Skinny jeans are in, if you can squeeze into them. (BERNADETTE TUAZON/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

How many women do we see gathered in a circle of three eyeing that poor style soul with skinny jeans that embody the idea of body suffocation?

We secretly wonder what it is that possesses a woman to put on attire that wreaks havoc on her shape, never actually having the courage to go to her and say what everyone else is thinking: “You many want to wear that top belted, but your mid-section may disagree.” The answer to your pondering is style denial.

Psychology defines denial as a psychological process by which painful truths are not admitted into an individual’s consciousness.  Applying style to that definition, it’s a simple belief that you can wear everything. A belief that just because the designer made that ruffled top in all sizes, you have a free pass to purchase it, no matter your shape.  So for all those potentially living in style denial, here are a few common pitfalls.

Bottoms up

While skinny jeans may come in all sizes, they don’t come in all shapes, and thus all shapes should not feel inclined to wear them. These super-fitted jeans are not complimentary on very bulky legs. To begin in the smaller sizes, I’ve seen women as small as size four unable to wear skinny jeans. If the legs are very built and muscular, instead of giving off a sleek and shaped appearance, it makes the legs look much bigger than they really are.

The best alternative for women in the lower end of the size scale, but with a bulkier bottom half is to focus on the classics like boot cut and flare. As for women that carry the majority of their weight on the bottom half (in particular plus size), unless your bottom half is beautifully shaped (and you know the answer ladies), keep your focus off skinny jeans as well. Focus on dark wash jeans with stretch, in boot cut, flare, or wide leg. Seven For All Mankind and Hudson jeans as great alternatives to working with your bottom curves.

The middle

A troubled mid-section can be one of the most daunting areas to dress, so it makes sense that many women in style denial reside here.  This area of denial could be avoided if women with larger mid-sections would just stop wearing low rise pants and jeans. 

If you have any type of belly, you know the minute you put on those low rise bottoms half your belly just got trapped in the bottom and the rest of it is sprawled out over the top.  It’s a visual nightmare!  I find this issue most prevalent among women who have had children. If you had a baby and your belly weight decided to stick around for 18 years too, low rise is your enemy. 

High rise should be your new best friend and confidant when in doubt about what to wear. “Hello high waist jeans- I should have passed on that second piece of apple pie. Thank goodness we came to the party together.” It’s the high waist jeans that act as an outer layer of Spanx to pull everything in and then shape it. Check out Marc by Marc Jacob’s high rise flare jeans or Mother high rise jeans for examples.

Another “middle” issue is spandex tops. To keep it simple, if you have any type of issue in your mid-section, avoid tight spandex tops and keep your focus on tops with either a more liberal fit, particularly tops that have contours and seams to create a proper waist for you. As for belting tops on a larger midsection, it’s like pouring gasoline on fire.  We’re trying to keep that flame in check, so put away your gasoline and limit the belts to your pant loops.

Your true size

If you’re ever curious about what it takes to attract the wrong kind of attention in public, put on a dress two sizes too small and you’ll start to get an idea. Outside of picking the proper clothing cut, way too many women are just wearing clothing that’s too small. So maybe you think you really do wear a size medium shirt, but if the buttons are screaming “let me out”on your collared shirt, you should really consider a size large.

Please take heed that the number on the tag isn’t the key to unlocking your perfect style, it’s the fit. Wearing clothing too small is the ultimate form of living in style denial, because you know it doesn’t fit but you wear it anyway, refusing to admit the “painful truth” into your consciousness. Ask yourself if you can breathe comfortably in your attire. If the answer is “no,” so is the outfit you put together.

Lauren Deloach is the owner of D&R Style Consulting and Category5. Email fashion questions to her at

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