By Dr. Paula Bloom
I have two basic styles: All black and flowy bohemian. Black, of course, is “flattering.” Flowy can be “flattering.” It makes me wonder: how much do we confuse what we like to wear with what we think makes us look thinner?
As with many American women, my weight fluctuates. As I write this I’m 65 pounds slimmer than my top weight. I’ve been exercising and eating more healthfully. It feels really good. As I lose weight my options for clothing increase.
I’ve been wearing black since my angst-ridden teenage years. At 17, I once told my brother when he asked why I wear so much black, “It isn’t what I wear it’s who I am.” Now, at 38, I wonder if this is really true. Does clothing define who we are or does it just reflect it? Once in a while I venture out and wear color but for some reason, it never feels like me.
If I had never struggled with my weight, would I like black clothing so much? Am I conditioned to wear clothing that is flattering? Am I able to wear something fabulous even if it emphasizes the parts of my body I don’t like? Do I even allow myself to like styles that may not be slimming? As I lose weight and shop for smaller clothing these questions confront me.
People see clothing in different ways. For some, it’s strictly practical and very little thought goes in to deciding what to buy and wear. I really admire these people and for years wanted to be like that. In the back of my mind has always been this idea that to be a real grown-up, mature and spiritual meant to wear beige all the time (oh, and not care about wearing lipstick). For me, clothing and shoes are a way to express myself. I feel like getting dressed is a creative outlet. Of course, there are times where I walk around in workout clothing without makeup, wearing a headband or baseball cap. The truth is, that while wearing these sporty looks I feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. Is it vanity? Maybe. Is it okay to be vain? Hmmm…
As far as my shoes go, I recently ventured out of my comfort zone (as far as style goes, they are incredibly comfortable from a literal perspective!) and bought a pair of flats. I usually feel like flats are not as flattering because they don’t give me any extra height (which, of course elongates). Surprisingly, I am finding that my new Croc Sexi Flip Thong, in the bronze/expresso color are, like the name implies, quite sexy and flattering!
I’d love to hear from you: How much does covering parts of your body affect your style and taste? If you liked your body more, how would you dress? What keeps you from just dressing that way any way?