Monday, February 21, 2011

Essentiels de la Mode: The Right Foundation

Foundations make or break structures. In the same way, foundation garments can make or break outfits. Thus it is imperative that every woman seeking that touche de mode has at least a few foundation essentials.

Buying the right foundation garments can get to be pretty expensive. Before you spend an arm and a leg, you should make sure you know how to measure yourself (or get professionally measured) to ensure an accurate, comfortable, and flattering fit.

Because we are all unique some women have trouble finding standard sizes that properly fit them. Have no fear! One of the most humorous, yet ludicrous, ideas that many ladies have is that you cannot get your foundations altered. Think about it, girls. You probably spend more money on foundation garments that do not fit properly than all of the misfits in the other areas of your wardrobe. Why would you settle for misfitting foundation garments (which, as we've already established, can make or break your entire look) when you would never settle for any other garments misfitting? My point is that you shouldn't compromise of attaining the proper fit simply because your body is not the "standard" size.

With that out of the way, here's a simple guide to the foundations every girl should have in her repertoire.

There are three basic colors that you should have to make sure that your undergarments will work with any outfit.
-Nude/Bone/Skin tone
With so many styles available now a days, it is easy to get overwhelmed when choosing what cuts you should have. Regardless of style, each bra that you choose should fit properly and be comfortable. I'm not trying to (or going to) tell you which bra is best, because we all have different bodies and tastes. Padding, lining, material, etc. are all dependent on your preferences. Ultimately you should pay attention to fit and function when choosing the best brasserie for you. Does the bra fit properly? Does the cut give the appropriate support and function with your outfit? This generally means that you need at least one of each of the following:
-T-shirt: Generally a demi or full-coverage bra with little or no embelishments; often seamless; and provides a smooth appearance under a T-shirt.
-Plunge: Generally a demi or full-coverage bra with either a deep V-shaped or U-shaped plunge in the center. These are cut to not show when wearing a low cut, plunge, or otherwise irregular necklines. Plunge bras are very common today, many standard demi and full-coverage bras are also plunge bras.
-Strapless/Halter/Convertible: Generally a demi of balconette bra with either no straps or convertible straps. This is mean to give you support and coverage in garments in which ordinary bra straps would show.
-Everyday/Comfort/Bralette: Generally have no underwires, boning, and sometimes do not have padding or lining. These are great for just relaxing at home. They give support while often maintaining the comfort of not wearing a bra. For women with a B cup or larger these usually do not provide enough coverage to wear out of the house or in public-- though there are some exceptions.
-Specialty/Backless/Adhesive/etc: There is not generalization for these types of bras. They are made to provide support and coverage in garments that do not allow you to wear any of the above bras. You often need them for formal gowns, backless tops, and other specialty garments. Because they are each so unique they are not always commonly found in department stores and often need to be purchased at lingerie stores or the place where your formal gown/etc was purchased.

It is always painful for me to see a woman with ill-fitting, the wrong color, or the wrong style of undergarment showing. Of course if the she is in a position to rectify the situation I gently and privately make her aware of the fact, but if she is not able to it puts me between a rock and a hard place-- if she doesn't know, should I tell her and make her self conscious? Or if she does know, should I tell her and embarras her by the fact that I noticed?
I do need to make a point about color. No one wants to see your bright red lacy underwear through your white skinny jeans! Make sure you have some underwear that is:
-Nude/Bone/Skin tone
Some of us can be very opinionated as to which type of undergarment is best and which we absolutely, stick a needle in her eye, on pain of death, would never be caught dead wearing!
I completely understand because, as of now, I am one of those women! Therefore I will not specify which exact type of underwear you ought to wear, but rather what types you should own. Just as for your bras, you should focus on fit and function when choosing underwear.
-Everyday/Comfort: these are your lounging around the house underwear. Wear whatever you like! Go comando if you choose! No one will see them, so no one cares.
-Everyday/General use: You should not see seams, colors, or lines from these through your normal pants, skirts, dresses, etc.
-Invisible: We all have that one dress/skirt/slack/etc. that all of our underwear shows through. This pair of underwear combats that. Whether it be a thong, high rise panty, boyshorts, pantyhose, or shaper trunks-- you need to find something that is absolutely invisible under any garment.
-"Special": It is scientifically proven that just wearing a set of underwear that you like can lift a girl's mood. Pamper yourself!

With advances in fashion and garment manufacturing many women believe that slips are obsolete. This is not true! It is never fashionable to see through a woman's clothing, have lumpy bumpy clothes, "that-time-of-month" accidents, or visible undergarment lines. If any of these are pressent it is not the clothing manufacturer's problem-- it is yours! Thus every fashionable girl must have a supply of full and half slips in case of emergency!
You should have the same basic colors of slips that you do for your bras:
-Nude/Bone/Skin tone
The assortment of slips you need depends, to some extent, on the other garments in your wardrobe. Here's a basic guide:
***Depending on your wardrobe, you may be able to get by with just a good mid-length slip in each category. Some slips may be rolled at the waistline to be made shorter and some garments only need a slip to cover through the mid thigh or the knee.***
Full Slips -
-Short: approximately 16" depending on your wardrobe
-Mid: approximately 18"-20" depending on your wardrobe
-Long: approximately 22"-30" depending on your wardrobe
Half Slips -
-Short: approximately 16" depending on your wardrobe
-Mid: approximately 18"-20" depending on your wardrobe
-Long: approximately 22"-30" depending on your wardrobe

The idea that shapers are old fashioned is simply... old fashioned! It is a myth that the shapers of today are just a harmful, restrictive, and oppressive as the rib-breaking, organ squishing corsets of old. If you are under the impression that wearing a shaper will change your body, you are grossly deceived! They merely smooth out bumps and lumps and enhance the figure you already have. Nearly all celebrities of old and today have worn shapers. This is the only era is fashion history in which women believe that they are supposed to be able to create a "perfect" body shape without the help of body shapers. If you have a moral or ethical conviction against wearing body shapers I completely understand... and to each his own. However I would contest that the real oppression that woman face today is the expectation to maintain figures that were never before attainable without at least some assistance.
With that said, in my opinion, these are the most useful body shapers for the modern woman.
Waist cincher -
Who doesn't want to enhance their waist? Again-- this is not a corset! It will not create a waist where there is none! This will only enhance what you already have. The basic colors that you should have are... you guessed it! Black and nude/bone/skin tone!
Girdle/Shaper trunks -
These are not your grandma's underpants! Ok, so, maybe your grandma did wear underpants like this at some point... But these are not just for old ladies! Not only do shaper trunks get rid of the possibility of VPLs, they also provide a smooth finish throughout the rear and thighs.
*Some high waisted girdles/shaper trunks have control panels that can act as waist cinchers too*
As always your basic trunks should be:
-Nude/Bone/Skin tone
There are two basic types of girdles:
-Control: have special panels to control your stomach, rear, hips, thighs, etc.
-Seamless: no seams mean more chance of a smooth finish under slacks and pencil skirts
I usually opt for something that includes both of these elements.
Girdles/shaper trunks also come in longer capri and stirrup styles, if you prefer a greater amount of coverage and support.

I'm a big proponent of appropriate hosiery... Thus it saddens me that many women consider it to be obsolete! There is much debate over this issue even amongst the girls here at Touche de Mode. Thus I debated whether or not to include it in the Essentiels de la Mode series. I concluded that, while it isn't as essential as a bra, this would be my chance to argue why I love appropriate hosiery.
What do I mean by "appropriate hosiery"? I'm not of the opinion that women should wear them all the time and that bare legs are a fashion faux pas. However I do believe that they are a must for formal events (dependent on your outfit) and business attire. A business outfit is not complete without appropriate hosiery.
What type of hosiery is included in this definition? Sheer. Nude, bone, or skin tone. Black-- only occasionally. No fishnets-- ok, so there may be one or two exceptions, but as a rule-- no fishnets. No tights... unless they are a neutral color and it is winter. Absolutely NO jeggings, leggings, crazy patterned tights. The point is that they are supposed to give a smooth finish to your legs and enhance the rest of your outfit, not draw attention to themselves.
*And just in case you all were wondering-- these are my standards for "appropriate hosiery" not fashion hosiery. I'm for trying some wild and crazy tights/leggings, but not in this context*

There are always those articles of clothing that are simply not complete without a special foundation garment. In order to achieve the right look, the fashionable girl always makes sure to have those special foundations in her repertoire. These might include:

Emergency Materials
None of us ever wants to experience a wardrobe malfunction, and if we wear the proper undergarments and use the right tools we should never have to.
Here are some things that I always have on hand in case of a wardrobe emergency:
-Fashion tape: double stick tape that is made specially formulated to adhere to skin and fabric, keeping your garments in place.
-Safety pins: these multi purpose tools can be used for just about anything from keeping things in place, to keeping things closed, to creating impromptu seams and alterations, to attaching a loose button.
-Sewing kit: when in doubt, reach for your handy dandy sewing kit. If all else fails you can always sew yourself into your garment for the time being until you can make the appropriate fix.

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