21. Dear Gabby: What is “Flattering,” anyway?—Help!

Dear Gabby,

I was so proud! I finally finished my very first linen boxy tee, the kind everyone is wearing these days, and posted some pictures. I then got a comment saying I should have made something form-fitting instead, because it would be more flattering if I defined my waist, and make me look less dumpy. Dumpy!?!? I love this tee, and I feel crushed 🙁 How can I answer naysayers and let them know that I’m happy in my body, and I will wear what I want, when I want?!

Defiantly Dumpy

Dear Defiant,

It sounds like you’ve answered your own question! How infinitely rude—for sure, block them, or at the very least, give them a good “How dare you!!!” 🤬

There has been a lot of chatter these days regarding feedback, solicited and non-solicited, and I think it’s certainly appropriate to tell people “Thanks But No Thanks!” Especially if it’s body-shaming—that is never acceptable, whether it’s Dear Old Aunt Mamie Who Means Well, or Internet Rando.

You should always feel like you can wear whatever makes you happy and comfortable! In fact, I made a video because I want to talk a little bit more about this, and why I think “flattering” is a lazy word.

In the video above, I also talk about “proportion.” Some would argue that this is something that only a designer should worry about, and it’s not a real fit issue. I would like to posit that proportion depends on the shape and height of each individual wearer, therefore it is definitely a fit issue. The size and shape of style elements greatly affect how a garment looks on you, and how you feel wearing it. (And can be a huge reason people feel like they need to tell you if something is flattering—whether or not they know how to identify it).

Proportion is a big deal when it not only when it comes to design and style, but to your personal fit. Oftentimes, if you see something you don’t like visually, but can’t identify any of the usual culprits (shade, texture, draglines), it could be the proportion that you don’t like. OF COURSE you shouldn’t mess around with proportion only to make things more “flattering” or to please others—but this is a tool (akin to identifying your color palette) that can help make you feel happy with the visual appeal of your end garment.

Which brings me to: a short list of some of my favorite people who are always playing around with design and proportion! These people, brands, and blogs serve lewks on the regular, and also have important messages and points of view that aren’t defined by someone’s well-meaning Aunt telling you you need to show off your décolletage. Whenever I’m feeling stymied by a project for whatever reason, it definitely helps me to look at the awesome things other people are up to, and let those shake up my thoughts. I love seeing all kinds of different design perspectives, proportion and color play, and innovative silhouettes. A full bust adjustment will always be only a full bust adjustment, but sometimes a dash of flare is what’s needed to really elevate a garment and make you excited to wear it. Check out the gallery below for fabulous fashions and people who wear what they want, when they want to, regardless of if they’re “supposed” to, or not.

Please note that the below list is not an official Sewcialists endorsement of any of the below designers/businesses/people—this is simply a sampling of my own personal inspiration feed 🙂

How about you, dear readers? What makes you feel the most confident in your clothes? Who do you follow for style inspo? What tricks do you use when you are stuck on a style?

How to submit:

Email gabby@starislandxo.com.

Send an explanation of your problem with a short video or set of photos, and your contact information. This can be purely for fit advice, sewing and technique questions, or really, any kind of sewing etiquette! Your submission will be edited into a blog post, so please note that by sending an email, you are granting permission for your video/photos and sewing problem to be shared online. You are helping the community see all-bodied individuals! There is no shame or judgment — the end goal is to help you make clothing that feels great and that helps you feel the same way while wearing it.

See more here.

xo gabby

Gabby is a technical fashion designer, fit specialist, and prolific googler. She lives in Denver, raises tiny littles, reads, embroiders, makes, experiments, fails, learns, tries again. See her on instagram @ladygrift.