Misnomers a la mode

Misnomers a la mode

The first time I go shopping with new client, as a stylist, I like to shut up and let her talk. This way I can get a good understanding of her style philosophy (or lack there of) and her fashion misconceptions. It’s those fashion misconceptions or, as I like to call them, fashion misnomers, she divulges during her monologue that I find particularly intriguing. They have a major impact on what she thinks she’s “supposed” to wear on a given day or in a given season. While most of the fashion misnomers pervasive in popular culture produce a no-harm-no-foul wardrobe effect, like not wearing white after Labor Day, other misnomers support bad shopping and dressing decisions and thus have a hand in ultimately building a flawed wardrobe for the individual. So let me set the fashion record straight on a few fashion misnomers I have heard from my clients lately.

Misnomer No. 1: “I like skinny jeans. They make me look skinny.” Au contraire, mon ami. Skinny jeans flatter only a small percentage of the population like those who have “boy-ish” bodies; few womanly curves. For the rest of us the skinny jean’s low-rise and uber tapered leg cut magnify or exaggerate the “shapeliness” of our thighs, hips, waistline and rump. If you are on the curvy side and want to wear close-fitting jeans, consider the skinny’s slightly looser cut cousin, the slim jean.

Misnomer No. 2: “Cap-sleeved tops are super flattering.” Unfortunately, cap-sleeve tops are not the Promised Land for women with heavier arms. Given the option, many of my middle-aged clients would choose a cap sleeved T-shirt over a sleeveless tank of the same material for arm coverage reasons. However, the cap sleeve is bound to make their arms look heavier because the sleeve ends at the fullest part of their upper arms. Thus highlighting the arms’ girth. For a more flattering sleeve length, choose tops with a slim fit, half or three-quarter sleeve.

Misnomer No. 3: “I buy smaller-sized pants to look and feel smaller.” Wearing a smaller-size pant may give you bragging rights (I guess?) but its waistband will exacerbate your muffin top and make you feel like a stuffed sausage. On the contrary, and as in a bit of visual trickery, wearing a pant that is one size up from your real size will make you appear to have lost weight and feel smaller (and more comfortable).

Misnomer No. 4: ” I am very stylish. I wear all the trends.” Anyone can be trendy with the right amount of cash but this expenditure that does not necessarily make you stylish. Wearing too many trends at once creates a haphazard look while simply wearing trends for trend sake makes you a fashion victim. The starting point of a stylish look is beyond the acknowledgment and donning of trends. A stylish person understands how to use the current trends to her unique personal style advantage.

Misnomer No. 5: “Leggings are my ‘everywhere and everything’ pants.” Yes, it is true. Leggings are versatile but they also have their time, place, and usage requirements. For instance, leggings should never be worn to a job interview or night at the San Francisco Opera. Also, leggings look horrible with short-bodied tops (despite what Young Hollywood exhibits) or when their material is so sheer it’s a bit pornographic. Set some fashion parameters for your leggings and wear them mostly with your playful, casual ensembles.

Remember to err is human, to make fashion mistakes, well that’s a crime…

Originally featured in Pacific Sun 

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