How to Buy a Bra

Sizing for women’s clothing can be incredibly frustrating in general (meaningless numbers! vanity sizing! different sizing among brands!), but figuring out how to buy a bra that fits can be even worse. It’s pretty easy to tell if, say, a shirt fits you, but so many of us are wearing the wrong size of bra every day (which we’ve been told ad nauseum). Maybe you’ve lost or gained weight without buying a new one, maybe you feel like your bra fits well enough because you don’t realize you’ve never worn the appropriate size, or maybe you’ve simply given up on buying a size that feels just right.

We haven’t specifically talked about how to buy a bra before, although we recently had an open thread about readers’ favorite lingerie for office looks, we’ve discussed bra care (including washing, rotating, etc.), and a couple of years ago we specifically gave workwear style tips for busty women.

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Here are some tips on how to buy a bra that fits well, feels comfortable, and makes you look even better in your clothes:

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How to Build a Work Wardrobe at… Brooks Brothers

Welcome to today’s installment in our ongoing series, How to Build a Work Wardrobe At ___, based around the idea that if you’re ordering from a new-to-you store online, it’s great to be able to consider all the bestsellers/classics/hits at once. Today, we’re looking at how to build a work wardrobe at Brooks Brothers — you can also check out how to build a work wardrobe at Lands’ EndTalbots, and Boden (and eventually view the entire series on how to build a work wardrobe).women's classics to buy at brooks brothers

Brooks Brothers is a bastion of classic, sophisticated dressing, with a bit of a New England, WASPy, academic, preppy vibe, and if you’re looking for a place to get started with workwear, this is a great option if your budget allows. Particularly if you’ve been struggling with trying to dress appropriately and conservatively enough for work, Brooks Brothers is an excellent place to get familiar with — it can be fun in that preppy sort of way, but it’s all appropriate for the office.

We’ll go through a few of Brooks Brothers’ classic pieces below, but you should know that in general they have great clearance sales, and their much more affordable line, Red Fleece, is designed for younger women and is a little more playful and fun in terms of their twinsets, suits, dresses, and more. Another thing to note at the outset is that their accessories section has great brooches, necklaces, and a lot of other good accessories like simple, chic pumps, and handbags (especially check these during BB’s excellent clearance sales).

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Weekend Wednesday: What Are Your Weekend Sneakers — and Why?

what sneakers do you wear and why

For today’s Weekend Wednesday, let’s talk about sneakers…specifically, which sneakers do you wear, and why?  Obviously sneakers are not appropriate at most offices unless you’ve got a very casual office. But almost everyone needs a pair of sneakers for the weekend (whether you’re canvassing for office, hitting an outlet mall, or just having brunch). And I’m always interested by how many women, myself included, sort of have a base sneaker that you choose again and again for “fashion” more than any athletic purpose. For me it’s Converse, which as I’ve noted, I’ve always associated with a wacky, outsider, sarcastic kind of persona — the kind of persona that I really identified with in my youth. I’ve stuck with Chucks, even though they don’t feel 100% me anymore, in part because the other sneaker brands feel even less like me since I have associations with those, too. Keds = My Grandmother. Vans = My friend J. (Nothing against J; they look great on him — they’re just not me.) (And today’s question honestly has nothing to do with judging other people — it’s more like the Amy Poehler idea of “good for you, not for me” — there is no right answer because obviously all of the different sneakers are hugely popular. I just think it’s interesting how we identify different personality traits or style personas with different sneakers, sometimes very strongly.) [Read more…]

What Are Your Favorite Stores for Winter Coats?

favorite stores for winter coats

Alas, I think I’ve waited too long to do my Hunt for winter coats, as there are only lucky sizes left for everything I like. So instead, let’s have a discussion about three things:

  • where would you go if you’re looking for an AFFORDABLE BUT DEPENDABLY WARM COAT?
  • where would you go if you were looking for a STATEMENT COAT (that’s slightly affordable)?
  • where would you go if you were buying an INVESTMENT COAT?

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Engagement Rings: Have You Ever Upgraded, Downgraded, or Swapped It Out?

engagement ring upgradeSo here’s something that I know people do but never really hear people talk about: upgrading engagement rings. If you’re married, engaged, or just fond of thinking about rings: when, if ever, can one “upgrade” an engagement or wedding ring to get a larger diamond, adding more stones like baguettes or upgrading the setting to something like a Halo? When, if ever, can one replace a wedding ring for fashion/style reasons? (Obviously, the easy answer is “whenever the heck you want,” but there’s an etiquette issue here with your partner, as well as budgetary issues, fashion/lifestyle issues, and more.) We’ve talked about whether you have to take a diamond ring off to interview — but we’ve never talked about an engagement ring upgrade or anything else from this angle.upgrading an engagement ring etiquette

A few questions, to focus discussion: is buying “too much of a ring” ever a problem? For example, if your partner were to propose with an engagement ring — but still be in the midst of paying it off when you get hitched — how do you feel about that? Would you prefer zero debt in your union and a smaller ring — or did you have a mindset of “hey, you only get one engagement ring so let’s make it huuuuge!”, but then be OK with a monthly loan payment to which you contribute (or where your partner pays for it alone but then has less resources to contribute to family discretionary spending)? (After all, there are lots of different married money management methods!) Irrespective of engagement ring size, I know of several women who found that ultimately they preferred to just wear their wedding bands, and leave their engagement rings in the drawer (or safe, as the case may be)…

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How to Care for Curly Hair in Winter

how to care for curly hair in winterHere’s a question for all the curly girls out there: what are your best tips for taking care of your curly hair in the winter? What are your best tips for controlling frizz, moisturizing your hair, caring for your scalp, and so forth? We had a great discussion about curly and wavy hair in the winter a loooong time ago, and I thought we’d have an updated to care for curly hair in winter

Here are the major questions for curly hair in the winter: when do you shower? Do you wet your full head every day — or just attack it with a spray bottle in the morning? How do you avoid wet hair on your commute (does anyone do the spray/rejuvenate curls step at the office?) What hats, headbands, or other types of things do you like best to preserve your curls? Do you find that you need to cleanse your hair MORE–or less in the winter — and if it’s less does your scalp need extra TLC? What curly hair products do you like best for winter? (Does anyone prefer to just wear updos in the winter?)

As I’ve noted before, my hair always had a wave to it, but as I get older it gets curlier and curlier. There are huge differences in my curl pattern, though — the back of my head is super kinky, while the pieces in the front are looser, almost wavyish — and although I would say I’m getting more in control of when it looks “good” (maybe 80% of the time now versus 40% of the time in previous years), I still get a blowout for major events.  So: I consider myself to be a “part-time curly” in that I only wear it curly some of the time. Accordingly, I get “straight” cuts, not curly cuts, because the few times I’ve had curly cuts (years ago now) I hated getting blowouts because there were so many odd, choppy layers. (When my curly cut was blown straight, my hair definitely had that “toddler attacked my hair with scissors” (or, hey, “I got drunk and tried to cut my hair”) kind of look to it — and that’s from the Mothership of curly cuts, the Devachon salon in SoHo.) Last year I also started getting keratin treatments based on the recommendation of another curly friend — it’s made blowouts easier and faster, and it’s made my regular curls less frizzy and slightly looser. Expensive and time-consuming (the keratin appointment is 3-4 hours), but I kind of like it.

Curly Hair Products I use and like:

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