Good day my gals! How are you this week? I’m hangin’ in but feeling a little blah, to be honest. I’ve been a sad grump lately, and I’m still working on my February 2018 goal of anger elimination all the way through March. This got me thinking about how you guys told me in my reader survey that you appreciate it when I’m real, so there you have it. It’s not my best week.
In terms of how that relates to style, you also said you liked it when I show you when something I wear DOESN’T work. Because let’s be honest, most blogs only show the best of the best of one’s lifestyle.
But sometimes I feel the need to pull back the curtain and reveal why and when something doesn’t work so that we can all learn together (and be real together). Maybe the item is crappy quality or poorly cut. Or maybe it’s a great garment but it just doesn’t suit my body and I still bought it anyway. None of those are ever a good idea because you’ll inevitably regret it, and you certainly won’t feel confident when you wear it.
Let me set the tone for today: The whole point to today’s post is to know and love your body and to find power in buying clothes that fit it and feel good – no matter your size. Body image is subjective and deeply personal. You might look at these styles and think – whatevs, Elise. These look great. Or, who is this chick and why is she complaining about her body? Actually, I’m not. This isn’t about body criticism.We all have our hangups and I’m honest about mine, but my body is what it is y’all. I’m 35 and this is what I’m working with. Wherever you are, that’s what you’re working with. Dress it preciously and well. This post is about what I look for in an outfit to make sure it fits and looks the best that I believe it can look.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way, today I’ve got two looks I consider misses to show you. It’s a little embarrassing because you can see me in an unflattering light, but oh well here we go!
Look 1: Too Tight but Fabulous Jumpsuit
I bought this at H&M in LA when I was traveling for work. I had a vision of wearing a fabulous jumpsuit to one of Evan’s band shows, so I saw this and made a decision to buy it before even trying it on. As in, no matter how it looked I wanted to buy it. In this case, the jumpsuit fit in terms of the cropped pant length and the way it flares below the knee. But that’s about it – it’s a poorly cut garment. It wasn’t until I went to shoot it with my friend Morgan that I saw the reality of the fit in the pictures. Here’s what doesn’t work:
- Pulling at the crotch – You don’t want tight crease lines that draw someone’s eyes to your hoo-ha.
- Constantly adjusting sleeves because too wide across the shoulders. While it’s intended to be off the shoulder, they fell too low off my shoulders because it was cut too wide. I tried wearing them on the shoulder but that also didn’t work and they kept falling off.
- Pressing into skin because too tight across the torso and bust – It literally took me bending into a pretzel to zip up the back myself and when I did, the boning was jabbing into the fleshy parts of my chest and causing indentations, too. OH and y’know, inhaling was a slight problem…
- Navel indentation and pulling across belly because too tight across butt and hips. I am not comfortable drawing attention to my least favorite body part (my lower belly). From the back, my bum flesh is pushing over the belt when I walk, and you can see deep creases where the fabric is pulling too tight. I prefer that my garments glide over the body, especially over the parts of my body that I am insecure about. My trick for remedying this is to just go up a size but when I tried that, the whole thing was too big across the board.
You might be wondering why the heck I bought it when it had pretty much ZERO going for it. Well, sometimes I just make impulse purchases. Also, I could still sit down in it, which is usually my test for whether an item is too tight. And finally, sometimes we have our own blindspots in terms of what we do and don’t see in the mirror. Here are the mistakes I made:
- Buying something I might squeeze into in the future. I proceeded to commit my number one shopping cardinal sin: I told myself that maybe I might drop a pound or two before the holidays to squeeze into it. Don’t do this – no matter your size. There is simply no guarantee you’ll fit into it and you risk the psychological mindf*#k of not reaching your goal when it’s time to wear the item. Just don’t do it. No matter how cute it is.
- Buying a garment that accentuated my least favorite body part (lower belly). The item could hardly zip around me because it was too tight around that exact part. I know my body. I know what I’m comfortable showing and not showing. I should’ve walked away. There are plenty of other jumpsuits out there that don’t do this.
Look 2: Too Boxy but Fabulous Floral Suit
I’ll preface this by saying there is STILL HOPE FOR THIS ONE with a little tailoring, so this is a potential success story. I just want to show you why it doesn’t work as is.
I’ve had my eyes on this floral suit at Target for a month because I love the colors and the print. It’s from the A New Day collection, which I’m generally a super fan of, especially the blazers – I have two others of theirs. Since I’d had luck with blazers in the past and since cropped flared pants generally look good on my body, I bought it without trying it on. I had nowhere to wear it but hey, why the heck not, it’s just Target so it can’t be that much money I told myself. Here’s what doesn’t work:
- The jacket is not a slim cut so it adds width to my narrowest part. My waist is narrower than the rest of my body, so I try to wear fitted items when I can to accentuate that. Usually you can solve a boxy jacket by pushing up the sleeves but that didn’t seem to help because…
- Some patterns can make you look wider. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t by them. It just means you want to only buy them in slim cuts (see above).
- The fabric is easily snaggable. You have to be very delicate with this garment that was ultimately pretty cheap. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it, it just means you should consider your lifestyle when you are purchasing.
- I paired it with the wrong top. Lighter colors add width so if I’m looking to create a smaller illusion underneath a busy pattern, I should’ve gone for a deeper color, rather than a white tee.
- I wore the jacket closed. Usually I preach you should ditch a garment if it doesn’t work, but this one is pretty special and could be salvageable. When you wear the jacket open, it shows off my slimmer waistline more and adds a little shape back to my body. SO I THINK THERE IS HOPE with the right tailoring to bring the sides in a bit and create a slimmer shape. With a darker less casual top, and a great party (casual spring wedding maybe?), I just might keep it.
Now that I owned it, I no longer loved it because I didn’t feel great in it. Here are the mistakes I made:
- Not trying the item on. I think if I had tried the whole look on in the store, I might’ve seen the flaws in it. That said, I tried on the red jumpsuit above and bought it anyway…
- Not having an event in mind to wear it. For such a statement piece, I recommend having a plan for wearing it so it doesn’t sit in your closet forever. I can’t tell you how much my pile of statement pieces I loved in the moment but only wore twice has grown. And I don’t want that to be my clothing story anymore. It actually makes it really hard to find something to wear in day-to-day life because everything is SUCH A STATEMENT. Most days we all just want to look chic and classic, not like you’re joining the Easter parade.
- There is always power in knowing your body. ALWAYS. If that means you forego the latest trend, be okay with that. If you know what silhouette looks best on you, wear it as often as you can so that you are always feeling like a million bucks. Mine is fit and flare. I love it so much, I wrote a post about it last year (here!).
- You don’t have to buy every single thing you love. Something my sister does is take a picture of an item she really wants but knows she probably shouldn’t purchase because pretty soon she wouldn’t care about it. She can look at that picture whenever she wants and feel visually happy but also satisfied knowing she didn’t actually spend the money. I love this idea.
- It’s time to stop nonchalantly throwing things in the cart because hey, it’s just Target. Target has really stepped it up a lot in terms of design and quality, and so has Old Navy lately. I’m not suggesting you don’t buy there because I do shop regularly at both of these places. I’m not made of money. But just because it costs less, doesn’t mean we should over-buy. I should’ve still inspected the suit for fabric quality, lining, seams, stitching, etc and then given real thought to whether it was worth the $50. And I should’ve considered whether I truly LOVED it or just really wanted to see what it felt like to wear it.
- Consider investing in tailoring. I posted a picture of me sitting down in the floral suit on IG and people went nuts and loved the suit and asked why I didn’t just have it tailored so I could keep it. My stylist friend Liz even said that when you tailor something it can make it look expensive and high end. Fair point! If you really do love the item, see how much it would cost and decide whether it’s worth it to you.
NOT EVERYTHING ON INSTAGRAM IS REALITY
I posted a pic of the red jumpsuit on IG before the holidays (this one below), and with the right manipulation of the lighting and contrast, I was able to hide that it didn’t fit. The belly bulge is nearly gone, and I edited out these little black hangy thingies that you’re supposed to cut out. It was one of my most engaged posts on Instagram. The same with the floral suit (top pic above sitting down). The pic is of me sitting down, so you can’t even tell what the suit really looks like and that it doesn’t fit well.
See? Not everything on Instagram is reality. Instagram is a business platform that is about creating an overall aesthetic to signal to brands and potential followers what I’m about. A lot of my IG followers don’t read my blog, and a lot of my blog readers don’t follow me on Instagram. They often function as different ecosystems. Just keep in mind next time you are cruising IG that everyone curates, edits and filters. I do. You do. We all do. Don’t let it get you down.
Got any questions about fit or style fails? Send them my way! I’d love to hear what’s on your mind! My commenting system is broken today so until it’s fixed, feel free to email me at [email protected]