Fashion Fridays: The wider, the better.

The week is continuing as it began, baffling and saddening. Our towns are in lock down. The future is uncertain. In light of today’s events, today’s stop on the Knit to Flatter blog tour, my nearby friend Thea’s blog, is postponed until the end of the tour. Please join us for tomorrow’s stop, hosted by Knitting At Large’s Julie Matthews.

I had hoped, by delaying this post, that the man hunt would be over and we could begin to put this horrific week behind us. Alas, it’s not to be. And after several hours of lock down in our small home with the boys, honestly I need a bit of a light-hearted break. So I hope you’ll forgive me for a brief fashion interlude. Be well, everyone.


This week’s Fashion Friday is an outfit deconstruction:


And the topics I especially want to touch on are why it’s often good to broaden the appearance of some part of your body, and what texture and color can do for us.

Let’s start with a reminder of my body’s underlying shape–I have a proportional, athletic, quite straight shape. I have a larger bust, but also a fairly thick middle that tends to shrink my bust’s appearance. In this outfit, I’m creating the illusion of a curvier figure through thoughtful use of figure-broadening elements, and camouflaging a thicker middle with texture.

When I share the technique of broadening one part of your body through the use of horizontal visual elements, I can often see students mentally tick off “Check! No horizontal stripes.” on some internal “rules” checklist. But actually, nothing could be further than the truth. It’s always (always) easier to broaden the appearance of some part of your body than to narrow it, and since our eye is pretty terrible at seeing absolute size, broadening the narrower parts of your body is a great way to change its apparent shape. I recommend this technique to some top- and bottom-heavy shapes to make them appear more proportional, but it’s a great trick for a proportional figure like me, too: If I broaden my shoulders and hips, my waist looks narrower by comparison–and voila! A curvier figure.

In this outfit, there are broadening elements both at the shoulders (those great dolman sleeves) and at the hip (horizontally-striped hem and skirt with creases and light patches). Combined with the interesting diagonal fabric cuts on the front of the shirt, my waist looks much smaller than these broadened elements. I don’t suddenly look 2 sizes larger, I simply look more curvy.

I’m doing something conscious with the patterning on my shirt, too–I often get questions about how to “hide” a thicker tummy. The answer is: put some interesting stuff on top of it.


Texture, color, stripes, interesting cuts to the fabric, sweater elements like lace and cables–all of these give the eye something more interesting to look at than the body underneath. Placing them over your tum (or whatever) doesn’t make it look thicker or larger; the distraction makes it nigh-invisible.

(Details of this outfit: Shirt is old Anthropologie; skirt is current Nordstrom, shoes are Naya Cecilias from a couple of years ago (?)).

And that’s this week! Do you have any favorite outfits that you realize are actually broadening some part of your body? Any favorite color/texture/distracting elements? I’d love to hear about them!

4 thoughts on “Fashion Fridays: The wider, the better.

  1. May I pin your photo? I’d like to see if there is a sewing pattern similar to your shirt – what a cool design, Anthropology.

  2. I am so sorry that this dreadful time is not over for you, yet (and for all the others). I wish you all some light soon!
    As for the outfit: with skirts like yours (which are my favourite skirts, actually) I like wider sweaters whereas with trousers I prefer smaller ones. And I like comfortable cardigans with a good bit of positive ease but I always grab those with bigger collars or a hood which fold sideways and thereby broaden my shoulders. Balances the missing waist shaping, I think.
    Keep well and best whishes!

  3. You do not have to apologize Amy, that are unforeseen circumstances.Keep going on.I wish you all the best.

  4. So glad the guy is caught; I hope things are returning to normal. Even the Red Sox are still winning!
    I have this boat-necked light-and-dark brown striped shirt that I love. I know it widens me; I know it mostly widens my shoulders, which are quite wide enough already, and possibly makes me look top-heavy. But I LOVE my wide shoulders; I am athletic and very proud of looking strong.

    As it happens, at the moment I’m wearing this casual dress with a very distracting abstract print. It is great for disguising that midsection; a wide black v-neck collar and high, black-banded waist makes the whole thing very flattering. It’s like, “Hello face! Hello, shapely bust! Hello, narrow part just below bust! Wheee, distracting print over everything else!”

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