Feeling a mind:body disconnect

I've been enjoying Pinterest and seeing so much inspiration and so many lovely things. I've worked at separating my boards into now What I Want to Wear versus Inspiration.

Attached is my What I Want to Wear board - but when I look at it, I really wonder how many of these things work for my body type.

I'm a size 12/14 and much, much heavier than I would like to be, and have been. I try very hard to have a positive body image and for the most part, don't let my size get me down. But many times what I see in my WIW pics upsets me. It is difficult at my height (5'1") and size to wear flattering proportions and ensure I look like I have a waist.

Looking at the outfits on the Board, I love all of them and would ultimately like to dress in this manner but wonder if these styles coincide with my physical body type. I deliberately do not choose items for my Board that realistically can only be worn by tall willowy women. But maybe these aren't practical either.

So I guess my question to you all is "can I wear these types of styles with my body type"? And if not, what does work for me?


This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • lyn* replied 7 years ago

    Is it true that there aren't a lot of pinterest pins featuring 5'1" women who are a size 12/14?

  • CocoLion replied 7 years ago

    I'm now following you Shannon!

    I could see you in all of these, but with some modification. There are quite a few looks with super tight skinny jeans rolled shorter to above the ankle. All you have to do is substitute a straight leg jean or not so tight skinny jean and adjust the hem length to the most flattering place and these looks will work for you.

    Here's my Pinterest if you're interested in following.

  • Gaylene replied 7 years ago

    We all know why designers and magazine editors prefer a tall, thin body type to showcase their clothes, so I don't think the world will be flooded with a variety of body shapes and sizes in the near future. And it's so easy (just ask me!) to fall in love with a look, ignoring the fact that a big part of the image is the young, gorgeous (but still airbrushed and Photoshopped) person who is wearing the outfit. If I had a magic wand, I'd use it to transform all those models to look exactly like me but I suspect the sales would drop like a stone.

    As Angie says, I do think that we can be much too rigid about what works for different body types, but, let's face it, some styles will take much more time and experimentation to get them to work for most us in real life. I think it's a question of how much time and effort one wants to spend on one's clothes.

    Some of the items on your board would be effortless for you to pull off, while others might need more experimenting. You know you look amazing in your dresses/jackets/booties combinations. That style is a no-brainer for you. But who says we always want the easy way out? Sometimes a little effort can lead to a whole new direction instead of staying where it is safe. If you like it enough to put in the effort, I can't see why you couldn't make any of the styles in your pins work for you.

  • catgirl replied 7 years ago

    Shannon, I think a lot depends on what you mean by "can be worn by only ___________". Very few things can only be worn by certain body types, and they are often fringe looks. I think everyone can pull off some version of ankle pants, or skinnies and tunics, or waist surrender, or BF jeans - it's just a question of:

    a) tweaking it to suit you
    b) liking it
    c) finding the actual items needed (that's the hard part for me!)
    d) recognizing that you will not look like anyone else and being okay with it

    I had the unique experience of walking into a Hollywood party behind Heidi Klum. I felt like a pudgy ugly hobbit. But when I really saw her up close I realized she is actually quite awkward looking - gangly and full of angles, almost like a human giraffe - her legs are like stilts! And that's probably a struggle for non-models with that build.

    I am going to follow you too, if I can ever find time to get on Pinterest again!

  • moira replied 7 years ago

    I see nothing (except maybe the Daisy Dukes) that you could not, and already don't, wear, with your own interpretation.
    These pins are you.
    This is how I feel about decorating. Things may seem disjointed but when the common thread is you and what you like, it all comes comes together.

  • annagybe replied 7 years ago

    This was part of my off-topic rant recently. I think you can do most of the looks you've pinned with tweaks. The only ones I'm not sure about are the ones with boyfriend jeans. I think you said you're not doing those jeans. But perhaps your slouchy skinnies will suffice.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    I think the frustration comes in knowing that even when we can technically do a look, it won't LOOK or perhaps even more important FEEL like it looks in the photos. (Or how we imagine it feels, I mean. Whatever that means!)

    We get that frustration in our moments of body dissatisfaction. And we all have those moments.

    You know how to dress the body you have BRILLIANTLY. And it's all the more remarkable because your body has undergone enormous changes up and down the scale over the years. It is not as if you have always had the shape you have now. Knowing that, I am sometimes awed by your ability to get the proportions right. Even after my own much less significant body changes I find it really hard to figure that out.

    What that means is I have no doubt you can rock any item on your board. And look awesome doing it. The issue is whether you will FEEL as good as you truly look. And that may vary day by day, as it does for us all.

    Shannon, with your vibrant smile, fab hair and specs, you could light up anybody's world. My hubby saw you and said right away, "She's SUPER cute! I'd love to know her."

    So there you go.

  • Zapotee replied 7 years ago

    I don't see anything on your Pinterest page that you have not worn already, in some incarnation. You are being too hard on yourself, cheer up!
    ETA: The one thing I forgot to say is that some of these looks are shown with skinnies, I don't know if they can work with slouchy pants or bootcuts, so much volume is not really the most flattering look for us curvies. For us, I suscribe to the Stacey London principle: slouchy bottom / fitted top and viceversa, but I know I am in the minority.

  • Vicki replied 7 years ago

    Shannon, you've pinned some beautiful pieces and I could see you in any number of them. I love Una's A-D list and am still laughing at her Hobbit/Heidi the Giraffe comment. I can so identify with D, because I like to copy others and get my inspiration from many different sources (men, too) and I seldom look like Angie, the models, celebrities or a male J. Crew or Nordstrom model.

  • Vix replied 7 years ago

    Hi Shannon --

    I'm going to be a little blunt here (it's the way I am with myself on this topic).

    I think you need to decide whether you want to dress for internal or external validation -- or what your ideal ratio for that is.

    Whichever way you vote/lean, do you want that validation to be because you're trying XYZ silhouettes/looks or is it more important that you/folks think you're dressing in ways that flatter your body shape?

    Because for the vast majority of us sometimes those two things will overlap mightily, and sometimes they won't. Only you can make that call.

    I for one don't waste time on the whole "learning to love" every bit of myself (personality/trait or body trait).

    Accept and/or be grateful for, yes -- love unconditionally, no. This has been very, very freeing to me. I don't have to love every aspect of myself (and beat myself up when failing at it, hurrah!). I can remind myself to say something "is what it is" and I can choose to downplay vs celebrate it.

    By the way, the downplay vs celebrate is a continuum that can shift over time.

    I think you have to realistically assess what you want out of dressing right now, what type of validation you prefer, and whether you have the emotional reserves to get you where you want to go.

    And again, you can always change your mind down the line!

    ps Personally I'm an inward validator in all areas of my life who goes through phases of being upset that I don't have more external validation. It doesn't get much more stupid than that, so I feel sure you're much more integrated than me!

  • Day Vies replied 7 years ago

    Aw, Shannon -- I feel your pain. (sending hugs) I don't think your desire to wear the looks you love is unrealistic. I refuse to believe you need to be tall willowy and a size 00 to wear "certain" looks.

    I cannot tell you how to achieve the look you want -- I can only share my own story of wanting to look delicate and feminine (circa 1950's) and failing miserably. This va-va-voom figure gets in the way. But recently started my own Pinterest board and it was very eye opening to see the looks that made me drool all at the same time at the same relative scale. I could see that yes, I really liked feminine silhouettes (waist emphasis), lace, bows, etc. but I also liked those elements to be under control (one or two at a time) and I realized that the tension between feminine elements married with very clean tailored lines was present in every single look. For example I am not going to wear ruffles, floral prints, pink, lace and bows all at the same time because I would look like an exaggerated caricature of femininity. But I can pull out one or two of these elements with a very tailored piece and project this ideal look. (see pic below) The organic floral print is in a strong dark color palette and paired with the severe black. The belt is tied into a 1/2 bow while the dress is very straight and tailored.

    My advice is based on my experience and what works for me is to deconstruct what you LOVE (not like) about the looks you've collected. Try to see the common theme in all of them, color, detail, pattern, line etc. Once you understand those basic elements of your style you can mix and match those elements to create your ideal look with a lot less effort. (and no I have not mastered this yet -- I am still working on it ;-) I hope I was able to help.

  • texstyle replied 7 years ago

    I think you look great in so many of your clothes Shannon - and I mean that, not just trying to be polite. You are a style inspiration here on YLF!

    And I agree with Una that it's the personal "tweaks" that often make the items right. After all, the models are most always wearing clothes that are pulled, pinned, and taped. Not to mention what undergarments they may or may not be wearing. Very few stars wear clothes that have not been tailored to suit their shape or that do not require some specific underlayer, lighting effect, etc.

  • TraceyLiz65 replied 7 years ago

    From looking at your board, I think you have chosen looks that will work for your body type, of course taking in consideration proportions you know work right for your petite height. I suggest challenging yourself to start trying some and see what success you have , which might relieve some of the current stress. I bet you will be surprised at how much you've learned to make this fabulous!

  • deb replied 7 years ago

    This is an interesting thread because it reminds me that this is an ongoing process. As my body changes with age I need to adjust the way I see my own image. This happens when I go from season to season. What I wore last spring and summer and felt great in may not create the same feeling this spring and summer. I always thought the aging process was very slow but I am finding that it really is faster in certain parts of my body therefore, I need to adjust my mind/body image. I have never discussed this with anyone else so it could just be my own insecurities.

  • Beth Ann replied 7 years ago

    Ah, Shannon! Yes, I do indeed understand your feelings on this issue. First, I'm trying to remember that my first concern regarding my body needs to be taking care of it so I can continue to enjoy living and give something to the world and those I love. This (and the desire to wear Zara -- lol) keeps me jumping back on the fitness/healthy eating wagon when I've fallen off. I have, fortunately, no great underlying health issues --- just a sweet tooth and a love of naps! That said, I would in no case ever qualify for "Pinterest model" status, no matter how many high intensity training sessions I do!

    YLF has been such a help to me -- seeing the trends worn by many different women. A turning point came with one of your posts. You were dealing with a health issue that had resulting in a little weight gain and learning to dress well in new circumstances. I realized that I never once thought to myself: "Gee. Shannon would look better if she was thinner -- perhaps other people don't think that when they see me, either." I see you as fabulous Shannon, and I learn a lot from you --- and not just we're similar in size and age. I learn from you because you have amazing eyes for color, proportion and detail. You have grown incredibly in the last year that I've watched you on YLF. More than anyone else, you have demonstrated the value of good tailoring and that many trends can be worn by petite size 12s!

    As you know, my Pinterest board surprised me, too. Perhaps if we view them as an "art museum" of fashion and use them to inspire a look, rather than copy it, we'll have the best of the fashion world, and maybe show it a thing or two. As others have already mentioned, your board looks are very achievable.

    I'm getting ready to travel to my teeny-tiny inlaws. They are loving, but high maintenance and very critical of overweight people. I'll have to copy this post and stick it in my suitcase! Preachin' to myself again!

  • Nicole D replied 7 years ago

    Thanks for linking to your pinterest board, Shannon - it is awesome. Great posts above, what a bunch of smart ladies... Dressing is a bit like decorating. Our homes could look like a magazine if we had an unlimited budget and professional styling and photographing, but the reality is that they are not photo worthy 24/7. Your smile is your best accessory, you wear your clothes well and seem to have a passion for putting outfits together, so celebrate that and don't hold yourself to a standard that others have created.

  • Adelfa replied 7 years ago

    My thought when looking at your board was that most of the styles are very wearable by someone with your body type. I don't think you're having a major disconnect!

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Love what Beth Ann says here.

    I was surprised by my own Pinterest board, too, especially early on -- so much tailoring and high contrast black and white, so many dark jackets! I can't even wear black all that well!! But my board is bursting with it!

    I think the boards perhaps alert us to our aspirational goals and directions....taken as a whole they give a general sense of our leanings, It is less that we need to copy this or that look, but what generally appeals to us and how might be put that into practice in our real, actual lives?

    So yeah, I really want that Max Mara or Donna Karan suit, but realistically? I don't think so. Maybe realistically it is a really fab jacket from the consignment and a Theory suit.

  • bj1111 replied 7 years ago

    totally with anna on this one. all it takes is tweaking.

  • shevia replied 7 years ago

    So many thought provoking posts this morning and I haven't really had enough coffee yet! Shannon, first of all, I absolutely adore your style and think you have created something uniquely Shannon that is just fabulous. I look forward to your posts! I think the fun and also the positive side of fashion comes from creating something unique out of our own tastes, preferences, lifestyles, and, yes, bodies, faces and hair. So we will never look exactly like an inspiration picture and that is good. Like Vix said above, part of this is deciding how much we want to dress for social approval, and then there are different social groups with different standards, so it is all still very individual. And part of it is just mixing inspiration with our own "raw materials" and coming up with something we like. If we were all built exactly alike it would be much less interesting.

    I took a quick glance at your pinterest board (will study more later) and nothing struck me as undoable by you at all. And I for one can't wait to see what you come up with!

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    Shannon, the people you pinned can take style pointers *from you* :)

    Shevia said it so well and I echo her sentiments wholeheartedly. You have a natural flair for fashion, and it comes through in every outfit. Your look is identifiable, always evolving, always flattering, fun and interesting. THAT is style. Your pinboards are merely inspiration - YOU are the master of your look, body and spirit. It is not the other way round.

    You would so be part of my modelling agency.

  • Desmo April replied 7 years ago

    I don't see any reason the looks wouldn't work on you. I'm way bigger than you(size 20-22ish) and I would wear almost all of the pants/jeans looks that you pinned. I'm not really interested in skirts or dress so that's why I'm not counting those.

    My personal rule for Pintrest, I ONLY pin things that are on bigger bodies. (Well I have one board that I was using for purple jean ideas and I couldn't find plus size inspiration). I think it's really important to see that bigger women can be fashionable and fabulous. We are out there and I'm not invisible.

    This is my main style board, I also have a running shopping list.


  • Sveta replied 7 years ago

    Shannon, I think there are 2 different questions here really. Can you wear these styles? Yes, you can, you just need to adopt them to your body / style. Will you look exactly like those women on your board? No, but it does not mean you will not look fab in your own Shannon's way! You have a great style which I really admire. It is easier to look good when you are fashionably tall, thin and young. You score extra points compared to your inspirations for looking great without those natural assets. Remember, real style has no size or age!
    ..and if you still not sure go and have a look at Angie's Pinterest YLF board - I think you are featured there more than anybody else on the forum - and rightly so! :-)

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    Oh my goodness - I am not very often rendered speechless (just ask my husband - lol!) but I am sitting here with tears in my eyes and not knowing what to say.

    Please know that I did not post this question to seek out compliments - although believe me, they are very nice :)

    I think years of up and down weight have left me with some body dysmorphia and I truly do not know at times what will work on my body type and what won't. From all of your thoughtful replies, I need to take the following:

    - style is not only for the tall and willowy. Style can be for ANYONE. I can take my pinned outfits and learn to make them work for me, in my way
    - copying an outfit does not have to be literal but merely a jumping off point
    - above all else, I need to feel like ME in an outfit
    - style is an ongoing process and I need to relax a little when things are in flux
    - it's ok to be unique
    - "I am master of my look, body and spirit".

    Denise - I am so following your board. Love your style!
    Suz - tell your hubby "thank you" - he made my day!
    Angie - I am humbled.

  • Vicki replied 7 years ago

    Just want to post again to say hooray for Vix, because I so loved her comments! Thank you, Vix. Still working on the personal validation path.

    Now ETA that Angie's comments are so beautiful and I am copying for their universal qualities. She speaks the truth, Shannon. Love this thread.

  • Deborah replied 7 years ago

    Shannon I read your post this morning but didn't get a chance to get back until tonight. I guess I don't have much more to add as there is much wisdom and truth in all the comments already. I have been following your boards for a while and have re pinned many things (thanks for the inspiration btw) and I have never considered that you might not be able to wear any of these things, The beauty in all this is that we make the look our own with our tweaks and changes. Angie said it so eloquently when she said your look is identifiable! That's one of my style goals:).

  • Krista replied 7 years ago

    Shannon, (warning: this is loooong.... apologies in advance!)

    As we have discussed a few times, we have similar body types and sizes (petite, size 12/14, although I am up to about size 16 now). And, because we have similarities, I always check out your posts on the forum first because I know I can turn around my own beliefs about my body/outfits when I see how you have tweaked YOUR wardrobe and outfits! You have singlehandedly taught me about the importance of proportion - and for this, I am ever so thankful! Hugs to you!

    I totally hear you on the conundrum of Pinterest, however, and how it can serve our style goals while keeping our perceptions about our body image intact. I went through a similar issue when I realized that I was pinning pictures of tall and slim women when I am short, curvy and very busty. It started to feel counter-intuitive after a while. So I gave myself a task that allowed me to separate myself from the emotional chatter of "Why am I pinning this when this woman has a body that I'll never have?" to "There has to be a reason why I am pinning this - so what's the element in the photo that was originally attractive to me?"

    I went through each of my style boards (links below) and created a chart in my wardrobe notebook. I gave myself three columns - What I've Pinned, What I Have, What I Need (to create the look). I scoured the boards and listed general categories of what I have pinned - eg. feminine details, shift dresses, belts, boots with skirts, etc. Then I listed what I had in my wardrobe and ultimately, made a list of what I wanted to buy in order to achieve the look.

    The interesting part was that once I made the list of what I needed to buy, I realized that I would have to COMMIT to some of the looks I have pinned in order to see if they worked for me. You'll notice that my "Wear it to Work" board has several pins of pencil skirts with blouses tucked into the waistband and accessorized with belts. So, here's a revelation - I hadn't tucked a blouse/shirt into a waistband of anything in about 8 years!! I also hadn't worn a belt at my waist in about.... 12 years?!? Talk about a disconnect!

    If you're still with me (so sorry this is long!) - I basically committed to addressing the disconnect between the looks I was pinning and what I was wearing. One morning, feeling particularly brave, I tucked a blouse into a pencil skirt, threw on a belt and went off to work. And I liked it! And it worked! As so many of the ladies ahead of me have said (so much more succinctly) - with a few tweaks, you can wear what you are pinning. In addition to great style, Shannon, you have amazing insight into your style - you will definitely make this work! And I will be right behind you all the way. Petite, curvy girls - UNITE!


  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    I knew our Shannon would be a positive bundle of fabulous energy in no time at all. She *is* our Queen Best Positive Attitude :)

    And a special thank you to everyone who contributed so heartwarming and sincerely to this thread.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    Vicki, Deborah and Krista - thank you so so much for your comments.

    Krista - yes it was long (tee her) but incredibly insightful and full of wisdom. Petite Curvy Girls UNITE indeed!

    Angie - do you see what an incredible place you have cultivated here? I'm so glad I found YOU and YLF :)

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    And we are thrilled that YOU found us :)

    Chin up beautiful lady! Hold that stylish head up high.

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