Friday, March 2, 2012

Own your Body!

The first thing that we need to know before being able to dress ourselves appropriately is our body.  Once we understand our shape we can know what to highlight as well as what to hide.  I took so many little surveys growing up and read so many articles to try and figure out what “shape” I was.  Evidently I am an apple, carrot, triangle, grape (okay, I made up the grape part but you get what I mean;).  We can’t put ourselves into a box. Nobody has the exact same body as someone else, though they may be similar.  We need to figure out what makes ours different.

We each only have one body to dress (unless you have kids, in which case they are super easy cause they look cute in EVERYTHING).   So it’s not too hard to analyze ourselves, we just need to take the time out to do it.  It has taken me years to finally put down the articles and look at myself in the mirror, then apply the rules. 
So let’s take a look at my body, yep, I have no shame if it helps my readers to start their process than I am happy to help.

First off, I am almost completely straight up and down, not a lot of curve (this doesn’t mean I am tiny however, just straight) bust-36’’, waist-31’’, hips-38’’, see what I mean? 
My rib cage is HUGE!  My ribs sit at 34.5’’.  And on a gross note, I have always been able to stick my hand under them.  I am a common insult: “big boned”. Really though, I am.  I am not a skinny minnie by any means but my bones still stick out everywhere and makeup a lot of my mass.  This largeness in my ribs doesn’t stop at the front of me but goes all the way to the back.  Therefore I have to watch for the hunchback effect when I get clothes (I never get anything that adds bulk there and have to be careful with things like turtlenecks or appliqués because they can highlight that area).

I have zero hips, in fact I’m pretty sure I indent at the spot where my hips should be.
I must be related to Neville because I have a very long bottom (push up glasses on nose and snort).   The length from the smallest part of my waist to the end of my bottom is a long stretch. 
My torso is very short, and since most of it is taken up with ribs I have hardly any left to highlight and when I sit down my waist completely disappears! 
All of these are followed by small to medium sized arms, chicken thighs and actually some pretty decent calves (they’re my best feature). 

So what does all of this mean?  I’m not demeaning my body by any way in doing this. It’s good to recognize what you’re working with, but there is nothing wrong with having a body that is different.  The fact is that no one has the “ideal body.  What we do have is OUR BODIES that we need to own with confidence and knowledge.  As Stacy and Clinton from TLC’s “What Not to Wear” are always saying, “don’t dress for the body you want, dress the body you have” you will be much happier that way. 

So, now that you have evaluated your body it’s time to ask yourself, what shape do I want?

There are two shapes that a woman could want, curvy or straight.  One is more feminine and the other more trendy, I like to take turns with them myself.

When it comes to getting a curvy shape you need to highlight the smallest part of you.  This is going to be somewhere in you middle area.  Don’t put a “measuring tape” around the largest part of your torso if you are going for a curvy shape, it will make you appear larger.  For example I cannot personally ever wear an empire waist shirt or dress, (I used to, back before I knew better, and looking back at photos, I looked pregnant!) so I need to have my tops or dresses dart or gather in a little down from my rib area, but not too low or it hits my pooch (we all have one, I don’t care how small you are you don’t want to highlight it).  Now on the other hand if your smallest area is under your bust at your ribs than go for something that hugs bellow the bust, it will look lovely.  If you are small breasted and small around your entire rib cage area you can get away with shirts that tighten at the chest and flow down, just remember that it will border on giving you more of a straight frame.  Which brings me to my next point.  

If you are going for a straight frame than don’t feel wrong about highlighting those good parts of you with something tighter, just remember that the other part will need more flow.  For those of us who are larger on top, this can be done with a large sweater or slouchy tee topping a pair of cigarette or skinny pants.  For those with smaller portions on top, this is accomplished by wearing a tighter, figure hugging top paired with a straight leg trouser that flows away from the body. 

Keep in mind that there are times you can break the rules, but you need to try things on and be smart. Always give yourself a waist and make sure that you are never adding texture to areas with more bulk to begin with, this will only make you look ten times larger or grotesquely proportioned. 

In future posts I will give more detailed advice but until then get to know your body. It’s unlike anyone else’s and deserves your attention.  Knowing your style is only the second half of the battle.  The first is knowing what you’re dressing so you don’t end up looking like a clown.


  1. Wonderful! You should grab your friends with different body shapes and highlight ways to accentuate their shapes and put them to their best (aka, us!) Haha, anyway, we LOVED the Neville comment, tee hee. Totally share THAT ailment!

  2. Ashley you are so amazing! Seriously every time i see i think she always looks so nice why can't i do that. But really it is cause i don't put in the time! Seriously next time we get together you are going to have to help me out! I will even let you use it on here! Love you and you are great!

  3. I did not realize you are so stylish. But I haven't seen you in years, and a lot has changed. I have definitely turned more into a frumpy mom over time and I'm hating it lately. I need to do better. I'll take your posts into serious consideration as I figure all of that out.