Allie’s Mailbag

As I have done before, I will take a few questions people have put in search engines that had them end up visiting my site, or women who have emailed me directly for advice. If one woman had this question, there is a good chance that several more of you have had the very same question.

How to Wear Underwear and Not Have VPL?
The dreaded Visible Panty Line. This is something I am asked over and over again so I decided to survey readers on my other blog for what they have found successful:

  • For full bottoms: microfiber hipsters (found at Target and via the brand St. Eve)
  • For curvy frames: thongs by Hanky Panky, thongs, lowrise hiphuggers and bikinis by Body By Victoria/Victoria’s Secret, Gillian and O’Malley lace hipster panties (from Target), Victoria’s Secret Angels Wide Side Bikini, cotton and lace bikinis from Lands End
  • Athletic Build: Lowrise briefs, especially in microfiber fabric, tanga-style seamless panties, high-rise boy shorts, thongs from Frederick’s of Hollywood, microfiber panties from Gillian and O’Malley
  • Slim lower half: Mesh briefs (found at Old Navy), Hanky Panky thongs
  • Average build: high-rise boyshorts, microfiber lowrise briefs, briefs from Calvin Klein’s Almost Naked line, Hanky Panky thongs, Body Veil panties by Vera Wang, bikinis by Patagonia

So it seems that boyshorts work best on athletic or average frames, bikinis and lowrise styles of briefs and hipsters for fuller bottoms, and thongs are great for all – the Hanky Panky brand (and supposedly a great alternative at Target) noted as by far the most comfortable thong. Microfiber undies seem to be the most invisible under garments.

How Not to See Through a White Shirt?

  1. Wear a bra the color of your skin, not the color of the shirt
  2. Before you even try on the bra, put your hand under the shirt.Can you see your knuckle wrinkles?Your fingernails?If so, don’t even try on the shirt.It’s not worth your time.
  3. Consider white shirts with a hint of lycra.Not sure why, but this usually makes the white a bit more opaque.
  4. If you already own the shirt, consider one of those second-skin camisoles in a color near your body color.No one will see your bra, your belly button but it won’t be obvious that you are wearing a cami.

What is a Good Wardrobe for a Salesperson?
Well, one would probably want to narrow this down because your wardrobe is dictated by what you sell. I used to work at a construction firm, the salespeople wore lots of chinos and oxfords or polos with the company’s logo embroidered on the chest. In my current field (consulting), depending on what field our client is in, salespeople dress in conservative pantsuits, or chinos with embroidered oxfords.

When I worked as a salesperson in a store, I found I received more respect and seemed to have more authority when I dressed up. Matte jersey, crepe and Ponte de Roma knit all wear well, hold their shape, wash well and don’t wrinkle. I had suits and dresses in all these fabrics and could look sophisticated, successful, and still be able to break down a shipment box in five seconds flat or scramble up a 12’ ladder to grab the last pair of size 6 jeans. Black is always a great color – you don’t take attention from the item you are selling, it works all seasons, it’s less obvious when you wear it repeatedly, and hides stains. I chose classic styles of pantsuits and jazzed them up with brooches, shoes and cosmetics. Remember, you are selling the product, not yourself. Your goal is to look confident, successful, comfortable and in charge. Nothing binding, too avant garde (unless you work for a very creative firm), easily wrinkled or overly trendy. Nothing is worse than having to replace your expensive suits every two months due to a change on the runways. It’s far cheaper to change the shoes, the lipcolor or the jewelery.

I’m Petite, How Many Buttons Should Be on My Blazer?
Well, it depends on the rest of your body. A one-button blazer nips in at the waist and adds curves to a straight figure. Two buttons don’t seem to be as common as they were in the past – this often is seen on a boxier style of jacket that is only good on a petite frame if it is a cropped style. Three buttons is usually a good number for everyone; if the jacket is cut petite, the first button should be around bust level, the last button around your lower stomach/hip bones. More buttons, and it may make your legs look very short.

Where Can I Find Classy Brown Sandals?
Isn’t it crazy that it’s so hard to find nice brown sandals? I do find that often they are overly embellished, overly strappy and a tad tartish, or else dowdy. I also find brown is sometimes too heavy of a color for a chunky sandal (yes, somehow it works better in black) and often opt for tan as that it dresses up more easily, is more graceful, and blends with black and other shades far better than a basic brown. Here’s a few I liked that I found when quickly surfing some of my favorite sites…

These Nicole Jody sandals found on sale at Piperlime have lift without being too extreme (and is a good height for capris, skirts and pants), the tan color will go with a variety of colors and the woven detail is not too extreme but keeps the shoes from looking boring. Amazing how the color makes such a difference… a completely different shoe in the red option!

These sandals from Aerosoles look chic and feel comfortable. A wedge heel is far more comfy than a traditional heel, the style with the white stitching is simple enough that they wills till be stylish next summer. Oh, and the sale price is VERY nice!

I adore these heels from Cole Hahn and Ralph Lauren, and think they would look amazing with a flirty sundress or a pair of jeans.

These simple slides by Etienne Aigner would look chic with everything from Bermudas to jeans to business casual attire.

Where Can One Find High-Quality Knits?
Oh, what a tough question. It used to be so simple, X company was known for their jeans, Y for their suits, Z for their knits. These days it seems that quality changes from season to season even with the more reputable brands. A few I have had success with:

  • Lands End – Tees don’t fade or shrink, cashmere for less, cotton sweaters that keep their shape and all at wonderful prices. Be warned, they run large and they do not carry more trendy of styles.
  • J. Crew – great cashmere and merino sweaters. Have found their merino to be thinner than years past (will need a base layer), and their cotton sweaters to stretch out easily, but their tees and tanks are the popular lighter weights, yet still maintain good shape, colorfastness and reasonable opacity.
  • James Perse – seems to be the brand that celebs mention more than any other for great tees and knits. You can find his brand at Shopbop and Nordstrom.
  • Petit Bateau – this brand has a cult following due to the great fit, construction and fabric quality. I found basic styles at Bare Necessities and Bluefly.
  • Old Navy – you can beat the price, and I find the most durable ribbed tanks there every summer. This summer they had a heavier traditional tank, and then a thinner longer tank great for layering. Their tees come in a bevy of hip colors and have a nice feminine fit.

Is the Shu Eumura Eyelash Curler Worth the Price?
I myself had my doubts but decided to splurge and buy it as a gift to myself for my 30th birthday. Two and a half years later, it’s still a nice firm squeeze, gives a stronger curl than my old Revlon curler, the pad has held up beautifully (it’s black rubber and the curler does come with one replacement), and it’s fun to whip it out of the cosmetic bag. I think this is a curler I could still be using 30 years from now, unlike my drugstore curlers that lost their spring after a couple years and needed to be replaced.

What Size Pashmina to Purchase?
For me personally, I like the wrap size (at Nordstrom where I got mine they are 28” by 40” with a 4” fringe). This can work looped like a scarf, as a wrap for chilly evenings, and acts as a makeshift blanket on plane flights.


  1. Anonymous
    July 31, 2007 / 3:58 am

    I have the Cole Haans in brown, and they do look good with jeans. They’re comfortable, too.

  2. Anonymous
    July 31, 2007 / 2:46 am

    Great entry as usual! Regarding the good quality knit topic, I’ve been bitterly disappointed with J.Crew cashmere and not just the “tissue-weight,” but the regular weight ones. The ones I bought (at full price I may add) all pilled badly and ripped after one season.

    The best cashmere sweaters I’ve found were purchased (on sale) from major department stores like Saks and Bloomingdales. They don’t hardly pill as much and last for years. I’ve heard good things about Land’s End too (available at Sears, I believe). The brands carried in major department stores may be more dependable, because if they aren’t, the department stores would get a bad reputation? Just guessing here.

    And just so I don’t sound like a total J.Crew hater, I do find their cotton tees flattering to the torso, though I stay away from the cap sleeves that bind into my upper arms.

  3. July 27, 2007 / 12:47 am

    Yes. Shu Uemura eyelash curlers are WORTH it. 🙂

    Back to your VPL question you got though – I wish I had known this.. I bought microfiber hipster, high cut boyshorts to wear, and on my flat, uncurvy frame, it made me look like a stuffed pig in a blanket.. I’ll stick to stretch lace thongs from now on.

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