In Which We Explore The Ridiculousness Of "Dressing For Your Shape"


There’s perhaps no fashion magazine feature as infuriating as “dressing for your shape,” as most designated shapes don’t really take a real woman’s body into consideration, but rely on dated and slightly offensive descriptions instead.

Take, for example, this Glamour feature from last year, which breaks women’s body types into these categories: Tall, Busty, Petite, Boyish, Plus-Size, and Pear-Shaped. Which is all well and good, I suppose, unless you happen to be a Pear-Shaped Busty Tall Woman looking for ideas on Plus-Size gowns, because the advice for each category is markedly different, which would lead many women to believe that there are only certain aspects of their bodies that are truly worth addressing, as opposed to concentrating on what fits and feels good.

Also, as someone who generally falls into the “oh, dear, puberty forgot to deliver your boobs” category, I think it would be nice if fashion magazines could stop referring to thin women without many curves as “boyish.” Femininity comes in many shapes and sizes, thanks, and Glamour’s advice only reinforces the fact that they feel that flat-chested women need to blow up their bust lines to achieve sexiness: “Don’t have voluptuous curves? Fake ‘em!” Ah yes, because nothing makes me feel more confident than putting in my fake temporary boobs in order to wear a dress.

Yet we here at Jezebel still want to provide a general set of guidelines for women who seek some guidance when it comes to “dressing for your shape.” And so we’ve compiled a list, so that you’ll never accidentally put a “boyish” frock on your “busty” frame again. Heaven forbid!

Snork: If you are shaped like a Snork, we highly recommend this casual ensemble. Not only will you be dressed to thrill, but the matching bows on the side of your head will take the attention off of the giant strawlike appendage you use for breathing. Because breathing is so 2008!

Moomin: If you are shaped like a Moomin, we recommend this hot top hat and cane action. Because nobody will notice that you’re naked if you accessorize well. Bonus points if the hat has magical powers: magic is the key word of the season.

Lisa Frank Unicorn: If you are shaped like a Lisa Frank unicorn, we suggest you add a little color to your wardrobe. The brighter, the better: keeping a rainbow of starry goodness on you at all times will distract your friends from the glitter that always seems to be flying out of your butt. Awk-ward!

Stegosaurus: Ouch! Those back spikes can be tough to hide. We suggest extinction. Seriously. Nobody is going to want to date you if you keep accidentally goring everyone you meet. But if you must stay around, perhaps you should consider breast implants to accent your “dinosaurish” figure.

Mooninite: Sorry, but neon is on its way out. Perhaps a better way to play up your cube-like figure would be to try some hot heels or a wrap dress. You might even want to invest in a good bag to carry your often-unwieldy quad laser.

The sad thing is, it’s easy to make fun of this set-up because it’s so ubiquitous; I guarantee you there are shape-based dressing guides being written this minute, perpetuating this weird idea that women’s bodies need to fall into one category, or that one aspect of their bodies should be played up or covered up, depending on what society believes is beautiful at that moment. Perhaps instead of continuing to place women into predetermined boxes, we should encourage them to embrace their shape, instead of finding ways to play it down, and to wear clothing that feels as good as it looks.

But what do I know? I’m just a “boyish” woman. Let me go stuff my bra and I’ll get back to you with some super womanly advice.

Dress For Your Shape: Cocktail Dresses [Glamour]

Earlier: April Vogue Loves Your Body, Especially If It’s Wrapped In Balenciaga

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