Posts Categorized: proportion

Reader Request: Mastering Slouchy and Relaxed Clothing Silhouettes

how to wear slouchy pants

Reader Mollie popped this one into the suggestion box:

I love the relaxed look but as someone with hips and thighs I’m not sure how to pull it off. I’d love some advice on this specific trend, and perhaps more generally how to wear relaxed, unstructured garments when one is not model thin.

I carry a lot of my weight in my hips and thighs, and ADORE the slouchy look. Here are my tips for making it work:

Show a little ankle (or wrist)

Your wrists, knees, and ankles all curve in a little and if you obscure those curves – with big cuff bracelets, midi skirts, or columnar boots – the observing eye believes there is body volume where there is none. This is especially relevant when you’re dealing with voluminous, drapey, unstructured garments. Slouchy pants often look less overwhelming when they show a little ankle. Just that little peek can help demonstrate how you’re actually shaped under there. Occasionally, showing a little wrist from inside an oversized sweater or blouse can have the same effect. But not as often, because you’ll mainly want to …

Balance volume with slimness

Ahhh, that old chestnut. Still a great guideline to keep in mind! If you’re doing something unstructured up top, try to pair it with a slimmer-fitting bottom. If you’re going for a slouchy track pant, consider a structured jacket or fitted top. If you wear loose, voluminous clothing in both halves, it will be hard to tell where the clothes end and you begin. I’ve professed my undying love for Halle Berry’s style, but she does occasionally go a little slouchy-volume overboard. This is great advice for big or curvy girls trying unstructured items, and also great advice for small or curve-less girls, too.

Pair fluid with structured

Some folks look absolutely stunning in drapey tops and slouchy bottoms. I am not one of them. The pairing just looks sloppy on me. That doesn’t mean they’ll look sloppy on absolutely every curvy girl alive … but if you’re trying to master this look and can’t figure out why you look like you’re melting, consider partnering one fluid, drapey item with one structured item. Boyfriend jeans with a fitted button-down, drop-crotch pants with a denim jacket, a billowing peasant blouse with skinny jeans.

Pay attention to pleats

This mostly applies to pants, of course. Many slouchy styles include hip pleats and they can really make or break a style. Length, depth, and how much of the pleat is tacked down all affect how it will interact with your curves. I have found that pleats on fluid fabrics like jersey don’t fight my hips and thighs, but any pleated woven fabric will stand out from my bottom half like a tutu. Longer pleats that have been tacked down tend to work better for me, too, since they sit flat against my legs. You’ll need to do some experimentation to find out which types of pleats will work best for your proportions and figure.

Got any other tips for making this look work on a curvy figure? Or on any figure shape at all? How do you wear relaxed, unstructured clothes?

Images courtesy Nordstrom

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Reader Request: When Flattery and Preference Clash

unflattering clothes

Mollie submitted this great question:

What do I do when the clothes/cuts that I find meet my figure flattery goals (for me fitted but not clingy) don’t match all the aesthetics I’d like to include (interesting structures, relaxed fits)?

I’d wager most of you have wondered this very same thing. You adore a garment, it feels marvelous against your skin, but it doesn’t show off your figure in a way that pleases your eye. Do you sacrifice figure-flattery in favor of design, or do you prioritize the silhouette you prefer over a love of certain aesthetics?

As you might expect, I’m not going to issue some stuffy edict or proclaim that there’s one right answer to this question. Advice is all opinion anyway, and while I’m honored to know that some of you trust mine, I hope that your own desires and instincts trump … well, everything. But I’m also not gonna say, “Screw figure-flattery, wear whatever you want whenever you want!” Because as I’ve said before, some may hear that rallying cry and feel empowered to shirk the rules and truly wear absolutely anything that makes them feel fabulous, but others may feel like it’s the equivalent of being told, “Stop asking frivolous questions.” Or worse, “It doesn’t matter and you shouldn’t care.” If you can implement the “F*ck Flattering” philosophy in your life, rock ON. If you can’t, you rock on just as hard. Feeling good about how you look often begins with conforming to traditional standards of style before branching off into individuality, and there’s nothing wrong with using your clothes to highlight what you love about your figure.

SO! There are a few routes you can take when your figure-flattery and clothing design preferences clash.

Seek similar versions

This won’t be possible for every single garment, but it’ll work for a few. If you love the look of bodycon bandage dresses but feel they fail to make you look your best, seek out dresses that have some of the same design elements but work better for your figure. Dresses with fabric tiers, sheath shapes, and criss-crossed bust detailing all share features with actual bandage dresses, but may have other aspects that complement your body better than the real thing ever could. Look at the object of your lust and identify what is is about this thing that makes you drool. Asymmetry? Flow? Color? If you found those traits in a different garment, could it stand in for the original?

Brainstorm some hacks

Again, only possible with certain items, but worth exploring. If you love the look of sharkbite-hem tops, but they interact with your features in a way that displeases you, throw some other clothes or accessories into the mix. Does adding a structured jacket help? Can you belt? What if you switch up your undergarments? Do taller or flatter shoes change the overall look? Items that don’t “work” worn on their own can often be made to work when placed in the context of an accessorized outfit.

Balance your priorities

I’ve come to believe that it’s helpful to own two or three items that you know to be wildly unflattering by current standards, but that you love SO VERY MUCH you can wear them happily with nary a worry. Those pieces can serve as a reminder that it’s not your job to be visually pleasing to everyone who sees you, and that you don’t have to dress for figure-flattery every moment of every day. If you find an impeccably designed item that makes you look wonky by the current beauty standard, you can absolutely buy and wear it if it brings you joy. You might wear it twice a month, and spend the other days sticking to items that are more traditionally flattering.

That said, if flattering your figure in traditional ways is important to you, filling you wardrobe with pieces that fail to flatter your figure is a bad plan. Two, three, a small handful, yes. Everything, no. If flattering your figure in traditional ways is NOT important to you, you probably don’t need me to tell you that you can buy and wear whatever you like.

And of course, everyone everywhere can buy and wear whatever they’d like. But if presenting a certain silhouette is important to you and clothes that fail to create that silhouette stress you out, use your best judgment, pick a few can’t-live-without-it items, and decide from day to day if you want to focus on flattery or unflattering fun.

Are there any styles or silhouettes that you adore, but that fail to meet your personal figure-flattery priorities? What are they? Do you wear them anyway? Sparingly or regularly? Other advice for what to do when your figure-flattery and clothing design preferences clash?

Image courtesy Nordstrom

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Does it Fit vs. Does it WORK

fit vs work

Above you see two outfits that never hit the blog. They’re both perfectly fine outfits, but their main players – the dress and the utility vest – have long since been donated. Because while they may have fit just fine, they didn’t actually work for me.

I had been searching for a magenta dress with sleeves for ages. I wanted one I could wear on its own without layers. And when this one arrived and it fit, I was filled with glee. But after a handful of wearings I discovered that half-sleeves are not nearly warm enough for winter wear, and that the deep V in the back was a very pretty feature but left me totally freezing. Even in warmish weather. The sleeves were pretty thick, so layering a blazer or jacket over the dress made me feel like a sausage. And possibly look like one. I was so excited that it fit, I didn’t give much thought to whether it had all of the characteristics I needed for it to work.

The utility vest was bought on sale for a pittance, and was a piece I’d seen and loved on other women. Again, it fit, so I committed to it and removed the tags. And after several wearings I realized that it hit me right where my hips are widest, drawing attention where I’d rather it weren’t placed. But perhaps more importantly, it didn’t mesh with my style or wardrobe. It didn’t work with the dresses and skirts that were my mainstay a year or so ago, and it didn’t really work with my badass looks, either. I tried it in both mixes, and it just looked goofy. This outfit was as close as I got to making it work … but it still barely passed muster.

I spent much of my childhood hating the way clothes looked on my body and now, decades later, I can still be blinded by decent fit. If an item I’ve been wanting and seeking out fits me well, I will sometimes buy it before thinking through exactly how and when it will be worn. Because it fits! When I’m wearing it, I don’t look at myself and see a potato sack full of live weasels! REJOICE!

It took me many, many missteps to figure it out, but now I try to seek a good fit and also think more carefully about how new items will function within my wardrobe. I still bung it up sometimes, but I’m learning. And if I have any doubts, I’m more likely to attempt to create at least three outfits around a new item before I remove tags.

Do you find yourself with items that fit but don’t work? Are you like me, and just over the moon when something fits and looks good? Any tips for gauging whether or not a new piece will actually work?

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