Those women who never grow out of the “gangly” stage can strongly identify with the above sentiment of Twiggy, uttered as she reflected upon her own famously thin frame. However, unlike Twiggy (who ultimately did develop a womanly figure), the rest of us probably don’t have stylists on hand to help navigate the waters of fashion, nor do most retail clothing associates know what works best for the super-thin (unless you are shopping on Rodeo Drive).
Shopping for clothing as an extreme ectomorph can be very frustrating, especially for the ladies. Pants are generally designed to accommodate hips that we don’t have. Ditto for lingerie and breasts. And shopping in the juniors’ section only works if you are short and desire to continue dressing like a child well into adulthood. Ahem.
Fashion magazines aren’t much help, either…unless you can afford the clothes the models are wearing on the catwalk. Advice columns for the general population will not feature any words of wisdom for the ultra-thin (sadly, if they did, they would probably experience terrible backlash from their readers).
So what’s a skinny gal to do? Turn to The Skinny for a little guidance! I have long wanted to address the topic of fashion because it is so difficult for skinny women to find information of this nature.
Let’s start by covering the ground rules:
(1) Never EVER waste your time in a store that simply does not make clothes for your body. In general, these clothiers cater to the American general public, which means all their pants will fall off of you and the shirts will be loose and baggy. In my experience, this includes Levis, The Gap, Banana Republic, and pretty much all department stores.
(2) Wear dresses and skirts as much as possible. Pants, and especially jeans, can drastically accentuate thinness. You’re either swimming in baggy pants or cursing the clinginess of jeans that leave nothing to the imagination regarding the size of your legs. Skirts and dresses are your savior in this dilemma. The right cut adds femininity, can make you look curvier in the hips, and only exposes as much leg as you desire. I find just above- or below-the-knee to be most flattering.
(3) Regarding pants/jeans: it is difficult, but not entirely impossible, to find a pair of pants that strikes the right balance. These will most likely be found at expensive clothing stores, but they are worth every dime. Avoid tapered ankles, and especially stretch and/or skinny jeans, which will make you look utterly ridiculous. Stick with slim fit (i.e., narrower hips) in straight leg or boot cut. I’ve had the most success with pants and jeans from Bebe, Fossil, Theory, and 7 For All Mankind.
(4) Yes, horizontal stripes really do make you look bigger. So wear them! Striped long sleeve tees and sweaters are particularly cute. Think Debra Morgan, who makes perfect use of the horizontally striped tee in almost every episode of Dexter season 7 (I’m really glad she’s out of the plaid phase).
(5) Layers are great for adding a little “weight” to your frame and for helping you keep warm or cool as needed in various environments.
(6) Unless you want to look like Ronald McDonald, steer clear of chunky and/or wide shoes. This can be difficult when sneaker shopping, but stay vigilant and you will succeed. Additionally, really high heels, aside from being terrible for your feet, will elongate your already non-existent calf muscles for a stork-like effect. Aim for a shorter heel or flats instead.
(7) Don’t be afraid to buy something that looks great on you but doesn’t fit quite right in a couple of areas — you can always have it tailored. This is especially straightforward for shirts that are loose around the neck, arms, or breast, but just about anything can be fixed if it’s not too extreme.
Wearing the right clothes for your frame can make an enormous difference in how others perceive your body, which can reduce unwelcome comments. And, as everyone knows, looking good = feeling good! I strongly encourage all people to make an effort to wear clothes that flatter their particular figure, and I hope that the above information is helpful for those super-thin women who, like me, have struggled to figure out what works for them and where to find it. Please feel free to add your own experiences in the comments section!
Future fashion-related posts will showcase specific ensemble ideas and clothing comparisons.