Reader Sarah e-mailed this request to me:
I’m short and small-boned and hourglass-shaped, and I can find lots of advice for dressing that body type (full skirts, v-necks, nipped waists, tailored pants, etc.). However, I feel like there’s a clash between my body type and other elements: my face (apple-cheeked, not conventionally pretty), my hair (very short), and my personality (tomboyish, casual). When I wear skirts and dresses, which I do think suit my body, I feel very self-conscious, like I don’t match what I’m wearing. Clothes that I feel more like myself in (bootcut jeans, casual graphic tees) do not make me look my best. I wonder if other women struggle with this type of conflict, and how they deal with it.
Originally posted 2013-07-31 06:05:30.
I talk a lot about traditional figure flattery. In no small part because that’s what you folks tell me interests you, and because the questions you have are typically very specific and include topics not covered by style books and magazines. I find it fascinating to learn about the challenges you face in dressing your personal best, and love to explore options with you.
I’m also fascinated by the F*ck Flattering movement which was more or less sparked by a tee shirt designed by Gisela Ramirez, and have read with interest the responses to this conscious rebellion against fashion rules and dressing norms. In common use, “flattering” means something that “makes your body appear tall, thin, balanced, and hourglass-shaped.” It also implies limiting jiggle, covering cellulite, wrinkles, and scars, keeping a large bust in check, and lots of control-related mandates. Traditional ideas of figure flattery are rooted in a very narrow beauty ideal, tied to the male gaze and heteronormativity, and extremely exclusionary. Looking past the obvious sizeism, consider that some petite women will never appear tall and some thin women will never appear hourglassy. “Flattering,” in common use, tries to force a marvelously diverse population of women into a very specific idealized shape.
Originally posted 2013-07-22 06:02:00.
Image courtesy Banana Republic
Reader Kerry e-mailed me this question:
Whenever I buy new dress pants for work, I have to have the length altered. Each time, they languish in my bedroom while I try to determine which shoes I should wear to the tailor: should I wear the heels, the flats, the in-between shoes? If I have my pants shortened so I can wear flats with them, they will look silly with the heels and vice versa. But I don’t want to have a pair of pants for heels and a pair for flats, because a decent pair of pants is expense (plus tailoring) and I don’t want to have to buy “heels pants” and “flats pants.”
Originally posted 2013-01-22 06:44:45.