Troubleshooting a Tee (bonus: favorite shirt at the end)

Forum regulars may recall my ongoing engagement with the graphic print. I could say I love them for the layers of meaning and the visual impact, but the plain facts are that bold prints and crew necks suit my body shape. Also, shameless nerdery. And I (used to) go to a lot of gigs.

The right print can be very forgiving on a large bosom, but not always easy to integrate into outfits. The deep vee tunic/t-shirt combination I tried last week is a promising idea. Sadly though, the wall of text on this shirt from London’s Science Museum is not one of those forgiving prints. Human Ingredients should probably include Too Much Pasta, but I doubt this design was ever very flattering. Too busy and not bold enough. Compared to last week's shot featuring Grumpy Pablo, you can see the difference. Still, I like the concept and the aesthetic of this shirt enough to want to make it work, so in defiance of my own vanity, which since menopause is almost non-existent, a shot showing the raw materials, with hair tied back and no headgear. As you can see, this is where long hair comes into its own, detracting from the volume on my upper body, which was not that small to begin with.

I am a novice when it comes to styling long hair au naturel and I don’t have the face to pull off the no-fringe look. (That vast expanse of forehead is where I keep my brains, dude.) If I want to keep my hair long, headgear is going to be essential. I am OK with this, in fact I really like it. Among other things, it allows me to wear it loose while keeping it under some kind of control. In this instance, I want to preserve a minimal appearance and add the right amount of detail. No idea what to call this scarf/headband hybrid, but yesterday I scored another one in navy blue. It does the trick. Stand aside, funky orthodox art teacher. Here comes the female David Foster Wallace.

In my dreams.

For the rest, Lemaire denim chinos, which used to be far too big and now fit very nicely thank you, with MM6 boots, inspired by nuancedream’s cuffed jeans/fancy boots combo. I particularly like what happens to the shoulders when I put on the puffy Uniqlo vest, presently the hardest working item in my much depleted wardrobe. The whole ensemble put a spring in my step on Friday’s excursion to the deli and the greengrocers.

What about you guys? Curious to know about your body shape hacks, assuming you have any. Patterns, scarves, proportions, whatever. Do tell! Also seeking a recommendation for a tangle free hairbrush, if anyone has such a thing.

PS: The wider topic of headgear merits a whole other discussion, so by all means tell me what you think of this solution but please and thank you, save the more general comments for another time, because I promise you it will be back again soon!

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Stagiaire Fash replied 2 years ago

    Hm, there’s a lot here, which is the fun of your posts.

    Cute shirt! If you are attempting to emphasize the vertical, thereby implying thinness or even an hourglass shape, I think pic 2 does it better than Mr Picasso. Maybe that’s due to the placement of light and dark on the photo shirt? I like the hat in 2, but cannot analyze why it makes you look taller/thinner than no hat. Maybe it is better than simply continuing your own hair because it draws the eye upwards, whereas more of the same hair just reads more of the same, so why would anyone focus there? Actually, no, I’m going to say it’s because of the strong parallel lines made by wearing your hair down.

    Graphic T-shirts. I don’t do them. They are a thing on ylf, but I’ve always hewed to that traditional wall between them and any kind of getting dressed up. I did, however, make a step towards changing that with my first two graphic Ts recently. Not the first two ever, but even my schlumpy stuff is very low on graphic Ts. Now, of course, the weather is getting too chilly to feature them in outfits (much; that’s why I was in such a rush with them in my last few WIWs). Anyway, they’re in the finds and the cellar, waiting for spring. I might fringe the bottom of the green one. What do you think?

    Long hair. There is a regular who has urged me to get a “recognizable style”. I am not into looking like a paper (or vinyl—remember those stick-on figures?) doll that has a bunch of clothes/hats/hairstyles that you can pick up and set on their bodies/heads. I don’t want hairstyle afficianados to see me and say “there’s that cut from Redkin’s F/W lookbook, pg 97”. But. I do see in recent photos that my hair is getting frizzy due to split ends. I was just in the bathroom attempting to remedy this. In the 90s, I kept my hair in long layers quite well on my own. I seem to have lost the knack. Or the tenacity. Or the interest. Maybe it’s the vision, literally—when I took this picture, I thought it contrasted a clean, straight freshly cut edge with the as-yet-untouched. With glasses, I see that’s not the case. Whatever it is that I don’t have, I’ll be heading to the pros when stores are open tomorrow. I’m with you on bangs. My face is long enough as it is, tyvm. I don’t need to clear off any more acreage up top by growing my bangs out.

    Body hacks. Nah. I don’t have different body ideal I want to hack my way towards. Not saying mine is perfect as it is, but any moves I make to change that will be based in changing the bod so I like how I look naked, and how I feel. Still, you could knock off the pasta comments. I like pattern and color and combining them, but really am new enough to the fashion game that I haven’t tried using them to manipulate the look of my body shape. That wouldn’t change what I see in the mirror, without clothes, anyway.

    I hope you don’t mind that your posts prompt me to think, and that I think about meeeee. Feel free to tell me to knock it off if you’d like. I dust myself off pretty well, even if it is from a person I’d like to engage with.

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    No problem, thought provoking is what I aim to be in these posts. If it gives someone ideas, all to the good. I like finding out how others deal with the same problems. To be honest, I don’t particularly care what people think of my style. I do like a bit of constructive criticism though.

    As for the pasta, point taken. I know I’ve been comfort eating under lockdown, which is something I’ve never done before. I’m trying to think my way out of that mindset.

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 2 years ago

    I’ve been hiding out myself, have scarcely exercised since an injury late June. That’s led to an extra 4 cm on my waist. We both know what to do, “just” have to prioritize it in our lives.

    Btw, I looked at your pix again. Besides the || of the hair, I really do think it’s the uniformity of the wall of text that lets the shape of that neckline be more prominent.

    And thanks for being willing to engage. Please come stir up good trouble on my threads.

  • Katerina replied 2 years ago

    I really like the picture with your hair pulled back/sideways. FWIW - I think it suits you very well and is a great option when you don’t want your hair loose.
    Love the “Ingredients” t-shirt. You are right that it is not as bold and striking as the Pablo, but it looks great with the deep v tunic. The puffer vest addition - wow! So interesting and fun layering with the shoulder effect. I really like the whole outfit - the rolled denim pants fit perfectly and the white boots - everything works so nicely together.
    My own body hacks? I try to create vertical lines in almost every outfit - using unbuttoned toppers, long scarves, diagonal hemlines on tops (if I find some), vertical asymmetrical stripes, bow tie tops etc. I have done this more intuitively before and now I am quite mindful of that… Also directing visual focus upward towards my face and away from my midsection - love brooches and smaller scarves for that technique, also large short necklaces. Recently, I have rediscovered crossbody bags - they give the kind of vertical line effect I want to achieve, but the length of the strap and the shape of the bag matter. I use these “techniques” regardless of the size I am at the time. It is something I feel works for me regardless my actual size.
    I haven’t got any good tips on the t-shirt, I don’t have many t-shirts in my wardrobe and generally do not wear graphic t- shirts. I like them, but do not really know how to style them for myself….

    ETA - this is the detangler I use. Have had it a few years - works well.

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    Rio, as an aside and a gentle suggestion, do you (and Mr. Edge) get out daily for a long fab walk? Walking fairly fast, regularly, and for a reasonable distance, is a very underrated form of exercise. Excellent for getting cobwebs out of our heads and hearts too! 

    I LOVE the long brown hair! I thought I'd miss the short red hair, but I like the change. You are styling it well! #4 with the side parting and ponytail is extra fab! How about a side bun of sorts? 

    LOVE the white footwear :)

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    As for the tees, try a turtleneck underneath them for warmth - low or high contrast - and knotting at the back or side. That way you'll see the full graphic - at least, until you put on a coat and go on that long Dutch walk ;)

    Have you tried headbands?

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    And more hair ideas, if you feel so inclined:

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 2 years ago

    Cool hair ideas, Angie!

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    SF: hehe, too busy overthinking my own problems right now thanks. But give me time, I’ll see what I can do … The Klimt tee is lovely. Gallery merch is getting better and better.

    Katerina: thanks, lots to think about there! I’ll keep in mind your suggestions about hair, and come back to it. And isn’t it interesting how much we know intuitively about what suits us, and how much it can help when we translate it into conscious rules.  

    Angie: amen to that! We have indeed been doing plenty of walking. In fact, I’m considering a post singing the praises of walking trainers and boot socks. Not feeling so fab was threatening to keep me in the house, which was yet another reason for the overhaul.

    Thanks for the hair suggestions. The youngsters around here are doing cool things with braids for which I am far too cack-handed. That knot looks like an excellent solution. 

  • replied 2 years ago

    You know, I really like this new graphic t worn exactly as you've styled it.  I get that you are looking to maximize flattery - but.....this looks very in-proportion to me.  By that I mean that you have the strong features, hair, frame , glasses and sense of good graphic /modern style that makes this look PERFECT .  This styling on a different body type might not look as statement-making .  I think you look fabulous- and I'm not trying to negate your own feelings.  I get it.  I own one graphic t - a Woodstock logo vintage old thing.They aren't part of my style and I never feel comfortable making a statement by wearing a photo/logo/ etc unless I know everything about it and it has meaning in my life. Lol.  As to styling hacks? I'm so intuitive that I never think it through. It either works or it doesn't .  I'm not terribly deep as you can see ;)  

  • slim cat replied 2 years ago

    I love graphic tees and prefer them to the plain ones - they take attention from my body and add visual interest. My preference is crew neck ( but not too high) or soft/small v-neck, scoop neck in summertime. For myself I like smaller often rectangular shape of graphics with some colors present on white or black main color. Open cardigans and collared shirts, knotted bottoms of tee, layers of tank tops under the graphic tees - usual things.
    You look fab and stylish- different and artistic in your own way - that’s the visual impact I’d like to achieve for myself!
    Vacation graphic tees collection- I’m lucky to have one now ( it was overdue).

  • CarolS replied 2 years ago

    I particularly like #2 and #5. As others have said, the small print inside the V-neck is very flattering. 

    I started pinning my bangs back from my face after a hideous cut, and then just continued as they grew, the pandemic kept me at home, etc. It probably looks weird, but I have found it a very practical way to manage having long hair and keeping it from flopping in my face. So -- I can see why you gravitate to wanting some kind of 'solution' for your own! I like the scarf/band in 2 a bit better than the turban style, but can't quite be sure why. Maybe as SF said it has something to do with the strong horizontal line. (Oh, and PS - I have always been envious of those with higher foreheads, thinking my own gets read as a sign of minimal brainpower. It's like the curly headed gals envying those with straight hair while the straight haired folks are running for curling irons and permanent waves...)

    Body hacks. I've got 'em in droves. Despite losing a fair bit of weight lately, my proportions remain a bit less than the standard. My back and waist are very VERY square while my hips and legs are proportionately quite a bit smaller -- making me look at bit like a brick on sticks. It's less obvious when I look at myself from the front, but the back view is less heartening. (This was the case even with thinner, pre-menopausal versions of me). Elasticated waistbands make it easier for me to find pants that fit my seat and waist at the same time. Mid rise pants also help, but do risk some serious muffin top. I have strategies for that too...

    With such a broad back and waist, fitted and shaped tops are not my friend. By the time something fits in the waist, the shoulder is way too big. Between a broad back and generous bust, buttoned tops seldom work. So -- my hacks -- boxy shapes in lightweight knits -- things that don't cling to the body but have some drape. Wide over wide silhouettes work for me because they disguise the discrepancy between my upper and lower halves. I will often put a long open topper over skinnier pants/jeans too - to help minimize the brick on a stick imagery.

    Of course, another option that works well for me is one that Jo employed in Little Women when she had to wear her scorched skirt to a party -- just keep my back to the wall!!

  • Runcarla replied 2 years ago

    Well, I actually really like your shape ‘as is’, approprio.  The most beautiful women I ever saw had a body like yours (and it was in workout wear at a gym).  I think when you have a beautifully shaped body (like yours) it is more about revealing/enhancing that body and less about being a hanger for clothes that are interesting.  I know you like garments that are interesting, and therein might be the dilemma - to style the clothes, or style the body?

    I’m a fan of Vivienne Westwood’s ability to style a beautiful woman’s body in interesting clothes.  Peter Pilatto too.

  • Sal replied 2 years ago

    I think these work well - and I don't know why but the headgear works in terms of proportions. Love the puffer here... And both tees are cool under the super wide vee...

    I rarely wear graphic tees - but I now am avoiding tees all round... but boy do I enjoy them on others.

    For me my flattery tips are

    - open neckline (short neck and broad shoulders and lots of hair) - so I go for vee or scoop necks or similar
    - low contrast between top and bottom unless I can nail the proportions
    - some structure - too much linen or floatiness doesn't quite feel like me - I like a bit more energy in my clothing (if that makes sense)

  • Jaime replied 2 years ago

    Hmm. I don't even know where to begin. In a good way :) .
    Ok, so I love the white boots with cuff jeans and graphic white tee on top. Just perfect. The ingredients are more subtle than Pablo but also less distracting. 
    I like the head thing in #3 particularly because it creates angles rather than roundness, which plays off the deep v. But I may be projecting my preference for angles to roundness on myself. On the other hand, I do especially like #5 - perhaps the round headpiece plays nicely with the most excellent puffer?
    My biggest hacks, but remember as you might I am first of all short, are diagonals (cross body bags) and pointy shoes.
    Finally not crazy about the DFW allusion although I do see what you are saying.
    What about some brimmed hats?

  • Sally replied 2 years ago

    I do tend to wear different clothes when I am heavier than when I am slimmer.  But I have found a dress that can transition across sizes.   I currently have 3 and when I am my current size (size 10 NZ ) it hangs with a different shape but when I am 18 kilos heavier (as i was up until August last year) it still fits but has a different shape. I have been buying them for the last 5 years as I have moved up and down sizes twice.  I think I should just get a whole lot made and never have to worry about my clothes again. I can wear them with shirts and tights in winter and like this in summer.  This is me in the same dress (different pattern) and a difference of over 16 kilos.  The problem is I get bored and go looking for other clothes.  I have a big bust, short waist and tummy so have always kept my neckline low and while tops may be fitted, never tight.  Thats my hack.  I don't have graphic tees but someone suggested I get one for my skirts.  The way you have styled the shirts looks great with the drape of the cardy/topper as it doesn't highlight the bust but you take in the shoulders and the eye registers the outfit as a whole. You give the impression of a strong body that can handle the prints.  Your hair looks good long too and you are lucky you can wear it both down and up.  I have let my hair grow over the pandemic and I may just let it grow out grey or just put streaks of white in it every now and then.  Its been good to get rid of some of the maintenance expenses.  

  • rachylou replied 2 years ago

    That’s a cool tee. And I like that you got the white. The only thing I suppose about it is… I am in fact staring at your chest reading all the ingredients… don’t whack me with your handbag… ahem! Lol.

    I like seeing your forehead. I think that’s a good style. That said, I really like a hat to keep my ears warm and am always in one. And my solution to the brush… is a no brush cut. Lol. I fluff it and go.

  • Jenava replied 2 years ago

    Check out the Tangle Teaser. I think a crew neck on a tee (which is likely cut for a B cup) is going to emphasize a bust. I recently learned how to cut a tee with more room in the bust and wish I could BUY such a garment ready made....I'm a 34HH, so I either size up and lose the shoulder, or show off my tits in a too tight top.

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Ah, the wisdom of the YLF collective. How I have missed it. 

    Lisap, intuitive is good. In fact, it’s almost always best not to overthink these things, and just go with the flow. But you know me. I always want to know why things work the way they do…

    Slim cat, I see a similar aesthetic at work in your style. I love all your shirts, particularly the black one with the sigils. Looking forward to seeing more!

    CarolS: I think the straight headband works better than the turban style too, but both have their moments. And yes, we tend to want what we don’t have, and curse what we do have. This rack is mixed blessing, let me tell you. Fitting trousers is a bugbear right now. I’ve had to bench most of them, and I’m left with a tiny capsule. Feh.

    Runcarla: oh what a lovely thing to say! Thank you :) You may have put your finger on something quite profound there, the dilemma of styling the clothes or the body. Angie had a nice post recently about “flattering but not you” that had me nodding along. And VW is in my DNA, as she is for many Londoners of my generation, A towering hero. 

    I tend to dress for impact and proportion. I think it might be the inverted triangle’s version of figure flattery. Maybe that’s why this deep vee is working so well… hm…

    Sal: I like the idea of “energy’ in clothing. For some reason it suggests what Angie has to say about structure, along with something a little more personal and expressive. 

    shevia, I’m going to have to think some more about angles, diagonals, straight lines and roundness. About hats, I have a nice Panama to wear in summer, which looks nice with longer hair. I might go looking for bucket hats this winter.

    Not wild about DFW, but couldn’t help thinking of his bandanna when I looked at that pic. Mostly though, I have been emulating two of my literary heroes, wearing Doris Lessing’s hair and Douglas Adams’ bathrobe. 

    Sally, interesting what you say about equipping for weight variation. I’ve tended to size up in the past, and I’m not sure where I would be right now if I didn’t have a closet full of oversized pieces to work with.

    Rachylou, that’s part of my thinking. If people are going to stare at my boobs, they should read something educational, dammit. 

    Jenava, you are right about the crew neck, that is how it should work, but I find emphasizing my strong shoulder line seems to make my bust look smaller. And I like a high neckline next to my face. So it’s all a bit of a trade off. Curious about the t-shirt fitting hack. Is it something that can be done as an alteration? I’ll have a go at the Tangle Teaser. 

  • Staysfit replied 2 years ago

    1.  I’m in love with your headgear!  I think it’s fun, interesting and adds uniqueness to your style.  I know a woman who wears a different hat every day of the week as part of her signature style.  

    2. The difference I see with the Ingredients tee vs. the others is the print starts higher up towards the neckline and it draws the eye horizontally rather than down vertically or diagonally like the other examples you show.  Your solutions work well. 

    I have started to think of my clothing and outfits in terms of Yin/Yang and horizontal vs vertical/diagonal.  I know my best lines are vertical or slightly diagonal, sharp and curvilinear vs. round or square.  I have found some graphic tees difficult to wear, much like your example.  Even with solutions I rarely picked them to wear so I culled them and try to avoid problem prints with new purchases.

  • Ginger replied 2 years ago

    I was going to suggest the Tangle Teaser myself! I've only had one for a year but I've never had such a good tool for gently detangling. It's something to go slowly with but because the bristles are soft, they don't catch and snap hair. I use another brush for styling once my hair is untangled.

    Our styles are very different but I hear you on how to handle long hair. I don't like it next to my face/over my ears, and I also have a high forehead and long face. Bangs and height/width in style seem to balance really well. I use clips and combs to pull the hair back from my face, but also give some softness. Recently I've been using a large braid piece as a headband. With it, I can wear my own hair down or bun it with a Ficcare or hair fork. (It's almost tailbone length but in cool weather I like it down.)

  • Jenava replied 2 years ago

    No, it has to be done before cutting the material for the knit, sadly. Although you've got me wondering if I bought a tee too big and recut it using my own pattern and then reassembled it, if that would work?

  • replied 2 years ago

    Responding having read only your post and not yet the comments, I agree that the amount of obvious but not quite legible from a distance text the t shirt draws the reader's attention towards your chest, but even more so, the widest part of the  v really acts as a frame. If you want to offset that effect, maybe a scarf or necklace as a vertical factor? Or even a v neck t shirt?

    Of the options, the panel effect of the wrap in 2 distracts from your face so the turban type solution in 3 is my preferred. The inverted v is flattering and something you might be able to recreate with your own hair.

  • Style Fan replied 2 years ago

    I find your post so interesting and entertaining.  Incredibly, someone (you) can create such outfits that look like works of art.  Sculptures.  The way you describe your thought process reminds me of an artist describing their work.  
    I don't have any styling hacks.  I am an intuitive, emotional dresser, and I feel what I want to wear.  Taking outfit pics is helpful, and I probably have absorbed ideas from YLF and other blogs.  

    Hair - I always wear bangs (fringe).  I have grown it out, but I didn't care for the result.  I had layers when my hair was thicker, but age, stress, and other things have left me with thinner hair.  Now I have a blunt cut.

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    One more round, for the record:

    Staysfit, Ginger, Jenava, thanks for comments on hair and headgear. Phoebe, not sure we’ve met before, but ditto. This is going to be a tough one to crack. I think I’d like a variety of low maintenance solutions, preferably quite simple. I don’t foresee a huge hat collection, but a few more of them would be useful. 

    And SF: I’ve always been a huge fan of your style. What a terrible pun I just wrote. I’ll show myself out…

  • lyn67 replied 2 years ago

    Love your new quilted vest and the human ingredients tee- and find  the styling in nr 2 K2K especially with that angular  headband and the white boots-very edgy, artsy- 100% special!
    I also loved to see your high forehead and gorgeous hair in nr 4-so please wear that look again-but  I see the difference between the impact of the 2 graphic tees. 
    The Pablo tee has the graphic more contrasted ¢ered besides that it has also a looser crew neck-so the wide vee is more proportional to my eyes, there.  Then, maybe the print will not be all 100% readable but  I am curious how would it change the  look  when  the "V" of the sweater  would be worn more closer to your neck (with the new tee).
    I have some graphic tees myself, too- but am very speciffic which I like and wear (not very often).  I am also busty and have a liner back:-)-so I always loved the graphics to be striking and centered usually on black backgrounds (have worn one for halloween) but recently bought 2x softer  graphics on whites for experimenting more to my black pleated skirt &black denim jacket.  

    ETA: Allison from the Wardrobe Oxygen is often bossing her cotton tees by hacking their neck  to a wider scoop (on front) and/or  cutting the  sleeves and torso shorter with a simple scissor- no need to hem back by sewing -fabric will curl up by itself and  looks acceptable for  a casual or  RATE look- I have tried it by myself, too.

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Lyn67, yes to striking and centered! It’s interesting how some graphics work better than others, which I’m noticing while trying to create WFH outfits. Also noticing how a nice design can lift my mood. 

    In fact, todays tee is one of my favorites. Coming right up…

    eta from my phone. Bought this beauty at a Suede gig. Convinced she is some kind of goddess. Men’s cardi by Henrik Vibskov.

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Re customization - I’ve done that on larger shirts a few times. It works well and looks good. I do like the integrity of a crew neck though. Adds a bit of definition, I think. 

You need to be logged in to comment