Sunday, March 11, 2012

Figure Flattery Priorities: Let's Get Real

What do most women want to look like?  They want to be attractive.  What is attractive?  Attractive is healthy.

If you're of childbearing years, "healthy" means able-to-bear-children, and a large marker of that is hip-to-waist ratio.   Love this, hate this... but a .7 hip to waist ratio is considered ideal by the men in the audience.  Younger women add slender and perky to their list - because those are markers that they're not already mothers.  Older women can add "lush" to theirs - the beauty of fulfilled possibilities.  Women past menopause move away from the hip-to-waist ratio and move towards "sophisticated".  Elder ladies - white haired and delicate - tend to dress cheerfully, in colors otherwise suited for preteens.  For elder ladies, one wants to keep the color in the skin emphasized... even in that time of life, it's still about "health". 

Most of what women do to ornament themselves is designed to point out their health, fertility, or wealth.  One can get upset about this if one wishes to... but ultimately this is the goal.   The entertainment industry has confused "health" with "eternal youth" - and this is temporarily attractive but eventually looks a bit off-putting.  This is why you will see women who have passed the years where they can reasonably evoke untouched potential continuing to slavishly follow extreme slenderness.  Unfortunately the body's natural fat storage changes around... well.  You've seen it.

So what does that mean to the average woman, searching to look lovely?  First, it means that she needs to be realistic about her age and station in life.  Are you in your early twenties and looking for a husband?  Then you don't want to look the same as a 40 something who wants to play up her (or her husband's) success in life.  You won't wear the same outfit, even if you share 80% of the pieces.  Likewise, if your waist has left with your ability to bear children, dress to show your beauty and character.

One wants to approach balance.  The easiest way to do this is to play up the parts of you that are healthiest or most desirable and play down the parts of you that have less to contribute.  SHOW your best.  SKIM your worst.  BALANCE your proportions. 

I have too much tummy, not enough hips, and a great bust-to-waist ratio.  So I emphasize my waist-to-bust area, skim my tummy softly, and put extra fabric on my hips - this gives me an overall hourglass figure, even though my figure is *not* hourglass.   My best friend has beautiful slender legs and hands/wrists/neck, so a top that skims her problem areas and emphasizes the best of her - exquisite skin and perfect proportions - is a stunner.  My mom has passed menopause - and she loves a dressy jacket with slacks - it emphasizes her personality, brings attention to her salt-and-pepper hair, twinkling blue eyes and good bone structure.  "Speaking" clothes have always been good for her, because she has such a crackling personality.

Likewise, you don't want to "overspeak".  I'm busty... you'll never catch me wearing a leotard in public.  A slim young girl would be perfectly appropriate in such a top.  Contrariwise, if I wear a silk dress cut to my contours, the same dress on the young girl is going to look preposterous - or unwholesome.   (Has anyone here - modest ladies all, I'm sure - had the experience of taking a young teenager blouse shopping and being positively shocked by how your "modest" necklines look on her?)

While certain fashion languages are most easily spoken by certain figure types, virtually any look can be achieved by any figure, just as virtually any (general) color can be worn.  I look beyond dreadful in menswear... if menswear means a boyfriend jacket and jeans.  However, if I wanted to make "menswear" mean a pintucked, collarless shirt with a cummerbund... that would make me look crisp and chipper.  (I'd wear it with a full skirt, of course).

Anyone can do anything, if "anyone" is honest about where she is starting from - and where she really intends to go. 

1 comment:

  1. your figure sounds like mine. i don't think I could get away with a leotard in public either.


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