Why all those dress-for-your-body-type guides don’t work

Clothing is supposed to be FUN. It’s supposed to be a tool we use to help the world understand who we are inside and how we want to be seen.

Maybe you’re into dressing like a Pink Lady from the movie “Grease.” Maybe you’re a little fairy-sprite child of the woods, wandering around in maxi dresses and bare feet and you were wearing flower crowns YEARS before Coachella said it was cool. Maybe you’re all about wearing workout wear everywhere you go. All that stuff is about who you are on the inside.

You’re expressing your insides to the outside world to take a little of the guesswork out for the rest of us (or maybe you’re dressing super-mysteriously to add a little of the guesswork back in). Who you are on the inside has nothing to do with your cup or dress size.

That’s why I’m so tired of “dress for your body” pieces AKA “If you’re not built like a science classroom skeleton, you’re only allowed to wear A-line dresses and the color black.”

Often “Dress for your body type” guides focus on where your weight is distributed (Almie Rose broke down this supreme dumbness awesomely for us last month).(Amanda Miska also killed it recently with this piece she wrote for xoJane.) You are of course familiar with the “EEK EEP EEK! DON’T WEAR THAT OUTFIT! YOU ARE A PEAR NOT AN HOURGLASS DON’T YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE WAYS OF THE WORLD?” shenanigans that go on in magazines that translate into shenanigans that go on in your brain when you’re getting ready in the morning.

Here’s where body type guides totally miss the point of what it means to get dressed in the morning: Let’s say you find a dress at a thrift store and it makes you feel like a queen. It makes you feel like a million queens rolled up into one giant-sized queen, a queen as tall as a skyscraper, the greatest queen who ever lived. But if you listen to body type guides, you might end up leaving the store empty-handed because GASP the dress doesn’t emphasize your waist enough or DOUBLE GASP your legs aren’t long enough to rock that hemline or ALL THE GASPS IN THE WORLD you are bigger than a science classroom skeleton and you have the GALL, the NERVE, to wear a cut other than an A-line.

The whole dressing-for-your-body-type thing is designed to push you towards some imagined ideal of beauty, rather than your own notion of what’s attractive. It encourages you to dress so that your body looks less like your body and more like one specific body type that’s praised in magazines. (Why do your legs HAVE to look super-long in everything you wear? Why does your waist have to be accentuated ALL THE TIME?) It squashes your individual sparkle and makes you feel like you can’t wear something you might really, really love. And that’s crazy, because if you really, really love something, odds are you’re going to rock it like nobody else.

Bottom line: You just have to wear what makes you happy, because confidence is the one accessory that magazines can’t try to sell you. It’s the one thing you can’t buy, and the one accessory that always works. You can follow all the rules all the livelong day, but if you feel miserable, or constrained, or uncomfortable in your own clothes, you’re not going to look awesome. Nobody looks great when they don’t feel genuinely great, or properly represented.

So if you’re hot for A-lines, by all means, rock it every single day of the week. Just wear what speaks to you, wear what makes you feel like a queen. Because you ARE a queen, and you want to do everything you can to make sure your outside and your inside match up perfectly.

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