Is flattering a styling must?

Each year you read the same titles over an over in women’s magazines: “how to find your perfect fit?”,”find out what your shape is”, “how to dress when you are pear shaped”… Because women are all looking for the holy grail of fashion: finding out which clothes are made for them.

Yet in the same magazine you also read “Must have: vintage Levis”, “Strappy shoes are all the rage” or “crop tops are this summer’s hit”. As if all readers were to wear the same thing even though they obviously do not have the same body.

In this schizophrenic situation, many wonder if they shall dress to their body OR follow the trends because both are not always compatible.

As a personal stylist, I consider both to be equally important.

Therefore I help my clients define a look that both suit their personality and flatter their body.

But how do you define “flattering”?

1/ Definition of flattering

An outfit is considered flattering when it creates an harmonious silhouette.
With nowadays fashion it is easier to dress when you look like a model. Which is why models get hired as models. An oversize outfit can be as flattering on them than a super tight one. The tight one may be more sexy. But sexy does not equal flattering.

Then, let’s admit this model lady owns a flat and flabby butt. She may not be your first choice for modeling silky satin pants because it would underline what society tells us to be a flaw. Is flattering what does not underline our “flaws”. If this model was to go to an event, the stylist would maybe choose push-up pants to flatter her tiny butt. Is flattering what transform our “flaws” into assets.

Yet, the opposite is not true. You can cover all of your assets and still have an harmonious and flattering silhouette as proven with the first example (the model in oversized clothes).

Now let’s go to the matter: is it possible to have style when wearing non flattering clothes?

2/ Being stylish is non flattering clothes is a challenge

Yet doable.

To achieve it, you need one of those (or both):

  • an overdeveloped sense of style
  • an hell of an attitude

Therefore, I’d say there are very few people to whom this can apply.

Amongst them is stylist Leandra Medine aka the well-named “man repeller”.
When you look at her, you only see the brilliant pairing of clothing… and forget to pay attention whether her skirt is too large for her or create a small torso effect (it does).

Instagram Man repeller

I could also quote photographer Tamu Mc Pherson or french influencer Sophie Fontanel who both seem to consider non flattering outfits an art de vivre.

Instagram Tamu Mc Pherson

Instagram Sophie Fontanel

I could also refer to director Lena Dunham, who wear ill fitting clothes in a flamboyant manner, which make girls admire her daring style.

Lena Dunham


I must say I prefer when the above stated women combine their epic sense of style with flattering clothes (it happens).

3/ “Flattering” is one ingredient of the style

To me, each body, with its characteristics, is part of the style mix. Just like you pay attention to the cut and fabric of a piece of clothes in order to find out what matches it best, I think you shall pay attention to your body’s characteristics to see what matches it best.

To be honest, the styles that are not flattering do not catch my eye but make it sore.

I therefore unsubscribed from Tamu Mc Pherson’s instagram account last year as I had the feeling her goal was to look the least attractive possible, like a big branded potato bag. When I consulted her account for the purpose of this article, I was pleased to see she was back into flattering outfits. She still looks cool (which probably was the aim of the branded potato bag style) and now looks gorgeous as well!

Instagram Tamu Mc Pherson

Same goes on with Leandra Medine. After having been through a huge I-do-not-care-if-it-fits-me-as-long-as-it-looks-cool phase, she is back into wearing flattering stuff.

Which are just as cool. Yet less man repelling I must admit.

Instagram Man repeller wearing a killer outfit

Beeing super edgy whilst winning the body flattering game is a though thing to do. Too many street styles do not look not elegant. For flattering street style, I recommend the blogs of Tommy Ton and Scott Schuman who both pay attention to the body behind the clothes.


4/ Choosing flattering is body positive

Beeing body positive is being proud of the body you have.

On internet, you often read that being body positive means that everybody is beautiful and therefore anyone can look amazing wearing the same clothes.

I disagree.

Since all bodies are different, the clothes that will make a body gorgeous are different for each person.

Therefore I do not think this is body positive absolutely trying to fit into the things that the fashion industry have declared to be “the items of the moment”.

Unfortunately designer often think of only one type of body when designing clothes.

If you do not have this body, instead of trying to fit into the clothing norm, I recommend you to find what is YOUR flattering, because your body deserves to be gorgeous.

To conclude, here are too pics of Lena Dunham, both in her usual quirky style.

Doesn’t she look hundred times better in the body flattering outfit?

And you? Do you consider if clothes are flattering before wearing them? 

Cover collage: all flattering outfits by Man repeller, Lena Dunham and Tamu Mc Pherson

14 Responses to “Is flattering a styling must?”
  1. It made sense to me when you said that you must pay attention to the characteristics of your body in order to choose the right cut and fabric for a piece of cloth. This reminded me of my 19-year-old niece who is aiming to become a model in 1-2 years. It is important for her to always look good and have the right clothing choices, so it will be ideal for her to consider hiring a personal stylist.

  2. Zita says:

    Bonjour Aloïs!
    What a find! I stumbled across your wonderful blog today and have been binge reading it ever since. Tbh I was put off by the title because although dressing like a Parisienne is highly desired, I’ve always found it a bit boring and prescriptive. Ines de la Fressange is gorgeous, but not stylistically adventurous, while you show how to work this year’s horrible colour greenery and other new ideas, to enhance our wardrobes in an intelligent and intriguing way. I haven’t worn green for years and was wondering how to, or if I wanted to. Loved the lime green belt. Very clever.

    Style vs flattering is a fascinating, ongoing issue for most of us. At one time, I was so tired of having to look nice as is expected of women, that I deliberately set out to look as ugly as I could. It’s surprisingly hard to do. Not because I’m special in any way, but because when you jam all sorts of stuff on without thinking, you often stumble across rather good combinations. And it’s fun! Well, after about 6 months, I drifted back to more orthodox styling, but it was never the same. Much more relaxed and independent, not that I had ever been a slave to any fashion. Not disciplined enough for that!
    But now at 71, unexpectedly I find I look quite good for my age. I’ve sort of found my style! It has its basics, with touches of modern to show I know what century I’m living in. On the one hand I love rough edged seams, cashmere, boiled wool, easy fit tops, skinny through to boyfriend jeans; on the other I want to show off my figure and legs while I can. To compromise, I wear looser, multi textured, layering things in winter and save fitted/draped more body con dresses for summer. That way I don’t have to worry about proportions, shoes, tights etc, but can still show off a bit. Sadly, my underarms have just started to get a bit wobbly, but I ignore them. The skin’s ok though. Maybe next year they’ll bother me. Until then …… tant pis!
    Thank you so much for your lovely blog. Such a pleasure and so interesting. Must catch up on all the rest of your writings.

  3. vivien_noir says:

    To me, flattery in Outfits is when the item or whole Outfit makes you feel better than average, even fabulous. When you see it, you’ll instantly love yourself more, even if it’s the old Shirt you’ve been wearing over 10 years now – it might be the colour which is extremely flattering.

    What I also noticed when observing a lot of Pictures in which the garments were described as flattering: they always tend to have a visually uplifting effect. It might be a vertical integrity of the style, it might be a left-to-right-upwards-diagonal, it might be slouchy clothes who create diagonals with draping, combined with “big-eye”-Makeup – flattery usually uses techniques to make the wearer appear fresh and awake, not tired and with a posture like poured liquid.

    I also think, flattery is a very fluid term, as I see a link between an Image considered flattering and the Event. Deep plunging necklines might be very flattering, yet in a coporate Environment they might Transport a less appropriate message and not be considered as flattering – although, fashionally, they are.

    I can recommend having a bit of a browse through the YLF (You Look Fab) – Archives searching for “flattering”, “flattery” etc. Here’s a nice link to start reading into the Topic further:

  4. V says:

    Au début, on est tellement submergée par cette Mode et cette industrie qui nous étouffe qu’on se retrouve (presque) démunie face à cette armoire pleine à craquer ” j’ai rien à me mettre “..alors on cherche des pistes pour savoir ce qui marche pour nous.
    Il y a encore – 15 ans, je n’avais jamais entendu parlé des morphologies (8,X, A, V,I ).
    Les médias nous donnent toujours les grandes lignes ( marquer sa taille pour 8/A, ajouter du volume en bas pour un V etc…).En gros, c’est une feuille de route …que l’on doit adapter à ses propres particularités ( on ne souligne jamais assez qu’une taille marquée Morpho en 8 et A peut egalement avoir un bidou donc out les robes fourreau moulante dans mon cas. D’autres s’affranchissent de ce détail. Chacune est en paix avec la réalité et c’est tant mieux)
    ….mais moi, rien ne me met plus en joie que de porter une robe ou un manteau cintré archi bien coupée.
    Cependant un jour, vous tombez sur des pièces non calibrées pour votre Morpho :
    Exemple, un trench droit, dans une belle gabardine de coton rigide n’aimant pas ( du tout) être entravé par une ceinture ( aïe, aïe pas de taille marquée ?! …rigide =effet grand rectangle = effet grossissant, aïe, aïe, aïe …)
    Une combinaison clairement taillée pour une Morpho en H ( soit taille basse )
    …et pourtant en les essayant (Toujours laisser sa chance à un vêtement sur un portant )..le charme a opéré.
    C ‘ est totalement…déroutant ( un peu à l’image du pull oversize porté sur une taille marquée ) que ça demande mûre réflexion
    À quoi ça tient ;
    Mon trench : emmanchure américaine évitant une carrure trop “boxy”, un jeu de proportion ( trench sur vêtements plus fittés).
    Une combi avec un décolleté travaillé, emmanchure idéale, un drapé floutant le bidou, un bas fitté mais confortable ( alors qu’aucune combi cintrée n’a, à ce jour, pas trouvé grâce auprès de mon corps).

    Alors est-ce pour autant que je vais sortir des schémas pré-établis ( liés aux morphologies) pour expérimenter la Mode ?
    Oui et non car cela reste toujours une équation périlleuse et délicate.
    Vais-je céder à la mode du Bombers ( taille non marquée, forme de boule ) Hmm oui il y a de fortes chances ….car je visualise son architecture ( épaisseur, matière, longueur …) mais avec un pantalon mettant en valeur ma silhouette et morphologie …un bon compromis en somme.


  5. Michaela says:

    Une superbe dissertation!
    J’avoue avoir dû relire certaines phrases deux fois, tellement, tu cavalais dans ton raisonnement! Surtout dans les passages où ça va à l’encontre de ce qu’on nous certifie comme “flatteur”, tiens… 😀
    Merci beaucoup pour ces pistes de réflexion. Ca élargie bien les couloirs dans lesquels on pense avoir le “droit” d’opérer (stylistiquement parlant)!

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      “Cavaler” tu m’inquiètes là ^^
      J’espère que c’était clair quand même ahah
      Merci beaucoup pour ton comm en tous cas.
      “Dissertation”: ça me rappelle qu’un jour j’ai été hypokhâgneuse tiens.

  6. cerise says:

    Excellent post!
    Récemment quelques vidéos sur youtube ont déjà attiré mon attention sur le fait qu’on n’est pas forcément obligée de s’habiller en fonction de sa morphologie – j’étais tellement dressée à la méthode Christina que ça m’a choquée 🙂
    Moi même j’oscille toujours entre l’envie de porter des choses “flatteuses” (donc qui me font paraître plus mince, ce qui idéologiquement est déjà discutable) et des fringues rigolotes et un peu folles. Or depuis quelques années j’ai découvert que les deux ne sont pas totalement opposés: un short très court fera certes ressortir un peu ma cellulite (enfer et damnation!) mais allonge mes jambes. Un pull ample cachera certes ma taille mais me fera sembler plus jeune. Quant à mon mec, j’ai remarqué qu’il aime les fringues près du corps, même si ça fait quelques petits bourrelets – d’ailleurs il m’a même dit que les bourrelets, il trouvait ça sexy. Donc bon 🙂

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Merci Cerise!
      Totalement d’accord sur la balance longues jambes/ cellulite: le jeu en vaut la chandelle et sur le pull ample. Combien de fois ai je fait essayer des pulls amples à des clientes à la taille fine qui m’ont dit “oui mais je pensais qu’il fallait marquer ma taille”. Ce n’est pas parce qu’on a un atout qu’on est obligé de le montrer ^^ Et, en adepte des pulls oversize, je souscris à 200% à leur côté cool, jeune et même sexy!
      Par contre flatteur ne veut pas forcément dire “faire paraître plus mince” (hep hep!), mais créer une silhouette harmonieuse et, optionnellement, mettre en avant les atouts. Donc mettre en valeur des fesses rebondies ou des hanches généreuses fait paraître moins mince mais c’est flatteur. Par contre il est vrai que nombre de mes clientes cherchent instinctivement à camoufler ces atouts dans l’objectif de paraître plus mince.

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