Some of my beef with style blogs is that they spend so much time painting pictures of ‘attainable’ lifestyles full of lovely clothes that all fit perfectly and look like a dream, that are on trend yet personalized just for you and that don’t break the bank. But in a world full of fashion hits, no one seems to acknowledge the misses all that much. Like how do you know when a dress just doesn’t fit? Our bodies and their flaws are such personal things that when a dress doesn’t work, we take it personally as if we’ve done something terribly wrong and don’t deserve to find a different style. Or we can’t bear to go up to the next size because that number defines who we are so we pour ourselves into it and feel self-conscious the rest of the day. But what if instead we found power in knowing the exact signs that something doesn’t work? I’m going to use myself as an example today.

Okay, okay, so I roped you in with a photo that doesn’t show you too much but stick with me here. I rented this dress recently in my usual size 6 and was really excited to wear it to a meeting. Unfortunately, no matter what light I stood in or how many Spanx I wanted to cram myself in, it simply didn’t fit. I’m a little embarrassed to show you myself in a less than flattering light, but I think this is a great demonstration of what you should avoid to ensure you are comfortable and confident.

Here are the signs that the dress doesn’t fit:

Pull lines at the crotch – These horizontal lines show that the circumference of the dress does not fit my hips. It should glide over them and show pull lines only when I move, not when I’m standing still. Instead the lines draw your attention to the fact it doesn’t fit.

Belly button shadow – This one is the most obvious to me as to why the dress doesn’t fit. I’m actually wearing Spanx under this but you can still see where my belly button and the roundness of my tummy is. Actually – sometimes Spanx can accentuate, not depreciate depending on the fabric!!

Visible bra lines – Sometimes this is hard to avoid, but in this case, the dress is simply too tight around my chest and back so the bra is pushing through the fabric.

Tight on the arms – I can feel the sleeves encasing my arms and it’s a little snug to move them. You want there to be a little room between the fabric and your skin – like you could stick a finger between them.

Cannot give myself a hug – The circumference of the chest and back is too small so I can’t hug myself and therefore can’t really move my arms freely and make gestures. It’s a little hard to breath fully in, too.  Given many of us sit at computers and meetings all day, at the very least you need to be able to bring your arms forward to rest on a desk or to point to something across the room.

Bunching at the lower back or top of butt – You’ll see that just above the butt, theres some bunching of the fabric because it is too small to pull down over my bum. Again, you want the fabric to glide down the back and over the bum so that there’s a bit of space and movement between your body and the dress.

Too much gripping around the butt – You can really see the roundness of my butt cheeks. Great for the club maybe, but not for work. You want the skirt part to graze the bum, not hug it so tightly you can’t take a full stride or sit down comfortably.

Extra definition of the thigh – Since the dress isn’t wide enough to allow me to move freely, the outlines of my thighs and where they connect to my butt and crotch really show. You can even see a little cellulite dimpling.

Ultimately, I simply can’t move very comfortably in this dress, and I don’t feel confident in it either. Were I to go the next size up, I think I’d nail it but right now, there’s nothing left to the imagination! So my friends, I hope this was helpful and if not, well now you know what my belly and my thighs look like – haha! HAPPY TUESDAY, FRIENDS!!