Twice a year, New York Fashion Week turns media attention to runways, bright lights, style heavy-hitters and of course, to-die-for collections.
And twice a year, the underlying story of these events is how those models manage to stay so thin, and whether their size is a reasonable idea of beauty.
My philosophy around taking care of my own body is pretty simple: I believe in eating more vegetables than French fries overall, drinking lots of water and sweating for at least 30 minutes a day, whether it’s from running or scrubbing the bathroom floor. I do not believe in consuming hard drugs or munching on cotton balls to curb hunger, two tactics of many that were described to fashion reporters this week.
I recognize that my commitment to exclusively external use of cotton balls might mean I don’t look awesome in every trend, and that’s fine. It’s also fine that even though I accept my body for what it is and encourage everyone else to do the same, I still don’t want two enormous pouches of fabric on the sides of a pencil skirt making my hips look bigger than they actually are.
We all have body qualms, even people who are naturally very thin. And we all have that one fashion trend haunting our shopping trips, the thing that accentuates the body issue we’re trying to ignore. I’ve laid out a few common culprits below and some alternatives that you’ll be more confident wearing, because great style is not reserved for people with “ideal” bodies, whatever that means.
This week I read an article from Refinery 29 on Ikram Goldman, owner of the upscale Chicago boutique Ikram, who’s kind of a big deal in the fashion world. She had this to say about personal style: “Be comfortable in your own skin, and your style will come out. You’ll be fabulous in whatever you’re wearing.”
The body qualm: You’re not all that keen on calling attention to your hips and butt.
The problem trend: Peplum skirts
The fix: Peplum shirts
Naturally, I’m starting with one that I can relate to. In fact, I related to it two days ago when I tried on a sheath dress in Target that had ruffle around the waist of truly unfortunate placement and length. I actually thought to myself, “This IS a brand new Target…maybe there used to be an amusement park in here and this particular mirror is leftover from the funhouse?” The somewhat more likely explanation, though, is that a peplum skirt just doesn’t do what I want it to do for my body. Enter the peplum shirt, which appears to be overtaking the peplum skirt in popularity this season anyway. You can go with a structured choice in a thicker fabric, or a more laid-back, subtler peplum top like the lace one from Anthropologie. I love the boatneck and three-quarter sleeves, both of which are slimming and balance out the added volume on the bottom half.
The body qualm: Your thighs aren’t as toned as they could be.
The problem trend: Colored jeans
The fix: Colored trousers or printed jeans
Colored jeans are often made of a thinner, more stretchy denim, which makes some wearers’ legs look “lumpy,” even if the jeans fit. To add insult to injury, they tend to run small, and nobody’s fond of not being able to squeeze into her regular size in the dressing room. With colored, cropped trousers, the fabric is thicker and the fit slightly looser. If you’re set on denim, try darker printed jeans, perhaps navy with white polka dots or a fall floral.
The body qualm: You’re nearly a foot shorter than a runway model.
The problem trend: Maxi skirts
The fix: High-low skirts
This is a fairly self-explanatory problem, and one that there’s not much of a solution to except buying petite if you can or getting a maxi skirt hemmed. If both of these seem like too much work, a hem that’s short in the front and long in the back is trendy this season and more likely to accommodate your frame.
The body qualm: You want to tone down your large chest, just a little – the grass is always greener.
The problem trend: Peter Pan collar
The fix: Embellished or embroidered necklines
This is no more than a feat of optical illusion. A Peter Pan collar is very dainty, so when it sits right above your chest, it’s likely to make it look that much bigger in contrast. Embellishments or embroidery on sweaters, on the other hand, typically reach from shoulder to shoulder. When your focal point is wider, your chest looks smaller.