The concept of ‘flattering’ clothes is problematic. What does it really mean to describe an item as flattering? It seems as though flattering is a concept that means what you are wearing is something that highlights parts of your body that are conventionally considered attractive – shorter skirt if you have ‘good’ legs, or a nipped in waist to give the illusion of an hourglass shaped figure.
Certainly, I’ve internalised this concept of flattering. I generally choose dresses and skirts with a defined waist and scoop or v neckline on top as these are styles that I think are flattering. I find it very difficult to choose an item of clothing that I think won’t flatter me – particularly so when I sew or make a garment. I want the time invested in the making process to be ‘worth it’, and I want to wear that garment for years to come.
On occasion, I am swayed by a gorgeous photo online, or a pattern launch and I decide to throw caution to the wine and make something that is objectively unflattering.
I recently made a Blaire Dress and a Blaire Shirt (a StyleArc pattern). No waist shaping, no negative ease over the bust, not a preferred neckline. I chose beautifully soft cotton lawn fabric for each version – Liberty tana lawn for the skirt. I did slightly alter the pattern before I made it (lengthened the shirt) but didn’t change any of the unflattering elements.
I wore the dress on our stopover in Kuala Lumpur on the way back from London to Melbourne, and it was incredibly comfortable in such humidity. I did feel different whilst wearing it – cognisant that it wasn’t something that another person would consider flattering on me, and I sought more reassurance from Geoff that I looked good while wearing it.
I’ve struggled to find ways of wearing the shirt – I feel that the curved hem is difficult as I don’t want to expose skin of my midriff. I left of the under layer because the print I chose is quite busy, and I didn’t want to create a heavy feeling in such lovely fabric.
Making and wearing conventionally unflattering garments has been a real challenge. I didn’t expect that I would feel different when I wore the garment. I think it’s a worthwhile issue to continue to explore – if a garment fills a hole in my closet, or is something I’d like to try, I’m going to give it a go – make it in nice fabric, try and wear it in different ways ad challenge myself to think differently.