First of all, let me say that I’m a big believer in wearing precisely what you want to wear, and never mind anyone like Trinny and Susannah who bust a gut spouting fashion “rules” and other such nonsense at you. Fashion is a marvellous creation that exists for everyone to enjoy, whether they be tall or petite, slight or volumptuous, soft or toned.
However, I do understand that sometimes, there are parts of our bodies that we want to celebrate, and some we’d rather not shout about from the roof tops. And if it makes us feel comfortable and confident, then there’s nothing wrong with honestly examining our bodies, and finding the ideal clothes to flatter each and every part.
The trick to making the most of your size and shape involves focusing on and emphasising your best qualities, and playing down and disguising those not-so-wonderful ones. Repeat after me…
Emphasise or diguise?
Some things you might like to disguise could be a heaving bosom, round tummy, a full booty or solid arms. Or you might want to emphasise a diminuitive chest, tiny waist, or petite legs. Here are some sartorial suggestions to help you make the most of your figure.
Disguise: a large bust
Avoid high and round necks like the plague, unless you want to look like a matron! Choose tops that are snug around the waist, but loose around the chest. Wrap tops will lift and separate the bust, and thicker straps will look better on you than spaghetti ones. Halternecks will also look great on you, and strapless tops should be fine, as long as you make sure you have enough support. (In other words, invest in a superb bra!)
Emphasise: a small bust
You can fool people into thinking your bust is bigger with a little bit of detailing around the chest – ruched material, ruffles, a giant necklace, or patterned fabric. And a good bra is essential, of course! Find a bra that fits well and provides you with just enough padding to feel comfortable. Draw attention away from the chest, to your neck and collarbone. Team colourful tops with dark bottoms, and choose dresses with shaped cups that fit you well.
Disguise: a round tummy
Tunics and babydoll tops that are cinched in at the bust or the waist and then flow outwards will instantly disguise a less-than-toned tummy. A tum will only try to escape from low-cut jeans, so keep it tucked in with high waisted gear. A smart pencil skirt will draw attention to your hips rather than your stomach. Another trick is to get large scarf, tie it loosely around your neck, and have the length dangling across your middle.
Emphasise: an undefined waist
Unlike your curvier sisters, you want to add some definition to your middle! Wrap tops and ballerina cardigans will help define a waist, as will any belt that sits on your natural waistline. Stripes, polka dots and other patterns are a good choice for tops and dresses. Try padded shoulders and flowing skirts to help balance out your proportions. Avoid anything too loose and flowing, as your little waist will disappear completely!
Disguise: full thighs, wide hips, and/or a generous behind
Feminine hips look great in A-line skirts, and teaming one with a boatneck top will help widen your shoulders. Oversized collars and decorated lapels will keep the attention where you want it – up top! Avoid outerwear that sits on the hip – choose cropped jackets or longer length coats instead. Wear wide-legged trousers that skim your hips. Bright tops paired with darker bottoms will again draw the eye towards the top half of the body.
Emphasise: a small bum
Whereas most women want to shrink the size of their posterior, you want to give it a bit more oomph! Wear super-stretchy jeans that will hug your booty, and throw on a pair of high heels – they make your bum stick out! Avoid low-rise jeans, which will only squash your bum. Pockets and pleats on your bottom half will help, and if you’re up for it, try a pair of padded bum pants to give the illusion of a curvier backside!
Disguise: chunky arms
Ah, the dreaded bingo wing! You can easily cover up your arms with long, loose and flowing sleeves – just make sure they’re not too tight, and that they end somewhere between the elbow and the wrist. Somewhat surprisingly, sleeveless dresses and tops will look great on you, because they don’t cut into the arms. For special occasions, wear a shawl or a wrap draped over your shoulders to help you feel less exposed.
Emphasise: short legs
Delicate legs suit wide trousers, as long as they’re not high waisted. Matching the colour of your trousers, socks and shoes will cleverly give the illusion of longer legs. Because your torso is proportionately longer, you can break it up by layering two tops together. Avoid cropped trousers, but do wear high heels. Long jackets and dresses to the knee will hide where your legs begin and thus create the illusion of supermodel pins!
I hope this guide helps you to dress cleverly and more confidently. Below is a summary of this article in a simple list form - you may find it useful to take it with you next time you go shopping. If not, just remember the rhyme: Emphasise or disguise? Easy!
Large bust Wide and v-necks, fitted waist, corsets, wrap tops, sweetheart necklines
Round tum Ruched detailing, wrap tops, low waistline, empire line, single breasted
Thighs, hips, bum Boat neck, cropped tops, a-line, wide leg, full and flared skirt
Chunky arms Long sleeves, wide cuffs, bell sleeves, capelets and shrugs, wrap tops
Small bust High neck, halterneck, round neck, detailing, bright colours, patterns
No waist Low v-neck, corset, wrap, fitted waist, thin or wide waist belts, stripes
Small bum stretchy jeans, high heels, bottoms with pockets and pleats, padded pants
Short legs Wide leg/flares, long length, high waist, layers, 3/4 length tops, calf length
Please, don’t get too caught up on your “bad” bits. Accept them, learn to love them, dress them up to the best of your ability and then focus on your positive points – fluttery eyelashes, a cute beauty spot, or your winning personality. Be happy with who you are, no matter what your body is like, because honestly, no one else has noticed – they’re too busy nodding along earnestly to your thoughtful opinions, admiring your exceptional baking skills, and laughing at your hilarious observations. Promise!