Thursday, 25 December 2014

White Wine In The Sun

One of my enduring memories of childhood Christmases is the excitement of new clothes. Christmas always saw a pretty new dress added to my wardrobe, usually received on Christmas Eve, in advance of the rest of my presents, in order to have something special to wear to church. I have continued that tradition into adulthood, and usually buy a new dress for Christmas. This year, I took a different approach and bought a skirt and top in matching fabric - a two piece dress. This gives me the appearance of a dress whilst managing avoid the dress dilemma I wrote about last week. It also gives me the option of mixing and matching the top and skirt with other items in my wardrobe.
                                                     Top and skirt: ScanlonTheodore
                                                     Shoes: Wittner
The top has a trapeze shape and the hem is stiffened, which means it sits away from my body and maintains it's structure. The skirt is similar, and whilst it is possibly a little shorter than I would usually choose, I think the volume, structure and high-low hem effect give me a little lee-way. The fabric is a lace material and feels very pretty and feminine. I am quite smitten.

I wore this on Christmas day, which I shared with my husband, my two sons, their girlfriends, my brother-in-law and his partner. We had a lovely lunch with lots of laughter and Bob Dylan murdering Christmas carols in the background (another family tradition). After lunch we took advantage of the heat and went for a swim. It was one of the nicest Christmas days I have had and I feel so lucky to be here and be surrounded by my wonderful family.

I hope you all got to spend Christmas with the people who love you most. xx

White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Dress You Up

I am a big fan of dresses. I love the femininity and elegance of wearing a dress and it is hard to beat the ease of a dress and heels for a special occasion. Unfortunately, I have found it hard to find dresses I feel good in. The majority of them are definitely made for curves. I thought I would show you a new dress that I do feel  good in, and which I think works well with a straight body. This was my birthday present from my husband. The fabric is lovely and the simplicity of the style really appeals to me.
This is another example of clothing that does not disguise my chest. I like the smoothness and drape of the fabric and the contrast between the volume at the back and the straightness at the front. I wore this to a work Christmas party and felt quite stylish. I have also experimented a little with accessories and layers for the days when I am feeling a little less brave about my body shape.

I have showed you this crop top once before, and I usually wear it with skirts, but I am happy with how it looks over this dress also. Having it as an option provides me with a bit of extra choice and versatility in how I present myself. Sometimes, I don't want the flatness of my chest to be so obvious and a crop rescues me from that concern.
Do you like dresses? And if so, are there styles that especially appeal to you?

Dress You Up by Madonna

Saturday, 13 December 2014


Summer has well and truly arrived in Brisbane, so I have had a chance to wear almost all my summer clothes. One exercise I have found especially interesting and enlightening has been tracking what I wear and seeing how much of what I bought last summer was on the right track. I am not so interested in skirts and pants, as they are easy to fit. What I particularly wanted to discover were the heroes amongst my tops. A sad consequence of the heat of summer is more frequent washing, and some of my favourites are starting to show a little wear. My plan was to determine exactly what styles I should be looking for when I eventually replace them. I have used jeans as the bottom in all the photos so as to provide a level playing-field for the battle of the tops!

Cocoon styles: These have been the big surprise for me. I bought one on a whim, and have found the style to be a workhorse.  They go with a wide variety of bottoms, have both enough detail and enough simplicity to satisfy my aesthetic preferences and create a flattering, long body line that makes a virtue of being breastless. Verdict: A permanent place in my wardrobe

Crops: I have spoken before about my love of the crop. I have a number, in different lengths. Whilst I enjoy my short crops for layering, they are not as versatile the ones that fall more into the short tops category. My favourite from last year is long enough to be worn without exposing midriff and has got a lot of love from me again this year. Verdict: The love affair continues

Trapeze shapes: This was the style I thought would work best when I was re-stocking my wardrobe after my surgery and I bought 3 in different patterns, but to be honest they haven't had as much wear this year. Partly this is because they are all patterned, and I am feeling much happier in plains and neutrals currently. However, I think there are also fabric and fit issues. One top is a bit static-y and clings, which negates the trapeze effect. And the other just feels the wrong length and I struggle with getting the proportions right. Verdict: Replace carefully and only when tried on with bottoms I already own.

Pleated straight styles: I have two of these, and so far have only worn them to layer under my crops. I feel like they are the least interesting and least flattering of my tops. Verdict: Not to be replaced.

Of course, I have a few tops that fit into none of the above categories, but it has been helpful to me to look at my current usage and see both how my style has evolved and how I might prioritise replacement of items as they wear out. What are your wardrobe heroes?

Hero by Enrique Inglesias

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Straight Lines

Oh, internet, I love you so! Never leave me again! It is nice to be connected and back to normal once more. I was trying to decide what to show you this week, and realised that there were a few tops that I have had for several months that have not made it onto my blog yet. This one is a particular favourite of my husbands, much to my suprise, as it does not give the illusion of shape or curves at all. He tells me that he thinks it is very elegant, so I am happy to run with that.
                              Top: Cue                                                      Shorts:Country Road
                              Skirt:Carla Zampatti                                    Sandals:Wittner
This is how I have worn it over the last fortnight, both for work and casually.I especially like it with a pencil skirt, as I think it plays into the 1920's feel that works so nicely for a flat chest. I have also worn it with the pink culottes I showed you a few weeks ago.
 I have mentioned before how much I like tops with a bit of interest and detail. In this case, the detail is at the back, with a cocoon style drape. It is quite similar to my black cocoon top, but I think the thicker fabric and stricter styling makes it a bit dressier. This is certainly a situation of dressing to accentuate rather than disguise body shape, but straight lines do have a certain restraint and simplicity that are appealing in their own right. You have probably realised by now that I am neither restained nor elegant, but I love that fashion allows me to pretend that I am!

What fashion persona do you choose to project?

Straight Lines by Silverchair

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Stormy Weather

We are without broadband at the moment, following the big storm we had here. I am grateful our house was undamaged, but I do miss my high-speed internet. Telstra have told us they will be out on Thursday to see what needs to be done, so I hope to have a proper post for you next weekend.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

I'll Change Your Mind

One of the joys and the challenges of being married is compromise. Joyful, because it gives me the opportunity to understand and accommodate another person's viewpoint and to soften some of my own sharp edges and certainties. Challenging because there is sometimes a fine line between allowing another person to influence me and sacrificing something that is central to my sense of self. Happily, one area that has been easy to compromise in has been that of clothing. I have moved to wearing neutrals over the last 12 months, but when I asked my husband what outfits he preferred, it became clear that he likes me to wear bright colours and patterns.
I mostly dress to please myself, but I do particularly enjoy it if my husband like what I am wearing.

                                                           Dress:Veronika Maine
                                                           Shoes: Wittner
This is the dress I chose this summer in an attempt to please both of us. The fabric is very soft and cool and feels lovely in the heat we have experienced recently. I also enjoy the fullness of the skirt as it feels quite feminine. The high neck works well and the loose style is one that I think is particularly suited to a flat chest. As for the colour, I have come to quite enjoy the bright and cheerful effect of the vivid colours. Putting it on feels like a little holiday after a long stretch of wearing neutrals. This has been one compromise that has been joyful and it is possible that my husband may even have changed my mind!

Do you have any styles that you have changed your mind about?

I'll Change Your Mind by Kate Miller-Heidke ( Warning!Video is not for the squeamish!)

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Blurred Lines

I had to see my oncologist this week for my routine check-up. I always experience a bit of a dilemma about what to wear to these appointments and I was trying to work out why this might be so.  It is a fairly anxiety-provoking experience for me, and I think I may displace some of those feelings onto my wardrobe. However, I also realised I actually have quite high expectations of my clothes in this situation.

I want to look neat and professional, so that rules out anything too casual or revealing. I want to be comfortable. I also want to choose clothes that don't make me look too obviously flat-chested. I hate the idea of people in the waiting room being able to see immediately why I am there. I'm also aware that at some point during the consultation, I am going to be taking my clothes off and that further narrows down what I can wear. Dresses are impractical, given that I only have to expose my torso, so I need to choose separates. Outfits with multiple fastenings or difficult-to-reach zips or lots of layers are out. Add in wanting to be able to walk up a couple of flights of stairs in the hospital car park and having to plan for the temperature uncertainties of air-conditioning in waiting rooms and I end up needing to consider outfit practicalities far more than usual.
                                                               Culottes:Veronika Maine
                                                               Sandals:Joanne Mercer
This is what I went with. The top is my favourite from last year.  It sits away from my body and hides the shape of my chest in a way I feel comfortable with. The coated fabric insulates against cold air, but the back is floaty and soft. The culottes are new and now that my moratorium on pink has expired, I am enjoying wearing them. All the swishy fun of a skirt, but with the practicality and warmth of pants. And a low heel. Easy to wear, easy to put on and take off and suitable for walking around the hospital. This time, blurring the lines between practical and pretty came out well.

Do you have situations where you have competing priorities in what you want from your clothes? How do you resolve them?

Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Holy Grail

Christmas is drawing ever closer, and I am starting to receive invitations to the parties and get-togethers that always happen at this time of year. I agonised a bit over what to wear to some of the more dressy parties. Before my mastectomy, it was easy to find a suitably glamorous dress to squeeze myself into but dresses have become a bit tricky now. Party dresses in particular seem to be designed to emphasise curves and cleavage and I have discovered that finding dresses that look good is a much greater challenge than finding separates.

This is the party dress I settled on for this year. My husband calls it "The Princess Dress" and I have to say that I feel like a princess when I put it on. After many disappointments trying on dresses, there is something quite magical about wearing a dress that I feel beautiful in.

Dress: Carla Zampatti
Clutch:Mimco (birthday present!)
I have had a few realisations in my search though and you may find some of my discoveries helpful:

*Part of the glamour of party dresses for me is they are a bit sexy. They show skin. Or are body con enough to reveal a shape. So I chose a dress that showed my shoulders and arms. But really, you could apply those ideas in any way - a cinched waist, an open back, a column skirt, anything that makes you feel good about your body.

*The styles I have found most friendly to a flat chest have been trapeze styles (which have the added advantage of disguising a tummy) and shift styles. Shifts are especially good if you are fairly straight and slim as they fall straight from the shoulder and give a really lovely 1920's vibe which is very simple and elegant. The key is to pick a beautiful fabric that drapes well and moves with your body as you move. I also think  a grecian-style dress that falls from gathers around the neckline and shoulders would work well, although I haven't come across that in a dressy fabric in my searches to date.

*This is the time for heels! if you only wear them once a year, a Christmas party is the time to break them out.

I hope you all have a blast as the festive season fills up your calendars.

Do you have an outfit Holy Grail that you have been searching for?

Holy Grail by Hunters and Collectors

Sunday, 2 November 2014


I didn't have an outfit to show you last week. I had minor surgery and spent the week recovering, so you would have been treated to the uninspiring vision of me in my pyjamas! However, this week I am back and feeling good. My two boys took me out for lunch for my birthday and being a proud mother, I have to show you how gorgeous they are! A good time was had by all.

This week, I wanted to show you a work-around I came up with that I felt pretty pleased with. One of the trends I have noticed in all the shops this season has been jumpsuits and playsuits. I quite like the look but unfortunately, as with dresses, there are a fairly limited number of styles that will work with a flat chest. And because playsuits are still a fairly new trend, there wasn't a huge selection and none worked for me. However, it occurred to me that I could approximate the look by choosing shorts and a top in the same colour fabric. That way, I can choose whatever top style I wanted.

Shorts:Country Road
These were my favourite shorts last summer and the love affair continues as the weather heats up here. The overall effect of the outfit is quite blocky and straight, but I actually don't mind that in this case. I think it plays into the loose, carefree, child-like vibe of a playsuit and it is definitely comfortable and cool.

I don't wear all black very often, because it doesn't really suit my skin. However, with a fairly young style of outfit like this, the black adds a bit more sophistication than I could have achieved with a lighter colour or a print. I have tried to compensate with bright earrings and lipstick. The top is new this Spring.  I think the double layer and the pleats over the chest are quite flattering, and I love the coloured lining. I feel a bit like I've stepped out of a Dracula movie. Anyway, I was happy with how this turned out and I have decided this outfit will be my playsuit substitute.
Do you use substitutes for styles that don't work for you?

Friday, 17 October 2014

One Perfect Day

Today is my birthday. I don't know what 47 is supposed to feel like, but I definitely feel younger than how I thought it would feel, if that makes sense. I still feel strong and vital and engaged with my life. And perhaps more importantly, I feel more like me than at any other time before. I'm not sure if it is the process of ageing, or the effect of having a life threatening disease but I feel confident in who I am, I trust the choices I make and I love my body despite the scars.

I had a look at a few of my blog entries from this time last year and realised that I feel so much happier and more confident with my clothes choices now, too. When my surgery was fresh and I first had a new body to dress, I was so terrified that nothing would look good that I wore anything that worked, without thinking too much about how it fitted into my personal style. Now I have realised firstly that lots of things work and secondly, that the world will not stop turning if I look flat-chested. Those two realisations have allowed to be be much more discerning in my choices and led to me buying clothes that I truly love.
                                                                  Top: Cue
                                                                  Pants:Country Road
I wore this outfit today, and felt great. It contains the neutral tones that I love, simple pants and a top with enough detail and interest to draw attention from my chest. And the heels and lipstick provide the femininity to balance the trousers. There's something magical about wearing an outfit that truly feels like "you".

I have a collection of memories of perfect moments, when I have been aware of feeling completely content and happy. They are mostly simple: sitting in the sun reading, lying in bed with my husband, listening to music at a bar. Today, reflecting on the beautiful life that I have and the wonderful people in it, I collected another one. Do you have memories of a perfect day?

One Perfect Day by Little Heroes (LOVE the 80's clothes!)

Monday, 13 October 2014

True Colours

October is the month of my birth. It is also the month for breast cancer awareness and a time when it seems impossible to escape from the sea of pink that engulfs the internet, the grocery store and pretty much anywhere else you care to look.

I feel quite ambivalent about this. On one hand, I recognise that promoting awareness and raising funds for research are valuable and important. Encouraging women to have their screening done and to investigate any breast changes is something I am happy to get behind. And I do think awareness can make things easier for survivors. Pink can become a convenient shorthand, a way of alerting people to think before they speak. I have a close-fitting lycra gym tank that does not hide my chest at all, and I think that the fact that it happens to be bright pink (very bright pink!) probably inadvertently clues people in on why I look the way I do.

However, I also really dislike the sexualisation of breast cancer. "Save the TaTa's" is not an empowering message for someone who has had to sacrifice their breasts in order to save their life. Neither is a "No Bra" day. Somehow the emphasis has become all about breasts and the cancer bit has been forgotten. Someone on the Facebook group Flat and Fabulous wryly observed that judging from all the media pictures that are shared, it would be reasonable to conclude that the top risk factors for breast cancer are being young and beautiful. I suppose the core of my unease is that slackivism and pinkwashing undermine the reality that, for many women breast cancer is about loss and disfigurement and pain and death. And how they choose to negotiate that reality shouldn't be dictated by the need of our society for them to be sexy. Or positive. Or strong. Or feminine. Or any of the other adjectives that seem to be compulsory for women struggling with this disease and it's aftermath.

So this month, I will donate to an organisation that supports breast cancer research and hope that women in the future have a better chance of surviving metastatic disease than we have now. And I will be wearing black. It seems to me to be a far more appropriate colour for this experience than pink.

True Colours by Cindy Lauper

Monday, 6 October 2014

Your Friends Will Tell You Who You Are

I have a group of friends from University who have remained in touch for the past decade and a half. Every year, we have a weekend away together, with a prize, "The Cumquat Cup", being awarded for the most entertaining or outrageous behaviour. Last year we did not manage to get together; the combination of young families and new babies, stressful new jobs and health issues conspired against us. However this year we are making up for lost time with a weekend in Canberra for the Floriade festival, so I thought I would show you my weekend-away.

One of the themes often discussed on the forum at YouLookFab is the problem of buying clothes for your fantasy life - the life you wish you led but actually don't. The good news for me is that this whole weekend is the fantasy life I have in mind when I choose clothes -sitting around talking and drinking wine, frequenting cafes and restaurants and maybe even catching some live music.

Floriade. I wanted something comfortable with plenty of eating room. Leggings and jumper are optional, depending on the weather. Comfy shoes are a must.

So my final tally: 1 pair of jeans, 1 skirt, 1 dress, 2 tops, 2 jumpers, 2 pair of shoes and a coat.

One of the wonderful things about this weekend will be the freedom to present myself without reference to anyone's expectations. My friends love and accept me whatever I wear, and in a strange city I am unlikely to meet acquaintances unexpectedly and so have no need to dress for that possibility. I plan to enjoy every minute of my fantasy life.  Do you have a fantasy life you wish you could dress for?

Your Friends Will Tell You Who You Are by Kate Miller-Heidke

Sunday, 28 September 2014

In These Shoes?

One of the ideas that has captured my imagination over the last 12 months has been that of the capsule wardrobe. I really like the idea of having collections of items that work together, are appropriate for the activities of my life and express my style in a cohesive way. I have enjoyed reading the blog Unfancy, as I think Caroline has great style, and manages to achieve all those things with a carefully chosen seasonal wardrobe. Seeing her outfits has allowed me to realise that my heart belongs to neutrals, and I resolved to attempt to organise my own wardrobe along the lines she suggests. I find casual dressing quite difficult, and I hoped the Unfancy inspiration would help me put together some stylish weekend outfits.
Shirt:Anne Fontaine
Pants:Country Road
This was my first attempt. I liked the colours. I liked the silhouette. It felt easy to wear. Yet somehow it just didn't feel right. So I tried switching out the shirt for a pleated tank.
                                                              Tank: Country Road

I felt so much better wearing this, and it suddenly occurred to me that the first look was quite androgynous. Trousers and button-downs are not very feminine and it seems that I need a big dose of feminine in my outfits for them to feel like they belong to me. But what about my button-downs? One of advantages of having a flat chest is that for the first time in my adult life, I can actually wear button-downs without them gaping and looking blowsy. I really didn't want to abandon them!
Skirt: Veronika Maine
Luckily, I found that one or two feminine aspects to an outfit are enough to make me feel happy in my clothes. At last, the origin of my love of high heels becomes apparent! What parts of your style are central in making your outfits feel like "you"?

In These Shoes? by Kirsty MacColl