Fashion and beauty blogs for the novice?
June 24, 2008 7:04 PM   Subscribe

I am learning how to 'be' a girl, after years of hiding (literally) in badly-fitting guy clothing. Could you please help suggest web resources for the beauty/fashion aspect? Something like The Sartorialist would be nice, but with a critical eye and maybe a list of which stores have those pieces/products. (similarly/previously, but without the focus on online resources)

I'm only just beginning to dress like a girl, after years of the worst-fitting, tattered, ugly guy clothing imaginable. I need serious help, as I just don't get how dressing like a girl works, and the more frustrated I am, the more likely I am to just revert to my guy pants and brown XL hoodies.

I don't get colour matching; I don't get patterns; I don't think about silhouettes; I don't get makeup; I don't get hair care. I'm starting at zero, which makes looking at past questions along this line (like the one linked above, but there are more) truly overwhelming.

So, I was hoping to ease into a blog or website, which would have pictures of what everything discusses but that I don't understand. I'm a visual learner, which is part of the problem; just a simple 'list' doesn't help for this particularly problem. I really, really need to see everything.

Complicating this is a kinda 'mathematically improbable' body: petite in all but bust (32F, taking up so much real estate on my chest that wearing empire-waisted fashions is an exercise in disaster) and butt, with a bit of a stomach, and a waist that is closer to the breasts than to the hips. Nothing really fits without tailoring, which I can't afford. If some kind sage could recommend something for my kind of body, or a book that describe different body types, I'd appreciate it.
posted by flibbertigibbet to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't know if this is quite what you're looking for, but I really like because it shows a wide variety of clothing on a wide variety of people. Some of it is...questionably attractive, but there's always neat stuff.
posted by phunniemee at 7:28 PM on June 24, 2008

Best answer: I very much enjoy The Budget Fashionista- lots of pictures, lots of specifics on where to buy stuff.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:36 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: the "what not to wear" gals have several books on the subject.

also, you may want to invest in some really good bras. go to a specialty shop (not victoria's secret or some trashy lingerie place) or department store and get professionally fitted. it will make a huge difference in your silhouette. the bras will probably be expensive, but worth it.

likewise, go to a stylist for a consult about your hair, and get a professional cut. this will also not be cheap, but again, worth it. once you've got the cut, the maintenence is cheap--go to an inexpensive place for trims and only visit the salon twice a year.

while you're at the salon, get your eyebrows waxed. tweeze at home to maintain the shape.

those three things--bra, hair, eyebrows--will really help you look more put-together.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:39 PM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

I really think a book is more your speed, as the medium lends itself to overall instruction rather than snippets of arresting styles (many of the people on the blogs mentioned above are wearing amazing clothes that aren't necessarily flattering). You sound like you've had some sort of shattering sartorial epiphany that occurs on that show "What Not to Wear," when the (bitchy) stylists point out all the wrong clothing decision their subjects are making. Whatever your feelings are about the show, their official book is truly helpful. They walk you through what palettes are best for your skin type, what styles flatter which bodies, how took take good pictures, how to walk in heels, etc. There are pictures and tutorials galore.
posted by zoomorphic at 7:44 PM on June 24, 2008

Best answer: Oh man, I feel you on the mathematically improbable body (same bra size as you, and rather short). I'm still trying to figure out the nuances of dressing my body and finding clothes that fit, so I can't offer much in the way of guidance, but a few tips I've picked up so far:

-Make sure you're wearing a bra that fits, is comfortable, and doesn't squish your chest. I used to take the squishing route (via minimizers) because I thought it made my chest look less obtrusive, but when I found bras that actually fit I realized that, even though my breasts were sticking out more, they looked smaller because they were lifted more and took up less of my torso.

-Go for shirts with scoop necks or V-necks, not high necklines. This doesn't mean you have to walk around with your cleavage hanging out -- look for shirts with necklines that just skim the top of your cleavage. (If you feel self-conscious and too exposed (which, if you've been wearing sweatshirts for years, you probably will), ask a friend if it's too revealing -- their judgment is probably more accurate than yours.) Crewnecks and boatnecks are SO BAD for large chests; they make it look like your chest is in the middle of your torso, which is not exactly flattering.

-We're in luck this season, because longer shirts are in style; I used to have a hard time finding shirts that wouldn't show my stomach in the front (because my chest took up so much additional material), but now it's super-easy. The longer style also makes your torso look longer, which is important when you've got a huge chest taking up a lot of it.

-In terms of actual clothing recommendations, I essentially live in Old Navy ribbed tank tops. I know, I know, not really the picture of girlyness, but a snug scoop-neck tank top is tremendously versatile and can even be sexy. They come in many colors, they're very stretchy so they have a lot of leeway in terms of body type, and best of all they're cheap (and if you're like me at all, you drop a lot of food on your enormous chest, so cheap is good). Old Navy in general has been good to me; they sell a lot of stretchy shirts and they seem to be tailored to curvier bodies than the Gap is. New York & Company is also tailored to a curvier body type, so if you're looking for dressier, work-appropriate clothes that might be the place to look. (Of course, if you have more expendable income, check out some fancier retailers -- although I find that the classier the retailer, the more their clothes are designed for non-curvy figures. Make of that what you will.)

Do you have any female friends whose style you admire? Maybe you could get them to go shopping with you -- that's probably the best way to both find clothes that are stylish AND get honest opinions about whether they flatter you.
posted by pluckemin at 8:01 PM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Honestly, Lucky Magazine is not bad IMHO. They're not avant garde fashion, they focus on the wearable and reasonably affordable. The magazine itself will pick simple looks and show you how to put the pieces together.

I really think with your body type.. wrap dresses are flattering on most everyone.. also shirt dresses with a slim waist and fuller skirt, almost 50's style. One thing I find with skirts is, pay attention to where the hem of the skirt hits - right at the knee is usually very flattering - if it hits the widest part of your calf, not so much. I bet at many stores, if you go to the petites section and look for A-line or fuller skirts, in other words fitted at the waist and loose through the hips, that would be a good style for you and wouldn't require much tailoring if any.
posted by citron at 8:29 PM on June 24, 2008

I echo getting a well-fitted bra. Do you have a Nordstrom near you? Their lingerie department is great. It is much easier and faster to find a good bra when you have a pro helping you. And once you have a good bra, it will be easier to find new clothes, I promise.
posted by radioamy at 8:31 PM on June 24, 2008

Best answer: Try You Look Fab and its forum. Also, Wardrobe Oxygen. On both you'll need to poke around in the best-of lists and archives but there's plenty of good tips with pictures of examples/info on where to buy. I found some great tops through the YLF forum that were from places I'd normally never even window-shop.
posted by Melinika at 8:45 PM on June 24, 2008

Best answer: Speaking as someone with the same boobs as you, I highly recommend getting button-down shirts with a bit of stretchy fabric (Lycra, spandex) mentioned on the label tag. Van Heusen and Dress Barn stores tend to have good ones. You'll look dressed up and professional without having to worry about boobs popping through.

Here's a very basic primer for you on color stuff:

* Red, orange, and yellow colors (i.e. "warm" colors) IN GENERAL go together, green, blue, purple, and pink colors (i.e. "cool" colors) IN GENERAL go together.

* Neutral colors are white, black, tan, gray...anything that kind of blends in. Generally speaking, you can mix most colors with a neutral color. Especially wearing any kind of colored top with a neutral bottom color.

* When it comes to patterned items, either wear a patterned bottom (skirt or whatever) with a non-patterned top, or a patterned top with a non-patterned bottom. Pattern with a pattern tends to make people's eyes hurt, even if the colors go together.

More links on colors that should help you with matching:
Color scheme.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:54 PM on June 24, 2008

Best answer: If you feel self-conscious and too exposed (which, if you've been wearing sweatshirts for years, you probably will), ask a friend if it's too revealing -- their judgment is probably more accurate than yours.)

Absolutely true. You'll be looking down into your own cleavage, so you're seeing more than other people will. You certainly want to be comfortable, and probably modest, but pluckemin is right about high-neck t-shirts.

The other secret of large-chested (or even medium-chested) girls regards button-down shirts. Nothing you find will fit you without gaping across the front, so buy a bunch of those cheap stretchy tanks and wear them under the shirt, buttoning it to just under your bust. It'll look flattering and even lets you play with color combos.
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:55 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Generally, as someone who went through this herself about five years ago, my boiled-down advice is to step out of your comfort zone... even if it requires forcing yourself. Take colour, for example. I don't subscribe to the "this goes with this" mentality. I think if you like two colours together and you rock them with total confidence they will always look good. The key to it is just to fake it 'til you make it. Just don't mistake style for dressing in one particular way -- if you want to you can find and define your own style.

I feel like I'm still constantly evolving and improving, but overall I think I look tonnes better than I did five years ago.

I find street-style blogs (like Fashionist above or any one of a zillion local variations -- google "street style") really helpful just to get ideas and to open my mind to new things. Also helpful is "wardrobe remix" people on Flickr -- people who post a picture of their outfit every day. I think there's a group actually called Wardrobe Remix, but you should find a lot of results just by searching on that term. Again, it just turns me on to things I'd never have thought of on my own, and I find it inspiring.
posted by loiseau at 9:12 PM on June 24, 2008

Is there a particular style that you like? I went through this phase by adopting the "costumes" of the styles I liked--first punk, then goth. I was a lot less self-conscious coming out of my shell because I was counter-culture, so I didn't have to live up to anybody's expectation of what my fashion should look like. This gave me the freedom to experiment and see what worked for me.

Also, taking pictures of your outfits helps.
posted by lisaici at 9:54 PM on June 24, 2008

Best answer: As others have recommended, start with a great bra. I see from your profile that you're in Ottawa, so try Marianne's, 1309 Carling Ave, Ottawa, ON K1Z7L3. Getting a properly-fitted bra made my clothes fit so differently and I find I need a size smaller than I used to in blouses, etc. because my boobs are in the right place for the cut of the garment (I am a 32E, so I sympathise. I am also short, and big in the butt).

Also, try things on. I am clueless about clothes too, but have found that something with zero appeal on the hanger can often look so different when it's on.
posted by essexjan at 12:08 AM on June 25, 2008

I am similarly sartorially challenged (when questioned I sometimes tell people "I'm a transvestite" because at least it explains all the men's clothes) so it's a bit strange answering this question because I'm not really qualified... but what you need is a girlfriend. Someone who loves shopping, dresses fairly stylishly, and will give up their saturday for you. Put it just like that: "I'm trying to change my look, and you look cool, would you mind coming shopping with me and being brutally honest? I'll get you coffee."

I bet you can find someone - a colleague, or the wife of a friend, if none of your immediate circle are appropriate. A saturday spent actually seeing what clothes look like on you and getting honest opinions will teach you 100 times more than a website will.
posted by handee at 12:50 AM on June 25, 2008

ooh! i just came back with another idea. most department stores have personal shoppers. the service is usually free, and they'll pick out a lot of clothes for you. take pictures of the outfits.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:36 AM on June 25, 2008

Best answer: 32F? You need to check out Bravissimo. They're a UK company selling pretty bras, clothing, swimwear and pajamas for big-busted women. Even if you just sign up for their catalogue, you'll get new ideas each quarter. Their clothes come in regular sizes, with the added specification of "curvy", "really curvy", and "super curvy" so that you're never smooshing your boobs into your shirt.
posted by heatherann at 5:45 AM on June 25, 2008

Best answer: I still don't dress super-girly (and make-up? Feh.), but one thing has helped me branch out. I made a rule a few years ago that every time I went shopping, I would find one thing that I looked at and instinctively thought "Oh, that's so not me. I could never wear that." And then I would try it on.

I rarely buy that piece of clothing, but over the years, it's helped me expand my idea of what looks good on me and what "isn't me".
posted by heatherann at 5:51 AM on June 25, 2008

Melinka: the You Look Fab site is new to me, and I like it. Thanks for tossing that into the ring.
posted by 8dot3 at 5:58 AM on June 25, 2008

Best answer: If you're ever overwhelmed by having to dress totally like a girl (read: dresses, skirts, etc) you can always revert back to your normal clothing choices -- t-shirts, pants, hoodies -- but simply use clothing that was cut and tailored for a woman's body rather than a man's.

I think my girlfriend looks great in hoodies, jeans, and t-shirts. The clothing she wears is all made to fit a woman, and she looks like a woman when she's wearing it.

In fact, you have a similar body to my girlfriend's, so I can tell you what will look great and what won't.

First, you are blessed with some womanly assets on top, so unless you don't want to, flaunt 'em. Which is to say, wear fitted t-shirts, *not* loose t-shirts. You want a shirt that has extra room on top and then snugs in at the waist. Don't worry about any extra belly, the fact that you have boobies hides this.

You'll have much better luck with blouses + skirts than with dresses. The nice thing about this also is if you get a couple of neutral skirts and tops you can put them on with as little thought as you'd put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

I'm not great with color matching but I agree with loiseau that the wearer makes the outfit. One safe thing is to have neutral skirts and colorful tops.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:55 AM on June 25, 2008

Response by poster: I love AskMe. You are all awesome.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 11:53 AM on June 25, 2008

Best answer: I would like to offically Nth the importance of a good bra. SERIOUSLY. Doesn't matter what you wear, if your bra makes you look bad, you're just swimming against the current trying to look put together. Something will be seriously off no matter what you do. Especially for us busty girls, bras should be a foundation investment... unfortunately they usually cost more than I want to spend but in the end they're always found to be worth every penny. The right fit and support makes such a difference.

A cheap bra can really make your body look like a shlumpy, droopy, flabby mess. It will make your silhouette a bunch of lumps instead of a nice curve. You deserve to give yourself SO much better.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:09 PM on June 25, 2008

Best answer: You've already gotten tons of good advice, but depending on how you feel about Livejournal, the LJ community beauty101 might be very helpful for you- the archives are extensive and it's a really active community. Very rarely are the commenters rude or derogatory, and you can ask about clothing as well as hair and makeup.

Clothingwise, I'm not a huge skirt fan, so I'd recommend getting a couple pairs of good quality jeans from a place that has staff that can assist you with fit; jeans are something I think you really need to try on before buying due to the vast disparity in denim and cut. When you try on jeans, think about the length, rise, and fit so that if you want something different, you can tell the staff what it is you want in comparison to what you just tried, ie, 'I'd like something with a lower rise/slightly shorter leg/slimmer fit in the thighs than these.' That way, you can narrow down what works for you. I'm of the opinion that jeans are 'neutrals,' particularly darker or less pigmented washes, so you can use them the same way as any other neutral as described above.

Finally when you are buying clothes online, know your measurements! Small/medium/large is not specific enough. If you know your bust, waist, and hip circumferences it will be much easier to buy well fitting clothing you haven't seen, since you can actually use the size chart in an educated manner. I buy almost all of my clothes online (shirts particularly) and this is a huge help.
posted by version control at 2:48 PM on June 25, 2008

If you're on a budget, I'd also highly recommend thrift stores--even if you've got an expensive tailored bra, you'll still benefit. They'll give you time to experiment with clothing inexpensively while you're still working out your style, for one.
posted by soviet sleepover at 7:55 PM on June 25, 2008

Best answer: Don't fall for the "wrap dresses look good on everyone" trap; short-waisted people with boobs apparently don't count as "everyone".

I pretty much live in stretchy v-neck tops in darkish or jewel colors -- sleeveless for hot weather, long sleeves for the rest of the year. You can get really inexpensive ones from Target or Old Navy, or spend as much as your ego requires. They work with jeans or skirts or whatever, with or without jackets/scarves/jewelry.

There's no shortcut to buying jeans and other trousers. It's a cliché in clothing threads here that expensive jeans "fit better", but that's silly -- fit whom better? They might, but they might not! Every model is cut differently and will fit some people better than others. Expect to try on ten pairs for every one you buy, and when you find something that looks good, see if you can get a few of them.

Recognize that this is going to be a long trial-and-error process; your tastes may change and you'll make mistakes along the way. When you realize something you've bought is a dud, take it to Goodwill or your local equivalent and try something else. It's supposed to be fun.
posted by tangerine at 3:19 PM on June 26, 2008

I like! You can post your questions and get almost immediate answers! Some answers you may not like, but overall it is a good friendly place!

Free to join too.
posted by seekingsimplicity at 8:43 AM on July 24, 2008

Best answer: If you're interested in finding jeans that fit you, try -- it gives you a list of questions about problems you might have with fit (gaping at the waist, etc) and then gives you brand reccomendations at various price points.
posted by mismatched at 9:36 AM on July 27, 2008

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