We can use the elements of design to help us dress in real, authentic ways. As women we possess two aesthetically pleasing lines. One is the vertical line. The other is the “line of beauty."
Vertical lines look good. We’re often told they're the most flattering in clothes. They’re “slimming;” they make us “look thin." Growing up, most of us absorbed messages about being thin. I do not wish to appear "fat," but the pressure to appear thin is damaging, and I don't want to feed it.
We can give ourselves different messages that achieve the same thing but don't feed a compulsion for thinness. Vertical lines appeal to the eye because we are vertical. In art, vertical lines invoke action, strength, even spirituality. Horizontal lines invoke stasis and passivity. If my overall visual image is vertical, I will convey aliveness.
Women also have a unique line that never goes away. The 18th century painter William Hogarth identified a “line of beauty” (above) critical to visual aesthetics. This line, or its parts, are found all over nature: hillsides, waves, leaves. In humans, the female form captures it more than the male form. Artists and designers still use this ideal.
Hogarth didn't say only young, skinny women have lines of beauty. You could say it's our inherent feminine line. The problem (for me) is that the media translates this into notions of "hot" and "sexy," as defined by much younger women.
I want to look my best, but I don't want to take my cues from the media. I'd rather trust historical standards of beauty. The concepts of vertical line and the womanly "line of beauty" are two aesthetic standards I'm never going to lose, no matter what my age. I like that.
On a practical level, I believe these ideas mean we can dress with integrity by aiming for the vertical line, and by choosing clothes that fit our feminine lines. There's an art to this, but we have a lot of guidance. You can see some ideas at my other post on line, here.