Five Ways to Avoid the Frump

BlogHer Original Post

I believe that frumpy is relative. I also believe that - like old age - it's a state of mind. A woman who feels confident and joyous in what she's wearing can hardly ever come off as a frump. A woman who loves her body and expresses it through dressing can wear traditionally dowdy attire and look like a million bucks. It's a fact.

That said, I do get questions about how to avoid The Frump, and I have a few general guidelines that can help the unsure steer clear of garments, combinations, and outfits that may work against her style goals and unique figure.

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1. Wear clothing that fits to your body

Now, hear me out, friends. This doesn't mean you must wear skinny jeans and figure-hugging tank tops every day of the year. Or ever, really. What it means is that looking frumpy implies a lack of body knowledge, and that often goes hand in hand with deploying oversized or ill-fitting garments. Wearing clothing that follows the contours of your body, acknowledges its shape, and fits properly will help you look chic and stylish. Understanding how clothing interacts with your body and seeking garments that flatter your body most definitely help to mitigate The Frump. (For a quick review of what makes clothing flattering, check out this post.)

2. Mind your hems

What this REALLY means is mind your proportions. A blouse that is too short or too long to work with your specific torso will look frumpy and off. A dress that hits you at a point on your legs that makes them look too long or short will work against you. As is the case with clothing that fits to your body, clothing that makes the most of your proportions will show that you understand your figure. And accept it. And celebrate it. Naturally, there's nothing wrong with cropped shirts or mid-calf skirts - both of which will fight against the traditionally balanced female figure. Nor must you conform to this traditionally balanced figure at all times. Simply be aware of how hemlines and garment lengths affect your proportions, and make your decisions from there.

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3. Keep cuts current

Do you remember what heels looked like in the 90s? I do. They were chunky and blocky, and many heeled shoes had high, loafer-like vamps. There are some shoes being sold this very moment that have chunky, blocky heels and loafer-esque styling. But the subtle details of the new versions - materials, angles, colors, heel height and width - will set them apart from the heeled loafers you bought after watching season three of Buffy. Even classics evolve, so be sure to update yours on occasion.

4. Incorporate color

Neutrals may be eternally chic, but they can also be tricky to wear ad infinitum. Being intentional with white and black helps, but learning to mix colors helps even more since paired colors appear sophisticated, rich, and modern. Utilizing color to complement your skin tone and hair color is a great way to up your style quotient overall, of course, and sprinkling colors into your daily outfits will help keep your style invigorated.

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5. Keep tabs on trends

Again, NOT saying that you must become a trend hound. NOT saying that you must purchase and wear trendy clothing. Simply making yourself aware of the current style trends will imbue you with knowledge of what dressing means in the present day. Knowing that pastels are huge this season may influence your shopping and dressing choices, awareness of 1920s-inspired trends may cause you to reconsider donating that drop-waist dress. So long as you keep the other four tips in mind as you apply trend knowledge to new purchases and old gems, you'll look fab and un-frumpy.

Do you worry about looking frumpy? How would you define a frumpy look? Why do you think it has such negative connotations? What do you do to avoid the frump? Anything here apply to you? Anything to add?


By Sally McGraw - Already Pretty

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