A friend of mine recently sent me this question in an email:
"Why do skinny jeans make a petite person (such as myself) make my hips look massive? Should I wear boyfriend jeans instead?"
The baffling thing about this question is that my friend is very petite and I can't even imagine her hips looking "massive." But I completely understand where she is coming from. I recently purchased my very first pair of skinnies and was going to post an outfit, but since I haven't gotten around to it, I'll have to answer this question without using my own wardrobe. But first, I have to say "no" to boyfriend jeans. You CAN pull off the skinnies, it's just about what you choose to pair with them to make them work.
The thing about skinnies is that they are designed to hug your body very closely, which means they will follow the natural line of your legs. Since most of us are wider at the hips and narrower at the ankles, skinnies can sometimes work against us and emphasize that difference. When you are petite, it's only that much more noticeable because you don't necessarily have gazelle-like legs to compensate. Add to that, the skinnies available these days tend to be low-rise, so if you wear a top that shows the waistline, you are actually bringing even more emphasis to your hips.
How to combat this issue? Wear tops that cinch and emphasize your natural waist, or better yet, an empire waist and that have a hemline that falls below the waistline of your jeans. This combination creates the illusion of a very high waistline, which in turn creates the illusion of long legs. It draws the eye in a vertical direction, and helps prevent your body from looking too chopped in half. To make the illusion even more effective, keep the look monochromatic, or at least dark with dark or light with light. Take a look:
In the outfit above, the cinched empire waist in a dark color over a dark wash skinny jean makes for a very long, lean look. The color and quirkiness is found in the accessories, from the bright red ballet flat to the pale turquoise bag and the funky bracelet and earrings.
Now, look at the exact same outfit, with just a different top:
Did you notice how your eye was naturally drawn to the middle of the body? Instead of looking at the vertical image, we get stuck on the horizontal line that cuts right through the middle of the image. Why? This outfit is not nearly as flattering for two primary reasons. First, the two contrasting colors of the dark denim and the bright yellow and second, the fit of the yellow top. By choosing two such contrasting colors, we've split the body in half, and clearly drawn the eye to the widest part- the hips. And by choosing a top without any definition, we reinforce the notion that the eye should be drawn to the hips because that is the only definition provided in the outfit. I'm not saying that this look can't be pulled off, but it would be tough for someone who is petite and doesn't have the advantage of height to help naturally elongate the look.
Have other style questions? Not sure how to pull off the latest trend? Can't figure out how to flatter your body? Have an event coming up and need style ideas? Email me!