Allie’s Mailbag

As I have said before, I am more than happy to answer your individual questions to the best of my ability. Feel free to email me (better than leaving it in the comments) and I will try to respond in a prompt manner.

lately I have received a ton of great questions and I have tried to respond in a helpful manner. A lot of the questions could be those that other readers have, so I have decided to share many of them with you.

I have a short torso/small waist, however my bottom is larger;let’s just say I wear a 10 or medium tops and a 12 bottom. I’m having a hard time determining what looks best on me especially when it comes to sweaters. I found them too long which when worn like that only emphasizes my bottom half. Any suggestions or ideas. PS. I rarely wear shirts tucked in because I feel it draws attention to my short torso.

My sister has a short torso and is bigger on the bottom than she is on the top as well, and she always looks fabulous. She swears by twin-sets; the shell usually is a bit shorter and slimmer fitting than the cardigan so the shell shows off her waist but the cardigan provides coverage and length to elongate the torso. She also wears lots of cowl necks and v-necks; even with a camisole underneath the elongated neck gives the illusion of a longer body. she also does not wear bulky sweaters – her sweaters are no heavier than a smooth Shetland wool so one can see that her top half is small and that she does have a waistline. She wears layers for warmth. Like you she does not ever wear anything tucked in and I don't believe she owns a single button-up shirt.

Have you considered empire waists? Be them wrap style or not, the higher waistband gives the illusion of a longer torso and these styles usually float at the end instead of hugging curves. A wrap style sweater with a higher waist, with or without a layer underneath could be quite flattering – you have the v-neck, the higher waist, and the a-line from the waist that will curve with your body. Another thing is belts. The past couple of seasons have been huge for belts. A black v-neck cardigan sweater over a white tank with a skinny red patent leather belt can look amazing with pants, skirts and jeans. This will show your shape without cutting you off in the middle. Wide belts are hard to wear if you are short waisted, but skinny belts over sweaters and tops gives a retro look that is very popular now. I love this skinny belt look but as someone with NO WAIST 🙁 I can't wear them. I keep trying them on and keep leaving them in the closet!

Have you already written a piece about at-home eyebrow maintenance? If so, would you mind letting me know where I can look for it; if not, could you please outline the eyebrow how-tos for us sometime? Yours always look great and I can't seem to get mine looking quite right…

I wrote a bit about brows here.

I was born with weird brows – they end before the outside part of my eye, I was born with no arch, and they are patchy. I have found using a brow powder and a very short slanted brush and brush in color makes my brows look more groomed. I also have long hairs in my brows. An esthetician told me to never cut the hairs because then they stick out, look unruly and are varied in texture. Instead I use a brow gel (my current one is from e.l.f. but I have also used Maybelline and The Body Shop) and brush the hairs straight up with the gel, and then brush outward. This keeps the long hairs in place, and also disperses the brow powder so it looks more natural.

I am a stay-at-home mother of 2 little girls. I am an hour-glass figure, size 8-10, only 5′ 1″, with double D's. I feel that my chest gets in the way of a lot of fashions, as I don't like my clothes to be so tight that all you notice is chest. By the time the shirt/dress/sweater is large enough to comfortable fit my chest area, it is way too big in the waist, and I end up looking like a barrel.Do you have any suggestions on what type of clothes would make up a good wardrobe for me, my shape, and my lifestyle?

I can totally relate; I am a petite woman with very large breasts. I also find these problems when shopping and after many years have figured out what can work.

First things first, how is your bra situation? One thing women with curves and breasts need more than new clothes are awesome bras. They are worth the money. A good quality bra can last for years if you treat it with care. I find that Wacoal is the best fitting for my shape, and I know Oprah, another feminine-shaped woman likes them too! You want stiff straps if possible, or sturdy elasticized straps. This will help support your breasts throughout the day.

Then, I am all about knits and sweaters. I own only one button-down shirt because they are not forgiving. Knits will curve with you if shaped well, won't get weird over the bust line, and hold up with regular washings. A wrap-style will show that you have a waist – a camisole or tank in the same color underneath will give the chest coverage you desire, but still give the wrap look that is so flattering and a non-barrel look. A wrap sweater with matching ribbed tank and jeans for day, a matte jersey wrap dress with lace-trimmed camisole for dressier occasions, a knit wrap top and matching yoga pants and knit cami for hanging around the house. I like faux wrap tops when you can find them, you don't have to deal with them shifting over the breasts, ensuring proper coverage. As for turtlenecks, they are cozy and classic, but I rarely wear them because they hide my neck, hide my waist and emphasize my chest.

Since you are petite, you want to show your shape a bit more. Petite women can easily look lost in their clothes and larger than they really are. This season is all about tights – a great alternative to jeans is a denim skirt and a pair of dark tights. I throw my tights in the machine with my delicates and hang them to dry. My denim skirt goes with sweaters and sneakers to the grocery store, a tee shirt and flats to the mall, with pumps and a nicer top to work or out with friends. I have two denim tights sold in the grocery – they can compete with department store brands for durability and shape.

A great heel and toe of a shoe can add pizazz to standard clothing. A simple sweater and black pants looks elegant with a cool shoe. Also, even the slightest of heels will add length to your legs to balance out your chest.

Dresses are also a great choice for your size because they can be easily hemmed to your height and show off your legs, creating height. Again, consider a wrap style to show your figure without being too flamboyant. Matte jersey is great – can throw it in the washer, it is sort of stain resistant, transfers from season to season with ease, forgiving to the figure. Dresses are so versatile; they can be worn with strappy heels for evening, with tights and low shoes for day, can have a camisole under for more coverage. Also if you choose matte jersey or another non-shiny synthetic fabric, it can be worn year-round. Many women disregard dresses, saying their life is too casual or complicated for them. Nothing is easier though than a dress – no layering, no coordinating tops with bottoms, easy to hope in an out of a car or SUV, you always look polished even though you just threw it on. Also by showing your legs, be they in hose, tights or bare, shows you are not a barrel, you are a shapely woman.

I wonder if you could weigh in on the subject of pantyhose color – specifically, when is it appropriate to wear nude vs. sheer black? I'm fairly confident of my wardrobe choices otherwise, but for some reason, choosing the right hose for an outfit – day, evening, and special occassion – flusters me. By the way, I work in a business casual environment.

I work in a business casual environment and I never wear anything but bare legs or solid tights. I wear black tights with denim, twill and corduroy skirts, with pumps, Mary Janes and boots. I see coworkers wear tights with gaucho pants, wool and heavy knit dresses and skirts too.

I own nude hose, but they are still in their package. I only wear them for when I meet with conservative clients at work, or have a job interview and wear a skirt. For formal occasions like weddings, I go bare-legged and it is completely appropriate in this day and age. If you feel more comfortable in nude hose, I recommend investing in very high quality, very very sheer hose. The slightly shiny suntan sandalfoot look is very out.

For black hose, I have been seeing it on many runways and magazines. I see it mainly with a color dress and color shoes, like red sheath, red pumps and sheer black hose. Very hard to do if it's not couture though. I would recommend black hose for dressier occasions when dark colors are worn. A black sheath at a wedding with sheer black hose and black heels is nice. A funeral with a black suit and black hose is proper. I too have black hose, but they too are still in their original packaging.

Hose confuses me too. One bad choice and suddenly your cute outfit has become passe. Pantyhose are no longer a necessity, but a fashion accessory to wear when you want. I hope this helped!

I purchased a shirt length dress from forever21. It's plum with cream polka dots. I have no idea what to wear with it. Should i dress it up with a nice pair of pants or dress it down with jeans and if so what color pants should i wear with it and what wash jeans. I was thinking of a pair of skinny jeans with a flat pair of mary janes or ballet flats. HELP!

I usually wear shirt-length dresses with a dark creased bootcut jean and black city boots for a dressy look, in Summer I like with a more vintage look jean and strappy heels. Dependant on the style of the dress, skinny jeans could work. If it's a swing style or kimono style – clean simple lines and little adornment, then skinny could work with flats. If it has ruffles or puffed sleeves or a defined waist or anything like that, I think a slim jean that is not skinny at the ankle would be better to give a clean look and highlight the decoration.

As for pants, that's a tough one. I rarely see dresses with pants that looks like an outfit. But if you think you have the right pair (slim, stretchy, something like the Express Editor pants) then I would say charcoal, and then a black shoe with an elongated toe to make it look sleek and not frumpy. Usually I say be safe and go with jeans.


  1. January 24, 2007 / 4:56 pm

    You are my hero, Dilly. Thank you so much. I am reading a lot about fashion right now–and this is some of the best advice yet. Thank you.

  2. Diane
    January 24, 2007 / 2:55 am

    Thanks for sharing these!!!

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