Saturday, 28 February 2015

It's A Hard Knock Life

I don't know about you, but I seem to have accumulated a few closet orphans over the last couple of years: clothes that I like, but that I can't get to play nice with my other items. Or clothes that I like, but that just don't feel right when I put them on. Jeans seem to have made their way into this category since my mastectomy. I crave a hefty dose of femininity in my outfits these days, and jeans usually feel too boyish for my style. So it is with some surprise that I found myself wearing these jeans three times in the last fortnight!
                                                           Jeans: Country Road
                                                           Shirt: Cue
                                                           Top:Veronika Maine
                                                           Shoes: Wittner
I was trying to work out why they felt right after languishing in my drawer for over a year, and have realised that they struck just the right balance for me. All the occasions I wore them were smart casual evening events. The shiny fabric of the jeans and the pairing of heels and fun tops created just the right level of femininity and polish for me to feel comfortable. I wore different tops on each occasion, but the overall appearance of each outfit was dressy and girly. This outfit was worn to a good friend's 40th birthday party, a fun-filled gathering held at her home.
This top has also been something of an orphan. I suspect that on someone with breasts, this would be a little more cropped and the side vents would sit open a little more. On me, the fabric sat flat and the top seemed to be an awkward length. This week, I hit on the idea of layering a shirt under the top and enjoyed both the hint of extra volume over my torso and the flattering effect of a lighter colour close to my face. I also tried a semi-tuck to attempt to resolve the length issue. I quite enjoy the overall look - a bit of school ma'am crossed with disco diva! And I particularly enjoyed finding a combination that gave two orphans an outfit family.
Do you have wardrobe orphans that you are struggling to place?

It's A Hard Knock Life from the musical "Annie".

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Twisting By The Pool

Last week, Vickie asked how I managed the swimsuit situation. The answer is really "with some difficulty". Swimwear is, by it's nature, fairly revealing and the material doesn't give you much room to hide. Furthermore, I have found that even halter styles, which are great for me in gym wear, are often cut too low on the side to hide my scars. I bought two swimsuits the summer after my mastectomy: a one piece and a bikini. The bikini has had much more wear. It turns out that separates are easier for most types of clothes post-mastectomy!
This is my one-piece. I fell in love with the pattern and figured that the padding in the cups and the ruffles would hide my chest. However, wearing it on a number of occasions has revealed a few problems.
1. The ruffles only hide my chest if they are sitting a particular way. If the water sweeps them aside, all bets are off. So I end up constantly rearranging the top to prevent inadvertent scar exposure. At some level, I think anyone trying to look down my top probably deserves what they get, but I don't feel like being forced to deal with other people's sensitivities because of a wardrobe malfunction. I have read a suggestion that net bath scrubbies can be used to fill out the cups of swimwear and I may give that a try in order to get the back of the cup to sit tightly against my chest wall.
2. I needed to size down in this to get the right fit across the chest. Unfortunately, because I am fairly tall, this has resulted in the body being a bit short for me so I am often pulling the suit up or down.

Here is my bikini. Now, this is more skin than I have exposed since my 20's but this suit is far more practical than the one-piece. The top completely hides my scars. The gathering and a small amount of padding prevents the fabric from clinging and sticking to skin that is a bit bumpy around the scars.  I swim in this very comfortably and don't have to worry about fabric shifting or exposing my chest. The down-side is that it exposes a lot of the rest of my body.

In practice, I tend to wear the bikini in the pool at home or on the beach where everyone else is similarly dressed and I can blend in with the crowd. If I am invited to someone's home where swimming or a spa is planned, I will take the one-piece, especially if there are people there who I don't know well or if there are men present. I have noticed that rash-suits are starting to become more common and that is certainly a practical option both in terms of coverage and sun-protection. I will look into that possibility next summer, but as the warm days draw to an end I will try and get as much wear as I can from the choices I already have. Ultimately, it is about balancing comfort and exposure and doing what feels right for you.

Twisting By The Pool by Dire Straits

Friday, 13 February 2015

Summer Nights

The weather has started to cool here. Not that it is actually cold, but we haven't had a day over 30C for the past two weeks. I am quite sad to see summer drawing to a close, as it is my favourite season and I love to feel the warm air on my skin at the end of a long day in an air-conditioned building. I also love my summer wardrobe and as promised last week, I have had a think about the silhouettes I wore most, in the hope of being able to translate this into winter. This is what I have come up with:
Shorts with a trapeze top
This has been my go-to casual outfit. Wearing shorts is cool and practical for my climate and the trapeze top provides structure and movement. The key has been finding tops with sufficient volume and body in the fabric.

Pencil skirt and loose top
This is my fall-back outfit combination for my work life. I like the femininity and shape that a pencil skirt provides, but I have found it tricky to get the right top

Loose bottoms and a cropped top
Loose bottoms is a fairly broad category, encompassing roomy pants, A-line skirts and culottes. Happily, all of those styles seem to work with my beloved crop tops. The alternative to a cropped top has been a tucked or welted top that exposes the waist.

Shift or trapeze style dresses
I love dresses but they have not had as much wear this summer, with the possible exception of my green dress, which is easy and cool on very hot days. I suspect the gap between how I wish I looked in a dress and the reality is still too great for me to feel completely at peace with wearing them.

My plan for winter is to try layering my crop tops over long sleeved shirts and knits. I would like to find a trapeze-shaped long sleeved top for winter, but whilst I wait for the right one to come along, I will wear jackets over my short sleeved tops. It is really only the early mornings and nights that need a bit of extra warmth at the moment. What are your plans for transitioning your wardrobe into winter?

Summer Nights - Grease soundtrack

Friday, 6 February 2015

Que Sera

One of the posts I always look forward to over at YouLookFab is Angie's take on the trends of the upcoming season. One trend she has noted made me very excited, namely the return of waist definition. I love the femininity of outfits with a defined waist, although as I have mentioned before, I struggle with the competing priority of having volume over my chest.

Today, I thought I would experiment with an obi belt. I bought this through an Etsy vendor, Elizabeth Kelly back in 2012, and much as I loved it, I struggled to style it. Part of the problem was that large breasts do not leave a lot of real estate available between the shoulders and the hips, and so I could never get the proportions right. One of the fashion wins from my mastectomy is that there is now lots of room for a wide belt and it allows me to cinch in roomier tops giving me both volume and definition! It feels good to give an old love a new lease on life.
                                                 Top: Veronika Maine
                                                 Shorts: Country Road
                                                 Shoes: Wittner
This is a casual, day-at-home outfit, but I would also feel happy to wear this to work with a pencil skirt or skinny pants on the bottom. The nice thing about a wide belt is that is is actually very comfortable, especially the obi styles that tie up, rather than buckle. I am planning to spend my February clothing budget on another belt like this in tan, as I think this is a style I will wear more of in the future and I like the idea of repeating my hair colour in my outfit.
Winter fashions have not yet hit Australian stores, but I am looking forward to seeing  the pretty new things when they do. Over summer, I have developed a number of silhouettes that I feel comfortable wearing and confident putting together, which I will share with you next week. I hope to be able to develop some winter silhouettes that I feel equally happy with, as I spent most of last winter feeling dumpy and frumpy! 

Que Sera by Justice Crew