What Does it Mean for an Outfit to be Flattering? - Merrick's Art (2022)

June 22, 2022

What Does it Mean for an Outfit to be Flattering? - Merrick's Art (1)

I talk a lot about what makes an outfit flattering, but what does “flattering” even mean? Today I’ll break it down for you so you can pick a flattering outfit.



What does it mean when an outfit is “flattering?”

A few weeks ago on Instagram, I asked you to share your outfit struggles.

One of the biggest issues that you shared was that you don’t know what “flattering” or “fit” even means. So today I’m dedicating a whole post to helping you figure this out and define “flattering.”

The short answer is: it’s completely relative and totally personal!

Maybe not the answer you were expecting.

But here’s the truth…a “flattering” outfit means you’re wearing something that makes you feel great. And that’s going to be different for everyone. For some, it might mean that their legs look longer when wearing that outfit. For others, it might mean that their waist is defined. For others, it might mean that their lumps and bumps are hidden. For others, it could be that their shoulders look broader, or less broad. Others, that their bust looks bigger, or smaller. Maybe for you it means that your arms are covered, or uncovered, or your legs are covered, or less covered. The list goes on and on!

So the real question is, what about an outfit makes you feel great? Do any of these characteristics listed above hit a chord with you?

What flattering means for me, personally

For me, I’ve found that the outfits that I feel the greatest in are the ones that define my natural waist. That’s why you’ll see me half tuck or fully tuck my tops, or add a tie or belt to a dress, or wear a high waisted skirt.

I also love to wear skirts and dresses that flow out after they’re accentuated at the waist. A-line skirts and tiered skirts are some of my absolute favorites because they define the waist and then flow outward over my hips, rather than hugging them.

When it comes to tops, I prefer ones with a scoop or v-neck that shows a little more of my décolletage. I’ll definitely wear turtlenecks, but I don’t like super high crew neck tops on me. I’ll wear almost any length of sleeve, but I love a longer short sleeve (just above the elbow) or a shorter sleeve above the biceps, but I don’t usually like cap sleeves.

When it comes to shoes, pointed and almond toe shaped shoes are most flattering for me because they elongate my leg.

The items you feel amazing in may be totally different, andthat is okay.

What Does it Mean for an Outfit to be Flattering? - Merrick's Art (2)

What Does it Mean for an Outfit to be Flattering? - Merrick's Art (3)

How to figure out what pieces are most flattering for you

The key to this is to figure out what kinds of shapes, lengths, structure, color, prints make you feel great, and then wear more of those. Because you deserve to feel great everyday!

But how do you figure out which pieces these are?

Go into your closet and look for 5 items of clothing that make you feel amazing. Then look at the necklines, look at the sleeves, look at the patterns or colors, look at the lengths. Can you find anything in common?

This will give you clues as to what kinds of pieces are “flattering” for you.

Some universally flattering clothing options:

This is not the end-all-be-all list, and I recognize that there are endless variations of body types, so all of these won’t work for every single body type. But they’ll work for many!

  • V-neck tops and dresses
    • A v-neck tee or blouse or dress opens up your neckline and draws attention up to your face. That’s important in any outfit! It also works great for bustier woman (whereas higher neck tops don’t always work well for bigger busts), and can work for flat chested women.
  • Long dresses
    • Whether it’s a casual maxi dress or a ball gown, long dresses give you that “tall glass of water” kind of feel, elongating any body type or height. Here’s a tip: make sure it doesn’t drag on the ground, since that immediately shortens the look.
  • Button up blouse or shirt dress
    • The structure of a classic button up blouse is a great option for everyone. If a button up shirt is not for you, try a shirt dress..it’s the same style in a dress version. The stiffer fabric structure gives a smoothing effect, not hanging or bunching or lumps and bumps. And there are lots of options out there…short sleeve, long sleeve, puffed sleeve, collarless, stand up collar, printed, and more, so there’s literally something for every style.
  • Dark wash jeans
    • You can try black or dark blue, and choose the rise and leg style you want, but this classic pant option with no distressing looks good on literally everyone. Just make sure they fit well.
  • Wrap style dresses
    • If you haven’t tried a wrap dress, seriously, they’re amazing and flattering on all body types because they hug in all right places (and they have that classic v-neck, remember?) Plus, you can get them in any length or skirt style, so there are options for everyone. But you can’t beat that wrap around style that accentuates under your bust or around your ribcage. It gives you a great shape!
  • Structured jackets
    • There are lots of varieties of structured jackets…a classic denim jacket, the popular blazer, a chic tweed cropped jacket, a trench coat, and more. Again, lots of varieties of length, but they’re all made out of a good structured fabric that smooths over lumps and bumps, adds a great layer, adds a level of sophistication, and gives you some coverage withouttoomuch coverage. (Check out this post about how a jacket should fit)

What other pieces do you think are universally flattering??

Here’s the point of all this

The point of all of this is to help you see that “flattering” is in the eye of the beholder. You don’t have to be 6 feet tall and have a big bust and tiny waist and round bum, or wear things that make you look more like that.

Instead, I want you to wear things that make you feel amazing, whatever those things are.

Here on my blog and on instagram I try to show the most universally flattering options, and show variations that will work for various different body types, but remember, my advice is only advice, and you ultimately can choose what you feel best in.

I’ll be talking more about this over on Instagram today – follow along over there and I’d love to have you join in the discussion!


  • How to Dress Your Age

  • A Breakdown of Different Styles of Jeans

  • What is Fabric Structure and Why Does It Matter?

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