When it comes to commenting on other people's (and your own) outfits, the word "flattering" is arguably one of the most commonly used descriptors. Finding clothing that "flatters" your body has become the ultimate goal, especially according to mainstream fashion publications. But, usually, what we mean by flattering is "that outfit makes you look smaller and/or more hourglass shaped." Therefore, using it as a compliment, whether we like it or not, has turned into an implication that the best thing an item of clothing can do is create the illusion that you are thinner than you actually are.
There are, of course, several problems with this. For one, it implies that thinner always equals better. It also implies that everyone should, and does, want to be thinner — something that is patently untrue. And so, we here at Bustle would like to encourage everyone to find some new ways to compliment your best friend's outfit that don't involve telling them how flattering it looks.
Inspired by the grassroots body positivity movement, Bustle's fashion and beauty verticals have always aimed to find other ways to talk about style. The word "flattering" has been unofficially banned from our content since 2014 — and in January 2018, we made that ban official: None of BDG Media's sites will ever use the word flattering as it relates to appearance in editorial content.
If you're looking for some more creative ways to tell your friend you think their outfit is fly AF, here are 21 compliments that'll get the message across without implying that the goal of dressing should always be to make your body look a certain way.
"You look so confident/ happy/ glowing."
When it doubt, focus on how your friend is feeling, rather than how they look. After all, clothing should make us feel good!
"I love that so much I’m going to steal it when you’re not looking."
Is there a higher compliment than telling them you'd do anything to get the outfit in their closet?
"That outfit looks like something Rihanna would wear."
Or Sophie Turner or Zendaya or Gabi Gregg or whoever their style icon is.
"I’ve never seen anyone look so ready to kill it."
According to science, the clothes you wear can actually affect your confidence. Let your friend know they've nailed the art of putting together a look that slays all self-doubt.
"How do you always come up with such amazing outfits?"
A little skill complimenting can go a long way.
"I love the fact that I’ve never seen something like that on you before!"
If you know the look is a so-called style risk for your pal, don't be afraid to call her out on a job well done.
"You always inspire me to try new things with my clothing."
The best compliment? One that shows how you've inspired other people.
"Your style is everything."
"Every time I see one of your outfits, all I can think to myself is 'she’s the sh*t.'"
Let your friend know how cool you think they are.
"Excuse me miss, are you famous?"
Nothing like a case of mistaken identity to get you excited about your outfit.
"I can tell that you love what you’re wearing!"
An awesome outfit can make you feel like a million bucks — and that's something to celebrate.
"We need to come up with a special thing to do, just so you can be wearing that outfit while we do it."
"You are my fashion hero."
Not all heroes wear capes — though those are in style lately.
"Wait, can I take a photo of your outfit? I want to remember it so I can recreate it later."
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
"Have you ‘grammed your outfit yet?!"
If they say no, offer to take a pic.
"You. Look. AMAZING!"
Sometimes simple is the best way to go.
"Tell me where you got every single thing you’re wearing right now. Don’t spare any details."
This one compliments their current outfit and their impeccable shopping habits.
"The color of that dress is SO incredible."
Show them you admire their ability to pick a piece that stands out.
"I would have never thought to pair those two pieces together, but now I'm going to do it all the time!"
A little plug of their creativity can go a long way.
"Where do you get your outfit inspiration? I definitely need to follow those same people."
Help them support other creative people, too!
"Can we please go shopping together... right now?"
And when all other options have been exhausted, use this excellent outfit as an excuse to buy even more clothes.