Do your clothes need to be figure flattering all the time?

by Sylvia

Do your clothes need to be figure flattering all the time? | 40plusstyle.com

During our blogger’s get-together I received feedback from both Suzanne and Anja that they often miss seeing my body in my clothes. They like to see me more in figure enhancing clothes that especially highlight my waist.

Now, I’m all for figure flattery and clothes that highlight those parts of your body that you are most happy with. It’s an important part of my style courses as well as the many articles on this site.

But since I’m happy with most of my body, I don’t feel the need to highlight its thin parts or commonly considered ‘good’ aspects of my body all the time. I feel sexy and confident without highlighting them. I aim for flattering enough rather than just choosing the most flattering outfit.

Creating pleasing silhouettes

creatingdifferentsilhouettes

I like to dress in interesting silhouettes. I play with drapes, straight lines, asymmetry, A lines, loose tops, longer skirts, cropped pants. The advantage of a mainly rectangular shape is that I feel I can get away with all these different shapes.

I still apply the ‘rules of flattery’ most of the time. For example I will often wear tight with loose. If I don’t show my legs, I may show my arms. If the whole look becomes too overwhelming, I may use a belt.

Following your style persona

Would my body look more flattering and would I look more sexy with tighter tops, body hugging dresses and an emphasis on my waist? Definitely. And sometimes I will indulge in that too when I’m in the mood or there is a perfect occasion to do so.

But sexyness, a bombshell look and tight clothes are not part of my style personality. The important factors of that are fun, comfort, asymmetrical lines, architectural or unique shapes, natural fabrics and geometry.

I don’t like to show any cleavage.

If I do wear a low-cut top, I may not want to show so much leg. I like to keep it in balance.

I like to surrender my waist as seen below.

surroundingthewaist

I don’t want to wear tight skirts that I can’t move in, so all my skirts have elastin.

I don’t want to wear shoes that I can’t walk in.

I like waisted looks but they tend to be hotter in warm Singapore so I feel more comfortable in looks that surrender the waist. That said, I still wear waisted looks on a regular basis too.

highlightingthewaist

Your style is personal

What it all comes down to is that style is so personal. You cannot dress for others but need to mainly please yourself. Choose clothing that YOU feel comfortable and sexy in.

For some women those may be clothes that highlight sexy features like a generous bust, a small waist or sexy legs. For others it may mean that you are happy to surrender the waist and dress in a more arty way. If you want to see more of my latest style, you can check out the what I wore section of this site.

In my opinion you can just aim for flattering enough rather than just flattering.

How do you feel about this topic? Do you always dress to flatter your body? Do you want to look sexy?

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p.s. Suzanne and Anja did indulge in dressing me in some body hugging clothes of Anja’s for the follow-up on my article How does it feel to wear someone else’s clothes, and you can see the results here!

p.p.s. To find out more about your own unique style I highly recommend my style course!

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Patti

Great post, Sylvia. Style is so personal, and there’s no law that we have to “flatter” our figures in every outfit. Sometimes I like to wear oversized, slouchy clothes b/c they feel great. xo

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Sylvia

Thanks Patti. Yes there is a time and place for everything!

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Rebecca

Very interesting post. To me, your style truly expresses your creativity and artful approach to dressing and you look terrific in your clothes. My style tends to be more tailored and I love interesting jackets with slim pants.

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Sylvia

Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for your kind words. It’s so good to know what your unique style is and it sounds great!

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Marnell Keller

I agree with your thoughts on this subject. Sexy has its place as well as modesty. I prefer hints at flattering and not in your face flattering.

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Sylvia

Me too. For some people that’s different though and sexyness is more part of their style persona and that’s good too!

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Sarah

To my eye your waist surrendering outfits look both more fashion forward than some waist highlighting styles, and there is nothing un the slightest unflattering about them. I particularly love the ease and the long line of the white asymmetrical dress. Just beautiful.

If I am going on a date with my husband or to a smart event, I might wear something conventionally flattering (showing my waist) but to my eye less fashionable, but otherwise I am more likely to surrender my waist while that look is ‘in’. If the fashion changes to fitted dresses I will no doubt wear those preferentially then, but at the moment, to my eye anyway, your waist-surrendering style is more modern and fresh.

But whatever I or anyone else thinks, I totally agree that we each have to dress the way we each want to. Dressing in ways that please others rather than oneself makes it much less likely that one will enjoy one’s outfits.

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Sylvia

Yes, I agree. I do the same and tailor clothes to the event I’m going. The good thing is that nowadays you can do almost anything as fashion is not so strict anymore. In the end that is what I like best: lots of variety!

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Ann

Interesting post, I always see you outfits as figure flattering so I disagree with the observations of others. I too am moving away from anything low cut myself. I think your artful way of dressing is inspiring and displays you don’t have to show skin to be intriguing.

blue hue wonderland

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Sylvia

Everyone has their opinion and I’m totally ok with that. You can never please everyone with your clothes and that is why you mainly have to please yourself! Thanks so much about the kind words about my style. I do miss seeing yours which was always very inspiring to me. Perhaps you want to sometimes upload some snapshots to my Facebook page?

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Alice - Happiness at Mid Life

Interesting topic. I always admire your style of not wearing form fitting clothes but yet it doesn’t overwhelm your slim figure. I don’t wear fitted clothes per say but prefer very classic shapes like pencil skirts or full skirts. I do have a tough time wearing anything with too much volume and it ends up looking horrible on me.

Alice
http://www.happinessatmidlife.com

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Sylvia

It’s definitely true that it differs per person on how far you can go with ‘breaking the rules of flattery’. It depends on your personal style preferences and body type. I certainly encourage everyone to understand their body first and know how to flatter it, then when you’ve mastered that, start breaking the ‘rules’ as you please or not if that suits you better!

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Greetje Kamminga

Yes this is a highly interesting topic. As usual my opinion is right in between yours and Anja’s haha. Sometimes I think you lean towards boxy and modern a bit too much. Like if you wear a wide boxy top, a longer skirt and flat shoes…. hmm I am not a fan of that.
But in the pictures which you show above, there is a perfect balance.
I totally agree that personal style is what you want to show. That is you. That is the person who you like to show the world.
And indeed your body shape is the first thing you have to consider before choosing the clothes to fit your personality. Like you say, with your body you can get away with almost anything. You may have a rectangular shape, but you still have a waist and hips. Everything in the right proportions. And good legs to complete the picture (lucky you).
I too get remarks sometimes of people who want to see me in figure hugging clothes. But I agree with you, if you have the figure, you don’t always need to show it off. Also with elongating legs: I don’t always do that, sometimes I wear trousers in boots, which does not elongate my legs. And I think : “Tough. I have long legs. No need to always show them.”
A bit of a long comment….
Greetje

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Sylvia

Loved reading your feedback Greetje. It will be interesting to read your opinion on the outfits shown later today!

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Anja van der Vorst

Great post, Sylvia, and I like many of the looks that you show here.

The main characteristic in my style is definitely not ‘sexy’. Flattering, colorful and artistic, yes.

For me, the differences (almost opposites) in style and taste between you and me are interesting, intriguing and sometimes puzzling.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s post; you dressed ‘in’ me;-).

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Sylvia

article coming up in just a few hours Anja 🙂

You’re right sexy is not the first word that comes to mind when I think of your style, but you don’t mind deeper V-necks and shorter skirts as much as I do.

And you know what they say… opposites attract!

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Anja van der Vorst

Hahaha!

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Annette

I think you look great 99..9% of the time. I can’t love it all!

From the pics, i’m amazed at the variety of your looks and how you mix and match. I love all of them.

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Sylvia

I’m already surprised by the 99.9% Annette! I think it’s almost impossible that other people like your clothes all the time. Perhaps a few very like-minded individuals…

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Cynthia

I don’t feel like tight/form-fitting clothes actually flatter my figure. I caved in to pressure to wear more fitted things for a long time (my mom always used to get on me for wearing “floopy clothes”) but in the last couple of years I have decided that life is too short to wear clothes I feel uncomfortable in. I usually like your looser, asymmetrical style too and have even found a couple of interesting items thanks to your recommendations. So I would say dress as you like!

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Sylvia

Good that you found your style Cynthia and do what makes you feel your best. I’m happy to have played a small part in finding some of your new clothes!

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une femme

Hi Sylvia, I’m with you. I’m more comfortable in styles that skim rather than cling to my shape. I’ve realized I love the feeling of a little movement in my clothing, and don’t like anything that feels constricting.

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Sylvia

Yes, skimming clothes is what I prefer too and comfort is key because I know I will not wear the outfit if it is not….

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Kim

Ah! I can relate to this post. I am 5’4″ and on the slim side. Many of my friends with fuller figures try to encourage me to dress to “show it off.” That is not my style. I am more comfortable in looser fitting, more structured classic styles with a little bit of edge and fun thrown in.

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Sylvia

You sound like me Kim! Of course some figures benefit from more body hugging styles and it may really work for your friends, just not necessarily on you.

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Suzanne

I definately feel this has so much to do with our own personal voices. The ones we hear in our heads when we look at ourselves in the mirror.

I’ve always felt a little heavy and short. Sometimes in my life more than others. When I was at my heaviest I lost my waist entirely. I can remember looking in the mirror and wondering where the heck it had gone. How was that even possible? This was when I was studying to be a chef…so I kind of know how it was possible…tasting and eating everything I’d cook or bake.

To hide my lost waist I wore loose baggy clothing and it was the worst choice I could have made. I looked heavier than I was. Ever since I saw those photos of myself at my heaviest I’ve tried to define my waist.

Even when I’m not at my heaviest having a more ample bust can make me look like I’m carrying extra weight even if I’m not so I’ve become rather obsessed about showing I have a waist. I personally don’t don’t have a thin face or legs so when I add on bulky clothing I just look…bulky.

It has everything to do with how we perceive ourselves and how we want others to see us.

I sometimes look at ladies that have great bodies and wonder why they are hiding it all under tons of clothes. Maybe they have more inner confidence than I do? Or maybe it is the other way around? I don’t know, but I’m happy for the differences in life.

bisous
Suzanne

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Sylvia

Great comment Suzanne. I think it’s about finding the right balance. Hiding a body that you’re not happy with is never the way to go and quite a few women could benefit from choosing clothes that are more form fitting. As you say it’s very personal. I think acceptance and knowledge of your body is so important. That should come first. When you understand your body well and know the shapes and silhouettes that enhance it, then you can start playing with alternative silhouettes too. As for myself I can honestly say that I never had any issues with my body and have been very lucky to always be happy with that (now total acceptance of my face is another story; we all have our issues…). So I’m definitely not hiding it. I feel that I’m enhancing it with my clothes even if not everyone perceives it that way.

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Anja van der Vorst

Lucky you, Syl!

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Lorraine

I am with Suzanne on this – in fact most of her reply could be mine.
I think you are extremely lucky that you have the choice of what to wear and can carry off pretty much any style. I have always hankered after the long, languid look (remember Nicole Farhi clothes?) but feel swamped in those sort of clothes and need to be a foot taller. The current square shapes hang off my bust and make me look boxy. I have always known that I look better in fitted clothes, even when I was younger and slimmer, so if I deliberately veer away from that style with baggier items I know I am usually sacrificing looking good for comfort/fashion.

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Anja van der Vorst

I get that we all from time to time feel and choose for comfort over ‘dressing up’. Or for comfort while ‘dressing up’, for that matter. I certainly want to feel comfortable in whatever I wear. That’s why I choose soft, stretchy materials. I hate the feeling of a tight waistband of some pants or being aware of my bra all the time.

I don’t immediately make a connection between loose or fitting clothes, with the amount of self-confidence of the person in those clothes. There can be all sorts of reasons for that, as we can read in the comments on this post and in the post itself.

But when I dress myself, I will always aim for a flattering look at least. What that is and wether I always succeed in that, is another topic. This article and its comments show that a flattering look is not necessarily what every woman looks for in her style. Interesting….

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Petra

Perhaps it just boils down to personal preference? I’d like to see you write more about this Sylvia please 🙂 For me, I don’t like tight clothes – my weight fluctuates from slim to overweight and even in my “slimness” I still don’t like that tight feeling. I’m like you and prefer draping fabrics and styles. Feels more comfy for me, plus I don’t like to draw attention to myself! 😀

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Sylvia

yes it’s a broad topic. As I’m planning to write more on silhouette and figure flattery this topic will definitely come up again!

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theresa

I am a big fan of your style. the loose draping is the way I prefer my clothes to fit also. I like to wear things that skim the body parts, and just hint at the wonderfulness beneath. even if they aren’t so wonderful, rather than have it all out there in your face.
at seventy years old, I don’t have to look like a fox….but I like to look classy.
theresa

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Sylvia

ThanksTheresa. I’m sure you look very classy indeed!

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Highland Fashionista

I’m totally with you on this one. I think that when you have a body type or even body part that is considered desirable, a lot of people think they HAVE to dress for it every time. The beauty of having a body you are confident about is feeling the freedom to not have to always wear the same silhouette. I noticed this phenomenon at a wedding once. Most of the women there in my age bracket (40 plus) all had on very body conscious dresses. The few that didn’t were the ones that stood out. In a good way. They looked chic because it looked effortless. Tight and form fitting is great once in a while, but I like to keep that ammo in my back pocket and only haul it out on very special occasions.

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Sylvia

Very well said Kristin!

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Deborah

Great post! This topic is so subjective. How do we define figure flattering? I adore your style Sylvia and I think it does flatters your figure. I dislike that some people try to put women in a box in terms of what is ‘flattering’. Like you, I like comfort, interesting silhouettes, and draped not strict clothing.

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Grace

It’s disappointing to see an article that purports to be about personal preferences make so much use of phrases like “get away with” and “pull it off.”
You can “pull off” these “less flattering (?)” looks because you are very slim. You seem to suggest that if you had a different body type, you wouldn’t be able to “get away with it.”
Bigger ladies better belt that wasit, though!

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Sylvia

You are right that I could have chosen my language better. I feel that everyone can wear the clothes that make them happy though. However, I do feel that most people look better in clothes that flatter their body types. As mentioned I think you should still aim for ‘flattering enough’ My body type makes it easier to break the conventional rules than for some other body types to create a look that is not completely unflattering. Does that mean that they always have to stick to their body flattering priorities? Absolutely not! But in order to still create an outfit that is ‘flattering enough’, options will be more limited. Of course if you still feel fabulous no matter how unflattering the look may be, then that is great too!

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Olivia

Wonderful post. I have made the decision to wear what I like and to make sure it is comfortable regardless of how fashionable or flattering. I’m fat, anyway, not hiding that so I might as well dress for me and not worry about what anyone else thinks.

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Silvia DiPierdomenico

I really can relate to this topic, as many have said similar things to be me about dressing in a more conventionally feminine way: tight, waist defining clothing. I really appreciate what you said, Sylvia, about being happy with your body and not feeling the need to show off a particular “good” part. ‘

What’s exciting now for women is that they can break the conventional fashion rules and dress in a creative and unconventional way – undefined waist, forgoing a belt, looser silhouettes – in short, a modern way of being sexy and attractive.
http://www.beastofstyle.com

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Rosie

Sometimes you purposefully want a less flattering look. I once had a job where I had to wear a uniform, and the only one available was a size or two too big, and it was in a very structured heavy cotton, so hid my figure entirely. It was actually really refreshing for people to ignore my body, and focus instead only on my skill at my job.

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