We know the rules. Black is slimming. Choose looser, skimming styles to hide a belly. Keep skirt hems around the knee, and avoid volume. Pick pants with a straight leg to minimize hips.
This leaves me, and other fuller-figured gals, with a rather rectangular wardrobe. Doesn’t that sound like fun? So at the end of the day, if we follow all of these fashion rules, we’ll end up looking five pounds lighter, but we’ll also have the most boring, lackluster wardrobe in the world. Sign me up!
This weekend I was shopping around Toronto, looking to fluff up my spring wardrobe (after stocking up at Fresh Collective, of course. Its hard NOT to shop while you work when you work here), but was not looking for anything in particular. One of the trends I’ve been shamelessly attracted to for the season is those beautiful, lush floral prints. I recently picked up a pastel floral jacket, and even a funky floral pair of wedge heels, but have stayed away from the floral pants for a while, keeping those “fashion rules” in mind.
You may have read in earlier posts, I’ve kind of got a crush on my legs. After hiding them in bootcut jeans for years, I’ve realized that they’re very curvy, but well-suiting, and highlighting them makes me feel sexy, shapely and feminine. I’ve rocked skinny jeans to accentuate my curves rather than hiding them for some time now, but have stuck to mostly dark or mid-rinse denims. So you can imagine that, once I saw those brightly-toned floral jeans, thrown over a rack at a fitting room, I felt a mix of contempt and interest, with an air of challenge. Okay, jeans, lets try this. One leg on. The other one on. Button. Fly. Wiggle.
They did exactly what I expected them to. They totally brought attention to my legs and butt. And as I looked at myself in the mirror, I wondered how I had gone without them for this long. Yes, they definitely attracted attention to the parts they covered, but what’s so bad about that? I mean, I’ve never been one to think that a well-draped dress can make me look like a size 6, but I’m very aware that dressing for your size is the most flattering strategy of all, rather than trying to fool people into thinking you’re (at most) a size or two smaller than you actually are. So, if the goal is to flatter the body you have, why the heck was I so intimidated by these pants? They were good pants, and fulfilled their job nicely; They covered my butt and made me look like a rock star.
So I’ve been thinking about the concept of “fashion rules” and exactly what they achieve. It must take a lot of effort, time and control to make oneself look so very ordinary, and I wonder what the pull is behind the action. So here’s what I have to say on these so-called “fashion rules”, and ways to observe but challenge them. After all, rules are meant to be broken.
BLACK IS SLIMMING – Yes, black is slimming, and can be a powerful tool in not just drawing attention away from one area, but to highlight a different one! It absolutely breaks my heart to see people dressing in all-dark colours solely for the purpose of appearing thinner. How much more of an impact would they make with, say, a tailored black pant, topped with a vibrant structured top which brings the attention upward? Or a cool black leather jacket to offset textured jeans or a printed skirt? Black, like fudge cupcakes, should be something used (eaten?) in moderation. It’s striking, dramatic, and a great canvas for your brights to pop and take the spotlight, so make sure you’re adding some light to your dark!
LOOSE CLOTHES HIDE AN IMPERFECT FIGURE – Again, this can be true at times. For example, I have a pair of cropped pants (polka dotted!) which I absolutely HAD to own. They’re very retro, super-slim fitting, but low rise, which I’m not usually a fan of, since they can create an off muffin-top effect. With those pants, I choose longer flowwy tops to create a flattering silhouette. What I do NOT do is pair a wide-leg trouser with a loose-fitting top, and then throw a chunky cardigan over top. Some gals look as though they’re drowning in their clothes, and it ends up attracting more attention (the bad kind) and hides any shape you have under layers upon layers of clothes. Come on, ladies, I’m all for the bohemian tunic trend, but remember to offset a breezy piece with a well-fitted garment to create balance and flow.
PRINTS ATTRACT ATTENTION – True at times, but people seem to forget that prints also camouflage a whole lot too. Panty-lines, that tiny stain from your egg salad sandwich which should have ended up in your mouth but ended up in your lap, baby drool, and all the good stuff life throws at you. All of those can be ancient history if you’re wearing a well-printed garment. Prints also create (what we have lovingly dubbed here at Fresh Collective) “visual confusion” as the eye is attracted to the print itself, rather than the shape of the person underneath. Large, bright prints create interest and drama, while smaller prints in more neutral colours simply add dimension to your look. Many professional stylists advise clients to incorporate SOME kind of print into EVERY outfit to create a focus point, so get comfy, because prints are making appearances everywhere. Pick a printed shoe, jacket, or bag for a “pop of print” or get sassy with an exceptionally flattering allover printed dress to highlight your rockin’ silhouette. Get on with your bad self, girl.
KEEP SKIRTS LONG TO CONCEAL LEGS – Have you ever seen a curvier gal in a below-the-knee-length, loose-fitting skirt? Have you noticed just how much volume that ADDS to the silhouette? Skirts are often a tricky area for many body types including mine. I’m only 5’4″, and I have a long torso, so finding skirts which are flattering on short legs is a bit of a challenge. I’ve found that leaner styles are most flattering on curvier gals, and love my collection of Bionic pencil skirts which channel a bit of Christina Hendricks’ Mad Men style. Alternatively, shorter skirts can flatter just as well, but should be kept flouncy and flirty to make them look sweet and feminine, not as though I’m heading to the club to fist pump until 4am. Snookie happened for a reason, ladies, and we should learn from her. This is a great way to play up the print trend too, pair a fun skirt with a classic oxford for an office-friendly look, or toss on a cute tank and some sandals and hit the downtown core for an afternoon of patios and shopping!
PANTS SHOULD FALL STRAIGHT DOWN FROM THE HIP – Not always. What kind of look are you trying to create? I’m a fan of playing up my curves, and I’m relatively obsessed with the 50’s, so I typically choose a skinnier pant which accentuates the shape of my legs. That being said, there are plenty of opportunities to rock a wider-leg pant. There’s a big difference between wearing a wide leg pant because you want to create an effect, and wearing a wide leg pant because you think its your only option and the sole shape which will flatter your body. Wider bottoms create a column affect. This can be desirable in menswear inspired pieces, and is also super prominent in the upcoming global fashion wave, but it also eliminates any curves you’ve got throughout your bottom half. I love being a girl, and being shaped like a girl, and I simply can’t imagine hunting down items which negate my curves and make me look blocky, for fear of looking TOO curvy.
Here’s the secret: Your body has already decided what shape it is, and now it’s given you full control over dressing it accordingly and with love and pride! Take a good long look at yourself in the mirror today, and pick out your best features and parts, and think of ways to play up these wonderful, wonderful attributes. Cutie booty? Shapely legs? Perfectly flat tummy? Be proud of the features which make you look like a rock star/pinup/Superwoman and give them center stage to shine. Having trouble seeing this for yourself? Drop me a line at Jamie@freshcollective.com and I’ll reply. We can chat about ways to create a great sense of balance and self-love through your wardrobe, and discover what sorts of new fashion territory you can cover confidently!
Happy spring, folks! See you next week!