One of the first style rules every woman learns is how to hide our so-called imperfections. Which leaves us thinking that if we don’t have Michelle Obama arms, washboard abs and perfectly round bums, we shouldn’t go sleeveless or wear anything too clingy. This is the rule that held me back for years; today, it’s the rule I get the most pleasure out of breaking.
Last summer, a friend of mine arrived at a party wearing a body-hugging skirt that showed off her curves. She looked stunning in it and I told her so. She encouraged me to get one myself. So I ordered a similar skirt online and as soon as it arrived, I tried it on. When I looked in the mirror, though, my heart sank. It clearly showed my VBO (visible belly outline). “Oh, well,” said the voice in my head. “Send it back.” Instead, I ignored the voice and put on my favourite top, then looked in the mirror again. Yep, the outline of my belly was still totally visible—but I loved the outfit anyway. At that moment, it hit me: If I could wear a bikini on a public beach and rock a crop top at a concert, why shouldn’t I wear a skirt that shows the outline of my tummy?
We’re conditioned to think that the ideal plus-size body is a perfect hourglass shape, despite the reality that most of us don’t naturally possess those angles. As my favourite author Jes Baker (a.k.a. The Militant Baker) writes: “The lack of visible and sexy VBOs (plus the abundance of super flat sexy torsos in every ad ever) has us convinced that a belly outline isn’t allowed to make an appearance in our world.”
But if I feel good about my stomach in this skirt, why should I care what anyone thinks?
Here’s my call to action. I know that breaking out of your comfort zone can be scary, and I’m not asking you to walk around in something you’re not happy in. I’m just asking you to try on that cute little black dress without listening to the voice in your head that whispers, “That won’t look good on you…” Because sometimes that voice is totally wrong and you might be surprised by how good you feel.
Start by trying on a fit-and-flare dress that’s more fitted around the torso and flows out around the waist. If you feel good in that, try a body-con cut—they’re almost universally flattering. At the end of the day, it’s really about wearing what makes you feel good. As for my own story, I wore that skirt on my birthday and when I look back on the photos, I look glowing and happy. And pretty damn hot.
6 fab dresses (and one totally cool skirt) to show off your curves
Get Chatelaine in your inbox!
Our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers. Delivered every weekday morning.