When it Comes to Style, Be True to Yourself

February 23, 2014 Updated: February 22, 2014

A friend recently mentioned how some women don’t look comfortable in what they’re wearing, as if their clothes were wearing them. She was so right and it got me thinking that you have to wear what is right for you, whether it be diamonds or sneakers.

Elizabeth Taylor looked stunning in her huge doorknocker diamonds. No one’s idea of a style icon, Taylor knew how to carry it off. Audrey Hepburn, who was a style icon, would have looked uncomfortable and slightly ridiculous wearing such diamonds and never would have done so.

Very long hair looks fine on a very young girl who has the height to carry it off. On a shorter, older woman it looks out of place.

I’ve always loved the androgynous look on a certain type of woman. Put a very slim, delicate, and feminine woman in a man’s pants, jacket, and tie, and it enhances her femininity. Put that same outfit on a big-boned, large woman and she looks like she’s trying to sneak into a boys-only pool hall.

Nothing looks worse than a woman wearing something she knows doesn’t suit her. If you’re very big-breasted and want to show it off, make sure you’re going to feel comfortable and at ease. If you spend the evening tugging at your neckline and glancing down to make sure nothing is amiss, you’ll look uncomfortable and the dress will be wearing you. I’ve seen examples of very big-breasted women wearing deep plunging necklines, looking so ill at ease. And then, of course, there was Marilyn Monroe who always looked so comfortable and at ease in whatever she was wearing (or not wearing).

I remember going to an event where there were a number of teenage girls, all wearing extremely short dresses. The dresses were also very tight, and with every step, they would ride up. The girls were forced to constantly tug on the hem. They were obviously uncomfortable, so much so, that I felt sorry for them. At that age most girls are unsure of themselves and ill at ease. Whatever image of elegance they were aiming for, it just didn’t work in practice.

The secret to wearing your clothes instead of them wearing you, is to make sure you feel comfortable. Magazines abound with idealized images of what is in fashion and how it should be worn, but the average-size woman may struggle to carry off a style that caters for size 0 models.

I do admit that it takes some experience, but it all relates to understanding your own body—the good, the bad, and the challenging areas. Armed with this knowledge, you can then pick a style or trend that actually suits your body and personality. The idea is to carry it off successfully and with flair. It is not that hard. The key is to be realistic and build from there.

Miriam Silverberg is a freelance journalist and the owner of Miriam Silverberg Associates, a boutique publicity firm in Manhattan. She may be reached at silverbergm@mindspring.com.