Fashion “Friday”: Reunion weekend

Hi all! Fashion Friday got away from me this week, since I’m in my hometown celebrating my 20th high school reunion. (Eep!)

So I thought I’d take this “Friday”‘s post to go through the dress I chose for the occasion (and why)–and show some other dresses that I loved, but discarded because I knew they wouldn’t work for me.

Boden is a go-to place for me when I want something a little nicer and less corporate than my usual work fare, so that’s where I started. I found several dresses I loved that I thought would work for the formality of the event and what I hoped to achieve, style-wise:

boden-dress-5 boden-dress-4 boden-dress-3 boden-dress-1

These would all be lovely dresses for the event, which is “nicer than jeans” but not super-formal. They’re beautiful prints, they’re summery and perfect for my coastal town without being too casual. All of them would be terrible for my figure, though! Here’s why:

  • Structured waists. These dresses look great on curvy-waisted mannequins, but they make my own very straight waist painfully obvious. Painting a horizontal line around my actual waist as a style element just highlights the fact that it’s the same apparent width as my hips and bust. (I say “apparent” because my waist circumference is quite a bit smaller, but when viewed from the front I’m straight as a board.)
  • Cap sleeves or wide tanks. I have thicker upper arms, which is a topic for a future FF, and this makes cap sleeves, short sleeves, and thick tanks a less comfortable choice for me. All of those sleeve lengths paint a line around or draw attention to the upper arms–and make me less comfortable.
  • Higher necklines. I love the look of a higher neckline, but paired with cap sleeves and/or the portrait collar of the tank dress, they’ll push my bust visually down toward my waist.

All in all, any one of these dresses is going to make me look thick around the middle and arms, and like my bust has dropped several inches from my high school days. I love them, and wish I were comfortable wearing them? But I’m not.

So what did I choose?

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This dress is pretty much the opposite, visual-feature-wise, than the dresses above.

  • Deep neckline, elbow sleeves. Particularly when combined with the stripe pattern, these elements firmly associate my bust with my head/neck rather than my waist/hips, and the eye is drawn up to my head.
  • Less structure. The knit fabric skims over my straighter waist, rather than focusing attention and structure on it.
  • Faux hourglass. In contrast to the plainer-fabriced dresses above, which highlight someone with a natural hourglass waist, the stripes on this dress create one for me: My shoulders are broadened by the V-stripes on the bodice, and the extra vertical strips starting at the hip broaden my hips and tush, both of which make my waist appear smaller.

I know it’s probably not quite as compelling as actually seeing me in the less-flattering choices, but hopefully hearing my process of deconstructing the visual elements in a garment before I buy it was helpful too!

I’m having a blast at the reunion festivities so far, and can’t wait to share more knitting progress when I get back home, too. Have you been to a reunion in the past few years? How was your shopping process? What did you wind up with, and did you love it?

8 thoughts on “Fashion “Friday”: Reunion weekend

  1. Just WOW! The dress is stunning. And I really appreciate your process of deciding on the style. I’m learning a lot since I purchased Knit to Flatter, and have been able to make some extra room in my closet as a result. Thanks for taking time out from your reunion weekend for this post.

  2. Amy, your tips are so helpful — almost magical sometimes! Thank you, thank you. Hope you’re having a fantastic weekend at your reunion!

  3. I was recently at my 50th school reunion ( even more Eeeep!) and bought a wrap style dress with elbow length sleeves. Also got a single breasted narrow lapels shaped at the waist jacket to be worn open. Thank you, Amy, for helping me look good!

  4. I had a similar experience with Boden dresses for my 25th college reunion in April. I ended up wearing an “old faithful” Boden dress from a couple of years ago. I want to order the dress you chose to see it on me. I love it on you!

  5. I am slowly but surely zeroing in on the shapes that flatter me. Some of them I understand in a F2F way (cap sleeves make my shoulders look wider) and some are just instinctual (A-line skirts make me happy, particularly if they swish. They MUST end at my knee or ankle – no where in between.) I’m also, after years of wishing I was flat-chested (I’m a 34D), learning how to dress (not hide) my boobs. If I end up with less variety, but a wardrobe full of clothes that make me feel great, I’m GOOD with that!

  6. I love your dress! Ditto for me with the big upper arms so while I love Boden clothes (and some are fine), I need to find clothes that don’t make my upper arms look like Popeye’s forearms. Hope you had fun.

  7. OMG! I was just drafting you an email about the dress I wore to my 25th college reunion. It was PERFECT — I think I am FINALLY on the journey to what works for my figure.

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