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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Knee high Gladiator Sandals for Wide Calves

boohoo plus maya longline drape top, michael hors sutton large bag, breckelle's gladiator shoes, forever 21 plus shorts
boohoo plus maya longline drape top, michael hors sutton large bag, breckelle's gladiator shoes, forever 21 plus shorts breckelle's gladiator shoesTop- Boohoo Plus

Shorts- Forever 21 Plus

Shoes- Amazon, also available here 

I have been searching for knee high gladiator sandals for years, I could never find a pair that would zip up over my calves so I thought lace ups would be a better option. I’m glad I took a chance on these sandals, they were quite affordable so it wouldn’t hurt as much if they didn’t fit me. I know they look weird in the photos above, that’s because I just got them in the mail and immediately threw them on. Once I calmed down, I tightened up the laces the next day and they fit like a glove. My impatience to wear new stuff sometimes kills my common sense, haha! They’re adjustable and fit quite snugly around my curvy calves, and I think you can always buy ribbon or longer laces to customize them to your size.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for

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