Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Easy Fix
I know! You've heard it a million times from your mother. But posture really does matter. You probably saw Miley slouching up to the microphone, looking as if she was afraid if she stood up her dress wouldn't make the jump with her. She looked tentative, uncomfortable. Now imagine Lauren Bacall striding across the stage. She moves tall, with confidence, exuding a panther-like grace.
Standing confidently doesn't mean you have to be prissy about it. Katherine Hepburn knew how to lean back and rest a trousered leg on the edge of a coffee table and own the room. Rita Hayworth stood a little too close, a little too open, but filled the scant inches between her and her co-star with tangible sex appeal. No, standing straight simply means moving with the conviction that you know you look good, you're at ease, and to hell with what everyone else thinks.
Curiously, standing straight can even encompass a slight hunching of the shoulders. Carole Lombard was the master of the 1930s elegant slouch, and Maggie Gyllenhal does it well today. But their greyhound-like posture was relaxed and confident. Conversely, a soldier-straight posture can feel contrived.
Vintage clothing especially loves confident posture. Back in the day they were first carried out of boutiques, vintage clothes were worn by women kept straight by girdles, truss-like brassieres, and stilettos that demanded a mincing step. If you haven't shaken your adolescent slouch, a 1950s dress will pooch at the torso and chest and pull up at the hips.
While we're on the topic of posture, another skill to practice until it becomes second nature is getting out of a car gracefully. Sitting in the car, open your door (or wait until someone opens it for you), then swing your legs, together, out the door. Now, using one arm to boost your body, extend a leg and step forward. Stand up. You shouldn't even need to pull down and straighten your skirt.
Really, good posture is more about attitude than mechanics, and attitude is the largest part of looking good. Once you've slid that gorgeous dress over your hips, turn around and look in the mirror. Smile. You look great. Now walk like you mean it.