More Uniform

 By March

I got nuthin’.  This is another crazy week at work, in addition to trying to get my tax retuns filed pronto for Diva’s financial aid/college purposes.  So let’s continue the conversation about a work uniform from last week.

I had so much fun reading your comments; I went back last weekend and read and commented some more.  Then I dragged myself over to Lord & Taylor on Sunday, they were having a big sale, and I tried on some suits.  Because nobody enjoys a little crow-eating more than me, and a couple of you said, hey, crap suits on women look like crap suits.  It’s not like I’ve spent years looking for the perfect suit, after all.

Suits are a funny thing.  And I figured out exactly what works for me and my body type.  I have:  narrow shoulders, a generous B/C cup (nice, but problematic), and no waist.  I never had a waist, and after four kids, including twins, I have even less of a waist now.   So let the crow-eating commence.  The type of jacket that does not work for me is most of them – a short, abbreviated version of a men’s suit, or one with extra fabric/poufs in the shoulders (calling Alexis Carrington Dexter Colby!)

You know what looks great?  Those long suit jackets.  Hard to describe.  The ones that nip slightly in the waist and flow down long and lean, stopping below my behind rather than above it.  As if I were wearing a coat-dress, only the dress part is lopped off strategically.  With that shape, I get a fitted, incredibly flattering silhouette.

I bought two in that style – one a regular summer suit, and one … I had to have it, even though it’s heavy enough for winter.  It was too gorgeous to pass up, $320 marked down to $150.  It has a sleeveless shell included, which doesn’t fit (my rack is too big) but the rest of it – man, I felt like a million bucks.

The store was a zoo with the sale, but I talked about the Great Summer Pantyhose Kerfuffle (yes or no?) with the nice SA.  She pointed out that their/my sheath dresses don’t show a ton of leg, just below the knee.  She helped me into one, took a gander at my gams, and said that with the right shoe I could live without hose. I admit it looks more modern.  I’d borrowed a pair of pointy-toed, kitten-heeled, bow-tipped navy patent slingbacks from the shoe dept. to try on with the clothes.  They were too expensive but are supposed to be discounted next weekend.  They were perfect – I wouldn’t have to sweat the pedicure, they made my legs look great, and the heel’s low enough I could wear them all day.  If they have my size next weekend, I’ll buy them to go with the black and grey sheath dresses I have.  They were, as my father would say, cute as a button.

Finally, an amusing SA dust-up re: self-tanner.  There is no self-tanner I can put on my legs that doesn’t make me feel/look like an Oompa-Loompa.  Also, frankly, the main reason my skin looks so great (for my age) is: no sun.  I literally do not tan.  Not one iota.  I gave up that dream in high school. So, having come of age in the era of the blonde, tan icons like Farrah Fawcett, I’m stubbornly unwilling to “fake” a tan on any part of my body.  I’m planning on carrying a sun-umbrella this summer, I don’t care how affected it looks, and I already wear a sun-shirt in the car.  Take that, Snooki.

image: Coolibar sun parasol, UPF 50+.  I could rock that.

  • cathleen56 says:

    I have no idea what I meant up there by “alimentary.” 8-|
    I just meant that a long sweater works over pants, dresses and skirts, but the one I wear most has some body and shape to it. I find that the filmy sweaters can look a little shapeless on me.

    Armani is the master of the jacket in this shape. Creates a waist where there is none, and covers what you want covered.

    And it was me who suggested fishnets on the other thread. They are much cooler than pantihose. My inspiration for them was seeing them on my friend’s mother, under a nice skirt suit — and she’s near 80.

  • Cathleen56 says:

    I’m like you, in that the most flattering jacket shape is the one that completely covers my butt. This is called fingertip length, I think. For me, with my simian-length arms , I can go a little shorter. The only other jacket that works is at the other extreme — to the natural (high) waist, preferably with a peplum to hide the meno-pot.

    A sweater of the same length, with some body to the fabric, also works, over pants and dresses alimentary.

    Can’t do sheath dresses — too busty. These work only on petite and/or flat chested women, IMO. But I have found some v-necked, lower cut dresses that work well for me under a jacket or structured cardigan.

    How I completely, utterly, and without reservation hate typing on an IPad.

  • ggperfume says:

    March, you’ve reminded me to get a parasol this summer. I wish sunblock had been invented earlier – my Irish skin got much too much exposure to California sun in my youth.

  • Congrats on buying what fits and flatters! Women on the whole should stop paying attention to effeminate guys who hate them dictating what is “fashionable” and what is not. Good taste and common logic are more important.
    Hope the shoes are there in your size next weekend!

    But since when is a B/C cup too big?? :o I’d peg it as pretty normal (nay, desirable, even!)

    As to tanning, I did tan this summer (tsk, tsk, tsk…) through swimming every weekend and on holidays too (not my face though which is covered in Mexoryl winter & summer alike, there I use a light bronzer). But I have stayed tan-free for quite long and can attest my skin is better for it.
    BTW, Spray tan is ever so much easier than regular self-tan, they adjust the colour to suit your undertones and you can do a light, medium or Snooki (ha!!), or even do a very light spraying on arms and legs only for summerwear (I do that sometimes in May), whatever your heart desires. ;)

  • Musette says:

    coming from a mix of black, brown, white and yellow ancestry (we’re talking skin colors here and I refuse to try to PC it [-( ) I actually have the worst of all worlds. I tan very easily but because I am light olive I wrinkle, burn and have limited protection against sun damage. :-< So I try to be as careful as I can, wearing a sun hat while gardening and SPF on all but the darkest days. My go-to sun protection is Anthelios XL. Last I checked Mexoryl XL is still the least-degradable SPF. Of course, that was last week - who knows what's up now. Stuff will probably make my ears fall off! /:) xo >-)

  • Disteza says:

    Maybe I’m old-school, but I prefer pantyhose, well, OK, thigh-highs to bare legs. I know that sounds odd coming from someone in the 25-34 demographic, but they make shoes a million times more comfortable, and they keep your legs warm.

    Also with you on the hatred of the fake tan, and the real tan too. I didn’t spend hours hiding from the sun to waste money on crap that makes me look like I care about the fact that I’m not browned to a crisp. Embrace the pallor! For many centuries, across many cultures, paleness was considered a desirable trait: it’s like our ancestors knew something about sun exposure and its evils that modern people have decided to ignore at their own peril. Same goes for the wearing of clothes/gloves/generally being modest in your dress: it bedevils all sorts of things from having at our relativly unprotected bodies.

    • 50_Roses says:

      I’m with you on the need for pantyhose with a dress or skirt. Even though I live in the Houston area, where the summers are brutally hot and humid, I find it hard to even think of going without a layer of something in between my feet and the shoes. I can only do it with sandals; otherwise it seems I just get blisters.

      I too have pale skin and do not tan, but burn. I only got a tan once, when I was 16. Since then, I have decided to enjoy my pale complexion. As a result of that, as well as having never smoked, I have very young looking skin. At 47, I have even been carded going into a casino. My husband, who is one year older, was NOT carded, so it wasn’t that they were checking everybody.

  • Musette says:

    What about loose, palazzo-style pants (with a jacket for structure) in the summer? Not ‘harem’ loose, of course, but a light linen/cotton/silk weave. I have a couple of those that I made my ‘uniform’ in the summer. Paired with a light, structured jacket (unlined – nothing worse than a lining in high humidity) they were the essence of comfortable chic – and actually pretty conservative.

    xo >-)

    • March says:

      I emailed you already but I think this is a GREAT idea. I love those pants and can have some made. I can wear them in the heat and take the jacket off when I go outside. 😡

  • Barbara says:

    Like Joanna I am living vicariously through you as my work uniform is scrubs and NO perfume to work (OK, sometimes a verrrryyy light spritz!) My department is going from wearing almost any color scrubs to a set one, and the people I work with overwhelmingly want gray! Great for this Casper white woman! I spent my high school years laying out covered in baby oil and now just stay out of the sun and have come to terms with being very pale.

  • Olfacta says:

    I spent practically my whole life, up to mid-40’s anyway, tanning. I didlive in Southern California, after all, where being untanned made you look and feel like an alien. I mean greased up with Ban de Soleil, at the beach every weekend, etc. Luckily I have good thick skin and, from the 80’s onward, used sunsceens. Now, I may get into the sun a few times in a summer, because of the new requirements — hat (hair color/wrinkles) 30+ sunscreen properly applied — and the fact that there’s no beach here. I still have trouble looking at my legs (one must wear shorts in the summer here). They look like cheese. I miss the brown legs of those days. I know they’re healthier and all but I stlll miss them.

  • Sherri M says:

    Good luck on Diva’s paperwork. That FAFSA is a pain-in-the-butt; too bad they and the IRS don’t communicate and save us a ton of headaches!

    The suits sound great! I ‘m still stuck on the pantyhose conundrum myself and most often opt for black pants (you need some of those too :-) ), for warmth as well as appearance. Nashville is not exactly the capital of chic, mind you. In the summer I run around in Lilly’s (and Milly-Tibi-Tory) dresses and skirts, white legs and all. I used to do tanning but since I’ve had rosacea, I avoid the sun. I grew up with a gorgeous olive skinned mother and have always hated being so white, but as Joanna says have gradually accepted myself (pretty much–I still think my upper arms look better tanned–maybe tanned and I ironically get more compliments on my skin (which is not one of my better features) because it is so pale and stands out. So bring out the parasol, and be proud to be pale and “ethereal”

    Hope you get those shoes too; they sound perfect! Lots of love & good wishes & hope it is all going well

  • Louise says:

    That must be a great sale-I am a fan of Lord and Taylor, think it’s a quiet winner for well-priced, nicely made classics. They have a good range of clothes for petite women, as well.

    Glad you found those suits. I love a good suit-though I don’t wear mine often, I always feel so put-together when I do. I have a 4-piece “suit” from Cache from about 5 years ago-sheath dress, pants, high waist skirt, wonderful militaryish jacket. And it all works. Of course, those suit jackets are great to mix with other random pieces-often dressy jeans for me.

    And, go pale! I am slightly darker than you, and warmer toned, and never go without high spf. My skin thanks me, and if I want a little color, well, bronzer is made for that. Bobbi Brown has a nice range of tones and finishes.

  • Ronny says:

    Good wishes to Diva on the college stuff. I feel like I need to start putting aside money now (my son is 10 — yes, I know there are people out there who have been saving since the child popped out).

    Your shopping truly is vicarious pleasure. In fact, after reading this post I went off and bought three dresses (online, not in store, from a site here called Kaliko — great jersey stuff).

    Legs. I recall someone commented on your last clothing post about small-sized fishnets (the net is tiny). These are great — chic, cool, not tarty at all.

    I hope you get those shoes! They sound wonderful.

  • nozknoz says:

    March, I, too, bought one of those parasols last fall for my walks to the metro. I’m hoping I’ll be able to ditch the hat and wear a lighter (less hot and sticky) sunscreen this summer – we’ll see that it goes!

    Went to Mazza Galerie last weekend, and my nose led me into Kron Chocolatier. They have whole fresh orange segments enrobed in dark chocolate. What could be healthier? ;-)

    Congrats on your suits – that shape sounds wonderful. I really think it is perfectly OK to avoid pantyhose during the DC summer.

  • Ann says:

    Hi sweet March, so glad that you found several suits that work for you. You may not have to wear them a ton, but they’re there when you need them and you know you’ll look great.
    I think it’s a lot like red lipstick and anything else, if you can find just the right style/shade that suits you, you can wear just about anything. (And I am keeping my fingers crossed on the shoes for you!)
    I feel a bit like Joanna above, as I’m living vicariously through your wardrobe/uniform journey — I live in cotton shirts (mostly paisley, toile or other classic prints) over coordinating solid tees or tanks, nice trouser-cut jeans and Brooks running shoes. Not sexy, but comfortable and it fits my life perfectly …

  • Joanna says:

    I wear Carhartts and steel toed boots with a spritz or two of Chanel…nothing fabulous happening with my work uniform. I’m living vicariously through you.
    I just wanted to comment about the sunless tanner thing. Most sunless tanners are full are carcinogenic ingredients. It’s actually not much if any healthier to use most sunless tanners than it is to actually sit in the sun. I don’t tan either, I have very pale skin. I’ve spent my whole life having people make comments like, “You really need a tan.” Rude. And I spent many years buying into the idea that tan is beautiful and pale is not. I think it was around the same time that the movie Moulin Rouge came out Rolling Stone magazine did a pictoral of Nicole Kidman. She was pale and luminescent and beautiful. It changed the way I felt about my own complexion. Healthy skin is beautiful.

    • Musette says:

      I am totally with you, sweetie. In fleece right now. I wear dresses in the summer but only when I am in the office. You can imagine a cute little skirt or dress in the field! ;))

      Not being of the pale tribe myself, nevertheless, I applaud celebs like Nicole K and Cate B for flaunting their porcelain beauty. I cannot imagine Cate Blanchett with a tan, can you?

      xo >-)

    • ggperfume says:

      I hear you on the rude comments re pale skin. I’m so glad that one now sees a few “porcelain beauties” among the best-known actresses and fashion models.