Thursday, 22 January 2009

A shortage of tops.

Miss Charlotte, any idea where i can get some longish smart/casual tops for work? i work in care/education with teenagers, so it needs to be not too revealing , its quite an active jobs (lots of manual handling, helping them with personal care,running around playing silly games etc) so it needs to be able to wear in layers so i can stay at a sensible temp, but also smart enough to be able to look presentable for meetings and during class times. doesn't have to be as smart as mainstream teacher type clothing, but not too casual either. atm, i wear mostly jeans/black trews, and v neck jumpers with vest underneath. I'm 5'10, large boobs, and trying to hide a post pregnancy tummy. any suggestions gratefully received as i currently have two tops on a loop!

The search for practical, flattering, reasonably priced work tops is bugging me lately, too. The new season ranges seem to lean heavily on design features that widen the look of the torso - and when you start with big boobs, that's a nightmare. The top above is deeply wrong, and yet you'll find similar in just about every shop at the moment. It's wrong for the following reasons: the drop waist draws attention to your hips with a horizontal line - and furthermore, the billowing blouson effect adds bulk to every tummy - not just post pregnancy ones. You want a loose fit - but you don't need to draw attention to which specific area needs the room. The batwing sleeves add volume between the torso and arms. Even as you move your arm, there's no visual distinction between body and arm - and the over all impression is that you're adding the width of the arms to the body.

Then look at the neckline. The round neck is a reasonable height, but round lines at the neck make big boobs look bigger. But the main problem at the neck is the gathering, which will make the neck and decolletage look tiny compared to the boobs. I don't want my boobs to look any bigger, thanks. By having no tailoring between the neckline and the dropped waist, the boobs seem visually united. Or droopy, if you will.

So what do we want? Well according to the rules of flattery, the best option is the kimono neck tunic. Very often the neckline is low, so a vest is needed - but this enables you to strip down a layer if you begin to feel too warm. The black and white top above, from Urban Outfitters is only £5 in the sale - up to a size 14, and would look gorgeous with a bright coloured vest underneath. The red and black oriental print tunic above is from Debenhams and costs £25 and is available up to a size 22. I think the pattern is really lovely - the sleeves are perfect, and the only fly in the ointment is that it already has an 'insert' where you would wear a vest - except I would be prepared to bet that you'd want more of a cover up for working with teenagers. Still, a black vest shouldn't look too odd.

Of course, there are other options: Bravissimo cater specifically for girls with big boobs and so their tops don't need the tailoring features that other top do if they are to achieve visual separation of boob and body. I like the twist neck top in Raspberry wine or chocolate (£25.50), but it isn't as long as the tunics, and so less practical. It's probably less forgiving of post-baby tummy as well. The final option is a cross-over top - but you want one that ties in at the waist, rather than fastens at the hip. The one above is by Linea at House of Fraser it costs £20, or £15 in black, although sadly the claret option is sold out. Sizes up to XL.

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