Do you like how you look?

posted in: Style advice | 4
Sign saying 60 per cent of adults are ashamed of the way they look
Neon sign in Selfridges window, Oxford St.

Some recent research has shown how most of us dislike how we look, leading in some more extreme cases to a number of serious mental health problems.

Yet our body and facial features are more or less givens, and all we can do is feel ashamed, or simply try to present what we have in the best possible way. Despite acres of print and digital media, TV and advertising suggesting, advising, selling, demanding and insulting, very few people seem to know how to improve the way they look.

It is worth a little effort – to make ourselves feel better about ourselves, so that others see us at our best, and to save us from wasting money while we chase impossible dreams.

A healthy body is very important. Or as healthy as you can be (accepting that we are all ageing and many have health issues). Eating food that we have made ourselves seems old fashioned but if we do this we are unlikely to seriously overeat. There is a reason why the recipe for Coke is secret! And we were made to be active – to walk, run, work and dance. Sewing and blogging, reading and seeing friends are also more enlightening, and less passive, that watching TV. Feeling good about your body is the foundation to feeling good about who you are – being fit prolongs your life, improves its quality and makes you happier and more attractive.

In addition to good health, there are three things we can focus when choosing what to wear.

  1. Clothes that suit us. This is not fashion, although we want to be stylish. Each of us needs to work out what our body is like and how to enhance our best features and disguise the less attractive bits. The human brain admires symmetry unconsciously and this is what we are aiming for. If your legs are relatively short you want to make them look longer. If your hips are big for your body you want to minimise them. Its a simple theory and something you can work out for yourself. The What Not to Wear books are pretty good; trial and error works to some extent; and honest feedback is ideal. We tend to pick up “looks” that we like – on others. I love to see long tight skinny jeans, or tiny skirts on girls with legs like arms. Very pretty, but not on me! Unfortunately most of us cannot help others because we tend to advise them as if they were us. Have you ever been shopping with your Mum or a friend who insists you would look “great” in something that is absolutely wrong for you?
    slim legged girl in green mini skirt
    Legs that look like arms
  2. Clothes that fit us. Basically this rules out clothes that are too small. Tight clothes make us look bigger, while the opposite is true. Sufficient ease in your clothes has the effect of making you look smaller. And it is considerably more comfortable. This allows us to avoid wearing clothes merely because they are “comfy” – leggings, loose t-shirts, trainers – outfits which do have a place, but it’s usually the gym. Modern stretch fabrics allow manufacturers to get away with murder as they “stretch to fit”(e.g. “comfort waistband”).
    Kim Kardashian in tight white mini dress
    Sorry love, it’s just too small
  3. Colours that flatter our natural colouring. By natural colouring I mean your eyes, skin, lips, and most importantly hair. Natural hair and eye colours are amazing – which is why it is a shame that as many as 50% of women change their hair colour hair with bleach and dye. This explains why many of us find choosing the right colours difficult – we are trying to match them to an artificial hair colour rather than our own natural colouring. Which, I think, is why most of us avoid colour altogether it by wearing a lot of neutrals – mainly black, grey, dark blue, (or beige if you are a pensioner!). With a bit of white, or occasional pastels. Other people, who love colour, go to the opposite extreme, buying colours that they like and finding they need lots of clothes because not everything “goes”with everything else. Like shape and fit there are some rules that can be adopted.
    Two older ladies playing dominos and drinking tea
    Beige. Don’t fade away!

Put together these three elements are all it takes to look great.

And these are the three reasons why I like making clothes. While the shops and the internet heave with choice, it is difficult to find something you really, really like, that you will enjoy wearing often.

If you find a dress you like it will invariably be too short. Or too baggy. Or with a silly collar. Or a cheap exposed zip. Wrong style.

Or you may find a pair of trousers in a good colour, and nice shape, but they just look terrible on because they don’t fit. Poor fit.

And to top it all it will only come in black. Or poo brown. Wrong shade.

Even if two elements work there is invariably a third that doesn’t, meaning buying the item is a complete waste of money.

Remember – don’t choose styles, shapes and colours that you like. Rather choose styles, shapes and colours that like you. 

This is where tailor-made clothing comes in. So long as you know what shapes suit your body, and what colours suit your colouring you will be able to make, or commission, outfits that are wearable and suit you. Clothes that help you look your very best.

4 Responses

  1. Cedi Frederick

    For years I wore clothes that were too big because I saw myself as too big! It’s taken my wife years to persuade me to go down a size or two. Strangely it was hard initially because it made me feel big (see how the mind works??), but as I’ve aged it’s got easier!

  2. Mum makes all her own clothings for all 3 reasons as you said. She also feels its cheaper to make her own. Her clothes last long time in reasonable quality. I have been trying to change her mind about her colour choices with little success. She has loss a bit of weight in reacent years, and been trying altered her too loose fit clothings into better fit. This is more labouring task than making new clothings. I think it will be useful to look at all 3 angles with mum – more holistic approach. Very helpful!

  3. I’m not always happy with how I look but I always try to improve and I never wish that I looked like anyone else, just a better me. Eating well and getting activity are the 2 best things we can do. Whenever I gain weight I wear tailored pants 1 size up. They will be a little baggy but not shapeless and they create a line that isn’t really there. I wear fitted items on my always thinner and fitter top half and this adds to the illusion! As I have gotten older I have embraced colors more than neutrals. The latter is too safe and not flattering for most skin types. But I still love the LBD!! It’s the Audrey Hepburn influence and it never gets old to me.

  4. […] I’ve also read some comments on terms like flattering and related discourse on what makes for “good fit” or clothes that suit people recently that give me food for thought. My […]

Leave a Reply