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I think honesty is fine if you're still in the dressing room. Once someone has made a decision that they're happy with the way something looks and taken it home I think discretion is the better part of valor.

My mom is also of the school of, if your mother can't be honest with you, who can be.

And after watching many "What not to Wear" shows, it's clear to me that some styles of clothing really WILL make your butt look bigger than others might. So if asked, I might say: "That style is really working against your body shape - have you thought about...?"

I'd never go as far as saying anything was revolting though, LOL.

In the examples you give, I don't hear the "wear-er" ASKING for your mom's opinion. Is that correct?

Perhaps Mom should consider offering her compliments, without the subsequent critique, unless such questions are specifically asked.

Ultimately, though, I think women are generally SO self-conscious that commenting on not-so-flattering outfits, etc. may cause more harm than good.

My Mum has always said that you should only rely on your own mother for an honest opinion ... that it's never in a "friend's" interest to be honest about looks!

I would say its case by case. I never offer an opinion unless it is asked. Even then, I consider certain things - is the dress bought and unreturnable, is she REALLY excited about it or really still looking for opinions before she makes a decision. Then I try to sugar coat but make the point "For some reason, it seems to draw attention to your lower half" or "It kind of does make your butt look big which is weird because your butt isn't big AT ALL!"

Only because you asked ;-)

I say it depends on who the wearer is and who the critic is.

If you are my husband (critic) and I am me (wearer) the answer is, without question, "I think you always look beautiful. That's why I married you."

If you are me (critic) and the wearer is one my more self-confident friends, the answer is as politely honest as possible. Perhaps a "It's not your best look" or "so few people can really pull that off."

And then there are those people who are really shopping for a compliment. To them, you give the compliment. They are not in the market for reality.

OK, I'm not for crushing the spirit of your girlfreind who went out and bought the latest style to wear to a one time event - if she's excited about that dress and you're confident that it will forever reside in her closet thereafter - by all means, let her have her day.

But, on the favorite spotty skirt that is unflattering or on the everyday jacket that needs an update or at least a good dry clean. For goodness sakes, I'd want to know! And, if asked, I'd tell. Nicely, of course, but tell nonetheless.

I agree with the other commenters!
1. Only offer an opinion when asked.
2. Reiterate that they are, of course, ALWAYS beautiful.
3. Blame it on the piece of clothing.
4. Express disbelief that any article of clothing would be able to make them look less than stunning.

The first commentor (Robin) took my answer word for word!

I think the key with being honest is to say in the present time - people can appreciate an honest remark trying to save them from future embarrassment. An honest remark about something that has already happened doesn't help too much. And I agree with the first comment - once a decision has been made, zip it. :^)

Shockingly honest advice 1) ONLY when asked and 2) ONLY when it is someone who will love you after you tell them how awful they look and 3) ONLY when delivered with some other lovely trait pointed out as well.

Advice should definitely be given before leaving a dressing room in a store and wasting money, and before someone leaves the house. Honest advice, but gently phrased. My husband and I have a deal that he can and must tell me if something looks bad when I still have time to fix it. "Don't wear that in public" is sort of our code phrase. I promised to just accept it if he promised not to say anything when we were in front of others or out at a party. Only exception? If he sees something hideous, like a giant stain, he discretely whispers in my ear, and then loans me his jacket, while I speculate loudly about how cold it is and thank him for his gallantry.

Cause after all, who wants to be the woman walking down the runway of life with her skirt tucked in her pantyhose?

I can't understand why people ever ask such a stupid question like, Does my butt look big in this?? Surely you know the answer to that! Just stand with your back to the mirror, look over your shoulder and if you see a big ass staring back at you - you got your answer!! And if you still want the outfit, despite the big ass effect, then live with it - or disguise it with a jumper tied around your waist or something!! Don't ask other people humiliating questions, thus putting them in the dilemma of - do I tell the truth or not!!!

I agree with kirstyphysio, why ask the stupid question? If you ask, but can't handle the truth, why bother?

*I* would say something like, "I think those other pants are more flattering"

Ha ha, she is very funny our mom. I actually did a big butt post as well today. I don't mind mom's honesty but I do mind her timing.
I guess there is no good time for hearing about our faults.

I say you can't make a tiger change his stripes. If a person is a person who is likely to say these things, they will always be that way. We all have our owl level of comfort as to how honest we are with other people about sensitive things. If your mom is OK saying these things, then she's not going to change. KWIM? I can be just as annoyed, or perhaps more annoyed, by a person who is clearly avoiding my question in order to spare my feelings, than someone who will just tell me what they think already. Especially when I've asked.

Ha, my mom is the same way. I noticed that after menopause, any sort of filter went out the window. Now, she just says what she thinks. She has actually told me, "That outfit looks dreadful!" If I'm talking to her on the phone, she doesn't continue the conversation just to be nice, if she doesn't feel like talking, she'll say, "I have to go, I want to X, Y or Z instead." Ok, there, Mom!

On the other hand, if my friend tried on an outfit that didn't look good, I would definitely tell her -- I'd say something like, "That isn't the most flattering -- how about wearing X, Y or Z instead?"

Honesty is good...if it's asked for. I do find it rude when people give additional input on something, too. (IE: Pants/skirt situation with Nina). The bottom line is that people should ask for an opinion if they really want an honest one, and not just affirmation that they look how they think they look. However, I think it's a bit much to go a step further and bring up other outfits entirely. Moms get a bit of extra ruling, because they're...well...moms. Nonetheless, it sounds like she does that quite often and probably shouldn't, unless someone looks so revolting they absolutely need to be told.

I would prefer it if someone was honest with me, especially if the outfit I chose to wear looked hideous on me....(I am hoping, though that after all these years, I have at least learned not to wear things that look hideous but I suppose we all have rosy images of being the model in the mag that pulled it off past perfection). My husband once told me that he prefered it if I didn't wear a particular dress and although I was dissapointed, it was more dissapointment in the fact that I didn't look as great as I thought I did in that dress than in the fact that he said it. I actually told him later that I appreciated the fact that he had told me, rather than let about a hundred other people think the same thing about how I looked in the dress. I would't tell somebody I didn't know very well that they looked bad but if the outfit on a close friend or relative was really a vomit inducing creation, I would try and find some tactful way of making sure the outfit ended up in the bin, like my black dress :)

I always respond with something like, "why? do you not feel like it looks good on you? if you don't feel good in it, wear something else."

I have the tried and true answer to this question: BLAME THE CLOTHES. It's honest, it's gentle, and it prevents your friend from embarrassing herself while preserving your friendship.

Q: Does my butt look big in this?

A: I'm not sure what's going on, but that skirt just isn't hanging right. I think it's cut funny - I wouldn't waste my money (in the dressing room) / I'm not sure I'd wear it that much (if it's already purchased).

Marjorie, that is sheer brilliance! Outstanding!

Marjorie is the reason I love your readers Tertia! There are always at least one or two brilliant answers to the questions you post (often more). I swear you should have an "Ask Tertia's Readers" standalone blog.

I think I am a bit like your mom. When my best friend asks me how she looks in something - if she does in fact look horrible - haven't been above just covering my eyes, backing up and shouting out "my eyes!! my eyes!!!"....this works for her. But would I do that to anyone else? Umm no I prefer NOT being hunted down and shot.

Moms can get away with stuff like that. ITO friendships/relationships there is something called DIPLOMACY. That is what works.

Y'know what I think...they don't usually want your honest opinion or they wouldn't ask....so...BUT out! Ha ha. Really, I never ask that question because I know I do not want the honest answer!

My mom would say something similar (to her kids, my dad and her sisters, she's more diplomatic outside the immediate family). The difference is that she would not let you wear the coat and wait until you change it to tell you it looks bad. If it doesn't fit right, she'll tell you from the beginning, before you have a chance ro get out the door, to save you from the possibility of public humiliation.

Personally, I like that she (and my aunts) are brutally honest because it means that I can trust their opinions.

Mom will also tell you that you need to go brush your teeth if your breath smells (again by you I mean us - her kids). It's not fun to be on the other side of such instruction, but I prefer her telling me than going around with stinky breath.

I say it's a mom's preprogative.

What not to say...

Me 15 years ago (angst-ridden spotty self-concious teen): "Does this skirt make my butt look big?"

My darling brother: "It's not the skirt, it is your butt that is big!" He thought he was helping :(

LOL at the other comments...

I agree with the main thrust. If someone asks you to choose X or Y and they haven't BOUGHT X or Y yet, then politely give your opinion about which one's better. Don't say something like, "You look really fat in that one!" or "You can't wear that with your hips!" Say things like "This one is a great colour for you" or "I think the other one has the better neckline."

If they've already bought something and they're wearing it and they ask, pretend to look at it, then tell them it looks fantastic.

If there's something wrong, like a busted zipper or whatever, tell the person privately.

And if they're over 20 and wearing a Simpsons shirt, back away slowly and run for the car.

My mother is the same as yours...
A CLOWN WOULD WEAR THOSE PANTS is one of her best lines.

I, on the other hand, when asked a question like that, have been known to say: I think the color flatters your hair but the cut of the jacket does not flatter your shape.

My mom is also lacking in the diplomacy department. But, I guess, if you're Mom can't be brutally honest with you - who can?

"It doesn't do you justice" By the time the wearer gets over her freshly induced (possibly justifiable) ego she would be in the car and onto a different subject.

If I ask how something looks, it means I'm not sure and I would like an honest opinion. I'm not really a "does my butt look big?" kind of girl but will ask friends about an outfit I'm trying on or a new haircut, and then I want to know how it looks.

But only my mom (and yours, it seems) can get away with the unsolicited negative announcements. My mom liks to tell me I'm looking a bit washed out, or I'm gaining/losing weight, or my clothes are too loose/tight, or it's time for a new coat/bag/sweater. I guess those years of feeding me and changing my diapers entitles her to it.

I give the the person being asked an easy opening for honesty. I'll say something like, "These pants don't look right, do they?" If I'm really not sure, I want honesty. If I think I look good, I just won't ask. If someone tells me something doesn't look good and I haven't asked, it depends on who tells me. If my husband tells me, I believe him because he's always good about that. Anyone else, though, it depends on the situation.

My mother has told me that I was fat(when I really was so it was the truth) with funny jokes that actually makes me feel loved. I blush and laugh at her joke and I say " I know Mama,Imma Phatty girl"
Strangers and associates should probaly duck after they told me that.

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