Myth: It’s your body, and therefore you can wear anything you want.
Truth: You can, but you won’t necessarily look good.
I’ve seen postings sometimes on my social media feed that say things like: “You can wear whatever you want. After all, it’s your body.” And as my readers can probably imagine, I don’t agree entirely.
From me, you get the truth.
The word “can” means that you are physically capable of doing something. (Note: this is one of our family’s favorite grammar pet peeves. Are you physically capable of doing something? Maybe, but if you have permission, then you may do it.) Of course, you can put anything you want on your body if you’re physically capable of doing so. But the real question is whether or not you will look good in it.
It’s important to remember the difference between self-deprecation versus knowing your limits. Self-deprecation is when you feel you’re not good at anything. Knowing your limits is when you know you’re not good at certain things because you’re only human and no one is good at everything, but you are good at other things. For example, I’m not an athlete and I’m not good at most sports, but that’s okay because I am good at other things. This same idea can be applied to clothes and dressing well. Certain items will not flatter your unique body type, but that’s okay because there are plenty of items that will flatter.
One of my readers suggested that since I always emphasize that clothes and accessories need to be flattering, I should give a better idea of what “flattering” means. Here goes: The word “flattering” means that the item plays up a part of you that you like and also plays down what you don’t like. A flattering item makes you appear taller, slimmer, and healthier by playing up your best features without playing up anything else.
For example, let’s say you have a large derriere. There’s nothing wrong with having one, but if you play it up the wrong way, it’s not going to look good. A fitted A-line skirt in a solid color would play up the “feminine” frame and keep everything balanced. A big, wide, loose skirt would play up the “bottom-heavy” frame. And if that skirt has a bold print it would play up the “heavy” part even more. However, if you went with that solid A-line skirt and wore the print on top (as in a scarf or underpinning), you would not only get a feminine frame, but the print would draw attention away from your bottom half and up toward your face.
For another example, let’s say your neck is short and/or thick. There’s nothing wrong with that either. I have a short-ish neck myself. Yes, you can wear a turtleneck top or a choker necklace if you’re physically capable of putting those things on yourself. But considering that these things both eat up what little neck you may have and take away an important vertical line on the body, be aware that you will not look good in them.
I’ve never met a woman who doesn’t appreciate it when she looks her best. So why would you want to wear something that doesn’t make you look your best? Yes, you can do it, but why would you want to do that?
Some women will answer that “if you wear it with confidence, you can look good in anything.” Again, I don’t agree entirely. If an item is unflattering, no amount of confidence will make it flattering. And if the overall look is noticeably inappropriate for the context, no amount of confidence will make it appropriate.
Confidence can help if you’re wearing something that’s flattering and appropriate but not conventional. For example, you’re at an event where most women are dressed conservatively and wearing dark neutrals, but you’re wearing a bright color that flatters you. Or you’re married and you cover your hair and you’re at an event where most women are wearing hair but you’re wearing an elegant hat or dramatic headwrap. These are areas in which confidence will serve you well. I have often advised my headwrapping friends to hold their heads high and love how great they look.
Of course you can wear anything you’re capable of putting onto your body. But if you want to look good you need to steer clear of anything unflattering and stick with what works well for you. Remember that you deserve to look good, so why not just stick with that?
Meira E. Schneider-Atik is a wardrobe organizer, personal shopper, jewelry designer, and fashion writer/blogger and speaker. She helps women look great while saving time, effort, and money, all within tznius guidelines, and she’ll add to that with custom-designed jewelry. Read more about her ideas on her blog- www.truetzniutistruebeauty.wordpress.com. She also has a YouTube channel, “Look Your Best in Mitpachot,” where she does head-wrapping tutorials, and she is also available for private demonstrations. She can be reached at (718) 644-6135 or at MESAtik@gmail.com.