Help dress me for a conference - broken bone edition
August 18, 2017 10:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm in New York to attend/speak at a conference, but I broke part of my arm/shoulder the other day, and need to change my planned outfits. I'm wearing something vaguely like this (but grey) to stabilize my shoulder. Can you help me find women's clothing available in store in NYC or available for delivery by Tuesday which is business casual-ish, and can be put on using only one arm and very little assistance?

I need to be able to put on my clothing while my left arm remains generally in this position shown in that image - not negotiable. (the stabilizer goes on over the top of my clothing.) Unfortunately, I don't have help getting dressed beyond simple, less personal assistance such as getting help with the last bit of a zipper or button (think asking coworker upon arrival at venue, or doorman), so I need to be able to get myself mostly dressed using only my right arm.

I'm 5 foot two, average weight, and have a large bust, so almost everything I brought to wear is a not stretchy empire waist type cut and has a zipper going up the spine, making it untenable now.

Wrap dresses might be promising, as would be dresses I can step into, pull up, then tie around my neck. Sleeveless shirts with buttons all the way down may work too, as would dresses that zip or button all the way to my waist. I'm having a really tough time putting on bras, which concerns me but I haven't solved yet. Cannot get into shapewear.

I shop in the women's section and usually wear size 6 or 8. I'm in my mid 30s. I am sort of apple shaped so I generally try to camouflage my stomach, but that might not be an option. My budget is roughly Banana Republic level prices or below, though I'm flexible. The space is air conditioned but a bit warm, so sleeveless or short sleeved plus a drapey scarf is my current plan. Dress code is business casual (emphasis on casual), fun/funky detailing welcomed.

I'm not awesome at style or stereotypical femininity, though I lean feminine for this context, and I kind of understand dresses and can fake it. I don't often wear skirts so if that's your suggestion please suggest what top to go with it.

Options I own already which I can put on w/o help, if useful:

A black and white printed pencil skirt w/red detailing (most promising thing on list was originally planning to wear)
One of these convertible dress/skirts (but white with gray geometric print) with two more prints arriving partway through the conference (this is more casual then I'm really comfortable with).
This Uniqlo dress with tied straps (again more casual then I'm really comfortable with) plus the blue and white version but with adjustable straps rather than tied
These pants in black and army green.
Patterned light scarves that don't match anything else listed here
Miscellaneous ballet flats, casual sandals, and a pair of eggplant colored clarks heels

Ughhhh thank you for any ideas, the thought of figuring this out makes me want to cry and give up.
posted by soleiluna to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Might a knit like this work with your pencil skirt? I think the skirt can be done one-handed. The v-neck is so wide (and of course the knit will be stretchy) that it seems like you might be able to ease the slung arm in.

I also think that with a visible injury like that, people are going to be less conscious of what you're wearing. I once interviewed a minor-celebrity child of a major celebrity who'd broken his leg and came to the interview in pajamas (!!!).
posted by praemunire at 11:10 AM on August 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Have you ever tried a zipper puller? My grandmother had a beautiful one with a gold ring and rhinestones, but this looks like it will do the trick as well. I would think if you sat down or stood with your waist pushed against a table or countertop to hold the dress in place, that you could easily pull the zipper up yourself.
posted by dumbasamuppet at 11:43 AM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Can you wear a normal bra with one strap off? With that thing on your torso and a scarf, lopsidedness might not be a big problem.

Do you have a cast? Can you wear sleeves on your broken side?
posted by adiabatic at 11:57 AM on August 18, 2017

I think your black pants or pencil skirt would work well with a slinky knit, loose-fitting top (maybe something like this in a color that complements your coloring or coordinates with your scarves). It will be stretchy enough that you can do your contortions to get your bum arm into its sleeve, then pull the rest of it on. You don't really need to worry about camouflaging your stomach; I think the stabilizer will take care of that. Then you can accessorize with either one of your scarfs or a chunk costume jewelry necklace. If the necklace is 24" or longer, you can put it on one-handed by slipping it over your head.
posted by DrGail at 12:10 PM on August 18, 2017

This dress has a zipper up the back but it also has a keyhole tie neckline. Could you zip the dress most of the way up, leave the neckline open, and pull it over your head? It's also evidently stretchy.

When you say you have a large bust, what size are we actually talking about here? Before I "blossomed" into a 36K, I would have had a lot of options in person at any Nordstrom's, including front clasping, halter bras, convertible bras that could be changed to a racerback to keep straps from slipping down, or longline strapless bras that could be fastened in the front spun around and then breasts scooped into place. There are also a variety of mastectomy-friendly bras and nursing bras with snaps that you might be able to get on and off, as well as bikini tops you can use in place of a bra that might read as layering instead of undergarments showing.
posted by Mizu at 12:15 PM on August 18, 2017

To get something zipped, can you put it on, then ask the hotel for help? Possibly call 1st, then go down to the desk, with a jacket over it. Or find a housekeeper? Most zippers can have a leash attached allowing you to unzip at the end of the day. And the big dept. stores will have a personal shopper and would send over a selection. You choose what you like and return the rest.
posted by theora55 at 12:21 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Would a loose-fitting, stretchy dress like this work? It looks like you could step into it and pull it up, and it looks like there's likely enough ease in the sleeve and wrap bodice to get it over your arm.

For bras -- a cami with a built-in shelf bra is not ideal, but it might be easier to get on and more comfortable than no support.
posted by ourobouros at 12:40 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

This site has some cute tops and dresses (along with some not-so-cute ones, sigh), and offers 2-day and overnight shipping.
posted by Mchelly at 1:02 PM on August 18, 2017

Thanks for all the suggestions so far! Some follow up answers: no cast, just weird mobility sling. Bust is ~32D, which opens a lot of options - those are some good ideas. Sleeves: not off the table, but might be challenging. I imagine they would need to be flow-y and w/big arm holes to work. i do have road rash on forearm, so nothing friction-y that hits there.

i love both the zipper puller idea and only one strap idea!
posted by soleiluna at 1:37 PM on August 18, 2017

If you don't have time to get a zipper pull try threading some dental floss through the eye of the zipper and using that to close it (kind of like a wet suit). Doesn't cost much to give a test run at home.
posted by raccoon409 at 2:18 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

What about just doing a cardigan twin set with the pencil skirt or Uniqlo pants? The cardigan can just be draped over your left shoulder. You can easily get them in a couple different colors. Done and done. Nobody would know any different and I think they would truly give you a LOT of leeway giving your injury.

Ann Taylor Loft has a bunch of cute sleeveless and cardigan sweaters on their website right now. Nordstrom/Nordstrom Rack always has their Caslon line of plain solids. Lord and Taylor always has good plain sweaters. Uniqlo only seems to have long sleeved sweaters, but they do have cardigans that match.

With regard to the bra - what about the self adhesive ones?

Good luck and feel better!
posted by dancinglamb at 11:33 AM on August 19, 2017

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