In my recent review of the style evolution book, one of my ‘complaints’ was that the book concentrates a lot on dressing to flatter and it pretty much seems to be the focus of the book, rather than learning how to mix and match and have fun with fashion. But if I’m really honest, in most cases I actually do that myself. For example, even though I don’t have a big tummy I will never wear something that highlights it.

On one of my recent shopping trips I tried on a tight polkadot skirt. Combined with a polkadot top in a different colour, it was a great look from the front and back. But the sideways profile was abysmal. It showed my really flat bum, which is much lower than it should be and also highlighted my tummy. Not flattering at all, so I decided not to buy it.

But I HAVE bought an asymmetrical Calvin Klein dress in the sales recently, that has a strange silhouette and makes one of my hips appear large and out of proportion. As this dress is meant to do that and it’s a quirky design, I decided to buy it. (you all know how I love asymmetry!) I thought that the overall look was flattering enough and it didn’t highlight any of my ‘problem’ areas.

The reason I don’t buy clothes that highlight those parts of my body I’m least happiest with, is because it makes me feel too self conscious. I don’t feel I look my best and therefore I don’t feel my best. Overall, I’m very happy with my body and appearance, but I think all of us will have some parts of our bodies that, although (hopefully) we accept them, we would rather not highlight. It’s always better to emphasize your strengths, rather than drawing attention to parts that you are less happy with.

The same goes for creating a nice silhouette. As I explained before, I like to create a nice 1/3 – 2/3 silhouette, which keeps your body in proportion. It’s nice to create the illusion of longer legs shorter torso for example or to create the illusion of longer height.

This is also the reason why I find dressing for your body type so important and why I have written several articles on the subject(see my articles on the rectangle, pear, apple, invertered triangle and hourglass shape and dressing for your vertical body type). I also pay a lot of attention to it in my style course.

But I can also appreciate those that interpret the ‘rules’ loosely sometimes. It’s not ALWAYS necessery to have the perfect silhouette, but instead be a bit edgier with a different shape or style or just dress for fashion. Some even ignore the principle of dressing in a flattering way altogether (Tavi Gavinson mentioned that in a recent interview for example) and just dress for fashion and edginess.

But for the most part I personally will dress in a flattering way, which is also why I love drape dresses that drape over the tummy area and prefer to wear trousers that are less tight and touch the ground. Even though I love to wear asymmetry and different shapes, I will always aim to create a nice silhouette in the end.

I would love to know what your position is on this. Will you always dress to flatter your body and create a nice silhouette? Or is fashion, edginess and looking ‘different’ important to you too?


Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. She is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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