In which I grudgingly accept that belts are not the devil
I'm taking a break from the Oscars and the fact that I'm doing so is TRULY a bummer. I love the Oscars! I love self-aggrandizing award shows with sparkles and tuxes! How disappointing. Actually, what's disappointing is that Seth Macfarlane looks like THAT, you know, Epitome Of Classy, but opens with one of the most cringe-worthy unfunny monologues ever. Or maybe I have the wrong sense of humor? Or NO sense of humor? That's probably it. (No. He's terrible. It's not me.)
But all these gowns are bringing to mind the lesson I learned this weekend about FASHION. (You: HAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!) But whatever, I am going to tell you about it anyway.
You know how everyone is belting everything? Or maybe they were six months ago and that's over now and I just haven't figured it out? I'm not sure. Either way, belts look terrible on me. Until this year I owned one single belt, one that looks somewhat like a car seatbelt, and I've had it since college and it's entire purpose in life is to keep my jeans from sagging. It's not for show, it's not cute. I did, last year sometime, buy a fabric belt off Etsy because I thought that on the few occasions my shirt rides up and my belt is exposed, I should have a cute one.
But then people started wearing belts as, you know, ACCESSORIES. Belting dresses, belting cardigans, belting absolutely everything and I was STYMIED. Completely. I thought the problem was that I didn't have a PROPER belt, so one day I spent a few bucks on a skinny-ish leopard print belt. One that is totally meant to be seen and isn't terribly effective at keeping up one's pants. But nooooo! It did NOT look good! I tried belting a too-big shift dress, a long cardigan, a dress with a cinched waist that I never wore BECAUSE it had a cinched waist - all terrible. Belts just HIGHLIGHTED my no waistedness. Made it OBVIOUS. The best I got that belt to look was over a fitted sweater dress, and maybe an inch or two above my natural waist. Not that I ever wore that out of the house, because 1) I was entirely too self-conscious and 2) when you wear a belt an inch or two above your natural waist it naturally sinks down and you spend all your time anxious about whether your belt is in the right place. BAH.
Friday, though, I was feeling sort of lame about myself. I've lost a few pounds on Weight Watchers and I feel like I'm on my way, but I haven't lost enough to look different. Still, I thought I'd do some retail therapy because that almost ALWAYS makes me feel better about ANYTHING and WHY NOT. I deserve to look cute! So before I went out I typed "RECTANGLE BODY SHAPE" into Google and Pinterest to get some ideas.
AAAAAAAND, 99% of those ideas were BELTED ideas. WHAT?
I have a Rectangle Body Shape. I have a pretty ill-defined waist. I am narrowest right at the bottom of my rib cage, but I'm not hour glassy and belts have ALWAYS made me look like I just tied a string around the middle of a sausage - busting out at both ends. I looked like this even at my thinnest. I think I looked BETTER, but dresses with cinched waists still looked terrible on me. But all the recommendations for this shape were to DEFINE THE WAIST! usually with a BELT! and NOOOOO.
Except, maybe I've been doing it wrong? So I went out Friday morning, baby in tow, and decided to pull a bunch of cinched waist and belted things off a rack and try them on and FIGURE IT OUT. I will now tell you what I learned.
Belts TOTALLY work for me IF:
- the garment is fitted and trim. If something is a little too big or meant to look blousy or voluminous, then NO. NO WAY. I look like a box on top of another box. Same goes for those shirts with banded bottoms.
- the waist is high enough. I realized that nearly all the cinched waists on all the cinched waist dresses fall too low. I don't need it so high that it's an empire waist, but almost everything I tried on hit me at my THICKEST point and that does nothing for me.
- a belt is INCLUDED. Things that don't include belts seem to require the belt hit the least flattering latitude on my body, while, say, fitted dresses that come WITH a belt have it fastened at a better spot.
I've always thought I look half decent in sheath dresses, which is weird because I HAVE NO WAIST. But after my shopping trip I realized that the dresses I own are CUT VERY WELL (for me, anyway) and make me look like I have a waist (or maybe they're cut to make me look a little curvier?) I don't know how it works. But two or three of those dresses have ties or belts and I look downright SKINNY in those. I came home with a close fitting jersey shirt dress (ANOTHER style I've never thought looks good on me, but again: CLOSE FITTING) with a tie belt and dudes, I look hot. I'm just saying. Retail therapy definitely worked for me on Friday.
The Rectangle Shape recommendations also say that peplum tops work for me, but I was not brave enough to try on one of THOSE. (And where would I wear my peplum top anyway? To Safeway?)
Other things I think I might accrue:
- Jackets. I'm not really a blazer sort of person, but I ordered this ponte knit black jacket thing, with buttons and a mandarin collar, and THAT makes me look like I have a waist. I should probably buy more fitted jackets than a millionth long shapeless cardigan
- Button down shirts that FIT. If they FIT they look SO GOOD. Unfortch they're usually super giant and saggy or fit everywhere except across the boobs where the button keeps popping open. I don't like the ones that look super work shirty, but I like the more feminine ones, or with more detail. IF THEY FIT.
- Empire waisted maxi dresses. I have one that I love, and this isn't so much the "definining the waist" factor as "accentuating what you've got" plus a maxi dress plus wedges makes me look TALL.
- BETTER BRAS. Dear God, someone please drag me to the Nordstrom fitting room lady already.