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Body scanner + sales help at Bloomingdales = perfect fitting pants?

16 Aug

Could this be the pants-finding solution that all hard-to-fit booties are looking for? Bloomingdales has installed a body scanner that recommends the best fitting, and flattering, pants for your body dimensions. My immediate association from seeing the photos: Star Trek, everyone gets to see you with your clothes off. Of course that isn’t really the case (your avatar wears a bikini) but it will still take some courage to put myself under the microscope. However, in the interest of good journalism for this blog, I think I’ll gather up my courage and check it out, and report back…

From today’s San Jose Mercury News:

High-tech help in finding jeans that fit

By Troy Wolverton

Posted:   08/16/2012 09:12:53 AM PDT
Bodymetrics body scanning cabin created to help women find jeans that fit

No it’s not airport security – it’s the Bodymetrics body scanning cabin, created to help find jeans that fit. It’s available for a test drive at Bloomingdales in the Stanford Shopping Center.


Go, Go, Pants

1 May

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an easy method for finding the items of “deadwood” in your closet. In the process, I uncovered a black pair of black skinny capris from Target, which hung in my closet unworn all of last summer, despite the fact that black pants should pretty much “go with everything.”  I found them quite by chance at Target for about $30 while picking up some plastic bins and Kleenex for the household. Score! I thought. At that price,  it wasn’t hard to spend another $30 on taking in the waist (something I have come to accept as a necessity with my body shape).

But, after coming home from the tailor, the pants sat in my closet. And sat, and sat. During my recent closet clean-out, I told myself it was because the fabric was too light for winter (Target pants are notoriously thin, in my experience). Then warmer weather started to appear, and I still passed them over. Using the hanger trick described in my recent post, I was confronted with the reality that I was resisting wearing these pants – they were the last pair to remain unworn. With an open mind, I chose a warm-ish day to put them on. After going through the day in them, I realized why I had been resisting wearing them. I just didn’t feel good wearing them.

It wasn’t the fit – I had them tailored to my exact body type. The fabric was cotton with a bit of stretch for ease of movement, and nothing was obviously itchy or uncomfortable. They were reasonably flattering. Still, I felt like I was trapped in them, and couldn’t wait to take them off. What went wrong between now and the fitting room at Target?

I had a careful look in the mirror and realized what it was. The closure loop at the waist was straining, making it look like my middle was bursting open. Because I had these pants tailored to my exact body type, and they didn’t feel gut-binding, I realized that they suffered from poor construction; the fabric was too lightweight to carry the strain of the closure, and the tab wanted to separate from the pants. Cheap pants! I cursed. Even though I could explain away the problem without blaming the size of my midsection, every time I looked down at my bursting closure, I got the feeling that my body was the source of the problem. Before Kids, I thought, these pants would not have given me a problem. 

{Now imagine me with a dark cloud hanging over my head.}

The Black Capri Pants Disaster


Well, there was just one thing to do about that. I only hesitated a moment before chucking them into the give-away pile. Yes, $60 is a lot to pay for a pair of pants you only wear once. But the money is spent, and now I have a choice to make. Berate myself every time I put them on for my thick middle, or make the problem go away.  Isn’t the choice pretty clear?  What would you tell your girlfriend to do? Battered women must choose whether to stay in an abusive relationship or cut bait.  Well, sister, we wouldn’t live with a man who insults your body type, so why should we put up with a pair of pants that does?

I am sure there’s another pair of black capri pants waiting for me that will love me more than those cheap old pants. Even if I was hoping the relationship would last longer, it’s always better to look ahead than try to put energy into a direction that has no future. The hardest thing, of course, is feeling the sting of my mistake, and admit that this love affair was over before it started. But that’s ok, nobody walks a straight path in life, we all make mistakes. Buying a bad pair of pants certainly doesn’t rate up there with running a ponzi scheme, or sailing an Italian pleasure boat too close to the shoreline.


Keeping my pants-buying failure in perspective, I put  the old (new) pants on the curb with the other Goodwill stuff, happily imagining someone out there getting a brand new pair of pants for cheap.

As for buying pants from Target – part of me says, Never again – My booty deserves better! Part of me can’t resist the temptation that I’ll find another good deal. I’ll definitely proceed more cautiously now, and perhaps opt for the casual pants with the elastic waist. (I have a $25 pair of baggy linen Merona pants from Target that have already lasted me for several years.)

So, there are two lessons here:

1) When shopping cheaply, it’s hard to go wrong buying pants that are styled like pajamas. For pants with a more tailored fit, it probably makes sense to shell out a bit more for a better quality product.

2) Never, ever, keep anything in your closet that causes a black cloud to appear over your head and follow you around wherever you go. Put that thing away at once. (In other words –  it’s not you, it’s the pants. It’s always the pants.)

Reblog: Fighting the Great Armpit Fat War of ’12

26 Mar

A great post from a fellow mommy-blogger about bras After Kids – or “booby straps” as my 3yo daughter calls them…

Fighting the Great Armpit Fat War of ’12.

A Warm Wind is Blowing (At Least in the Malls)

18 Mar

Just last week, I ate at a restaurant with Christmas decorations still up, and there was frozen grass on the morning walk to school not too long ago. But you’d never know it’s still winter by looking at the shop windows of clothing stores at the local mall.

Spring has sprung according to the retail merchandising calendar, and there are a few mom-compatible trends I want to try out for myself this season:

Nautical stripes

Splendid Navy Stripe crop

Nautical stripe looks fresh with lighter pants and layers well on colder days.

You can see them everywhere, on tops, tunics, and shift dresses. Remember the saying that horizontal stripes make you look fat? Not true. With a top that’s cut close to the body either at the waist or in the lower arm, and paired with slim pants, stripes can look light and fresh. You see them just about everywhere, from sweaters to t-shirts to tunics. I like the version with navy blue stripes on an off white (not bright white) background. Also, dense stripes can look busy, I tend to like a wider spacing to avoid giving myself a headache when looking in the mirror.

Above is a top I recently picked up at Anthropologie by Splendid tees. It costs more than I would have liked (over $50), but the cotton is silky soft,  and the cut is flattering and easy to wear; form fitting without binding, and falls below the hip. The stripe is a warm grey that is fun to coordinate with other neutrals. I have a feeling I am going to be living in this shirt well through the summer.

After feeling how comfy that Splendid top was, I got more interested in that brand. Turns out it’s a company dedicated to stylish, casual, nubby t-shirts! If only their prices were a bit lower. (Don’t you just want to dive your face into the closet below?)

Splendid Fabrics

"Yummy Fabric & Color" according to Splendid.

Wedge heel shoes

I get a boost in height and and add a fun accent to a plain outfit with wedge heels. I wouldn’t run after my toddler in them, but if I am going to wear heels, these are probably the most comfortable way to do it. I also like that they convey a laid-back bohemian chic, a reminder of old, carefree days of kicking around town in style before kids. Here are my favorite wedge heel looks – waiting for the sale on these though:

Awesome suede bootie by JCrew:

Wedge heel bootie by J Crew

My favorite shoe trend this spring: the wedge heel (it's everywhere)

I also love the espadrille version by Toms:

The wedge heel espadrille by Toms

In case you’ve never heard of Toms, it’s a shoe company that promises to give one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes they sell. The shoes are simply made, but comfy, and their social mission means you see their flats on 20-something feet everywhere. (Did I mention they also have toddler and kids sizes?) If you want to try them on, stop by Nordstroms, which carries them in several colors. I can’t see myself wearing a heel this high every day, but definitely appealing for dinner out or date night.

The Shirt Dress

This trend takes the crisp tailoring of a collared mens shirt and extends the length to become a dress. Hey, the chance to wear a collared shirt, with no office in sight – there’s something very appealing about that. Plus, the length is very flattering for all body types. I would opt to wear the shirt dress with cropped leggings or skinny jeans rather than bare legged, for the sake of modesty. (Short skirts and childcare don’t mix well, in my opinion.)  For going out to dinner on a breezy summer evening, I would go with sandals and bare legs. Either way, a belt adds definition at the waist and keeps it from looking like you raided your husband’s pajama drawer.

I first noticed this look on Rachel Mc Adams who appeared in the recent Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris” as an American tourist abroad. (Fun movie, by the way, if you haven’t seen it yet.) I couldn’t find a good image of the outfit online, but as it turns out, a web site has created the knockoff look:

Midnight In Paris Outfit

The shirt dress looks great with a belt, and, look - there's that wedge heel again!

I do have a few reservations about the dress shirt. For one, where do you get a reasonably priced version that’s easy to maintain? J. Crew had one in the store the other day for $100+, which I can’t even consider it until it goes on sale. (Other than jeans, I don’t pay more than $100 for anything I wear around my children for fear of their greasy fingers. I have several pairs of pants with greasy stains in the lap; since they otherwise work well and fit great, I just go around with permanent grease stains on my pants.)

Then there’s the question of how to keep that collar looking crisp and fresh. It goes without saying that I am unwilling to wear anything that needs ironing or a run to the dry cleaners. (I don’t even know where my ironing board is! Do we still own one?)  If only J. Crew married the Land’s End wrinkle-free technology and came out with a no-iron shirtdress. Their current selection is made of conventional cotton poplin, dress-shirt material, which is going to need ironing. Here’s a real opportunity for moms to look polished without much extra effort – Land’s End, are you listening?

Lands End carries a few shirt dresses at reasonable prices - but until they come in wrinkle-resistant fabric, this look is really not mom-friendly.

After a bout of cold weather, the weather turned warm last weekend, and we went to the beach in Capitola. It was really nice to lay face down on a beach blanket and feel sun on the underside of my bare feet.  I’ll take a real spring day on the beach over a fake spring day in the mall any day.  After all, the clothes and sales will wait for me, but my kids seem to wake up a little bit taller every day.  A day spent digging the world’s deepest sand tunnel under a warm, cloudless sky is far more precious than trying on one more pair of shoes in the mall.

If Breast Cancer survivors embrace their body…can we?

3 Nov

This post is not about clothes, but our attitude about the body dwelling inside them.

Below is a video segment about a photographer and digital artist who is helping breast cancer survivors embrace their new body by painting and photographing them. He is trying to create a photo that the woman herself will love more than any other.

How great is that?  Everyone should have a “favorite photo” of themselves. Not from high school, but from the past few years. I don’t have one. Do you? If a breast cancer survivor has the courage to reclaim her body and reveal herself to the camera after all the medical interventions of breast cancer, shouldn’t we? What would your favorite photo of yourself look like if you took one today? How would the woman in the picture feel? That image is worth pondering, whether or not it includes body paint.

If you have 5 minutes, check out this video about the project:

As a footnote, it seems Facebook is stirring controversy by banning the images on their site because some display nude female torsos. I don’t find them sexually inappropriate, and I would not have a problem my kids seeing them. You?

More on that topic:


Fit to be Tied

11 Oct

So last week I decided to try out a little wardrobe update.  I thought it might be a good idea to check out TJ Maxx since I had to make a return there from buying what I thought was a cool sweater vest a little while ago.  I decided to browse around and ended up with a ton of stuff to take home and retry since I was running out of time.  I heard the echoing of my mother-in-law saying “If you aren’t sure just take it home.  You can always return it.”  So I did.  I felt like Old St. Nick walking out of that store because the bag was THAT BIG.

When I went home I tried on a bunch of stuff for my husband and ended up with a bunch of things to return and some that needed in a different size.  So, I went back the next day and ended up trying a bunch of things on again.  As I was trying them on, the dressing room attendant (we’ll call her “the Attendant” for ease of reference) was commenting on a couple of the items I was wearing.  It was unsolicited but not bad advice.  And the attention was pretty nice, too.  So, I went through all of my outfits and with some help made final decisions on what I would be bringing home.  The last item I tried on was a knit dress with  3 broad color-blocked bands, knee-length and fitted.  Both my husband (from the night before) and the Attendant seemed to be very pleased with this dress but I still wasn’t sure.  I really haven’t worn dresses much less anything fitted since way before kids.  So I kinda shrugged and said “well, I think it makes me look fat.”  Shock and awe struck her face and she reassured me that it definitely didn’t and that I am skinny.  How could I argue with skinny?  And since I was already in a euphoric state from even being able to step foot into a clothing store for more than an hour ON MY OWN, I decided to set aside my insecurities and drop the dress into my “to buy” pile.  I then got dressed and headed out of the dressing room, thanking the Attendant for all her support and encouragement.  That’s when things changed…

As I was gathering up my “keepers”, the Attendant, almost in a whisper, leans over and asks “Um, do you have a baby?”  Now, I wasn’t with a child, I never mentioned a child, I didn’t have any child related products anywhere near me (in fact, I had man slippers in my cart, in plain sight) and I made sure to manage my time in the store so that I wasn’t asking around every 5 minutes if anyone had the time while explaining that I had to pick my child up from school.  So, the only conclusion I could come to was that I probably did look fat in that dress!  I replied “Yes, why because you could tell from my belly sticking out in that dress?”  And before I knew it we were in the underwear section standing in front of a rack containing items with control tops while the Attendant was explaining to me that if I needed to I could always buy one of these but I definitely didn’t look like I needed it in that dress and by the way did I remember to TIE MY BELLY when I was pregnant?  TIE MY BELLY??

If only I had known…

Naturally, I replied “Uh, Noo” as if I had forgotten because apparently in her world everyone has or is doing it and I definitely wasn’t going to be the idiot that had no idea what she was talking about.  She then continues to say “Oh yeah, you gotta tie your stomach but that’s ok if you didn’t this time, you can always make up for it with your second and third child.  And you know you can always do sit ups for your abs.”  NEWSFLASH!

So with little time remaining and clearly lots of work to catch up on (belly boot camp, working on a second and third child, picking my current child up from school), I excused myself and checked out.

I bought the dress but we aren’t friends and it will probably find its way back to the store and maybe into the hands of the childless, young and single Attendant who probably ties her belly just in preparation for the day she gets pregnant.

The irony in all of this is that I was in the store trying to find things that didn’t give away the fact that I am a mom.  I realize my body has changed and I look tired which doesn’t go well with many things other than yoga pants or jeans and a t-shirt but sometimes I just want to change it up.  I want to get past my postpartum insecurities and start feeling more like my old self.  But, is that possible?  Or do I embrace a new identity (a “mom-dentity”) with a side of who I used to be and incorporate the two into how I want to express myself now?

I suspect that although we want to find and embrace the things that remind us of who we used to be we can’t help but think about who we spend most of our time with and just how they play a defining role in who we are now.

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