FF: Beating the heat

The Fashion Friday goal that I struggle hardest to achieve is to make it something different than “Hey, look at this cute outfit!” I think one of the most poisonous aspects of most fashion advice out there is that most of the advice looks something like this:

Just take these three easy steps/hide this thing/be thinner/be curvier/etc. and find effortless beauty!

I hate this. (And I don’t use the word ‘hate’ lightly.) There’s so much wrong with these messages. They imply that (1) there’s something inherently wrong with the way you are, and (2) it’s the only thing standing between you and a perfect appearance.

Bullsh*t. The truth?

  • There’s not a single thing wrong with the way you are, and
  • No figure looks great in everything.

And I don’t mean that in a sit-around-the-campfire-singing-songs kind of way. I mean literally, there is no figure that is flattered by everything. Every single one of us, including both you and that woman you think is “perfect”, can look great or less-so depending on how we frame our figures.

So with a mini-heat-wave in my neck of the woods, and my friend Jackie over for lunch, we decided to do a “beat the heat” FF edition–with awesome and less-great choices for both of us.

This is harder than it looks, not because it’s tough to find clothes that are unflattering on our shapes (it’s not at ALL hard), but because we both tend to be very brutal about eliminating such things from our wardrobes.

So! Here’s me, in two “beat the heat” outfit choices:

ff-heat-4 ff-heat-2

They’re both super temperature-friendly, both very comfortable, and yet one is something I’d never wear, and one is in fact what I’m wearing today. Let’s think about the differences between them.

  • On the left, my skirt length hits me mid-calf, which is not only the widest point of my leg, but is also precisely where my leg gets super-short. (My thighs are on the short side but not tremendously so; I feel like my calves were squished up somehow when I was developing. They’re very wide around and very very short.) Vs. the right, where my skirt ends at my leg’s narrowest point.
  • On the right, the snugger tank top helps differentiate between my bust and my waist–this distinction is lost on the left, where the baggier top makes my bust look smaller and my waist larger.
  • I carry some of my weight in my upper arms; this isn’t super noticeable in the tank because the eye isn’t really drawn to the arm (rather, I’m drawing the attention mostly to my shirt and face). In the tee shirt, however, the lines of the neck and sleeve draw the eye to my arms.

And here’s Jackie, in her two outfit choices:

ff-heat-1 ff-heat-3

You can see the same differential here (perhaps slightly less drastically, because we were at my house and hence had more Amy-options and fewer Jackie-options). More differences:

  • On the left, the wide neckline draws the eye up to Jackie’s broader shoulders and neck, widening them further. On the right, the eye is drawn in a vertical line down the front of the sweater.
  • On the right, the full skirt broadens Jackie’s hips to match her shoulders. On the left, the skirt is slimmer and does not balance her shoulders. Note how this longer length looks fantastic on Jackie, whose long, more slender calves can handle the horizontal line of the skirt.
  • On the left, Jackie’s bust, waist, and hip all look equally wide due to the line of the dress and its allover pattern. On the right, Jackie looks more curvaceous thanks to the hourglass impression given by snugger top and wider skirt. The vertical lines of the tank play up the curve in Jackie’s bust.

I will say that I think the outfit on the right is less Jackie’s typical style than the one on the left. Usually, when I see Jackie on hot days, she’s wearing a great pair of shorts (she looks fantastic in them) and a breezy tank top with a similar shape to Minx, the sweater she’s wearing on the right here. Same visual impression, and a style slightly closer to the tank dress on the left. Oh, for infinite wardrobe choices with these FF posts!

Finally, and most importantly, note how Jackie and I are both lovely women, capable of looking gorgeous and not, depending on our clothing. I really want to emphasize this. The world (sometimes) tells me:

You’re definitely on the athletic-frame-with-padding side, and so to look great you need to slim down.

The world (sometimes) tells Jackie:

Since you’re naturally slim with long legs, you’ll look great no matter what you do.

I’ve got the curly hair and cheeky smile, so I’m going to look great. She’s got a more athletic neck than a swan-like one, so should try to cover it up. These kinds of messages are toxic, pervasive, and I think the only antidote is to step back, and take a reality check.

In reality, what works for each of us is as unique as we are. And there are no flaws to be found.

10 thoughts on “FF: Beating the heat

  1. Great messages, and it’s pretty amazing to see the differences side-by-side like that. In both cases, the better-fitting outfits made you both look younger and more vibrant.

  2. I really enjoy these posts in general, and I like the additional message you’re including this time! I remember being surprised a few years ago when I showed a new voluptuous dress to a tall, slender friend of mine. She said I looked great in it but she could never pull it off. It was an eye-opener for me that things could look good me that wouldn’t necessarily look good on my gorgeous friend.

  3. Wow, so much wisdom is one little post. You must think about this stuff 24/7. I wish my daughters and all young women would read your words over and over again– this important message cannot be conveyed too often. Thanks for being so articulate and telling such a compelling story!

  4. I love these posts – I’m learning so much!

  5. I’m loving these posts too! It’s so helpful to have concrete examples like this to think about; thank you!

  6. This was really fun! Makes for a good quiz before reading text, too.

  7. THIS is what the ‘fashion’ magazines should be selling!!! Thanks for getting it out here!

  8. Thanx for those very interisting posts. I love them very much!

  9. Your Fashion Friday blog posts are better than any fashion app out there:)

    I’m inspired to get my camera set up and weed through my closet.

  10. I love love love these posts and the fact that they’re clearly intended to help your readers feel *good* about the way they present themselves, and give them the knowledge they need to make effective choices about what they wear. It’s so difficult to find this type of attitude — one I think of as embracing an underlying feminism — that I’d completely given up on finding any “fashion” blog/article/magazine that actually has it. I can’t say I’m surprised to have found it in the knitting community, either. Thank you, Amy, for your book, your designs, and your ability to take a fun, clear-eyed approach that has certainly helped me in my day-to-day effort not to buy into the messaging about women and their bodies that’s, as you say, so “toxic and pervasive” in our world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *