Monday, August 15, 2011


Beauty Q&A: What to Wear, What to Wear, What to Wear, and Blackheads

In just under two months, I'm going to a wedding where I'll be seeing my ex-boyfriend for the first time since we broke up. So naturally, I want to look bangin' and make him drool a little and tug at the heart strings, etc. I have a dress hanging in my closet that I'm considering wearing, which is intensely flattering and just sexy enough, but there's a problem. I don't know what kind of bra to wear with it. It has a deep  V-neck and V... back? (Is that what it's called?) It's cut just below where the band of a normal bra would be.

It also has thin spaghetti straps and a sort of fluttery but sheer cap sleeve, so in a pinch I could wear a bra with straps but it'd look better without it. I'm a 34C, so not giant in the breast department, but can't go without a bra either. Do you have any recommendations? Is an adhesive bra my only option? They seem weird and voodoo-ish. Also, since this dress is pretty body con, do I need to go the Spanx route too? Like, I'm confident about my body but after eating maybe I'd have a weird belly thing going on?

WHY are you going to this wedding to fuck your ex-boyfriend!? Call me.

I've gotten this question a lot lately: Is there a bra for backless dresses? The answer is yes! But I do want to encourage more of you to go braless every once in a while if it works better for the overall look, even though you might feel nervous about it at first. Pretty much every chick you see in a backless dress with no straps showing is free-boobing it (including me, a C or D cup depending on the pasta intake). Try it once just to prove to yourself that it can be done, OK?

Nine times out of 10 that will be appropriate, but a wedding is probably not one of those times. You could, as you've mentioned, try nipple stickers or adhesive bras but I've tried both of those a total of one time each because I spent the whole night thinking about and checking on the stickiness and wondering if they would fall off and they didn't even make a real difference anyway and ugh. However, there is one worry-free item that will help you achieve your goals of support, coverage, tummy concealment, AND getting laid: a low-back strapless bustier, corset, or longline bra. Those are all words to describe basically the same thing. Here is one and here is one and here is another. This is some serious grown-n-sexy shit, so be safe!

Blackheads. They are every nose’s worst enemy. My question to you is: Is it possible to really, REALLY get rid of them, and/or “shrink” one's pores? I’m tired of my nose looking like a flesh toned strawberry.

I could go on forever about blackheads! And I do. Have you tried a facial with extractions? That's a facial where they remove your blackheads with this tool. I purchased my own tool to have at home because I am not rich enough to get regular facials, and I think Biore strips are fun but always leave behind a handful of big blackheads. Anyway, having your blackheads professionally removed offers instant results that can last a few weeks if you cleanse and exfoliate regularly in the meantime. Use a very plain facial cleanser for acne-prone skin and this Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant to slough off dead cells and dirt (or whatever that is that makes blackheads black). For NYC gals: If you can afford it, the Clarity Facial at Eve Salon is some next-level shit. Maybe your birthday present to yourself? And for those on a budget, I dig the $35 mini-facial at Season Spa. But seriously, after getting a facial like this and paying close attention to everything they do to you, get one of those tools and put on gloves and clean your nose with an antibacterial cleanser and play "Beauty Parlor" once a week in your own bathroom.

As for shrinking your pores, I've heard that's physically impossible, but clearing up blackheads over time is yet another magical thing Retin-A can do. And finally, try to find a non-comedogenic foundation. "Open comedo" is the medical term for "blackhead"; "closed comedos" are "whiteheads," so non-comedogenic products are supposed to not give you more zits. Again, Makeup Forever to the rescue.

I think I missed the day when they talked about make-up, hair, and other girly things.  I get weirded out by looking too girly, which I know is a mental thing that I really want to get over! Every time I try to step up my outfits, people tend to say, "Why are you so dressed up?" or "Are you wearing lipstick?" Grrr.  So needless to say, I don't know what to wear.  I think some of it has to do with the fact that I work in a field where I am usually the only girl, and I don't want guys ogling me even more than they already are.  I work as an audio engineer... Fashion is literally NOT PRESENT in my field. The men are in ugly jeans and gross ponytails and t-shirts and I am this lone feminine warrior of rock 'n roll... and I want to be taken seriously.  I have always been a bit tomboy-ish and tend to wear jeans and (cute) tops.  But I am tired of this.  I want dresses!  I want something fresh!  I want to be able to play my drums and look cute without flashing my lady parts to people! WHAT DO I WEAR?

I'm an audio engineer too, only I'm also a public radio employee, so you're preaching to the choir DIRECTOR. I'd like to back up, if I may, to your first sentence and the part about missing the day they talked about "girly things." The thing about being a girl is that some men will ogle you even if you're wearing a trash bag filled with barf, so don't even give that another thought. This is life. There are shitty things about being a girl. Class dismissed.

Now for a happy story: My boss is very, very good at noticing if you got your hair cut or you're trying some crazy new nail art, and he greets me many mornings with "You look fancy today, special occasion?" or "New hair!" and so on. (And then he always follows it up with "my wife taught me to say that" which is adorable.) He is being nice, and so are your coworkers, so cut them a little slack and practice saying "No special occasion, I'm doing this for you." or "Thank for noticing, do you think this color is working for me?" You know, office banter (if you are the lone girl in the office). And allow yourself to feel a tidge overdressed compared to your "jeans and gross ponytails" coworkers; those roadies are not really who you are dressing for.

As for what to wear, my first tip is to pick a style inspiration. A famous person. Whose style do you love and wish you could emulate? Don't set any boundaries at this point, just "in a dream world" it for the time being. Now, do an image search of that person and collect up a dozen photos of them in outfits you totally dig and keep those on your phone. Look at them before or while you shop in stores and online and you'll see your wardrobe start to change. That's it! No other rules to follow. I try to switch it up every year, but if you want Diane Keaton to be your fashion inspiration for the rest of your life, I won't argue with that.

Finally, and I almost hesitate to do this because I think there is a way of shopping on this website where you'll end up looking like The Delicious Dish ladies or pregnant 100% of the time, but have you nosed around on Boden? Sometimes they perfectly nail hip, work-appropriate yet flattering style for recovering tomboys who don't want all the attention. Plus they have this crazy "Outfit Maker" feature which is like playing paper dolls with their clothes and some cartoonish model. I'd start by pairing this tunic with some leggings, or this dress, or this top with some skinny jeans? Plus fun earrings and lipstick. Ack, there went a whole Saturday night online window shopping.

I am going to a friend's wedding in Bangkok over Labor Day. A)  It will be balls hot. B)  I am scrimping to get there, so notta lotta dough to be allocated to the dress. C) Big boobs, arm meat. 5'3," size 6 or 8, 34DD. Can I wear this dress (pictured)? It is 100% polyester, but doesn't it look breezy and cool? I am a fashion moron but want to look sexy and chic as most of us do.  Will this dress look flattering on me?  Will this be appropriate for the climate? Is this appropriate for a wedding? I want to try to avoid being a cleavage monster.

If you weren't so damn earnest with your questions, I'd say "Hey, why not try it? You like it in theory and the stakes are very low: It's a cheap dress that you can wear once, sweat like crazy, and if you never wear it again, no big deal." On the other hand, I hear that you feel a little uneasy about it so I'll give you my honest opinion: My answer to most of your questions is no. Polyester is a bad choice for a hot climate, but you already knew that because you hedged it with "It is 100% polyester, but..." So start trusting your gut, because you were spot on about the material. I can see why you are attracted to this dress, it's ethereal and feminine, but it also reads "homecoming dance" rather than "chic and sexy." Plus, the cut will showcase the parts of your body you seem the least happy with; that neckline will create a frame for you upper arms. And according to the reviews (which we all read, right?), it's a super-short dress and the fabric has no give so it might not be the most comfortable/appropriate for your event. Finally, Bangkok is a modern city and the wedding venue is likely to be air conditioned all-to-hell.

Taking all of that into account, and I know it's a lot, sorry, I think you should look for a fabric that is at least blended with a natural fiber in a cut that will flatter your upper body; if that means having some sort of sleeve, so be it. I also want to encourage you to consider spending a little more on an investment piece that you will get years of wear out of, rather than something trendy that'll never get worn again. You're the kind of gal who flies across the world for a friend's wedding! That sounds like someone who should have beautifully made, classic dresses at the ready for such occasions. So, keeping in mind that I really have no idea what you look like, and cutting me a little slack for going in a more, again, "grown-n-sexy" direction, here are my picks: would you consider this dress or this one or this one? Don't forget the transformative power of accessories. OH AND you are going to have so much fun in Bangkok! I want pics.

Previously: Pixie Cuts, Gym Nips, and Meeting Alex Trebek.

Jane Marie produces the radio program "This American Life."

164 Comments / Post A Comment


Oh Jane! How did you know how much I needed a Beauty Q&A today? Thank you for this.

Also, thank you to the person who told me in comments of a Beauty Q&A a few months ago that it's often the sulfites in shampoo that cause whiteheads -- I switched to a non sulfite shampoo, whiteheads are totally all gone. I love you!


@thebestjasmine WHAT, REALLY?! goddamnit, shampoo!!!

Jolie Kerr

@thebestjasmine WELL?? Are you gonna tell us where you found this miracle shampoo or are we going to have to use Google???


@Jolie Kerr I *think* all you have to do is look for shampoos labeled "no sulfiates" or "sulfate free" (I spelled it wrong in the first comment, apologies) -- I got a cheap drugstore brand that I don't even remember the name of, but there are a bunch of pricey ones too. Here's a article that I found on the Google with some of them, but there's lots more, and apparently L'Oreal makes a good one.


@thebestjasmine The thing about sulfate free shampoos though is that since they don't have traditional cleansers, your hair might not be getting totally clean especially if you're using a lot of hair products. I had seriously gross buildup after a few months. :(


@likethestore I did read that, and I've been trying to do a regular shampoo once a month or so (I only shampoo my hair 4-6 times a month, so people who shampoo more often or use lots of hair products may want to increase that). I have super dry hair, though, so I tend to worry less about my hair getting super clean.


@thebestjasmine @likethestore @Jolie Kerr the Say Yes shampoos and conditioners are amazing, sulfate- and paraben-free, and will get your hair properly clean without any residue. the cucumber conditioner is especially good at not leaving any gunk in your hair, and I live for the carrot shampoo. and they're available at target and basically any drugstore now, for $7-10 per big bottle. AND they don't test on animals.

Jillsy Sloper

@Jolie Kerr @likethestore @thebestjasmine

Here you go, sulfate-free shampoos:

So, sulfate free shampoos (aka "Low-Poos") are totally a thing among the cult that follows Lorraine Massey's Curly Girl/Devachan method. The theory is that curly hair is often dry, and sulfate shampoos cause frizz. However, sulfate-free shampoo can't wash out silicones, so you can only use silicone-free products, which is the hard part of this method. Because almost every conditioner, gel, spray, and treatment on the market has silicones in it.


@thebestjasmine : Are you guys washing your face with shampoo? I don't understand what's happening here...


@thebestjasmine Okay, real question I've had forever: I still don't understand the difference between whiteheads and blackheads. I'm pretty sure I have both, I went to a dermatologist, I use acne products, but I don't know what they mean...what's the diff? Why do I care?


@thebestjasmine If you're looking for sulfate free poo options I recommend researching baking soda/ vinegar methods. I wash my (curly) hair once a week with 2 tablespoons of baking soda (just from the grocery store) and every couple of days use a vinegar rinse to de-tangle and soften my hair, once in a while do an oil treatment or use conditioner. Its so cheap, and really works better than any shampoo I've tried, just takes some getting used to the lack of lather.


@Marzipan Blackheads are little and dark and basically fill up your pores and cause big pimples, but they themselves are not pimples. Whiteheads are little and white and poke out a tiny bit. I mean, I'm sure there's more of a scientific explanation than that (A Scientist? you around?) but that's what they look like. Blackheads are actually kind of easier to get rid of, between the strips and the tools and the facials, but most aestheticians (sp?) can't get rid of whiteheads, and only dermatologists can (which I discovered at my last facial).

@bnna My problems with any baking soda/vinegar methods are that a) I need lots of conditioner, because I have super dry hair, and b) I go swimming relatively often, and I need something to get the chlorine out. I don't mind lack of lather, though, maybe I'll do baking soda every other time or something.


@thebestjasmine Late on this so I don't know if anyone will see!
I am not A Scientist but I do spend my life translating for dermo-cosmetics so I know that blackheads are black because they are essentially a plug of keratin and sebum that has blocked your pore. They're black because the keratin gets oxidized, so it's not actually dirt that makes them black, INTERESTING.
Whiteheads are a build up of stuff in the sebum duct or something similar, like Jane said, they are 'closed comedos'. When it has pus in it becomes a pustule (I haaate that word).
Some acne creams/washes contain things which regulate sebum production, some regulate keratin production, some have both. Some will also have antiseptic to stop the trapped sebum getting all bacterial and turning into a pustule , and some have anti-inflammatory stuff in case you are already at the pus stage.
This is the best I can do without a degree in biology.


I've always had good luck with those adhesive bra cup things. They don't provide any support but are good for covering you up and making it look like you're not actually free boobing it.

And sorry Jane, you're awesome, but I'm a D cup and I would shock and horrify the world if I went braless.


@likethestore Yeah, seriously. I would maim people with my tits if they swung free. I'd rather shell out for a fancy bra (or a dress with straps).


@likethestore Yeah and for those of us who have had children it's *really* not an option anymore.


@likethestore Seriously, I don't go braless anywhere, the last place I would do it is a dress up occasion! And if my goal is to make my boobs look the most awesome, a bra is so necessary.


@likethestore I'm a d cup and I am often free boobing it, BUT I only discovered I was a D and not a B the other day and now I have realised I spent the last three years going "yeah I can get away with this top, my boobs are tiny" when I was in fact dressing like a giant slut.


@Susanna@twitter : Heh. The more you know!

Also, those stick-on silicone bra things? They're kind of amazing. I have one that's covered with black satiny stuff, hooks in the front, and holy SHIT it is so awesome. But the manufacturer's site says not to wear them for more than like 7 hours at a time or something, so ... wait, what? Am I absorbing molecules of silicone through my skin? If they didn't have that weird time limit thing, I would wear those things ALL THE TIME.

Lily Rowan

I think it's safe to assume that boobs of the same size (and remember, same cup letter does not equal same size! Cups vary with the band) may be of different perkiness, which I'm pretty sure is what makes the difference regarding free-boobing.

My 2 cents.

Das Rad

@collier By chance, is your bra made out of Happy Fun Ball?

fondue with cheddar

@collier The time limit is weird. Could it be because your skin can't breathe through it? Silicone is non-toxic, so it's not that. (They make lots of bakeware and sex toys out of it [and boob implants]!)


@scully WORD. The tennis ball in a sock look is never in.


@LauraJ I just can't even imagine trying to DANCE without a bra on. There is a reason that I wear industrial strength sports bras for exercise, you know?


@jen325 : I KNOW, it's bizarre. Like I thought the whole point of silicone was that it's "medically safe" or whatever. But maybe because this is a super-sticky adhesive variant? Or maybe because some people have sensitivities to silicone? Anyway, I just read a page some lady wrote and she was all "pff, I know they say six hours max, but I've worn no other bra for three years." So...

@Das Rad, Unlike Happy Fun Ball, if you turned this bra gooey-side out and threw it, it would stick rather than bounce. But perhaps its potential for angry retribution is similar.

Anyway - sticky silicone bras. LOVE. Mine's a NuBra...the "Satin" kind, I think? Seriously, get one.

fondue with cheddar

@collier Yeah. It's gotta be a lack of breathability thing.

But how do they stick? I tried those nipple things once, and pulling them off was so traumatizing I nearly vomited. I might try this if the adhesive parts were in the right places (that is, not in the wrong places).


@jen325 : You mean pasties or something? Yeah, you have to put those on with like surgical glue or double stick tape or something. No, the Nubra isn't NEARLY that sticky. It peels on and off pretty easily, but I've worn it for a whole day and not had a problem with it moving around or anything. The whole interior is covered with the sticky goo, but it really isn't difficult or painful to remove.

fondue with cheddar

@collier I'm talking about those nipple stickers for when you go braless but don't want your nips poking out. I just looked up the Nubra, and it turns out it doesn't come in my size anyway. It only goes up to C. Oh well.


@jen325 : Noooo, there's like 10 different kinds! Some have limited sizing, and some they seem to be sold out of many sizes, but I *own* a size D one, and they do still have the satin ones in size D available. Maybe just not in the color or style you looked at?

The "regular" Nubra is like all silicone (smooth on outside, sticky on inside) and looks / feels NASTY. I'd only get the ones that're fabric covered on the front.

fondue with cheddar

@collier Okay, I didn't realize they made so many different ones. I looked at their web site, and it looks like there are two that come in E with a fabric front (I agree with you that the all-silicone ones would be pretty icky). I'll have to see if I can find some testimonials online from women who wear that size. Thanks!


I. LOVE. BODEN. I love their wacky prints and that the shoes have sensible heels and the little blurbs about the models in the catalogs. How else would I have learned that Anouck Lepere's favorite snack is frozen chocolate covered bananas*?

*or something

Jolie Kerr

@Clare I just got a big shipment of Fallwear from Boden - love love love their stuff and am very ready for it not to be summer anymore!!


@Clare I looooove Boden. I've been wearing it since I was a senior in high school even though I am "supposed" to be way too young for it. I know that a lot of the clothes look super mom-ish but they also have some seriously fun prints that are so young. And in general their clothes are cut incredibly flattering. I got this http://bit.ly/ntLDXz this summer and it's the greatest thing ever except I should have sized down so I haven't worn it as much as I should. But seriously, my best dress ever is this awesome pink dress with huge white polka dots and I have an amazing pair of green heels from there too. Yay Boden!

Justine Garrett

@Clare I am so excited for Boden! It was the clothing brand that I was always trying to find but never did. How did I not know about it?


@Justine Garrett Seriously, I went on this afternoon after these raves and fell in love with like five dresses in five minutes.

raised amongst catalogs

@Clare YEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH, Boden! I fell in love flipping through a catalog back when I nannied for a lady who wore The Best Clothes. My advice to Boden newcomers: hang in there. Some of it is pricy but they have amazing sales, and sometimes there is free shipping/free returns action to boot. Sign up for the mailing list.

More battenburg, vicar?

@Clare I also love Boden clothes, and the fact that Johnnie Boden's favourite dogs are Jack Russells, which frequently pop up in the UK catalogues. All that said, I also love this alternative Boden catalogue feature on Dulwichmum's blog - it's very anti Boden, but very funny:


@Clare Buy all the things!


At first I thought LW3 actually worked in a literal field.
Also, "some men will ogle you even if you're wearing a trash bag filled with barf" - haaaa!
That is all.



Once in college my friend and I were super hungover and went to the 7-11 across the street wearing blankets wrapped around ourselves. Like, we were fully clothed, and wrapped blankets around ourselves and over our heads because it was cold and our sweaters were too far away. We still got wolf-whistles. It didn't even make us feel nice, it just devalued whatever a wolf whistle might say about our attractiveness because I looked like a babushka.


Just me, or does the dress the woman is describing in letter one sound totally inappropriate for a wedding? Deep v neck in the back AND front?! I know you want to look bangin', but sheesh, leave something to the imagination.


@ratchet Noo, not her back! Someone alert the church elders!








@ratchet Totally depends on the wedding. Church ceremony, stuffy family? Bad dress. Secular service, lots of dancing? Good dress.


@elizabeast I have never been to a wedding where a deep v dress would be inappropriate (which is lucky, because I think every wedding that I've been to I've had lots o cleavage). Church wedding: nice wrap over your back and shoulders for the ceremony, boom, just fine.


Cheese and rice, ya'll, calm down. Sorry I had an opinion.


@SBGBlogs : Bruce, is that you?


@elizabeast Yeah, I don't know, I think my family is more traditional. I just had this picture in my head of something a little bit much.

I've also been to one too many ceremonies where 50+ aged women were wearing homecoming dresses and men were wearing jorts and wife beaters when the invite explicitly said semi-formal, so maybe I've been ruined.


@ratchet LW1 here! Ack, to clarify: I'm not sure why I wrote deep v neck line 'cause the dress isn't JLo or JWoww-style, but just deeper than what I typically wear. Which I guess is pretty modest.... Maybe I'll just find a nice turtleneck and call it a day...

Also, to clarify, I totally do not want to fuck my ex, just look GOOD and be nonchalant about it. And then drink and dance with my friends while trying to make it seem like I'm not ignoring him. Typical and very mature stuff, I think! :)


@ratchet And she thought she was being a clever girl. Or, in the accent: "Cleveh gehl".


@dormilona Ah! Hello LW1! Ok, I mean obvs to each their own, but thanks for clarifying all the same.

And I totally get where you're coming from with the whole want to look good in front of the ex thing. I personally like to go for the totally caught off guard, sweats and greasy hair look, but to each their own. Also, I'm sure you'll look great!


"There are shitty things about being a girl. Class dismissed."

WAIT WAIT WAIT. Life isn't fair? Why didn't someone tell me this, goddamnit? MOOOMMMMM, what the hell? (Just kidding, she told me that life isn't fair all the time and I hated it)

Haha, no, seriously, I was just thinking about this, and, yeah, it's true, especially in fashion. I would kill to have the fashion choices of a man. I would look so freaking good all the time. If you wear well-fitting khakis and a button-up, you are ahead of 95% of the population. Pretty much only Barney is ahead of you.


I feel the "male dominated industry" pain (mining industry!) One of my friends would wear dresses and heels to our small town office and was constantly made fun of (and not happy about it.) The guys didn't mean any harm, it was just strange to them.
\Also, a former colleague of mine would wear make up to go underground (which is silly as it is dark down there), and was ridiculed. It's a bit better in city offices.


@Xaxa It's not ridiculous if you want to snag a gorgeous underground husband.


@melis Touche...


@melis Oh God, The Descent was truly terrifying. One of the only books I have ever read that legitimately frightened me.


@wee_ramekin IT WAS A BOOK TOO?


@melis Hells yes, by Jeffrey Long. I believe that the movie you linked to is at least inspired by his book (I've not seen the movie). If you have not read it, you need to do so immediately if not sooner.

Oh, also, move to Austin. Thx.


@wee_ramekin Okay, I just Wikipedia-ed your The Descent, and it is not at all the same as the book that I posted. But you definitely need to read that book, and its sequel, Deeper.


Letter Writer #2: ARE YOU ME GET OUT OF MY HEAD. Srsly, though, thank you, this is relevant to my interests (working in a lab! everyone wears jeans and/or scrubs! I have negative fashion sense!). This advice is completely awesome and I am going to pick a fashion inspiration right now. (Also I am probably going to spend a pile at Boden. DELICIOUS.)


@area@twitter It is almost impossible to look good when you work in a lab. My rule is to wear neutral basics to work but have excellent shoes, lipstick, and accessories on hand for post-work outings, and then wear my crazy shit on weekends.


@MollyculeTheory Yes, a thousand times yes. At least now in my new clinic job I can wear open-toed shoes, thank all the gods. Now I just have to worry about wearing shoes that I can walk across campus five times a day in, and also wearing clothes that are at risk of being smeared with crayon and inkstains and maybe blood depending on what day it is. Oh, pediatrics.


I own that polka-dot Boden dress, and I can attest that it is fab. Really 40s-cute and well-made!


I have one of those blackhead things, only mine has A SPEAR on the other end. It has a protective covering, but still. I was really surprised when I found it in there.


@punkahontas I contemplated buying one at sephora this last weekend, but that spear is terrifying.


@ratchet That's the exact one that I have. The blackhead part is really useful, and I HAVE used the spear too, but every time I'm like "dontfuckupdontfuckupdontfuckup".


@punkahontas I believe that spear is for lancing your zits (which is gross I know, but I have always considered it for those ones that are like under the skin and hurt like a bitch).


Can we all just agree that if the dress is from Modcloth, the answer is no? Overpriced dresses in cheap fabrics with oddly too-short-on-everyone fit = do not buy! Or, at the very least, look up the brand of the dress and buy it elsewhere for a lower price.


@KatieWK You're totally right, even though everything on Modcloth is so awesome and adorable I wish it weren't true :(

I have a bathing suit from there though, and it's actually very well-made and didn't cost a fortune.


@KatieWK Yes, WHY are all their dresses so short?? When I need to laugh with anger I choose their 'longer lengths' filter b/c all of the dresses are still above the knee.


@KatieWK I just went to a wedding in a Modcloth dress (this one! http://www.modcloth.com/Modcloth/Womens/Dresses/-Too-Much-Fun-Dress-in-Sand) and I thought I looked cute, although it was like, 1/4" too tight round my ribcage and after the (extremely huge) meal I was like NOOOOOO WORST IDEA EVER. Moral of the Modcloth story: it can totally work out well but you have to be so so so careful with what you order (read the reviews! ALL OF THEM) that it's almost not worth it and DEFINITELY not for anything that looks super trendy because it is guaranteed cheap as hale.


@cosmia I'm glad you found something nice on there! I may be wrong and some of their stuff might be really nice. I have never even bought anything from there myself--just judging from people I see on the street wearing their dresses, which always look too short and cheap to me in real life.

Then again, I tell myself everything sold online probably looks like shit in real life because my greatest fear is that one day I will try online shopping and actually like it and then burn through all the money in the world.


@annepersand I only own the one bathing suit from there but I literally read every single review and looked at every single photo of someone wearing the thing, and paid special attention to people who had similar measurements to me. And that did work out, so yay!


@KatieWK Ugh totally! I never have the guts to buy their dresses after reading the reviews, especially the ones that are like "cheap material." And I hate having to rule out 90% of the dresses because they're not going to be work-length appropriate.

Shopruche.com is one of the sites that will sell the same brand for less.


@KatieWK I feel like Modcloth dresses fall into two categories. They either 1) would not look good on anyone who weighs more than 110 lbs or 2) cost $5 million apiece. Sigh.

At least their copy is always good for a laugh. Has anyone started a Tumblr making fun of those yet?


@KatieWK I've never actually bought one of their dresses because of the same reason - they look pretty in the stock photo but sometimes in the "unprofessional" customer photos it looks more meh. I WANT THEM TO BE GOOD, DAMMIT. Also it helps that the shipping to Canada is sometimes astronomical, so it's not worth it.


@mackymoo omg thank you for this! And shipping to Canada is only $5! On Modcloth it's like $15, even for one measily pair of tights or something.


@KatieWK Preach. Their stuff all looks cheaply made, way too short, and unflattering on anyone without a model body.


@cosmia It drives me crazy when people write reviews on clothing sites and say "I'm glad I sized down" or "I found it to be too big on my frame, which I was shocked by, so definitely size up" and then they DON'T SAY what size they are or how tall they are or how much they weigh or even if they do say that but fail to say what size they actually ordered. Those things should be a requirement for posting a review!

Emma Peel

@mackymoo Yeah, I used to like Modcloth as a cheaper Anthropologie, but now honestly everything is priced the same as Anthropologie but isn't nearly as well-made. (At least Anthro stuff tends to be made from nice material, not Forever 21 rayon/nylon.)

Shilo Byrd@twitter

@KatieWK I live in NYC and seemingly everything on Modcloth is available for sale here for no more than $17.99 in the legions of clubwear stores on Broadway between 14th and Canal. I own a top I saw on there for $46.00 that I bought for $12.99.

If a shop on Broadway in NYC is selling it cheaper (they have rent! crazy rent!) then you KNOW it's overpriced!


@KatieWK Weird thing about Modcloth is that you can almost always find their dresses from other retailers for $20-$30 less. Occasionally that other retailer is Forever 21, but more often than not it's an even smaller, Motcloth-esque company. But you know what, maybe Modcloth is easier for people who aren't me. That is, women who do not have jobs which allow them the entire day to shop on the internet.



I've only ever ordered things online from two stores in the past few years: ModCloth and Anthropologie. The Modcloth dress was for my graduation. It looked like a long, cream colored dress with beaded embroidery on the back, the kind of dress that would transform me into an old fashioned movie star dame drinking a fancy drink on her veranda as her suitor calls to her from the other room. When it arrived it turned me into a dumpy, washed out lump. I've never worn it again.

The Anthropologie purchase was a swimsuit, the Natalie One-Piece, and I read the sizing chart and reviews meticulously. When it arrived it was glorious, I've worn it many times, it does exactly what I wished it would, and I've convinced my friends to purchase one too.

I learned my lesson.


@KatieWK 1. I love you for telling me this.

2. I really wish you hadn't told me this.

chicago sally

oh to work for ira glass.


Mmm, it's not that great, he's made of fire and screams a lot


@chicago sally I spent like ten minutes after reading this imagining how I would react if Ira Glass noticed that I'd cut my hair. #nerdynerdnerd

oh, disaster

"I am this lone feminine warrior of rock 'n roll." Wow, I just work in a cubicle.


Can we talk about the photoshop disaster that is happening here?
I stared at it for the longest time. Are her arms in front of her waist or did they just cinch in her waist all to hell? Where do the insides of her elbows end? So many questions!


@bitzyboozer : Submit to psdisasters post haste. Dude, that is egregious. I think her elbows were pointing back, behind her? And then somebody said MAKE HER WAIST SMALLER, WE'RE SELLING A CORSET and amateur photo editor was like "no prob, I will just mask and squish starting at this here point on her arms, thus liquefying them and making it look like she has some kind of wing flaps and they're blorping toward her waist because this corset comes with a gravity well and soon her fingernails will be orbiting the event horizon of her navel and I have GOT to stop staying up until 5am watching Doctor Who on Netflix."



"Sometimes my arms bend back."


@Diana -She's filled with secrets.



Bite the bullet, baby. Bite the bullet!


@bitzyboozer This is what Alex Mack is doing these days.


Do you see creamed corn on that plate?

P.S. I tell my b.f. to bite the bullet baybee every time we see a Renault car.


Good god Saks Fifth Avenue walking model/web designers, thank you for scaring the crap outta me.


ATTENTION QUESTIONER #4 - DO NOT - I REPEAT - DO NOT PURCHASE THAT J. CREW DRESS. First of all, it is a weird length if you're not over 5'8" or so - secondly - although that dress LOOKS like you won't be a clevage monster YOU WILL BE. This is J. Crew's original fallacy - nothing looks even slightly revealing on their models but as they size the dresses up the necklines become more and more revealing. Also that fabric totally shows sweat. But it does look deceptively cute on the site! Sorry - I purchased it for a wedding and was not prepared for the amount of boobage that it produced. (36DD here) The cotton taffeta from J. Crew is much more wearable (in my opinion, obvs!). Good luck though - your wedding sounds awesome!

Pound of Salt

@Olivia2.0 I agree and will add that it made my upper arms look really big! And I needed to get it altered a lot to make it fit right.


@Pound of Salt I actually LOVE this dress on me (38Cish, 5'6") but cannot even fathom wearing it in the summer, the fabric is all wrong. I agree that it shows sweat and it is kinda a long length. I liked that in the winter but now my boyf asks me to wear it and I'm like UGH MAYBE IN OCTOBER


I have had terrible blackheads on my nose literally for a decade. The same ones. They never go away. Nothing gets rid of them, including the extractor tool that I actually broke from constant use. I have no money for facials. Hairpinners, save me.


@agba Save up some money and get a mini facial. You need extractions from a professional to get those blackheads to go away. Look on yelp or whatever for where you live and find small salons that do facials, and keep checking their websites for deals.


@agba The thing with blackheads is they are composed of hardened, oxidized skin oil and dead skin, and the only way to get rid of 'em is to dissolve the goo and scrub them out. Get yourself one of these! Battery-powered scrubby brush! Use whatever cleanser works for your face. I guarantee it will help; I'm so happy I started using mine, 'cause my skin is so much better than it ever was.

Also, apply a dab of 10% benzoyl peroxide cream to your nose daily. Rub it in well with a cosmetic sponge, and be careful, 'cause that stuff will make bleached-out spots on clothing and bed linens. Helps dry up the oiliness and any actual pimples.


@MsChilePepper I LOVE THAT BRUSH. Mine was temporarily lost, and I almost ran out and bought a new one, I was so panicky about it. My skin was driving me crazy a few months ago, and then I got a facial, bought one of those things, and changed shampoo (the latter two of those I found out about on The Hairpin xoxo), and my skin looks amazing now.


@agba You seem like you know a lot about this! So, can I just ask...do you really notice blackheads on other people? I definitely have blackheads (apparently) and my pores are visible, and my mom is SO preoccupied with it. She literally brings me different cleansers and things every time she sees me and encourages me not all that nicely to do something about it. But it honestly DOES NOT bother me, and I realized that it's basically not something I ever notice on other people as long as I'm a normal distance from their face. I can't even see my own unless my face is right next to the mirror. So I guess my question is...do I really have to do this? Does everyone secretly think my nose is gross and I don't know about it?


@Titania Okay, so I am one of those people who tends to Notice Things like that, and I can honestly say that I've never noticed anyone else's blackheads (but mine bother me for weeks until I manage to get rid of them). So blow off your mom if you don't care! Sometimes they can then go on to cause big pimples later, but if yours don't, life is to short to worry about stuff that you don't care about.


I used to get hella blackheads. My suggestion: http://www.acne.org/clean-clear-blackhead-clearing-scrub-reviews/37/page1.html this scrub once a day. I also occasionally used Biore ULTRA pore strips, which do much better than the normal ones. I did squeeze a few, sadly, but after a long, hot shower when they were starting to crown. Good luck.


LW#4! I grew up in Bangkok, so first of all: if the wedding is indoors, you will need a shawl, because it will be FREEZING. We used to bring winter coats to school because the classrooms were so damn cold. True story.

How long will you be over there? If you're getting there more than 4 days before the wedding, I say get your dress made over there! You can get a super nice dress made for under $100, EASY. This is what we all did for school dances, formal occasions, etc. You just bring in a picture of the dress and 1-2 days later, BAM. It's yours. They can even make you a damn purse out of the same material.

I miss that.


@dk This is such a great suggestion. LW, do this and you will have a cute dress made exactly to your measurements, style and fabric requirements for a very low price. I had a ton of stuff (including shoes!!) made in Vietnam this way. It was so fun. I'm 5'10" and the robe I had made there is the only one that has ever been long enough for me.


@dk That sounds incredible. I saw this beautiful Missoni coat the other day and I want to have it made in my size but I wouldn't even know where to begin to find a dressmaker who could copy it for me.


For blackheads: the Oil Cleansing Method. I know it sounds counter-intuitive and like a comment I should be making on a Green Person column, but it really works. The second time I did it, all the gunk in my pores popped right out, and once you've wiped it off and let your face dry, you don't feel oily at all, just soft and clean and lovely.


@Chris@twitter : Too much marketing-speak there, and then they really lost me at "YOU MUST DRINK 8 GLASSES OF WATER A DAY!" Science says no, and I like science better than the idea of rubbing focaccia dip on my face.


@Chris@twitter I used the OCM for a little while, and while the initial results were good it eventually dried out my face and gave me spots. So I'd say it makes a really good occasional facial, and did sort out the worst of my blackheads, but sadly it didn't work for me long-term.


@Chris@twitter Yes! The Oil Cleansing Method totally worked for me also for blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, oilyness, everything. I've had terrible acne for years (more years then I hadn't by the time I started this, i.e. 15+.) and tried damn near everything and nothing has worked as well, as quickly and for as long as just rubbing some olive and castor oil on my face every night. It has done miracles. Seriously. If only I had discovered it sooner then maybe I would've made it to almost 30 without having the same horrible skin I had at 16.


what about those plastic clear bra straps that are optional? i don't have boobs-i could only dream of C-cups. but my Victoria Secret strapless bras always come with them. they at least would be a better alternative ?


@chichiwawa Even when you wear the clear straps they still look like you're wearing straps....


@chichiwawa A friend of mine in high school did this with sleeveless tops to avoid the unwanted attention of visible bra straps. It's counter-intuitive. The guy sitting behind her in Spanish class just asked her if the entire bra was clear.


All I have to add:

1.) If I like something on Modcloth, sometimes I just look at the brand name and search for it elsewhere as they seem to just mark everything up and slap a twee name on it.

2.) Paula's Choice BHA gel exfoliates the inside of your pore and thus rules for blackheads.


okay, so this is only slightly on topic BUT related kinda to the LW#1 in that I need a corsety bra except for sexy sexy sex times (not really) (yes, really) for not too expensive that doesn't look cheapy! WHERE DO I LOOK? none of my usual haunts (Victoria's Secret, Figleaves, Gap...) seem to have what I want.


@mangosara Check out some of the lingerie in the online store at A Woman's Touch - they ship. (Or you could just go to any similar such store near where you live.) I know the idea of checking out a sex shop might seem skeevy to some folks, but if you can find one with a feminist bent (or with a national rep, and AWT has both) you should be able to find something.


@mangosara Fredrick's of Hollywood?

@Clare No. That falls under "cheapy." The lingerie department of Lord & Taylor. Honest to god sexytime, marketed as normal underwear.


"The thing about being a girl is that some men will ogle you even if you're wearing a trash bag filled with barf"

omg I lol'd so much


We don't even care if the trash bag is the wrong size or anything.


I'm sorry- that dress is fuuuuuugly.


Bless you, Jane, I don't do a lot of internet shopping and I didn't know about Boden.


re: blackheads. does anyone here do at-home peels? TCA or glycolic or mandelic or lactic acids? i've been doing retin-a for years and it hasn't reduced my blackheads.

re: dress for bangkok. do not do polyester. it will stick to you, and you will be damp and uncomfortable and smelly. also, if you're top heavy, j crew is not your friend. their styles are all geared toward a very long lean figure. having a dress made there is a great idea!

i kant even

@roaringkitten i do alpha-beta peels at home. the one i have is pretty mild (i have really sensitive skin). it's 10% salicylic acid, 40% glycolic acid. it makes my skin look awesome, but be prepared for a week or so of flaky nasty skin peeling off your face. i will probably go up to 50% glycolic acid next time i order. i would be afraid to do a tca peel at home - those are really intense.


Bangkok lady--I went there this year and had the best time. You are going to have such a good time. Eat everything! EAT!

And buy this dress: http://www.modcloth.com/Modcloth/Womens/Dresses/-State-of-Well-Being-Dress-in-Noir

It's a knock-off of a Tracy Reese dress. I'm about the same proportions as you are and I know this will look killer. Also, you can roll it up in your back-pack. Also, it will be really comfortable in the BKK heat and it's black so it won't show sweat. Get some fun accessories and go for it!

Also, ride a moto-cy. Good luck!


THANK YOU LW3 AND JANE! As a girl audio engineer who actually enjoys fashion, I've been struggling with this conflict for years. I even thought about writing into this site, but I felt it would be too girly to do so. It's not even the sort of thing I can discuss with other people in the field; the few women I've seen tend to go the way of the tomboy, and audio geek dudes who never see the light of day seem to regard personal style as frivolous. Therefore, looking too fabulous can make you seem like you're less serious about your geeky endeavor, which is total BS and hopefully just all in my head.

Confidence should be what matters most, right? Well, there have been days where I defiantly came into the studio in heels or a skirt and realized it was a mistake because I was so out of place. Other days I tried the overly-casual hoodie look which also failed, because I looked and felt like a slob. I'm finding the key here is balancing comfort, a small dose of professional polish (like investing in well-made shirts for geeky conferences), and personal style (and yes I do go for the slightly edgier looks to combat my inherent youth and girly softyness).

Anyway, thank you for addressing this question!


@Limey So, almost 2 months later.. But yeah, LW3 was me. And I know exactly how you feel! I have never worn a dress or skirt to work because I just KNOW that people are going to at least think that I am too fancy! Lately I've been working with jeans/boots, and cute-ish tops. Mostly plain, solid-colored t-shirts though. I'm going to look through some of the options Jane gave me now though! Maybe get some leggings and work from that point. I had no idea so many people would understand how I feel every day!


@thebestjasmine Late on this so I don't know if anyone will see!
I am not A Scientist but I do spend my life translating for dermo-cosmetics so I know that blackheads are black because they are essentially a plug of keratin and sebum that has blocked your pore. They're black because the keratin gets oxidized, so it's not actually dirt that makes them black, INTERESTING.
Whiteheads are a build up of stuff in the sebum duct or something similar, like Jane said, they are 'closed comedos'. When it has pus in it becomes a pustule (I haaate that word).
Some acne creams/washes contain things which regulate sebum production, some regulate keratin production, some have both. Some will also have antiseptic to stop the trapped sebum getting all bacterial and turning into a pustule , and some have anti-inflammatory stuff in case you are already at the pus stage.
This is the best I can do without a degree in biology.


LW2, I've had the best results from Lush's Coal Face cleanser. No more black heads. Teeny tiny pores. It's a bit pricy, but it lasts forever practically if you keep it dry between uses.

raised amongst catalogs

@Lisa De La Torre Zollner@facebook Yes, yes, yes. J Crew sale dresses are the best, especially if you know your size there. They have the chiffon Sophia dress on major sale in some nice colors right now -- sleeveless but so lovely.


Very nice, thanks for sharing.

RK Fire

For those of you who are getting a strapless bustier/long-line bra: if you buy it by using your bra size and it doesn't fit around your stomach, go to a craft store (Michael's or Joann Fabrics) and just by a bra extender! That is the productive thing to do.

The non-productive thing to do is to freak out about your size and fall into a slightly depressed funk. Some of us have short torsos, some of us are just thicker in the middle than manufacturers expect, but it's all okay.

[I bought a low back bustier from ideeli for $20 a month ago only to find that it didn't fit around my waist. :(]


I had officially forbid myself from buying anymore dresses this summer after my boyfriend was like "you know I still haven't seen you in the same outfit twice". I just need to stop. I need an intervention. I have a dress-purchasing addiction. (I mean not really, I'm not going broke or anything, but there is no longer any "I don't know what to wear" justification for my shopping habits)

And then I clicked on that Boden link and now have a full shopping cart. And I'm defending it to myself because 1) the dresses I picked are all on clearance 2) these are WORK dresses! I can wear them to TEACH and be 100% appropriate!

I maybe need a support group?


Gah, your boss is Ira fucking Glass. DEAD.

I love Queen Helene's mint mask for blackhead situations.


You know what is a not nice phrasing of "You look fancy today"?
Yeah that happened to me once.
Oh and I totally agree with your assessment of the final LW's dress, I'm pretty sure it will highlight everything she doesn't want highlighted either.


Um, THANK you for encouraging girls to try going braless. I have not-small-boobs-but-not-too-giant (34C), and once I discovered that it IS possible to do this, my dress-up life changed. I always suggest it to my friends and they get this forlorn look on their face and shake their head. "I can't." YES. Yes, you know, in some situations, you CAN.

fondue with cheddar

@gladfanny I've yet to find a dress that will support my massive boobs without making it super obvious that I'm going braless. They're so jiggly! Mine are bigger, though (38DDD).


@gladfanny Hahahaha, you probably have not seen these friends boobs in a braless state. Perky breast privilege!


@jen325 Fee-YEW! Those would be jiggly. I'm speaking specifically, I guess, of my roommate who has really nice boobs and just finally switched to 34D after wrongly wearing a 34C. But she still sighs and furrows her brow in self-pity when I tell her to go braless.

fondue with cheddar

@gladfanny She should do it while she still can! I enjoyed going braless occasionally when mine were a little smaller and perkier, but now they need that extra help. They're still relatively perky for their size and my age, though. I've never had any complaints. ;)


can i just say, as great as facials are, DON'T GET ONE RIGHT BEFORE A BIG EVENT. while they do get the gunk out of your pores, often this means a few breakouts soon after, which would have happened eventually anyway, but NO. trust me. there will be tears.


I will not buy from Boden, I will not buy from Boden, I will not buy from Boden....

fondue with cheddar

I’m tired of my nose looking like a flesh toned strawberry.

Well put! I have one of those tool thingies, but it doesn't always do the job and I sometimes feel like I'm doing more harm than good with it.


Before I turned girly(er) I wore cute dresses over my trousers and finished the electic combo off with heavy army boots. The best of both worlds. Disclaimer: this was 90s.


Let's make that "eclectic". I'm a geek too you see…

Eureka Rochelle

So I don't have blackheads but I have very large clogged pores. Occasionally (by which I mean two or three times a week), I'll get a wild hair up my ass and sit in front of a mirror and squeeze the little white stuff out of my pores. Sometimes, I'll get all the stuff out of a particular pore, and it will be empty and beautiful! But still very large. By the next day, it has clogged up again with white stuff. Is there any possible way to make the empty pores shrink, and not clog up with crap? I always use a toner after a squeezing session, and rinse with cold water also, but apparently my pores have issues with closing up.

the angry little raincloud

Jane, thank you for the term "free boobing." I don't know where it's been all my life, and now I feel somehow more complete.


To the lady going to Bangkok, and to any lady, really: SARI! The single most perfect outfit in the history of the world. Beautiful on any body type, colorful, perfected in the hottest most humid place on earth(I'M LOOKING RIGHT AT YOU, INDIA!), definitely original (unless you're an Indian girl, in which case, get a mini skirt already, sheesh)and, most importantly, CHEAP.

Six yards of silk (although, as such a petite girl, you might be able to get away with less) a choli (a tailored midriff baring blouse, but really any close fitting cotton or linen blouse will do, or even a bikini top these days) and a petticoat (again, you can have one made, but Lucia Martinez' excellent skirt lesson will work, if you make the skirt alt least mid calf length and use a drawstring, not an elastic) are surprisingly cheap. My grad dress (sorry, might be a purely Canadian thing, read prom dress) was a sari. Six meters of multi colored charmuese, a hand tailored choli and petticoat, and leather flip flop style sandals (A DRESSY OUTFIT THAT DEMANDS FLATS! MY GOD, THE WONDER OF IT ALL sorry i will try to stop hyperventilating) cost me 120 dollars, tailoring included. And you can get them cheaper at Sareeworld.com AND they will do all the tailoring of the extra pieces (for a very reasonable fee) AND they have wrapping instructions on the site, and if all of that scares you? you can get a prestiched sari (this means the draping is all done before hand, and all you have to do is put it on) with a lined blouse and petticoat of any length made from chiffon for as little as 60 dollars. No, I am not a salesperson for the site, in fact, don't go there because as of now I AM BUYING THEM ALL.

You said you're uncomfortable with your bust size and 'arm meat', so I recommend http://www.sareeworld.com/gallery/SareefullImage.aspx?ID=ERKB3011

as it has cap sleeves and a higher neck, and doesn't seem to have buttons.

Also, if you'd prefer not to order online, and live somewhere that has a significant Indian presence, there is most definitely a fabric shop that will kit you out and hook you up with a tailor. Trust me.

whew. Breathing. Okay. um, editors? Can I do an article on Saree and how they will one day bring about world peace and all those other good things? Because they so will. Just think: a world of women not cringing because their toes aren't getting smooshed. Or worrying if they're sweating through their shirts. Or wondering if someone will be wearing the same outfit as them. MY GOD, THE THINGS WE COULD ACCOMPLISH!

@nihilistbear This is called misappropriation.


@S. Elizabeth I'm not sure what you mean. The comment is too long? Linking to the site is illegal? I am confused.

Deleted By User

general bra inquiry here. I am a card carrying member of the IBTC (itty bitty titty committee), but like some of the previous commenters despite their size they are not the type that look so nice sans bra.
I have the hardest time actually finding a bra that fits. I've been measured repeatedly in several stores, but regardless of the bra I buy there is always some "gappage" at the top.
Anyone have a good recommendation?

Mrs. Brown's Lovely Daughter

@Deleted By User I'm far on the other end of the spectrum from you, but I can say that this is good reading regardless. http://www.lindasonline.com/bra-problem-guide.html
I'm not an expert, but it does sound like you're in a cup that's too big for you. All bras are not created equal and the same size in different brands may fit differently. Set aside a day for shopping and try on EVERYTHING!


For excellent skin care education and more information on how to control blackheads and get updated on skin education. Visit http://onlinefacialcourses.com/ all courses are done online! Excellent


I am looking for and I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work! bulk sms business

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