A Fashion Rule Worth Breaking

Fashion imposes on us a long list of rules: No white after Labor Day. No mixing prints and patterns. No silver with gold, no black with brown, no socks with sandals, and so on.

While these rules seem made to be broken, another seems all-important and unbreakable: Wear clothes that “flatter” your silhouette. Dress for your body shape. Accentuate your figure and mask your “problem” areas.

In other words, dress to look thinner.

An example of this styling commandment is found on People Magazine’s  website in their article star-tested ways to dress yourself thinner. The article uses images of celebrities to show how wardrobe changes can slim a body. Among the fashion choices it celebrates are Julianne Hough’s waist-cinching belt, Jennifer Lopez’s leg-lengthening hemline, and Salma Hayek’s hourglass-highlighting V-neck.

Like so many other media messages, these fashion tips promote a thin body ideal. They glorify slimness and place value on achieving a “perfect” figure.

It’s time we break these rules. It’s time we redefine “flattering”—define it not as slenderizing or elongating, but rather as confident and body-positive. It’s time we own our bodies for what they are, in clothes that make us feel comfortable and content.

Despite what media suggests, our stomachs are not too round for crop tops. Our shoulders aren’t too broad for halternecks, and our legs aren’t too stocky for shorts. Horizontal stripes make you look wider? So what. A tunic camouflages your waistline? Big deal. Wear what you want, regardless of what media tells you.

You have the body for it.