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· Fashion Notes: Body-Con

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Fashion Notes: Body-Con
by The Kindly One

We all dress to allure, whatever your particular style. My own style is body-conscious dressing, lacking the curves for flimsy slip dresses ofr the personality for ruffles. While body-conscious dressing is associated with the extreme fit and cut of bandage dresses, I define it much more literally as consciously framing the body, allowing the wearer's dress to act as accessory and her body as the statement. For all its boldness, this is a very minimal loook that leaves jewelry, big hair, and excessive layering to other, weaker statements.

Body-con gained a bad reputation for excessive aggression, but it need not be so aggressive. The best looks balance the straightfoward display of the body with softness in fabric or cut, allowing for a look that's more feminine and less raunchy. L'Wren Scott's design is a perfect marriage of the extreme cut of body-con paired with a muted, respectable blue and an elogated shape to flatter and balance out othe tightness. I'm particularly fond of her inset shoulders, as they subtly reveal skin without degrading ito vulgarity.

Thakoon's shift dress provides a feminine take on bandage dresses. The fact that this is a shift dress need not throw you. Most body-con dresses, including bandage dresses, are essentially shift dresses cut down to exactly conform to the body. Thakoon's shift dress detours from standard office wear with the embellishment of black ribbon bandages, providing a knowing nod at bandage dressing in a far more feminine and forgiving cut than bandage dresses could ever claim.Of all the included dresses, I find this Prada dress the sexiest. While not as tight as the others, it is even more body-conscious, as the cut's plunging neckline and slit literally point to what's underneath. The fuller cut also allows for a movement of fabric impossible in a narrower cut, allowing the dress to slink around the body with each movement. The tension between the obscured view and revelation, as well as friction of the fabric against skin, heightens the dress from mere body-consciousness to eroticism.

Finally, no discussion of body-con can be complete without inclusion of bandage dresses. Though Lou Doillon's dress is too short and, really, too tight, I've chosen it as an example of the design possible in bandage dresses. The beige contrast provides more interesting detail than would be found in a simply black dress, and the off-the-shoulder cut also softens and feminizes the look. What strikes me most about this picture, though, is the wearer. Lou Doillon is looking the camera dead on, smiling and owning the outfit. This is largly unseen in sexy dressing. Too often, women allow the outfit to wear them, as though putting on a standard, uniform "sexy dress" will make them into standard sexy people, denying the responsibility of finding their own look and sexuality. I love this picture because my attention is on Lou Doillon, not on her sexy dress or on a naive "sexy" posturing. This is what I appreciate most about body-conscious dressing, that it forces the wearer's body and wearer herself front and center. There's nothing to hide behind, with no room for passivity. It takes consciousness and confidence to wear these clothes, separating them from ubiquity and slutty vulgarity. These are clothes for women of thought and self-possession.


3/11/2009 [5]

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