Ask Allie: Collars and Crews

Fashion Advice

The ever lovely Natalie emailed me and asked,

“Allie, when I try to wear a crew neck over a collared shirt, I look dumpy. How do you look so un-dumpy? What am I doing wrong?”

My email response:

My secret is… the only two buttons buttoned are the second one (the very top one makes me dumpy) and the bottom one (so the untucked shirttails look straight). The rest is gaping open underneath. I did this the first time with this shirt because it's now too small, but was amazed at how it improved the look of a shirt under a crew, and now do it all the time with all my shirts whether they fit or not!

So there you have it!  I find this helps since I am so top heavy – somehow the buttoned-up shirt emphasizes all my roundness, but when I let it gape open, my figure shows a bit better.  Of course this works far better with a thick sweater that won't show the buttons and gaping fabric, but if it's a thinner crew, I will not button the last button, let the shirt sort of go to the sides of my body and tuck it in so it's out of the way and more invisible.  Sort of like a dickey with sleeves!

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  • TinaPete January 8, 2013

    Thank you! I tried this yesterday; was able to wear a buttonfront that I love but is a bit small in the bust right now. You are such an inspiration. Hope you get some sleep tonight!

    • Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen January 8, 2013

      Hooray, glad it worked out for you! And yep, last night SIX HOURS! I feel like a new woman! 🙂

  • Kimberussell January 7, 2013

    Holy moley. I never thought to do that. Even though I have an outfit set for tomorrow…I might scrap it and try the layering!

  • crtfly January 6, 2013


    I think that perhaps you answered this already. Don’t you get cold with the shirt open? I thought it got fairly cold in DC in the winter. I think I would get cold but I’m going to try your trick anyway.

    • Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen January 6, 2013

      I guess I’d be warmer if it was buttoned, but it’s a Shetland wool sweater and gapes mainly where my bra is which gives some coverage 🙂

  • Kristen P January 6, 2013

    You keep the shirt unbuttoned underneath the sweater???

    Woman, you are a GENIUS.

  • Southernliberal January 6, 2013

    Oh, thank you for that! We’re built a lot alike so I am hoping this will work for me. I have hesitated to do that for the reasons stated. P.S. I SO wish CAbi still had that shirt. I love it.

  • Marla Robinson January 6, 2013

    That really looks cute on you.

  • Ignorant Awareness January 6, 2013

    I always find I have to wear them with a long statement necklace of some kind- I’m not ‘top heavy’ (not by any stretch of my pear shaped body, haha!), but I still find the look sans necklace too frumpy for my frame =[

  • MJ January 5, 2013

    Franish mentioned she layers a tank between the button up and sweater to smooth out the bumps, have you ever tried that? I like how you are a reverse of yourself in these photos! I will be trying your trick for sure when I return to work this week.

    • Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen January 6, 2013

      I have not tried that, it’s a great idea. I always feel overwhelmed in a lot of layers and get hot fast so I don’t know of I could do it myself (after a 12-hour work day I tore this off with glee), but it’s brilliant especially for winter!

  • CA_Powell January 5, 2013

    Do you mean the only two BUTTONS buttoned are the second and the bottom one??? ‘Cause otherwise I am not getting this at all!

  • fashionforgiants January 5, 2013

    Holy smokes, you’re a genius. I hate layering sweaters over button-ups because they make me look like I’m smuggling food (sometimes I am, but still). But, this? This is genius. I’m totally trying this next time!


  • Michelle January 5, 2013

    Do you have tips for a straight frame? I love this look, but sometimes I feel like a man wearing it… lol…. or is that how it’s suppose to be?

    • Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen January 5, 2013

      I think silhouettes help; a lighterweight sweater in a slimmer silhouette, a smaller collar. Also fabrics and colors in softer feminine choices. Also mix with more feminine pieces like a soft wide leg trouser, flippy skirt, or a statement necklace peeking out from under the collar 🙂

    • Ignorant Awareness January 6, 2013

      Try belting it, maybe? Or wearing a cropped blazer/ jacket over the top, to create a waist? 🙂

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