The 5 Worst Myths About Dressing Your Body
Do you feel confident in dressing your body? Do you know what works to flaunt your assets and flatter your frame? Do you know how to camouflage anything that you’re not comfortable with?
There’s an art and a science to dressing your body. The science is all about proportions, with the goal of creating a harmonious balance overall. The art is addressing your personal preferences – showing off the parts of your body that you love and minimizing anything that you’re not as proud of. But in discovering what works for you and your specific figure, you’ve probably heard a lot of what you should and shouldn’t do – from friends, bloggers, retailers, magazine articles, etc. So I’ve compiled a few of the worst myths about dressing your body, with guidance as to what you can do instead.
MYTH #1: BIGGER CLOTHES HIDE WHAT’S UNDERNEATH
This is one myth I deal with constantly – clients who aren’t comfortable with their size (men and women) often wear clothes that are so much larger than they need. Their thought process is that they can somehow ‘hide’ what’s going on under their clothes and that people won’t notice. But the truth is that bigger clothes just make you look bigger. You’re not fooling anyone, and in reality, you’re achieving the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: If you’re bigger than you’d like to be and you’re concerned about showing too much of your frame, wear clothes that skim your figure, as opposed to clothes that float around you. I am in no way recommending wearing styles that are tight (see myth #4), but choose styles that fit well, that gently show your shape without adding bulk or unnecessary volume.
MYTH #2: SKIRT LENGTHS RELATE TO AGE
This is a somewhat antiquated guideline, but I still hear it from time to time – that short skirts are only for the young, and as you get older, your skirts should get longer. But as with everything else about dressing your body, it’s not about how old you are. It’s about balance, proportion and what you’re comfortable with.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: If you love your legs and want to wear a shorter skirt, go for it! And if you’d rather cover a bit more of your legs, wear something longer. Or pick a style somewhere in between. It’s really about selecting a skirt length that makes sense with your outfit and deciding how much leg you want to show in relation to how much skin you’re showing otherwise. And when in doubt – make your fashion choices based on your preference, appropriateness to the occasion and what makes you feel good.
MYTH #3: BLACK IS THE MOST SLIMMING COLOR
I cannot tell you how many closets I walk into and find a sea of black. And when I comment on it, the main response is, “it’s so slimming!” But I’ve got news for you: black, unto itself, is not magical. It does not slim your figure any better (or worse) than other dark colors. And additionally, a wardrobe full of black says nothing about your amazing personality, your true style or what makes you sparkle.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: If you prefer wearing darker shades, lift yourself out of black and into navy or charcoal – they are much kinder to most skin tones and are just as easy to pair with other colors. It’s precisely what I do with clients – we shift the basis of their wardrobe into other dark neutrals, to stay within their comfort zone but add a touch more dimension to their wardrobe.
And if you’re concerned about looking slimmer, I have another newsflash: looking slimmer is more about fit than color. Styles that fit will always make you look longer and leaner than styles that don’t. And if you’re really into the long and lean look, click here to read about a column of color – wearing the same shade on top and bottom to give you a longer, leaner and more streamlined appearance (it works with lighter colors, too!).
MYTH #4: WEARING SMALLER SIZES MAKES YOU LOOK SMALLER
Many of my clients are stuck on the size they used to be – they lament over gaining 15 pounds over the past few years or not having their pre-pregnancy figure. And this sometimes results in a closet full of clothes that are too small, that you may attempt to squeeze into on occasion. But the reality is that cinching yourself into smaller jeans does not make you appear smaller and neither does it mean that you magically lost a few pounds. It’s actually just the opposite – wearing clothes that are small, snug or that pull across your body in any way just makes you look bigger than you actually are. Remember – no one knows the size you’re wearing, but they know when your clothes are too tight.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: The most important thing when you’re selecting clothes is fit. Fit is the priority over proportion, shape, balance, personal preference and everything else. If it doesn’t fit, you shouldn’t buy it or wear it. So, instead of wearing clothes that are too small (or too big), buy the size that fits the largest part of your body – and then if something else is off, get it tailored. For example, if your waist is smaller than your hips, buy pants to fit your hips and then take in the waist to an appropriate spot. Quick story: I have a client who always had a problem with jeans – they would fit her hips but then gap at the waist. So, her solution was buying an elastic belt that she wore with everything. But I finally convinced her to get her jeans tailored, and it’s been a game changer for her.
MYTH #5: LONG TOPS OVER SKINNY BOTTOMS SOLVE EVERYTHING
When you’re uncomfortable with your figure, but you’re okay with your legs, wearing long, flowy tops over skinny jeans (or leggings) is a great solution, right? Wrong! It’s a common pitfall and an easy go-to outfit, but it totally throws your figure out of proportion. By doing this, you’re creating a larger shape on your top half and making your legs look shorter than they actually are, thereby creating a shorter appearance overall. It’s sort of a ‘marshmallow on a stick’ silhouette that doesn’t do anyone any good.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: No matter what size you are, an ideal method to balance your figure is by calling out your waist. No, this doesn’t mean tight blouses or belting everything – it simply signifies using some tricks to delineate where your waist actually is, instead of losing your entire figure under long, shapeless tops. And when we can see your waist, your legs look longer, resulting in a longer and leaner look. Here are a few quick tips to define your waist:
- A front tuck (tucking in just the front of your top) shows where your waist is, without having to tuck in your entire shirt.
- Tops that end just below your waist also call out your waistline without having to tuck anything. And then if you prefer to cover your hips or butt, you can wear a longer cardigan or jacket over your top.
- Tops or jackets that call out your waist through their shape (by narrowing near your waistline or with a detail or drawstring that reigns in the shape) show off your figure in a gentle, but still flattering way.
Do you have other questions about dressing your body? Feel free to ask me in the comments! And if you’re looking for more style advice on a regular basis, follow me on Instagram or Facebook for daily style inspiration and a little behind the scenes of what I do.
photos from (left to right): skirts – Style at a Certain Age, Glossy U, Just Women Fashion; black alternates – Girl with Curves, Lavish Cafe; waist defining – Alterations Needed, Fashion Dioxide, Hi Sugar Plum