It has taken me nearly all of my thirty-nine years to finally understand that self esteem is more about the way you dress than the number of the scale.
I started figuring this out a few years ago, and I am still learning how to dress my body for maximum appeal. As a result, I have become a bit obsessed with fashion, which is why awards shows like the Golden Globes are a big deal for me.
Unfortunately, after watching Sunday night’s red carpet show, it seems that very few women—even women who have access to stylists and free designer duds—know how to dress for the bodies they have, whether they are wonderfully curvy or fabulously fit.
Because dressing for your body is something that all women have to do and because this blog is about feeling good about yourself no matter what your size, I think it makes sense to take a day to talk about how to do the former.
There were a few women at the Globes who knew how to dress for the body size and shape, but mostly it was one fashion faux pas after another on the red carpet.
Let’s start with the people who got it right.
For my money, Meryl Streep was one of the best dressed women on the red carpet Sunday night (thanks to her designer, Project Runway‘s Chris March), and (as I mention in my Gallery of Gorgeous Woman to the right) she’s admitted to being a size fourteen, a healthy size we can all aspire to, so it makes sense to discuss why her look was so successful . . .
It’s the neckline and the fit that make this dress work so well. The off-the-shoulder asymmetrical neckline is a fabulous choice for women who want to draw attention away from their middles and up to their faces and necks. Also, the fit is outstanding. The dress skims her body but doesn’t squeeze it, highlighting her silhouette without letting it overpower her, which is crucial for curvy women. Finally, the belt perfectly accentuates her torso because it shows off her waistline without cinching it. This dress is simultaneously sexy and age-appropriate without ever wandering into mother-of-the-bride territory as so many women her age do.
Though she’s only curvy because she’s pregnant, Amy Adams also offered us a great model of how to dress if you have ample assets . . .
Adams’ little black dress is another example of how an off-the-shoulder neckline, like Streep’s, goes a long way towards downplaying busty cleavage, and her fitted waist and just-above-the-knee hemline show us how to camoflauge the area in the middle without hiding it from view. The short style also draws our eye to her legs, which look even longer because of her bronze-colored shoes. Adams’ look is a wonderful lesson on how to dress if you want to feature your legs and shoulders and hide a bump in the middle.
On the other end of the spectrum of women who looked great on the red carpet is Big Love‘s Ginnifer Goodwin . . .
What’s great about Ginnifer’s look is that it very smartly creates curves that she doesn’t really have by adding material to her hips and her waist but also shows off her slender shoulders and legs by keeping them exposed.
Though Goodwin took a risk by enhancing her frame, usually the best way to show off a super fit body is to keep it simple, and there were a handful of women on the red carpet who did that just right . . .
Kate Winslet’s dress is just tight enough to accentuate her curves rather than ruin them. If it were any tighter, it would be too much.
Julianna Margulies’ dress was a bit daring with the glittery red top, but the bottom of her dress was sleek enough that it still worked.
Courtney Cox’s straight neckline and sleek silhouette was perfect for a woman as thin as Cox because it emphasizes her frame without making her look too skinny. She’s 46 but has managed to stay extremely fit and, therefore, has every right to rock a look this sexy.
Glenn Close’s dress worked for the exact same reason: simplicity . . .
If you’re 62 and look like this, you have got to show it off. On a side note, I’m just so glad that “older” women in Hollywood aren’t dressing like grandmothers anymore.
Sofía Vergara followed this long and sleek model and wisely only added extra material to the back of her dress in order to keep the front uncluttered.
Gabby Sidibe also dressed perfectly for her body . . .
Like Streep’s, her dress gently follows the shape of her body and tucks in at her waist, emphasizing her silhouette without cling too tightly to it. This is a wonderful example of how a woman Gabby’s size should dress for a formal event: she didn’t hide her body in a tent dress but instead flattered it with clean, feminine lines.
Admittedly, Chloe Sevigny’s dress was a bit of a controversy. Some people hated it, and others loved it . . .
There were clearly a few too many ruffles going on, but what I loved about this dress was that she looked stunning without looking super thin. The dress really showed off her curves in an interesting way. My God, she even had a little tummy! (Though it was more visible in the broadcast than it is here.) I love that!
Unfortunately, there were just as many women who didn’t dress appropriately for their body.
Sadly, one of them was Christina Hendricks whose dress was designed by another Project Runway alum: Christian Siriano. . .
You might know from my “Why we should all be watching Mad Men” post
that I adore Hendricks and completely worship her va-va-voom curves (in fact, I’ll be adding her to my Gallery of Gorgeous Women soon), but the fit of this dress was all wrong for her. When you have a body like Hendricks’, fit is crucial, and this one was too tight both in the front and in the back, pushing her girls (and the skin on her back, which you can see clearly in other photos) up and out rather than holding them in. I was devastated to see that the dress fit so poorly since I do love Hendricks and since, otherwise, she looked so stunning. But it’s a good lesson about the importance of finding something that fits and it’s even good for us to see that someone as amazing as Hendricks can make mistakes too.
Another curvy woman from my Gallery of Gorgeous Women who struggled on the red carpet was Patricia Arquette . . .
From my way of thinking, Arquette has a perfect body. She’s not too big and not too small, but just right. Unfortunately, the criss-cross draping of this dress made her middle look MUCH bigger than it is and actually fought the shape of her body rather than working with it. Arquette would have been better off picking a style that drew attention away from her middle rather than emphasizing it. Patterns are also notoriously hard for any size woman to wear, so it’s a mystery why Arquette chose one that was so busy.
Sigourney Weaver, at 60, is another older woman who still has a simply amazing body . . .
But though we can applaud Weaver for her physique, we cannot applaud her dress, which did the same thing that Arquette’s did—it criss-crossed her body several times, drawing attention to her middle and make it look bigger than it is. It’s a shame, too, because if you really look at this picture, you can see that Weaver has a wonderful waist, but you’re so distracted by the dress’ design here that her body almost gets entirely lost.
Oddly, the normally spot-on Heidi Klum committed a similar faux
pas . . .
Klum just gave birth and is, therefore, a bit curvier than normal, so maybe that’s why someone who normally dresses in a way that is perfectly flattering stumbled this time. Because instead of wearing a dress that showed off her assets, Klum chose a dress that drew attention to all the wrong places. The wide neckline made her look bigger on top, and the starbust pattern and mermaid silhouette made her look bigger on the bottom. Like Hendricks’ dress, this one was also too tight, a problem that may have been the result of her recent pregnancy, but one that she should have been smart enough to avoid by choosing a different dress when it was clear this one didn’t fit.
Even the lovely Penelope Cruz didn’t choose the right dress . . .
One of the main problems here is that there is too much going on—I mean lace, stripes, and a layered train?! Come on, Penelope! I know you can do better than that! I’ve seen you do better that. It looked a bit like dress by committee, which is a problem no matter what your size. (Come to think of it, this was a bit of a problem for Klum too.) But Cruz also choose a dress that had horizontal stripes that over-accentuated her wonderful curves and, like Klum, a mermaid silhouette, that made her look bigger than she is.
Rita Wilson . . .
and Lauren Graham . . .
repeated Cruz’s and Klum’s mistake—too tight, too mermaid-like—but exacerbated that misstep by adding a pattern (in Wilson’s case) and a bright color (in Graham’s) that, again, made them look bigger than they are.
While Mariah Carey took it one step further with this absurdly low neckline . . .
People made fun of Carey’s dress all night, and that ought to be a lesson to all of us about the importance of suggesting our curves rather than simply showing them.
(Anna Paquin, I hope you’re listening. This could be you someday if you’re not careful.)
Cameron Diaz had the opposite problem . . .
Her dress made her look even thinner than she is because it wasn’t as streamlined as someone like Cox’s. In fact, the repeating V-pattern (in the neckline and the waist) draws more attention to her sharp angles than her sweet curves.
If Diaz’s dress had too much material on top, Julia Roberts’ dress had too much all over. . .
Her dress was the opposite of fitted, so much so that it’s hard to tell she’s got a body under there at all. If it hadn’t been for her legs, this look would have been pretty close to a muumuu. As it stands, it looks more like a trench coat than a dress. There was simply too much material in the arms, the chest, and the stomach, and Roberts got lost in it.
Speaking of getting lost in a dress. . .
Where is Julianne Moore’s body in this dress??? I can’t see it anywhere! This is another common mistake: hiding your body behind a sea—or in this case, a wall—of fabric.
Calista Flockhart has always been underweight, and for that reason it was surprising that she too wore a long, shapeless dress. . .
There were also some women—specifically Zoe Saldana and Mo’nique, come to mind—who made the mistake of choosing a dress that highlighted weaker aspects of their physique rather than their strengths.
I almost never go sleeveless anymore, so it always surprises me when women choose to do so on national television. From my way of thinking, you’ve got to have amazing arms to look good in a sleeveless dress after the age of thirty. Both of these women would have benefitted from dresses with sleeves, proving that it’s not just curvy women who need to dress for their size . . .
Saldana’s dress is actually gorgeous, but we are so distracted by her emaciated arms that we don’t notice the dress much at all. In fact, this is not the first picture I’ve seen lately of Saldana where she appears way too thin, to the point of being unhealthy looking, and I sincerely hope that she returns to her formerly healthy size.
I realize that by deconstructing the attire of all these amazing women, I open myself up for attack. But please know that I am not trying to criticize them. I just believe that there is so much we can learn from them. If nothing else, it’s refreshing to know that skinny women make as many mistakes as curvy women, emphasizing yet again that it’s not our body size that matters but how we wear what we’ve got.