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No, This Doesn’t Make You Look Fat

Maria Doll is a wife and mother to two teenagers. She is an image consultant.

Wandering down the check-out counter to pay for groceries, it’s very difficult to dodge the various magazines that try to grab our attention. Whether it’s the latest way to get a six-pack in 6 weeks or the latest marital squabbles in the celebrity world, they’re all trying to sell a product. Included in these are fashion magazines, of course. The first reaction is to dismiss these as vain and mindless, even immoral, with the risqué advertising and articles. You’d be quite right in thinking like this.

But is all fashion bad? Is being concerned with what we wear vain or capricious? I say no, provided we have the correct ideas in mind. First of all, ever since Adam and Eve, we’ve needed to wear clothes to cover up and to provide protection from the elements. Clothing that is functional is called form. It’s the human desire to change things that transforms form into fashion. From the female perspective, fashion should serve us, not the other way round. We have inherent dignity as women. Our bodies are not on display. And the clothes we wear must communicate this empowering statement. We are striving for elegance.

Fashion has evolved over many centuries. Today, designers want to sell their lines. The industry has become much more bottom-up-oriented meaning that we, the consumers, have power with the designers. If we don’t like what they’re selling, then we won’t buy. Unfortunately, a walk through any suburban mall lets you know that the opposite is the case. We have many fashionistas both young and old following every fashion fad or trend whether suitable or not. A famous designer, Donna Karan, once said that if you’re dressed from head to toe in nothing but designer clothing, you have no style…ouch! If that’s not the goal of fashion, what is?

Now, you may be thinking that you don’t care about the clothing you wear. Just grab the sweat pants and top it off with the faded “I ran the Betty run for ALS” t-shirt from the closet. You are making a fashion statement that you don’t care. I say you should care about what you wear and the message that is conveyed. And if you have daughters, it becomes even more critical. Ask yourself this one question. “Did I dress like this when I was dating my husband?”. If the answer is NO, then don’t wear it now as the woman he married. This is essential if you are a stay-at-home mom. Your work in the home should have a professional flare. People make judgments about others all the time. We all do it. And that sloppy outfit says that stay-at-home moms are not doing the most important work in society.

Dressing well means taking care of our appearance out of charity for those we love. Our children feel proud when we come to school and their friends see us. We can help our growing teen daughters dress with more modesty - but for heaven’s sake, don’t tell them that. Just advise them that the focal point of what they wear is the face specifically the eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul. If we fail to care about how we dress, our girls will take the advice dished out in teen magazines. That advice will be detrimental to them. They won’t be told that they have inherent dignity as young women and that their bodies are not on display for public viewing.

The goal of fashion is developing your own personal style with elegance. You may feel overwhelmed about the whole fashion industry, in general. That’s legitimate. Realize that fashion should work for you, not the other way round. If your tendency is to be natural and casual in dress, try not to wear t-shirts with wording on it. Remember the focal point of clothing is the face, not what’s written across your chest. Exchange the flip-flops or runners with a pair of comfortable loafers or mules. If make-up is out of the question, try some black mascara & clear lip gloss. Are you getting the message??? It doesn’t have to be a time-consuming venture.

If you are a mom who has decided to return from the full-time career to full-time mothering, your wardrobe doesn’t need to be replaced. Keep some of those items that can transition from business to personal casual. Maintain that high sense of professionalism to your new career change. When visiting colleagues at work with your baby, they will be impressed that you haven’t changed that much in your attitude or dress.

How do we achieve the goal of dressing with elegance? Remember that Body Type, Fashion Personality, Color Palette are the three elements of style. First of all, we all have a basic body type whether our size is 2 or 22. Dieting has no real effect, actually. The four main body types are Pear, Box, Heart and Hour Glass. A simple math computation will determine this. Once you know your body type, an understanding of the basic line and proportion of garments helps in knowing the most flattering styles of jackets, pants, skirts, tops, coats, etc.

Fashion personality may seem a little odd. But consider that gift of a black chunky necklace that never gets worn. Ever wonder why? It’s usually because you don’t feel right in it. That’s your fashion personality coming through. Not only should clothing fit our body type but it should also reflect us. The four main personality types are Natural, Classic, Romantic and Dramatic.

Color Palette is very important. The under-tone of our skin is either warm or cool. This means that the fabric color worn next to the face should be opposite to the under-tone of the skin. To illustrate, a woman with a warm under-tone has yellow in her complexion. If she wears colors with a cool under-tone (blue), it will off-set the yellow in her skin and allow a healthy glow to appear. Think about those colors you have worn that received rave reviews from people. That’s the magic of color and what it can do for you.

So with this information, you will no longer be a fashion victim. You will no longer spend money on clothing that never gets worn. You will not be tempted to buy something that is not of your body type or color palette. You will save money and look fabulous.