch will look fab, and a more elaborate hairstyle will look appropriate. Depending on how showy your clothes and accessories feel when grouped, balance with makeup: Go dramatic if it feels right, or slightly less so if your look already screams “glamour.”

Since I know you’ll ask, hosiery is a tough call. Nudes have come a long way in recent years, and are likely the best bet for outfits in paler colors. I adore Falke hosiery, and this matte nude looks like it will work for several skin tones. If your outfit is mainly black or dark gray, black sheers or opaques can work. If you’re wearing a bright color like red or cobalt, it’s really your call, but I’d err on the side of nude-to-you tights or hose.

Above all, have fun with your look! Holiday parties are parties, after all, and a great excuse to dress up and step outside your comfort zone a bit. Experiment, try new things, and wear what makes you feel festive and happy.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.

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