Reader mail: What to do with an ultrafine turtleneck?

Women: Ultrafine turtleneck - modern redToday’s reader mail comes from reader E, who asks how one dresses up an ultrafine turtleneck…

The thought of wearing turtlenecks hasn’t crossed my mind since I was in high school, but then I saw the ultrafine turtlenecks being sold at Gap. I was wondering how one would go about creating an outfit or dressing it up for work.

We like to wear turtlenecks beneath things — it helps us stay warmer, raises the neckline of otherwise questionable items, serves as a protective barrier between us and the clothes (less drycleaning = good) and also lets us get more use out of items that would otherwise be limited to one season. (Pictured above: Women: Ultrafine turtleneck – modern red, available at Gap for $24 — J.Crew also makes some nice tissue turtlenecks.)  In terms of styling, we suggest wearing it beneath…

  • A short-sleeved jacket. Some manufacturers purposely make jackets intended for wear only in the summer.  Some hints:  those jackets are bright white, beige, or made from linen.  Other jackets, though, are intended not only for wear year-round, but are almost always intended to have a layer with long sleeves worn beneath them.
  • A 3/4-sleeved jacket. You may want to play with the visual of the two sleeves so close together by adding a bracelet or cuff, worn on top of the turtleneck’s sleeve, but below the jacket.
  • A dolman-sleeved dress, a batwing sweater, or a cowl neck. Some of these items are safe for work, but sometimes it feels as if the entire top will fall off your shoulders if you bend a certain way.  We like the turtleneck as a way to both protect against that happening, as well as to communicate to others that you have taken steps to prevent that from happening.
  • A cap-sleeved dress. This works particularly well with a color-on-color combination, or to raise the neckline of an otherwise low-cut dress.

We’ll keep thinking, but that’s what we have at the moment.  We will also mention (but can’t quite bring ourselves to recommend) the “turtleneck beneath the buttoned blouse” look that we seem to recall seeing in many early ’80s shows.  Readers, how do you wear turtlenecks beneath clothes?

Check out some other thin turtlenecks, below…


Open Thread: How Doable is the Untucked Shirt with Jacket?

untucked shirt with jacketWe nearly posted this jacket at left for our TPS of the day, until we noticed the hideous buttons (seriously, they’re hids; check ’em out).  But it raised another question for us:  how doable is this look for the office?  Namely, the cropped jacket/cardigan with the untucked/tunic/long tank.  There are a variety of looks possible here — the too-short dress worn with pants, the blousy tunic, an untucked blouse, the fitted tank/sweater that happens to hit past the hips — as well as shrunken blazers, shrugs,

For our $.02: we’ve kind of always presumed it to be completely acceptable for a “business as usual” day — not reserved for casual Fridays, but not the outfit to sport the day you meet the new CEO.  The look is modern — people really weren’t doing this, say, 20 years ago — yet old at the same time (we seem to recall a fairly iconic image of Coco Chanel sporting a similar look).  We’d only wear the look as separates — say gray pinstriped slacks, a purple longish tunic, and perhaps a navy cropped jacket or sweater.

We normally do this sort of thing as a poll, but we thought we’d try an open thread today — please weigh in and let us know what your thoughts are on the look being acceptable or not for the office. Are we wrong? Is this look not doable for the office?  Are only some variations of the look doable for the office (blazer-like cardigan or shrunken jacket yes, but shrug no? fitted tank yes, but too-long dress no?)  (Or, do you only wear cropped jackets with dresses?)

Ten Things About… Dressing Professionally if You’re Busty

2017 Update: We still stand by this advice about dressing professionally if you’re busty (and links have been updated below!), but you can also check out our latest workwear style tips for busty women

What are your best tips for dressing professionally if you’re busty, ladies?

A lot of times for our daily workwear recommendations, people will note that they couldn’t get away with that, as they’re too well-endowed to wear a certain dress.  It’s one of the sad facts of clothes that most “professional” outfits seem to be intended for women shaped more like Jackie rather than Marilyn (or Betty rather than Joan, in today’s parlance).  But well-endowed women have to dress professionally also!  Below, some tips… Please chime in and let us know if you have any others.

1. Know your bra size. If the girls are multiplying throughout the day (and your bra is giving you the dreaded quadra-boob effect) then your cup size is too small.  Alternatively, if your straps are digging into your shoulders, your band size is probably too big.  Take our advice — go and get fitted at a reputable place like Nordstrom’s.  (The absolute best place to get fitted, in our experience?  Department stores in London —  they have the best range of sizes and the most knowledgeable fitters.)  You may find that you’re a 30F instead of a 34D. [Read more…]

10 Things to Know About: Wearing Button-Down Shirts

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Someone was telling us recently that they didn’t wear button-down shirts, didn’t even know how to wear ’em. So, here ya go…

1. If you’re going for the crisp cotton look, go for non-iron. Brooks Brothers makes a great fitted non-iron shirt. Thomas Pink (very high end, typically thought of as a man’s store) makes amazing button-down shirts for women, also, with interesting prints and a lovely fit.

2. Collars and jackets: Collars should stay on the inside of the jacket, not splayed open on the outside.

3. If you have a white shirt, try not to put it in the dryer in order to avoid yellowing. Actually, in our experience the iron-free shirts look best when hung dry. (Just pull them taut, a bit, when they’re wet and you’re hanging on the hanger — it always seems to help the fabric figure out where to go.)

4. If you’ve got a French cuff shirt, do not bother with those tiny knots you can buy at places for $10 — you’re wasting your money and time, because they take forever to put in. Instead, make an investment in a good pair of cufflinks — Thomas Pink has great ones; Nordstrom also has some beautiful ones right now.

5. Tucking: If you’re wearing a fitted, button-down shirt (such as the ones from Pink) you can experiment with how it looks untucked. The key is that it can’t be too long — it should hit mid-hip, and no matter what should not be longer than your suit jacket. Silky shirts should always be tucked.

6. If you want a very clean tucked-in look, there are some stores that make leotard-like button-down shirts. See, for example, Victoria’s Secret or Donna Karan.

7. Non-traditional style idea: Wear a short-sleeved button-down shirt beneath a vest or even a t-shirt. (We’ve given up trying to wear anything but silky button-downs beneath full-sleeve sweaters — the static cling gets us every time.)

8. Non-traditional style idea, Part 2: Wear a camisole/tank top underneath the button-down shirt, tuck in the shirt, and only button it up halfway, so people can see the camisole beneath. See Allison Janey in West Wing.

9. Gaping: If your shirt is gaping, this could mean a few things. A) You need a larger size, and should take it to a tailor to get it to fit you the way you want it to. B) You need to wear a camisole beneath it, so when you turn to the side people don’t get a view of your bra. C) You can experiment with Hollywood Tape and so forth to keep it from gaping — we’ve found the camisole is just easier.

10. Beneath the slightly sheer white shirt: Wear a bra that matches your skin tone, and a white camisole, no matter how convinced you are that no one can see through it. We’ve tried the nude camisole, and trust us: white just looks better.

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