It’s Fight the Frump week here at To Love, Honor and Vacuum, and today we’re going to talk about how to find items of clothing that fit and flatter you.
We’ve talked about hair and makeup so far, because your face is where people look first. You want it to be framed well and to look great! But now let’s move on to clothing, which is often a source of great stress for women.
But first, let me tell you a story.
About a decade ago I was on a speaking tour, and when I go out of town to speak, churches often put me up at hotels. The cool thing about that is that I could watch TV, since we’ve never had cable at home. So I decided I’d try CSI, since my nephew was always watching it and I wanted to see what he was seeing.
That episode had to do with a woman, travelling alone in a hotel, who found a body under her bed.
I got Keith on the phone while I checked for corpses under my bed, and changed the channel.
And then I found What Not To Wear.
That show changed my life. It was amazing! And it was inspiring. They took women who felt dowdy and badly about themselves and showed them that they really were beautiful, because they showed them how to dress to match their personality and give them confidence.
And those women quite frequently were not the “ideal” shape. There were bigger women. Busty women. Pear shaped women. Twiggy women. But they all felt great in the end.
You see, it’s not about needing the perfect body. It’s about learning how to dress the one you have.
That’s what I want to tackle today: principles for choosing clothes that will flatter you, and make you feel good about yourself!
But first, a caveat. One reason women get upset about shopping is because they try things on and nothing looks good. But that’s okay! As we’re going to talk about tomorrow, you can have a totally versatile, functional, and beautiful wardrobe with only 25-40 pieces. You don’t need a ton of things! So if you try on 20 and only 1 works, that’s okay. Don’t give up! It’s better to have fewer pieces that are well-made and look great on you than a ton of pieces off the clearance rack that you buy because you just have to come home with something (and it’s cheaper, too, to buy fewer but more expensive pieces than tons of low-quality pieces).
So don’t get discouraged! If you need a pair of pants, you may need to try on 20 pairs. But then you’ll have your pants. And hopefully they will do you for a few years!
And you can still dress well and be comfortable. I’m going to illustrate my principles with clothes from some online retailers, just so you can see pictures of what I’m talking about (these are affiliate links). You can buy clothes that are comfortable and can still be casual, while also looking like you’re put together.
Casual and comfortable are great. Sloppy, as if you don’t care, is not. 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, and do casual well. So let’s look at how that works!
General Principle 1: Clothes Can Create a Shape
Ideally most women yearn for an hourglass shape. If you’re one of the few who already basically has one, then pretty much any clothes will look great on you. Most of us, though, aren’t perfect hour glasses. So what we want to do is use clothing to create a shape by emphasizing certain things and drawing the eye to certain places.
One reason people tend to wear very baggy clothes is because they feel big, and they don’t want anyone to see their shape. But appearing shapeless actually makes you look bigger than if you emphasize a shape. And you’ll tend to feel more feminine if you emphasize a shape than if you try to cover up your body–even if you don’t like your body!
General Principle 2: If You Want Something to Look Bigger, then Use Pattern and Texture and Fabric
I don’t have much of a bust. So if I’m going to look hourglass, I want to do things to create shape on the top part of my body. Maybe you DO have a bust, but your bottom half is still way bigger You can do that with things like ruffles to add detail, or some extra fabric to add curves, like this:
Here’s me in a ruffled top that I wear a lot when I speak! It just adds more oomph where I don’t have it. 🙂
And layers work well, too!
If you need more width on top, you can even get away with horizontal stripes, like this cute top!
What about if you’re super busty, but you’re actually quite thin on the bottom? How do you make your bottom half look fuller? Wear flowing skirts! Choose boot cut jeans rather than skinny jeans. And try dresses that are more form fitting on top and fuller in the bottom!
(all Karina dresses are basically the same cost, but you can see them on real people and they look awesome!)
General Principle 3: If you Want Something to Look Smaller, Make it Plainer and More Form Fitting
Wait–“why would I want form fitting around my hips if my hips are huge?”, you may say! But trust me. Wearing a pencil skirt or fitted jeans, when paired with the kind of tops we’ve talked about, makes you look much smaller than if you cover your hips in a huge skirt or in baggy pants.
It’s absolutely true! Go shopping with a friend who is fashionable and let her pick the clothes for you to try on. You may be surprised!
Here’s a ruched skirt from Kiyonna Clothing, which focuses on Plus-Sized clothes, just to show you what I mean.
I would prefer the top was more flowy, but if you click through the link, you’ll see multiple pictures of real customers wearing it with tops that are more flowy, and it looks great!
One of the issues bustier women have, too, is that they don’t want to draw attention to their chest, so they wear square shaped baggy tops. It’s understandable. Especially if you’re sensitive about people staring at you there, it can be intimidating to try something more form fitting. But those sorts of tops really do make you look smaller than wearing a huge piece of fabric on your upper half. If you’re really busty, look below at some of the high waisted options.
General Principle 4: Everybody needs a waist.
Yes, those with perfect figures can get away with no waist, but most of us need our waists defined. It gives you more shape if you’re straight up and down, but it also makes you look smaller if you’re not! So try to choose basic t-shirts that are fitted, like this:
But your waist doesn’t have to be at your waist. You want to emphasize the smallest part, and for many women, that’s right below the bust. So a blouse that comes in below the bust, and then flows out from there can make your waist look a lot smaller. And it can hide your tummy!
Or you can do the same in dresses, too!
Those are your basic principles for dressing your body type.
And the neat thing is that those items of clothing are actually quite comfortable (except for perhaps the super dressy ones). You don’t need to wear just yoga pants and t-shirts to be comfortable! It’s winter! Fleece-lined leggings with a tunic or skinny jeans with a tunic are super comfortable. You can get all kinds of things in t-shirt fabric or sweatshirt fabric, but they look great!
You can be comfortable and stylish. You don’t have to feel like nothing fits you. You don’t have to feel like nothing looks good on you. You just have to look for clothes in the right shape and style!
Tomorrow I want to talk about the concept of creating outfits ahead of time using a capsule wardrobe, so that you don’t need a ton of pieces to look put together. It doesn’t have to cost a ton of money or time to put a great wardrobe together. And you can plan your purchases deliberately, thinking, “I need one colour blazer and one neutral pair of pants.” But I hope that helps!
Want to Join Me in Fighting the Frump? Let’s do this, ladies! Let’s fight the frump together!