Walmart’s boot style guide by body type fails on many levels


Since it’s fall, Walmart decided to help shoppers everywhere by releasing a boot style guide –at least that was the intent.

However, it is common knowledge that intent doesn’t equal impact and that was the case here. Let me be clear, the issue wasn’t inherently that the style guide delineated between various body types. If it was most fashion magazines would be in hot water. Rather, it was the way Walmart went about it.

“There are just so many cute styles and all of them seem to shout Wear me! But this is when it s important to pump the breaks, because not all styles are going to look equally good on every body type.”

[I]t is important to pump the breaks [sic] because not all styles are going to look equally good on every body type,” the style guide advises. This language is oozing condescension and smacks of that one well-intentioned relative so many people have who insists that you go upstairs and change your outfit because what you have on isn’t flattering to your figure. Let’s not forget, we haven’t even gotten to the style tips yet.

Many of the descriptions of leg length and width in this style guide are at best, slightly crude and at worst, downright insulting. Seriously, who calls legs “gams?” At one point the style guide tells thick legged customers that they’ll “never have to worry about chicken legs”–an unsubtle dig at us slim-legged folk. The guide also advises full figured women to avoid stilettos. I’ve definitely seen a curvy girl rock the you-know-what out of a pair of stiletto boots so I don’t know where this person got their fashion sense.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do almost everything and style guides are no exception. The fashion world in general has been leaning towards increased body positivity so any piece of fashion writing that puts down one body type over another gets an immediate side-eye. No Walmart, that little “you don’t have to follow this guide to the letter,” disclaimer didn’t fool anyone. Demonstrating how to dress your body type in the most flattering way is fine and women absolutely need that advice; but do so with tact. Magazines like Harper’s Bazaar have this down pat. The point is to encourage people to experiment with different styles, not embarrass or shame them into avoiding things that “aren’t right” for them.

My advice to Walmart, leave the styling work to the pros–your delivery needs work. Also, fire your copywriter. Anyone who doesn’t know the difference between “brakes” and “breaks,” shouldn’t be telling people what to wear.