Friday, January 11, 2008

In Which I Request Fashion Advice from My Vast Readership

I am a regular offender in the eyes of the fashion police. I did not grow up in a family where personal appearance was highly valued. Intelligence and good behavior were paramount; personal appearance was insignificant. Consequently, I did not consider matching my socks with my outfit until I was well into high school, and did not learn how to apply makeup until the ripe old age of 27.

While I still think that my actions are more important than my appearance, I see that a nice appearance has its uses. It makes it easier for people to look at you long enough to consider your actions, for one. Secondly, it can help people to take you more seriously. This is why I tend to dress a little bit nicer than most of my (male) colleagues. I've noticed that the men I work with tend to wear jeans and t-shirts, while the women tend to dress in more business casual attire.

I got some money from Dad and Marvis for Christmas, to be spent on clothing. My question for you, my vast audience, is what to do with this money. I plan to buy some nice clothes for work, and I'd like to know what you all would recommend.

Let me tell you about my shape and my tastes. First, I am very tall, particularly from the waist up. So I think I will need to buy tall sizes in tops, but I can probably get away with normal sized pants. A colleague of mine, who has the opposite problem, told me that Eddie Bauer and The Gap carry tall sizes. Are there any other places I might try?

Second, I have only twenty more pounds to lose before I reach my pre-pregnancy weight. That weight is mostly lingering around my waistline. Do you have any suggestions for cuts or styles that might camouflage that bulge, or at least not draw attention to it?

Finally, I would prefer to invest in clothes that I will be able to wear for several years. I'd rather not buy the kinds of things where you look back at pictures of yourself from that era and think, "What was I thinking?" Also, I am supremely lazy, so anything involving dry cleaning or hand washing is right out. I don't mind hanging things to dry, and in fact I do that with most of the clothes I currently have. Mostly I wear solid colors: black pants, with tops in red, periwinkle, blue, green, yellow, etc. Does anyone have any ideas of things I should look for?

Oh, also: shoes. I am tall so I really don't need heels. (They're uncomfortable anyhow.) Does anyone have any suggestions for shoes with low heels and where I might buy them? I'm willing to pay for something nice, especially if they're both cute and comfortable.


Twice said...

I'm at a loss on the clothes front, being particularly short! However, I do have a shoes suggestion.

(Even though I am short, I do not wear heels - for the discomfort reason. Also, I am short enough it makes no difference ;-).)

Anyway, shoes: Skechers Mary Jane/Bikers - many of these have sneaker-like bottoms but are super cute and comfortable. If you search for "skechers bikers" you can find some styles. I usually buy from or zappos because I have a hard to find size.

Here's one:

(I'm breaking the URLs into two lines each because so it all shows up - you my have to cut and paste)

Here's another type:

EcoGeoFemme said...

I really love my Dansko Professionals. I too am very short (5'1") so I dont' bother with heels (although the Dansko's add a little). In fact, I feel that my shortness is so obvious that I like to play it up by wearing really flat shoes.

J Crew has stylish but classic stuff that seems to run tall. A little expensive for me (and always too long). Ann Taylor might have good stuff too. Since no woman in my family is over 5'3", finding clothes for tall people is a totally new idea!

good luck and have fun shopping!

Jane said...

I second twice's recommendation about the Skechers. I've even worn them with skirts (and I pretty much wore them every day during my pregnancy!). I've also had good luck with Aerosoles shoes, although I'm not sure how much they do in flats. (I'm a heels girl myself.)

Regarding clothes,
* a good pants suit is a great investment. You can always split up the pieces (pants w/ sweater, jacket with jeans) and get a lot of outfits from it.
* Eddie Bauer has a lot of nice business casual stuff, and a lot of it is machine wash/dryer dry/ no iron.
* I watch "What Not to Wear" religiously (I highly recommend it---I've learned a *lot* about how to dress and how to shop from it!), and they usually recommend "highlighting the smallest part of your waist" when dressing. So if you have a bit of a tummy, you'd probably go with empire-waisted stuff, because your smallest part is most likely just under your chest.

Good luck!

euroyankee said...

For shoes I suggest Campers It's a spanish company which does the cute/professional/comfortable very well.

For clothes, i have really switched my mentality away from "cheap" in recent years to buy things that i can wear for a long time and that are good quality. if you pay what seems like an outrageous $70 for a high-quality cotton shirt, but wear it all the time, and it doesn't stink at the end of the day and is easy to care for, in the end, it's a good purchase. coming from a family of cheapskates, it's been hard to change the cheaper is better mentality. And i still refuse to pay top dollar just to have a name brand. But there's a lot to be said for spending money for quality clothes that you like and that looks good. Have fun shopping!

Jenny F. Scientist said...

I personally favor Zappo's: you can order as many pairs as you want, and return all the ones you don't like. (Also I hate shopping, and have wide feet.)

You might consider getting a few tops with patterns on- I favor stripes- because all-solid wardrobes tend to get boring (I should know, mine's all solids) and besides it'll go with all your solid-color bottoms.

If you like scarves I find them a nice way to add variety to one's solid-color clothes. I usually buy 1/4 to 1/2 yard of some print fabric, usually silk or polyester, and use the rolled edge foot on it. Or sometimes Goodwill is an excellent source.

Lands' End has some business-type shirts in tall, and also turtlenecks. Banana Republic has a fairly good selection too.

Hope you have fun shopping!

P.S. Outlet malls? Annoying, but more clothing per net cost.