In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the key wardrobe pieces for leg lengthening, and did a little fashion math involving sneakers. Today I want to focus on the leg-lengthening miracle flat: the nude ballet.
The whole over-sized shapeless dress thing is so hard to get right. Despite the obviously fabulous pooch-hiding abilities, these dress/top hybrids are often unflattering everywhere else. The one? NAILS IT. The fabric is gauzy and sheer (so it's a little sexy - especially in the nude color), and it has a tie-back waist so you can reign in the volume.
This is Free People's current version of my hardest working post-partum top. Would be perfect over a nursing cami (or shaper cami) for new mamas. It's a surprisingly silhouette: I love mine over flare denim, cut-offs, maxi skirts, and long slim shorts.
This is the least embellished one of the bunch, but the gorgeous colors (sea green or peach) and stunning swing back make it seriously special. (The model in the peach one makes me want to wear this cage-back bra instead of a black bikini top.)
I don't typically do sleeves on the beach, but I'd make an exception for this one. Love how this looks like pretty little vintage blouse. Equally good with destroyed denim for everyday or menswear trousers for an unexpected work look.
Love the combo of stripes, crochet and....rope? I'd pair this top with light pink lipstick and a baseball hat. Crazy good for hiding a stomach pooch, and the back is stunning. (Smaller busted nursing mamas would probably be able to pull down this top if you really, really wanted to.)
Before kids, my husband and I would try to escape the winter cold by doing our own little mini Spring breaks. South Beach was our favorite. I'd pack my XS bikini top (snort), the tiniest bottoms I could find, a little scrap of a dress and off we'd go. We'd stay out all night, sleep in until noon, and then roll out to the beach around 1PM.
Well. THINGS HAVE CHANGED, PEOPLE. And these changes have resulted in a decidedly different Spring Break uniform:
BAM. Because vacation or no, my kiddos get up around 6:30AM. And can you guess how long I can stand to be in a CONDO with two boys under the age of 7 before I lose my mind?
9AM. If we're lucky.
(And if we're in a run-of-the-mill hotel room, I change my answer to 6:37AM.)
Which means I'm on the beach bright and early, and, typically, freezing.
Anyway, a couple of months ago, I received not one, but four different emails from readers asking this exact question: How can I make my legs look longer while wearing flat shoes?
So I googled it. And the number one answer? Wear heels.
Um. Ok. Thankyoufornothing?
Leaving Google behind me, I started playing around. And I think...I THINK...I'm on to something here. There are a few styling tricks and a few key pieces I keep coming back to. Per usual, I've created something ponderous (on par with a dissertation, because YES I take all of this fashion stuff very. seriously.) so I'm breaking it up into multiple parts in the hope that one can actually read it over morning coffee. At this point, it's looking like a three part series? Hopefully not more, but no promises. Sometimes I think I should've named this blog 'an engineer's approach to fashion' just so there were no surprises, and I could then feel free to use charts.
But enough blathering. First up, the key pieces....
Clockwise, from top left:
1. High-Waisted Denim (or Shorts)
Nothing will visually elongate your legs faster than high-waisted denim. Of course, you've gotta show off that waist, so tuck (or half-tuck)your top.
In general, the more of top of the foot you show, the longer the leg line. So ballet flats are a better choice than, say, loafers, simply because they show more foot. Nude ballet flats kick the illusion up a notch further, and are like leg-lengthening magic shoes when wearing shorts or skirts. The key is to find a pair of nude flats that are in the same color family as your skin. I'm a sunburn-easily kind of girl, so I had more luck with a blush pink than with a true nude.
The trapeze silhouette is perfect for leg lengthening because the swing starts above your bustline, completely obscuring where your waist actually starts. Perfect for the short-waisted - especially with a pair of high-waist denim.
In general, sneakers are not leg lengthening. They cover up the entire foot and add bulk. However, sneakers are sofreakingpractical for Mamas trying to chase their kids around a park that I had to figure something out. Here it is: Skip the contrasting laces. Black sneaks with white laces? No. Red sneaks with white laces? No. But...if you can find cute sneaks with laces that are the same color - BAM. It'll work for leg lengthening. I like the black/black combo.
Featured: Onitsuka Tiger by Asics (lots of non-contrasting laces options - the lighter pairs would be perfect with light wash denim for spring)
7. Over-The-Knee Flat Boots
Not only does this trick work, but it works really, really well. And it almost doesn't matter where the boot hits - anywhere between above-the-knee and mid-thigh makes your legs look longer. The trick is to make sure the boot is sleek, and fits well (slouchy boots should be avoided for leg-lengthening purposes).
Those tops and dresses with the elastic waistbands sewn in? Some - some - will hit slightly higher than your actual waist, making your legs look miles long. However, some won't (maxi dresses often are too heavy and pull the elastic down). But keep your eye out - it's worth a shot, right?
Use accessories to draw the eye up towards your face. A little cleavage, a stunning statement necklace, a scarf or a cool hat will lift eyes up. This whole feeling of up will help to elongate your body.
We had the most amazing Saturday. It was our long-anticipated day date (aka my Christmas and Valentine's Day present). And while I had visions of waltzing around the city in something wildly glamorous...Saturday was a mushpot of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. So instead, I wore this:
We started at the Art Museum, where we - get this - wandered leisurely. I read some of plaques hanging on the wall. I KNOW!!
And afterwards, we strolled around downtown. Held hands. Got coffee at our fav, La Colombe.
(I'm all about the cuffs these days.)
Of course, I posed a little. Wearing two jackets like all the other fashion bloggers.
But aren't these sexy jeans? Even with the combat-ish boots. (Grace, you asked about these boots and so I hopped right to it you #shoppingenabler More later.)
I swapped the combat boots out for heels before our dinner reservations at Vetri. In hindsight, that was a mistake. Mike had booked us a six course dinner at 6PM, with tickets to see Ballet X at 8PM. By 7:45, we were only on course four. By 7:56PM, Mike signed the check, and by 7:59PM we were running - no, SPRINTING - like the crazy people we are. (Thankfully I can still run in heels.) And at 8:00PM sharp? We were busting through the doors of the Wilma Theater.
It was a tough call (stay/go?) but wow. We made the right decision. Ballet X was mindblowing. It was exciting and funny and sexy - Mike didn't even fall asleep!! (The man always falls asleep at ballets.) We'll be going again....with, I think, the boys. The Wilma theater is such an intimate setting that you can hear the sound of their shoes squeaking on the stage, hear the dancers breathing, and see the subtle expressions on their faces. And I love how it was such a departure from traditional ballet, but with all of the rigor. It was like Balanchine-meets-hiphop-meets-threestooges. (OK, maybe not exactly that last part. But close.) And tix were only $35.
After, we went back to Vetri (sheepishly) to collect our entrees and dessert.
Philly, thanks for a beautiful day and an amazing night. You are one seriously cool city. I can't wait (hint, hint Mike) to do this again.
Whoa. The number of layers I'm wearing is ridiculous. But the thought of putting on my puffer coat - yet again - is starting to affect my mental stability. I had to get creative. In the name of health, you guys. HEALTH.
I need to start keeping a list of Stupid Summer Purchases. I have a ton. They are stupid not because they don't fit, or because I tried to venture out of my style comfort zone, or anything I can even put my finger on....they are stupid purchases only because come summer, the sum total of what I wear is this: cut-offs, white tee, flat sandals...or a summer dress.
Of all of these, I often fail with summer dress purchases. I buy beautiful silky maxis (NOPE), eyelet mini dresses (NOPE), strapless anything (NOPENOPENOPE). GAH! I mean OK - they get worn, sometimes, but not nearly as much as my old soft jersey swing dress, which is nothing more than a glorified t-shirt/tank dress. And??? It's at least eight years old. EIGHT.
The good news is that there are a ton of soft jersey dresses out there....with a twist. Some have interesting necklines (thankfully not strapless which Pax cannot resist pulling down)...some have cool cut-outs, or fancy details or strategic ruching which makes the dress both insanely sexy and easy to wear at the same time.
I've rounded up my favorites, sorted by body types. All of these dresses are soft and comfortable - anything from scratchy polyester didn't make the cut (no matter how pretty). And nursing mamas? There are dresses for you sprinkled throughout. Look for this nursing symbol:
Lastly, some of the dresses below are from Piperlime, and are 25% off until 2/18 with code HAPPY.
I didn't put the nursing symbol on this dress because the chest hits too high on the model, but if I were having a baby this spring/summer...I'd try this dress. Amazing pooch-hiding, and I'll bet you could pull down the front of the dress to nurse (maybe try buying a size up?).
Ok - this made the cut because tall reviewers were happy with the fit. Why do we care? Because there should be enough fabric above the waistband to hide a poochy stomach. (This dress obviously won't work for the very pregnant.)
This fabric is not to be believed - it's light, comfy, and feels expensive. I didn't have enough hips to keep this dress (the ruched part hit well below my stomach pooch) but on someone with curves? Oh, Mama.
If I had to survive with only one shirt, I'd probably pick one of my thin, drapy v-necks. The low neckline flatters the bust, the drape hides a pooch and they look cool dressed up or down. Besides, I became addicted to the v-neck while nursing FOR ALMOST FIVE YEARS GOOD LORD and I just can't quit 'em.
But. In winter, they are freezing. Here's how I'm warming them up.
With Arm Warmers and a Faux-Fur Cowl
With heels and a sparkly belt if you are feeling especially glamorous, but this outfit works equally well with everyday boots. A faux-fur cowl is my go-to around the house (being bald is very, VERY cold) and the arm-warmers actually make a difference! (They're no turtleneck sweater, but they do alright.)
cowl: old Urban Outfitter...love this one, and it's washable
tee: old Soft Joie (easily my most favorite tee ever) - here's a current one
arm warmers: old, Etsy - but LOVE these or maybe these
Mike and I had a day-date last weekend, in honor of my birthday. We started with a long brunch at Kennet's, where I had, quite possibly, the best mimosas and pancakes ever (we're talking fluffy cornmeal pancakes with local, house-cured bacon cooked right in, sitting in a puddle of real maple syrup with a fried egg on top). I mean seriously. The restaurant was also dead right around 11AM (in a romantic way, not a creepy way) on a Saturday, which means that next time we'll bring the kids. But they have a wood-fired pizza oven, and try to source ingredients locally, so if you haven't been....GO. You won't be disappointed.
It was a magical day. Day dates are our favorites because...well, because we're not tired. Instead, we spend the day wandering around, holding hands, perusing boutiques, sitting in coffee shops and having loooong brunches where we walk out tipsy. And than we wander around looking for Philly's best coffee.
It's basically our life, before kids.
We also found THE most amazing bookstore: Joseph Fox. My favorite bookstores have a cozy feel (check), knowledgeable staff (check) and - here's the most important part - a really well-edited selection. I want someone to show me the books I didn't even know to search for on Amazon. You know?
Their kid's selection was small but inspiring. We're talking arty books for kids that I've never seen anywhere else, new twists on old classics, and ingenius picture books that get kids thinking about life's biggest questions.
And I felt oh-so-glamourous in my high-waisted skinnies. My belt is too loose, and these jeans do look better with pumps, but I loved it all anyway. I'm most comfortable in an outfit that's a little 'off'. Perfect outfits always make me feel like I'm wearing someone else's clothes.
BTW - Mike spotted my necklace at a local boutique, Sugarcube. It's macarame, so it's durable and comfortable and I've been wearing it with everything.
I'm still messing around with how to style these jeans (you'll be seeing soooo much more of them), but there was so much interest, I thought I'd post a preview. And I'm sharing a few of the gorgeous books found at Joseph Fox here.
So I've been feeling pretty good these days. There's a spring in my step, and my heart feels...light. It's like I'm emerging from a cocoon. Butterfly! I am the butterfly! #stopit
And I'm dressing differently, too. Not a huge shift, but I have this new found sense of...fearlessness when picking out my clothes. Or maybe carelessness is the better word. I find myself throwing something on because it's fun. Like I'm honoring the fact that somewhere...there's a party. (Even if it's just the Pigeon and his hot-dog parties.) Or I'm reaching for my favorite things, uh, period. Like, wearing the same thing three days in a row because it makes me feel good. High heels on a Saturday morning just because, or pretty underwear on a random Wednesday (insert 'hump day' joke).
Know what's happening here? I may be bald-ish, I've got some serious scars, but I'm craving - a little - glamour.
I mean...let's not get too excited. I'm a mom of two young boys - there are limits to this glam. (Glimits?) And someone who talks about glamour while wearing a puffer jacket and fuzzy mittens really shouldn't be trusted.
But I felt like the January issue of Vogue was speaking directly to me: "Here's to the year of you. Fashion 2014 is about the charisma of the individual, the charm of the rare and unique...." and even Ms Wintour, in her letter from the editor, talked about a "sense of promise" that was evident in all of the 2014 collections. Vogue heralded a "return to maximum embellishment" and dubbed 2014 the year of dressing dangerously.
"There was a strong current of let's-play-dress-up - even whimsy - on the spring runways, and this openhearted spirit only adds to the pleasures of the new season. Trends may come and trends may go, but fun, we hope, will never go out of style."
Sing it, Vogue.
So. Here are a few easy-peasy ways to add a small sartorial punch to your everyday, a little dose of pedestrianglamour that even this sleep-deprived mama can do on a daily basis. As Vogue says (and really, one should always do what Vogue says)....let's play.