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Frumpy or fashionable: Confidence is always in style

Living in the vogue capital isn’t easy for wannabe fashionistas like me.

In New York City, the street is our runway. Fashion surrounds us, and trends are born. Developing one’s own sense of style and breaking the rules is expected and accepted in Manhattan. But living in the vogue capital isn’t easy for wannabe fashionistas like me. The pressure to look good is always on high. To some, it’s second nature. For others, it’s work.



I am not a skinny girl — never have been naturally. Well, I was extremely thin at age 14 or 15 as an aspiring ballerina, but I was on the starvation diet, and that was decades ago. My adult life hasn’t been as skinny. Michael says I am "womanly." In a man's words, this means curvy and not thin. Or perhaps voluptuous is a better term.



Even though I adore fashion, trends, and especially bargain hunting, I have a love-hate relationship with shopping. The challenge in finding affordable, well-fitted garments that don’t require major alterations is sheer frustration at times. Where have all the good clothes gone? Obviously, they don’t live uptown.



Who fits into the clothing of today other than self-starved women and super models? This could never be me. I love food entirely too much.



Some days I can pull it off, and others — well, honestly I don't have the time or the energy. So I settle for what I call a frump day, and only hope that I don’t run into Kevin Bacon again.



A frump day can consist of sweats, baggy jeans, and big shirts over leggings, or even (I am embarrassed to admit it) pajamas and wooly socks. When it’s freezing cold outside, or I’m in a serious writing mode, I can’t pay attention to my wardrobe. But, lack of a deadline and mild weather bring out the best in my fashion sense.



As much as I adore certain brands, my curvaceous figure doesn’t always cooperate. Call me vain because I am, but I refuse to wear an extra-large, even if I love the design. Zara is a perfect example of fantastic style and affordable pricing. There’s only one problem: their clothing doesn’t fit me. As much as I love the look, even the larges don’t fit my bod. Perhaps I could find shirts if I increased my size, but the pants are another story. I can’t get them over my knees. Who in the H fits in smalls? 12 year-olds?



Recently, I attempted to try on a Zara dress and I couldn’t get it past my shoulders. It never made it to the boobs, so it wasn’t my fleshy figure fighting. Why does clothing seem to look bigger on the hanger? Even though medium was printed on the tag, the cute sheath was cut like an extra-small. A larger size might have made it to the chest, but certainly would have gotten hung up somewhere on the way down.



As a result, I’ve permanently boycotted that store because it does nothing for my self-esteem, nor does it expand my wardrobe. Sorry Zara. But I will continue to dream of fitting into your chic dresses.



Couture clothing presents the same challenges. Often, I buy a size too large because I never want to be one of those women who think a three-sizes-too- small pair of pants actually fit. I don’t bother trying on my typical size 6 either. Wearing any couture garment, I am an 8 at the very least. On occasion, I need to move into the double digits.



About six months ago, I finally purchased a pair of skinny jeans. I’ve always been a wide-legged kind of girl, but the tapered pants have been in for at least five years now. I was long overdue. Much to my surprise, the Uniqlo dark denims made it past the ankles, across the knees, over the tookus, and around the hips, landing right where they belonged. Gotta love Lycra.



This past weekend, I tried on a few vintage pieces from the 1960s. Obviously, most in that era wore a smaller bra size. I told myself this as the buttons were popping. Girdles were the norm fifty years ago, and comfort was a stranger. Did women actually wear full body armor to squeeze into a smaller size? This must be the problem with girls today. We actually like to breathe while playing dress-up.



Body dimensions have shifted over the decades too. Typical measurements had a ten-inch difference 30 or 40 years ago. A 36-26-36 was a perfectly proportioned woman. Now it’s something like 36-28-39. Apparently, the pear is in.



Fashion appeals to skinny girls, super-models, buxom bodies, full-figured, and all those in between. Being happy with yourself starts in your head and doesn’t end in the mirror, so we all need to lighten up when it comes to our sizes. Small, medium, large, or extra shouldn’t matter.



Whether frumpy or fashionable, wear it well and hold your head high as you sashay down Broadway. No matter what, confidence is sexy and will always be in style.



For more on fashion, follow me on Twitter, or on Tracy’s New York Life.