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.
Reader L e-mailed me this question:
I know this might be a question that applies to a lot of people, but in case it’s useful info, my specific body is like this: I’m about 5’7″, and I weigh somewhere between 145 and 150 lbs at any given minute. I have a very short waist (less than 2.5″ between my last rib and my hipbones), very small breasts (a-b cup, I rarely wear underwire bras) and a large ribcage–about 37 inches around. It’s not that I’m barrel-chested, which I know is an actual medical diagnosis, just that I’m really wide side-to-side. I’ve always struggled with those apple/pear/rectangle body classifications. I have the wide top half and super long legs that would make me an apple, except that I’ve never particularly had a tummy and my waist does come in a couple inches between my ribs and my hips (but it’s short enough to not particularly produce an hourglass shape). And while I have curvy hips and a big butt that mean I’m not really rectangular at all, my torso’s much shorter and wider than those shapes called pear.
Originally posted 2013-06-18 06:39:20.
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.