Posts Categorized: shopping

Reader Request: Body-con Clothing for Older Women

tight clothes over 40

Reader Amy had this question:

I’d like to know more about how to find body-con clothing that is flattering and also doesn’t make it seem like I’m trying to look super young.

I’ve been getting lots of age-related questions lately! I love this one because, like another recent question about dark wash jeans and older women, it illustrates just how arbitrary our age-based style rules really are.

So let’s say you’re 26 and really happy with your body. If you wear body-skimming dresses and shorts no one will bat an eye. Or relatively few eyes will be batted anyway. If you’re 56 and really happy with your body, wearing body-skimming dresses and shorts will cause an alarming number of eyes to be batted. And why is that? What’s so appalling about seeing the thighs of a 56-year-old, or the outline of her figure under a slinky dress? Even if she conforms to the current beauty standard and is slim, toned, and hourglass-y some would still argue that she should wear looser dresses with more coverage and Bermudas or capris. And if she doesn’t, well, people love to police bodies and the policing of older bodies is practically a national past-time.

So, ya know, wear what makes you happy, no matter your age. Wear what makes you feel strong and vibrant and alive, no matter what other people may think or say. You’re the decider. Body-con in your 80s if it makes you feel like a million bucks.

Since Amy is asking specifically about doing body con without looking like she wishes she were a college co-ed again, I’ll offer a few tips. But, as always, 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. OK, now that we’re clear …

Watch your fabrics

Thin, drapey materials with any sort of a sheen will read as younger than thicker opaque ones. So a body-con sheath dress in slinky jersey might feel wrong, but the same dress in ponte knit might feel oh-so-right.

Consider your colors

Dark, dusty colors generally look more sophisticated than light, bright ones. If you want to make sure your body-con dress or top looks as chic and classy as possible, pick jewel tones or muted colors over primaries, neons, and even pastels.

Monitor exposure

I kinda hate to include this one since it’s so age-ist in a lot of ways, but if you’re looking for traditional advice here it is: Watch your necklines and hemlines since garments that are both body-con and revealing can read “mutton dressed as lamb.” A form-fitting sheath with a knee-length hem and relatively high, cleavage-covering scoop neckline may feel more appropriate than an above-the-knee frock with a plunge neckline.

Layer

And finally you can make slim-fitting garments look more grown-up by wearing them in layered mixes. A form-fitting top or dress can be just as flattering and fun under a nipped-waist jacket as it is worn alone.

Images courtesy Talbots

**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: 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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This Week I Love …

everlane

Everlane. And there’s a lot to love.

A blogger and fashionista darling for several years running, this brand proves that sustainability needn’t be stodgy. The fact that trendsetters support this brand may seem secondary, but I see it as a huge part of Everlane’s impact: Right now fast fashion is prevalent, trendy, and supported by mainstream media. When a brand that practices production transparency and highlights its carefully run factories ALSO keeps its pricing accessible and gets worn by tastemakers, it can become an essential intro to conscious consumption for those who might not otherwise focus on eco-consciousness.

And the stuff is pretty darned gorgeous, too. Take a peek:

bb915241_b1b5

Luxe Double-knit Sweater Dress – $160

This black dress is lined in ivory and features a high-low hem and ribbed neck. It’s a loose, relaxed fit that’s perfect for leggings or skinnies and 95% Merino wool for wintry coziness. Also comes in grey/ivory. Sizes XS – L.

everlane vneck tee

Cotton V – $15

See that? Maybe five bucks more than you’d pay at Target or Old Navy, and this tee is made and milled in Los Angeles from 100% cotton heather. Comes in this navy as well as true black, muted black, sky blue, heather gray, and white in sizes XXS – L. This is a pretty lightweight knit, but Everlane has fabulous heavyweight long-sleeved tees in two stripes. and a ponte tee in XS- XL.

everlane silk top

Silk Pocket – $65

I loooooove the clean lines of this minimalist silk blouse, and that rich, versatile gray. The fabric is a washed crepe-de-chine that shows a subtle lustre on darker colors, and the blouse would typically retail for $200+. This style also comes in navy, white, red clay, tan, mint, light gray, and blush in sizes XS – L. Everlane does loads of lovely silk blouses – this collared habotai long-sleeve comes in four colors.

everlane dress pant

Slouchy Wide-leg Pant – $88

That’s less than you’d pay for a comparable dress pant at Banana or J.Crew. Although the style seems to be unlined, it’s 95% wool with a hit of spandex so drapes beautifully even without a lining. A higher rise style with a 30” inseam and 2″ blind-stitched hem to allow for easy lengthening. Also comes in navy in sizes 0 -14.

everlane shoes

Modern Loafer – $170

Yep, the company does shoes. A small group of updated classics created in Italy from locally sourced leather, including this ladylike loafer in gray, burgundy, black, olive, navy, or camel. Blair of Atlantic-Pacific is a fan of this style. In U.S. sizes 5 – 11. Also love their take on the Chelsea boot.

everlane tunic

Tunic Sweatshirt – $35

A great price for a cool top in an unusual shape. This tunic is made from French terry and is perfect for anyone living in a mild climate who wants wintry-feeling clothes that aren’t stiflingly warm. Also comes in black, tan, gray marled, navy marled, and light gray marled in sizes XS – L.

everlane cardigan

Chunky Wool Cardigan Coat – $165

This 100% Merino coatigan has a coocon shape and Shaker stitch fabrication. I love it paired with a same-length dress as shown here, but it’d also look sharp with a slouchy tee and skinnies or a tunic, leggings, and boots. Also in black or ivory in sizes XS – L.

Everlane produces relatively small runs of each style so certain items can run out quickly. Sign up for waitlists for new items to make sure you get yours. I hope to see this brand branching out into speciality sizes eventually since their current sizing stops at size large and runs small, but if you can fit the clothes it’s a pretty solid choice for sustainability and style alike.

(P.S. A few of my favorite eco-conscious lines that include plus sizes are locally made Hackwith Design, Canadian line Diane Kennedy, and Synergy Organic.)

**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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