Body Smart Dressing
How to Work with Your Curves
How to Work with Your Curves
Dress for the size you are—not what you want to be or once were! Work with what you have! Own it.-Dress from the inside out. A well-fitting bra and shapewear will camouflage all lumps and bumps.Clothes should skim your body, not cling to it like sausage casing! Think high-waist, wide trousers, and A-line or flared skirts.
-Don't cover your curves! Big clothes on big bodies only make you look bigger.
-Skirts should end just before or under the kneecap. Your legs will look longer.
-Shorter, fitted jackets will also flatter your legs—and waist
-Avoid elasticized waistbands. They might be comfortable, but they add bulk to your midsection.
-Keep necklines open. A deep V- or scoop neck lengthens your neck.
-A dress with a belt will cinch you in, focusing attention on your smaller waist.
-Wide feet need to be counterbalanced with wide heels. A thinner heel only draws attention to your wider foot.
Crystal Renn, plus-size model
"I'm very proud of my hourglass figure now," says Renn, 23, author of the eating disorder memoir Hungry. In this gown, no curve goes unnoticed. The black lace over a blush slip is sophisticated but sexy; the skirt's mermaid flare plays to Renn's love of dramatic shapes.
If you're curvy...
- Show off your shoulders. They're pretty no matter what size you are.
- Lengthen the lower body. This flared hem offsets the hips (they'd look wider if the skirt tapered all the way down).
- Look for structure. Don't let your small waist get lost in something loose or boxy.
- Create a diversion. A strapless or one-shoulder style draws the gaze upward—a smart tactic if you carry most of your weight on the bottom.
TALLL'Wren Scott, designer
"I've spent my life obsessing about silhouette, shape, and proportion," says fashion designer Scott, who is 40-something and 6'3". She believes in clothes that "transcend the day-night difference"—like this exquisitely fitted leaf-pattern sheath. And a hemline at or below the knee is a Scott signature.
If you're tall...
- Be fussy about fit. Sleek is best; lots of fabric over a large area starts looking like a circus tent.
- Experiment with prints. They make a long, lean body seem curvier.
- Be wary of minis. They can make you look as if your skirt shrunk.
- Choose eclectic shoes. Stilettos? Sure, but kitten heels and pointy flats are cool, too.
- Go wide. Horizontal details that shorter women avoid—square necks, ankle-strap shoes, crosswise stripes—are fine for you.
Donna Weinbrecht, Olympic skiing gold medalist
Growing up, Weinbrecht, 44, wanted to look like a dancer, petite all over. But a career skiing moguls gave her a strong—and hard to fit—lower half. With time, she's changed her mind. "Now I celebrate my body for what it allowed me to become and do," she says. Weinbrecht, currently a coach and mentor for young athletes, adores the "here I am!" vibe of this empire-waisted silk stunner. Its unique pleating masterfully draws the eye away from a wider bottom, and it included an excellent surprise: "I don't dress up much, so I wasn't sure what to do with my hands," Weinbrecht says, "The pockets made it feel comfortable. Like me."
If you're pear-shaped...
•Show some leg. Above-the-knee hems give the illusion of length.
•Shift the focus up. Attention-grabbing necklines are especially flattering for this shape.
•Wrap it up. Wrap and faux-wrap dresses (like the style above) hold you in up top and conceal on the bottom.
•Choose to skim. A-line shapes slide over hips, creating balance.
Gabourey Sidibe, actress
Sidibe, 26, the breakout star of Precious, the acclaimed indie film about an abused Harlem teenager, is discovering the difficulties of dressing for the red carpet. "There are not a lot of options for girls my size," she says. But this gorgeous dress and arm-camouflaging sequin capelet are youthful, chic and slimming. "I feel sexy in clothes that cup me at the bust, then fly out," says Sidibe.
If you're full-figured...
•Draw the eye up. A show of skin at the neck or chest shifts the focus from body to face.
•Support yourself. Invest in a good bra with convertible straps (so you can wear it invisibly under a variety of necklines).
•Keep it simple. Eschew ruffles and frills, which add bulk.
•Stay in the black. We're not saying zero color, but deeper, darker tones take off pounds.
•Layer lightly. A coat or jacket will make you look bigger; a capelet or shawl offers equally good coverage without tacking on inches.
Sherri Shepherd, actress
This flirty dress is brightly colored but discreetly cut. "It does not scream, 'Hey, big boobs!'" says Shepherd, 42, cohost of The View; star of Sherri, a Lifetime sitcom; and author of Permission Slips: Every Woman's Guide to Giving Herself a Break. A skirt with inverted pleats keeps her hips looking narrow.
If you're busty...
•Stick to one shade. It creates a head-to-toe sweep of color, so you look longer and slimmer.
•Contain yourself. If wearing a tank, choose wider straps, which allow for a more supportive bra. Avoid strapless or backless dresses.
•Don't go with the flow. Tailored clothes that give the body a clear silhouette are more becoming.
•Stretch out. Establish a strong vertical line with pleats, seams, or long necklaces and scarves.
Karolina Kurkova, model
"I'm thrilled with my bump," says Kurkova, 25. She likes that her romantic dark teal dress is not skintight but sexy, outlining her swelling belly. And the bias-cut velvet is stretchy enough to accommodate it.
If you're pregnant...
•Go Grecian. Draping is good; you want to show off your belly, not broadcast every detail.
•Define your shape. Baggy makes you look bigger; Kurkova belts looser clothes under her stomach or beneath her breasts.
•Don't cover up. Bare skin is sensual; you don't have to be shy about exposing great legs or lovely arms.
•Think colorfully. Consider deep, rich shades—they're more flattering than brights or metallics.
•Borrow his stuff. Kurkova likes to go out for dinner in black leggings, a white shirt of her boyfriend's, and a tuxedo jacket.
Lauren Zalaznick, TV executive
This tuxedo dress—great over leggings or opaque hose—reflects Zalaznick's preference for neutral shades and sculptural shapes. At 46, the president of NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks believes that dress-up clothes shouldn't stray too far from your everyday wardrobe. "My basic colors are gray and off-white," she says. "My evening look is a shinier version—metallic or satin—of that palette."
If you're long-waisted...
•Sharpen color contrasts. Break up the length of your body with a stark pairing, like black and white.
•Relocate the waist. The dress narrows to a deep vee just above her natural waist, then flares out, creating a whole new silhouette.
•Think big. Architectural construction—defined shoulders; sculptured-looking ruffles—won't swamp a tall, lean figure.
•Play up the legs. Let them be seen.
•Go for bold jewels. Delicate accessories disappear on a stretched-out body. Instead, think cocktail rings or chunky, extravagant bracelets.