Friday, May 30, 2008

Mail Bag: Topping a Full Skirt


I have been reading your blog a fair while now, and it’s pretty great.

I’m writing to ask a bit of fashion help from someone who isn’t my husband, or his mum and dad (with whom we live; I’m English living in the states so few real life friends).

I have loads of skirts that are fairly voluminous and I’m struggling with what to wear on my top half. I’m a curvy 14 and I’m trying to balance the skirt with plainer tighter tops but having issues finding the right things.

Have you any advice you can offer? I don’t like to wear very thin strapped cami tops as I wear these to sleep in and feel odd wearing them as daywear.



I, too, love voluminous skirts. They can be flattering and forgiving. With the right top, they create a great 50’s, hourglass silhouette.

I agree that camis are for sleep or underwear. The biggest problem with camis (and tanks, or vests as the English say!) is not the lack of sleeves, but that the fabric is usually some sort of clingy jersey. It looks too casual, does nothing to conceal lumps and bumps, and has little structure. Most t-shirts have the same drawbacks.

To balance out the voluminous skirt, I recommend a top made of a woven fabric. A button-down oxford is a classic option. To sweeten things up a little, look for a top with puffed sleeves or a peter-pan collar. If your oxfords tend to gape at the bustline, consider unbuttoning it to just below the bust and pairing it with a matching camisole. Oxfords with shaping (i.e. darts) or spandex are also good choices for busty figures.

There is no need to rule out knits altogether. A close-fitting, fine-gauge sweater can emphasize your curves. I’d stick with something sleeved to keep the look proportional. Knitted options include sweater sets, cardigans, and turtlenecks. Cardigans are especially useful because they can be buttoned to emphasize your waist. Fit and quality of knits are very important, though. The sweater should skim your curves, not emphasize bulges around your bra or obscure your figure.

For cooler weather or an air-conditioned office, a nipped in blazer looks fabulous over a full skirt. Look for versions with feminine detailing, like puffed sleeves and a fitted waist. You want to avoid anything overly mannish, like double-breasting or a large collar. Stay far away from swing or trapeze-style jackets. Combined with a voluminous skirt, you’ll end up looking like a tent. If a jacket is too hot, you can create a similar look with a vest (waistcoat).

Whatever top you choose, the most important thing to remember is that you want to show off the slimmest parts of your upper body. Emphasize your waist and wrists to counter the fullness of the skirt. A belt can help create curves. Place it at your natural waist, or even a bit higher, to highlight the smallest portion of your torso. A few bangles or a large ring bring attention to your wrists and hands.

Here are a few more of my favorite outfits featuring a full skirt and some of the tops and tricks I’ve mentioned above.


bekster said...

I have a similar "curvy" shape and have met some of the same challenges that Lindsay describes. The slimmer part of my waist is somewhat high, so when I have worn full/poofy skirts, sometimes I have felt like the shirts I have worn with them to emphasize my waist have made my torso look very short (which makes me feel fat). However, I discovered recently that wearing a LONGER tight-ish shirt OVER the skirt (assuming that there is nothing on the skirt to make it look bulky under a shirt) with a belt over the shirt on the thinnest part of my waist works pretty well. I was a little reluctant at first to go that route because I felt like my hips were emphasized too much, but my husband liked it. I think it worked because--in addition to solving the short torso problem--you could really see the contrast between my hips and my waist (which made me feel sexy instead of fat).

About cardigan sweaters, I have come to realize that it is okay if they do not completely button up in the front (as long as I am wearing something underneath them that covers what the sweater leaves exposed). The priority is for them to be tight on the slim part of my waist. The last sweater I bought was a S or XS, but I normally wear L or XL shirts. When I look at sweaters in the stores now, even if they look huge and frumpy in my normal size, I check the smaller sizes just in case. My favorite sweater in my normal size looked extremely granny-ish, but the one I got in the smaller size does wonders for my form. I also get several different looks out of it depending on how I button it.

Anyway, those are just some suggestions from someone with "curves."

Violet Peacock said...

Thanks to both of you for answering my question. There is a lot of great advice in there, and I hope to be able to put it to good use.

I too am short waisted, Bekster, so know where you are coming from with that.

I think the only thing I should have mentioned and forgot was that I live in Houston, so some of the knit options are only practical towards the cooler months, as right now its boiling here..

Thanks again


Maryissewfast said...

I love it Kashmira! You are better than Stacy and Clinton on "What Not to Wear"!!! I really enjoy your inspire me to dress better! Mary

Izzy said...
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