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on gok’s fashion fix and looking your “best”

The other week I got to watch some Foxtel while I was housesitting for a friend. At home, I never get command of the television and it usually doesn’t bother me. I don’t really watch a lot of television ON television nowadays anyway. This time, however, I definitely got my fill. Four days’ worth of the Lifestyle You channel (a complete guilty pleasure), in particular, Gok’s Fashion Fix.

Gok Wan is a fashion stylist, who has a show, helping out those whose wardrobes need a revamp. He travels to different cities in the UK and gets the women within the town (who have applied, I presume) to bring along their wardrobes and picks out, I guess, the most tragic, the ones most in need of “help”. They get to learn about what they’re doing wrong and receive advice and money to change their shopping habits and wardrobes.

During the episodes, he also does fashion face offs with another stylist. These include three outfits based on fashion trends –Gok’s outfits focus on finding the look for less and the other stylist focuses on designer. There is a runway show at the end where the audience votes on the best look, not knowing which is which.

His philosophy during the show is to shop less and wear more, with key pieces tailored towards each person’s lifestyle and job situation with the regular person segment and high street fashion looking luxe in the challenge segment.

I realised while watching many, many episodes during those four days that although I far preferred Gok’s show over Trinny and Susannah’s What Not to Wear (and especially love the look for less segments), it still has a huge focus on flattering the figure and conforming to more acceptable body shapes. Hiding “flaws” and enhancing other parts.

There is nothing obviously wrong with this. I admit to sometimes dressing to showcase what I got and hiding what I don’t have. I don’t believe there’s anything at all malicious in his intentions at all. He comes across as a self-described “fairy Gokmother.” I do think he truly just loves fashion and wants everyone to look their “best”.

But, it’s the notion of “best” and “flattering” I have a problem with.

I’ve spoken before about “fuck flattering.” I don’t enjoy the idea that looking your “best” automatically equals looking your smallest. Minimising or maximising those parts of the body which are perceived as flaws and conforming to an ideal body shape. I don’t like when “flattering” is code for slimming. It, to me, implies there is something wrong with your body the way it is.

As women, we live up to exhausting standards. Some we place on ourselves and others are placed upon us. Clothing is just one of the ways we do this.

Clothing can be armour. It can be a political statement. Or it could simply be this is what is clean today, this is what fits right now, this is the only thing in my size. They maketh the woman, but they’re not all of her.

“Flattering” and “best” are subjective terms and to restrict ourselves to them is to do ourselves a disservice.

Sometimes, you don’t want to look your “best”. Sometimes, you don’t know what your “best” is. And that’s ok.

(Image Credit)

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