The Right to Act Like Your Child’s Parent

Every Friday my column appears in a bunch of papers in Ontario and Saskatchewan. This week’s column encourages parents to take back their responsibility and right to train up their children.

The RIGHT to BE a PARENTI often gaze wistfully at that fashionable fall outfit: an oversized tunic with a belt over leggings. It looks so comfy cozy. But even though I like it, I can’t quite bring myself to buy it. Leggings on someone on the wrong side of forty doesn’t quite work for me, even if the tunic does cover a multitude of flaws.

Yet increasingly leggings aren’t working even for those on the right side of forty, namely because people aren’t pairing them with long tunics; they’re wearing them with shorter shirts. What was once fashionable becomes floozy. It’s not even flirty; it’s just gross. There are some parts of one’s anatomy which should never be covered in thin, skin tight fabric.

As terrible as it is when adult women commit this fashion faux-pas, it’s worse when teen girls do it, because it means some parent somewhere has allowed a child to dress in public like that. One mom I know is heartbroken about her daughter’s clothing but feels rather helpless. Her daughter refuses to wear anything except tights as pants.

I do not understand this helpless attitude, whether it’s about clothing choices or other teenage behaviours, and I would like to tell parents, loudly and clearly, you are the parent. You have the right–indeed the obligation–to set standards. If you do not exercise your right to act like a parent, then you are abdicating your responsibility to our culture. Our culture is the one that adores Miley Cyrus’ new persona. Do you really want to turn your child over to that?

Parents should not feel guilty for acting like parents, and yet so many of us are insecure. Do we even have the right to tell our kids what to do, or what to wear? The insecurity is understandable. In 2008 in Quebec, a 12-year-old girl took her father to court for grounding her from a class field trip. She had been using the internet inappropriately and sending inappropriate texts, so he put his foot down. She sued. And the Quebec courts, even on appeal, have decided the girl was right.

With this sort of ridiculousness around us it’s easy to feel like we don’t have a right to demand things of our kids. The schools should raise them, and if our culture has decided that Miley’s antics are the new normal, who are we to say they’re wrong? We may be uncomfortable with all the texting, and with all the explicit shows kids watch, and with the sexual activity, but these things are normal today. To fight back is like trying to hold a tsunami at bay. It’s too much.

Yet is it really?

What does it matter what the rest of our culture says? It is not our culture that is going to have to deal with the repercussions of a teenager dropping out of school, or feeling great shame for something he or she has done, or getting hooked on drugs. It is you, the parent. It is not our culture that will have to pick up the pieces, patch a broken heart, or help someone detox. It is not the school that will be there when a girl derails her educational future because she gets pregnant, or a boy decides to waste his life on video games instead of investing in college. It is you. You are the only one who loves your child more than life itself. You are the only one with a vested interest in how your child turns out. You’re the only one, then, that really matters.

So do something! You have power. You control the wifi, the television, and the money that pays for the cell phone. Use that power. Say no. Be a parent. And please, no tights.

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Fighting the Frump with andRuby–and Giveaway!

andRuby J Crew Inspired NecklaceAs part of the Mom it Forward Blogger Network, I was compensated for this post.

Remember last year when I invited you to Fight the Frump? We took a week and I challenged you to first get dressed (no yoga pants and baggy T-shirts!). Then I encouraged you to find clothes that fit and flatter, to buy great undergarments, and to find some accessories.

Honestly, we women spend so much time hating our bodies, and yet spending just a few minutes putting on things that make us feel put together can give us a blast of confidence, which has repercussions even in our marriages. When we feel better about ourselves, we’re more energetic. We’re more motivated. And we’re often friskier!

So when Mom it Forward asked if I’d like to review some products from andRuby, an awesome new deal site I found, and give you all a chance to win a $75 gift certificate, I said yes because I think we all need a little push to fight that frump once again.

Oh, and I also really liked the necklace they were offering! :) It’s normally $50, on for just $7.99. Here I’m wearing it:

andRuby J Crew Inspired Necklace

And here it is on my oldest daughter (who is hanging out with me in Kansas City while I’m getting ready to speak at the MOPS conference tomorrow!)

andRuby J Crew Inspired Necklace

At andRuby their product is always changing. You get awesome deals–as much as 80 or 90% off in some cases–but it’s always unique stuff. When you sign up for their newsletter, you’ll get the inside scoop when they have new items being added.

I’ve been browsing through their site, and here are some other lovely things I found:

andRuby--discount beauty, jewelry, and more!

Gorgeous Maxi-Skirt

I know many of my readers LOVE maxi-skirts, and here’s one that’s available in black and teal. Normally $47, on for $16.99

NuMe Curl Jam Set

You get three curling wands in one! You get a flatiron, but then also a curling set with three different sizes. Normally $250, on for $89.

J Crew Inspired Color Mix Bracelet

This is gorgeous! And it’s 88% off. Normally $39, on for just $5!

BeYOUtiful T-shirts

Teach your kids they are beautiful–just the way they’re made! Normally $20, on for $8.99.

Luxe White Crystal Statement Necklace

This sits at just the right length, and brights up any top! Normally $40, now $15.

Simply Shabby Blooms

This baby headband flower is adorable! Normally $7, on for $3.

Their items are made by individual merchants, and I received my necklace in a lovely box, all done up with black ribbon. It was quite spectacular for a necklace that is on such major sale (from $50 to $7.99). The site offers a chance for merchants to connect with new customers, so each deal is very time limited. The benefit, though, is that from home decor to jewelry to clothing to kids’ items, there’s always something new and fun to find–at a price that won’t kill your pocketbook.

I’m a big fan of jewelry, because a beautiful necklace can dress up a T-shirt and help you feel so much more “put together”. If you want to fight the frump, sometimes all it takes is a necklace to make you go “pop”!

Find andRuby:

andRuby on Facebook
andRuby on Twitter
andRuby on Pinterest

And they’ve given us all a coupon code you can use to get 10% off–good until November 30. Just use the code love at andRuby.

One of my readers is going to win a $75 gift certificate towards andRuby! Just enter in the Rafflecopter giveaway below. All entries MUST sign up for andRuby’s newsletter, where you’ll get notification of all their new deals. And there are other ways to get “extra” entries, too. Just read below, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

These occasional sponsored giveaways help to pay for the costs of maintaining this site. And I thought you’d enjoy the chance to win, too!

Why I Couldn’t Get Undressed on my Wedding Night

Good Girls Guide to Great Sex--AmazonWhen I wrote The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, one of the main reasons that I did so was because of my horrible wedding night. I had read some Christian books about how to make sex great right off the bat, and they left me a nervous wreck. I tried to write a book that would help people calm down and relax and just get to know each other, because there are so many changes all at once. And you have a lifetime to get it right!

And as I started talking to other women about what their own wedding nights were like, I found that I wasn’t alone. Many of us had difficult honeymoons. I think we need to talk about this more, dispel some myths, and tell ourselves that it’s okay not to be perfect.

When Emily Weirenga sent me this guest post, I was so excited to run it because I know so many of you will relate. Here’s Emily:

Why I couldnt get undressed on my wedding dayWe borrowed my aunt’s cabin, by the water.

We arrived late with a bottle of wine and I stepped on the back of my wedding dress as we crossed the threshold.

I didn’t see anything but the bed, with its nicely folded corners and my new husband already in his boxers and grabbing us glasses from the kitchen cupboard.

I leaned against the wall, drinking the white, in white, and we were 23-year-old virgins who’d never seen each other naked, had only felt each other’s skin and I couldn’t unzip my dress.

I stalled, pulling out my bobby pins and he helped me, and we made a nice little pile of pins and then he asked if he could help me with my zipper.

And I asked him if he wanted another glass of wine.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to make love with him.

It’s that I didn’t want him to see me. All of me.

Not because I didn’t trust him, but because I didn’t like myself.

I didn’t like my skin and I thought maybe if we got the room dark enough first and we could do that every night, till death do us part, and he’d never see my flat chest or my wide hips or my pear shaped body.

I ended up slipping the dress around my ankles and then quickly sliding beneath the sheet and it’s taken me 10 years to learn how to walk into the bedroom naked, with the lights on. To look my husband in the eye, standing there in all of my skin, my stomach stretched with marks from two sons and my chest even flatter than it was before.

I am not beautiful because of my skin, nor because of my husband, nor because of my children, but because of my heritage as Abba’s creation.

But even though I was raised in the church, as a pastor’s daughter, who was baptized by the age of eight and went to youth group and memorized Scripture, I didn’t know that womanhood was something to be embraced. I didn’t know there were two different kinds of pride—a hubris kind of pride, which is a lifting up of the soul in defiance of God—and then, the other. The good kind of pride. The kind that Isak Dinesen defines in her book, Out of Africa:

Pride is faith in the idea that God had when he made us. A proud man is conscious of the idea, and aspires to realize it. He does not strive towards a happiness, or comfort, which may be irrelevant to God’s idea of him. His success is the idea of God, successfully carried through, and he is in love with his destiny.

I thought I was supposed to feel ashamed of my female curves. Of my body.

My mum was insecure and my dad, emotionally absent, so as children, we all battled low self-esteem. We weren’t allowed to watch The Little Mermaid because she had a bare stomach and Mum would get embarrassed if Dad caught her changing. I would be mortified if Dad saw my bra hanging on the clothesline. We thought we needed to be hidden away. Fig leaves, and such.

But Jesus came to change all that.

Jesus came so that shame would go. Jesus came, so that we could know, again, the full idea God had for us when he created us.

I am learning what it means to be a woman —what it means to embrace all of my femininity and to see it as a loving calling. To know the difference between love of self, and loving myself, and to treat myself as tenderly as I would a friend.

My friend, Celeste Steele-Perez, puts it this way: “As I meditate on what it means to be a woman, I marvel. I feel strong… I celebrate every curvy nuance of the feminine mystique. The memory of birthing makes my blood rush with the knowledge that … I, too, am made in God’s image!”

I have partnered up with Dr. Dena Cabrera of Rosewood Institute to write a book which celebrates this very thing: our femininity, our calling as women, and how to learn to love ourselves fully so we can, in turn, love our husbands and our children. It’s called Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy.


I’m excited to GIVE AWAY a hard-cover copy, so please leave a comment below telling me ONE thing you love about yourself, and we will choose a winner at random by the end of the week.

Otherwise, you can pick up your own copy of the book on Amazon (for 40% off!) or at Barnes and Noble bookstores or wherever books and e-books are sold.

Women? We are beautiful. Our bodies are temples. And it is good.

Emily Wierenga(For the book trailer, endorsements and sample chapters, please visit the official book website HERE)
(Originally posted at Prodigal Magazine: http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/my-wedding-night/#sthash.jcml8p9c.dpuf)

Emily Wierenga is a wife, mother, artist and the author of Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder, and Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

When Your Marriage is in Crisis–Fight!

Fight for Your MarriageThere’s a great scene in the movie Laws of Attraction when Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan, who have been in crisis, meet up in a grocery store. And Julianne Moore says, “Sometimes they say you have to fight for your marriage. Do you want to fight?”

So let me ask you today, “are you willing to fight“?

Because sometimes we’re too quick to give in to defeat and feelings of anger and bitterness and disappointment and even just plain hurt and heartache.

Let me tell you of one email I received today, which is quite typical. Here’s the situation:

She’s always been sensitive about her body. She’s a little overweight and not very well endowed. But she used to have fun buying cute lingerie and making herself pretty for him. Then, when she was pregnant, she found out that he was watching porn and that he had cheated on her. He’s now done a complete 180. He’s strong with God. He’s a great dad. He’s truly repentant. He’s got accountability, and he’s not using porn.

It’s not really about forgiving him, she says. That’s not her problem. The problem is that now she doesn’t feel sexy. What’s the point? She used to do all these “fun” things to attract him and they didn’t work. He strayed anyway. All that work in preparing herself and all the while he was looking at women with totally different bodies. He simply isn’t attracted to her. And every time he touches her she feels that. So they just don’t make love anymore, and she doesn’t know how to get past it. How can she ever feel attractive to him again?

Do you feel her pain? I certainly do. That would be so awful; to feel like your husband went for a totally different body type. To feel as if no matter what you did, you could never be good enough. The rejection would be huge.

But here’s the thing: it’s precisely because that hurts so much that it is such an effective weapon. And so you now have a choice:

1. Do I give in to what are perfectly legitimate feelings? Do I let the anger drive a permanent wedge between us?

2. Do I fight against these feelings and try to rebuild intimacy?

Most people choose #1 because they don’t see a choice. That’s how I feel, after all. I can’t change my feelings. And he’s the one who cheated! It’s not me who is wrecking the marriage; it’s what he did.

I realize that. But so what if you’re right? What does being right get you? It lets you feel perfectly righteous all the way to divorce court. It doesn’t rebuild a relationship. Or maybe you never split up, but you lead two completely separate lives under the same roof, and that is not good for your children.

I truly think the only option is #2. You’ll never find peace or intimacy if you pursue #1. You may say, “he needs to make it up to me,” but how can he? He can’t take it away.

And so the ball is in your court–even if that feels unfair.

So fight! Here are some thoughts on how:

1. Recognize that your husband is not the enemy

This is a tough one. Your husband was the one who did wrong. Your husband cheated on you. But right now, he is not the enemy. He loves you and wants to rebuild the relationship. The enemy is Satan, or, if you don’t like that, the enemy is all of these negative thoughts that are in your head trying to pull the two of you apart.

Think about it this way: what would you do if someone threatened your child? You would fight with every ounce of strength that you had to protect your child.

Divorce hurts kids. And what is threatening your child right now? It’s not what he did. It’s those thoughts that are tearing you apart.

If you would fight a stranger tooth and nail who was trying to hurt the kids, then put that same energy into fighting those thoughts.

Yes, it’s hard. They’re legitimate feelings. But that’s why you have to FIGHT. Fight is not a calm word. It takes energy. It takes emotion. It’s difficult. But you have to do it.

2. Rebuild Trust

Right now you’re fixating on all the ways that he chose other women over you–again, very understandably. But if you’re going to move ahead, you have to build something new–build some place in your relationship where he’s obviously choosing you. So work on your friendship. Do things together. Go for walks after dinner just to talk. Share dreams. Plan about where you’d like your family to be in five years. Make financial plans together. Make vacation plans. Plan for what you want to do with your children.

If you can play together, and do things together, and look at the future together, you’ll start to think of yourself as a unit again.

3. Pray

Sex is more than just physical. Sex is also supposed to be a true spiritual connection. Making love is not the same as having sex. What your husband did was have sex with other women–and fantasize about other women. But what he has with you is far deeper. It’s about a total becoming one flesh. It’s a complete connection. And ultimately he chose you. Maybe you worry he did that because of the kids. That’s understandable. But even that shows that there is something special that you share that no one else does. Your connection is deeper than theirs.

So deepen it. Spend time praying together, even if it’s tough (that’s where the fighting comes in again!). If you can start to feel like you’re spiritually one, it’s easier to break through other barriers. And it’s easier to want to feel intimate in other ways again.

4. Be Honest

You’re insecure. It’s okay to tell him that. It’s okay to ask him to go slow and to try to woo you again. Ask him to show you that he enjoys your body, too. And if he’s having a hard time because he’s all tied up in guilt, take things slowly. Don’t necessarily make love, but spend time naked together. Be intimate. Just kiss. Start small and see if feelings return.

It’s okay to make love while you’re crying for all the things you’ve lost. It’s okay to make love while your heart is breaking. And his probably is, too. That’s just being honest, and sometimes when we’re honest the sexual feelings come even more powerfully. So be honest, but don’t avoid intimacy. Just try to build it based first and foremost on you being one flesh, not on it just being about sexual desire.

5. Take Pride in Yourself

One last thing: if you become so insecure about your body, and say, “there’s no point in even trying because I wasn’t good enough when I did try”, who do you end up punishing? Your husband? Certainly, because men are visually stimulated.

But I think you punish yourself more. If you let yourself become dumpy, for lack of a better word, how are you going to feel about yourself? How are your children going to see you?

You are a beautiful woman. God created you just as you are. Whether your husband rejected you or not, you are still lovely in God’s eyes. It’s not about how your husband sees you; it’s about how you see yourself and how God sees you. If you become dumpy, you’re letting the world know, “I don’t think I’m worth much.” But if you put effort in, and take pride in your appearance, you’re letting the world know, “I like who I am. I’m comfortable with me. If other people don’t share that feeling, that’s their problem, not mine.”

Which do you think is more beneficial to you, and your kids, in the long run? Putting in effort, or letting yourself fall apart?

You see, my friends, if you give in to those negative feelings, all you do is punish yourself (and your kids, and your husband). They’re legitimate, sure, but it’s not worth it. So FIGHT. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it takes effort. But God loves a good fight, and He is there to do battle for you. He is waiting for you to put on your armour and say, “I’m entering the battle field.” Do that, and He will show up, big time, and will fight for you.

It reminds me of this graphic I put up on Facebook this week:

RippleEffects

What if My Husband Doesn’t Find Me Attractive? A Round-Up

"My Husband Doesn't Find Me Attractive." How to process this hurt and decide how to deal with it.

Last weekend I caused a bit of a hullabaloo by posting a Reader Question that said, “I’ve gained 25 pounds since we had kids, and now my husband doesn’t find me attractive. He wants me to be skinnier. He apologized for hurting me, but he frequently turns me down when I proposition sex. What should I do?”

There were some not very helpful comments left on that post, and I thought it was an important enough subject to revisit and post some of my thoughts! So here goes, in no particular order:

1. Don’t Mess Around with Your Spouse’s Confidence

Being attractive to your husband is HUGE. If your spouse tells you you’re not attractive, that’s devastating, and it’s hard to recover from. We’re supposed to delight in our spouses, not tear them down. So this is something that is likely best to keep to yourself.

That being said, sometimes we do need to be honest. Let’s say your husband has gained a tremendous amount of weight and sex is now just plain uncomfortable (I like to be able to breathe, for instance). Or perhaps you have gained 150 pounds and he does find it difficult to become aroused just seeing you now.

How do you handle that?

Address the health issues. Be part of the solution–like cooking better meals, initiating walks after dinner, and finding active habits to enjoy. If your spouse is  severely overweight, talk to him/her about how you don’t want him/her to die early, and you think that part of loving your spouse is taking care of yourself so you’re actually here to help raise the kids and see the grandkids and share old age with. But don’t make it into a “I don’t find you attractive” issue–or “you need to be skinnier” issue. In general, that’s not helpful.

No spouse should tell the other they're not attractive! Read on.

2. The Onus is on the Husband to Delight in the Wife; not on the Wife To Make Herself Delectable

Proverbs 5:19 says,

Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;

It does not say, “Make sure YOUR breasts delight HIM”; it says to him, “delight in your wife.” Biblically, the onus is on the spouse to stay enthralled.

And that verse was directed at an older, married couple, too, where likely gravity had taken its toll!

3. That Being Said, We Are To Try To Delight Our Husbands

I believe that part of loving your man and helping your man is being as attractive as you can be. After all, you’re the only woman he’s allowed to look at and take delight in! So make sure you’re attractive to look at!

That does mean keeping in shape as much as is realistic. Watch what you eat. Incorporate as many active things into your life as possible. Eating well does not take any more time than eating poorly, and so it’s a blessing we can give our family and our husbands. Choosing to walk places or choosing to take up biking as a family are all good things that can help us keep our weight manageable.

But even if you’re not a size 2 (and very, very few of us are), you can still be attractive! Fight the frump everyday. Get dressed. Wear clothes that flatter (and you can do that even if you’re plus-sized!). So much of being sexy is about attitude, not just what we look like. If you’re passionate with your husband, and you present yourself well, you’re choosing to love him.

4. Let’s Not Forget the Main Thing

At the same time, let’s not forget the point of this life.

1 Timothy 4:8 says:

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”

So there’s nothing wrong with exercise; but let’s remember that our lives should not be about creating the perfect body at the expense of other things. I weigh about 22 pounds more today than I did when I was married. I walk a lot. I eat well. I exercise moderately. For me to get back to the weight I was when I was married would require a tremendous amount of effort. I’d have to be at the gym likely for about an hour and a half a day.

Is it worth it?

I don’t think so. I’m not saying exercising is bad; for many people, it’s their stress relief and their hobby, and that’s wonderful. But I have other hobbies. If I were to exercise for an hour and a half a day, that time would have to come from somewhere. Should I write this blog less? Should I stop writing my next book (or take about 3 times as long to write it?) Should I speak less? Should I homeschool my daughter less?

In other words, there are opportunity costs. And right now I think speaking and writing and spending time with my kids takes precedence over trying to look like I did when I was 20.

Now, if I were 250 pounds and this were a serious heath issue, then I’d feel differently. But we must weigh the costs, and not see the whole weight issue in a vacuum. When people tell someone, “just lose the weight”, you have to look at how difficult that would be, and whether it’s actually worth it. Much depends on the weight you’re starting at, and how realistic that target weight is.

So if you’re really hurting because your husband wants you to lose weight, think about it logically like this. Is it a health issue or not? Would it require a tremendous amount of effort? Is he only attracted to skinny women because he watches porn? Don’t immediately take on the guilt of gaining weight until you’ve put it in perspective.

5. Our Bodies Aren’t Supposed to Stay the Same

For someone to tell their spouse “I don’t find you attractive anymore because you don’t look like you did when we married” is a little harsh, because our bodies are not designed to stay the same. They are designed to slowly fall apart. That’s what aging is. After you have babies, you sag. You have stretch marks. You are bigger. You just ARE.

And as you age, you get moles. You get more hair growing on your upper lip and chin (where did THAT come from?!?!) Your veins start to stick out.

Your metabolism slows, and while you could eat a ton at 20 and stay 120 pounds, now you eat less and you’re 145. That’s what our bodies do.

Maturity means recognizing this and delighting in having a spouse to grow older with, not in expecting that person to stay 20.

He has made everything beautiful--even you!

He has made everything beautiful–even you!

6. We Put Way Too Much Emphasis on the Perfect Body

Sex is supposed to unite us in multiple ways–spiritually, physically, emotionally. The physical is only one. And when we put so much emphasis on needing the perfect body in order to make love we’ve lost the point. We’ve cheapened sex.

Yes, the body is important, and yes, we need to do what we can to keep ourselves attractive to our husbands. But that does not mean looking like you’re 20 when you’re 35 and you’ve had 4 kids.

By the time you’re 35 and you’ve had 4 kids, sex should be about celebrating who you are together. It should be a way to relax. It should be a way to cement your relationship as you parent together. It should be about saying, “I’m still crazy about you.” It should be ALL of those things.

Unfortunately, in our pornographic society it’s all too easy to think that “sexy” means a certain body type. And when we constantly feed our minds with what those bodies look like, through consuming media or even porn, then it’s hard for our spouses to measure up.

We MUST fight against this.

If your spouse is telling you that you aren’t attractive and that they don’t find you sexy, then perhaps it’s time to sit down and have a big talk about what intimacy really is.

You can make a commitment to get healthy and to keep yourself attractive, but that’s only half the story. It’s also about recognizing that godly intimacy is a meeting of bodies AND souls, not just bodies. And if you say, “your body isn’t attractive, so I don’t want to make love”, you’re also basically rejecting the soul. God designed sex to help us feel like one SPIRITUALLY, not just PHYSICALLY. So if you say, “I physically don’t want to have sex with you,” you’re also saying, “I don’t want to feel like one with you.” That’s harsh. And it’s wrong. And it means that you’ve bought into a shallow version of sex.

31 Days to Great SexMy 31 Days to Great Sex book can help you work through this, because it shows us how sex can unite us spiritually and not just physically. And there are exercises to reclaim that part of your sex life. I also walk through several days where we talk about what to do when each other’s bodies aren’t as attractive as they once were. So if this is a struggle in your marriage, pick it up!

Weight is a really complex issue. I do think our marriages are worth the effort to look good, and to stay within a reasonable weight (definitely NOT what you were at 20, mind you!). Your spouse SHOULD matter to you, and making love is a huge part of marriage. Continuing to try to entice your spouse is a huge way of saying, “I care about you.”

Nevertheless, sex is best and most meaningful when it is not just about the body. Put too much emphasis there, and you buy into the world’s idea of sex. And that just cheapens it.

And that’s it–all my thoughts on the subject on what to do if your husband thinks you’re not attractive! I think I’ll keep putting up Reader Questions once a week, but I’ll answer them instead and set the tone. A number of you have said you appreciated the feature, so I’ll keep it up there. I think if I set the tone, the chance of the comments becoming too outrageous is a lot lower.

Keep on Fighting that Frump–And More Inspiration!

Let’s Fight the Frump Again

After our Fight the Frump week a few weeks ago, I had many of you saying:

I wish I knew how to get stylish clothes cheaply! Because for me, money is the issue.

I totally understand. And other than saying, “go to consignment stores”, I didn’t have much to add.

But now I’ve got a great resource that can help you so much more!

The No Brainer WardrobeThe No-Brainer Wardrobe (normally $7.99, but just 31 cents as part of the bundle) walks you through how to create a minimalist wardrobe–just the pieces that you really need, the “Essentials”. Then you have your “Additions” which make an outfit interesting. And then you have your “Finishers” which give it that Wow factor.

The key, she believes, is to limit your wardrobe so that it’s easy to coordinate things. That way, when you get up in the morning, it really is a “no brainer” to figure out what to wear, because the outfits create themselves.

She details how to go through your wardrobe right now and figure out what to keep and what to throw away.

And then she shows you how to build it deliberately.

But you don’t have to spend a lot of money! In fact, my favourite part of the book was when she took a few pictures from her “Style” board on Pinterest with her to a thrift store. Those pictures were her inspiration.

And with those pictures, she was able to reject some clothes and choose others, so that in the end she had an outfit that bore a remarkable resemblance to the one she started out trying to find. And she has so many pictures and so many explanations of what to look for (good quality collars, shirts that aren’t bulky at the back, etc. etc.) that you really can do it yourself. She’d show you how to examine the picture and figure out what you liked about it: a frilly top under a structured jacket. But if you can’t find a structured jacket, a structured sweater give the same feel. She shows how to ask these questions.

You just find a picture like this:

PurpleOutfit

..and take it to thrift store and look at how to recreate it!

I love it!

NoBrainer

So you don’t have to spend a ton! You just have to be strategic, stick to a plan, and keep your wardrobe to the minimum so that it’s no fuss.

That’s not the only inspiration for those of you with little money to spend on clothes, though.

Reuse, Refresh, Repurpose cover

In Reuse, Refresh, Repurpose, Frugal Girl gives step by step instructions on how to salvage old clothes and turn them into shopping bags, cloth napkins, skirts, doll clothes, and more! She also gives a great tutorial on how to dye clothing, or how to cut parts off of clothing that you don’t like so that you can keep the parts you do (like if it has a weird collar or something).

My favourite part was when she turned old clothes into fabric gift bags. They were so cute! I really want to do that. It’s just rectangles, so it looks like even I could handle it.

Finally, if you need inspiration on fighting the frump, Sarah Mae can give it to you!

FrumpstoPumps

She starts out by telling us that you can’t really fight the frump unless you figure out your “why”–why are you doing it? And no one else can tell you that why. It’s all individual. But we all feel it–that need to be ready for anything, that urge towards more discipline and more purpose, that urge towards energy.

Then, in each of her daily devotionals, she helps us focus on baby steps that add up to big changes.

And she wrestles with us through grace-based living and rules-based living. Too much of fighting the frump can become rules based living, and you don’t want that. What you do want is to be more powerful and more purposeful.

And why do we want to fight the frump? Because we mean business. Sure, yoga pants are comfortable. But you don’t mean business in casual. And cute and pretty can also be comfortable. So the question is: are you pursuing excellence or not?

I love this book because it’s so down to earth. It’s so real. She’s honest about wanting massive amounts of coffee, fighting getting out of bed in the morning, and desperate to find a time to shower. But she fights it because she wants to be excellent. To be purposeful. To be energetic.

So there you have it: Three books that will help you fight the frump in totally different ways!

My Challenge for You:

If you find yourself being drawn towards frump, I’d challenge you to think about it this way: I have an awesome job to do. I am a wife. I am a mom (if you are). I am an ambassador for God. This world needs people who will make a difference, get engaged, raise great kids, and keep the community strong. That takes energy, commitment, and oomph. So when do I feel like I have the most oomph? The most energy? When do I portray excellence? Ask yourself that. Think it through. And then, perhaps, it will become easier to fight the frump (and not nearly as expensive as you thought, either!)

Fight the Frump: That Final Put Together Look

Fight the Frump Day 5: Putting the Look Together

It’s our last day of Fight the Frump week! I hope you’ve been enjoying taking some care in your appearance. It really can be a lot of fun—and be a great confidence booster–when we know we look our best.

In case you missed them, here are our earlier posts:

Day One: Get Dressed
Day Two: Finding Clothes that Fit and Flatter
Day Three: Finding the Right Bra
Day Four: Accessorize!

And now we’re going to talk about how to put that final look together when you’re actually getting ready to step out the door. Some of what we’ve been talking about is just not looking sloppy while we’re at home. But when you’re actually going out, then what?

Here are some thoughts to consider about making yourself look all put together:

Sweaters

Those of you who scrapbook know that layering makes the card more visually appealing. And an odd number of elements is best. The same works with clothing. You may have a lovely top, but often throwing a little sweater over it completes the look. Add a belt, or a necklace, and a purse when you go out and you have five elements on the top half. (you don’t have to be obsessive about this, but I do find that just two elements is often not enough–a T-shirt and sweater benefit from a necklace or belt, for instance).

Here’s a simple fitted cardigan that would work over a T-shirt if you wore the cardigan mostly open, or you could wear a collared blouse underneath. Wear it closed with a belt for a different look:


Charter School Cardigan in Kelly Green from ModCloth – $34.99

from: ModCloth

Sheila Wray Gregoire speakingWhen I’m speaking I almost never wear just a top without something else–even if it’s a nice top. Adding a blazer or sweater just makes it look more like I’m “put together”. Here I’ve got a belt, a dress, and a sweater. (True confessions: I love this dress, and I STUCK IT IN THE DRYER!!! It shrunk. I’m so sad).

The whole “creating a put together look” isn’t as much of an issue if you’re hanging out at the house, but when you go out, it’s something to think about. And that’s This really doesn’t matter if you’re just hanging around the house, but think about it if you’re getting ready to go out.

Purses and Shoes

Here are two other categories that don’t matter if you’re hanging around the house, but having some “wow” shoes or purses can bring everything together.

Recently I bought the most amazing orange leather purse when we were in Turkey in the summer. After wearing brown leather purses my whole life, it was quite the change. But boy does the color pop! So I’d challenge you to choose a really bright color that can complement a variety of things and try it, like this:


Girl With Curves Bag in Red from ModCloth – $74.99

from: ModCloth

or this:


Something About You Bag from ModCloth – $62.99

from: ModCloth

If you’re more a “neutral color” gal in your clothing, and you’re afraid to go bright in your clothes, go bright in your purse! You’ll get tons of compliments. Just wearing a small pop of color looks so much more confident. Make sure, though, that you don’t choose a purse just for its color. I always choose a purse that I can fit my rather large wallet in, my phone, my Bible, and anything else I may need to stick in there (like my knitting). I need pockets, and I need big. That cute little purse may be just adorable, but if I’m forever moving my wallet around, and nothing fits, it isn’t worth it.

When it comes to shoes, you can use a similar approach when it comes to color. Everybody needs a nice pair of black flats and a nice pair of black heels to go with everything. But it’s also fun to have something with a pop of color and a thick heel (so you don’t fall over), like this:


Right Here Heel in Lime from ModCloth – $59.99

from: ModCloth

Remember, you don’t have to wear green with these heels. You could have on jeans and a brown or neutral shirt or sweater, but these give you that “pop” that make the outfit look like you thought about it and put it together with flair.

Don’t think that because you’ve never been a “girly girl” that you can’t do heels, or that heels have to be uncomfortable. They really don’t. But shoes with a thick, low heel, and you’ll hardly notice a difference. But they make you look polished!

If you’re really tall and dislike heels, then just buy flats with some interesting elements, like pointed toes, or bows, or bright colors.

So that’s it, ladies! You’ve made it. You’ve gotten dressed. You’ve chosen clothes that fit and flatter. You’ve bought a well-fitted bra. You’re wearing a bit of jewelry, and maybe some makeup. And now you’ve got a look that’s all put together!

I know one of the challenges many of you face is money: you’d love to look more put together, but you just don’t have the cash right now. Or perhaps your sizes are changing because of giving birth, or nursing, or losing weight, and you don’t want to put too much money in right now. So here would be my priority items for making you feel wonderful, in order of importance:

1. A Good Bra. Start with that.
2. A good haircut!
3. ONE pair of jeans that fit well.
4. ONE blouse/top that fits well that isn’t a T-shirt. You can dress it up or down.
5. ONE sweater to pull it all together.
6. ONE awesome purse.
7. ONE lovely necklace.

If you get those seven things, one at a time, you will feel great. And then you can always add more pieces to it. I hope that helps, and thank you so much in joining me as we fought the frump!

I’d love to hear what your favorite tip was that you heard this week! Let me know in the comments.

This post contains affiliate links.

Fight the Frump: Accessorize!

Slide1

It’s the last day of our Fight the Frump challenge! We’ve talked about the importance of looking as if you take pride in yourself, finding clothes that fit and flatter, and getting the right bra. Now we’re going to talk about how to put it all together.

NonFrumpyOn Day 1 I showed a picture of me that was “non-frumpy”, and said that it took me 3 minutes and 53 seconds to get like that. Today I want to talk not about the clothes, but about the rest of it: the jewelry, the makeup, and the hair.

Hair

You can wear awesome clothes, but if your hair isn’t styled nicely, you will tend to look frumpy. Hair is the most important accessory; there’s a reason God said that a woman’s hair is her crowning glory.

I understand wanting to feel feminine, and I know that many women just love long hair. My girls both have long hair, and it’s extremely thick. So I’m not against long hair at all.

It’s just that long hair has the tendency to look frumpy unless you do something with it.

Here’s a little tip: many women think that because they just grow their hair long and straight they don’t need to get it cut. However, when hair goes too long without a trim, it develops major split ends. Those tend to “fly away” from the head, so that your hair doesn’t look neat, even after you brush it. Loose bits are always floating up.

Even if your hair is long, cut it regularly. And my daughters found that when they thinned their hair and layered it, it became so much easier to make it look nice. They use hair straighteners quite frequently, and you can master the technique quite easily. It just keeps hair neater.

If you don’t want to do that, in my giveaway this week you can win a lovely Lilla Rose flexi-clip; go check them out (there’s a video, too). A little bit of hair jewelry looks lovely.

What if your hair isn’t long? My hair takes about 5 minutes from wet to ready to go. That’s it. I put gel and mousse in it, and then I blow dry it like crazy. I try to blow dry it very messy, so that it has a lot of body. Then I can just push it where I want it to go. A little hair spray and I’m all done. Even when I speak I don’t take much longer than 5 minutes. My hair pretty much always looks exactly the same, but I like it because it takes very little effort.

Finding a style that works for you, especially if you have little children and don’t have time to do anything with it, is so important. Get a hairdresser that  you trust and say to them, “do whatever you want.” Honestly. When I go to the hairdresser, I ask Jill, “what are we doing today?” I figure she knows more about hair than I do, so she knows what to do better.

If you go into the hairdresser and say, “I want an easier style, but please don’t cut very much, and no layers”, you aren’t giving the hairdresser much to work with! That’s okay if you’re determined to keep all of your hair, but just realize, then, that you likely won’t come out with an easy style.

So my main point: get a style that you can make look good in relatively short time. If you do have very long hair, trim it frequently, layer it if possible, and get some pretty hair jewelry for days when it’s easier just to put it up.

Jewelry

There is a time and place for everything, and the baby/toddler years may not be the appropriate time for hoop earrings, unless you like having the holes in your ears enlarged. :) I stopped wearing earrings when my girls were small because they were forever pulling them. I wish in retrospect that I had just kept in studs, because when I did decide to start wearing earrings again I got lots of infections from the holes growing over, etc.

It’s okay to do minimal jewelry, especially with babies. It just doesn’t always work. I find necklaces are wonderful, but if you are going to wear them and you have little kids, make sure you wear a thick chain (I’m about to order this locket, which can hold a lock of my little boy’s hair. The nurses cut some for us the night that he died, and I thought this was a nice thing to do with it. I’ve told my husband I want it for Mother’s Day!) You don’t want something which will break at the first little tug.

When  you’re over the baby years, have fun with necklaces and bracelets and earrings! I’m not a bracelet person, but if you are, go for it. Whatever your personal style is, have fun with it. If you don’t know how to wear jewelry, start with a few pieces that you like. Try to buy chains that have adjustable lengths so that they can work with more styles of top.

On many tops, especially those that are solid colour, a necklace adds that touch that makes it look like an outfit, rather than just something you threw on.

I keep my necklaces hung up in my closet, so that they’re easily accessible and I see them by my clothes. My oldest daughter just created this bulletin board for hers.

Necklace Board

If you can see them in the morning, you’ll put them on. If you hunt around in a jewelry box, you won’t.

Belts

I love belts, and they’ve come back into fashion in a big way. In fact, I knit several sweaters (I’m an avid knitter) back in the 80s and 90s when styles were wider, but I’m finding I can wear them again because I can just belt them! So buy a few belts: some wide, some thick, and have fun with them. (I normally wear this with a black one, but I thought I’d show you with a red one for fun).

Sweater Belt

A few people were saying on Tuesday’s post that they’re more “apple” shape and round, and don’t have a distinctive waist. You can also wear belts up just under the bust line to give you a little more definition, especially if they’re narrow belts. So try that.

I find belts just complete an outfit and make you look so much more put together. (UPDATE: Here’s what my daughter was wearing when she came downstairs to go to work today:)

Becca Belt 2

Without the belt, the outfit wouldn’t work nearly as well. (Note: no one is allowed to notice the dirty dishes in the background).

Start with a brown and a black belt that will fit through jeans loops–the basics. Then add a black belt that’s thicker. And then, if you find you enjoy them, buy thin belts in different colors. Again, you’re more likely to wear them if you can see them, so hang them on a hanger or on hooks in your closet.

Make Up

I’ve left makeup for last because it’s the most controversial. Many women said in comments earlier this week that their husbands don’t like them in makeup, and I understand. If that’s the case, and if you don’t like it, you certainly don’t need to wear it.

I would advise, though, that everyone wear a good moisturizer with an SPF of at least 20 in it if you’re going outside. It just is healthier, and it does prevent wrinkles. Start this when you’re 30, and your 50-year-old self will one day thank you.

I don’t wear much makeup on a daily basis if I’m at home, but makeup does not have to take very long at all. If you don’t know how to apply it or what to apply, go to a department store or an upscale drug store, and the woman at the makeup counter will  usually give you a free application and lesson. We’ve become quite friendly with one of the women who works at Shoppers Drug Mart near us, and I’m always going in for new lessons on how to do eye shadow. It’s free! We just try to buy all our makeup there to be fair.

I want to show  you, though, why even a little bit of makeup can make a big difference (and can protect your skin).

Here’s me with nothing:

NoMakeup

Here’s me with a moisturizing foundation with SPF, some blush, some lip gloss, and some mascara:

makeup

Hardly any color at all, and very natural, but it looks so much more even and sparkling. Often when people say, “I like the natural look” or “I don’t like makeup”, what they really mean is “I don’t like blue eyeshadow or heavy eye liner”. And makeup does not have to be that at all. If you want no colour, you don’t need to put on colour. But taking just a few minutes (and this really takes a minute and a half maximum) just makes you look more put together.

Again, makeup is your personal choice. I’m not trying to say that every woman needs to wear it. But it does even out the skin tone and helps us look more intentional about our appearance. If that would give you a confidence boost, why not try it?

 

Wifey Wednesday: Choosing Lingerie that Makes You Feel Confident

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a subject, and then you all can comment or link up a marriage post in the linky below!

This week we’ve been “fighting the frump”. We talked about the importance of taking pride in your appearance and not looking sloppy, and in finding clothes that fit and flatter.

One thing that I have found makes a tremendous difference in both my confidence levels and how I look is having the right bra. And that can help your marriage–because when you’re more confident about how you look, you’re more confident in the bedroom! A little lingerie can make everyone feel wonderful, but today I want to focus mostly on bras, because they’re the trickiest. So today let’s talk about “foundational undergarments”.

A bra is supposed to lift and separate, so to speak. They’re supposed to stand HIGH. A good bra will give support and shape to you, and create a nice line for your figure. You’re not supposed to have four boobs. If you have four, it’s because you’re wearing too tight a bra and you’re spilling out. You’re not supposed to spill out the side, under your arms, either. You’re not supposed to sag. You’re not supposed to feel as if your bra is riding up if you lift your arms.

Finding the Right Bra Size

Why do these things happen? Most people wear bras that don’t really fit. Many of us simply don’t know our bra size. Here’s a YouTube video that can help you figure that out (Warning: does feature a woman in a bra, but it’s tastefully done and obviously for educational purposes. And the bra is modest):

One line I really love from the video: she’s talking about how many women who are bigger don’t like getting bras because it makes them feel fat. But she says, “Actually, a properly fitted bra can make you look slimmer, because it pushes the breasts up and shows off your rib cage.” So don’t be afraid of going up to the proper cup size!

Need that chart she mentioned about converting your measurement into a band size? You can find one here. And there’s another video about sizing bras there as well.

Once you know your size, what should you do?

Bra Tips

1. A new bra should fit comfortably when it is done up at the LOOSEST setting. That’s because bras, over time, stretch. If it fits comfortably at the loosest setting, then when it stretches, you can start fastening it tighter to compensate. If you buy a bra that has to be done up on the tightest one already, it’s almost guaranteed that in a few months that bra won’t be providing much support.

2. The straps are there for a reason. Adjust them. I find that I have to adjust mine every few weeks a little bit to keep a nice, firm fit. Bras stretch, so straps may have to get tighter. You want them to be right against your skin, not gaping anywhere. Don’t just set them once and forget about them. If your straps fall over your shoulder a lot, that’s a sign they should be tightened.

3. Small chested women can look great in a good bra! I’m in this category. I am the farthest thing from being well-endowed, but I’ve found that buying a padded bra that fits (not a push up, that’s too much) gives me some great shape and makes me feel so much better. If you’re on the smaller side, that doesn’t mean that you can’t look good in lingerie! You just need to find the right one. Lula Lu has a complete line for women who are A and AA cups.

4. Get the proper band size–even if it’s hard. Go for the smallest band size that fits well, because, as I said, bras stretch. Here’s something that thinner (not necessarily small busted, just thinner) women need to realize: the bras that you can buy in Sears, Wal-Mart, etc. may not actually fit. I have family members who will remain nameless who can’t find the right bra because technically they should be wearing a 30 band size, and most bras start at 34 (a few start at 32, but only a very few). So if you shop at a department store, your bras will always be slightly loose, so when you raise your arms the bra rides up (not comfortable).

So these girls buy all their bras online, where you can get band sizes as small as 28. Much more comfortable and flattering!

Other women may also have this problem for another reason: they’re very busty, but in order to find a cup size that fits, they have to go up to very large band sizes. So if they’re an F cup, for example, stores may not have those in 32 or 34. So  you end up buying a 38 DDD, which does manage to cover everything. But it doesn’t support well because it’s just not tight enough around your rib cage. In that case, you, too, might be better off taking proper measurements and figuring out your actual bra size, and then buying online.

5. Play around a bit with sizes. If you find that your bra size comes out to be a 38C, for instance, but that just isn’t comfortable, go down a band size and up a cup size. So a 38C woman will often also fit a 36D bra. Or a 34B will fit a 32C. Generally you should go for the size that all those fancy measurements say you should be, but sometimes certain styles of bras look better and feel better with that little trick.

6. Scoop and Separate. I learned this trick in a lingerie store, and boy, does it work! You’re going to do it with me now: Take off your shirt so you’re just wearing your bra and stand in front of a mirror. Now, with your right hand, reach under your left breast (your hand is between the bra and your breast). Lift that breast up a bit. Now look at the difference between the left and the right breast! One is standing up so much higher! Do this with both sides every time you put on a bra and you’ll feel great all day.

7. Try Some New Styles. There are push up bras. Underwire bras. Padded bras with underwire. Padded bras with no underwire. Lacy bras with no padding. Sometimes we get used to the type of bra we wore when we were first teenagers, and then we never really try any others. I’ve tried on a ton, and I can tell you that I love lightly padded and hate no shaping at all. I just don’t have the chest for it. But I hate push ups, too, because they just feel too big and that’s not me. But I would never have known that I liked the padded ones unless I had first tried them. So don’t be afraid to try something new! And sometimes it’s nice to have different bra styles for different purposes, too.

8. Ask for Help. Many clerks in department stores/lingerie stores are happy to measure you and help you find proper bras that fit. An online resource I’ve found which is just AWESOME (and gave me suggestions I had never thought of before) is from Her Room lingerie. Basically, you answer a whole series of questions about the shape of your chest, rib cage, etc. etc., and then at the end they give some suggestions about what to look for in a bra that will suit you. I had never even thought of some of these things before, but I do have an issue with my bra straps falling off of my shoulders quite a bit because I have very narrow shoulders that are also slightly sloped. They had some good suggestions. It’s a fun test to take. After you complete it they give you a really detailed analysis with some tips, and a 10% off coupon code to use there.

How to Make Bras Last

I’ve had several bras for six years. They fit now as well as they did when I bought them (I just do them up a little tighter and I’ve adjusted the straps). How does that happen? One simple trick: I never, ever put my bras in the washer and dryer. Ever. I hand wash them.

That sounds time consuming, but it really isn’t that bad. You just stick all your bras in the bathroom sink with a little bit of gentle lingerie cleaning powder, and then you let them soak for a bit. Rinse well, and put the bras on a towel on your floor. Roll up the towel, and most of the water comes out. Hang the bras to dry. You’re all set to go!

The reason bras stretch and lose their shape is because of the dryer. If you keep your good bras out of the washer and dryer, they’ll last beautifully. (I don’t put my T-shirts in the dryer, either, and those last years).

Invest in Good Bras

Like I said in my post yesterday, I don’t care where you get your clothes as long as they fit and flatter. And if you would rather by lower quality clothing, and replace it more often, that’s fine, too.

But when it comes to bras, investing in something that fits and supports well is so important. It really does make a world of difference. And if you take care when you wash them, you’ll find that they do last. That means that you may have to spend at least $35 or $40 on a good bra, but it honestly is so worth it.

Remember to try the test at Her Room and get the 10% off coupon!

Tell me: what do you find most challenging about bras?

Now it’s your turn! Leave the URL of a marriage post you’ve written in the linky below. And then grab my Wifey Wednesday blog button and post it on your site, so other people can come back here and find other great marriage posts.

Sheila is the author of The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex.

This post contains affiliate links.



Fight the Frump: Finding Clothes That Fit and Flatter

Finding Clothes that Fit and Flatter

Yesterday I issued the challenge on this blog: let’s fight the frump! When you put no effort into your appearance, you give the message: “I don’t care what I look like. I don’t make any effort. And I don’t care what you think I look like, either.” That’s not a positive message.

Instead, when you wear things that fit and flatter, you say, “I respect myself. I put effort in. I care about what you think.” In a marriage, that’s super important!

Yesterday we looked at all the reasons why we women may let frump reign. Today I want to focus on one of them: we just don’t know what to wear.

When I’m talking about fighting frump, I am not saying we all need to be in dress clothes all day. If you’re a SAHM, jeans and a T-shirt are perfectly fine, and there are so many that aren’t frumpy at all! Comfortable is GOOD. But comfortable does not have to mean frumpy. Somehow too many believe that in order to be comfortable you need to look sloppy. That’s not true! Fitted, flattering tops can be made of T-shirt jersey material. Jeans that fit are more comfortable than jeans that don’t fit. So it’s not about not being comfortable.

This t-shirt, for instance, is quite simple. But notice how it comes in at the waist a bit. A T-shirt like that in a size that fits will look infinitely better than a boxy T-shirt–let alone a man’s T-shirt.

That Yarn Cat Tee from ModCloth

They key is to not look sloppy, as if you don’t care. Oversized graphic Ts and jeans that don’t fit or yoga pants with holes in them are frumpy. So it’s not that you can’t be casual; it’s just that we should take pride in what we look like. We should put at least a minimum amount of effort in. It’s just a matter of respecting ourselves and respecting our husbands.

Join me in fight the frump and you could win a pile of my books, plus tuition for my new 6-week online course starting April 8: The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex! To join up, just leave a comment on yesterday’s post (scan to the bottom for details).

(Now, I wrote the rest of this post, and the entry, quite a while ago. It was all set to go live early Tuesday morning, but I put a hold on it. I just didn’t think that all this “not being frumpy” was going to be controversial, but I obviously hit a nerve yesterday. I wanted to collect my thoughts before I did hit publish, then, because it honestly is not my intention to put another layer of “you shoulds” around any woman’s neck. If you’re feeling confident in your body, and you like the way you look, and you enjoy your marriage and you enjoy sex, and your husband is happy, and you dress in clothes that don’t fit and make you look frumpy, then that really is okay. Really.

The problem I have is that the vast majority of women that I speak to are so embarrassed and ashamed about their bodies. They don’t like how they look, and so the tendency is not to try. THAT’S what I’m talking about. Because honestly, a little effort, and a little understanding of what clothes can do, and anyone can look attractive. Really.

I don’t care where you buy your clothes. I don’t care if you find them all at consignment stores or thrift shops. I don’t care if all your clothes are ten years old. I just simply want all women to understand that with a little bit of effort and the right clothing they really can look attractive. Let’s feel more confident! It will change you and it will change your marriage. That’s my aim here).

Today we’re going to look at how to fit and flatter different body types.  Basically, to flatter your figure you want to try to create an hour glass shape.

When fitting clothing, you want to find clothes that fit the largest part of you. If you’re petite with a big bust, this may mean fitting the bust but hemming the shirt. Or if you have wide hips but a narrow waist, it may mean finding pants that work around your hips and then taking in the waist. You haven’t failed if you can’t find something that works perfectly for your body straight off the rack. We are all unique! If you have to have something altered, you’re not a mutant. MOST people would do better with some altering; you’re just taking the care to do it.

I’m going to use some pictures from two online clothing retailers, because I really need some pictures to illustrate the post, and some of you may hate actually going shopping (and I want to show you that that’s no excuse! :) ) But again, if you shop somewhere else, that is absolutely and perfectly okay. So let’s look at six different body types and see how that would work:

1. The “Twiggy”

You’re rather straight down, with few curves. While many bemoan this figure because of the lack of chest, it’s actually quite easy to dress.

Dos: Wear 3/4 sleeves, V-necks, or skirts that come just above the knee so that you aren’t completely covered in clothing (unless you’re Canadian and it’s January. Then you simply have no choice. Especially if you live in Saskatchewan). You’re one of the few body types that can get away with skinny jeans! Collared blouses also work well for you, since they add a bit more interest around the neckline.

Embellish shirts with ruffles and detail to add some “curves”, like this:


Indigo-Getter Top from ModCloth – $24.99

from: ModCloth

Or this:


Cascading Character Top from ModCloth – $29.99

from: ModCloth

You can also wear those fun, 50s type skirts that flare a bit, like this fun dress (which would also suit petite frames or hourglass frames):


Soda Fountain Dress in Grape from ModCloth – $44.99

from: ModCloth

Think layering lighter fabrics rather than one big, bulky sweater. Wear pretty lace camisoles to layer under shirts which may gape since you don’t have much bust. Play with belts to divide top and bottom, too.

Don’ts: Don’t wear really big patterns that overwhelm your frame. Avoid completely shapeless tops, since that will tend to make you look like a box.

2. The Slender/Petite

You have some curves, but you’re really small.

Dos: Concentrate on small patterns or single colour pieces, rather than bold pattern. Play with ruffles and details in the shirt, especially anything that gives the sleeves a little more shape.


Samba in the Way She Moves Top from ModCloth – $42.99

from: ModCloth

Don’ts: Don’t wear skirts or dresses that are too long, because that, ironically, can steal height.

3. The Hourglass

If you’re already an hourglass, you have your pick of clothes! You have the easiest frame to fit, although that doesn’t mean you’re going to love every pair of jeans or every bathing suit you try on.


Glamour Power to You Dress in Blueberry Muffin from ModCloth – $74.99

from: ModCloth

Dos: Play with belts! Belts look wonderful on hour glass figures, and they can add some pizzazz to an outfit.

Here’s one of my favourite “modest” tops:


Coach Tour Top in Grass from ModCloth – $37.99

from: ModCloth

Or you can wear a similar dress, too!

4. The Pear-Shaped Woman

You’re bigger on the bottom than you are on top. That’s actually most of us once we’ve had some babies and we’ve hit 35 or 40, I would guess.

Dos: Wear interesting detail on your top, with ruffles, pattern, etc.. You’re one of the few body types that can wear horizontal stripes on top to bring more width there. Wear slimming pants that fit you at your widest point and then come straight down. Boot cut jeans work well. Wear lots of big necklaces and things which draw the eye up to your face.


Yacht to Attend Top from ModCloth – $32.99

from: ModCloth

Don’ts: Stay away from flared skirts or dresses or patterns in the bottom half.

5. The Busty Woman

Now for those of you who are bigger on top than on bottom: a few women in the comments yesterday noted that they were technically petite–under 5’4″, for instance–but they were very busty. It was almost impossible to find things that fit. Here are some thoughts:

Dos: Think separates rather than dresses. Something that fits on the top may overwhelm the bottom. Find fitted tops that are smallest right below the bust, which is often our narrowest point. Then let those tops flare out from there, like this:


Casual Abby Twist Front Top, Blue (Womens Plus Size) – $58.00

from: Kiyonna Clothing

Best of all, Kiyonna posts pictures of REAL women wearing their tops, so you can see how they look in real life!

Buy pants and skirts which flare out a bit, too, to balance the top.

Don’ts: Don’t wear a lot of pattern on your top half (unless it’s small pattern). Don’t wear really heavy blazers or really bulky sweaters. Be careful of the urge to buy XL T-shirts to fit your bust, because those will very likely overwhelm the rest of you. Find fitted things, even in a plus size if you have to, and then hem them if they’re too long. Be wary of button-down shirts unless they fit very well, since these will often gape at the buttons, letting others peek through.

UPDATE: If you’re not comfortable with V-necks, here’s another type of option that works well if you’re top heavy, but you still have a slim waist.

Dressy Smitten Lace Ruched Top, Black (Womens Plus Size) – $68.00

from: Kiyonna Clothing

I like this style of top, but if you’re rather “rolly” in the tummy, something that doesn’t flare out may not be flattering.

6. The Curvy Woman

If you’re super-curvy, on the plus-sized end, it won’t be too hard to create an hour glass look. Here are some thoughts:

Dos: Wear interesting neck lines, like scoop necks and V-necks. Wear more fitted tops, perhaps with flare around them. Try to find clothing that emphasize the smallest part of you–likely right below the bust. Have tops and blazers hit above your hip bone. Dresses look fabulous on you!


Causal Evening Whimsy Wrap Dress, Red (Plus Size) – $98.00

from: Kiyonna Clothing

Don’ts: Wear tops that are too long. You want to emphasize the waist, not have tops hit you right at the widest part of your hips.

Again, let me reiterate: I am not arguing that we all need to wear work clothes or church clothes when we’re home! I’m just saying that you can be comfortable with clothes that fit and flatter, too! And if you have to have something altered, you are absolutely not a failure. But it’s nice to have a few quality pieces that you do feel fabulous in.

If you hate going to the mall, or if you’re interested in buying any of these items online, it’s really easy. Just click on any of the links. And Kiyonna has offered readers of this blog a special coupon code: Use the code LUVHNRVAC when checking out and you’ll get 15% OFF, $100 min. It’s good until March 31! (*Not valid on bridal, body shapers or accessories.  Cannot be combined with any other coupon.  Not valid on wholesale/military orders.)

Tomorrow we’ll be talking about lingerie and finding a bra that actually fits! Don’t forget to enter our contest by leaving a comment on yesterday’s post.

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