Wednesday, October 3, 2012

the hard truth

I don't know of a picture appropriate for this post so I'm going to rock and roll without one.

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One of the things I love most about the increase in styling gigs lately is the learning I am doing. Constantly. And I have noticed something that seems to make an incredible difference in the success of personal style and success in shopping. Does your personal style best flatter your body? If not, there is a collision.

The way I see it, dressing has two goals: 1)to express personal style and 2)to make you look as good as you can. And clothes can work miracles. They conceal bothersome "body flaws." [Disclaimer: I do not believe in such a thing, but most people seem to and that's another blog post.] Clothes can make legs look longer, busts look bigger (or smaller!), midsections look leaner, curves appear, curves disappear!, make eyes look bluer/greener/deeper/, and beyond. And I think wearing the right thing can help you accept yourself. The things you don't like about yourself, that stand out with flashing red lights saying "warning! warning!" in the mirror, can be hidden. Your outfit can free you from spending the day feeling self-conscious or berating yourself if you know how to equip you closet.

But here's the thing: you have to wear the clothes that work to your benefit. Because the other side of that truth is that you can also wear clothes that add pounds, make you look frumpy, style-less, draw attention to lumpy knees, create muffin tops, or eliminate curves. Which means that disregarding the effect of clothes can leave you looking less-than-flattered. Which also means, if I may suggest something, your personal style needs to come second to the work order placed on your closet.

To say that another way, it doesn't matter if skinny jeans are in style. It doesn't matter if skinny jeans are YOUR style. If they don't flatter your legs, you will look worse for wearing them. And if I may be blunt for a second, I'm going to say something that could, potentially, step on toes. {Who am I?? lol} I know there are some who hide behind wild displays of self-expression, but I think that's often an attempt to hide the dissatisfaction about themselves. I tend to believe that if you feel good about yourself, you present yourself at your best. And when we, as humans, don't feel good about ourselves, we either kick it into overdrive to change those things, or we use apathy as a defense mechanism and decide that we just don't care. Because not caring is easier than caring and feeling horrible day after day.

Side note: That is actually one major reason why I believe you do yourself a disservice refusing to buy that pretty shirt until you loose another 10 lbs. I understand not wanting to waste money or feeling like the purchase of the shirt may seem like an acceptance of where you don't want to stay, but when you feel embarrassed about yourself, it's too easy to walk into the apathy room and close the door. Buy the cute sweater (or it's almost-as-cute sister from Forever21 for cheaper) to get you from Point A to Point B. When you feel good, it's that much easier to continue to be motivated for the change. When you feel good, you encourage your soul. And that way, if it takes you a few months longer than you hoped to lose the last few pounds, you still look good while you wait and work.

Anyway, back to the original point. My new realization is that personal style is an even greater, even stronger phenomenon when it comes in second place to making flattering decisions. And there IS a way to take your unique personal style and interpret it using the pieces that flatter you! {That's what I can help with! Just ask!} You may like the low-cut jeans but the muffin top is nobody's friend. You may like loose, flowy tops but if they add pounds, your personal style isn't a positive thing. And who cares if fur vests are the thing to wear? If you look like a woolly mammoth, you aren't going to feel good about yourself. And no one deserves to be knocked around by their love for faux fur.

So that's the challenge, then. Let's go through our closets and stand in front of the dressing room mirrors and ask ourselves whether it is the most flattering thing you can put on. Let's go to the store and walk around asking "what looks best on me?" not "what shirt do I like most?" If What Not To Wear is any proof, wearing what makes us look our best is a far more powerful, more positive thing than wearing what we thing says something about ourselves. Wearing a big panda bear on your shirt isn't the only way to say you are a fun-loving person. And wearing a pair of skinny jeans isn't the only way to dress fashionably. I don't believe anyone ever looks at themselves wearing an over-sized tee and thinks "Gee, the fact that I don't have a waist really makes me feel good about myself." But I do believe a defined waist, elongated legs, and a fashionable necklace makes one a little more content to be who they are; a little more at peace with the shape of their body. And that is a very, very powerful thing.


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