Between ever more interesting and unusual cuts from designers, looking your best for your fabulous job and life, and constantly being on the move for work and play, it's a wonder anyone has the energy or time to pay attention to the details. Like Carrie Bradshaw, most of us prefer to keep a good chunk of our hard-earned cash right where we can see it - hanging in the closet - so it only makes sense to maximize the "investment".
The problems that plague the well-dressed basically fall into three categories: 1. finding a bra that fits & using shapewear to create the illusion of a flawless silhouette; 2. dealing with gaposis, wedgies, and other annoyances on the go; and 3. learning some of the secrets of professional fashion stylists.
Study up with this handy guide, and be rewarded with a style arsenal that's always fully stocked with the right shapewear, little helpers, and secret tricks:
A Bra that Fits Not sure on your bra size? Apparently 8 out of 10 women aren't. In NYC, head straight to the Ground Zero of bra-fitting: Town Shop, or let the helpful questionnaire at Marie Jo guide you. None other than Tim Gunn recommends you pay a visit to Bra Smythe...and then work it, work it, work it.
Perk Up the Girls With tank tops, racer backs, formal gowns, and workout gear, your bra bill can quickly get steep. A great alternative is the clever Cleavage Control Clip which you affix to your back bra straps and hike up higher for more vavoom in front, or leave lower down for a lower key look. It also takes care of falling bra straps, gives new life to that worn out bra you've literally loved to death, and helps more well-endowed babes by getting rid of the bra straps that dig uncomfortably into their shoulders. "I was looking for a product that provided support, hid my bra straps and enhanced cleavage," explains Carolyn Groner who invented this lightweight little lifesaver almost twenty years ago, but only recently launched it as a business. "I was so tired of buying different bras for separate outfits. Little did I know there would still be a need almost two decades later! I am very proud I have brought this product to the market. It is long overdue." Available in white, black & clear from UnseenSecrets.com. The Bralief by The Bra Clip is a similar type of clip which helps perk up the girls by tightening up the back bra straps.
Strap on a Strapless "It takes a confident woman to wear a strapless bra," notes lingerie expert Madame Marianne of the veteran design team at Va Bien. "Fashion designers today are more creative with their silhouettes and, as shaping experts, we in the lingerie field must remain innovative to enhance women's bodies while they're wearing the latest trends. " In their efforts to create the ultimate bra for a flawless bustline, they hit upon an idea that put a finger on the ideal solution - literally. The Va Bien ultra-Lift Perfect Strapless features three fingerlike plastic strips placed strategically between the inner and outer layers of foam in each bra cup to shape and fight the dreaded sag of your typical strapless bra, regardless of whether you're an A cup or a G. The removable clear staps can easily be converted to a halter, criss-cross, or traditional. The ultra-Lift collection also includes bras for low cut and backless tops, under trendy tees, and shapers and bustiers which flatten, cinch and, in the case of the Fanny Fabulous (worth buying for the name alone), boost your booty. Available in nude, black and white from VaBienLingerie.com.
Get into Ship-Shape(wear) After stuggling to lose post-baby pounds, fashion designer Heather Thomson - whose resume includes being Co-Creative Director with Tina and Beyoncé Knowles at House of Deréon, Creative Vice President for Jennifer Lopez's Sweetface line, and Design Director of Sean John - found herself frustrated with the uncomfortable, tight shapers on the market that refused to stay in place. After months of experimenting with various fabrics and a sewing machine in the bedroom of her New York apartment, she developed the Yummie Tummie which looks like a normal layering tank, but actually contains a secret midsection panel that slims your middle and camouflages visible lumps and bumps. "The effects of Yummie Tummie are dramatic for the wearer, both physically and mentally. It is so truly unique and different that I have filed for patents to protect my invention." Available in two lengths, 23" and 26" and sizes from extra-small through extra-large, there are a range of colors and styles, including the a short sleeve scoop neck, long sleeve sccop neck or v-neck, and a
new Freedom Tee with built-in shelf bra. Available at YummieTummieNYC.com. For more serious shaping, try Instant Shape designed by Dr. 90210, shapewear designed to mimic the results of reconstructive plastic surgery that can actually decrease your silhouette a full dress size.
Muffin top and other bulge action defeats the goal of sleek & chic, so fight back with the Unbelievabra all-in-one cami/tank. Bra straps stay invisible, and you look smooth and lump-free from any angle. Available at Unbelievabra.com.
Help Your Man into a Mirdle Thanks to the recent Hedi Slimane reign of skinny clothes at Dior Homme, everyone from Karl Lagerfeld to your average Joe has felt the urge to rock a sleek silhouette. However, if a budding beerbelly is a problem, give him a man-girdle, marketed more saleably as shapewear, bodywear, or support boxers. "I'm now at that weird age where I'm starting to have a little bit of a spare tire, that midsection squish," admits the 39 year old Robert Verdi, a TV style personality, in a recent piece on WSJ.com on the men's shapewear market. To get skinny for a date, he cut up a pair of women's high-waisted Spanx so they fit like a long tube-top. "I felt like I was wearing an Ace bandage, but I definitely looked flatter." (Men's abdominal shaper - MeMeHeal.com)
2. TAMING PEEKABOO, PANT HEMS,
BUSTED HEELS & OTHER DILEMMAS
Cure for Gaposis No one - no one! - is the least bit fooled by that completely obvious "hidden" safety pin women try and use to keep the contents of wrap dresses under wraps. Instead, the chic handcrafted Bosom Button creates a stylish, sparkly way to mind the gap, or even to make a shawl, sari or sarong stay put. A petite 8mm in diameter, they are handcrafted from Swarovski crystals and available in myriad shades from clear to pink, aqua green, black, silver, topaz and white pearl. Until April 30, use the code SPRING08 and save 20%! Available at BusomButton.com.
Nix Nip Show-Through Sexy sheer tees turn slutty thanks to show-through, so the Bali Concealers line tackles it with hidden Concealing Petals that hide the headlights, but provide a smooth, bulk-free finish. Purchasing info at BaliCompany.com.
Banish Your Wedgie Woes While not everyone has had the misfortune of suffering a wedgie attack on the Emmys red carpet like Sarah Chalke of Scrubs, we are all nonetheless fellow members of the sisterhood of the wedgie. Check out the Hanes.com/WedgieFree for a TV spot inspired by Chalke's proud Emmy wedgie moment, preview behind-the-scenes outtakes, sign-up for the Wedgie-Free Wednesdays product giveaway, submit your own wedgie story, or upload a headshot of yourself - or better yet, a frenemy - and enjoy a personalized Wedgie Dance Video. Oh, and pick up some of super-soft cotton Hanes No Ride Up Panties at Hanes.com...they're available as hipsters, hi-cuts, brief, low-rise briefs, and bikinis, and at $6-$8 per multipack, it would be a fashion felony not to.
Unstuck Pant Hems If your fave mules would look fabulous with pants - save the fact they keep getting stuck under your heels the minute you start to walk - then these clever Struts are a godsend. Simply remove the adhesive backing and center the strip inside the back of your pant hem. Crease or curve it as desired, and for cleaning, just peel off and toss with clear conscience since they're made from an eco-friendly 100% corn derivative. Available in packs of 5 pairs at Out-Ease.com. Another option is a pair of Muleos shoe ties or straps which easily transform backless shoes into elegant strappy kicks, safe for dancing, pant-wearing, and being fabulous.
One Pant, Many Lengths The perfect pants and jeans look equally hot with flats, kitten heels, and your fave pair of towering killer kicks. However, they don't exist. Instead of duplicating a pant you love by buying it in different hemlengths, pick up some Zakkerz pant roll-up strips which temporarily shorten pants whether you want to wear flats, or even just avoid dragging your hem through rain puddles or snow. Available at Zakkerz.com.
Pants that Stay Put If you're pregnant or just tired of fighting gravity with your fave low-rise jeans and don't feel like wearing a belt, bottomsUp are simple, stretch fabric bands worn underneath your clothes that attach to the sides of your bra and to pants or skirts. Available at GetBottomsUp.com.
Bullet-Proof Your High Heels Cracks, grates, curbs and cobblestone streets assault your innocent heels daily with tears, scrapes, scuffs and other indignities that now have you on a first name basis with your shoe repair guy. If you're heading out in 3-4 inch heels, slip on the Smart Heel Tango heel protector to keep your heels safe en route, and then simply slip them off when you get there. "As the creator, I needed to make sure that the product would do exactly what I wanted it to do before I brought it to market," says Stacie Urbach, who also reports that in the eight months she was testing her invention, no one thankfully noticed. "The first "save" happened when I was wearing a pair of Jimmy Choo booties with grommets on the heel and, upon exiting a taxi, stepped in a crack that would have definitely torn the leather and destroyed the entire look of the heel. Thanks to my Smart Heels, there was no damage at all." Available at SmartHeel.com.
Pack a Portable Purse Hook Wouldn't it be great to always have a place to hang your purse? The ultra-light, super chic ClipChic by Stylagio was created by a French fashionista living in Chicago who loved the idea - as would any woman who has had to worry about having her bag stolen in a restaurant, bar or cafe - but wanted something compact and affordable. For $20 and available in 10 trendy hues including fuschia, blue, espresso, and black, why not get one to match your every bag and mood?
Wrinkle-Free & Fabulous Instead of an iron, invest in the petite Jiffy e-steam hand steamer which functions like a full-size professional model, but is smaller than a breadbox, and can be stored within easy reach on a shelf in your closet. I still have mine from my professional styling days and I'm still obsessed with it and how well it works.
Make Frenemies with Stilettos The Foot Petals kit contains cushiony insoles that are open-toe friendly, back-of-heel cushions to keep heels from slipping out of your Loubies, and ball-of-foot cushions your tired tootsies will thank you for. Available at Zappos.com.
Stick a Stylist in Your Pocket The Stylist Essentials Kit is pretty much permanently sold out at CoutureCandy.com, however the On the Go Styling Kit from Manhattan Wardrobe Supply (the NYC stylist's go-to resource) contains everything you'd need, including Static Guard, safety pins and travel sewing kit, a lint roller, Topstick double-stick tape (ostensibly created for toupee-wearers, but the only double-stick tape trusted by professional stylists), nipple petals, a shoe horn, and stain remover wipes. For added piece of mind, pick up some Everblum Cosmetic stain remover and throw a silky scarf into your kit when you're made-up & wanting to slip into that sweater - cover your face with it and then slip on the sweater, keeping your clothes safely makeup-free.
...Or, stick a living, breathing stylist in your pocket with the amazingly helpful book of the same name by Kendall Farr, which will clue you into which of the three basic silhouettes you are, what clothes withstand the trends of time, and how to shop like a pro. We did an in-depth podcast interview with Kendall Farr when she first released her book....enjoy!
- Lesley Scott
(illustration at top: Arturo Elena)
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