Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dressing Your Best Week: Ahoy, Toned Abs and Arms!

Earlier Drafts:

Breton Stripe tee (H&M)
linen skirt (H&M)
braided leather belt (Target)
red patterned scarf (snagged during La Merce in Barcelona)
nude suede heels (Seychelles)

This week Liz, Katie, and I are excited to participate in Academichic's Dress Your Best Week!  We're cooking up outfits which flatter our best attributes, and we encourage you to join our feel-good fashion fest.  Last week, in preparation, Academichic readers contributed lists of five favorite features*.  Here's my list:

1. complexion
2. toned shoulders and arms
3. small ankles
4. clavicle bones
5. flat stomach

There they are, the motivators of my private fist-pumping.  Behold.  Admittedly, it feels awkward to boast about my body, but I'm encouraged by the exercise.  If I so readily own my flaws, why not own my features as well?

Today I'm also thrilled to hop aboard the Breton Stripes boat hosted by What I Wore.  For a complete roll call of Jessica Schroeder's nautically-bedecked readers, stop by her notable blog!

Luckily, the two sartorial themes - Dressing my best and dressing Breton - have converged on the very day I had hoped to celebrate my arms and my stomach.  Over the weekend, I struggled to compose ensembles which highlighted these attributes.  After scouring my closet, I realized many of my tops, like this one, include detailing which detracts from my middle.  I have to confess: I typically use fabric to beef up my figure, to give the illusion of a curvier body.  I don't often wear body-hugging silhouettes precisely because I think my frame is too boyish.  To compound my Dress Your Best predicament, I felt stumped by the question of dressing 'tastefully' (the cultural definition of which likely merits a separate post).  I asked myself, how can I feature my abs in a sophisticated way?

Then I remembered one of Liz's posts challenged the perception that narrower equals more flattering.  She contended that a woman should embrace low-slung belts and horizontal stripes specifically because those garments highlight her hips and abs and breasts.  I'm not curvy, I thought, but wearing horizontal stripes might serve my purpose, too.  Casting a visual line across my body - rather than down my body - might draw attention to the stomach and arms I love so much.  And choosing a tee of the cap-sleeved variety would further showcase my arms.  (Is it just me, or do women cover their arms all too often?)

I won't lie.  While sporting this outfit, I felt proud of my body.  Why don't I wear horizontal stripes more often?  Perhaps, as Katie suggests, the "no horizontal stripes" rule is another one I should revisit.  I might benefit from assessing whether or not it works for my own figure, rather than presuming its universal application.

  • What's your take on the "no horizontal stripes" rule?  Always a no-go?  Depends on the person?
  • Do you think this outfit accomplishes my goal?  Would you have styled it differently?
  • What do you like about your own body?  Hop aboard the Dress Your Best Week train!

*For a directory of Dress Your Best Week participants and links to their personal lists, visit Academichic's run-down here.


    La Historiadora de Moda said...

    Ahoy, fellow Breton striped blogger! I completely ignore that horizontal stripes rule. Completely.

    I definitely think that this outfit showcases your flat and fit abs.

    Scholar Style Guide said...

    I love the outfit! After looking at the collage on WIW I feel a desperate need for some Breton stripes.

    I also appreciate your honesty about your body image. I think women have a tendency to think the grass is always greener. I wish I was as curvy as X. I wish I was as fit as X. It's sometimes hard to embrace whatever it is we have, and I like how you've used this exercise to work toward that.


    Dorky Medievalist said...

    You look super-cute in this outfit and it definitely suits you and your trim figure. I especially like the neckerchief, such a nice pop of colour on a classic palette.

    And FYI, some women cover their arms (and I am one of them) because arms let you down. Literally. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, and all that.

    Scholar Style Guide said...

    Thanks, guys! I had fun with this What I Wore challenge.

    Dorky Medievalist, I question Robert Herrick's definition of a woman's prime. Arg, that poem! :) Anyway, I hope when I'm older and my arms no longer reflect an active lifestyle, that I'm prouder of them than I am now. Perhaps a woman's arms merit display because they represent strength, whether or not they look muscular.

    Still, I understand the insecurity. While growing up, my brothers poked fun at a certain teacher's "flabby" arms. I still blame them for my self-consciousness. :)

    - Anne-Marie

    Scholar Style Guide said...

    Anne-Marie, this is such an adorable outfit, and you definitely made me rethink horizontal stripes too (though I'm not sure I can quite pull them off like you do).

    Your little scarf (ascot?) is such a great touch!