Posts Categorized: style

If You Want to, You Should Totally Chop Off All Your Hair

pixie haircut

Like many, I’ve got a Pinterest board dedicated to hair and hairstyles. Although I don’t personally have enough to braid, I pin braids and updos. I pin textures and colors I’ll never have.  And I totally get that Pinterest is a place for bookmarking things we actually want to try, and also things that we may never try but like to fantasize about. Really. I get that.

But I’m going to be a little nervy and blunt, here. Because I’d say that around 70% of the hair-related pins I see in my feed are short, spiky, pixie-style cuts with comments like “Someday I’ll work up the nerve” and “Love this look, but just can’t pull it off.” Short hair, wishful thinking. So here it comes:

If you want to, you should totally chop off all your hair. You should. And even though you may already know them, I’ll give you a whole bunch of reasons why.

It grows back

In most cases, the hair you cut off will grow back eventually. This is one of a very small handful of life decisions that is TOTALLY REVERSIBLE. You can play around with short hair now, and in a few years you can play around with long hair again if you want to. And yes, growing out a pixie can be a long and difficult process. But who’s to say you’ll definitely want to grow it out someday? You could become a lifelong short-hair convert. Either way, you can make this change now and it will not permanently alter you. Big picture-wise, it’s low risk.

Short hair won’t make you any less attractive

And anyone who says it will? They can swing by my house later today and I’ll give them a long, stern lecture about the patriarchy and hetero-normativity and controlling the beauty paradigm. Just as women who are short and tall and fat and thin and old and young can all be attractive, so can women with long or short hair. Partners and parents can be pushy and vocal with their opinions about your hair length, but the choice is yours. It may take them a while to get used to the new you. Heck, it’ll probably take YOU a while to get used to the new you. But you’ll be just as gorgeous and lovely and sensual as you were with longer hair. Promise. Your hair is only one aspect of your appearance, which is only one aspect of your self.

You don’t have to have a specific face shape

Those charts showing which face shapes suit short hair and pixie cuts make me want to set things on fire. You know how certain dress styles work fabulously with certain figures? Well, lo and behold, certain short hairstyles work fabulously with certain face shapes. You don’t have to go buzz-cut or pixie short to play around with shorter hairstyles. There are plenty of chin-length or shorter options that can ease you into the world of short hair. If you’re not sure about the style you’d like to try, consult your stylist. If your stylist offers no or crummy advice, tinker around with hair makeover tools like this one. And if you’re still undecided and worried? Try going short in stages. Do shoulder length, a long bob, chin-length. Once you get there, you may be able to move your hair around a bit more to see what it would look like in various super-short configurations.

You don’t have to be thin

This is the one that really gets me. OK, they all do, but I’ve actually had women tell me that they’d love to try my hairstyle but not until they lost a bunch of weight. Will having super short hair make your face look rounder? Maybe. Will it reveal more of your face? Probably. Are these things bad? No, although everyone will have her own comfort level. Faces come in all shapes and sizes, and although balancing your face shape with hair, accessory, and glasses choices can be great, it isn’t actually necessary. If you’re fat or not-thin and want to try short hair, I would encourage you to go for it. Because the whole can’t/shouldn’t-based-on-body-size-or-shape thing? It’s bunk.

Being afraid of “ruining” your looks can be very stifling

Another thing I totally get: Fear of looking weird for a long time. I have a fantastic hairstylist and a magazine-sanctioned face shape, so it’s all well and good for me to say these things. But I do understand that a drastic hair change means a big risk. If it doesn’t work out how you’d like, you may feel “stuck” or “ruined” or like you’ve made a horrible choice. And if that fear is stronger than your desire to take the plunge, please don’t think I’m saying you absolutely must cast that fear aside and chop away. But, again, in the vast majority of cases your hair will grow back. So if you cut it all off and don’t like the end result, you can – over time – change it back. And breaking free of the idea that your looks should be consistent and as close to perfect as possible at all times? That can be freeing. Nothing you do will ruin your looks. Nothing. And you have every right to make active decisions about the aspects of your looks that you can change and control.

Short hair is more expensive to maintain. It can take a while to hone in on the perfect shape and cut for you. And it is risky. But if you’ve wanted to go short for ages and just haven’t been able to muster up the nerve, I hope I’ve furthered the mustering process somewhat. Because lemme tell ya: I love my short hair so very much and can’t imagine ever growing it out. I feel more like myself with short hair than I ever did with long hair, even though everyone in my life fawned over my long curls. And every time I open Pinterest and see a string of darling pixie cut images and accompanying captions of stifled longing, I wish I could project my voice through the computer to that pinner and say, “Go for it.”

This is me whispering to you.

This post first appeared on Huff Post Style

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Reader Request: Long Over Lean for Tall Women

tunics and leggings for tall women

Georg Sand Left this comment over on Facebook:

Would you be willing to augment this post [on long over lean for petites] for tall girls (where all our height is in our legs) that’s me and I love this silhouette too! I also, however, seem to constantly have proportion issues. Do the same rules apply?

And my response? But of course I’m willing! And I’ve called in another expert, everyone’s favorite tall tunic-wearer, Gracey of Fashion for Giants. I’m going to get the ball rolling with my own tips, and then hand the mic to Gracey to round us out. Here we go:

Length affects proportions

A tunic should cover your entire butt as well as your crotchpoint, and many women look best in a tunic that hits at mid-thigh level. However, if you are tall and your height is in your legs rather than your torso, a slightly longer tunic may balance you out a bit more. By covering more of your leg above the kneecap – which the observing eye believes is the midpoint of your leg – you visually shorten and balance your frame. It’s your call, of course, but if balancing your proportions is a figure-flattery priority try keeping your tunic length at least one hand’s width above your kneecap and/or at least two hands’ widths below your crotchpoint.

Boots complicate matters

This is true for all people wearing long-over-lean outfits, but for tall gals minding where your boots hit is especially tricky. Boots that end far below your kneecap give the impression of very long legs. Pair those short-ish boots with a tunic that hits high on the thigh and you’ll look leggy indeed. Nothing wrong with that, of course! But if you’re seeking to balance your leg length, a boot that hits just a couple of inches below the kneecap and a tunic that hits mid-thigh will help. Want to avoid the boot issue altogether? Choose a pair that matches the color of your leggings or skinnies. Yes, this is a technique that is often employed to create a long, unbroken leg line, but it also eliminates hard breaks to create a more unified silhouette.

Cropped bottoms are a great option

As you can see from the first two outfits pictured above, ankle length and cropped slim bottoms are wonderful in long-over-lean mixes on tall women. Even though this combination creates a nearly half-and-half figure division on Gracey, it just works. Her leg line is unbroken from tunic hem to pant hem which means fewer chunks. The cropped pant length visually shortens the overall leg line a bit, but that serves as a balancing factor here. Harder to do in winter, of course, but a fun option for warm weather.

In terms of comparison to the post on long-over-lean for petites, there is some overlap: Visually elongating your legs may not be a priority, but wearing like-colored leggings and footwear will prevent lots of distracting breaks in your figure. Being strategic about focus is always wise, and you can choose a statement necklace to draw the eye to your face or add a like-colored belt to your tunic to accentuate your waist without breaking up your lines. Low contrast layers are great to prevent loads of breaks in your figure line, but not as essential here as they are for someone who wants to look taller. “Don’t worry about it”? Always applicable to advice-y posts. If you prefer to just wear combos you love, you should do exactly that.

Now, let’s hear from Gracey:

Try prints and colors

Gracey from Fashion for Giants wears tunics over lean pants

Why try prints and colors? Mostly just because you can. As a tall person, you have a little more leeway when it comes to long over lean because you can ignore those guidelines that exist to help the less-tall avoid the often-stumpifying effects of long over lean. As Sally mentioned, low-contrast layers are exceedingly helpful to those who want to look taller, but if you’re already tall, you can wear contrasting prints and colors without much worry. Especially if you pay attention to the rest of the tips Sally laid out.

I will say that with printed and colored pieces, proportion matters more than with low-contrast pieces. In the first look, for example, the tunic is a bit long for the length of the pants.  And the ankle strap flats aren’t helping matters. But, in the second look, the longer pants help balance out the length of the top. And, of course, a nude or black flat would help even more but I am currently unable to resist the lure of a brightly colored shoe. Perhaps someday…

Make sure your lean is truly lean

Gracey of Fashion for Giants wears leggings, a white tunic, blue sweater and black flats

In this outfit, as with the leopard and yellow outfit above, I have a LOT of volume up top. Here I’m wearing an over-sized sweater layered over an over-sized shirt. It’s a lot, it really is. But, keeping the lean portion of the outfit truly lean helps balance that volume. That’s why when I wear my long-over-lean outfits I stick to skinny pants, skinny jeans, and leggings. Those bottoms tend to offset whatever nonsense layering I have going on up top. And that’s important because I tend to do a lot of nonsense layering.

Anyone else have tips or suggestions for wearing long-over-lean outfits as a tall person? Proportion preferences? Do you do boots with your outfits? What else would you tell Georg?

Images courtesy Fashion for Giants.

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How to Get Rid of Muffin Top

Disqus closed comments randomly again. HURRAH. Here’s a repost with an open thread …

how to get rid of muffin top

Back in the fall, I had a speaking gig at a big financial corporation in St. Paul. Once we dug into the Q&A – my favorite part – the audience members began plying me with fabulous questions. And one I’ve gotten time and again came up: “How do I get rid of muffin top?”

In my opinion, there are two answers to that question: Buy larger pants, or buy differently shaped pants.

In the majority of cases, muffin top is not an inevitability that should be worked around and disguised. It is a sizing or fit issue. For most people, midsection spilling over the waistband is a sign that pants are either too small or in a style/cut that doesn’t suit your frame.

Your pants are too small

Have I mentioned lately that clothing sizing is a load of arbitrary bunk? Because it IS. Head out to a vintage or thrift store sometime and try on your current numeric size of clothing through several decades. Oh, the laughs you’ll have. I have thrifted up everything from size 4 to size 16 in my time, and at this point, I generally ignore the tags and eyeball fit instead. And even if you aren’t a ninja-level shopper who can tell at 20 paces if pants will fit your curves, here’s something you can do: Ignore tags. Ignore sizing. When you try on bottoms, take a size above and a size below your typical size. If the larger size fits better – if it fits to your waist without pinching or subdividing your midsection – that is the size you should buy. If the size number bugs you, cut out the tag. Forget about the number, focus on the fit. Ideally, pants shouldn’t dig into your midsection, and in many cases going up a size or two can alleviate digging. (The next tip may address this in some cases, but if sizing up in the waist makes your pants too big elsewhere remember that they can be tailored.)

Your pants are the wrong shape

I hated pants for SO LONG because around the time I became a fully-formed adult human, the only pants available to me were low-rise. Remember the 90s, people? The variety of styles and cuts we have now did not exist back then. Times have changed, and for the better: Most folks can access low-, mid-, and high-rise pant styles new or used and in the gamut of sizes. There are even styles designed to work with small waists and large hips, and lines that aim to fit a variety of body shapes. In many cases, muffin top is caused by wearing pants that are too low in the rise. Many figure types carry more squish lower on the abdomen and less toward the bra line. So simply switching to a higher rise can make the waistband spillover vanish, in some cases. (Including mine.) The opposite is true on other figures: More softness is found higher on the torso and less toward the pelvis and hips. Trying a lower rise can help in this case. Muffin top occurs when waistbands dig into parts of our bodies that are softer and easily subdivided. Placing your waistband on a part of your torso that is less soft can work wonders. Yet another possibility: Your waist doesn’t curve in where the pant waistband expects it to. If you have a more straight-up-and-down torso shape without a defined waist, consider trying men’s jeans which are designed for a mostly curve-free figure shape. You won’t have as many wash and style choices, but you might just land on a few great pairs that fit without pinching. (Again, if waistband fit is the most challenging, buy pants that fit there and have them tailored elsewhere as needed.)

Also possible? Your underpants are too small

I’m a size 10/12 on the bottom. I generally buy XXL panties. In an ideal world, your underwear shouldn’t dig or subdivide either. This can be harder to make into a reality, I know, but be aware that your panty size and your pant size may not be the same. Again, ignore the numbers. Focus on fit. If you can find a style and size that fit to your curves without digging into your body, buy and wear those.

Are these universal truths with absolutely no exceptions? Of course not. Some bodies are shaped in such a way that waistband spillover will occur no matter the size or shape of the pants. If this is the case for you and if the spillover bugs you, there are other options: Look for bottoms made from softer materials or with softer waistbands that won’t dig as harshly, wear thicker or more structured outer layers with any pants that cause spilling, layer a snug but untucked tank or camisole between your top and pants. Also be aware that dresses and many skirts don’t cause these issues as often or as severely on many frames. (All of these work-arounds will work for most people, but I’d encourage you to try sizing up or changing pant style first if you think it might help.)

And, of course, if you experience muffin top no matter what you try, there is absolutely nothing “wrong” with you or your body. I mean it. Most of the clients I’ve worked with have been able to eliminate or lessen spilling by changing pant size or shape, but not all of them have. This phenomenon gets lots of negative attention because, in many cases, it can be avoided. But not in all cases, and no one ever seems to acknowledge that. If you can and want to experiment with fit and sizing to avoid muffin top, by all means do. If you’ve tried everything and it still happens, think of this advice like a tall woman reading tips for petites: It just doesn’t apply because that’s not how you’re shaped. End of story.

Furthermore, none of my figure flattery advice posts should be considered gospel, including this one, and I fully expect you to read them with a grain of salt. Style “rules” are merely guidelines, no matter who is dispensing them. I trust you to use your judgment. And I trust you to take what applies to you, discard the rest, and assume positive intent.

So. Are you someone who struggles with muffin top? Have you experimented with different sizes and rises? What’s working for you? If you are someone who gets waistband spillage no matter what, do you try to find workarounds? Any others to add?

P.S. Why does all figure-related jargon have to reference food? Eesh.

Images courtesy 6pm.

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