I Don't Give Two Shits About Dressing 'Skinny'

Marie Claire has a new book about “perfecting your style, flattering your body, and looking fabulous.” Cool! The title? Marie Claire: Dress Skinny. Oh. Hm. Thanks, but I’d rather not.

The mag has posted a brief ad/preview, which promises in-depth instruction on how to handle your most monstrous parts:

Just as Marie Claire editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider writes in her introduction to Marie Claire‘s new tome, Marie Claire: Dress Skinny (Running Press), everybody has those days: You wake up, pull something on, pull another something on, and curse your entire wardrobe because nothing works. Featuring hundreds of inspirational photographs and divided into chapters on how to flatter your bust, arms, abs, hips and legs, with additional style secrets on accessories and lingerie, Dress Skinny provides a handy guidebook on never having those feelings again.

Another way to banish those pesky insecurities would be to stop viewing the female body as a collection of “problem areas,” an enormous equation of hideousness to be solved with the right combination of hemlines and fabric types. Oh, and no more encouraging women to “dress skinny.” I get that naming books is hard, and it’s a catchy title. But come on. That paradigm is so outdated it’s peeling around the edges.

The irony is, Marie Claire has one of the better plus-size fashion columns in the ladymag business, thanks to their very wise recruitment of blogger Nicolette Mason. And, too, both this radio interview and Amazon’s peek at the inside copy suggest that the book does attempt to provide advice for a wide variety of bodies, with Nina Garcia’s introduction paying lip service to the idea that “it’s our imperfections that make us unique.” But slapping the imperative DRESS SKINNY on the cover really undermines that aim. You start talking about dressing skinny, and it hijacks the whole conversation.

Here’s the thing I’ve realized after years of living in a fat body and experimenting with sad black jersey ensembles: When you’re a certain size, there is no dressing skinny. Your body is your body and there’s nothing fabric can do to disguise it, rearrange it, shrink it. There are no magic tricks. That folderol about vertical stripes was never anything but bullshit. But this was actually a very liberating epiphany! Once I understood this, I discovered that enormous A-line skirts are my friend. Not because they make me look smaller. On the contrary—my favorite skirt makes me look like a battleship. When I breeze through a store, I take care not to knock off thigh-high merchandise. It amplifies the already substantial amount of space I occupy. But you know what? It looks fucking fantastic. And the fun of fashion isn’t looking skinny—it’s looking good.

Plus, their sample recommendations include culottes. Culottes! “Cuffed cutoffs ending just above the knee are ideal ‘shorts’ for ample thighs.” Sure, if you believe what you read in the Chico’s catalog.

Image via Marie Claire

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