Depression-Camo Clothing
December 8, 2015 4:49 PM   Subscribe

I am going through a pretty severe depressive episode right now, and when I am able to get dressed, everything feels uncomfortable. I'm trying to leave the house more often, which means looking presentable, so I'm asking for suggestions for the most comfortable (women's) clothing you've experienced. Some picky details within.

I'm 45, 5'9, and 180 pounds (yes I know I need to lose the weight, but I'm working my way up to wearing pants every day first). I have a very long torso, which makes finding jeans difficult. I am allergic to any sort of wool/acrylic, and I can't stand anything resembling a cowl or turtleneck. Right now, almost everything I wear besides pjs just makes me feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable. Everything just seems to fit wrong, even though I haven't gained or lost weight since I happily bought my outfits.

I do not have to work over the next month, so I don't need to worry about professional garb, but I am trying to drag myself out of the house on a regular basis and would like clothing that both feels wonderful and makes me look and feel like a functional adult. It's been a long time since I've found cozy clothing, and I'm not sure where to start. Is there any item of clothing that just makes you feel better when you put it on? Sort of like sartorial xanax?

My style/price range tends to fall around Eddie Bauer/J. Jill, but I'm not finding what I need there. Thanks for any advice you might have.
posted by bibliowench to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (57 answers total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
You may want to look through some of the suggestions in this earlier post. The goal was slightly different, but the brands people are posting have some things that are pretty much pajama camo.
posted by brainmouse at 4:51 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

is a scarf too much like a cowl or turtleneck? A silk or cotton scarf, inventively tied, dresses up basic outfits to read "functional adult."
posted by sweetkid at 4:53 PM on December 8, 2015

This isn't really a full outfit suggestion, but I have some knee high cashmere socks that are the loveliest comfiest things and feel like being wrapped in a blankie. Wrapping yourself in soft, pleasant textures seems like it might help. Cozy sweaters and blanket scarves are seasonally appropriate, too!
posted by chatongriffes at 4:56 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you tried jogger pants (like this)? They're basically tapered sweatpants but I see women wearing them to run errands/ around town. I have a pair in terry cloth that are very cozy and forgiving.
posted by thewestinggame at 4:58 PM on December 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

This is why yoga pants were invented (bet you thought they were for yoga). My uniform is black yoga pants/leggings, a charcoal a-line sweatshirt type thing that covers the butt (no band around the bottom!) with a t-shirt or something underneath, a beautiful shawl/scarf and vans.

Then I wear a knit hat and little round sunglasses and pretend I'm invisible.
posted by WesterbergHigh at 4:59 PM on December 8, 2015 [35 favorites]

I wear jersey dresses when I feel this way. Soft, stretchy, comfy, don't make me feel like I'm being cut in half.
posted by stoneandstar at 5:03 PM on December 8, 2015 [11 favorites]

Target and Kohls seem to have a lot of this type of clothing. It may be worth swinging through one or both.
posted by jaguar at 5:05 PM on December 8, 2015

I'm about your height and weight, and also undergoing a bad spell. My go-to outfit is running tights or yoga pants and a sweater dress. I'm fully covered, I look fine, and the combination makes me feel really safe, for some reason. My favorite dress has extra long sleeves and thumbholes. And a hood.

For this combo, I shop at Athleta. All of these dresses are pretty similar to what I have, and these tights are about the same.
posted by punchtothehead at 5:07 PM on December 8, 2015 [19 favorites]

All-cotton zipper hoodie. Where I live this is a sort of city uniform, so it helpfully blends in and raises no eyebrows.

As someone else advised, sunglasses. They do a better job of this for me (freedom from meeting gazes) than any garment. I wish I'd discovered this personal trick years sooner than I did.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:07 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

How about an open wrap, like a poncho? I was really having a hard time a month ago and I wrapped myself in a warm cozy camel colored poncho like this and I felt safe and brave. And I get million compliments any time I wear it and it obscures any awkward lines I was worried about on outfits that didn't feel right.

Hope you're feeling great soon!
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 5:08 PM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

I adore Marine Layer!

Their stuff is sooo soft and comfy, especially the t-shirts and sweatshirts! Just don't put the t shirts in the dryer.
posted by bookworm4125 at 5:09 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Lane Bryant has some pants that I now forget what the name was, I've had them for about six months, so you'd have to check, but they have stretchy waistbands and no buttons or whatever. They look like black dressy trousers; they feel like pajama pants. I've also gotten some very comfortable ones, although with real waistbands, from Dress Barn. That plus a tunic-style shirt and you look properly dressed and presentable but you could totally sleep in them. (I have a few times when crashing somewhat unexpectedly after work, and unlike with jeans, I never regret it.) CJ Banks also does stretchy-waist pants which are much more comfortable than they look. Dress Barn's dbSunday stuff is incredibly comfy, in particular; I love their cardigans. Layering often makes me feel more presentable, somehow.
posted by Sequence at 5:12 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really like Loft's Lou & Grey line for clothes that are comfy but still presentable (I wore an L&G skirt to work today). The quality is generally pretty good and there are markdowns just about all the time.

Lululemon has a fabric called "rulu" that is just about my favorite fabric ever: it's a thin jersey fabric but it's luxuriously soft and cozy. That shit's expensive, though. I've occasionally found similar fabric in other random brands at Marshall's/TJ Maxx, so if you feel up to shopping just stick your hand in the activewear racks until you find something that feels good.

I have a blanket scarf or blanket shawl or whatever the hell they're calling this year's iteration of ponchos; they're trendy so I tell myself it's okay, but really I'm wearing the barely-sartorially-acceptable equivalent of a Slanket and I give no fucks. They are also good if you want to hide or pretend you are a wizard or take spontaneous naps.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:17 PM on December 8, 2015 [6 favorites]

I am 50 and about 5'8" and have a long torso.

I like shopping the men's department for leisure wear slacks or sweats. Men's pants tend to have better pockets than women's pants.

I like mostly cotton items that are stretchy, like cotton knits or items with 5% Lycra.

Years ago, I read research that indicated that wearing blue with yellow gets you read as "happy." So maybe a lot of blue clothes with a bit of yellow to accent it.

I like cotton knit dresses, similar to what was described above.

Cotton. Knits. Stretchy materials. Dark blue to look like an adult. A yellow accent somewhere so folks think you look happy while you wish they would drop dead and leave you alone. Comfy leather flats of some sort.
posted by Michele in California at 5:21 PM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

I just ordered this dress from Kohls with the intention of wearing with leggings and boots. I haven't received it yet so I can't speak to the fabric but I bet it's pretty comfy, and it has some good reviews.
posted by cabingirl at 5:27 PM on December 8, 2015

You'll be beautiful and feel good in Eileen Fisher
posted by littlewater at 5:27 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm 45, 5'9, and 180 pounds (yes I know I need to lose the weight, but I'm working my way up to wearing pants every day first)

OK, I'm your height and quite a bit heavier than you, and you probably look totally fine and don't need to give yourself things to feel bad about.
posted by listen, lady at 5:34 PM on December 8, 2015 [53 favorites]

The Ureshii pocket pant. It's all sized to your measurements and very well done (I have a couple friends who order from them with great success and we vary widely in size). The french terry is a very comfortable and forgiving fabric.

As I type this I realize it probably won't work for your immediate need--because it's made to order, there's a couple weeks between order and receipt--but it's a good resource for the future.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:44 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Long cardigan sweaters are "in" right now (I learned after a recent trip to the mall), so I pair whatever ill-fitting pants and shirt I want to wear with ... it's almost like a poncho or cape it's so big (despite being my size, a size medium). I feel wrapped up and covered and cozy.
posted by salvia at 5:49 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah I have what I call my "work snuggie" - one of those long wraparound sweaters, the 201x version of a sweater duster, made of a super cozy knit fabric. Mine's from Old Navy a century ago but they are all over the place now. That over a t-shirt dress and leggings is basically ideal.

(This past year I acquired a second "work snuggie", basically because I wore the first one so frequently that my coworkers were like, "oh you must be having a rough day" whenever I wore it... now that I have more than one it's easier to pretend it's a fashion choice rather than an exercise in self-preservation.)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 5:52 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

My favorite "feels like sweats but looks like clothes" outfit is Lucy Vital Pants with a tank or T-shirt and a cardigan from Land's End's Starfish collection. Looks like the cardigan isn't currently sold, but everything in the Starfish collection is so comfy, with nice thick material so you don't have to worry about feeling lumpy. This shawl collar top could work.
posted by chickenmagazine at 5:56 PM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

In general, and especially on the cheaper lines, if you choose stretch pants a size or more larger from your usual, they'll be more opaque and less constricting without getting loose around the waist or a great deal too long. Probably everyone else knows this, but it took me a while.

Socks make me happy, tall ones look spiffy with stretchy pants or thermals, especially with boots. I enthusiastically vouch for Sock Dreams.
posted by Lou Stuells at 5:57 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I hear you.

My winter uniform is comfy boots, stretchy slim jeans, a cotton tee or light sweater, and a ruana, which is pretty much just a socially acceptable way to wear a blanket in public.
posted by mochapickle at 6:06 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh - how's the bra situation? Had a professional fitting? If you're a person for whom wearing a bra to go out is non-negotiable, properly sized ones can be life-changing not just for morale but also comfort. It's damn near magic how the best-looking one can also be the most-comfortable one, but there you go.
posted by Lou Stuells at 6:08 PM on December 8, 2015 [6 favorites]

If you aren't so busty that you need bra architecture, front closing cotton sports bras are amazing.
posted by Michele in California at 6:12 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have fallen in love with the Betabrand Dress Pant Yoga Pants, which are exactly as described on the tin: yoga pants styled to look like dress pants (elastic waist, fake fly/button/pockets). Machine wash, hang dry, although I dried mine in the dryer to shrink them a little as the regular length was a little short (I'm 5'10") and the long was initially too long.

And you know what, girl, I'm around your height and weight, and I promise, we look fine. Your jerkbrain is telling you stuff.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 6:45 PM on December 8, 2015 [10 favorites]

I'm the same height as you and a bit heavier, and right now my favorite cozy wear is from Splendid. I recently bought some joggers and a loose cashmere blend sweater from there and it's both cute AND comfy.
posted by joan_holloway at 6:51 PM on December 8, 2015

I'm very similar to you, and I basically dress out of Ann Taylor outlet stores. Their cashmere sweaters are exactly what you're looking for: they look impeccable, but they are soft and fuzzy and a soft cloud of gentle hug. You can almost always find them on sale (the one I linked is 50%off of a sale price).

Hang in there, we're almost to the solstice.
posted by Dashy at 7:00 PM on December 8, 2015

Cashmere hoodies are casual but oh so soft and cozy. The material makes them a bit dressier. You can also pull the hood up to hide, or play with the strings.

I find them in stores like Nordstrom Rack and the Saks equivalent.
posted by bendy at 7:03 PM on December 8, 2015

I feel a little like I'm getting away with wearing a nightgown to work when I wear this Universal Standard dress. I'm kind of obsessed with the Universal Standard stuff. This dress is also awesome.

Silk shirts are also surprisingly warm, although more high maintenance than I like, but man they feel good to wear. Men's cashmere hoodies are also super cozy. Nordstrom Rack, Last Call (Neiman Marcus) and Saks off 5th always have good deals on them.
posted by DarthDuckie at 7:09 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Jinx bendy!
posted by DarthDuckie at 7:09 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

The word "tunic" is your friend! I hate collars, too, and there are plenty with little to no collar out there. Recently is my go-to. Make sure you check sizing, they tend to run small from my (plus-sized) experience. Also check out palazzo pants for chic comfort. I never accessorize, so don't let that part concern you.
posted by wwartorff at 7:11 PM on December 8, 2015

OK, I'm your height and quite a bit heavier than you, and you probably look totally fine and don't need to give yourself things to feel bad about.

posted by listen, lady at 5:34 PM on December 8

This is eponysterically true and worth echoing.
posted by Dashy at 7:12 PM on December 8, 2015 [21 favorites]

Right now out west Shopko has two piece 80%cotton/20% spandex, velvet comfy jogging outfits. Pants, and a hoodie with pockets. They are $11.88. I bought two, one taupe/gray one black. They are nice and comfortable, good with wool socks and boots. I had been talking about cotton stretch velvet, and there they were. Camo is good.
posted by Oyéah at 7:13 PM on December 8, 2015

I'm also very budget conscious!! I won't pay more than about $40 for a single shirt, or $65 for a dress. I usually find stuff WAY cheaper than that even!
posted by wwartorff at 7:15 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Vivian's leggings Have the soft cottons texture as opposed to the spandex feel. And Roaman's tunics, especially this one, Are very comfortable. These two with a pair of comfy shoes or boots and a pea coat/vest gets me all around town on errands. They are both very soft and easy to wear. None of this is expensive, and seems to be one step up from jeans and a t-shirt.
posted by raisingsand at 7:17 PM on December 8, 2015

I pretty much live in cheap Walmart leggings, soft tank tops, and hoodies, plus anything soft and fuzzy that runs across my path. Those leggings are forgiving, feel like stretch pants and look like jeans. (I have a very soft fuzzy nightshirt that I've accidentally on purpose decided is a hoodie... and wear it like one when I really need that oh-my-god-i-can't-deal-with-anything-yet-i-have-to boost.)
posted by stormyteal at 7:30 PM on December 8, 2015

Uniqlo Heattech leggings pants in size L might fit you. I'm 5'6" and 180 and they fit me great right now. I haven't tried the non-Heattech ones. Since you're tall, they might be more cropped-looking on you, but that's in style or you can cover up with boots if you prefer.
posted by matildaben at 7:33 PM on December 8, 2015

Ponte Knit pants are my go-to for comfort when I still want to look like I'm wearing actual pants, rather than leggings or yoga pants. They're a heavier knit, often cut relatively slim, but not as tight as leggings.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:34 PM on December 8, 2015

It's cold enough that you can wear pajamas and a big hoodie or sweatshirt or fleece and you're pretty much an adult

(Also 180 at 5'9" is not really that big IMO! I didn't think about you losing weight at all.)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:35 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Check your labels. Many clothes are synthetics. You have to shop around for natural fibers and they make all the difference in the world. Look for 100% cotton. Avoid using dryer sheets, fabric softeners, or strong detergents such as Tide. Clothes aren't supposed to be itchy and full of chemicals.

You can find comfy T-shirts at Target. Gap is good about offering some 100% cotton items. I detest jeans because I am short-waisted, and I prefer dresses. It takes a bit of searching but there are comfy dresses out there. Macy's usually has a few in cotton.

Stay away from cashmere as it is wool.

Look for solid colors that are not black. Anything jewel toned is good.

Pay close attention to your shoes. If your feet are happy, you are happy.
posted by myselfasme at 7:38 PM on December 8, 2015

I got a couple pull-on jersey maxi skirts at Target before a recent trip, paired them with t-shirts (and these tights if it was chilly), got lots of compliments, and felt basically like I was wearing pyjamas outside.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:54 PM on December 8, 2015

I feel you! People think I am making a joke when I declare something not worth the effort of putting on pants but I am being serious.

As a shorty busty person with tall sometimes skinny sometimes zaftig friends I have found that the issues and their resolutions are surprisingly similar.

Issue one: bra. Shell out for a couple bras that don't just fit you but also are made of fabrics you find comfortable on your skin. If you can get ones in colors that work with most of your clothes, you can stop worrying about straps showing and consider them part of the ensemble. Even if you are not an unusual size, a comfortable bra will make it that much less onerous to dress. I like Elomi and Panache (panache also makes the superior sports bra, if like me you use lack of proper equipment to rationalize inactivity.)

Issue two: pants. NYDJ is a brand that is often recommended and they are the only jeans I wear at this point. They make tall and plus sizes as well as petites so you can probably find ones that fit your torso length. They are sold at Nordstrom and Macy's and a few other places as well as online all over, but definitely try them on first - often you want to go a full size down from your usual with them. They make regular pants and leggings as well as jeans, check their website for the full collection. And you can get them tailored at Nordstrom if that works for you.

However, eschewing pants entirely is awesome. Look for "tea length" full skirts. They will hit you at mid-calf. You can wear tall socks with them or boots or leggings if you, like me, have not ascended to the feminist plane where shaving your legs is optional. Or of course bare legs are perfectly great too, weather permitting, no worries about keeping your legs together or tripping over hems. Good skirts have pockets. There is also the mini skirt + leggings/tights option, which I think looks great on tons of people. Maxi skirts are also wonderful but I find they can get easily snagged on things and then need repair. Go for elastic waistbands and wear your top untucked above it. A cardigan, buttoned right at your natural waist, will make any skirt and top combo look instantly more fitted.

Speaking of cardigans and tops, I like Target for cardigans, of all places. For other tops I have pretty good luck with brands that have a fashion portion of their sports/outdoor lines. Prana is expensive but good quality and soft fabrics with great happy-making colors and interesting details. REI has a great selection of hard-wearing but fashionable tops that fit taller women; look for tunic length. You can also layer with a long stretchy tank top with a shorter shirt on top. Target, again, makes good long under layers. I get them because my bust adds lots of unwished for length requirements and my friends who are a full foot taller than me wear the same size!

My recent favorite thing is the sweater dress plus sweater tights combination. I always feel like I'm getting away with something. How can that count as dressed? And "fancy" to boot? Fantastic. Talbot's has a good range of sizes and does lovely colors and prints in hard-wearing natural fabrics. They also make a "sweater skirt" I believe, which you could wear with leggings and a knit tunic and basically have on fancy pajamas.
posted by Mizu at 8:14 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I agree with everyone suggesting yoga pants and a sporty, stretchy top. Not only do they look perfectly acceptable, they also make me feel active and sporty and that's sort of a help when I'm down.

I do have a "magic" piece for you. Moto jackets are in everywhere right now. Lane Bryant has a couple - this blue one, and this birdeye one. These are pretty amazing pieces. You can wear them with any straight leg or wide leg pants, a pencil skirt, or over a jersey dress, and they lend a ton of structure and finish. They really give the body a strong, trim profile with a little badass feel that I love. And they're totally comfortable and don' t feel "dressed up," while still looking like you're polished and got dressed today. I highly recommend these pieces and love them myself.
posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on December 8, 2015

I don't know if this is exactly what you're looking for, since many people are suggesting things that are very physically comfy like yoga pants or cashmere items, but when you said

"Is there any item of clothing that just makes you feel better when you put it on? Sort of like sartorial xanax?"

I was like "holy shit, yup I do." But's a whole outfit/aesthetic. I think it's a little different (at least for me) than just being physically comfortable. It's more like clothes you can hide in, or an outer shell that will keep you safe from the world.

I'm going to call it Jessica Jones-core. Like this (I wear charcoal colored skinnies instead tho, that outfit is honestly perfect except for the color and bagginess of the jeans) or this. You wear a boxy gray sweater and a boxy black tee shirt underneath. It's form-fitting enough that you don't feel like a pile of junk, but also bulky enough in the right spots so you can feel kinda hidden. It's badass enough that you get a little ego boost but not in a way where you really have to answer for anything. It's a little on the androgynous side, which somehow always makes me feel more hidden too.

If a motorcycle jacket feels too "I am making a fashion statement" like it does for me sometimes when I feel this way, a jean jacket + black kangaroo hoodie or low key down vest in a dark color + black hoodie have a similar effect and draw less attention.

Bonus points for extra long sleeves on the hoodie and jacket, hand warmers, huge scarf.

I hope this helps you, it honestly makes me feel so much better on shitty days. Sartorial xanax or alchemy like you said.
posted by moons in june at 8:50 PM on December 8, 2015 [19 favorites]

I bought this cami as a layering piece and it is so wonderfully soft that I wear it a lot... it makes me feel cared for and cozy. It's like wearing your PJs under your clothes.
posted by jenquat at 9:15 PM on December 8, 2015

this sweatshirt is so cozy that I've only wanted to take it off when it got too warm.
posted by wens at 4:32 AM on December 9, 2015

If you're looking for a little boost without worrying about "will these fit six months from now," a nice pair of cowboy or Western boots might do the trick.

Break them in by wearing inside the house for a week or so. Mine are super comfy now and I haven't worn them all that much.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:46 AM on December 9, 2015

OMG, I was staring at the comment box last night trying to explain this but moons in june has described my sartorial armor strategy much better than I could have.

This modcloth hoodie is my secret weapon. It's actually French terry, not fuzzy sweatshirt fleece, but something about the weight and the bulk around the cuffs is very calming and grounding, like a wearable weighted blanket.
posted by clavicle at 5:56 AM on December 9, 2015

Take a look at Soft Surroundings - lots of tunics, ruanas, long sweaters and soft pants.
posted by sarajane at 8:02 AM on December 9, 2015

I have a similar build and taste as previous posters. Warm leggings under a skirt, long socks from Sock Dreams, ankle boots, a neutral-colored V-necked ribbed tee,* a cable-knit cardigan, and a colorful pashmina scarf is basically my winter uniform.

*I used to get them from Old Navy, because they were a good length, but they use such thin material now. My old ones have held up for a decade, but newer ones practically fall apart in the wash
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:43 AM on December 9, 2015

Wow - these are all amazing answers. I could mark all of them as "best," but I'm limiting myself to those that lead to a purchase or wishlist. The betabrand yoga pants look like a great mix of comfort and dressing like a grownup, the Athleta sweater dresses/leggings combo also look promising, and the Jessica Jones uniform sounds like the perfect psychological armor, if I can get over the dissonance of basically wearing thee same outfit I did in my 20s. I also love the poncho/ruana suggestions, although I can't fund any that I like that aren't wool. Finally, new bras are also a must - I know my sizing isn't right - but I'm still struggling to order coffee, so having a stranger manipulate my boobs is a little beyond me now.

But all of these suggestions have given me new ideas for stores and styles. Thank you so much for all your help, and I hope those of you who are going through the same thing I am stay safe and cozy during these dark days.
posted by bibliowench at 8:58 AM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, Sock Dreams should be endorsed by the APA, or at least NAMI. They are prozac for your feet/soul (except they're the kind of prozac that actually works).
posted by bibliowench at 9:00 AM on December 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I get sooo much mileage out of these knit scarves from Forever 21. They have bulk because it's really just a giant tube of fabric, but still feel lightweight and not itchy or heavy. You can also unravel them to be big ultra-light shawls or head coverings. They make me to feel like I am wearing -an outfit- rather than just leggings and hoodies.
posted by almostmanda at 9:12 AM on December 9, 2015

Sorry this is a tome! I just wanted to cover most of the bases.

For bra fitting, it is not too hard to measure yourself to get a baseline, and then an experienced fitter can simply have you try on a few different sizes and styles just by eyeing you up, no boob manipulation by strangers required. You are also completely within your rights and dignity to say "I'm not okay with you touching me right now, just talk to me and I will do it myself." Usually that will just be a little more difficult because it involves adjusting straps, and having someone behind you do that while you have a new bra on is a lot easier. But that isn't boob manipulation so much as shoulder blade touching. A fitter who is aware of your level of discomfort will ask for your consent before every time they want to touch you or come into the fitting room to see you. If you are especially good at faking it to strangers (hello, lifetime of depression) drop a little of the fakery if you can without breaking down, so they can more easily read your limits.

Master the "scoop and swoop". This is the right way of putting on a bra, no matter your size. Unhook it and place it over your shoulders. Bend over enough so your breasts fall forward a bit, and with your right hand, swoop across your chest from your left armpit to below your nipple and scoop your breast into the cup. Repeat with the opposite hand and breast. Then hook your bra closed, and stand up. If you need to, wiggle the bra around to get the band perpendicular all the way around your torso, lined up with the crease below your breasts. What the scoop and swoop does is gather all your breast tissue into place so it can be supported by the bra, making it an actually effective garment instead of a weird floppy breastplate. This is how you will avoid the bra fitters from touching you unnecessarily, because they will see you have already scooped everything into the right place.

To measure yourself you need two basic measurements and a moment where you're okay looking critically at your naked chest in the mirror to determine "fullness".

Using a tape measure (or a string that you mark and measure with a ruler), measure your "underbust". That is the perpendicular line around your torso starting with the crease between your breasts and your rib cage. This is where your band should sit in a properly fitting bra. Bra bands come in evenly numbered inches, but the hooks allow flexibility if you are an odd number. The usual suggestion is to size down - so if you have a 45 inch underbust, look for bras with 44 inch bands. This won't always be the case. But anyway, measure in front of a mirror so you can check everything is perpendicular on your sides and back.

Then you need your "bust" measurement, which is the widest part around your chest. This isn't always across your nipples. Stand up straight and look at your profile in a mirror. Then, lean forward slowly and observe where your breasts naturally go. Are they led by your nipples away from your body, or is it a point above or below them? This will help you find the right place to measure your bust. Again, it is a perpendicular circumference around your torso.

Bra companies will then say "subtract your bust measurement from your underbust to determine cup size!" But that is bullshit. Every brand is different and within each brand every cut of bra is different. So tell a bra fitter your two measurements and one more thing and they will bring a variety of bras to try on. You will most likely be able to tell quite fast if a bra fits right because you will be like "hey, wow! This is not a torture device!"

The one more thing is fullness or general breast shape. In checking yourself out for measuring you will have noticed this. Most people have more fullness either above or below the nipples. A breast with more tissue on top will benefit from a more full coverage bra. One with more below will often be more comfortable in a demicup or balconette bra, because then excess fabric won't bunch under their tops. Also if your breasts are fairly long, like, when you are leaning over do they seem vastly larger than when you are standing up, a bra with more cup size than you might think will fit your better. Since you have a long torso, you might like bras with taller bands, too.

Anyway every bra is different. Since you have sensitivity to fibers, many bras that fit you perfectly well might irritate you anyway. This might be another AskMe for you next week. Or, you can google around for one of the numerous online communities dedicated to people getting a good bra. If I recall, Reddit has a pretty good one. There are also tons of threads here on Mefi that talk about it. One store you might have some luck at is Soma Intimates. I'm not sure of their fiber content but their things seem to be very soft, and they make nice comfy lounge clothes. None of their bras fit me (34GG) but I do get their PJ pants when they're on sale.
posted by Mizu at 4:18 PM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

The reddit about bra fitting is A Bra that Fits or you can just use their calculator. This might be kind of a lot but I had fun with bra research, maybe you will too.
posted by katieanne at 7:47 PM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is a weird suggestion, but I'm a nurse and when I don't feel ready to face the world in regular people clothes, I put on my scrubs. I wear scrubs to run errands on days when I'm not even working, and they feel like armor-- I assume that people assume that I'm a hard-working medical professional, and not someone who can't face the ordeal of normal clothing. It's easy, comfortable, and I don't have to think.

Plus, there are some fantastically comfortable scrubs out there. The Gray's Anatomy brand in particular makes flattering, sturdy scrubs out of soft cotton. They feel good and look good.
posted by bookish at 9:17 PM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

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