By: Emily Yakashiro
Come this time of year, there is endless talk of new diets, exercise regimens, joining gyms, etc. Little of the talk I personally here is about creating a vision of health that suits you and your specific needs, and reflecting on old habits in a meaningful way that is gentle and constructive for yourself. Unsurprisingly, a lot of these insecurities foisted onto us by a misogynistic media and a sexist, fat-phobic society at large can bleed into our clothing choices. I say screw that–here are six body positive, slut-shaming free, and affordable style resolutions for 2014.
1. Remember that clothes are supposed to fit you, you are not supposed to fit your clothes.
Above: Love this romantic top by Youtheary Khmer–would look great with faux leather leggings or an emerald pencil skirt.
We all know that clothes are made to fit certain types of bodies by the fashion and garment-production industry at large. Vanity sizing exists, and different stories size things differently ( a size 8 at the Gap will likely be different from a size 8 at Forever 21, for instance). There is no regulating/governing body which makes shopping accessible and easy for all body types and shapes, sizes, and needs across different stores and labels. That means it’s up to us to figure out what works, which is frustrating, yes, but also not a reflection about what our bodies are, but what this industry thinks will work for the majority of the population. The fashion industry is not taking your shopping experience personally, and neither should you if stores are stupid and only make sizes 1-8 available.
Bottom line: find the clothes that fit you, and resist the negative messages that say it’s your body that doesn’t fit. If you want to exercise, go ahead, but know there are other ways to make your clothes fit: belts, tailoring your clothes, making your own clothes, shapewear, trying vintage clothing because fit is made for different bodies each decade etc.
BONUS: You know who is hilarious and has killer style? Lesley, who writes for xoJane on Fatshion. Check out her insanely funny (and practical) fatshion advice here and here to start.
DOUBLE BONUS: You know who has an amazing, accessible style column where everything from wigs for gals with alopecia, to cute handbags for folks with injured backs is up for discussion? That would be Rookie’s Damn Girl Ya Look Good column.
2. Lose the Labels
I’m not talking about the clothing brand, I’m talking about style labels like “preppy”, “hipster”, “conservative”, “slutty”, “bohemian”, etc. Such labels can be useful if you’re trying to redefine your style, but ultimately they put everyone into a box they usually don’t want to be in. It limits yourself and other people.
Above: Love those bright colours, love United Colors of Benetton ads–all with people of all backgrounds wearing whatever they want (or at least portraying this idea). This ad is from their Spring 2012 campaign.
I had a friend ask me the other day if Doc Marten boots are “too hipster” for her style, and she was literally so scared that I would say “yes” that she would consider returning them because “hipster” style was not for her. This made me really sad–again, putting people and objects into boxes hurts everyone. For me, Doc Marten boots are like black pumps or a peacoat: classic and super-practical. Docs (or a similar, durable, heavy-duty waterproof boot) are my #1 recommendation for people moving to Vancouver as they are well-made, sturdy, waterproof, and won’t fall apart (I’ve had my pair for 4 years and they don’t have any holes or need to be resoled yet)–perfect for our super-rainy weather. Whether they are “hipster” or not doesn’t even enter into the equation to my mind. Leaving labels behind takes off unnecessary limitations and allows room for growth and exploration, and that is what style is all about.
3. Check out the stuff by a local designer.
Whether you’re in Edmonton (Malorie Urbanovitch) or Charlottetown (Dreamboat Lucy), chances are there is a local or in-province designer whose designs you can check out. I’m not talking automatically buying their clothes as I understand that can be pricey or inaccessible, but just see what your community has to offer. It’s good to support local designers by at least knowing their name (you can recommend their line to someone who can afford it if it’s expensive) and giving their website a hit–a little goes a long way. Remember that a “fashion designer” doesn’t just mean someone who makes incredibly opulent couture, it can mean someone who designs jewelry or t-shirts. Plus, a little pride in local talent never hurt anyone!
BONUS: Check out our interview with Vancouver-based designer Lexi Soukoreff of Daub + Design, or our Holiday Gift Guide which also refers to many local designers and businesses.
4. Try on a trend
One thing that I always tell people when shopping with them is that clothes look different on you than they do on the rack. Hanging clothes on hangers or folding them up on tables just doesn’t do them justice a lot of the time–you can’t be sure that they will work for you or not unless you try them on. Curious about peplum tops, but think they would look terrible on you? Not sure if high-waisted trousers will work? Convinced you’d look stupid in a leopard-print mini? You won’t know until you try–that’s what changing rooms are for. There’s no harm in just trying something new on–you don’t have to buy it, and you can honestly see if it suits your taste.
5. Incorporate at least one new colour into your wardrobe.
Above: This blouse from Joe Fresh (found here) comes in this gorgeous tangerine, a red, light yellow, a pale lime green, and a lovely light blue. New colours in basic silhouettes are the easiest way to incorporate a new colour into your wardrobe.
Awash in a sea of neutrals? Boring! There’s a lot of research that suggests mood is tied to colours, why not boost your spirits with a bright colour? The colours you wear also naturally enhance whatever you’e got going on skin-tone wise. For example, I know that orange or salmon makes me look washed out (sadly–I love these colours!), but I look great in bright pink, it makes me look nice and glow-y, and it’s because of my skin tone.
If you’re not sure where to start, why not take a look at what “season” suits your skin tone and hair colour? You could also just head out and try on clothes of different colours. Fast fashion stores like Joe Fresh, the Gap, or Smart Set often have basic shirts in a variety of colours, grab one of each in your size and see which one makes you feel and look good.
Lastly, here’s a cheat sheet for choosing colours that will work well with what neutrals you already have going on in your wardrobe:
BLACK: Bright blues (turquoise, cobalt,) emerald green, yellows,
CAMEL + BEIGE: Purples (violet, lavender), fuchsia, bright pinks (bubblegum, carnation, etc)
GRAY: Sea-greens or mint, light pink, coral
BONUS: The StyleList Canada Style Council does a regular feature where the bloggers involved show readers who to tackle a new trend or colour from purple to pale blue to oxblood, and even pastels for winter. Their bloggers represent a variety of sizes, ethnic backgrounds, and are all Canadian, so you’re sure to find a look you want to emulate.
Above: See this adorable little charm bracelet? It is less than two dollars, would add a pop of neon fun to your outfit, and would give your outfit a little something extra. When I say “accessorize”, I don’t mean you need to dive in and wear a giant colourful bib necklace (unless you want to of course!)–it’s okay to start with something small and subtle.
I know I talk about this one a lot, but until I see people actually doing it more, I will not stop my accessorizing Evangelism! A new necklace, earrings, scarf, etc, is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to ease into a trend or wear a new colour. Think about the suggestion above–scared to try colour in your repertoire of grey and black? Get some cheap, fun earrings from an accessories store in a new colour and see how it goes, or throw a scarf on before you head out the door. It adds a little bit of colour if you’re nervous–you can remove a colourful necklace or scarf easier than you can a colourful shirt or pants. Accessories further take a nice outfit to a great, memorable outfit. Just think–when you compliment someone on their outfit, it’s usually because they’re wearing a new necklace or an interesting ring, right?