Oh! You Pretty Things

I’ve started to get some SERIOUS pimples recently. I have a pretty nonexistent skin care routine—where should I start? —Amelia, 14, Sydney

Oh, Millie. (Can I call you Millie? I just met an Amelia who goes by Millie, and isn’t that so good?) Welcome to mid-teenagehood: It’s all zits, and metaphorical zits, from here on out. But you can be the boss of those zits (literal and otherwise)!

The first thing you should do is see a dermatologist. They’ll be able to tell you what kind of acne you’re getting. The most common kind of pimples are called comedones, aka black- and whiteheads. These are caused mostly by the sebum, or “oil,” that our skin naturally produces. Other kinds of acne are triggered by hormones. Progesterone, which spikes a bit in the middle of your menstrual cycle, can cause a temporary increase in sebum production and lead to zits appearing right before you have your period. Then you’ve got your cystic acne, which can be any of the above, plus some added bacteria that turns a regular old zit into a pus-filled cyst.

When I was your age, I had it BAD. My pimples were not only typical white- or blackheads, but also deep undergrounders, as I like to call them: They lurked beneath my skin, never actually rising to the surface. Instead, they looked like bruises, were sore, and irritated me for weeks on end. After years of trial-and-error with antibiotics, creams, wipes, solutions, and pills, my doctor finally prescribed me a strong acne medication that did the trick. Hopefully, you won’t need this level of treatment and will instead receive a diagnosis of “typical teen skin,” some advice about how to treat it, and maybe a prescription for a topical antibiotic.

I also want to encourage you to test out these Universal Truths of caring for a pimple-prone face! Let’s call them the Two (Zit) Commandments:

I. Thou Shalt Neither Pick nor Pop. Don’t do it! I know, it feels impossible, but if you make it a goal to NEVER, EVER pick at your skin, you will at the very least pick a little less. Pawing at your acne spreads the bacteria that is causing inflammation in the first place, making it easier for new neighbor zits to appear nearby. It also usually leaves the original zit even more angry-looking, inflamed, and sometimes bloody, and it can lead to scarring. It’s not worth it! If you have blackheads, try using Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips to gently remove them. These are like stickers that gently pull the blackheads out of your pores! If you are brave, ask YouTube about them:

If not picking is driving you up the wall, replace that habit with a healthier one: Drink lots of water! No, water doesn’t cure acne, but it’s generally good for your skin (and all the rest of you!) and is a worthy distraction when you want to put your hands all up on your face. Get a reusable water bottle and fill that thang up on the regular. A cornadocious mantra to help you in these trying times: “When you feel the urge to pick, stop and take a sip.”

II. Thou Shalt Wash Thy Face for One Whole Minute. It takes time to get your skin as clean as possible, and hardly any of us invest enough of it when we’re washing our faces. Before bed, set a timer for one minute of face-washing time, plus 10 seconds to ready your cleanser. Rushed face-washing = your enemy! And remember to wash your jawline and neck, especially if you wear makeup. But don’t spend over two minutes washing your face unless you’re wearing super-stubborn stage makeup, or something, as too much washing can dry out your skin.

I’m devoted to Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser, but you can find your own favorite—look for something oil free, and if you have easily irritated skin, try out a gentle “sensitive skin” formulation.

Try following those commandments for two weeks, then write me back with your thoughts, OK? Also, try to accept the fact of pimples. For many of us, they never really go away, and that is just LIFE. —Jane Marie

I’m into crazy lipstick colors, especially black. But are there ways to wear black lipstick that won’t make me look goth, since that’s not really the look I’m going for? —O., 15, Santa Clara, CA

Sure there are! First, decide that “goth,” like every other name people use to taxonomize themselves and others, is only a real concept if you want it to be. YO. I THINK I JUST BORED MYSELF WITH THAT 5K PREACH-A-THON, but I mean it, my dude. I’m not trying to turn this response to a question about makeup into the closing scene from The Breakfast Club (even though we know that movie is rife with incredible lipstick tips), and you already know the aforementioned, anyway. I just always think it’s worth reiterating that wearing dark makeup (or anything else) doesn’t transform you into a certain “type” of person besides your same exact self, still, but with DEVASTATINGLY tight lipstick on.

I do know what you mean, though. I can assure you that as a frequent, ardent wearer of black lipstick, there are MANY ways to coordinate a face/outfit that won’t look like you’re wearing a Halloween costume (though I also support and frequently employ looks in that vein—ask me about how I started shopping at Party City for casual daywear a few weeks back). Here’s a question to guide you: You love black lipstick—who do you feel like when you have it on? I wear it because it makes me feel severe and put-together and bizarre and beautiful. I either try to match the rest of my clothes and makeup to that feeling, or use them to subvert it. I recommend this strategy wild highly.

In terms of making it “wearable,” the easiest way to “balance” black lipstick is to keep the rest of you relatively pared down. On your face: Skip dramatic eyeliner and heavy shadow in favor of a lighter color on your lids, or no color at all, then add mascara and an “Oh, am I wearing blush? I didn’t even realize!” level of subtle pink cheek color if you want. On the non-face parts of you: Wear a T-shirt (maybe not a Bauhaus one, for our purposes here) and straight-up regular jeans or a simple skirt. Here’s the top half of me observing these two conceits sometime last year:


If you want to adorn yourself in something a bit more fashion-forward than literally the easiest, most basic outfit since the dawn of time, try wearing something that seems totally incongruous with whatever you think black lipstick connotes: a pastel sundress, or cute overalls (oh my god, I just figured out my style direction for tonight, thank you), or a patterned romper (any non–spider/bat motif will do the trick).

Finally, if you’re all, “That’s all well and good, ‘labelzzz’ don’t exist and T-shirts do, Party City is a great place to shop for casual basics, GOT IT, but how do I apply black lipstick in the first place?” peruse the Face-ics I made to that end some time back:

Please note that in this video, I am wearing my hair in a nightmare-bun and a cut-up YOUTH POLICE FORCE shirt my dad inexplicably gave me for Valentine’s Day 2005, but I still look pretty happy, huh? BLACK MOUTH = BEST MOUTH. Go show the world this unassailable truth, ya little O.-nyx minx. —Amy Rose

Damn Girl Ya Look Good

I recently got these super rad saddle shoes for a rockabilly party. They fit perfectly and they look so damn darling! I want to wear them to school (and everywhere else!) but I’m totally unsure how to make them look casual without the whole rockabilly ensemble attached. They’re just sitting in my closet—please help? —Stephanie, 15, Reno

Great choice you made, bb-kins! I truly believe you can wear saddle shoes with almost anything; I wear mine so much that the soles are all fucked up and I’m about due for new ones. One outfit that I like to add them to is an acid-washed miniskirt and a Channing Tatum tee. There are no limits, though! The ladies below exemplify how saddle shoes can be worn awesomely with a variety of outfits, including all-black ensembles and even plain old jeans:

Clockwise from top left: Jenn of Fashion & Fringe, Kristina of Twee Valley High, Chloe from Of North, Deanne Theresa, Kailey of Mermaidens, and Van of The Clothes We Wear.

Recently, I’ve been wearing my saddle shoes with skirts and sheer printed socks. Try yours out with a few outfit combinations and see what you like!

I recently learned that a large percentage of the bra-wearing population doesn’t wear the right size, and I’d like to know if I’m guilty of that. I know you can get professionally fitted for a bra, but the thought of that makes me cringe. Can you tell me how to measure myself? —Zoe, 15, West Virginia

It’s true: Many of us are unwittingly wearing the wrong bra size! Some signs that you might be: The underwires are poking the sides of your breasts; your boobs spilleth over (or under) the cup, your bra moves up when you lift your arms. Jenette Goldstein of Jenette Bras, a company that specializes in D-cup and larger bras, says, “Your bra needs to hold your breasts right up—if it doesn’t, your band is probably too big. If your breasts are wobbling, jiggling, or spilling out, then you may be having a cup size issue.” Never fear, my little Bra-dilocks, we will help you find the brassiere that is juuuust right.

I recommend doing this about a week after your period, since the ol’ menses can cause breast inflation. When the coast is clear, grab a fabric tape measure like this one and put on whatever you think is the best-fitting bra that you own. Choose one that isn’t padded (underwire is OK, though).

The mathy part of this explanation works if you’re measuring in inches or centimeters, but if you use a different system in your country, or you just want to avoid all that math, you can always enter your measurements into this international bra-size calculator.

First, stand up straight place the tape measure at the center of your chest, then loop it all the way around your bod, keeping the tape level and snug right under your breasts. Add five to the number you get, rounding up to the nearest even number (band sizes are typically even numbers). So, let’s say you measure 31.5 inches. Round that to an even number to approximate your band size, aka the numerical part of most bra sizes that you see in stores, although this may vary. Feel free to go a size up if it feels too tight for you!

Next, figure out your bust size. Measure the circumference of your bod again, this time at fullest part of your breasts. Round up to the nearest whole number, then subtract your band size from your bust size. The resulting number will reveal your cup size, according to this guide: 0 = AA, 1 = A, 2 = B, 3 = C, 4 = D, 5 = DD/E, 6 = DDD/F, 7 = DDDD/G, 8 = H. If your bust size is 42, your cup size is a D. So you’d wear a size 32D bra!

If you’re especially busty, there are plenty of lingerie companies, like Bravissimo, that specialize in bigger bras, and you can check out more recommendations at The Lingerie Addict. If you’re on the petite end of the spectrum, take a look at the recommendations at The Lingerie Lesbian, including Lula Lu and The Little Bra Co.

It’s great that you’re thinking about this now, since wearing the wrong bra can cause problems in the future, including back and/or shoulder pain, bad posture, and scarring from bra-band indentation. Good luck!

I’m going to college in a month, and the closet in my dorm room is tiny: It has a three-foot bar and four very narrow drawers. How does a stylish lady pare down her wardrobe significantly without looking bland? —Jordan, 18, New York

First of all, storage is everything! If you have any space under your bed, you can get storage chests and units like this, this, and this and tuck some of your threads away in there. Pinterest is a good source for further dorm-storage inspiration; I also like blogger Kate Gabrielle’s storage solutions for tiny spaces, as seen here and here.

Now, if you are truly SERIO about paring down your wardrobe, my first suggestion is to always keep really versatile pieces around, like your favorite jeans, leggings, black and solid dresses, and basic tops and T-shirts. These easy pieces will go with everything, and you can mix and match them, then add a variety of fun accessories, socks, tights, and so on, which are smaller and easier to store than clothes.

Next, do a Closet Cleanout. *CLUTCHES CHEST* Make an afternoon of it! Order a pizza, put on some Blondie, and maybe call some friends over to help you sort all your stuff out, like that one scene on Sex and the City.

Go through your clothes and figure out what to keep and what to bid a fond farewell to. Don’t worry—you’re not getting rid of anything you absolutely love! You can make your own rules, but some good guidelines (that I always follow) are: If you haven’t worn it in the past year, toss it. If it’s something you aren’t super attached to and that would be easy to get in the future if you ever find yourself needing it, like a trendy short-sleeved floral blouse, you can safely part with it. But hang on to unique vintage items, if you have still room for them (in your closet and your heart).

So you’ve got two piles going: TOSS IT and KEEP IT. When you come across something you’re unsure about—let’s say you kinda like this skirt, but don’t LOVE it, but maybe you’ll still want to wear it?—put it in a third pile, the MAYBE pile. When everything is sorted, go back through the MAYBE pile. You might find that some of the things in there seem less valuable after you’ve discovered that you have five black pencil skirts, or that your other purple sneakers are cuter than these ones.

After all is said and done, you can donate your purged clothes to your local charity shop (if your friends helped you with this task, give them first dibs, though!).

I want a pixie cut like Carey Mulligan’s or Michelle Williams’s, but do those haircuts only look good on girls like that, with really delicate features and feminine styles? I tend to favor combat boots, torn-up jeans, and black T-shirts, and I’m afraid a pixie on top of all that will just make me look like a boy. —Allison, 18, Austin

HELLS YES, a tough girl like you can rock a pixie cut! There ain’t no rules when it comes to hairstyles and wardrobes, my boo! Just because magazines are plastered with pictures of Michelle Williams workin’ her Mia Farrow ’do while wearing the girliest of gowns doesn’t mean that’s the protocol for everyone else. (Looks like Michelle agrees with me, BTW.)

Take a look at these pixied chicas, too:

Left to right: Pixie Geldof, Agyness Deyn, Rihanna.
Left to right: Pixie Geldof, Agyness Deyn, Rihanna.

There are no rules! Go get your hair cut—then you’ll be able to summon the ultimate badass pixie icon…

Angelina Pixie Cut

Hackers–era Angelina Jolie! ♦

Oh! You Pretty Things

Photo by Renata Raksha.
Photo by Renata Raksha.

I want to make my naturally curly hair into a voluminous halo like St. Vincent’s. How does she do that? Does it take a lot of teasing and hairspray? —Marge

We posed your question to Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, herself, and here is what she said:

Honestly, I don’t know. It’s sort of a byproduct of naturally curly hair that is very damaged from bleaching (hence the texture), ineptitude, and laziness (i.e., irregular washing), sometimes combined with the skills of professional hairstylists on photo shoots. In [the picture above], for example, my hair was done by Pamela Neal, who is AMAZING, and cooler than anyone ever. Do you want me to put you in touch with her?

“Yes, please,” we responded, and soon enough this additional info arrived in our inbox, from that very same Pamela Neal!

Annie just about nailed that! Bleaching, coloring, or even perming your hair will thicken and harden each strand, giving it more volume and encouraging it to kind of stand away from your head instead of lying flat. If you don’t want to inflict that kind of damage on your hair, getting it cut in layers, then teasing it and using a firm-hold hairspray, will get you close to Annie’s lovely mop.

So there you have it! Expert halo-making advice from those in the know.

I have a pretty masculine style and haven’t been comfortable with the idea of wearing makeup until recently. I want to start playing around with it, but I have no clue what or what not to buy, and what or what not to do with it! What are some good products for beginners? —Cara, 15, Kansas City

Ooh, a true makeup newbie! Keeping in mind that you’re not super femme, I’d steer you toward four things: a facial moisturizer with SPF, a lip tint, blush, and a subtle mascara. All of these products are easy to apply and fun to play with, and great versions of each can likely be found dirt cheap at your local drugstore!

Clockwise from top left: Bronzer & Blusher Combo, $9; NYX; Tinted Lip Balm, $7, Burt's Bees; Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen , $10. Neutrogena; Essential Lengthening & Defining Mascara, $1,  e.l.f.
Clockwise from top left: Bronzer & Blusher Combo, $9, NYX Cosmetics; Tinted Lip Balm, $7, Burt’s Bees; Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen, $10.50, Neutrogena; Essential Lengthening & Defining Mascara, $1, e.l.f.

A tiny guide on how to use this stuff: With clean hands, smooth the moisturizer all over your face. The Neutrogena one above is non-comedogenic, meaning it allows your skin to BREATHE and is less likely than other kinds of creams to cause pimples. Since you’ve been comfortable going bare, you probably aren’t too worried about covering blemishes or evening out your skin tone, but if you’re bored, you could try a tinted moisturizer (with SPF!) like this one from e.l.f., which comes in a wide variety of shades. It’s only three bucks, so if you don’t like it, give it to a friend!

Next, use a blush brush or your fingers to blend on a blush-and-highlighter combo. The blush will give the apples of your cheeks (i.e., the parts that get roundest when you smile, which is where you apply it) some color; the highlighter goes along the tops of your cheekbones, from about mid-cheek to temple, and will enhance your bone structure. CoverGirl makes a good powder blush that includes a highlighter and a contour color—you can lightly apply the contour shade just below your cheek-apples if you’re feeling fancy.

While you’re over at CoverGirl, take a look at their Lipslicks, which give you just a touch of color while moisturizing your smackers. You do have to apply moisturizing lip tints/glosses more often than, like, a long-wearing lipstick, but they feel great on your lips, so you probably won’t mind.

To put on your new mascara, touch the wand to the underside of your top lashes, close to the roots. Then kinda wiggle the wand back and forth while you slowly drag the comb up to the tips of your lashes. (Here’s a good demonstration.) The one in the collage abovecomes in a nice brown that won’t feel too dramatic for people who aren’t used to wearing makeup (YOU, for example). Almay also makes these affordable mascaras in fun colors, if brown sounds blah.

Here I am before and after applying these four products:


Check out how subtle (but still noticeable!) the transformation is! —Jane Marie

Oh! You Pretty Things

Editor’s note: BUM BA DA BUM BUM BAAA! That was us pretending to play a bugle, because we have a special announcement: We’re very proud to introduce our brand-new beauty expert, Jane Marie! Every month, she’ll take to O!YPT, aka this here advice column, to answer questions about makeup, hair, and other assorted matters relating to your gorgeous visages, and we’re so happy that she’s here. Damn Girl Ya Look Good will continue to take all style questions, but beauty stuff goes here now! So, without further ado, hereeeeee’s Jane!

Last April, I shaved my head and donated my hair to be made into wigs for cancer patients. I have no regrets, and a lot of people have said that short hair suits me, but it’s at an awkward length right now. Do you know any cute styles or cuts that could help me feel more confident? —Emily

That is so nice of you! Don’t you wish you could see the wig that your hair became?! They should have a social media site where you can follow your hair wherever it goes. I feel like I’ve spent a quarter of my life growing out a shaved head, because I have, so you’ve come to the right person for this!

What got to me about growing my hair out was the shagginess and unkempt feeling, not that anything looked bad, and I’m sure you also look just fine. My number one solution for any of these concerns, though, is getting the sides of your head “faded,” which means shaving them down short—it’s pretty much a tighter pixie cut. You end up with more hair on top, so as it grows out it’ll feel like length is happening quicker than if everything was growing out at the same time and you were generally shaggy all over. Go to a barber—it’ll be less than 20 bucks.

Me in 1994 (I was 16). This one took a while to grow out.
Me in 1994 (I was 16). This one took a while to grow out.

If this doesn’t sound like the right style for you, there are plenty of other amazing-looking short haircuts out there. If you, like me, enjoy scrolling for hours through pictures of beautiful ladies with covetable hairdos, go here or here and see if you can find one that you particularly admire. Print it out or save it on your phone and show it to your stylist. What if THIS is your next hairdo OMG?!

If you’d rather keep growing out the cut you have: Have you tried headbands? Maybe not the super-hard plastic ones that give you a headache, but soft elastic or fabric headbands? You can wear them over your hair, creating a faux-bang effect in front. “In front of this headband is the front part of my very short hairdo—some might call it the ‘bangs area’—and here is the back, or the ‘long part,’ duh.” Like the model in this photo.

Photo by Jennifer Gan, via Indonesian Models.
Photo of Kimmy Jayanti by Jennifer Gan, via Indonesian Models.

OR you can use a headband to push your annoying non-bangs away from your forehead. Up to you!

Another trick is drawing attention elsewhere with HUGE EARRINGS. Or necklaces. Or crazy makeups. Just have fun decorating some other part of your head while you power through this in-between-iness. You could come out the other side of this with a siiiiick NeNe Leakes–level jewelry collection!

I desperately want thick dark eyebrows like Ali Michael’s. I started growing them out, but then I realized that those eyebrows don’t look good on everyone. How can I figure out if they’ll suit me?

My general rule of thumb is that if you were born with it, it suits you. HA! Oh, I’m so sorry I just destroyed the whole beauty industry with ONE SENTENCE. Our work is done, folks! No, but I’m being serious. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with altering what you were born with and displaying a new you, version 2.0 (I’m personally on Jane, version 24.2 at this point). But if you’re asking what looks most natural on your face, it’s your face. Don’t believe the hype that something that grows off the front of your head does not look “right” on you!

Telling people to grow their eyebrows is a favorite side-project of mine. Sometimes it works out wonderfully! Here’s the great thing about hair: It (usually) grows back, AND it can be removed. This change is so low-impact it is almost of no concern. So go ahead and grow them, see if you like it, and go from there. It might take a few months, which is fine because it will also take you a few months to read Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, a crazy-riveting novel about cowboys that almost every woman I know agrees is the very best book ever written. Do that, and you can look back at your bushy-eyebrow period with fondness, regardless of whether your caterpillar-brows become butterflies or die in their cocoons. (I swear to god that analogy works in my head.)

For added inspiration, look at this photo of Brooke Shields.


See how the eyebrow on the right is encroaching dangerously upon her unibrow territory but the other one isn’t? She’s just letting it go and it looks amazing. Remember that when you feel the magnetic pull of your tweezers.

Damn Girl Ya Look Good

I have a formal at the end of this year, and since I’m not in the U.S., it’s the only real occasion I’ll have to dress up in a gown. My mom has a lovely black dress that she’ll let me borrow, so I could just be lazy (as I usually am about stuff like this) and do that. But to be honest I would rather wear something kind of Virgin Suicides-esque. Maybe something pastel? Do you know anywhere I could find that kind of thing without tooooo much work?

You can wear a black dress for any event in yer life, so why not follow your heart’s TRUE motivation and do a Virgin Suicides thang?

In the movie, the Lisbon sisters wear long gowns, all made from the same white floral-print fabric, but each cut slightly differently. (Similar to the old matching outfits of Destiny’s Child.) But you probs won’t be able to find that kind of dress at your local mall. Unless you have mad sewing skills or some good fortune at your local vintage store or thrift shop, your best bet for finding a VS-inspired dress would be Etsy or eBay. A search for “’70s dress” on Etsy brings all sorts of options, and pastel colors galore. For a real Lisbon vibe, find something long and kind of flowy, adorned with sweet details like lace and ruffles.

OMGAH!! This pink goddess gown is GORJUSS! I also love this light-yellow ruffled number and this baby-blue one.

All these dresses are on Etsy. Clockwise from top left: Pink chiffon nightgown dress, $25; lavender gown, $18; ivory gown, $68; pink pleated gown, $69.

They might not have that cute floral print that the Lisbons wore, but all of these dresses will definitely evoke that dreamy ‘70s vibe you’re aiming for. Also, if you have long hair, loose waves would be a nice touch with this look. Have lots of fun, baby gurl! —Marie

I’ve got straight strawberry blond hair cut in a short bob with bangs. I love this haircut on me—but style-wise, it’s very 1920s, and my body is too curvy too look good in the clothes of that era. Are there any looks inspired by the 1950s or ’60s that involve short hair and hotness? —S.

Even though a short bob with bangs is a classic flapper style, you don’t have to start wearing drop-waist dresses just because you have that haircut. While I encourage everyone, including myself, to always wear what we want to, I also believe it’s pretty awesome when we find clothes that look great on our body type and make us feel ~just right~. Some of us curvy girls don’t really dig the silhouettes of the ’20s, which seem to look best on our straighter-bodied sistas. The clothes of the ’50s, however, were generally cut for curves, as you already know! My advice: dress like a pin-up girl!

One of my favorite bloggers, Vintage Vandalizm, knows how to work that pin-up look just as good as, if not better than, Dita Von Teese. Sometimes V.V. wears a bob wig for fun and still manages to pull off that sexy ’50s style:

You know what else would look hot? A motorcycle jacket worn over a ’50s-y dress. The combo of your blunt bob with a leather (or faux-leather) jacket is sexy-tough; add those to a pretty retro-style dress like this one and you’ve got a whole good-girl-meets-bad-girl thing going on. Check out websites like Pinup Girl Clothing, Stop Staring!, Bettie Page, and Bernie Dexter for outfit inspiration. Try on some red lipstick, which is every pin-up girl’s final touch. Damn girl ya gonna look bangin’! —Marie

I’m a very short, very thin girl with a pale, childike face and no boobs. Because of the way I look, people often patronize me, treating me like I’m inexperienced or stupid, which irritates me to the utmost. Even worse, people seem to see me as weak and expect me to be naïve and yielding—especially some boys. This has damaged my confidence more profoundly than I’d like to admit. It’s difficult for me to see myself as an actual full-grown woman—I don’t see one when I look at the mirror. It’s like I’m stuck in perpetual girlhood. What’s your advice on dealing with this? Also, regarding my boobs, can you give me some tips on where to buy cute bras for AA cups?

As someone with a similar build, I can understand your frustration. And I can also guarantee you that someone is reading both your question and my first sentence and thinking, Oh, please. I wish I didn’t have to deal with boobs/weight/looking like an adult/etc. This is because our culture has a very skewed view of what a “woman” should look like, and sends so many mixed messages on the subject that everyone is left to feel inferior in some way, which is good news for all of those companies who want to prey upon your self-esteem in order to sell you a “quick fix” for all of your so-called “flaws.”

Femininity exists on a very broad spectrum, as does style. Finding your own personal style icons—women with bodies like yours who manage to look like grown-ups—can be helpful in learning how to accentuate the body you have, instead of worrying about what you’re missing. Women like Natalie Portman, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Kristen Stewart, Selena Gomez; they all have the type of build you’re describing, and they’re definitely able to pull off sophisticated styles that don’t read as “childish” at all. (Also, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn are classic examples to look at.) Tailoring can be really helpful for those of us with smaller frames, so–not to get all Stacy & Clinton on you–if you find a dress or shirt or pair of jeans you really love but that’s too long on you, don’t be afraid to take it in for alterations. What helps me, personally, when I want to look mature is a polished hairstyle, simple but glam makeup, and a lack of statement tees and grubby shoes. Looking pulled together, I’ve found, always makes people treat me a little better. Then again, I am 31, and I know plenty of awesome, glamorous adults who have blue hair and silver eyeshadow and still manage to look sophisticated (yes, really!), so it’s all in the way you carry yourself. Confidence goes a long way.

So does honing your bitchface, for times when someone’s trying to talk down to you. If someone starts to treat you like a kid, stand up straight, look them in the eye, and speak to them in a tone that lets them know that you are an adult and expect to be treated as such. Your power comes from within, and you may be surprised at how a simple shift in posture and strong eye contact can change how people respond to you. And as for those boys who are making you feel like garbage—tell them to grow the eff up. Seriously. (Or, don’t tell them anything—they’re not worth your time.)

Finally, to answer your bra question, the New York Times did a great article on this a few years ago that you may be interested in—here you go. —Pixie

So basically, I have huge boobs. Like holy smokes Batman!, 32G-cup jugs. The problem is I’m sort of a really little person, like 5’3”, without much of anything else besides the girls. I have gotten pretty good at accommodating them, but I was wondering if you have any suggestions for me, so I don’t end up looking like I have basketballs stashed under my sweater. Seriously, these breasts of mine are bigger than my head. —G., US of A

WHY HELLO THERE, MY SISTER IN BUSTINESS, PULL UP A CHAIR AND SIT A SPELL. Since I turned 12, I’ve also had human-cranium-size tittays which seem extra-enormous on my body, so I have about a decade’s worth of experience under (or, in this case, above) my belt to share wiz you.

First off, I’m glad that it sounds like you’re not falling prey to the most common mistake that girls with majestic mammaries like ours tend to make, which is wearing an ill-fitting bra. However, it’s my duty to share this very important PSA just in case: since places like Victoria’s Secret don’t go above a DD in their bras, some people assume that’s the end of the line, cup-size-wise. If someone out there is reading this who currently has her chest strapped into a mall bra that leaves red marks on her sideboob from the wires digging into her breast meat: oh my god, no, STOP RIGHT THERE, DROP THE 32C, AND KEEP YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE ’EM, LADY. There are tons of other great options for people with especially stacked racks—did you know that American bra sizes go up to K, which is probably because it stands for KNOCKERS?

Since wearing a flattering, supportive bra is the first step in having clothes look amazing on you, it’s important to figure out your proper size. Get a fitting, which are usually free, at a boutique that sells bras or a department store, or do it yourself at home. Once you’ve got that sorted, any and all clothes you put over your new, properly supported pair are instantly going to look 625,709,808,765 times better on you. You can find plenty of cute bras for the same mall prices (or even less!) in sizes upwards of DD online—check out Hourglass Lingerie and the DD-plus section of Bloomingdale’s online store if you need a place to start.

There are also certain cuts of tops and dresses that are especially flattering on girls who are littler everywhere else. See, where loose-fitting T-shirts can be super sexy on other, less-booby girls, they make me look like a linebacker. Putting my tremendous ta-tas in shirts that aren’t fitted makes my entire upper body into a weird rectangle silhouette, which isn’t typically the look I’m going for when I’m getting dressed. The only loose T-shirt that looks good on me is a V-neck, because it breaks up the huge expanse of cloth between my nipples and my neck. I alter crewneck collars with a trusty ol’ pair of scissors. Try this out at home, et voilà! You are now entering Cleavage City, population 2 (your awesome boobs)!

My very favorite clothes on me, though, are things with a little bit more structure to them. The key to not having your chest overwhelm the rest of your cute bod is to DEFINE YOUR WAISTLINE. A well-placed belt can be amazing in this way, as can empire-waisted clothes. Once I discovered this important life truth, I got so much better at figuring out which clothes would flatter me and which would totally linebacker me out (curse you, trapeze dresses!). The clothes that work the absolute best of all for me are ones with adjustable ties on each side, or in the back, like this cute polka-dot dress, this adorable schoolgirl minidress; and this summery floral-print number. The great thing about these kinds of dresses and tops (as well as the glorious wrap dress) is that you get to control exactly how body-conscious they are and make them work for your individual figure. Adjustable clothes are godsends for women with unusual proportions, like you and me. Every single article of clothing I own that makes me feel good about my body has one of those tie backs, seriously.

OK, I hope that was somewhat helpful, baby girl! Now go forth and put your best chest forward. —Amy Rose

As a plus-size girl, I have a hard time finding cute clothes online. A lot of stores don’t offer much above a size large (which, surprisingly, is about a size 10 U.S.). Do you have any suggestions?

Do we ever! In no particular order, here are some of our favorite sources for plus-size clothing:

Those are just to get you started. For more ideas and inspiration, follow fashion blogs by curvy women like Gabi Gregg, Alissa Wilson, Nicolette Mason, Tiffany Tucker, Nadia Aboulhosn, and Amalia Nicholson and Liz Elton—they always know the best places to get cute stuff. Good luck! —Everyone at Rookie

Damn Girl Ya Look Good

I hate my arms. I really do. In the winter it’s OK, because they’re always covered, but in the summer it is terrible. I try to wear long sleeves and jackets to cover them, but I can’t bear the heat and always end up being incredibly uncomfortable. I know I should love my body, but I just don’t feel OK wearing short sleeves. Until I learn to deal with it, do you have any suggestions for how to cover your arms without being too warm?

I know how it feels when you are self-conscious about a body part and want to cover it up forever, but I really do hope you learn to get over it and embrace yourself sooner rather than later. For one thing, I do NOT want you to get overheated when it is 100 degrees outside and you’re out there wearing a sweater! You better have a big bottle of water with you at all times! Until that precious I-don’t-give-a-fuck moment comes for you, though, deal with warm days by wearing lightweight blouses, maybe with three-quarter or elbow-length sleeves. This top from Forever 21 looks like a good one to start with.

Clockwise from top left: Hot Spot Blouse, $38, Nastygal.com; lilac blouse, $48, Nastygal.com; pink-and-white striped top, $37, Lulus.com; Always on the Sunny Side Top, $50, Modcloth.com.

Printed semi-sheer blouses are also in effect right now, so you have a ton to choose from. (Wear a camisole or a tank underneath, since most of them are too thin to wear alone.) And have some fun with lace, like this cream kimono jacket that you can throw over almost anything. There is also this real purdy lace bell-sleeved dress! I hope that gives you some ideas. Just keep in mind that more than likely you are the only one noticing your arms, my boo! I hope you learn to love them soon! xoxo Marie

I want to get an eyebrow piercing. My parents are wholeheartedly against this idea. They say that because I’m black I’m susceptible to keloid scars, and that I have to wait till I’m 18 to get anything pierced anyway. I get what they’re saying, but I feel like right now, before I’m 18 (and therefore an adult), is my time to do reckless things and make mistakes. I’ve researched eyebrow piercings, keloids, infections, how awesome it would be to have an eyebrow piercing, etc., but I seem to be getting a lot of different information from different sources. Please help me with facts!

I think you have demonstrated a lot of maturity by researching all these things. When I decided I wanted to pierce my nose last year I just went to the place and got it done and it didn’t even OCCUR to me to research. Anyways, I just looked at the Wikipedia page for keloids, and it seems that they are not as likely to happen around the eyebrow area. I spoke to my best friend who got her eyebrow pierced when we were in high school, and this is what she said: “I think everybody reacts differently to piercings. How you’ve scarred in the past is probably a good indication of how your piercing will heal and scar. The absolute best thing you can do when getting a piercing is to take good care of it afterwards. Clean and disinfect it every day, until it heals fully. I loved having my eyebrow pierced. It healed better than my ear and tongue piercings.” What sucks is that in most places (in the U.S., at least) you need your parents’ permission to get pierced these days; and the truth is you don’t really wanna go to a place that acts willy-nilly about rules because then EW. Go to a really reputable place, and make sure they pierce you with a needle, not a piercing gun. Are you 16? If you’re 16 I think maybe you can be like, “Hey, if I’m old enough to drive a car, then I think I should be able to poke a hole in my face” (remind her that eyebrow piercings don’t last forever like a tattoo!). The truth is, I don’t think getting your eyebrow pierced is reckless. Especially since you’ve done so much research and are willing to have a conversation with your parents about it. I don’t think it’s a mistake either, because it’s not permanent! I hope this helps somehow. Good luck! —Laia

I’m 21 years old and my face looks very “cute” (as opposed to “beautiful” or “sexy”). But I feel like I’m old enough to start wearing “sexy” clothes. The problem is that I don’t know how to do this! Right now I wear a lot of mod, ’60s-style, retro stuff. But I fear that this style makes me look even “cuter.” can you help me?

Hey girl! I sure can! I suffer from cute-itis too, and I’m much older than you. First of all, don’t fret about being too cute, because that just means you can play tricks on people and get away with it, lookin’ all adorable and all! Just kidding!

When I myself don’t feel like being Miss Cuteashia La BonBons (the name by we shall address our adorable alter egos), I try to summon the elegant sexiness of someone like Dita Von Teese.

Dita is a woman who embodies LA SEXY without showing a ton of skin (well, at least when she’s not performing burlesque). So, what tips can we get from her?

1. Find clothing that fits your body well and is tailored to your shape. If you dig that same retro look she does, pencil skirts, like this one from Mode Merr, hug the bod and are flattering on many shapes. Invoke your inner Wanda Woodward and wear this exact outfit. Think “bodycon” instead of “A-line tea party.”

2. Don’t be afraid to show off what you find sexy about yourself. If you love your legs, wear a mini. If your favorite body part is your belly, wear a crop top!

3. Think sexy in terms of color, too. Choose solid colors and simple patterns over loud, bright prints (which have their place and time!). Black lace tights are a sexier choice than bright green knee socks (me today). High heels or wedges are sexier than flats. Skip cutesy clothing details like ruffles or bows and save your unicorn earrings and your Hello Kitty purse for Cuteashia La BonBon days. Lastly, don’t forget some sexy red lipstick like M.A.C.’s Lady Danger! xoxo Marie

My dark-brown hair is bra-strap length, and I usually wear it in a very boring ponytail or a bun. I am so tempted to get a bob, but I’m worried about looking like a mom. Can you show me some pictures that I can take to the hairdresser of unboring, non-soccer-mom bobs? I don’t want a fringe, so traditional bob inspiration like Uma in Pulp Fiction or Louise Brooks is out, unfortunately! Love, Jessica

Hi, Jessica! I too know that desire to lop off my hair into something shorter and fresher, but unlike you I’m not brave. So instead, I stare at photos of girls with cute bobs for obscenely lengthy amounts of time. My weird obsession is your gain, though! There are lots of ways to wear a bob in a way that is chic and fun and not soccer-mom-esque at all.

If you’ve got a bit of wave or curl to your hair, this short bob on Keira Knightley is so cute:

If you’re looking for something slightly longer, why not try something like this ’do Kirsten Dunst used to have?

To bring out that beachy, wavy texture, try a sea-salt hairspray like A Beautiful Life Brands’ Pregame Texturizing Spray ($22, abeautifullife.com). It smells amazing!

Bobs like these look really good on straight hair, too. See?

To keep a straight look from frizzing out, try a smoothing lotion like Redken’s Outshine 01 Anti-Frizz Polishing Milk ($4, amazon.com).

I don’t think you’d call any of these bobs frumpy, and you wouldn’t see them on a soccer mom, unless of course she was a really cool soccer mom (yes that is possible: Gwen Stefani is a soccer mom!). —Hannah

I’m 20 years old, and I just scored an awesome job at a credit union. I know I’ll have to make some fashion sacrifices (no more black denim and band shirts, dangit), but I also don’t want to lose my individuality. Most of the people who work at the credit union wear khakis, dresses, and cardigans—which is what I interviewed in, but I can’t keep this up forever! At my current job I wear a lot of riding pants with long tops—I am not well versed in the ways of more professional-looking bottoms. I’m a bit round around the midsection, and button-downs (or the idea of tucking them in) are sort of horrifying to me. I just want to look like a more refined version of myself. Any suggestions? —Jenna

I don’t think you need to lose your individuality just because you work at a conservative place. If you normally live in black jeans and band shirts, you just have to figure out a way to translate those same pieces into more-serious stuff. Start with your jeans, for example: are they skinny or bootcut? Look for a pair of black pants in the same style. You can find nice jersey tops that will feel as comfortable as your favorite band tee but are dressier. If you have an aversion to tucking things in, find tops that end an inch or so below the waistband so they’ll look a li’l bit more profesh. A soft blazer is a great way to top it all off without falling into the cardigan route, and you can maybe even put your favorite band’s button on the lapel to keep your totally AWESOME spirit alive. —Laia ♦

If you have a question for a future Damn Girl, please send it to Marie at [email protected].