As Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is architecture: It is a matter of proportions.” That rule holds true even when it comes to accessories. The right details can make or break an outfit.
“On plus-size women, statement jewelry looks great, whereas tiny pieces can get lost,” says stylist Susan Moses, whose celebrity clients have included Queen Latifah and Wynonna Judd. Choose cuff bracelets, stacked bangles, cocktail rings, large pendant necklaces, and long necklaces “that will draw the eye up and down,” says Nicole Brewer, a stylist and fitness consultant who was a contestant on The Biggest Loser. Dangling earrings are another go-to, provided your neck is long enough to pull them off. (Alas, “they’ll just make a short neck more obvious,” says Brewer.)
Just because you can carry off pieces with substance doesn’t mean you can carry them all off simultaneously. Be judicious: “You’re not a Christmas tree,” says Moses. When putting together an outfit, pick one high-impact piece to focus attention. Wearing a statement necklace? Forgo the look-at-me earrings. Also, study the areas on your body you want to highlight or downplay. If you’re full-busted, for instance, you may want to take a pass on an ornate necklace that hits at your décolletage and instead stack one arm with pretty bracelets.
“If you have a more defined waist, you can either wear a three-inch-wide belt or a one-inch-wide skinny belt,” says Moses. Brewer likes obi belts because they give dresses and jumpsuits a shape-enhancing, corseted look. “Find one made from a substantial fabric, like leather, that wraps around and ties securely in the back for adjustable comfort and a tailored fit,” she says. She also suggests embellished belts: “Jewel-encrusted sash belts or ones with hardware detailing in the front create a focal point.” As for skinny belts, wearing “two of the same color in different shades looks good,” says Moses. Women who carry their weight in the middle, though, may find that cinching belts right at the waistline is not flattering. “Try slinging a belt around the hips for a more boho look,” Moses suggests.
Shoes with pointed toes lean out a silhouette more than round-toe styles. And—sorry, tootsies, but you knew this was coming—nothing beats the slenderizing power of a heel. “The lift that even the slightest heel provides works to elongate legs,” says Brewer, which means that even a short stacked heel or kitten heel will do the trick. If you have wide ankles or fuller calves, avoid T-straps and ankle straps; they will interrupt the leg-line and make legs appear wider. Opt for more open sling-backs and peekaboo styles that flatter the foot without covering too much. And if comfort is crucial, look for shoes that offer support to your heel as well as the ball of your foot, like wedges. “Nothing kills an outfit quite like the inability to walk in your shoes,” says Brewer.
“Never carry a purse that is too small,” says Moses. When you stand in front of a full-length mirror, your bag should be in proportion to your overall frame. If it gets lost against your outfit, feels overly snug when looped over your shoulder, seems to disappear in your hand, or generally makes you look like you mugged a fourth-grader, it’s time for an upgrade.
For daytime, Moses’ top picks are “an oversize hobo or shoulder bag, a bucket bag, a large tote, a substantial satchel, a large structured top-handle purse, or a cross-body bag with straps that are long enough to generously cross your body.” (The best size for you will depend on your build, but as a general rule aim for nothing smaller than 8.5 inches by 11 inches.) For evening and special occasions, Brewer says a generous envelope-style clutch is just right: “Whether carried under the arm or at the hip, a larger bag creates the look of a smaller waist.”
For more tips on plus-size dressng, see The 9 New Rules of Plus-Size Dressing and 47 Good Shopping Resources for Plus-Size Fashions.
(To buy: ASOS belt. Dune shoes. BaubleBar lariat pendant. Ivanka Trump bag.)