Clothes, fit and perspective

Danielle Vanier, photographed by David C Photography
Danielle Vanier, photographed by David C Photography

For someone who has never really found her own niche, I’m rather interested in niche fashion blogs. They aren’t always sites that you might instantly think of as being relevant to my interests either – as well as following a lot of lingerie focused blogs, I also subscribe to plus size fashion blogs, classic menswear blogs, and fashion blogs aimed at an older reader. Just because I don’t fit into ASOS Curve clothing, will never buy a pocket square for myself (let alone a tweed suit!) and am not yet over the age of 50, doesn’t mean that these blogs aren’t relevant to me. It’s all about perspective. I follow these blogs because I like their styling and accessorising, they introduce me to new brands, are creative with their clothing and often have a fresh outlook on the world. Most of all it’s because they all, to a certain extent, represent what could be considered an outsider view of the mainstream fashion industry.

When I look at glossy fashion magazines and advertising, I don’t see myself represented. I see someone taller and slimmer with different proportions to my own, and so I always have to do a bit of mental adjustment to envision how the clothes would look on me. Most of the time it’s easy enough to do, as I know which styles suit me and there are always certain shapes and colours that I can automatically disregard, but occasionally it becomes as tricky as it was for me to see The Dress as blue and black. Reading blogs where the writer assumes that everyone could easily fit into the same clothes – or where they assume the reader is only there to boost their own ego – quickly becomes as dull as seeing 101 photos of the same outfit in ever so slightly different poses. I like blogs where the author is already a mainstream fashion outsider and so understands clothing from a different perspective.

Catherine from Not Dressed as Lamb, photographed by Silver Londoner
Catherine from Not Dressed as Lamb, photographed by Silver Londoner

When someone explains in a fashion blog post that they are tall and have a long torso, it shows that they have a better understanding of the issues relating to the fit of a jacket or a dress. Their posts will be more relevant to me because I know that they’re not assuming that clothes fit everyone in the same way. A review that says “OMG, this bra is perfect!” is not as useful as one which explains why the bra does/doesn’t fit correctly. In the same way, a photoshoot showing the same non-standard body type in trousers with differing cuts is more likely to illustrate why certain styles look better on particular people. Our perspective becomes warped when we are only exposed to images of clothing on the same body types over and over again, whereas photographs of people who look different help to expand our minds and cause us to think that little bit harder. My problem with the Guardian’s Fashion for All Ages is that the models all have the same body type, which is rarely the case as we age. Showing fashionable clothing on a tall slender 70-year-old does not really illustrate style for all ages in the same way that using a non-model with middle aged spread would do.

Seeing the world from someone else’s perspective is something that we should all do once in a while – it helps us to be more understanding of others and it helps us get a grip on our own lives. Diversity in fashion imagery helps us understand that we are not alone, and it also helps us understand the levels of privilege we have. I may not think that I am represented in the mainstream fashion media but, as an able-bodied white woman, the majority of models are closer to my body type than I may at first have realised.

Images via Danielle Vanier and Not Dressed as Lamb.

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