Dresses, Dresses, Dresses Everywhere

Most of us want to look our best and not look like someone who rolled out of bed and while half asleep threw on some odds and ends from the season, five years ago, when we were 10 pounds lighter.  

Some choose to project stylish, elegant and youthful.   Some choose to draw attention to themselves through outlandish ways of dressing, piercings or tattoos.  We all want to be noticed and possibly even remembered. We can use make-up to hide imperfections and enhance our best features, we can wear control top pantyhose and shape-wear to realign our figures, and we can strategically choose elements of clothing that make a statement about ourselves.  Yet project we want!

downloadWhen the seasons change women like to cruise the stores and carefully peruse the mannequins on the floor and in the windows in an attempt to interpret what is new and interesting in fashion and selectively adapt new trends to use,  to make ourselves look more stylish, pretty and self-confident. As a girl in synagogue, instead of constantly staring at the clock to make the minutes go by faster, in my row we passed the praying time more quickly by scrutinizing the grown up ladies’ (that’s who we are now) newest fashion styles, running an ongoing report and critiquing by our thumbs up and thumbs down signals. (Young people think they are so original!)

This season, I did my research on the streets and in the stores. I concluded that this is the season of the dress, and additionally, suits (matching jacket and bottom) as opposed to sportswear (coordinating top and bottom), have made a comeback.  Dresses are worn in all lengths, layers over t-shirts and trousers and can transition from day to evening to even formal.  More informal lifestyle can be reflected in more casual style and that means more comfortable and relaxed.  Today, universally all dressing is carefree and it is considered quite chic to look a bit rumpled.

The purpose of this blog is to present my case that more relaxed, boxy shapes, a palette that is made up of neutral tones and flattering lines dictated by our body types are all factors to weigh when we look in the mirror and decide if we can walk out the door.  Sometimes, an attention getting gimmick, from a piercing or tattoo (maybe that’s too extreme) to a streak of purple hair or a wild crazy color, may not hurt.

I don’t know about you, but each year as I get older, I gain another pound or two. There seems to be a surprising phenomenon occurring, instead of the real numbers of my age and my size moving in the same direction and becoming incrementally greater, I see all kinds of aberrations that are puzzling. If I used to be a perfect size 8, maybe with an extra 10 pounds I should be a size 10, but should it jump to a size 12? Am I really a size Extra Large in my hips?  I find no rhyme or reason today, the size of the clothes almost reflect some imaginary body that has no curves yet the trend is to wear clothes tight and more form fitting than ever. How does anyone pull up their jeans anymore?

The answer is that everyone has a different body! We all fall somewhere, out there, on some invented size chart.  Don’t let that dictate what you choose.  The trick is to find one or two cuts that are flattering on our body.

Dresses, dresses, dresses everywhere and they are so skinny!img_0990

There are two very flattering styles of dresses out there this season that are worth mentioning. One is the color block dress that is very slenderizing.  These can be one solid color or the style with one solid color strip down the middle and two solid, contrasting strips down the sides. This style creates an illusion of a slimmer, and at the same time, curvier figure than you really have.

The second style is camouflage. Lots of pleats and tucks around the stomach and bust area or a busy print that draws the eye away from the bulges. Drawing the eye is huge. So I skimmed through the dress racks looking at dress after dress. They were slimmish, tightish and longish and I was very uncomfortable. Comfortable is very big for me.  I can’t itch, I can’t shimmy my way into a  dress and I have a personal rule, no polka dots.  I am slim but I do have a tummy, no bust to speak of and most of my weight is in my behind. I tried on numerous dresses on one shopping excursion, but some part of my body always felt lumpy in each one. If I was lucky enough to get one over my behind, it accentuated my tummy area and was baggy in the bust line. I felt so intimidated that I began to think that I will never have the self-confidence to venture out in public.  So I took a different tact and thought maybe a second opinion may help.  I drag myself out to the salesgirls in what I thought was one of the better options, to get a second opinion. They all show me how their tummies, tushes and busts bulge in the garments they are wearing and furthermore they explain to me, that’s the style today!

Do not lose hope, all is not lost. Here are some suggestions for finding the right dress that is most flattering for you.

1. Scrutinize your closet, weed out your favorites and try them on to determine that they are still relevant. Do not be nostalgic, that means that you cannot pick a look because the last time you wore it was your most enchanted evening. Objectively, look in the mirror, assess and decide what you like about them.

(the mirror is mandatory, how many times have we wondered how people walk out of the house looking like that!! didn’t they look in the mirror?) Note the designer, the fabric and the cut. Hint: These are some tools to begin your search.

2. Strategize by critiquing your body and deciding which your most flattering features are and which ones are not. What do you want to accentuate and what would you like to understate?

3. Patterns are tricky, remember two important concepts about patterns. Horizontal stripes make us look WIDER so conversely vertical stripes make us look longer, taller and thinner. Bright, attention grabbing colors are a useful strategy if you want people to notice your bust. A decorative upper top will draw the eye upward, on the contrary a dark, solid color will deemphasize the parts you find less flattering, especially when contrasted with the bright.

4. Intricate details are not wise. Steer away from shoulder pads, they make shoulders look bulkier and the upper body look like a football player or a body builder. Extricate pleats from your wardrobe totally. They make the tush tushier and the hips hippier.  Try to even steer away from defined  waist, they can look matronly.  img_0992Best to stick with styles that do not define waist, hip or bust. Sheathes ROCK!

5. No baggy dresses, they only make us look like we’re trying to hide something under the tent and screams, the fat is underneath.  A sheath style with skinny jeans under can look flattering, and a blouson style over a tailored pencil bottom can be strategic to make someone look more proportionate. Too tight clothing can accentuate chunkiness but tailored clothing looks more elegant.

6. Fabric is critical. Choose fabrics that are not bulky but ones that drape lightly, do not cling or wrinkle.

7. Do not make choices because of sales, bargains or seasonal trends. Be discriminating and choosy. Do twirlys in the mirror, check it out on all sides and most of all, make sure that you feel confident in the dress and really LOVE it.

8.  This is less relevant to dresses but most bodies are different sizes on top and bottom.  Make choices that reflect your awareness.  A-line styles, knit upper or loose empire style waist with different fabrics that give.

Also, try being bold, but within reason. This could be your tattoo or nose ring, but start slow. Maybe your statement is a sparkly collar or a sequined t shirt. Those of us with the really great boobs should emphasize that best feature and wear a bit of a v-neck. And those of us that have a larger tush, that could be renamed a great ass, should emphasize that. Instead of being so self-conscious maybe we need to reboot our outlook and reconsider new possibilities. But LOOK IN THE MIRROR! Or better yet get a second opinion. I should try to be cool about it, fit the size on my upper body and let ‘r rip in the tummy area that is, and hopefully, the fabric won’t tear. We all have some bulges, men don’t hide them, neither should we.

Next blog: Women’s suits.

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