I came up with a couple of angles when I decided to share this Anatomy of an Outfit. In the end, I decided to go with the most personal explanation. This outfit actually took me less than five minutes to create, but it made me aware of a problem I’d been having with this top and a simple way to fix it.
The not so secret outfit details start with the choosing of this excellent Halogen top that I bought back in February from Nordstrom when it was in the mid-70s here in Sonoma. I needed something cool to wear in our unusually hot February.
I liked it for four solid reasons:
- It’s pretty loose so on a hot day, this top keeps me from feeling sticky.
- I was so darn hungry for a bold floral print, and when I found this one, I was sold.
- I desperately needed flirty, fun tops in my wardrobe. I loved the non-traditional sleeves and the ruffled/ruched/ grosgrain ribbon-tied details instead.
- For not a lot of money, I was about to enjoy my favorite trend of the winter season: large floral prints on dark backgrounds. It looked more expensive than it actually was.
This day in August, the weather was perfect for this top, especially if I added a scarf around the neck (which proved to be the about-to-be-revealed problem solver) as it was a tad chilly outside. I paired it with my skinny AG deep indigo jeans and made a nearly five-inch deep cuff at the bottom. I didn’t like it straight, I didn’t like it rolled two or three times making a thinner cuff; I loved it just this way. The proportion was just right.
I love how the black background in this print is close in color to the dark indigo jeans. I’m getting a lean column of color expect that the top half of the column has flowers on it. I added the neutral colored Camper sandals to call out the lighter peachy-blush color in the top.
Red-coral eyeglass frames are great with the orange-coral part of the print, and my orange lipstick pulls the colors up as well. Win/win, right?
Not so fast. The reason this top hasn’t been getting much use this summer is that it had a problem to begin with: the broad and rather deep (for me) v-neck. I bought it knowing I’d have to either work with it creatively or keep pulling the top down in back to raise the neckline in front. Why am I fussy about this? I have skin damage from going through radiation fourteen years ago. I don’t feel that bad about it, but I don’t advertise it either.
I tried to think of a way to explain it to you without showing it all. The left side is where I had the mastectomy. Radiation came after the surgery, and it left tons of redness all over the area where the breast once was, plus the red parts leaked further up my chest. It’s like you were ironing a top, but the iron was too hot for the fabric, and the material got scorched. My chest wall on the left is scorched. Without the scarf, those leaky red parts reveal that something’s different there.
I don’t want to answer questions about it. I don’t want to spend time wondering if it’s showing. But you know these flowing tops, they can shift around your body and relocate before you even notice it.
My family members are spotters. If I’m wearing something and you can start to see that area, Russ or one of the girls will mention it. It’s just a courtesy thing like when I’m wearing black pants, and they say, “Did you know you have cat hair all over butt?” It gives me a chance to do something about it.
If I’m wearing something with buttons, it’s easy. Just button another button!
Another thing I’ve done is added something flashy to my neckline so the eye goes to the flash first, or if I’m lucky, they don’t look beyond the necklace at all.
This was a silk dress I bought on sale. I had to have it because of the colors and the feel of the fabric, and yes, the sale price was terrific. It had that fuller “v” which made me nervous. Sometimes I say, “I don’t care” and just will people to look at my face instead.
Other times, it’s just not worth that kind of effort, so I wear higher v-neck tops so you don’t see it at all.
Another lovely shopping moment is when I find a v-neck that’s skinny, like this Vince Camuto floral print top. I have a scarf around the neck, but I wouldn’t have to.
By adding this navy scarf to my neck, I got a solution and bonus points. The solution is that with the scarf tied the way it is, loose and casually, it covers that area I’d prefer to be concealed. I love that it’s navy and pulls in the color of the indigo pants. It’s a snappy style detail. And the real bonus points come in that this scarf belonged to Mother. After she died, I went through her scarves and brought home a few.
She called me Babe. I can hear her say, “Oh Babe, no one would ever know. You look great.” She knows my secret and now so do you!
I feel great in this outfit. I feel flirty, fun, confident, and not once am I thinking about myself. I’m just getting on with the day in Petaluma, having brunch with Russ, hanging out at Copperfield’s Books, and visiting my friend Nancy who owns Uber Optics where I get my glasses from.
That’s what clothes are there for, to help speak to your style, keep you comfortable, give you the chance to show what you want to show and keep some things to yourself as desired.
I have clients who choose to wear long skirts to cover varicose veins. I have a friend and colleague who is bow-legged and wears bootcut jeans instead of skinny jeans as she wants to keep that info to herself.
How about you? Have you found some ways to work around any body issues you face? Sharing your tips could help others. How about we have a public service fashion share right here? I’d love to hear from you!