What to Wear to Flatter Your Figure
Fit Challenge: Tummy
Dresses that flatter: Shifts; styles with gathers or draping around the stomach; wrap dresses.
Skirts that flatter: High-waisted styles; A-lines; wide, flat waistbands free of details.
Pants that flatter: Slim legs; bootcuts; straight-leg trousers; flat-front waistbands.
Tops that flatter: Nipped-in jackets; shaped tunics; wrap tops; draped, open cardigans; longer tops that are ruched or gathered.
What to avoid: Anything too clingy or sheer around the midsection; tops that end at the waist; pleated pants; front patch pockets; side-zip waistbands; low rises.
Get even more fashion advice, plus see the difference between petite, tall and plus sizes.
Fit Challenge: Straight Figure
Dresses that flatter: A-lines; shift dresses with wide necklines; 1950s-inspired fit-and-flare styles; wrap dresses.
Skirts that flatter: Straight skirts; structured A-lines; trumpet shapes; inverted-pleat skirts.
Pants that flatter: Straight legs; bootcuts; jeans with contoured waistbands (higher in back than in front).
Tops that flatter: Cropped jackets; A-line coats; hip-length shirts that accentuate the waist; boatnecks; strong shoulder lines.
What to avoid: Long tops that cover the hips and thighs; side-slit or front patch pockets; pencil skirts; skinny jeans; flared pants.
Fit Challenge: Full Hips and Thighs
Dresses that flatter: Defined waistlines; peplums; shifts with darts at the bust; strapless necklines; trumpet shapes; wrap dresses.
Skirts that flatter: Full or pleated styles; high-waisted pencil skirts; midis (calf length) and maxis; tulip skirts.
Pants that flatter: Almost anything: skinny jeans; cigarette pants; bootcuts; full-leg trousers; straight legs.
Tops that flatter: Neckline embellishments; V-necks; halters; fitted or peplum jackets; shaped tops.
What to avoid: Sack dresses; overly baggy clothing; vertical stripes.
Fit Challenge: Large Bust
Dresses that flatter: Shifts; sheaths; drop-waist dresses; open necklines; wrap dresses (yes, again!).
Skirts that flatter: Pencil skirts; A-lines with a defined waistline; waistbands that sit low on the hips.
Pants that flatter: Low-rise pants; wide-leg trousers; bootcuts.
Tops that flatter: V-necks; scoop necks; square necks; long, tailored, or fitted tops and jackets.
What to avoid: Empire waists; cowl-necks; high necklines; pockets, ruffles, or pleats on the chest; button-downs; high-waisted bottoms; wide belts.
Secret Weapon No. 1: Ponte
This stretchy double-knit weave—made from various blends of rayon, nylon, wool, Lycra, or polyester—“is heavy enough to skim over figure flaws but still hugs curves in a sexy way,” says designer Trina Turk, who turns to it frequently for dresses, skirts, pants, and jackets. (Google ponte and you’ll find that many brands, like Ann Taylor, J.Crew, and Banana Republic, also employ the magic material.) “It smooths the hips and the bottom, and it won’t cling to the tummy,” says Turk. Bonus: It’s comfortable and wrinkle-resistant, making it ideal for travel. Can you say “show-off”?
Secret Weapon No. 2: Draping
Need to mask a few extra ripples here and there—or camouflage areas that have gotten a bit less taut over the years? Draping, ruching, and gathering to the rescue. “All three are great for covering up lumps and bumps without adding too much volume,” says Bridgette Raes, the author of the advice book Style Rx. “They offer a little ease and distract the eye.” These clever design details are most often found at the bust, the waist, or the hips in tops and dresses. Just make sure you choose a cut that is fitted enough to show your shape, says Corinne Phipps, the founder of Urban Darling, a San Francisco–based personal-styling agency, “or you’ll end up looking like a walking bolt of fabric.”