screen time

Can Fashion Make Me Stop Slouching?

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images, Courtesy of Mugler

Now more than ever, people are experiencing fashion through their phones. In “Screen Time,” fashion writer Emilia Petrarca shares all the screenshots, double taps, and swipes she made this week.

Last weekend, I was flipping through the “Spring Style Issue” of The New Yorker when I recognized myself in the form of a noodle. Like me, this piece of pasta was sitting slumped in a chair, its center presumably soft and malleable. “Stand Up Straight!” read the headline, as though it were shouting directly at me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about posture this week — not just standing up straight, but also carrying my body in general and how fashion can change the way you move through the world.

While watching the new Audrey Hepburn documentary on Netflix (don’t recommend), I was struck by the ways in which Hubert de Givenchy’s clothes affected the actress’s movements. A trained ballet dancer, she had impeccable posture, and Givenchy designed pieces to highlight the lines of her body. A bateau neck, for example, could accentuate the sharpness of her clavicle and shoulders. A pleat down the back of a dress could elongate her tiny frame. If you watch the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, you’ll also notice that the tight hem of her signature black dress forces her to take delicate little steps.

I also watched the new Tina Turner documentary on HBO this week (definitely recommend), and it emphasizes how fashion gave her a much-needed sense of freedom. Seeing her dance in a gold fringe dress, you’d have no idea the kind of prison she was in at home. In an interview with the Cut this week, costume designer Bob Mackie discusses how his work for Turner “told the story of her liberation.”

Finally, I watched the Mugler spring-summer-2021-fashion film, which was all about moving through the world in a different way — backward, specifically. It featured Bella Hadid doing literal backflips (well, her stunt double did the flips) and Hunter Schafer slinking down the runway in body-con looks. Watching Dominique Jackson walk in reverse, (and in any direction), you can really appreciate all the small movements that make up her incredibly powerful strut.

For the past year, my clothes haven’t given me any incentive to be vertical. Instead, they made me feel safe and comfortable and warm. They were good for curling up in the fetal position, which is what I needed. But I think I’m ready to wear things that make me stand a little taller. I’m not talking about, like, a corset but rather proportions and cuts and fabrics that will force me to carry myself with more purpose. This could mean big pants that allow me to move like MC Hammer, flowing dresses that make me walk like Jennifer Lopez, face masks with fringe, or a harness that is, well, a harness.

For inspiration, I looked to the many outfits of Leon Dame, whose hunched walk on the Margiela runway made headlines in 2019.

Below, my week in scrolling (while sitting up straight).

A Good Off-the-Shoulder Top

There are few off-the-shoulder tops more iconic than the ones worn by Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. First, we have the lesser-known slouchy T-shirt she wears in the opening scene. And then, of course, the cutoff sweatshirt she wears while taking off her bra. As a dancer, she knows the importance of a suggestive shoulder, and rewatching this makes me want to cut the collar off all my tops.

If you’re looking for a brand-new off-the-shoulder top (and have a big budget), Monse is your brand. Our Legacy also makes a good slouchy shirt, which you could wear off your shoulder if you wanted. We’ve written about these powerful tank tops before. Personally, I prefer a good shawl. Merci in France makes affordable linen scarves in lots of fun colors, which I wear on my shoulders all summer long. Whatever you wear, though, the key is that it shouldn’t look stiff.

Big Pockets

When I think about pockets, Madonna’s “Don’t Tell Me” music video immediately comes to mind. I thinks she’s the only person in the world who could make the cowboy pocket stance look cool, though, so I’m in the market for some big, billowy pockets instead. I’ve had my eye on these Caron Callahan pants for a while. I’ve also been staring at the pockets on this perfect purple Patou coat. I love how the sleeves are cut to allow for the model to slip her hands into them.

Silky-Smooth Silk

A co-worker told me this week that all she’s buying is silk: silk shirts, silk pants, silk shoes. I can relate: I recently favorited a pair of silk Nili Lotan pants on the RealReal, as well as a silk Nili Lotan slip dress, and have been looking for a good dupe of this pink silk Valentino shirt to no avail. Silk is loose and comfortable like sweats, but more formal. In fact, it feels so good on your body that all you want to do is move around … slowly. Think of TLC wearing big, billowy silk pajamas in the “Creep” video.

Some Heels, Of Course

Those “Walk a Mile in These Louboutins” TikTok videos prove that even the concept of a heel can change the way you walk. Personally, I’ve been looking for some good knee-high boots to wear with a miniskirt. Boots are so expensive, though, so I’ve mostly been searching for vintage — brands like Gianvito Rossi — or used boots from Maryam Nassir Zadeh. During the summer, I’ve found that I can walk a mile in espadrille wedges.

A Bag You Want to Show Off

As I’ve said a million times now, carrying a tiny bag can completely change your posture. They aren’t just better for your back, but they also feel precious and like something you want to hang from your wrist or fingers like a painting. Jacquemus bags, I’m sorry to say, are tired, but what about a baby Telfar? Or a Simone Rocha bag shaped like a pearl? Or a collapsible mushroom-foraging bucket? Or a bag for carrying wine to the park??

I recently purchased this floral Prada bag with some credits, and I plan on carrying it around like I’m Meghan Markle on Deal or No Deal. I think we should all aspire to carry our handbags the way the women on that show carried their suitcases.

There Are So Many TikToks About Posture

In addition to tutorials on how to fake a mirror pic, there are a million mesmerizing videos on TikTok about how to best strike a pose when you’re not planning on leaving the house.

Daily Average Screen Time This Week: 3h, 36 min

Up ten percent from last week, probably because I made a finsta.

Can Fashion Make Me Stop Slouching?