My sweet 16 is coming up, and I’m not sure what the theme is going to be— I want to find my party dress first! I don’t like my arms, but I’m having trouble finding something that covers at least the first half of them AND goes well with green hair. —Tugboat, (almost) 16, Michigan
Letting the dress be the deciding factor on the theme of your whole party? MY TYPE OF GAL! First off, you know I gotta tell you not to worry about your arms too much. Nobody else is looking at them the way you are—and hopefully, you’ll be having so much fun at your party that you’ll forget about feeling insecure! Maybe you’ll even RIP YOUR SLEEVES RIGHT OFF, just like Hulk Hogan!
In my first sartorial fantasy, you’re wearing a black bell-sleeved minidress, like this one. You can go kind of goth with the theme. Think witchy Stevie Nicks or American Horror Story: Coven. Second idea? Get the same dress, but switch to the red option. Then you have a late ’60s, Mad Men-type situation!
Next plan: going full-on Studio 54 disco queen with this sequined number. Yes, it’s green like your hair, but, BABY GUUUURL, do NOT be afraid to match! Spray some glitter in your weave and paint your face with sparkly eye shadow and you will look PHE-NOM.
You could also go with a theme I like to call Terrible Tea Party. Wear something floral and elegant, like this gorgeousness, with some dainty lace gloves. To make it “terrible,” wear it with shredded tights! Pinkies up, you punk-ass!
Last but not least is something truly wild. The theme for your party in this idea: Sophisticated Sweats: A Relaxing Ride Into Cozytown. Everyone comes in deconstructed sweatpants and t-shirts. Perhaps there’s rhinestone-encrusted slippers. Basically everyone just falls asleep. (OK, maybe scratch that last option.) Anyway, imagine yourself wearing this ultra-cozy knit dress, and take a look at the collages below for even more options! —Marie
I love wearing tights in a variety of colors and patterns, but it seems like every pair I own tears and runs within a few uses! Do you know of any cheap, super sturdy tights—or ways to prevent runs in the first place? —Billie, 18, Santa Fe, NM
HELLO. You have come to the tights master. I feel you, boo. Some of my tights have gotten runs in them and while I do love that ripped-up look once in a while, it can still be uber-annoying! The best tights that I have come across that very rarely get messed up are from We Love Colors. They have over 50 different colors and styles. This kind is an average, not-too-thick weight, while this microfiber style is better for colder weather. Everything I’ve gotten from them has been very durable and has lasted multiple washes without snags or stretching. I’ve also found really great tights at Target, especially from their Exhilaration line. My absolutely favorite brand of tights is Pretty Polly. The suspender tights and “secret socks” tights, in particular, have lasted me a long time.
For longevity, wash your tights in a mesh lingerie bag (like this) on a “delicate” washing setting, then hang-dry them. Hope that helps! —Marie
Do you have any tips on finding affordable lingerie? I’m looking for some new sexy, pretty, lacy things, but I’m not looking to spend $300, ya feel me? —Miller, 17, Nashville, TN
Aerie has affordable comfy lingerie, and ASOS does as well. Gossard is incredibly reasonably priced and very comfortable. True&Co. is where I get the bulk of my lingerie, cuz you can easily get a $25 credit towards your first purchase, and they have frequent sales, so you can get a cute set for like $10. Here are some cute options:
However, I warn you: The fancy lingerie you love is expensive for a reason so if you really love a set, I do suggest splurging once in a while. Lingerie is expensive for a reason, and I promise you it’s not a bullshit one: You will notice a significant difference in the fabric and quality. Mimi Holliday is a great brand, and it’s, like, perpetually on sale. Also, The Outnet has designer lingerie at a great discount. Hope that helps! —Arabelle
I have scoliosis and wear a Boston brace. The Boston brace is hard plastic, goes from my hips to under my boob (no underwire bras), and has visible straps and bumps. I’ve had to give up wearing crop tops (my one true love!) , anything high-waisted, and all things form-fitting. Now I wear jeggings and leggings with big, boring shirts and sweaters. I have a pink pixie cut (to match my pink brace), androgynous features, and am rather petite, so I find myself looking like a young boy from an anime in my scoliosis clothes. I want to remain feminine, still be able to work, and look kickass at my school, which is full of fabulous artsy people. Any ideas? —Lucy, 14, Baltimore, ML
First of all, I’m extremely proud of you for taking care of yourself. Anything you have to wear every day, whether it’s an air cast, retainers on your teeth, or a Boston brace, can be a giant obnoxious pain in the ass for this and many other reasons. So your dedication is super admirable—go, you.
First: I want to make sure you know that you most certainly do NOT have to “give up” your one true love, crop tops, unless you really, really want to. I can’t imagine what it’s like to suddenly have to change the way you dress to accommodate a mobility device, but for real? Fuck anyone who would throw shade at you for wearing a crop top with a visible brace.
Otherwise, you’ve basically got two options here: You can either work around the brace, or with it.
Working around it means you get to focus on cosmetics and accessories. It sounds like you have exceptional hair. That’s obviously a focal point of your overall look. Switching up your hair color when you’re done with the pink, or wearing wigs, like this one, are both great ways to quickly change styles without having to think about your clothing. Headbands, wild vintage hats (such as this), and changing up the way you wear your hair (for example, I just did a tutorial on how to pin-curl short hair, and I promise it’s very easy!) can be even more impactful than clothes. Finger waves one day, liberty spikes the next!
I definitely suggest following makeup artists on Pinterest and trying out their looks, plus others you come across elsewhere on the internet. This can include learning how to apply false eyelashes, overlining your lips, or filling in your eyebrows to match your hair. Likewise, there are tons of amazing nail artists who, thankfully, post DIY tutorials—a simple YouTube search will turn up a jillion of these. Taking the time to do your hair, makeup, and nails can be fantastic on days when you’re not feeling so hot.
Try out different purses or tote bags, scarves (both around your neck and on your head), jewelry, and most of all, tights and shoes! If you live in a place where it’s cold, now is the perfect time to try a wild color or a crazy pattern on your legs—just see above for inspiration! That look can carry you into spring once it’s warm enough to bust out the shorts-with-tights look, which is pretty much my favorite thing.
There are lots of shoes out there that will provide adequate foot and leg support while still looking awesome—I love Doc Martens for boots and shoes and Swedish Hasbeens or Dansko shoes for clogs, but a lot of my friends wear wild sneakers or creepers, and they always look great.
If you choose to work with the brace, rather than around it, you have options as far as outfits are concerned: the blousy-shirt-on-top, leggings-on-the-bottom look is a great one, but you’re obviously sick of it. Have you considered 1920s-style “drop-waist” flapper dresses, which often don’t have much of a bodycon shape, or ’60s mod dresses? With your pixie cut, you’d look thoroughly modern!
For outerwear, 1950s swing coats hang far enough away from the body that they won’t outline your brace. Clothes from the ’40s, ’70s and ’80s— three decades that loooooved shoulder pads— might also be flattering, as they’ll create an optical illusion that draws the eye up and away from your waist. Maybe a boxy jacket à la David Byrne in the “Once In A Lifetime” video?
(I kid, I kid, but it’s certainly a #look! ) —Meredith ♦
Got questions on what the hell to dress yourself up in? Email Marie a question at [email protected]. Make sure to include your NAME/NICKNAME/INITIALS, AGE, and CITY, please!