Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Good Foundation

This was my take on the classic 'sexy secretary' look, but with a modern twist. I started with the basic shape of a pencil skirt and blouse, selecting my leopard print top for the full retro effect. But then I changed up several elements: instead of nylons and pumps, I swapped in colorful tights and boots; instead of a cardigan I wore the fitted tank top as a vest; instead of a solid skirt I opted to throw in a pattern mix with the plaid.

I think in the final analysis though, it's really the mix of neutrals that is the most modern element of this outfit. Classic style rules say that you can't mix brown and black, but clearly that's an idea that has been overthrown in more recent years. To me the pairing looks very chic, and moreover it's a lot more flattering to many skin tones than wearing head-to-toe black. It also allows you a wider range of possibilities for using your leather goods, such as belts and shoes.

Speaking of outdated style rules, I'll share a little secret about this outfit: the smoothness and fit of the skirt is largely owing to a foundation garment. The stretchy fabric of the skirt, combined with the snug fit and geometric pattern, tends to make my thighs look a little bulgy. Adding some tummy and thigh control made the skirt hang straighter and gave me a lot more confidence in pairing it with a shorter top. This allowed the skirt to do what it does best, which is to show my butt to its best advantage. With a form-fitting garment like this one, a good foundation garment can help minimize distractions so that your best features get the focus they deserve.

How do you feel about foundation/control garments -- lifesaving innovations, or outdated and oppressive? Personally I wouldn't want to wear them all the time, but for specific garments they can really polish up the look.

Leopard top: Forever 21
Tank top: thrifted
Belt: Lazaro
Bangles: Amrita Singh, via Gilt
Tights: Foot Traffic, via Sock Dreams
Boots: purchased at Scoop in Copenhagen


Diana said...


This is my first time commenting here, though I read your blog every day. But I just have to know where you got that skirt. It's amazing (and would probably look amazing control garments or no).

I don't have any experience with control garments, though I have considered Spanx for some of my clingier dresses.

Audi said...

Diana: Oops, forgot to mention the skirt! It's from Sunhee Moon, a local SF store. Here's the link for the skirt: http://www.sunheemoon.com/438a.html. It comes in several colors, but only the plaid has the nice stretchy fabric; I tried the sateen version on and it wasn't nearly as forgiving.

Cynthia said...

I wrote a big post a couple of weeks ago about why I'm giving up Spanx (short version -- they were messing with my digestive system something fierce). Depending on how tight your clothes fit, an underlayer of silk knit smoothes things out beautifully without constriction. That's my solution for the future!

I love the neutral-mixing in this outfit, it looks great.

et said...

I would never wear a Spanx-type foundation to work all day - the sausage feeling just isn't for me -nor is the discomfort worth it to look or fit into one size smaller -but maybe for a party/special function. Probably would have just bought the skirt in a larger size. I have a similar-style skirt I love that looks great but doesn't require spandex underneath; it's actually one of my most comfortable garments!

I agree with Cynthia about silk knit or satin layers - although it's getting nearly impossible to find a good satin or similar-finish slip or half slip these days.

N said...

I agree with you: I wouldn't want to wear my Spanx all the time, but for specific garments, they add polish. Also, for me, I have trouble buying dresses as my top is a size or two smaller than my bottom, so I use Spanx to even things out a bit.

It took me a while to get used to the idea, though. I'd always objected to them on principle before.

Jodi said...

I love this look, I love the leopard blouse as the starting point, and of course you ALWAYS have amazing boots!! love it!! outdid yourself again :)

Fawn said...

Supercute! I love black with brown, and the rust tights with the rust belt totally make the look.

Emma at Daily Clothes Fix said...

That is an amazing look. I'm very pleased that people have got over the issue of mixing neutrals. It definitely can be done, as you have shown. I think the shirt is key, as it contains both.

Personally, I don't have any foundation garments so if there are lumps, tough. I've never tried one but may start as gravity starts winning. Would love a good corset though.

Sheila said...

This is an awesome outfit - I would totally do every element of this, except for the foundation garment. I buy control top tights and hosiery to get the smoothness I like (and they hold my tucked in shirts in place), but I hate feeling squeezed.

I'm also a fan of slips.

I did buy a tube-shaped mini "dress" that smooths for wearing under one certain long dress (the red one I wore for my last party), but it smooths more than compresses.

Tess said...

Great outfit, love the colour mix. I've recently chucked out all my control underwear. I found, like Cynthia, that they messed up my digestion. A while back, on my journey to a better body, I started eating better which involves the revolutionary(!) notion of eating when I'm hungry and stopping when I'm not. I lost my body's ability to tell the difference when I was wearing my control garments.

I did have mixed feelings though, because as you say they did give a smoother line. But in the end it wasn't worth it to me.

Northmoon said...

Audi, you look so cute in this outfit. I love this look, although I rarely wear skirts. Should dig one out of the closet and try this combination - I have all the pieces already!

Re the Spanx - I too only wear this type of thing on special occasions - not long enough to mess with my digestive system. I think a smoothing undergarment makes sense though. Back in the 50's and 60's women always wore a slip under a dress and sometimes a crinoline too.

Lydia said...

As a former frequent vintage clothing wearer, I believe proper foundation garments are crucial to most outfits. Some foundation garments are more restrictive than others, but they're not all uncomfortable. Nor must they all interfere with digestion! Comfortable foundation wear should merely smooth out bumps, not squish you into a smaller size.

As an administrative assistant who strives for the Sexy Secretary on a daily basis, I give this ensemble a gold star.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine wearing foundation garments every day, but agree that they definitely serve a purpose with certain outfits.

Your modernized secretary look is smashing!

Onibunny said...

I LOVE my foundation garments! I really like the constricting feeling and i like how confident i feel in my clothes. Thank you for mentioning your use of spanx.

Trystan L. Bass said...

This is a great outfit! Wouldn't have known there was any "smoothing" needed ;-)

I'm a big believer in proper foundations -- a good bra is a woman's best friend, for starters! And in vintage & historical clothing, corseting is simply required. But modern lower-body shapers tend to not come in as wide a range of sizes as women do, so it's unfortunately easy to get poor fit. That results in sausagey feelings & worse!

tinyjunco said...

as Trystan points out, you can't recreate any historical look without the proper foundation. i've attended my fair share of ren & dicken's faires, and love my corsets, waist cinchers, bumrolls, etc. i even made a mini-bustle for everyday wear.

the trouble i find with so many current foundation garments (as with clothes in general these days) is lack of quality. the Spanx i've seen have no shape - you look like a sausage. & what if you have to pee? why have a huge band of super-duper elastic right at the edge of the girdle, so you have this huge bulge along the tops of your thighs where the girdle stops? and so on.

that said, a good bra makes a huge difference in how clothes fit and look. and silk slips are so important to how dresses and skirts fall over tights and socks that i make my own rather than do without.

excellent neutrals mixing! and interesting thoughts - thank you everybody for commenting! steph

beauty said...

the skirt looks pretty on you I hope it will look good with me, I just did a look at it on sunheemoon.com

Kay and CJ said...

I *love* the look of that tank layered as a vest. This idea is absolutely going to work its way into the way I dress in the next few days!

Jenni King said...

this is gorgeous! I definitely threw out the don't mix black and brown rule long ago. It's my favorite combo. I love my neutrals.