As part of my Project Put Together to reclaim my style and cast off the mom frump, I’ve been learning about my personal style and how I want to dress my figure as it is now, instead of when I lose whatever amount of weight I might need to depending on who you ask. I’ve been reading all kinds of advice from stylists, and some of it was really helpful and made tons of sense, and some of it made me want to smash something.
I am either an “apple” or an “hourglass” depending on a few pounds, and maybe it’s because I can fall into the category that most people deem the hardest to dress, but I kept getting madder and madder the more I read. The advice for an “apple” is almost always, “Yeah, you’re hard. Do whatever you can to draw attention away from your body.”
Advice was to minimize the bust, minimize the hips, don’t wear anything with ruffles, or stripes, or detail around the collar, or any waistline that doesn’t involve a corset. Cover my thin legs with bell bottoms to even things out. One stylist’s blog recommended that I look for tops with sleeves with fringe or embroidery to draw attention to my thin arms (and away from my fat body).
All this advice made me mad because it supposes that there’s only one “best” way to look. Women with large pear hips should want smaller ones and dress in a way that hides them. Athletic women without curves should dress in a way that manufactures them. Women like me with large breasts and some extra weight around my middle should try to hide that because we should all be striving to be as small as possible. According to this line of thinking, there is one way to look good, and we should all try to hide or disguise whatever makes us different from that look.
But this is my body. This is it. I don’t want to make it look like something it isn’t. I am what I am. I’d be happy to lose a few pounds, like just about anybody, but overall I’m happy with my body, big boobs and hips, thin legs and all. Women around the world pay a fortune to have breasts like mine, and yet according to some stylists, my body isn’t “right” as it is because it doesn’t look like this one, narrow, “appropriate” way of dressing. I say baloney.
I say, if you’re an athletic woman with no curves, you be proud of your muscles and your lithe physique and don’t spend time pining after a juicy booty. Likewise, if you’ve got a juicy booty, be proud of it and stop torturing yourself with spanx. And we should all stop trying to play tricks with our clothes to make us look like the one “right” way to be attractive.
Still, embracing my body doesn’t mean everything is suddenly going to look great on me. There are certain styles that are just not going to look as good on me as they would on someone else. Off the rack button front shirts are the bane of my fashionable existence. Body positivity and aesthetics are complicated friends, but even embracing my curves I don’t think certain silhouettes look as good on me as others. So what could a stylist tell me that wouldn’t be horribly offensive?
How about this? Wear What Fits.
I don’t mean that as some anti-fashion harrumphing, I mean it as a call for scrupulous honesty with ourselves.The trick is to wear what fits you ALL OVER. I look dumb in pants that fit me in the waist but are enormous in the thighs. A boxy blazer doesn’t fit me, because I have curves. So I need a curvy cut blazer. If a shirt is low cut (or even moderately cut) it’s often too small for me. It doesn’t fit because my breasts are too big for it. And my shirts often have to be quite a bit longer to make up for the extra stuffing. Meanwhile, a slim woman with an A cup isn’t going to fit in a dress with big cups, or cut for an hourglass shape. That doesn’t mean she shouldn’t wear tight dresses, it means she needs one that fits.
One version doesn’t need to be “better,” any more than it matters what prescription your eyeglasses are. Without the people in them, a fitted knit dress has no more value than a button front shirtdress. So it really shouldn’t matter once the people are inside, as long as the clothes fit. I don’t care what the stylists say, I can rock a turtleneck if it’s big enough to fit my breasts without straining while also not pooling around my middle. I can wear a shirtdress if it’s got enough pleats and darts to fit me without the buttons gaping. I can wear whatever I want as long as it fits the body I actually have.
I don’t think there’s anything so wrong with my body that I need to minimize it or distract from it. I think I just need to wear clothes that actually fit me, curves and all.