POSTED ON JUNE 27, 2007:
The Bigger They Are, The Longer They Fall
The new style is volume--but why?
Does anyone remember when shirts hit a woman just slightly below the waist? Just a few years ago, the trend was the cropped top. This look was for a select group of women who possessed at least two of the three hottest accessories that accentuated the cropped top: six pack abs, dangly belly button ring and/or a lower back tattoo.
This trend slowly faded away to allow for shirts that had catchy phrases. I suppose this is the short time frame when regular fitted shirts returned, but sadly they were covered in "clever" declarations about the wearer, like "Alabama is for Lovers" or "Everyone Loves a Blonde."
That trend burned brightly and quickly and the fashion industry moved to the opposite end of the spectrum, with the new catch phrase in shirt fashion being, "Is this a dress or a shirt?"
The loooooong top trend started with t-shirts and tank tops extending their length ever so slightly. People embraced it. These longer tops were terrific to wear when layering; a little flash of additional color could sneak out from beneath a regular-length top.
The most up-to-date look is volume. Now, not only are tops long, they are wider as well. From tees, tanks and everything in between, the new length grazes the middle of the thigh or, if you are fortunate enough to be petite, the knee. But why?
Long, billowy tops came into the picture the same time that the re-emergence of the legging trend occurred. Breezy, fuller tops created equilibrium to the painted-on look of leggings. The contrast was also a perfect homage to the '80s revival that was also happening in trends. Sadly, the fashion industry decided to skip the '80s trend of cinching the long top to the side of the hip with a scrunchy, but such is the return of a decade trend. It never goes full force, just dabbles.
Thankfully, the legging trend is kaput--and by kaput, I mean its time in the limelight is over for now. I'm sure the fashion industry will decide 17 years from now that it is a 2007 revival and they will creep back into wardrobes again. But that is another rant for another time.
The focus here is on long, tent-like tops and their place in our wardrobes. It has created a conundrum for the average shopper who isn't entirely clear on how to wear it. There is a fine line to walk when attempting to pull off this look. Worn in the correct manner, these flowy tops can hide whatever "flaw" you may think you have from the waist up. But warning: worn incorrectly, you may be approached by strangers wondering when you are due.
It truly does not matter if the designer originally intended it for dress or shirt. Dresses can go over pants and look attractive, and as long as they are covering everything they should, these long shirts could pass for a mini dress. The only rule when pulling off this look, or any trend really, is to make yourself look your most flattering.
What To Do!
If you choose to wear the top over jeans, make sure the jeans are fitted. A wide-legged jean paired with a long, loose top is too much material. A woman of shorter stature also has to be careful. A top that is too long will only make you appear shorter. If it grazes the knee, it might be your best option to nix the pants altogether and wear it as a dress. (More about that option in a moment.)
Although the average woman uses voluminous fabric to hide untoned areas of the body, it actually makes you look bigger and boxier. The smart way to approach billowy pieces is also a real self-esteem booster: Go with a size smaller than you normally wear. Sometimes, if the designer has a real passion for fabric, you can even go down two sizes. There's still enough fabric to give the effect of billowy-ness, but not so much that it looks it was purchased in a store for expectant mothers.
This is the downside to the billowy top, but it can be overcome just by trying the tops on. You'll know from that first glimpse in a mirror if that particular one is flattering or if it belongs on someone in their second or third trimester. If you are pregnant, congratulations! Non-specialty shops now carry items for you. If you aren't, try another billowy option.
The most universally figure-flattering billowy top has an empire waist. This means that the top should be cinched in just below the bust line, sometimes with elastic through the middle, sometimes with a piece of fabric to tie in the back. The empire waist is important because it comes in at the smallest part of a woman, just below the bust, and then floats freely away from the rest of the torso.
The most important aspect of the empire waist top is that it fits correctly on the bust line. Seams should go under the bosom. If the seam goes any higher, it will create a horizontal division across the chest, essentially giving a woman four mini boobs. Sporting quad boobs is as unflattering as it gets.
For those with great gams and a lot of bravery, there is the mini dress option. If you decide to wear the shirt/dress as a mini, make sure it is just a mini-dress and not a vulgarly-mini dress. Make sure whatever movement you plan on doing while in your dress can be accomplished while still retaining your class and not showing off ass.
This leads me to the point of the mini dress's best accessory: panties! Always remember to wear some kind of undergarment when rocking the mini dress. Only tramps goes sans panties; just check any celebrity-themed magazine.
The last thing to remember when embracing this look or any is to just have fun when you're dressing. Always keep in mind that if this trend isn't for you, it will probably be gone before you can say, "Is this a shirt or a dress?"
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