When someone scrunches up their nose and tells you that your outfit isn’t “flattering,” you typically know that it means one of two things: You're wearing something that either doesn't make you look taller or skinnier. Seeing style through that narrow lens is definitely a shortcut to whittling down the contents of your shopping cart, but we prefer to define a flattering piece as one that really represents the person wearing it. And, what does that say if we're all taking taller and thinner to mean better?
Moving beyond those two definitions of “flattering” is an important step to harnessing the true joy of fashion. There's a whole spectrum of positive attributes your clothes could be delivering, and knowing what those are makes getting dressed more fun, and also much easier. Yes, that technicolored sack dress you love and your roommate hates is indeed flattering. Here’s the vocabulary you need to explain why.