Nikki’s Inbox: Afraid To Be Girly

I’m 19 and a sophomore in college. I’ve never been into fashion and I consider myself more of a hoodie-and-jeans type of girl. I like wearing loose tops and jackets over skinny jeans since I am very thin and have a boyish body type. I hate wearing girly things and only wear dresses when I have to. I’m just realizing that it would be socially unacceptable for me to continue down this path and I’d like to dress my age and not look like a bum. But how can I dress my age without having to force myself into being a girly girl? I understand that I may have to give up my hoodie, but do I really have to give up my jeans for skirts and dresses?

Ciara, 19/USA

Ciara darling, why on earth would it be considered “socially unacceptable” if you choose to wear jeans 98% of the time (the 2% is for when you absolutely cannot)? Wearing jeans is only truly considered unacceptable if you wear them when formal wear (which means gowns or cocktail dresses) or business casual attire (pants are okay but not jeans) is specified.

Now as for “not looking like a bum,” that depends on the kind of clothes you wear on a day-to-day basis. If your jeans look as though just one strand of thread is holding them together, or your loose top can fit one more human being inside, then perhaps it is indeed time to upgrade your personal style.

Flatter your body type
If you are indeed a pencil shape, dear, wearing something too big on top and too tight below (like loose tops and skinny jeans) will make you look visually disproportional. Remember this word: A-line. This silhouette is a foolproof way to make you look more balanced, giving you gentle curves where you lack them. A-line tops adorned with ruffles, draped necklines, puff sleeves or ruching add volume in the right places and look totally acceptable with nice jeans. If it fits the look, add a belt around your natural waist for further definition.

Aside from your jeans, do consider pants, specifically wide-leg pants. If you’ve got the height for it, these are perfect for you, Ciara! They will make you look taller and more graceful, as the hemline mimics the sweeping movement of skirts. They add a more put-together vibe to your outfit, even with your favorite hoodie. As for skinny jeans, you do know there are other styles besides skinnies, right? Relaxed fits like boyfriend jeans will fit your frame well and look casual but appropriate for your age. Straight-leg dark-wash jeans are timeless and work for tons of occasions, so grab a couple of pairs! Additionally, cut back on the distressed variety and go for colored ones instead as these will amp up your style instantly.

Find the fun in being a girl
Wearing jeans has a lot of advantages but there’s a different kind of fun when you wear a dress or a skirt. I say that if you’ve got nice legs, skirts and dresses are the best way to show them off! If you’re averse to mini skirts, how about trying longer midi skirts? You can wear them with ballet flats, your favorite Converse sneakers or sandals in summer. They’ll also work with almost any kind of top, even a plain white tee. When you feel comfortable in a midi skirt, try other lengths like flowy maxi skirts or a simple denim mini skirt.

With dresses, start with something simple. I find mock two-piece dresses to be the easiest thing to wear as they come as a matching top and skirt – no agonizing needed! You can just opt for a simple striped top with a solid skirt and use a wide patent belt at the waist for shape. Skater dresses come in that universally flattering A-line silhouette and you can simply wear patterned leggings underneath if you wear a solid-colored dress and vice versa.

I find that there are days when I can think and work better in jeans than in skirts, Ciara. You don’t have to be decked out in ribbons, lace, ruffles and pastel colors to be a girl. You can still look like the young woman you are without having to give up your love of denim. Don’t be afraid to try one piece at a time. You might be surprised to find that you might actually enjoy wearing a skirt or dress once in a while!


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