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bear by san

March 2017



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the older the grape, the sweeter the wine. the sweeter the wine.

(part of "stuff that actually works: an occasional series.")

So I have never really been much of a fan of dresses, except for dressing up and looking pretty. I have always had more-femme friends who loved them, extolled their comforts and virtues, and yet to me they were binding and weird and pinchy and thigh chafe or even worse, pantyhose, and if they were loose enough to be comfortable across the chest and shoulders, they looked like horrible sacks everywhere else.

Somehow I figured out the running-shorts-under-skirts hack, which I wish I'd known decades ago, though I guess spandex running shorts weren't really a thing decades ago. And leggings came back into style. Wonderful, cuddly leggings.

And then I found out about these guys. (They also make fabulous shirts. Check out the sale section for the winter stuff, as it's not linked on the main dress page. Well, they're not web designers. Also, their stuff runs slightly big. As in, I can wear a medium at 5'8" and ~200 pounds, size 12-14, and a large is roomy.) And these guys. (who also make wonderful pants. The Kendra everything is fabulous--very light summerweight stretch technical fabric with POCKETS. I can climb and do yoga in these pants, and still look fine for the grocery store. The Mova pants are now my preferred air travel wear: imagine yoga pants tailored to look like real clothes, with pockets.)

I've become an old lady in stretch pants and it's wonderful.

Sadly, neither does plus sizes beyond 18 or so. But if their stuff fits you, their dresses are basically tailored extra-long sweatshirts and t-shirts with lots of room for muscular shoulders and boobs. And mostly A-line or empire-waisted so they don't make me look like a fireplug, but also don't bind around the waist.

It's like flattering pajamas that you can wear in public. Without pants. And still look grown-up enough to go to the bank.

I call this winning.

Pantyhose are still the devil, though.


The advent of clothing specifically aimed at athletic women (but not just workout clothes!) is such a boon I can hardly say.

I'm glad we can both have what we like, too, because leggings to me are like good tights but without keeping your ankles warm, which confuses me, but clearly lots of other people react otherwise, so it must be one of the many things where both build and aesthetic preference vary.
Toad & Co makes leggings long enough to keep my ankles warm. Ditto Smartwool and Icebreaker.

I'm at some intersection of height and build where very few tights fit me well, and no pantyhose. Either they're not long enough and that horrible stretchy crotch thing happens or they don't come up to my waist and therefore either pinch around my middle or fall down forever or both, or they're enormous and baggy. Also, the toes usually run, and the inside thighs on most tights don't stand up to my powerful thighs for very long.

I still wear 'em when I'm wearing dress shoes. I wish these wonderful fuzzy leggings I am wearing right came in a style with feet, actually. But I have wool socks. *g*

Yeah, the tights intersections do get difficult to navigate. For me the answer is only wearing a very small number of brands of tights, but I see how that number could end up being zero. But for me the wool socks will often go on over the wool tights.

Possibly I should just start going around in wool mummy wrappings all winter.
That is essentially my solution. I also learned that one can wear wool base layer tops under dresses. Nobody ever told me!



(If one signs up for the coupon mailers, they will eventually send one that knocks it down to between thirty and forty bucks.)
It is roughly the same length as most dresses that are not specifically mini or maxi. I may own two. Ahem.
House rule is that if we can afford more than one of something we really really like to wear, we should get it, because heaven knows when they'll make another.
Amen. Many things come in different colors, it turns out.
Alas, it's a hoodie. I am old-fashioned and loathe hoodies, mostly because they make such a mess out of my long hair. But yes, very pretty otherwise.
(Also, yes on the clothing for athletic bodies. And also the technical fabrics almost all pack well.)
Yeah, they've noticed that a great many women do not have time and inclination to stand in hotel rooms ironing. HURRAH FOR THAT REALIZATION.
My additional hack for both these brands: E-bay. Set up some automatic searches with a cheap price point and get 5-10 hits per day, often either with tags still on or worn only once or twice. I've scored Toad dresses and skirts for under $15, with tags, multiple times.

I only occasionally have much luck with ebay, but:


If you sign up for their emails and wait for the good ones, you can get Toad and Kuhl stuff (and Icebreaker, and Smartwool) for extremely cheap.

I just got an Icebreaker Henley for a little over $20, and a pair of Smartwool socks for $7.

Also, the REI outlet + sales sometimes nets really good results.
I miss the days when I lived 30 minutes from the Trading Post mothership... They have a back room with 3rds where I found amazing things like a perfect, designed, while silk suit with the back completely melted. It was the best swanky zombie costume ever at $11!
Wow. *g*

(I think they are responsible for 75% of my wardrobe at this point.)
Kuhl's stuff is awesome. I love their pants...
They're a freaking religion.
Given who you are, you actually might hafta.
I've been studying Not Helping with Steve. I think I might be getting the hang of it.
I think I'd be unlikely to find anything useful in either of those places. First, the styles are not really what I wear -- my reaction to most of those pieces is "meh", and especially at those prices!

Second and more importantly, they are tailored wrong for me. Above-the-knee skirts make me look dumpy; all of those pants look like they're cut to fit below the waist, which I loathe; and the items with sleeves would never fit my fat-old-lady upper arms. This last is a major issue with companies that don't offer women's sizes -- I'm an 18, but the weight is distributed differently from the same size on a younger woman.

But this is the beauty of having a gazillion catalog companies, that everybody can find things that work for them!
Pantyhose have ALWAYS been the devil. And not any of the fun ones. When I worked retail I actually wore a garter belt and stockings to satisfy the "appropriate foundation garments must be worn" clause of the employee attire standard and avoid near-constant yeast infections.

I own dresses. I even wear dresses sometimes, but I generally still regard them as a bizarre arcane fashion thing that is beyond my ken.
I have been slowly collecting Toad&Co, Icebreaker, Smartwool, and more recently Ibex garments for the last few years. Most of my skirts and dresses by now are either from Toad&Co or Title Nine, because they tend to have pockets included. Why don't skirts come with pockets as a given?

My sole pair of Kuhl shorts is a prized possession.
Clothes shopping is ungh, full-stop. Shopping for a dress (and I have 3 weddings to attend this year and need a nice dress) is sending me round the bend. I am NOT a size 2. I am NOT tall and willowy. I am short and squat and look so so *solid* in anything even slightly feminine. So, yeah, I feel ya.
Thank you for this. Getting ready for a two-year stint overseas for the Peace Corps in Moldova means I'm looking for some travel-friendly clothes.

I hate pantyhose and have always preferred leggings, but I think I'm going to have to invest in some fleece tights.
Fleece tights are pretty awesome.

And this stuff got me through three months of not going home once last summer.
Oh! I have a Kuhl skirt, bought from REI. Went hiking in it (over leggings) last Sunday, in fact, on quite a steep trail, and it was wonderful for freedom of motion.

ETA: I take it back, after clicking on the links - I have at least two Kuhl skirts, because the other one was from Title Nine and they may have rebranded it, and I have a bunch of Toad and Co dresses (from when they were Horny Toad) also from T9.

Edited at 2015-03-07 12:10 am (UTC)
If I had a choice between getting into pantyhose or wrestling a python, it wouldn't be much of a choice, and me and a python would be going to the mat.