When It’s OK to Cheat

Normally, I am a fan of honesty. It’s good for all areas of your life, work and business EXCEPT

When it comes to dressing, we women have been cheating for centuries. Push up bras, shapewear, clothes with built-in bras or shapewear, high heels, tummy-control stockings … the Iist goes on and on.

We say it’s all for men and our partners in particular BUT it’s really to impress other women. Ouch!!

If ‘cheating’ feels a bit harsh, we Image Consultants call it ‘Illusion Dressing’. I prefer ‘Smart Dressing’.

So let’s get down to some practicalities of smart dressing to feel good and look like you’ve dropped a dress size.

Tip 1 – Colour

Yes we all know that dark colours make you look a dress-size slimmer. Before you congratulate yourself on your all-black wardrobe, let’s be a little smarter.

Ditch baggy black. Make it skim your body, take it lower than your collarbone and add some texture for variety. Add lace, frills, pleats, buttons, sheen or shine … anything but plain matt, smooth black. In the latest Australian Myer Catalogue (February 2012), this Leona Edmiston black and purple dress with some lighter-coloured petals is interesting black.

Consider also the other basic colours of chocolate brown, charcoal grey or red-black.

Other alternatives to black are rich dark colours like grape, aubergine, purple, maroon, claret red or dark green. You look a dress-size smaller and feel elegant. Wear some of these in texture eg silk, lace or chiffon for variety.

Tip 2 – Style

Top modern, smart dressing, ‘drop a dress size’ tip … Gently emphasise your midriff area (ie from bust to belly button).

Wear a stretch belt under your bustline (not on your waistline). This is great for relaxed hourglass women (ie those who were once hourglass but are now 1½ or 2 hourglass shape like me).

For everyone, try a dress or top with a band that goes from under the bust to above your waist. It is a very popular style at present and suits all figures (see Butterick 5485 on the right). You will look a dress size smaller because it highlights your rib area and suggests a slim waist.

Any dress (like this Diana Ferrari style on the left) that gently gathers in the waist also works well. Wear this style at mid-knee length as longer hems in this style can make you look dowdy. Diagonal, crossover, small pleats over the midriff area also slim and flatten your tummy.

My sister-in-law wore a casual pintucked top at the recent ‘Fashion over 40’ Meetup. It had vertical pintucks to the fullest part of the bust. The gentle gathers below the pintucks skim your waist and suggest a smaller body. Any style that has a little bit of gather below the bust also works well. Avoid wide or lots of vertical pleats. They add too much fullness and increase your perceived dress size.

 Try colour-blocking like this Nouvelle Woman plus size outfit from the Australian David Jones February 2012 catalogue. The black, curved centre part slims and suggests a smaller dress size. The side diagonal stripes reinforce the illusion.

Tip 3 – Alterations

I have a whole chapter on this in the ‘Wardrobe Full, Nothing to Wear’ Action Program.

Here’s why altering is a ‘smart dressing’ tool to look like you’ve dropped a dress size.

A good alteration will make your clothing look like it was made just for you. This builds your confidence. Your most flattering skirt, dress or sleeve length and tapered skirts and pants all add up to good fit and the illusion of a smaller dress size. If you have sewing skills, you can do it yourself. Experiment or come to me for help.

Bonus Tip

Buy shapewear that has a high waist (ie it goes up to under your bust). They slim ribs, waist and tummy in one go. Last bonus – stand tall. Good posture instantly makes you look like you’ve dropped a dress size.

So cheat away (Sorry! Smart Dress) with my blessing and drop a dress size.

(This article was sent to readers of ‘The Fashion Translator’ eZine on 9 February 2012. Click here to sign up for the eZine .)

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