Ask Allie: Flatter the Figure or Flatter the Soul?

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Allie, I am built similar to you but with wider hips. Short, thick, extremely curvy. I look best in wrap dresses and clothing with a vintage lean, but I don’t feel my best. I wish I had a figure that matched my soul, a soul who feels at home in my denim jacket with leather leggings and converse tennies. I dress for my figure to garner compliments and honestly to attract men, but the tomboy in me wishes she could shine. Suggestions?????

I received your email and thought about this quote I shared on Facebook:

“You don't have to be pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female'.”
               via Dress a Day


Diana Vreeland Collage

Diana Vreeland was a fabulous woman who owned her personal style and opinion. Men wanted to be with her, women wanted to be her. Was she conventionally pretty? No. Did she wear some things that may not have been the most flattering or conventionally appealing? Yes. Did she own her personal style 24/7? Hells to the yes.  Diana Vreeland was a fashion icon, an expert that individuals looked to for style advice, yet she didn't play by the rules.  Well-known quotes from Vreeland show that you don't have to be pretty to be pretty darn fabulous.

When you dress only to please others, it’s obvious to everyone. While that wrap dress may whittle your waist and show off your décolleté, you feel as though you’re in costume and that’s not the way you wish to feel in life, especially when looking to find a life partner.

“Style—all who have it share one thing: originality.”
               – Diana Vreeland

When you dress to please yourself, you stand taller, you have more confidence, you smile more. People feel this and will be more drawn to you. Not only that, the right people who understand your style will be drawn to you. Being authentic to your personal style helps you develop more authentic relationships.

“A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste—it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. I think we could use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.”
               – Diana Vreeland

That being said, I myself don’t follow this 100% of the time. Recently Erin at Zero Style asked what we would wear if clothes came in our size. If I could rock it, I’d wear slouchy tissue-thin sweaters and knits with skinny jeans and flats or ankle booties. I’d dress more avant garde, taking a cue from one of my favorite style bloggers, Stephanie of Odyssey Home. Of course, I can wear whatever I damn well like, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable in such an ensemble. My solid legs would make jeggings binding and puckered, my thick ankles make most booties suffocating, and it’s hard to rock a slouchy top when you need a bra with three to four rows of hooks to properly support your breasts.

To satisfy the inner rock star and the body that begs for matte jersey wrap dresses, I try to incorporate both into an ensemble. Instead of skinny jeans I look for straight or narrow styles. Instead of ankle booties, I buy taller boots (which are also better with slimmer jeans on my figure). Instead of tissue-weight slouchy tops, I either wear such a fabric for a shell under a blazer, or choose a more opaque fabric which lets me wear proper undergarments.

“You don't have to be born beautiful to be wildly attractive.”
               – Diana Vreeland

Size wise, it’s harder to find things that fit my personal style at a size 12/14 than if I were a 6 or 8. I shop more carefully, purchasing fewer pieces and being more aware of fit. I buy a lot of accessories that achieve my rockstar aesthetic, and simple garments that let my jewelry, shoes, and scarves shine. I also realize that personal style transcends what is considered appropriate, flattering, or stylish. An outfit can be only so flattering if you feel uncomfortable or untrue in it.

“It’s not about the dress you wear, but it’s about the life you lead in the dress.”
               – Diana Vreeland

It’s funny, I wear something on the blog that isn’t as true to my personal style and I get twice the positive comments than an outfit that makes me feel me. At first, it was a bit upsetting and I toyed with wearing more “flattering” outfits, but the thing is I am more than a couple static photos on a blog. I know that I feel more confident in outfits that showcase my personal style, and in real life as I talk to and laugh with people, that confidence and cohesion is clear.

“Too much good taste can be boring”
               – Diana Vreeland

The beauty of current fashion is there is such variety available. Vintage, modern, feminine, masculine… it’s all acceptable and it’s also acceptable to mix them together. Personal style doesn’t have to be black and white, consider adding a few “tomboy” pieces to your current wardrobe, mix them with what you own and try some new combinations that flatter your inside as well as your outside. With practice and time, you’ll likely find that you can truly hone your tomboy soul while feeling fabulous about your appearance.

Note: I accidentally attributed the first quote to Diana Vreeland, but it was actually from the blog Dress a Day.  So sorry, and do check out Dress a Day, a wonderful blog, and the quote has been properly updated.

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