You can think of garment fit and outfit proportions as running along a continuum with conventionally flattering proportions on one end and so-called unflattering proportions on the other. The thing about trends is that they are often unconventional and therefore not conventionally flattering. Over time, our collective eyes will adjust and what we view as conventionally flattering will change. But in the meantime, exploring the trends, having fun with fashion, and wearing what feels most comfortable, is often about pushing this boundary.
Conventionally flattering proportions create a streamlined silhouette with a long neck and leg line. They celebrate the female form by accentuating the curve on the bust and hip, and defining the waist. Fits are neither too tight nor too loose, but beautifully tailored. Outfits are structured with few or no horizontally cutting lines. The idea is that these outfit proportions accentuate your “assets” and make your body look its best.
On the other end of the continuum, fits are either too tight or too loose by conventional standards. Outfits are often unstructured in the extreme, surrendering the waist and ignoring the curve on the bust and the hip. The neck and leg line are usually severely shortened, and there are many horizontally cutting lines in the outfit.
It used to be that conventionally flattering proportions were the way to look stylish. Outfit proportions that strayed from the benchmark were deemed less flattering, or even unflattering. Things have changed. The wonderful thing about our current fashion era is that we’re becoming more tolerant than ever of outfits that defy conventional figure flattery. It is an era that accepts and even encourages all sorts of outfit juxtapositions and silhouettes. Often the edgier and more fashion-forward the outfit, the less conventionally flattering the proportions.
This is wonderful, but it is also means that the tried-and-true guidelines associated with conventional figure flattery are less useful than they used to be. So I have found it very useful to think in terms of outfits that are just flattering enough. These are outfits that sacrifice some conventional figure flattery to be more fashion-forward, or more comfortable, but they keep just enough of the traditional guidelines to make us feel confident. Typically by adding a little structure or elongating the lines in just the right places. These little tweaks make all the difference, taking the outfit out of unflattering territory.
This is the modern approach to creating outfits. The results are more interesting, and allow us to feel more comfortable and creative in our outfit choices. And as our eyes adjust to outfits that are just flattering enough, they will become conventionally flattering. We will be able to push the boundaries even further. This shifting of the figure flattery goal posts is inevitable, and I’m curious to see where fashion, outfit proportions and figure flattery will be ten years from now.
Of course, figure flattery is in the eye of the beholder, and we all have different thresholds that define when an outfit is just flattering enough. That’s why dressing according to your own figure flattering priorities is the best guideline that I can offer. Whether you prefer conventionally flattering proportions or veer much further up the continuum to create outfits that are just flattering enough, it’s all good. The most important thing is to listen to how you FEEL in an outfit.