Friday, March 19, 2010

Must "Flattering" Mean Narrow?


pewter tone disc earrings (Charlotte Russe)
navy print jersey dress (Target)
gray woven stretch belt (Charlotte Russe)
heather gray tights (Target)
gray slouch boots (Steve Madden via Zappos)

It only seems appropriate that my first look features a print jersey dress: I counted this morning and I have six hanging in my closet.  A print jersey dress is my favorite go-to item if I want to feel good about my outfit that day.

Every time I put this dress on, I find myself wanting to break one of the cardinal rules of dressing: 
"Draw attention to the smallest part of your waist." 
I know Stacy and Clinton would tell me it is "most flattering" to belt this dress around my ribs and not down toward my hips, as I've done here.  Moving the belt up a few inches likely would have made me look slimmer.

I'm not sure I always want to look "slimmer," though.  For me, hips are part of what set regular women apart from men, children, and starved models.  I regularly belt around my natural waist, and I recognize that oftentimes cinching an outfit at the waist flatters one's hips by drawing attention to the waist-to-hip ratio.  I refuse to buy into the idea, though, that we must style every outfit in an attempt to make ourselves look as narrow as possible.  

Who is responsible for suggesting that narrower equals better?  I don't think we can blame men for this one.  Most men I know claim to be attracted to "curves," and the women they date and marry support this claim.  And according to my understanding of Darwinian Natural Selection, men would be more likely to be attracted to women with larger hips because they would associate it with proficiency in child bearing.

In my opinion, we have to lay the blame on ourselves and the fashion industry.  Clothing designers regularly admit that they like models whose bodies act as "hangers" for their garments.  While I recognize fashion as a form of art, I still believe that clothes should be made to bring out the best in our bodies.  I don't believe bodies should be starved to bring out the best in designers' clothes. Furthermore, I know a lot of women desire a body like Gisele's, but most regular people I know seem to be more attracted to women like Christina Hendricks, Salma Hayek, and America Ferrera.  

  • Why do you think we so often equate "most flattering" with slimmer?  
  • What are some styling techniques you use to enhance the shape of your hips rather than hide them?


Scholar Style Guide said...

I've always thought low-rise jeans, which were a fashion must when I was in high school and still prevail today, do more to enhance a woman's hips than to hide them. If a slimming effect is what women ultimately desire, why don't we all wear high-waisted, wide-leg pants? Now, I do like a high-waisted pant, but I also like the low-rise look for the reasons you mention here. It celebrates hips!

Now, locating a low-rise pair of jeans which also suit one's thighs and booty? A different post entirely. :)