(This article was published in New Woman recently, but I thought it might help many of us battling weight and dressing demons, so enjoy!)
How to dress your curves
For New Woman
By Kiran Manral
Yes, so you’re not quite size zero and you have much more of you to love. And even if you are cheering yourself up with the thought that gentlemen prefer curves, the fact of the matter is that you need to put some thought into your dressing to maximise your curves and minimise your figure flaws in order to look your ravishing best.
How can you do that?
We scan through the dos and donts recommend for those who are definitiely not with the androgynous silhouettes that fashion designers have made popular. Here’s how real women dress to look great.
Dressing to look sleek over all
The Perfect size never exists, or if it does, it does it does so only model frames and not on real world women. Here’s what you need to do.
For starters, never buy off the rack. Try out everything that you buy, if it is too tight you will have unruly rolls of not so pretty excess weight, bulges and flaws tight and highlighted. Just what you dont want right now. Clothes that are too large add to the illusion of excess weight, making you look bulkier than you are. A good tailor is someone you should make friends with, and get as much as you can custom made.
If you wear skirts, remember long skirts work for taller heavier women, but if you are on the shorter side, a longer skirt might make you look even bulkier so stay at a length thats just below the knee for a perfectly balanced look. If you are short, ankle length skirts should be avoided like the plague and the same goes for above the knee skirts if you are tall and heavy.
Look at optical illusion patterns like diagonal stripes and zigzags which can create and illusion of slimness. Vertical and horizontal stripes on the other hand add bulk.
A great way to create the illusion of less girth than you have is a V necked outfit, which breaks the expanse of the bodyline creating an illusion of slimness.
Bootcut jeans and pants are the way to go if your hips and thighs are well endowed. Flare pants will make you look huger than you already are and slimfits will accentuate your bulk.
Also the bootcut balances out the curve of the hip area and adds symmetry to your silhouette, making you look slimmer.
Another must to increase the appearance of slimness. Add a heel to your shoes. Dont wear flats unless you really need to do a lot of walking. A little bit of added height spreads the weight around a bit to create symmetry and some illusion of being sleeker than you are.
Ditch the big belts around the waist if your waist and your hips are the problem areas, the last thing you want to do is to emphasise them.
Jewellery is another instrument that can be used to increase the illusion of slimness of add to your girth if used inappropriately. Jewellery should be minimal, and not bulky, or the jewellery will add to the weight visually making you look heavier than you are.
Darts and pleats and pintucks are not good ideas, they add to the bulk.
The most important point of all, get well fitting innerwear. Tight bra straps cut into your flesh and cause rolls and bulges. Too tight panties can cause cutting rolls in your hip and butt line which arent too flattering to look at. Go in for tummy control hosiery if your tummy is the problem area. Foundation garments that fit well are worth the money, and make you look good to start with.
You might not be blessed with the perfect figure but a sensible and attractive woman is the one who makes the best use of what she has.
Wrap tops, V necks and shirts with waistlines work the best for women who are curvy with a narrow waistline as these show off the waistline. If you are slim at the waist you might like to experiment with a wide belt which cinches the waist. If you must buy skinny jeans, make sure you balance it out with a loose fitted top. But not too oversized, or you’ll just end up looking sloppy.
The prime rule for all curvy women is try before you buy. Something might look fabulous on the mannequin and the salesman might assure you it will look fabulous on you, but dont spend a rupee until you have tried it on and seen how it looks like on you. Sometimes a neck might be too deep or a blouse might pull unappealingly at the hips, stuff that you never know until you see it on yourself.
Styles labelled empire waist can be life savers. These show off your best assets and are cinched under the bustline to give an illusion of slenderness, and are flowing till the waist and hips to conceal bulkier waistlines.
Donot donot ever feel embarassed to shop in maternity sections, they have some beautiful empire line dresses and tops which can be quite flattering to the plus sized woman.
Another tip is to always look for bellshaped sleeves which draw attention to the hands and nails rather than the torso.
Ditch the prints and stripes and go in for solid darker colours. Black is always a lifesaver, dark blue and browns are also a good option for a slimming effect. Top to toe single colours are also slimming. But run a mile from white and light hues, they add on the kilos. And you definitely dont need that.
A trick which will lighten your silhouette when you’re being photographed is to stand at a three fourth angle at the camera and have the camera at a slightly lower level than you are.
The most important tip one can take to heart is to have great confidence and a wonderful self image. If you are confident you can carry off anything you wear with flair and confidence and that makes all the difference to an okay appearance and a knock their eyes out look.
Says Belinda Randhawa, HOD, Mod’Art International, “One doesn’t have to follow too much to look good. There are a few simple tricks which if one keeps in mind, there is no limit to how well presented you can look irrespective of the size of your clothes.
The best bet would be to layer their clothes with fabrics that fall softly or with semi-lined jackets which are without shoulder pads. These can be combined with a-line bottoms and printed tops as they would hide the parts that you want to hide.
One could also have a fusion of indo-western garments. You could team churidars or slim fit pants with long tops, preferably knee length.
Distract is the key word here. You want to take the other persons attention away from such areas. This can be done by accentuating the other, more flattering parts. For example, for women with large arms they should shift the focus by wearing wide necklines and drop shoulders. For women with heavy waistlines an empire cut would be apt as it brings the focus higher towards the bust line. Straight fits also work for this figure type.
To not include prints in a woman’s wardrobe is truly unfair. A figure size should not handicap ones wardrobe that much.
Fine prints are very workable, preferably in neutral or dark tones. Fine net all over or fine scattered motifs work best. These should be used in slimmer areas to use the distract rule mentioned earlier with dark tones like burgundy, wine, chocolate, navy, or the regular but favorite Black.
Princess cuts as they cut the figure but shoulder princess for women with heavier upper bodies, armhole for heavier hips and waists. The A-line silhouette and bias works well for formal bottoms. Fabrics should be lightweight and soft fall with not too much body or too tight. The basic sheath also works for some larger figures.”
How you dress should also be determined by your body shape.
A pear shaped body is narrow on the shoulders and has a small bust, but is heavy on the hips and thighs. Adding padded shoulders will help balance out the silhouette as will an A Line skirt. Pear shaped bodies should also dress two toned, that is lighter colours above the waist and the darker colours below the waist, to create an illusion of symmetry.
An hourglass figure is the perfect, most desirable figure one could have. Think Marilyn Monroe, Scarlett Johannson, Salma Hayek and Jessica Simpson, all celebrities who have worked their hourglass figures to their advantage.
An hour glass figure is the ideal womanly body structure to have. The hour glass figure has a small bone structure, with her hips and shoulders relatively in proportion and larger than the waist. Voluptuous, yup. But difficult to dress well without getting into tarty zone.
Dressing with a too tight fit will make you look too much like the ladies of the night. Instead, wear clothes with a looser and smooth fit. Monotones work best by giving a continuous sleek look. Accessorise with jewellery worn on the neck and ears to draw attention away from your curves if you wish to present a serious professional image.
Donot wear sleeveless tops if your arms are flabby. Sleeves can be a lifesaver, and give a sleeker look.
Show off your curvy figure with a form-fitting sheath dress. Be it plain or embellished, this type of dress will accentuate your body in all the right places. A little hipper than desired? Choose an A-line or ball gown, to cover your wider parts and draw attention upward. To achieve this try a strapless bodice ball gown with a full skirt and a cinched waist. Keep eyes above the waist with an embellished neckline
This body structure has the fat around the midsection, which is way unhealthier than piling up your pounds on your hips and thighs. But since this is not a medical article, we concentrate on the aesthetics here.
Avoid wearing shapeless loose clothes. Select soft flowing materials which are well draped, and emphasise the bustline with a V neck.
There is no reason to get into sackcloth and kurtis if you have more curves than dictated mandatory by the fashion police. Take your time shopping. Cull together images of the looks you like and find them in your size, or get a good tailor to replicate them for you. And finally be confident about yourself. That is the best look you could ever give yourself. Remember, celebrities have stylists working on their look and clother 24 x 7 to make them look great. You have only yourself, and your desire to look great. Work on your look. You owe it to yourself.
Evergreen tricks to visually slim you
• Dark colors always slim you down.
• Keep your height in consideration when buying clothes. If you are short avoid long tops and skirts, and if you are tall ditch the micro minis and the cropped tops.
• Consider getting clothes tailored to make sure they fit. And dont hesitate to take off the rack clothes to the tailor to get them altered to make them fit well.
Your inner wear makes a difference.
Tight illfitting innerwear can actually pile on the kilos, by cutting into the flesh and creating unseemly divisions in your back, and creating layers of pantylines. Here’s what the designers at Amante have to say about what kind of innerwear plus size women should wear.
“Bras for plus size women should primarily provide comfort and maximum support. Bras with two to three section cups are ideal as they provide shape and additional support to heavy bosom. Full cover silhouettes also provide full support and better coverage. Avoid padded bras
Cotton fabric cups in the bra are advisable as they naturally wick moisture away. Non stretch cups provide added lift and support.
Strap bras with padded/cushion shoulder guards provides additional comfort and prevents the straps from cutting into skin and thereby relieves pressure and pain on the shoulder or neck. It helps distribute the weight of the breast evenly and increase comfort. Flexible wire free frame lifts and give fit and firm support. Under wires also give good support, but may dig in or cause pressure areas to develop. Minimizer bras could also be looked into as they help to reduce the bust line and offers sleek fit .Wide bottom band bras also is a good option without rolling or riding up.”
Dont wear this if you have a curvy figure
Chunky knits and sweaters
Big, bold prints