Sophisticated business style for a slim figure… Professional office looks in small sizes brim with style
I would like fashion advice on styles and places to shop for professional looking clothing for a small frame. I am 25 years old and 5’6″ tall with a well-proportioned, size 2 hourglass figure that’s a tad larger on top. My problem is finding fashionable office appropriate looks in small sizes.
The Juniors department usually carries small sizes but often the styles are unsuitable for the office and not cut for a more mature, shapely figure. The Misses department rarely carries anything below a size 4 or 6. I don’t want to look like a “teeny bopper” nor do I want to look “old & frumpy”. What should I look for when I want to appear stylish at work? (Hot Springs, AR)
Stylish and sophisticated fashion that’s office appropriate:
The first thing you need to do is broaden your shopping horizons. These days, almost all designer and fashion forward labels start in size 0 or 2. Typically, clothing that starts out larger is geared for a more mature, fuller figure. Junior styles are designed for a youthful, student’s figure and are more casual to suit a younger lifestyle. European clothing is usually cut slimmer than its American equivalent and may be an easier fit for you; particularly Italian labels. Matronly clothing doesn’t suit anyone.
Unfortunately in our numerically challenged world, all sizes are not created equally. Many American brands are guilty of vanity sizing– the polar opposite of super-sizing our fast food portions. A larger garment is labeled with a smaller size to supposedly make the consumer feel better about herself… so much for realistic body acceptance! If you are a small size to begin with, vanity sizing can find you dropping off the charts. I recently tried on an average-priced brand name skirt which fit me fine in what would be 2-3 sizes smaller than what I usually wear in its designer counterpart– thankfully it was after lunch because at that rate of size skimming, I could have been wearing a negative number! It’s pretty ridiculous and proof that you need to go by what fits you and not by the size on the tag.
Every line is cut around a fit model’s proportions that best represent the customer that they are after. Make the effort to find a designer or a line that is scaled for your shape and go with it for your core wardrobe—you’ll be far less frustrated shopping and have more energy to pick up those cute little extras that add pizzazz to your personal style.
Discover the styles that suit a slim frame and are also office appropriate. When you’re small-boned, you need to be careful not to overpower your figure with clothing that is far too generously designed and opt for clean silhouettes that are in proportion with your frame. The new slim leg pants or pencil skirts are perfect for your figure and are a great base for shaped jackets that fit perfectly across your shoulders. Stay away from oversized prints and opt for tweeds or delicate patterns that compliment your frame.
Layering is also very hot this fall. Simply adding a shorter sweater over a knit tunic to create a modern take on the twin sweater set or a vest with your shirts creates depth and interest while still not overwhelming your small frame. Create more substance by combining darker subdued colors rather jarring, obvious color combinations. Look for details that show off your figure in a way that’s suitable for the office, like a jersey wrap dress with a bit a volume in the skirt to complement your fuller top. Be careful to not bury yourself in an oversized handbag and wear a medium-sized bag that’s more in proportion to your figure.
Every time you feel frustrated shopping, just think of those wishing they had your problem. Always dress confidently and proportionately for the shape that you are in, whatever your size.
–August 14, 2006
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