Memo to the universe: Not everyone size 14 and up should be wearing an Empire waist. Which is…: The majority of weight is carried on the top half of the body—especially in the middle, around the waist—creating a round appearance. In addition to a protruding tummy, many Apples have a larger bust and a wide back or rib cage. Legs and arms tend to be more slender.
The strategy: Divert focus from the midsection. Knee-length skirts and dresses with a subtle A-line shape—the widening of the silhouette should be gradual and not overly exaggerated—will minimize lumps or bumps. Make boot-cut or straight-leg pants and jeans your go-to; a little volume on the bottom will balance out the top half.
A geometric print, like the one on the dress here, is designed to keep the eye engaged and camouflage the midsection. The criss-cross V formation of the wrap will provide a flattering shape up top while the shoes make the most of great legs. Which is…: Weight is primarily gained and carried on the lower half of the body, resulting in full hips, heavy upper thighs, or a substantial booty or often all of the above. Shoulders are typically narrower than the hips and there is a clearly defined waist. Bust is frequently on the average to small side.
The strategy: Create a proportional silhouette by playing up your top half and accentuating your waistline. Because they skim over the heaviest areas, these cuts are also pear-friendly:. Ditto for snug-fitting skirts, as well as pockets or any embellishments around the hips or bottom. The jumpsuit, a staple of decades past, is especially flattering in a fluid fabric, belted to define the waist.
Layer on a blazer to make it appropriate for the office unless you work in a conservative, corporate environment , and to give it three-season wearability.
An interesting collar necklace will focus attention upward. Which is…: The lines of the body run straight up and down; weight is distributed evenly on the top and bottom, with little definition or curvature at the waist. The shoulders and bust tend to be the same width as the hips. What to look for: As with Apples, you want pieces that will make your waist appear narrower. Bonus points for styles that have shape-creating finishings like ruching or princess seams.
Garments that cling tightly around the middle will emphasize the lack of definition, as will belts worn smack on the midsection picture the band on a cigar. Ultimate outfit: With its gentle fit-and-flare shape, a peplum insinuates a waist. Pair it with a pencil skirt to create the illusion of curves. Adding interest in other areas—an open neckline, dangling jewelry—will move eyes away from your middle.
Mimic the out-in-out silhouette of an hourglass shape with details that showcase your shoulders and base. Which is…: Fuller bust and fuller hips and often booty with a smaller, clearly defined waistline in between. Weight gain is usually distributed evenly between the upper half and the lower half. The strategy: Flaunt your overall shape while de-emphasizing trouble spots. For jeans and pants, stick with slim-cut, body-skimming boot-cut or straight-leg styles with a mid-rise to show off your shape. What to avoid: Oversize cuts, which will hide your curves, and ruffles or other frills around the bust that will just add unnecessary volume.
Bonus: The body-loving silhouette and jersey fabric will show off the sexy curve of your hips. Which is…: The shoulders are broad and the upper torso tapers inward toward the hips like the point of an upside-down arrow , making the upper half of the body appear heftier than the lower half.
The hips, legs, and rear are often on the slimmer side and slower to gain weight, making the V-shape more pronounced. The strategy: Direct attention away from the upper half and create balance. To fill out your lower half, try wide-leg pants, fit-and-flare-dresses, and A-line skirts, says Brewer. Choose jeans that have a slight taper to the knees, then a gentle flare toward the bottoms. Into colors and patterns? What to avoid: Slim-cut and Capri pants exaggerate your shape by making legs seem puny in comparison to your upper frame.
Crew-neck or wide boatneck collars will only accentuate shoulders, as will oversize collars, lapels, embellishments, and—no surprise—shoulder pads. Small Bust? Start with the foundation: a good bra. High or sweetheart necklines will add subtle volume—nix anything plunging. Draw the eye away from the chest with patterns, embellishments, or colors on the shoulders and arms. Full Bust? As with a smaller bust, well-fitting underpinnings are essential. Get re-measured at least once a year to adjust for any weight fluctuations.
If you already carry weight on your lower half, for example, adding excess fabric would be unflattering. Large Calves? Mind your hemlines. Garments that hit right at the middle of the calves deliver a double-whammy: They draw the eyes to the widest parts of the legs while simultaneously making the legs look shorter.
In the pants department, a slight boot-cut or flare will help balance the calves and thighs. Full Arms? If your arms are full but toned, going sleeveless is another option—just avoid cap sleeves. The Plus-Size Guide to Dressing.
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