Updated: Jul 30, 2019
If I could paint a picture for you of my athletic ability, it would include the immobility of Ralph Wiggum combined with the obnoxious whining “can’t do it” attitude of Slimer of the Ghostbusters. Obscure cartoon references? Yes, but somehow you understand. I am uncoordinated, slow and forgetful; needing to be constantly reminded that a “burpee” is a routine in a workout and not an adorable nickname for respiratory flatulence. As someone who fears fast paced movement, the general feeling of sweat on my body, and the sound of melodic grunting, I never would have imagined that I would step foot inside a CrossFit gym. And yet, a year and a half later, I am in a monogamous relationship with a box (unintuitive CrossFit lingo for “gym”). Sweating, an elevated heart rate and the chorus of melodic grunting is my new normal. And with a healthy dose of shoulder to overhead weightlifting over the year, my body is changing: some strange mounds adjacent to my neck that I’m told are “traps” are developing, my neck is taking on a new form, and for the first time in my natural born life, there are trace amounts of muscle developing around what appears to be a deltoid.
Something strange is happening. My shoulders are widening, and my mid-section is shrinking. Nothing fits around the shoulders, blazers cut off circulation, and my formerly adorable cut off tank tops now make me look like a worthy contender (albeit third string) of the WWE. What good is it if you gain strength but lose your entire wardrobe? Ah, this does not have to be the case. If you have muscular shoulders and struggle to find clothing that is flattering to your frame, cast your worries on me - I will show you the way.
The “Halternative” to Wide Shoulders: The Halter Top
Counterintuitively, the solution to our problem is not to cover up the shoulders: it’s to balance them within the right frame. The natural neckline of a halter top will rest just along your collar bone and wrap along your traps. This resting position is like a built-in necklace that compels the eyes up towards the neckline and away from the shoulders, bringing a slimming and shrinking effect to them. When you have muscular shoulders, your goal is to create a multitude of pathways for the eyes to travel along your body so that they do not fixate solely on your shoulders. Our helpful halter accomplishes just that, as the eyes can move towards the neckline or along the outer chest following the cut of the top.
And when you have muscular shoulders and a narrow mid-section, you are probably familiar with the “upside-down triangle” phenomenon that weightlifters and gymnasts sometimes possess. Interestingly, look a little closer at the shape of the halter top from the neckline to the bust and you will see that it naturally creates a “right-side-up triangle.” Now, this is not a lesson in geometry, nor is it a strange game of Find-The-Triangle; what is important is the complimentary balance of the triangular shape of your upper half (upside-down triangle) with the halter top (right-side-up triangle). When worn with this body type, the natural cut of a halter top will always seamlessly soften wider shoulders and broader frames.
The kryptonite to your Superwoman Shoulders is anything with a cap-sleeve or scalloped sleeve. These cuts sever the multiple pathways for the eyes to travel along your body, giving the eyes only one option to focus: your shoulders. For shame! While these cuts may “hide” your shoulders, they actually draw more attention to them, volumizing the widest part of your body while hiding your neckline in the process.
Don’t Tank Your Look: The Tank Top
Don’t be fooled by the unassuming tank top. At its best, it can showcase the divinity of your shoulders; at its worst (and in my case), it can make your muscular shoulders resemble an unfortunate pair of under-seasoned Thanksgiving drumsticks. The key for choosing a showstopper tank top is all in the width of the strap. Ideally, you want to find the middle ground between a spaghetti strap and a thick, wide strap with most flattering straps averaging 1 to 1.5 inches in width. The name of the game here is contrast: the thinner and more delicate straps contrast well with a stronger and broader upper body. If your tank’s strap is too thick, having a large shoulder next to a thick strap further emphasizes the bulk of your upper body. With a contrasting slim strap, your shoulders can look fierce and feminine at the same time. Not ready to be a mistaken centerpiece at Thanksgiving? Neither am I. Avoid cuts like this scoop neck tank with a wide strap. Cuts like this emphasize bulky shoulders even more: mmm, I can smell the turkey just thinking about it.
Ain’t No Shame in a Wider Frame
One of the things I try to help people internalize is that your body will take on different shapes throughout your lifetime. Many people spend hours obsessing about dressing a body that they want without being present with the body that they have. Whether you have developed new-found muscle or have taken some time off from the gym and put on a few pounds, there’s always a way to dress your current frame to showcase your best features!
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