We don’t all need or want to look slimmer, but dressing to enhance your body works, no matter what shape you’re in. So even if that cheat day extended a few extra…decades, there are ways to hide it as you prepare to embark on the journey back to the land of the toned. Let’s look at some wardrobe tricks to make you appear slimmer, which will ease your transition from flab to fab.
“It’s important to be aware of your body shape at the moment—not 10 years ago,” says Atlanta-based wardrobe stylist Robert Ballew. “That includes knowing how to hide or accentuate the good and the bad. Some people hang onto things that no longer fit because it signifies something they’re having trouble letting go of from their past,” he adds. “They might also have hopes of getting that small again. But we need to change and grow as we age—not get stuck.” For instance, bell bottoms are not coming back in style for a third time. (We hope.) So those can make the trip to Goodwill.
This doesn’t mean dump everything in your closet. Instead, select some clothes that can work for you in the interim. Ballew suggests, “Consider getting those clothes altered once or twice to keep the longevity of the look until you reach the next level of your weight-loss goal.”
Here are five tips to help you look thinner until you actually are thinner:
1. Layer Wisely
Layering up shouldn’t make you look like an overstuffed throw pillow; done properly, layers will create a distraction from less-than-flattering areas. “If you’re top heavy and you’re layering with a sweater and jacket, you’re going to look heavier,” Ballew explains. “Instead, try laying with a soft-colored V-neck shirt, blouse, or cami.” V-neck tops can draw attention away from your midsection and give your torso a longer appearance. Just don’t allow the V-neck to plunge too low. A way men can create this look is by wearing a shirt with a collar.
Not surprisingly, anything too baggy—a tent-like sweater, for example—will make you appear shapeless and bedraggled. Not ideal when your objective is to look svelte. “A big boxy sweater creates more mass,” Ballew says. “You’re better off going with something that gathers at the bottom and at the sleeves in order to create shape; that way you won’t look like a giant sweater.”
2. Avoid Lighter Colors
Colors like light blue and beige don’t disguise bulges. “Darker colors like emerald green, navy, and gray can hide things better,” he says. When adding color, let your accessories do the legwork. “Pops of color can come out in a scarf, cuff, blouse, or shoe; this can help draw the eye up and down instead of side to side.”
3. Dress for Your Body Shape
You know if you’re lugging extra baggage. And if you are, own up to it. That means staying away from clingy, pinchy clothes like Dri-FIT shirts or tank tops. “Women also need to choose the right undergarments,” he says. “Wearing the wrong bra can cause things to roll, tuck, and do weird things.” According to Ballew, both sexes can benefit from Spanx or Manx—slimming “shapers” that come in the form of bras, panties, boxer briefs, and undershirts. “They’re great because they’re soft, comfortable, and made from material that breathes,” he says. “They’ll take an inch off while you’re working out toward your weight-loss goal.”
4. Consider a Tailor
Whether you’re shaped like a beanpole, basketball, or hexagon, a tailored suit or garment will unquestionably spruce up your look. “Something off of the rack may have arms that are too long or shoulders that are big, and that will cause you to look a mess,” Ballew says. “Especially for men, a tailored fit will make you look like a million bucks.” Also, as you lose weight, be cognizant of the size and fit of your pants. Far as we know, nobody in history has ever been promoted in ill-fitting trousers.
5. Allow Stripes to Work for You
A 2012 experiment from a University of York psychologist1 may have debunked the myth that horizontal stripes make you look wider. Using two drawings of the same woman wearing outfits with vertical stripes and horizontal stripes, participants found the figure wearing horizontal stripes to look more slimming. A second experiment using the same method replaced the drawings with 3D objects and achieved the same outcome. Also, thinner, black-and-white stripes were more slimming than wider stripes.
However, don’t use that as a hard-and-fast rule for choosing stripes. And just because you’ve heard a zillion times that vertical stripes help elongate the body and draw the eye up and down doesn’t mean it’s true for you. Go with your (shrinking) gut: If you think the stripes you’re wearing make you look as broad as a tractor-trailer, you’re probably right. If you’re hell-bent on avoiding stripes altogether, go with diagonal stripes or zigzag patterns, which can trick the eye into looking at non-problematic areas.
What fashion tips do you use to look slimmer?