Wedgies and Leaks

Bear with me as I muster the courage to post what I am about to post. I’ve been talking about body quite a bit lately.

Mine.

My daughters’.

Other women’s.

I inhale the words of other women about their bodies.

Why?

I think I do it because so much changes from day to day, but even as I grow wiser and more accepting, the nagging voice, as Rebecca Woolf says, lingers for decades whispering the same cruel refrain of not being good enough. I want to know if others have it, or if I am somehow defective.

This is why I want to post about underwear. They are an every day thing and there is no way to put them on without being naked. How they fit can color my feelings.

If you are a guy and this means nothing to you, I suggest you go and read this post, because it’s beautiful and important, but honestly, in a way it’s kind of about underwear too.

Have you ever slipped on a pair of underwear and spent the rest of the day wondering if you put them on backwards because of how they kept sneaking up in back? It’s one thing if you buy a boy short or a cheeky brief and you know they are going there, but if you grab a regular pair of everyday underwear and they try to play peek-a-boo in that maddening way that has you picking and fidgeting, well, it’s no good

I have found two brands that make underthings that fit—on the cheek and on the waist, no overflow, no riding up and a tank top that doesn’t roll up my torso to my armpits. I understand that we are all shaped differently, but for me, these have been wonderful. I have purchased things, very happily, from both companies and I have also received products as gifts. That being said, I am not being compensated for this post, I just really want to share something that has worked for me, also, both companies were founded by women. Roar!

To break the ice, here I am trying unsuccessfully to capture an image of myself in the tank top. Dazzling photography skills, no? I did it in the kitchen no less. Alas, much to Sean’s chagrin, I do not cook in my skivvies.

 

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Seriously though, Commando, located in beloved Vermont, makes underthings that feel as if they are made of gossamer and confidence. This tank top, which is called the Whisper Weight Tank Top, is divine. It is on the spendy side at $48, but it is more like a favorite bra than a knockabout tank top. I have worn it under dresses, see-through blouses, and cardigans that I  wanted to wear as shirts. It is nearly invisible, doesn’t bind or sneak up, and generally feels slinky and amazing. I have wildly muscular arms and shoulders and the arm holes are large enough; the neckline is just right. Every time I wear it, I genuinely consider it a treat because all day long it stretches against my skin in the most amazing way.

 

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I discovered Commando when my mom sent me a pair of stockings. I have, for as long as I can remember, been unable to wear tights and pantyhose without getting a stomach ache from the pressure on my waist. Now that just about all you can find on the shelves are super, control top, things have only gotten worse. I end up cutting the waist bands and then trimming off what I can so that they don’t create crazy lumps and bumps of shriveled, unraveling material under my dress. It doesn’t work. The pair my mom sent me went right up my waist and sat, no digging, no pinching, no mid-evening tummy ache and bloating. I was SOLD, I had no idea how amazing the underwear would be.

These black underwear defy description. Do you see how pretty they are?

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The scalloped front doesn’t roll down, the smooth back does not nip into my 40+ skin and make big lumps. I always though the muffin top thing was a lie, but that and bra band rolls are real things that happen as your skin gets inexplicably looser. I wore these underwear on the flights with Fin to the West Coast. They felt so good, I made sure they were clean for the flight home. It’s a rare pair of underwear that can go with you through three airports as you carry all the luggage and, at times, your 6 year old, a 2.5 hour drive, and that awkward pacing nightmare at the baggage claim without feeling like they ought to be thrown away when you finally get home. These did!

I have talked about Dear Kate products before. As I think back to when I started having my period, the idea that I might have been able to wear underwear intended to take care of the oops factor, makes me excited to share them with my girls. Now, having delivered three babies, the oops factor doesn’t come just once a month. When I first bought my Dear Kate underwear I kept them in a corner of my drawer for certain times of the month, now I understand how comfortable and unbulky they are, I wear them whenever I want to feel a little old school glamour. Is it just me that thinks pale lavender and black seems Marilyn Monroesque?

The night that I took this picture I also happened to be using my Spoonk. I love it so much. Sean says it brings out the fight or flight instinct in him and he doesn’t find it quite as relaxing. It does poke you, which is why you’ll note that I am sucking in my stomach, not to look skinny, it was actually a response to the way the little spikes shifted as I lifted my phone to snap this pic. I really need to enlist Sean’s help next time!

A Spoonk will unknot your tensed muscles as you let yourself melt into the pressure and in that moment when you take it out from behind you and lean back into the sheets, you’ll slip off to sleep with a warm feeling on your back and a whoosh as you exhale in the deepest way.

 

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At the end of the day (and the beginning) I think we all deserve the little things that make the day easier, make us feel more confident, or, on the low days, help us to not hate ourselves.

 

Do you have any things that are your secret weapon for feeling good? Will you share them here?

An Update: Stitch Fix—Imperfectly Wonderful

A while back I wrote a post about Stitch Fix. If it’s not your thing, I get it. I don’t listen to Serial or do Cross Fit, go ahead and skip this one if you need to. I just wanted to share why I still value Stitch Fix as a shopping resource and appreciate that I can use it on my terms.

I put my Fixes on hold back in November for a couple for reasons. The first reason being that I was sensitive to non-essential purchases as we moved into the holidays. I wanted the leeway to buy gifts for friends and family, putting this particular me-thing to the side felt good.  The second reason I did it was that I got a fix that disappointed me.

When I sent that last fix back I explained that I needed to be heard when I responded that I did not want to receive lacy or boxy things. Part of the problem may have been how I use Pinterest. When I joined Pinterest I named my boards whatever I wanted, not what might help them be found and followed. I have a board called Self, which I made to help me remember things when I get in a rut:

 

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I also have boards for Mileage (about getting out of your own way), DIY (but the kind that multi-thumbed, sloppy people like me can maybe do), and even one that the girls pin to called Daughters’ Picks. Back to my point, Stitch Fix uses your Pinterest boards to inform how they shop for you. I have pinned things on my Wear board because I thought they were lovely, but not for me, more like, “Damn, I am glad that she can wear that.”  For example:

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A week ago I got an email saying my Fix was on the way. I tried to remember what I had changed in my profile to try to re-synch what they were picking with what would actually work. The box felt different when it came, heavier. I felt the same: giddy to have a box addressed to me with surprises inside that I could keep or send back.

 

I carried my first fix of 2015 up to my room. It had a pair of pants, which at first glance seemed to be similar in style to the two pairs I kept from an earlier fix. There was a black top, with velvet trim that I loved at first touch, a grey top that looked boxy, a large skirt, and a bag.

 

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I went immediately to the black top, pulling it over my head, and purring as it clung to my body in the coziest, most appealing way. Here it is in all the glory of our very high-traffic bathroom. I have a long torso and this shirt, even with its curves sides, covered the whole thing. It reminds me of a Free People thermal that I wore into the ground.

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It also has extra long sleeves which have these delightfully, unexpected buttons. It also has a quirky little pocket, which adds no bulk. A seam runs diagonally across the body, which makes it fit like a second skin without the sausage effect.

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This is the kind of shirt that I live in, but can rarely find when out shopping. I wasted no time in putting this guy in the keep pile. Here it is in my V-neck sweater stack, waiting to surprise me one morning with the rare, “Oh, my gosh, I get to wear this today!” closet euphoria. I’ve paid my share of $34 tickets on long sleeves shirts that I spend the entire day tugging down to cover my abdomen, or pulling at the sleeves so that the shoulders seams stretch across my shoulders. The shirt was $68, which when you account for the $20 styling fee that I would (happily) pay whether I kept it or not, it is sort of $48. Done.

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Let’s talk about the skirt though. The note said that they saw something similar on my Pinterest board. I went back to look, and there is indeed a skirt in a pin about needing to “conquer the skirt and bootie look.” The skirt they sent was shorter. It’s the length that makes me look like how Rip Torn might look in a skirt. It hits about three inches below my knee. I looked absurd. However, if I were a skirt kind of person, I would appreciate the fabric. It was thick enough to not show any lines, but still buttery and fluid enough to have a lovely drape. It also had pockets! Alas, I am not meant to be the forever home for this one. Back it goes.

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Next up, the pants. I am on the fence. These pants are very much like some that I already have. The problem that I have with these skinny, jeggingesque pants is that if the waist goes over a certain height I feel like my pelvis-into-mid section looks to be approximately the size of Wyoming. Here they are from the front. See how they kind of boxify me?

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Ok, this one is hard to show. Here they are from the back. It’s not good. I’d have to wear something long and untucked and never, ever wear a belt. I like belts.

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If I really wanted to try to make a go of it, these pants can give good ass, but I know myself. Even if they look ok, I will not feel good in them. I have tried to override this feeling before. One of those gifts about being 41 is knowing the things I cannot change about myself and accepting them. I know, I expected the wisdom of my 40s to be more noble. Nope. Hitting my forties didn’t make me a better or different person, I am simply more willing to admit that I know myself better. Back ’em right into that return pile.

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There is still the issue of the grey shirt. It had long sleeves and the feel of the fabric was nice—like the love child of a sweatshirt and a great t-shirt. The back had that split thing I can’t explain. Look at this.

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I think that back flap is a neat concept, but rarely have I seen it work. It either seems sort of like a flowy, cropped kaftan or plain slutty. Neither are looks that I am going for, but I decided to try it. I had the grey pants on when I first tried it. The thing is, the shirt feels great. The quality of the fabric and the craftsmanship are both excellent.

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I can’t wear it with these pants; it feels at once to be too much and not enough fabric. I tried it with a skirt that I haven’t been able to match with anything. I don’t blame this on the shirt. I think maybe my skirt is just a bust.

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I am conflicted about the bag. I never buy bags. This bag is not a style that screams me, but it is kind of fun. Briar loved it, “Please keep it, Mom. It’s reversible. It could be so useful.”

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I tried it with my typical weekend or Friday outfit—jeans and a plaid flannel. It worked. This may be one of the times I need to lean on the part of Stitch Fix that is so fascinating to me. I never would have picked this bag, or even shopped for a bag, yet I often complain that I don’t have any bags that work with professional outfits. I think I’ll send the grey shirt back and keep the bag. This puts my total cost $116, with the $20 I was already charged for the styling fee deducted for a total of $96.

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I maintain that after my holiday shopping experience and my increasingly complex schedule, having options sent to me is a luxury that scratches a necessary itch. I don’t have a great mall close by and what I can buy locally, I do. Like the plaid, flannel, Horny Toad top I bought at a friend’s shop. It has a buttons in the back that I can loop so that I can wear my weekend uniform and still show my waist. It looks great with the navy pants from an earlier fix, or at home in a pair of Alternative leggings from a local boutique.

 

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I don’t go in for pedicures or blow-outs and I sometimes envy those who do. I think having a treat that you can swing financially and that makes you feel good is a very worthwhile investment. As I think about ways to take care of myself, Stitch Fix still falls squarely in the worth it category. I’ve loved hearing how friends and family have loved theirs too. You can adjust your price tolerance at any time to have less or more expensive items sent. Switch from requesting professional clothes to date clothes, to errand running stuff. You can rant to your stylist about what you received, or you can gush about how you are in love with a piece.

Here’s my link if you are ready to give it a try. Stitch Fix isn’t sponsoring this post or doing anything special for me beyond what I pay for in my subscription. I just believe in balancing my complaining with praise. If you end up using my link I will get a $25 credit, which is cool, but not necessary. Ultimately I just hope everyone finds a little treat for them, however that may manifest.

 

 

Stitch Fix (the bitching & the fixing)

There are a lot of complaints that get thrown around these days, online and in person. I am no stranger to having people question why they should have to pay for something that my company does, “But it’s just an idea, it’s not like it’s a product or something that cost you money to make.”

Umm, wrong. The only reason you have the idea is because we came up with it. You didn’t walk through the doors of a public library, you came into a place of business—a place where employees come to work and earn the money that will buy their groceries and pay their rent.

I get a little annoyed when people gripe about Stitch Fix and its associated costs. The model is that they do the shopping for you, not that they scour the stores for the best deal for you. They can resell what they offer at a higher price than they pay for it. That’s what grocery stores and restaurants do, it’s what stores at the mall and online do. It isn’t criminal, it’s business.

You pay $20 for the chance that maybe they find something that you wouldn’t have tried on or would not have been able to find on your own. If they do a good job, that $20 comes right off the price of the clothes, if they miss the mark, it might cover their time, though I imagine that they spend more than an hour curating the outfits. I don’t really want to get into debate over living wages, but if you think their time isn’t worth $20, than you never should have signed up for the program.

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I’ve seen the video of a clothing item from a fix with a lower price tag than it was listed for—yes, that was clumsy, yes you can be annoyed, but it doesn’t mean that Stitch Fix isn’t a viable option for other people.

My latest fix came today, I think it’s about the 7th one I have received.

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When I opened it and saw two pairs of pants I was annoyed because in my feedback I have made it clear that some of the styles they send are not great for me. This time it was different. The pants were the right style, the right length, and they were within the price range I said that I would pay.

The first pair is a mid-rise skinny in bordeaux. I couldn’t believe that they were long enough. They don’t do that thing that tight pants do on women with calves like mine, you know that thing where they go taut over the backs of your knees and don’t even touch your skin? I did a deep knee bend and they didn’t show my underwear or make me grunt. I smiled at my deep teal painted toes from my date with Heather Barmore the other day.

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I know that high-waisted pants are coming in, but they are not going on me. These mid-rise were high enough that they don’t require tiny hip hugger underwear and not so high that they flirted with my belly button.

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The second pair is some magical color between navy and black. Long enough and even cuffable!

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The thing with these stretchy kind of pants, they can make you look flat in back. As I awkwardly tried to look at my backside and photograph it I was pleasantly surprised by the fit.

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Let me talk about the tops, because I have agreed with some of the naysayers about the flowy and boxy styles they’d been sending.

Not this time. The first shirt actually made me moan. I love a long sleeve shirt, but the broadness of my shoulders and the length of my arms usually makes for very ill fitting stuff.

I am in love with this shirt. The quilted look on the shoulders has stretch and easily managed to extend from one side of me to the other without pulling in other areas. The black sleeves are stretchy and soft, same goes for the grey torso area. It’s like it was made for me.

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The other shirt, which has an odd line in the earlier shot because I am neither a fashion blogger nor a planner, was a creeper. I wasn’t sure at first if I’d even try it on, but then when I did I loved the tail in back and the slits on the sides—not too high, not too low.

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The cap sleeves, which can be a problem with my arms and shoulders, were so soft. Usually I experience armpit torture, not to mention unsightly bra lines on my back. Not with this!
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After trying everything on I looked at the stuff within the context of clothes that I already have. Will they mix and match with things that I already own? Are they colors that I will get sick of before spring? Do I believe that the prices are fair? Will I wear the necklace?

The answer was that they all work. Both pairs of pants will play nicely with the boots I have and several of the sweaters that I own. The tops are perfect immediately as we have cold mornings and muggy days. When it gets even colder, they grey tee may need to go into hibernation, or I could layer it for weekends by the wood stove.

As I look at the box and imagine what it would have taken for me to get to the mall that is 45 minutes away—a sitter, or a free weekend day, the right mood…it goes on and on. Trying things on at home is so much less demoralizing than standing in the dressing rooms at some of these shops. I have my favorite store locally, which I still go to for jeans and tops, but the benefit of Stitch Fix is that it comes each month without fail. I can keep things or not, but it is my guarantee that once a month for at least a half an hour, I focus on me.

It won’t always be perfect, but it will always be worth $20 for that chance that it might be.

If you want to try it, here’s a referral. If you sign up and order a fix I will receive a credit, then you can go on to do the same thing on Twitter or Facebook or just through an email to a friend. You don’t have to do any of this. What I do hope that anyone who is reading this will do is consider the value of other people’s time; from the contractors who come to your home to give you a quote, to the accountants you work with to file your taxes, to the nurses who call you hon as they draw blood.

We’re all working and we’re all trying. And, maybe if we’re lucky, we’re looking fabulous as we go about our day.

 

UPDATED: A good friend of mine ended up signing up for Stitch Fix and here is what she said:

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Let me know if you decide to try it.