Tag Archive | drop a dress size

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 .)



Drop a Dress Size

51% of Australian women, in a poll recorded in the February 2012 issue of ‘Prevention’ magazine, want to drop a dress size. Hmmm!

I looked in my wardrobe. I have clothes that range over 3 to 4 sizes and some made for me with no size number. When I sew, I am different sizes for different pattern brands. There is the contradiction of a size 8 skirt where the waist is too big although it fits perfectly over my hips. And I can also wear a size 12 bra under an Extra Small top and they both fit me perfectly. The only thing that stays consistent is my shoe size.

Drop a dress size! Where do you start – the largest, the average or the smallest size?

A universal standard of dress sizes doesn’t exist in Australia. In the USA I am a different size again.

I bet your wardrobe also has a variety of sizes in it.

Here are my thoughts on the subject.

The Dream

‘Drop a dress size’ is a favourite new year’s resolution as it’s seen as an easy thing to do. This is a longing for a happier time in the past when you felt slim and all your clothes looked good on you.

You can drop a dress size (ie lose weight) in any number of ways. There are lots of programs, books and people out there who will help you achieve it. The real challenge is to maintain that dress size and that means a permanent change in lifestyle eating and exercise habits.

The Reality

You can drop or gain one or two sizes just by your choice of clothes on any particular day. That won’t change if you lose weight. Well OK, it will if you wear only one brand exclusively but don’t count on it.

When trying on new clothes, take three sizes if possible – what you think you are, one size below and one size above. It is the fit not the size number you are looking for ie the feeling not the number. Note that the best size for your tops and skirts/pants may be different especially if you are pear-shaped or an inverted triangular shape.


What’s left – one size fits all or multi-sized clothes. Don’t go there. These clothes have to be the biggest size to fit everyone. If you are not the biggest size, it won’t look good on you.

I’ve never been asked ‘Have you dropped a dress size?’ I have been asked ‘Have you lost weight?’

To dress slimmer be adventurous. Try on new styles, even if you think they are not for you. In the privacy of the dressing room only you will see yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised. Modern bandage-style dresses (Laura K dress on left) that wrap in small crossovers from your bust to your waist or hips make your midriff area look slimmer. Materials with some stretch in them can gently hold you firmer and slimmer. Some dresses now have built-in shaping. Shapewear today is much softer and less constricting than 1960’s step-ins. All give the illusion of a smaller dress size.

If All Else Fails, tap into your lighter side. Cut off all size tags or order some personalised dress tags in the size you want to be. Humour is good for your body and your soul.

If you want to be slimmer, do it.

If you want to look and feel slimmer, read more clever slimmer dressing tips (especially re waist slimming styles) in Part 2 on 2 February 2012.

(Article sent to ‘The Fashion Translator’ eZine readers of 12 January 2012. Click here to sign up for the eZine .)