Voluminous pieces can be a fat-day godsend—provided you know which silhouettes work for you and how to wear them. “The formula is oversize with fitted,” says Allison Berlin, the founder of stylemadesimple.net. If you enlist a loose tunic to cover your tummy, wear it with cigarette pants. Hiding lower-body issues with a full skirt? Team it with a fitted top or a tucked-in shirt. Never go big all over or you’ll end up in muumuu territory, says Berlin. It’s also important to even out your frame: If you’re wider at the top, try going wider below. Offset a large bust with bootcuts, or broad shoulders with an A-line.
“Darks hide flaws, so wear them where you’re heaviest, and choose lights or brights for where you’re slimmer,” says Bridgette Raes, the author of the advice book Style Rx. There’s no need to rely solely on same old black for minimizing duty. Any deep shade—gray, denim, plum, evergreen, navy—will do. Dressing monochromatically head to toe, even in typically pudge-inducing white, says Raes, is another way to look taller and trimmer. Want to indulge in the pervasive colored-jeans trend but not feeling so hot about your thighs? Top vibrant denim with a thigh-length jacket or cardigan, plus a top in a matching subdued tone.
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Lesson No. 3: Structure Is Forgiving
Think of tailored garments (shifts, A-lines, nipped jackets) as your body armor. “I use this analogy: If you put fat in a plastic bag, it’s formless and jiggly,” says Raes. “But if you place it in Tupperware, it’s disguised by the shape of the container.” Try a sharp-shouldered blazer to make your waist look smaller or a fit-and-flare peplum silhouette to manufacture va-va-voom hips. Darts and seaming provide definition wherever you need it.
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Lesson No. 4: Diagonal Lines Make It All Better
Ever wonder why no woman can go wrong in a wrap dress? Thank diagonals and their slimming—and curve-creating—superpowers, which can also be found in bias-cut seams, chevron prints, asymmetrical necklines and hemlines, and any other form of slanted lines. The secret: The area where you place that downward-sloping angle is going to appear narrower. “Diagonals can help create the illusion of an hourglass shape,” says Corinne Phipps, the founder of Urban Darling, a San Francisco–based personal-styling agency.
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Lesson No. 5: Jean Pockets You Can Really Get Behind
Here’s what to look for if you have…
A fuller rear: Choose large, straight pockets spaced somewhat close together. “Be sure they cover the lower part of your bottom or it will appear bigger than it is,” says Samuel Ku, the vice president and creative director of AG Adriano Goldschmied. Stick with subtle stitching.
A flatter rear: Small to medium-size pockets at a slight angle “will create the illusion of fullness,” says Ku. Flaps and embroidery also get a thumbs-up for contributing extra dimension.
A, well, not-so-young rear: To fight the derriere droopage that can occur with age, “get pockets that are closer together and higher up,” says Raes. Curvy embroidery (loops and swirls versus chevrons and stripes) makes a bottom look curvier, but it’s best to keep a look classic and simple.
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Lesson No. 6: The Fine Print on Prints
The larger the person, the larger the print should be. The reverse is also true.
Ace of Base
Any pattern that has a dark background is always more slimming.
Block It Out
Shave off inches with color blocking that uses vertical panels along the sides of the body. Berlin suggests that bottom-heavy types go bright on top, dark below the waist.
Horizontal stripes can be tricky. But anyone can pull off a dark top with thin, colorful lines about an inch apart.
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