On Sunday, I got out of the shower and starting dancing in front of the mirror – just hips and tiddies flying everywhere. Then it hit me (a realisation, not a tiddy). While I’ve never been in love with my body, I’ve never been ashamed of it either. I’m a fine art drop-out so I’ve always had a certain comfort level with nudity, including my own. So where was this discomfort and often self-loathing coming from? Upon mental investigation I discovered that it only started the minute I would stuff myself into an unflattering garment.
The premise of fashion has always been two (rather exclusionary and damaging) traits — not just skinniness but extreme ‘size zero’ skinniness, and of course youth. You’re expected to have the body of a pre-pubescent gymnast and have the same youthful glow too.
With the body positivity movement, fashion has taken huge strides by becoming more inclusive – flaunting fashion for every shape, age, and skin tone. But what happens when you arrive in store? Are the advertised sizes available? Are the trends suitable for every imaginable body shape? For this reason, Nikki and I asked ourselves the hard question: are certain trends destroying our self-esteem?
There seems to be a huge self-love movement towards our nude bodies: our battle scars, our curves, our stretch marks, our lumps and bumps and cellulite, our fleshy arms and jiggling bellies when chuckling. But what happens when we’re clothed? Does fashion further accentuate body parts we’re still on the journey towards fully loving?
I had a look at a few current trends out there and in my opinion these are the top offenders, in no particular order.
Cropped Tops and Jerseys
I feel that this is a trend that not even people with washboard abs are keen to follow. By all means if you have it, flaunt it. But in freezing conditions, who would want a navel with frost bite? I struggle to understand why I feel so envious of skin exposed to the cold every time I spot these chopped off chunky treasure.s Do I love the look or the confidence of being able to proudly display your belly button, outie or not? I’m working on a way to pull it off with high waisted skirts and jeans and hoping to share some awesome looks soon.
The name alone says it all – pencil. skirt. Because, surprise, surprise, we’re not pencils! That said, I have to admit – I’ve conquered my fear of wearing skin-tight skirts that appear to be made of wetsuit material. I’ve calmly applied a ‘fuck it’ demeanour, confidently sporting every lump and bump with ease. It starts with loving yourself and knowing that you’re enough as you are. Just look at my general cockiness below.
Something deep in my soul loves this trend. Warm. Fuzzy. Trendy. To the point of not getting the side eye from colleagues, but I cannot imagine feeling any kind of sexy in it. Avid Star Wars fan as he is, I can’t picture myself asking my hubby: “Up for the sideways tango with a wookie that skipped leg day?”
Woven, Button-through Dresses
I tried on a button-through number a few weeks back as well as yesterday, and while I loved the look (helloooo #trending!) the minute I raised an elbow to take a pic, moved, farted, breathed, the buttons popped right open! Sure, it was the wrong size but one size up left a bubble around my waist that made me look as if I’d fashioned a dress from a hemp potato bag and was trying to smuggle a blow-up swimming tube underneath! So unless I want to show off my cooch to everyone, it had to be a ‘no’ from me. Still, I feel a loose-fitting one (as seen on the left) with a waterfall cardi and ankle booties might get an enthusiastic nod from me! What do you think?
Nikki owns a gorgeous powdery silver as well as an ochre slip dress and every time she posts a new way to wear it, she looks so beautiful that I feel a little braver. Most curvy people I know have hourglass figures – so it’s flattering when showing off your beautiful curves and skimming your top half. But I’m not hourglass shaped because I don’t have a narrow waist. Not apple-shaped because my arms AREN’T skinny. Not pear-shaped because my shoulders and bust aren’t much smaller than my hips. I have some sort of butternut-meets-seal hybrid body – with fleshy arms and thighs so there are lumps and bumps I wouldn’t necessarily want to flaunt. Also… satin – I have the core body temperature of a furnace at any given time, so would look like a Vienna wrapped in clingfilm, left in a hot car over the weekend. But I simply love this poloneck and slip dress combo as seen in the Cotton On Curves range. As well as the chunky knit draped over. Delicious!
Blazers with shoulder pads
I feel as if this is a trend made for people to easily fit into (and be rescued from) a well – because it’s exclusively for people with shoulders narrower than a toddlers’. Whenever I try it on I look as if I’m auditioning for the role of Jody Foster circa 1987, but as The Incredible Hulk. It immediately makes me hunch my shoulders over – perhaps because of the shorter sleeves – as if I’m carrying a rather cumbersome backpack and the straps are simply set too short. It’s as uncomfortable for me as it is unflattering and hardly makes me feel confident. But I don’t know, I love this look so much that I might grow to love this slouchy, borrowed-from-the-boys blazer. Fake it ’til you make it?
I think it’s safe to say that not every trend works for every body. I fear that most buyers look at trends and simply have them made up in increasing sizes. Unfortunately for us, that’s not the solution to inclusivity. Vertical stripes don’t look any more flattering on a tall person than horizontal stripes on a shorter person. And if you are plus-sized, you could be apple, pear, rectangular or triangular shaped. So the answer is to first figure out your body type and look at cuts, designs and trends that really showcase your body in the most beautiful way, trends that make you feel comfortable and more importantly ‘like yourself’. While I’m usually the ‘wear whatever the f*ck you want’ type of person, we all want to wear something made with “us’ in mind – something comfortable that doesn’t bulge in some areas and stretch in others.
So if you’re looking to find out your body shape, this link is a great help!
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated by Kat Collings.
A simple guide to your body shape:
Inverted Triangle: Your shoulders are wider than your hips.
What looks good on you: Fitted items with a cinched waist and flared bottom: Think tailored blazers, flaring dresses or peplum styles if an illusion of curves is what you’re after, as well as bootleg pants and jeans. Avoid padded shoulders – you want your top and bottom halves to balance out.
Rectangular: Your shoulders and hips are more or less than same width, and even your waist.
What looks good on you: Detail – especially those that make your bottom half looks more voluptuous. Assymmetrical styles, frills, layers of tulle, ruffles etc. They fill out your slight hips and balance your upper body.
Triangle or Pear Shape: You are curvier around the hips with a narrower waist and smaller bust.
What looks good on you: Fit-and-flare dresses. It will accentuate your top half and flatter your gorgeous curves.
Hourglass: Similar to the rectangular shape, your shoulders and hips are the same width, more or less, but your waist is much much smaller.
What looks good on you: Wrap dresses or tops, even coats. V necks. Bold geometric prints. High waisted and flared bottoms. They accentuate your waist and enhance your hourglass figure. This is the body shape I would LOVE to have – my favourite fashion includes graphic or geometric prints paired with high-waisted bottoms.
All things considered, trends needn’t be self-esteem destroyer. There are tons of trends and styles that suit your shape. It simply starts with finding the shape, cuts, designs that make you feel the most beautiful and comfortable.
Tell us which trends you love, which work for your figure and which don’t. And also if you’d like Nikki and I do a try-on session of the same pieces to show the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ for your body shape.