Hi, I'm Kristin. Like many of you, I have been told throughout my life that I can't wear certain things because they are "not flattering on me."
However, a weird thing I've noticed is that what's considered "flattering" tends to change, depending on who you ask or what's currently trendy:
Yeah, I'm confused, too. We're so worried about wearing unflattering clothing, but does everyone really agree on what "flattering" even means?
To find out, I decided to visit personal shoppers at five different stores and have them all assemble a few outfits for me, with one caveat -- all of the outfits MUST be, in their opinion, "flattering."
Here are the "flattering" outfits the personal shopper from Bloomingdale's picked out:
Gray Drape-Front Cardigan/Red Poncho + Black T-Shirt + Culottes
Look, I'm 5'3''. Cropped pants on me are just pants. But culottes are everywhere right now. So I guess it was only a matter of time before they got to me, like I'm a character whose legs got attacked and killed on the season finale of The Walking Dead Culottes.
The tops of both of these outfits are layering options that would look great on my mother, because she is 29 years older than me and lives in a climate where the mall Santa at Christmas doesn't wear sunglasses and surfer clothes.
Sleeveless Print Dress + Black Shrug
Green Sweater/Gray Hooded Sweater + Plus Midi Pencil Skirt
The purpose of this skirt was to "make me look slimmer and taller" -- and it did, in my opinion. (Though if that was the goal all along, then why pick out the cropped pants for me?) The problem was that I only looked "slimmer and taller" if I was also wearing a very bulky sweater. Which would be great if it wasn't going to be 10000 degrees in L.A. for the next two months. Stop trying to make August sweaters a thing, clothing stores. IT'S NOT GOING TO BE A THING.
Here are the "flattering" outfits the Macy's personal shopper picked out:
Cold Shoulder Top + Straight-Leg Pants
Sleeveless Fringe Top + Skinny Stretch Pants
Here are the "flattering" outfits the Nordstrom personal shopper picked out:
Green Anorak + Button-Down Shirt + Skinny Jeans/Boot-Cut Jeans
Skinny jeans were on the left, boot-cut jeans were on the right. When I asked about how these jeans were flattering, I was told that they were both "very slimming for my midsection." To be honest, what was most "slimming" about these outfits was that my midsection was covered. If I'm being REALLY honest, while the skinny jean looks like it fits a little better, they basically look exactly the same.
And anyway, both of these jeans were a nightmare to wear while sitting, so they both went in the no pile.
...and then told me that I was wearing the sweater backwards.
When I turned the sweater around, her face softened, she declared this to be very cute. Which...I don't know. Now I just feel like a package the stork might deliver.
Blue Handkerchief Dress + Nude Pumps
Here are the "flattering" outfits the ModCloth.com personal shopper picked out:
The outfit on the left is the only time anyone tried to put me in a tie-front top -- which was kind of shocking. I would have kept it, but it was a little too long on me.
The yellow shirt sort of makes me feel like a jelly bean with legs. It probably doesn't help that I FEEL like a jelly bean with legs, and it's coming through in my face.
The idea for both of these outfits, according to the stylist who picked these things, was to cinch in my waist. The outfit on the left is probably my all-around favorite of every outfit I tried on -- I plan on keeping it. The dress on the right was also good, and not in a fit I would have picked myself -- I thought for sure that it made my stomach look too lumpy from the side, although the person who took this picture did not agree with me. I have no idea what is real, guys.
Here are the "flattering" outfits the Saks Fifth Avenue personal shopper picked out:
Yeah, I'm just as shocked as you that I was put in horizontal stripes. I was told that the horizontal stripes worked even WITHOUT the slimming lines of the jacket. To be honest, I can't decide if I look like an adorable French girl detective or a Sexy Hamburglar.
Confession: I did not try these vests on in good faith, because they were not cheap -- the vest on the left costs more than the total rent on my apartment. BUT UGH THAT VEST WAS AMAZING. You get the idea: I believe the vests are supposed to my make my torso look like it isn't 6 inches tall and 20 feet wide.
High-Low Hem Jersey Dress/Belted Shift Dress
I normally HATE shapeless dresses like the one on the left -- best-case scenario, they just hang limply on me, like they don't want to be hanging out with me any more than I do with them. But I actually liked the dress on the left better than the belted, more waist-cinching option on the right. I loved the pockets, the high-low hem, and honestly, just the way it felt -- I bought it.
All in all, this was a bit of an eye-opening experience.
1. "Flattering" is at best a personal opinion, and at worst a sales tool aimed at getting you to buy things based on your insecurities -- often a combination of both. This is why women shopping for wedding dresses with seven of their family members makes great TV.
2. Flattering means something different to different people. I was put in literally every fall trend under the sun at least once -- it honestly depended on the person's taste and what they did or did not feel like I should be hiding or maximizing.
3. Because no one agrees about what "flattering" is...that means YOU'RE FREE. Professional and/or event-specific dress codes aside, you should never have to feel like a trend is "off limits" just because some hater told you so -- especially because when styles change in three to five years, that hater may very well change their mind!
The favorite all-around outfit was the ModCloth red top and black skirt. An earlier version of this post accidentally indicated it was a different outfit.