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  • Pilates instructor needs fashion help to find a flattering fit: How to dress for an athletic frame


    Let’s help this Pilates instructor figure out what to wear to work to look chic and flatter her athletic build

    Q:I have been a Pilates instructor for 15 years and constantly trying to find interesting and comfortable tops that flatter my figure and suit my almost Bohemian style. I’m 53 years old, 5’7′, and weigh in at 155 pounds.

    I feel that tunic length tops work best on my figure, particularly ones that have rounded hems, long sleeves, and a boat neck or ballet neckline. I have a heck of timefinding these type of tops or even longer shirts with a shirttail hemline—it seems that they are always straight across the bottom. I just need tops that are long sleeved, super comfy with a bit of drape… not clingy, and flatter my hips.

    I really do like a more “interesting” hem— even a reverse rounded hemline that is longer on the sides looks better than straight across on me. I wear tights, leggings with leg warmers or yoga pants on the bottom. Any idea where I should turn? Thank you! (Shelton, Washington)

    A:Yes, I admit it. I have been snooping. I saw your email address and looked your studio up on the web. Honey, you’ve got legs for days! You do have an athletic body but it is more of those beautiful long and lean muscles that are a result of Pilates training.You are right, when we are on the muscular side, softer drapier shapes are usually more flattering than crisp tailored silhouettes. Something very structured, like a menswear blazer, will only make you appear larger, whereas something drapey or soft, like a knit cardigan, will work with your form and show off your strength.But you need to stop pigeonholing yourself into one very exact style of garment—especially a style that is more of a trend that doesn’t have a long shelf life when it comes to fashion!

    Instead, think in the bigger picture and develop an overall feel that can be updated with time and always looks modern, not dated. I would go for jersey pieces that have a natural softness to their silhouette and play well against your strong body. Look for more asymmetrical cuts. Don’t rule out anything that is not long sleeves. You can cover up with a layering piece, like a very lightweight cardigan.

    Notice in the Look Book above that all the pieces are far more sophisticated than what you describe, but still in the same vein. That’s what age-appropriate dressing is about: you keep your style but adapt it with time!

    I can’t really get past the bottom issue. Do you wear leg warmers while exercising or have you taken them to the street? Legwarmers are by no means out-of-the-gym style, decidedly for a woman who is old enough to remember Jane Fonda wearing them in her exercise videos!

    If you are wearing legwarmers because you feel that the bulk around your ankle balances your frame, then swap out that tired style with something more modern, like a pair a shorter slouchy boots or even the on trend slouchy sandal boot.

    And, yoga pants, well, they are for yoga or Pilates and not casual dress. You may be a fitness instructor, but when you are off-duty you need to wear real clothes and not sports clothes—it’s part of being a big girl who knows how to look amazing!

    –May 27, 2009


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