I recently had an email from a lovely Stylish@50 member wanting help in finding clothes in what the fashion industry call “plus size”. I hate this name because actually the fashion industry thinks anyone over a size 12 is plus size! As we all know, the average British woman is a size 14-16, we are getting taller and are feet are getting larger.
Unfortunately “plus size” often means frumpy, large floral prints and synthetic fabrics. There is some light at the end of the tunnel though with some fantastic brands who understand that just because the label in your dress says size 18, you don’t want to dress like your Grandmother!
My reader confessed that she had completely lost confidence in her wardrobe and avoided the mirror, so emergency action needs taking. Whilst I am in no way qualified as a counsellor, I have dressed hundreds of women and know what a hard time we give ourselves, often quick to point out what we perceive as flaws rather than the bits we like.
So here are my top tips for dressing the more well endowed and curvier woman. Plus which labels (both high street and higher priced) to look for:
What to look for:
Starting with dresses. A shift shape dress is perfect if you have an apple shape body (your waist has disappeared and you have filled out in your mid section) A beautiful necklace will draw the eye up to the face. Pleating going from the bust to make a soft A-line shape is great if you are pear shaped or don’t like your thighs. Often your smallest part will be right under the bust so tying a shrug style cardigan here shows off your slimmest area and your curves. A wrap style dress is perfect for curvy bodies, if the wrap crosses too low add a lace trim camisole in one of your best colours.
Next separates. Tunic style tops and blouses work really well over pencil skirts, which again are great for good legs. Make sure your skirt has some stretch and that your top or jacket doesn’t end on the widest part of your body.
Print tops are good for disguising lumps and bumps. Look for A line tops or those that have gathers or shaping around the bust and then skim over your mid area, waist and tummy.
Jackets should be draped and in softer fabrics to work with curves. If you have tried wearing a blazer and feel like you are wearing a straight jacket the fabric is probably too stiff. Avoid a double breasted shape and pockets at the bust if you have a full bust. A waterfall cardigan is a best friend for curvy bodies.
Tapered trousers work well with fuller tops making your legs look slim. Choose softer fluid fabrics or those that have some elastane rather than stiffer ones. If you opt for a wide leg trouser, wear a fitted top, such as a wrap style or one that has shaping in to the waist. A crop trouser shows off slim ankles and pointed toe shoes lengthen the leg.
Apple shape women often have fantastic legs so wear heels to make them look longer and slimmer. If you struggle with a high heel, look for a block, kitten heel or wedge.
For jeans choose darker rinses to make the legs look slimmer and avoid fading down the centre of the leg as this will make them look wider. Team slim jeans with a tunic style top that flares out from under the bust (no muffin top on show) or a Boho style blouse.
I hope that has given you some ideas for dressing your figure whatever your personal bug bear. Remember to find one feature to draw attention to and use these disguising tips for the rest – and please enjoy your wardrobe, get rid of all those items that don’t make you feel good.
Where to shop:
Eileen Fisher - Regular sizing goes to size 18, Plus sizing US 16 to 24 (UK 20 - 28)
Navabi - A great selection of styles and brands from a size 14 to 32
Boden - Sizes up to 22
Monsoon - Sizes up to 22
Studio 8 - sizes from 16 to 22
Pure Collection - Sizes up to 20
Masai - Sizes up to 20
If you liked this post and would like more weekly tips and personalised advice, join Stylish@50, where you can email me for individual help.