Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fashion Survivor: 6 pitfalls in spring fashion 2012.

I feel so passionately about this topic today that I'm reprinting this post here, as well as where it will originally 'air', on the UsedEverywhere blog. For the wellbeing of women everywhere, I beseech thee: stop torturing yourself with clothes.

I don’t usually talk much about fashion in my writing, but this upcoming season of clothing has me worried. I feel like, as a classically educated image consultant, it’s my moral obligation to stop a lot of women from making themselves look terrible in an effort to conform to the fashion world’s newest obsessions. Let’s see if I can help you avoid some pitfalls this spring.
Ralph Lauren 2012...or Dorothy, Rose,
and Blanche
from The Golden Girls.

Everything in the stores lately seems to be a shade of beige with some pink or taupe mixed in. More recently, looks like we may be seeing some minty greens and yellows, too. Pastels are uber feminine—and remember, there are lots of ways to be feminine, but pastels are the fashion equivalent of a giant mammary gland. They also tend to be less slimming than their rich-pigmented colour cousins. If you choose to play with pastels, be cautious. Throw in a pinch of it with some other crisp tones: a soft pink top with a bright white cardigan and blue jeans.

source: Like a maxi pad commercial.
Usually every season, there is one or two popular colours. Last year, Kelly green was in—not for long enough, in my opinion. But if you didn’t like green, there were still other colours around to choose from. What’s dangerous this season is that the fashion industry has fallen in love with an entire pallet—faded pastels, as mentioned above—and this means it’s hard to get away from the trendy clothes, and find yourself something that flatters you. A couple seasons back when chartreuse was in, I managed to creep around the periphery of the stores and find some other colours choices…but I worry that this spring won’t allow for that. We’ll have to see. A good trick: if you try on the current colour trends and (like me) hate them on you, spend this season shopping second-hand. Last year’s spring clothes will be out at the consignment stores and you can find some items in the right colours for you.

Smart Set. Like a big tarp.

Everywhere I look, shirts seems to be batwing or simply square-cut. Even sweaters! These styles of tops immediately add ten unintended pounds to most women...not in any specific helpful area, but just in an ambiguous mass around your torso. I’m sorry, you may like these shirts, but you must be very careful and very critical when you try these on. I have bought one wide-sleeved shirt this spring for myself, and it was because the body was still completely fitted—meaning that you could still see my small waist and well-bra’d bust. If you really want to try this style out, look for the same thing: shape somewhere in the garment to help the eye recognize your curves. Or, if you just can’t resist, compensate for the bagginess with very fitted pants.

source: nibblypig.
I think we’ve all learned by now that leggings are only pants if you’ve covered your bum with a top or tunic. Good. But skinny jeans continue to be worn around by girls with luscious backsides. If you’ve got meat on your butt or thighs—this is most of us, girls—skinny jeans should be worn cautiously. You can end up making yourself look like Miss Piggy, with all your mass at the top of your pants, and little piggy hoofs…especially if you’re wearing a slender shoe. If you really want the skinny jeans but are a normal woman who isn’t ‘H’ framed with perfect thighs, throw a long shirt or tunic over. Think of the jeans as leggings.

Suzy Shier. It's even akward
in this marketing shot.
Suzy Sheir. Elastic hell.
Elastic waists and belted waists are in. I’m sad for anyone who isn’t a stick insect, including myself. I am an hourglass-shaped gal myself, leaning towards an ‘H’ frame, and when I try to wear these waistlines, I often end up looking like I have a bun in my oven because of where the waistline visually divides my body. If you’re anywhere over 108lbs, you will likely have this trouble, too. I know it seems like a tiny belt or elastic at your waist, around your belly button, is going to show off your waist, but it doesn’t. Your clothes should visually lengthen your torso (where most of us feel the most square or round), not divide it in two awkward pieces. If you insist on wearing these little belts, wear them low on the low part of your hips; they will at least draw the eye past your belly. If you insist on wearing the elastic waistlines, I don’t think I can help you.

This is who those clothes are for: photoshopped
carb-free 17 year-olds with twig legs.
Put on the clothes you’re consider, then back up. Look at yourself from a distance in the mirror, and squint or unfocus your eyes. Do you look square/wide/round/shortened? If so, it may not be the right outfit for you. Don’t feel pressured to buy styles that are thrust upon you by the fashionnati; they’re typically designing for scrawny 16 year-olds—the models they spend their time with and think are ‘real’ women. If you happen to be a human giraffe, more power to you…enjoy all the clothes the rest of us can’t wear. But for the rest of us: hold your breath and pray for better selections next season.

Author's note: Listen, gals; if you have a deep love for one of these fashion items, more power to you. Rock your 'en vogue' clothing and love yourself...that love with shine through and we'll all think you're hot! The only person who has to love your style is you. But if you're cramming yourself into petal pink and jeggings because you think you have to, let this post be a battle cry: no more uncomfortable, disproportionate, skin-tone-ruining clothing!


  1. Wow, this post was incredibly fat-phobic. Thanks a lot, honey. Nice to know a plus-sized gal like myself is looked down upon by you.

    "You can end up making yourself look like Miss Piggy, with all your mass at the top of your pants, and little piggy hoofs" What if I liked to look like "Miss Piggy"? What if I love my body and want to rock skinny jeans or leggings? It's ok for us fat girls to wear the fashions that "108 pound" women wear too, you know. But by your judgemental attitude you clearly don't think women should a) love their bodies and b) feel comfortable in something THEY love that THEY think makes them look beautiful.

    You know, I've met you in person before, and if I'd only known you were looking down at me for rocking my fat body in leggings...

    At the end of the day at least I can say I love myself and will wear any and all of these clothes with pride.

    Down with fat phobia!

    1. 'Anonymous', I'm glad you've commented. I thought this might come up when I wrote this post, and now that it has, I'm sort of relieved. In the interest of brevity, I didn't go into a lot of body praising (of skinny nor round people) in this post...unfortunately, I can see that for you, this was interpreted as being fat phobic. I myself have been a wide range of sizes over the years, and have been a serious fat activist. I think that women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful. I also know that there are styles and silhouettes of clothing that are unflattering for all body types.

      I absolutely agree that a woman needs to FEEL comfortable in her clothes. If she truly does, she will likely appear appealing to the people around her, regardless of the clothes themselves. There are natural proportions that have been proven to appeal to the human eye--that have nothing to do with the SIZE of a body, just the lay out of it--and we can use fashion to highlight these proportions...or destroy them.

      Let me be absolutely clear: I would prefer that NO ONE wore leggings as pants. Skinny, fat, medium, tall, short, etc. My message here is not that skinny girls should wear these things and other girls should not: it's that *no one* should wear these things...but that, when you are stick-thin and 17, it really is easier to get away with absurd fashion choices. For us 30-somethings with saddlebags and big thighs, I recommend a boot cut jean. I believe fashion should be about what makes a figure look good, not what (predominantly male) designers choose to contort us into this season.

      I'm not judging you when you wear your leggings, friend. I may not like your clothes, but I'm not judging YOU. Choosing clothes is an art form, and I won't apologize for believing there's technique to it. I think we can shout 'fat phobia' too quickly sometimes, don't you find? Sometimes it's not a commentary on weight at all; this post was a comment on cruel, ill-fitting clothing, not the bodies of women.