5 Styling Tips to Help You Embrace Your Body Shape and Size

5 Styling Tips to Help You Embrace Your Body Shape and Size

Posted by No Nonsense on Dec 9th 2021

Whether the magazines tell you you’re plus-size or petite, apple-shaped or pear-shaped or whatever else, here’s the bottom line: everyone is built differently. This is a truth the fashion world often actively works to obscure, as dominant culture and media still largely uplift a single “ideal” female body. Looking up ways to dress for your body type, for instance, will often flood you with a lot of (frankly long-outdated) advice about “flattering” versus “unflattering” clothing, looking slimmer, or playing up your curves. We’re told so often to hide supposedly unsightly parts of our bodies—like our cellulite, scars, or wrinkles—and only show off parts that are deemed attractive by societal standards. In these conditions, dressing yourself in ways that celebrate your body’s unique size, shape, and features can be seen as a radical act.

It's about time we all moved on from dressing to just “flatter our figures,” which can sometimes be used by advertisers as a code for wearing only what’s considered socially acceptable for one’s body type. It’s 2021; there’s no real reason that big girls can’t rock crop tops, petite girls can’t wear maxi dresses, older women no longer look good in short shorts, and so on. Some of us, though, may find we need a little help putting this fresh new mindset into practice. If you’d like some insight on reframing your styling and shopping approaches to be more body-positive, look no further than this list of No nonsense tips.

Know Your Fabrics

When planning an outfit or shopping for new pieces, it’s important to have a clear sense of what you need in order to feel comfortable and therefore look your best. This can mean, for starters, familiarizing yourself with the materials your clothing is made of. Research how different fabrics stretch, how they breathe, whether they cling or flow, and think about how you would wear them. If you’re prone to sweating, for instance, a pair of cotton leggings is likely to feel more comfortable than other common, less breathable fabrics like polyester. If you have broad shoulders or large arms, you’ll want to make sure any long-sleeved tops you buy have some stretch to them to accommodate those areas comfortably.

Consider Cut

Having some knowledge of the different ways clothing is cut will likely be a big help when it comes to finding clothes that suit your body. After all, though you can certainly wear whatever you want, it’s highly unlikely you’ll look or feel good in clothes that don’t fit. For example, if you’re particularly top- or bottom-heavy, finding one-piece ensembles like rompers, jumpsuits, or straight-cut dresses that fit you comfortably may be challenging. Because your body needs two different sizes, a piece that fits you comfortably up top might be too loose on the bottom, or vice versa. Most of the time, you’ll probably be better served by buying separates you can mix and match.

Take Your Measurements

Online shopping may be fun and extremely convenient, but there’s no easy way to tell how well an item of clothing will fit you if you can’t physically try it on. To help address this, most brands will list a garment’s measurements on the item’s page or provide a general size chart to help online shoppers better imagine the fit. Rather than eyeballing online purchases based on what size you usually wear, it’s a good idea to have your measurements on hand when online shopping. These more exact figures will always give you a better idea of the size you need for any garment.

Pay Attention to Fit, Not Size

Size charts are not standardized across different brands. In fact, many brands deliberately skew their sizes small, a practice commonly called vanity sizing. Brands that cater primarily to different parts of the world—say, European or Asian retailers versus North American ones—will also tend to size their clothes differently from one another. Considering this, don’t feel bound to your “usual size,” as clothes in that size are probably not going to fit you well 100% of the time between different stores. You may even see some size variation between styles of clothing from the same store. So, when you’re out shopping, don’t hesitate to try an item in a size up or down (or even two) from your usual. Feel free to experiment and compare sizes until you find the most comfortable fit for you.

Get Creative with Your Clothes

Want to really, really own your style? Try to broaden your idea of how a garment might be worn beyond just what you see on the model, mannequin, or rack. For example, a supposedly body-hugging short-sleeved tee can totally be worn oversized on your smaller frame if that’s what you prefer. Don’t be afraid to tear seams, cut off sleeves, or alter necklines to achieve a fit and a silhouette that’s truly, uniquely yours.

The act of styling yourself, before all else, should be a celebration of the body you have—an affirmation that your unique beauty can’t be replaced or replicated by anyone else. Hence, there’s no better time than now to embrace the freedom to wear whatever you want, however you want. If you’re having fun, breaking rules, and dressing for yourself first and foremost, you’ll never look anything less than your best.