It’s the number one rule amongst online stylists and the backbone of every "listicle" that wants to sell you things that are currently on display at Nordstrom Rack…. Dress for your body type. On its face, it’s body-positive and uplifting. The reason you don’t feel your best is because you don’t look your best and the reason you don’t look your best is that you aren’t focusing on your best assets. But if you squint your eye and tilt your head to the left… Isn’t that offensive?
If your body parts can be ranked doesn’t that mean that there is some gold standard that they are being compared to? Is the whole notion of “dressing for your body type” just another way to shove westernized beauty standards down our throats? I think so.
Think about it! If you’re a woman of a certain size, you may be told to wear larger prints to proportionally reduce the appearance of your frame. Or to pair your ensemble with a contrasting - usually high waisted - belt to “define” your waist. My favorite, however, is to wear clothes that “fit”. All coded ways of saying look smaller, hide the parts of your body that don’t fit the standard of beauty we’re going for and fake this shape. What if you don’t want an hourglass waistline? What if you don’t mind looking bigger? What if your love handles and your cellulite and all the other things that are center stage when your clothes are tighter, thinner and brighter just don’t bother you. Or, more radically, make you feel beautiful. Is that not your body type?
In not so laymen’s terms… it’s sartorial relativism. Your body type is directly correlated to what efforts it takes to make your body different. But hey, here’s a radical idea… what if you dressed for the body you actually have rather than the body the fashion industry is asking you to portray - whatever that means for you. If you’ve got a big nose, then avoid the contour and only take side profile pictures. And if big lips don’t bother you, then, by all means, use lip plumper and wear hot pink lipstick. The point is, your “type” is as fluid or as restrictive as you’d like.
In an effort of satanic advocacy, one could argue that the message behind “dressing your body type” isn’t anti-flaw but pro-asset. For instance, yes you have short legs but you have big breasts so wear a push-up bra and a low cut shirt. Or in terms of beauty, you have short hair so wear big earrings. And while some may pretend to see addition as they subtract from your ego and multiply your fears, the majority of the conversation is about faking perfection. A state of being that you are simultaneously born into and will never reach. So take the minority stance and dress your body type by simply getting dressed. Cut off your short legs with the cutest ankle boots you can find and walk down the street knowing you’re wearing the best thing for your frame… authenticity.