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Why I Love The Boxy Tee, Even Though It's "Wrong" For My Shape

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    One silhouette has been on heavy rotation in my wardrobe lately. And, while it's not necessarily uncommon for me to lean on a handful of styles that I believe — after years of trial and error — work for my shape, this time around the choice is a bit bizarre. It's something I've historically avoided at all costs.

    In fact, my recent boxy-top obsession goes against everything I've gleaned from years of dressing for a busty frame. We're talking the kind of awkward, uncomfortable lessons you learn when you grow into your adult self. Such as, which clothes hug you so close you never want to be seen in public without a jacket; and which make you look like a lollipop with a larger, rounder top balanced above the stick of your slim, boyish hips; and that both should be avoided. As far as I knew, the boxy shape fell in the latter category. But, fashion seems to love it.

    You don't have to look further than a Google search for "'60s mod" to see how silhouettes started expanding into cheeky, geometric forms. More recently, I've been tempted by the kind of slightly slouchy-at-the-shoulders tees I've seen at 3.1 Phillip Lim, Tibi, and (most accessible of all) Zara. But, already conditioned by my sartorial learnings of the past, I counted myself out of this trend immediately. That was, until a certain Carven tee struck me on a recent trip to Charleston.

    While standing in the middle of a store, surrounded by options that were probably more "my speed," I was drawn to a simple, black-and-white, collared boxy top. Just the kind I probably would have instantly shot down in the past. Its fabric was thick, the shape was stiff, it had a slightly cropped hem, and I didn't need a ruler to tell me this shirt was practically a perfect square. Against my better judgement, I tried it on.

    Not only did I like the way the top fell on my torso — ending right at my waist but not actually touching it — it was also flattering. It allowed me to play around with proportions, so I slipped into everything from slim trousers to a full, swingy maxi skirt. Sure, any time I find a piece of clothing I really like I want to wear it with everything, but this was different. I was trying something new with everything.

    A few months, and admittedly several more boxy-tee purchases later, I'm convinced that the shape is universally flattering. I've tucked them into high-waist skirts or skinny jeans for a more defined waistline, and have learned to love them loose, not afraid of a fit that's unapologetically oversized.

    My summer boxy tee may be another person's two-piece swimsuit, ugly sandal, or big, badass single earring. It's my personal reminder that style shouldn't have limitations — a hand-delivered invitation to go beyond the ones I had set for myself. All it takes is the tiniest bit of fitting-room bravery, and our oldest habits can be broken by something as simple as a T-shirt (mostly the bravery, but the T-shirt helps). Look ahead to scope out a few styles to slink into if you're ready to break out of — or into — the box.

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