We all have them. Those casual tops and bottoms that screamed “buy me” in the store, but – once purchased – never seem to make their way out of the closet. Dressing in layers is a great way to re-think your personal clothing inventory and make the most of what you have.
In addition to its value for rescuing under-used articles of clothing, layering is a great fashion strategy, allowing you to add interest, a dash of color, and create an entirely new look that is totally “you”.
Sleevies® 3/4 Sleeve Extensions
From the overly-generous scoop of a low-necked tee, to the skirt that rides up, to the clingy materials that highlight those love handles, there are lots of reasons that some clothes just can’t make it on their own. Rather than throwing out or donating, experiment with layered dressing strategies that accentuate each garment’s best, most attractive characteristic.
Let’s say you bought a shirt because the color goes perfectly with a hard-to-match skirt. If the shirt rides up, don’t give up! Save the situation by layering on a contrasting vest, or adding an underlayer. Many women swear by the “hippies” – a flexible layering solution that bridges the gap like a wide belt, providing coverage without adding bulk.
Layers can also come to the rescue when trying to accommodate our changing bodies. As the years go by, women who were once happy to step out in short sleeves may find that a little more coverage makes them feel more confident. Again, there’s no need for a new wardrobe. Layer your favorite tops over a sleek shell underlayer – or add “sleevie” extensions – to give your old garments a new lease on life. Along with underlayer shells (short-sleeved, long-sleeved and cropped), sleevies and hippies, other garments that can widen your layering options include:
- The cropped top or half tee– a midriff-exposing layer, meant to be worn under a longer shirt. Half tees can be found in a variety of decorative necklines that add interest to any outfit.
- Tee-necks – sometimes referred to as a “dickie”, these garments provide coverage under shirts that expose too much of the chest.
- The pencil skirt – adds length to a tunic dress or a too-short skirt. Available in almost every color, pencil skirts complement an outfit, without making too obvious a statement.
The Fashion Advantage
Layering is a great way to re-work what’s in your closet, but remember – layering is also a creative and fashionable way to dress! Choose a color scheme, and experiment with garments that you never wore together before. Shuffle up the shapes, so that each individual article of clothing can be seen. When layering, choose just one particularly interesting item to highlight – a cropped jacket, or a fabulous scarf – rather than having lots of loud layers competing for attention.
But most of all, have fun! Dressing in layers is an individual statement. So forget the rules, and enjoy building a do-it-yourself look of your very own.
Well, the data is in, and it confirms what so many of us already knew. So why aren’t children’s clothing designers – especially the ones who design outfits for our little girls – paying attention?
A team of social psychologists recently published an academic study about how clothing choices affect how children are perceived by adults. According to the study, when children dress in “sexualized” clothing – a general category that includes skin-revealing cuts, as well as garments decorated with provocative images or text – adults are significantly less likely to believe these children to be intelligent, competent, or responsible.
The Numbers Show…
In the study, 162 male and female volunteers from an American liberal arts college were shown one of three images of the same fifth-grade girl, manipulated by computer software so that her clothing was either childlike, somewhat sexualized, or definitely sexualized. In each case, the child was also described in terms of her level of accomplishment – either average, or above average.
No surprise: When participants in the experiment were presented with the image in highly sexualized clothing and the girl was described as “above average”, the response – as reflected in the answers given to a set of standard questions – was: You must be joking.
Teach Kids to Dress for Respect
Most adults understand that they have to dress appropriately if they want to be taken seriously. But for kids, what constitutes “appropriate” is never clearly defined, and this can have serious social consequences.
Full A-line Skirt with Elastic Waist
Even the most responsible parents can be uncomfortable about exerting authority over clothing choices that – in many cases – haven’t truly crossed the line. After all, if parents are seen as obsessing about a hemline that’s too short, or a shirt that shows a little too much shoulder, children are likely to dig in their heels, and insist on just those outfits that push parental buttons.
But if we want children to respect our values, we have to clearly define what those values are. This includes listening to your child, and coming to a workable agreement about what it means to dress appropriately, within mutually-acceptable limits of modesty.
From Worst-case Scenario to Best Results
Modest dressing is often presented to children in terms of avoiding danger. We all want to keep our children safe, and it is unfortunately true that too-provocative clothing may in some instances invite dangerous, inappropriate attention.
But one of the best ways we can protect children is to teach children about the powerful, emotional impact that our clothing choices can have. Scientific research has confirmed that it’s possible to dress – not just for success – but for respect.
Shopping for modest clothing with a buddy isn’t just fun—it could save your wardrobe. You could be one layering shirt or modest accessory away from total fashion disaster, but not if your trusty shopping buddy is there with you.
Most of us know that it’s helpful to have a friend when we hit the mall. For example, I’m a hemming-and-hawing shopper, so I need my sister with me to give me the push to actually buy something. And a good SB (Shopping Buddy)—will always answer honestly when you ask, “Does this look good on me?”
But shopping for modest clothing is extra tricky. Often, we modest dressers are creating outfits of our own design. We see an amazing sleeveless dress, just perfect for [insert name of occasion, or just day of the week, here] and we decide to “modest-ize it” by pairing it with a layering shirt underneath. Or, hmmm….would it look better with a cute cardigan on top? SB to the rescue. And because that sleeveless dress was meant to be, well, sleeveless, we’re never quite sure if the colors coordinate, if we’re “pulling off” the look. But your SB—she’ll tell you if you’re rockin’ it…or not.
Long Tank Top
Then there’s the adorable V-neck sweater with a plunging neckline. Would the black tank top look better underneath? Or the white tank top? Your SB can help you decide.
There are more and more websites out there that cater to the modest dresser. You can buy an adorable sweater without a plunging neckline. Or an amazing dress with sleeves. But we don’t want to confine ourselves to only “modest clothing” stores, wonderful as they are. We want the freedom to buy clothing from any store in the world and turn it into something we can wear, modestly and confidently.
So we stock up on bolero jackets, tank tops, cardigans and layering shirts of all shapes and sizes, to create our own “modestly modern” wardrobe. A good SB helps you find those perfect layering pieces, or a hey-I-never-would-have-thought-of-that-but-it-looks-amazing outfit.
Saving your wardrobe, one tank top at a time.
What about you? Are you a go-it-alone shopper? Or do you believe, like I do, that two shopping heads are better than one?
Quick—how many types of sleeve lengths can you name? If you can only come up with “short” and “long,” it’s time to update your slee-vocuabulary. Worn as layering shirts, shell tops or on their own, you can play around with different sleeve lengths to expand your wardrobe options.
Walk into many stores today, especially stores that specialize in modest clothing, and it’s like the Baskin Robbins of sleeve lengths. So many choices!
Let’s take a look, starting with the shortest and working our way down the arm.
- Sleeveless. This is your classic spaghetti strap shirt. Not overly modest, but it can work beautifully as a layering shirt, like underneath a V-neck sweater. Spice up your sleeveless shirt collection with the addition of a Bolero SleeveOn® mini shrug. The bolero is a comfortable, light accessory to cover those arms and shoulders without sacrificing style. A long tank top is also a perfect addition to your sleeveless wardrobe and looks great under a shrug or cardigan.
- Cap sleeve. Ahhh, cap sleeve shirts bring me back to my youth. Those cute little shirts with fluttery sleeves that j-u-u-u-st cover the shoulder! But cap sleeves don’t jive with a more modest wardrobe. For modest fashionistias, try wearing your cap sleeve shirt as a shell top under a jacket. Or, whip out your oh-so-fashionable-and-functional bolero to cover up your arms while letting your shirt sparkle.
- Short. The classic length, usually ending right below your shoulder. But no reason to write them off because you like something covering your arm. A classic short-sleeve shirt can have infinite uses: It can play shell top to a jacket, or layering shirt over a long sleeve shirt (play around with different colors and shades if you’re feeling bold.) With a short sleeve shirt, the bolero can function as an over-the-shirt jacket, or an under-the-shirt layering shirt. In the summer, when you want as few layers as possible, Sleevies® come to your rescue. A pair of Sleevies® under your short sleeve shirt creates a modest sleeve length.
- Right above the elbow. Eureka! My personal favorite, especially for summer. It covers the arm between the shoulder and elbow, but stops right above the elbow. A modest look that lets you stay cool.
- ¾ length. Different stores and different manufacturers have differing ideas about what makes a shirt “3/4 length,” so you definitely want to try it before you buy it. A shirt of this length could end anywhere from right below the elbow to right above the wrist. Go for the below the elbow length if you want the right fit. Modest and so super-easy, 3/4 length shirts are a must-have for your shirt wardrobe.
- Long. The other classic length, which comes down to your wrist. (Tall shoppers beware: Make sure the sleeve covers your wrist. I have had one too many occurrences of buying a long sleeve shirt without trying it on and seeing that it ends just above my wrist, a fashion no-no.) A fitted long sleeve top coordinates with any skirt and is an easy, modest fashion choice.
What are your favorite sleeve lengths? Do you prefer the ease of a simple long or 3/4-length sleeve, or do you love to layer?
Modest fashion is attainable while on a budget.
In truth, most of the time you only need a few items to refresh your wardrobe. I am a bit partial to basic pieces, because I am always on the run with my 4 kids. I have to be in and out of the house in a hurry, and the last thing I want to worry about is what I am wearing. I own a few must have items that not only look great all year round, but are also affordable!
- Long black pencil skirt – The knee length black pencil skirt is a great versatile piece in your wardrobe. It is a staple item that is classic because it can be worn anywhere at anytime. The great thing about this modest fashion item is that you can wear it with a variety of shirts and it is a style that is never outdated. Celebrity mom, Victoria Beckham, often opts for this modest fashion choice and looks extremely confident and chic. Designers also like the knee length pencil skirt and was featured in Christian Siriano’s fall 2010 collection, Gap’s fall 2011 collection as well as Ann Taylor’s collection.
- Knee Length Straight Denim Skirt – I just adore straight knee length skirts, especially in denim! The knee length straight denim skirt is great for winter and summer and can be worn to many occasions. You can dress it down with a pair of flats or dress it up with a pair of heels with the right accessories. The denim straight skirt has also been a favorite among celebrity moms such as Courtney Cox and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Long Black A-line Skirt
- The scarf – When you are wearing basic modest fashion items, have some fun by adding colorful scarfs! The scarf is the easiest way to update your wardrobe and it is also the chicest way to cover up. It has been spotted on many 2011 runway shows, such as Yigal Azrouel, Kenzo, Just Cavalli and William Rast.
- Long Black A-line Skirt – The long black A-line skirt is also a great fashion basic item! I have several long black A-line skirts because they are so comfortable without looking sloppy. Whatever shirt I put on always looks better with a long black A-line skirt.
- Basic ¾ Sleeve Shirt – The ¾ sleeve cotton ribbed shirt is a definite must have in your closet! This basic T comes in a variety of colors, and looks great with a long black A-line skirt and a knee length straight denim skirt.
A while ago I wrote about how I love wearing my clothing layered to stay warm and stylish in the winter. But now, as I’m slowly changing over my closet from winter to summer clothing, I’m beginning to remember that much of my summer clothing has short sleeves or a low-cut top, styles that are designed to balance well with the summer heat, but that leave me feeling rather exposed. In summers past I used to pair a trusty black (or white) cardigan with nearly every shirt…but I’ve realized over time that I’m covering up my colorful wardrobe and that none of my summer clothing is getting the attention it deserves.
Before and After Sleevies
Fortunately, I’ve found multiple solutions that I think will enhance my summer wardrobe in ways that I never thought possible. The layering clothes that I’m most excited about are Sleevies®. At first glance, Sleevies remind me of legwarmers for my arms, but without the bulkiness or bunchy style of those ’80s staples. Instead, Sleevies are made from cotton and Lycra, so they cover your arm without sliding down or making you too hot. With Sleevies, I’ve been able to resurrect several short-sleeved shirts from my wardrobe, and I’ve even purchased a few more because I know that I can wear them without covering them up or overheating with a full long-sleeved shirt underneath.
Another great item I’ve found which enables me to wear my clothing layered in the summer is a cropped ¾ sleeve layering tee, which as its name suggests, makes it look like I’m wearing a full shirt underneath an outfit, when really, I’m only wearing the top of a shirt. There are 3 major benefits of this type of layering clothing. Firstly, I can cover my arms and my chest modestly and stylishly without having to add a full extra shirt on a hot summer day. Secondly, (and I hope you don’t mind me being a bit personal), is that wearing a cropped shirt often allows me to get two uses out of my top shirt before needing to wash it. Finally, wearing a cropped shirt prevents the bulk that often results when I wear 2 full shirts, so that I can look stylish without looking like I’ve gained 5 pounds.
I know that these fantastic finds will make it possible for me to enjoy the look of layered clothing all summer and to purchase clothing that I would otherwise never consider because of its lack of modesty. I truly love being able to shop in ‘regular’ stores while knowing that I can gently adjust my clothing to become more modest, without compromising on style. In fact, if you ask me, wearing my clothing layered just gives me even more of an opportunity to express myself!