I have what I like to call a frog body. (check the photo if you're confused)
As a swimmer, I have huge [broad] shoulders. I go in a BIT at the waist, but according to the technical fashion rules of body shapes, I'm a "vertical rectangle" or "vertical hourglass". Woo. BUT! I go in NOT ONLY at my waist, but at my hips, too, rrrright where my pants sit, like a frog's body. This can sometimes create a faux muffin top, which makes me sad inside. I am tall (5'10ish), so one might say "Gee, what about trying some oh-so-fashionable highwaisted pants?!". Well, I HATE highwaisted stuff, unless it's an AA style skirt. I'd like to hide/fix my frog problem without having to resort to a life of empire/baby doll tops and dresses. Any suggestions?
Hoppily Hoping to Hear from You!
Diane Von Frogenberg
I loved your email not only because it's the first time a fashion question had been accompanied by a photo of a dead frog, but also because I had gone my whole life without realizing that I, too, have a frog body! I feel so enlightened and relieved, sort of like the way I felt when I found out the secret twist at the end of The Village, minus the urge to kill M. Night Shyamalan.
Now, most fashion blogs/magazines/tv shows would tell you to just throw on a belt to define a waist and create an hourglass shape. Unfortunately, this is one of the greatest cultural myths of our time. Since I am easily brainwashed and have a steep learning curve, I throw on a belt almost every day expecting a grand transformation, but all I get is more emphasis on my ample gut. Our model illustrates this point:
As the proud owner of a frog body, here are my top tips and tricks that do not include throwing on a belt:
1. Buying pants sucks.
Oops, that wasn't a tip or a trick, but seriously, trying to find pants when your hips are smaller than your waist is a nightmare. It's been even more of a nightmare for the past, oh, ten years or so because of the proliferation of lowrise jeans. Jeans that hit at the hip or below serve as something of a sartorial muffin pan, forcing your belly to bloom out over the waistband, so I've always viewed lowrise jeans the same way my mom viewed lesbianism in the 70's--an appealing trend, but ultimately not a good fit for me*.
Therefore, I implore you to reconsider your hatred of “high waisted” items. As my friend Lyndsey once said: “I love high waisted pants because if you don’t tuck in your shirt, they’re just a girdle.” Wiser words were never spoken.
Seriously, go to a store, pick out a pair of jeans with a high (or even mid) rise and a straight or slightly flared leg, and put them on. Pair them with a shirt that hits a few inches below your hipbone. Look in the mirror. If you still see a frog, I will pay you $100. OK, I won’t, but I will give you a back massage and a mimosa. OK, I won’t do that either, but you get the idea.
Even this high will do. Not so bad, right?
2. Rock cardigans, and rock ‘em hard.
Cardigans are a frog’s best friend, because they flatter your neck, boobs, and shoulders while skimming over your belly. Play with different styles and lengths to see which are most flattering on you. I found a shrunken cardigan about a year ago that somehow perfectly hides my lovehandles, and I wear it so often that it’s faded and pilled and full of holes (for this reason, I’m currently engaged in a zealous campaign to bring grunge back…Come as you are, indeed).
This cardigan + long black tanktop + your new favorite high rise jeans = one hott frog.
jcrew.com sale, $60
3. Learn to layer; love to layer.
This ties into tip #2 (cardigans are by far my favorite layer), but layering effectively (as opposed to dangerously) can be really flattering and make your outfits more interesting. I personally almost never leave the house without a stretchy binding underlayer to mush my stomach into submission (my friend Rachel, who wears only comfortable, soft, flowy clothing, is horrified by this practice, but that’s another topic for an upcoming post). Try a longer tanktop under a billowy blouse, or a black vest over a men’s v-neck tee, or a fitted jacket over all of the above.
4. Embrace skirts.
Trying on dresses, for me, is not unlike a stay at Guantanamo Bay: it's humiliating, demoralizing, and often leaves me crying publicly in my underwear. Dresses have to fit perfectly in like 80 different places simultaneously--they're basically a mathematical impossibility, especially when your belly is bigger than your hips (I think if you tried to tell a fashion designer that not all women possessed smallish hourglass figures, they would say, "What do you mean?")
If you, too, find yourself on the unflattering end of this equation, consider joining me in giving up on the damn things (life motto: There is much honor in giving up.) and embracing skirts instead. Try flowy knee length skirts, mini skirts with bright tights, those favorite AA skirts of yours. Playing with proportion in your outfits is the best defroggifying (deeeefffiinitely my new favorite word) strategy I've found, except for, possibly...
*When I called my mom and asked, without explanation, if I could write about her lesbian yearnings on my blog, she said, "As long as you make it clear that I didn't actually do anything. I thought about it a lot because I was down on men and it was the cool thing to do but in the end I just couldn't get there."