Does This Make Me Look Fat?

I never realized how differently we see matters of fashion until today. I mean, I knew we have different opinions, and I knew that I sometimes need a reality check from someone less taken by the whimsical but utterly impractical styles of Vogue, but I hadn't fully understood that sometimes, where I see one thing, he sees something else entirely.

I was in the bedroom, trying on my mom's cast-away clothing (a slightly juvenile ritual we go through each time I visit her, or vice versa). First she gave me a dress--polka dotted and colorful, nicely cut. I modeled it in the kitchen to the (admittedly tame) approval of the men. So I was feeling good about the next piece: a dark navy wraparound dress with bell sleeves. In front of the mirror, mom and I admired how well it hugged my curves, how lovely the fabric, how all around fabulous it was. Privately, I thought its finest feature was the way it hung on my rear, but I never got a chance to showcase this to my love: as soon as I entered the kitchen, he said one word, with a wrinkled nose:


"What?" I said. I figured I'd misheard. Maybe he had been talking about something else. Maybe he had been responding to a voice in his head, or maybe he had made a mistake with his eyes, and thought I was wearing a trash bag. But surely he'd come to his senses.

"Oh, no," he said again. I blinked.

"Really?" I said.

"It's the sleeves," he told me. "They look like something a forty-year-old woman would wear."

"Look at this face," I said, gesturing wildly. "Does this look like the face of a forty-year-old-anything?"

"No," he told me. "That's exactly the problem. It's--it's completely incongruous."

Back in the safety of the bedroom, I considered myself in the mirror. My buttocks looked fabulous; my breasts looked rounded, my abdomen looked--astonishingly--flat. But there it was: floppy forty-year-old-woman sleeves. I tried hiking them up, but no. All I could see was a middle-aged body with a twenty-something face.

How can two people see the same thing so differently? And which one of us is right? More importantly, to a girl trying to make her way in the world with some semblance of fashion sense, how on earth am I supposed to know what really looks good and what doesn't? The worst bit is, I can't even write this off to his being a man: he's shockingly good at picking out clothes for women, and some of my all-time favorite pieces were spotted not by me, or a trendy girlfriend, but by my own true love. I trust his judgment; but I also trust mine, and I'm fascinated by how oppositely we can react to something as simple as a little navy blue dress.

The next thing I tried on was a forest green turtleneck jumper, which I liked mostly for its color. It had a seam in the back and the first thing he did when I came into the room was frown and ask if I was wearing it inside out.

"No," I said emphatically, trying not to sound too petulant.

"Oh," he said, his face falling.

But I put it in the "keep" pile anyway, just in case.