How to Dress 5 Pounds Lighter

You don't have to wait until you've hit your goal before you start dressing the part.
Published November 6, 2015

“Accentuate your assets (for example, a pretty face) with good makeup and attention-grabbing accessories.”

Many larger women try to conceal their curves under caftans and smocks. But camouflage isn't the answer, according to style expert Laurie Bliss of Chic Simple. "Baggy or loose clothing emphasizes size," she cautions. "Clothing should fit well and skim the body."

Accentuate your assets (for example, a pretty face) with good makeup and attention-grabbing accessories. For example, suggests Bliss, "a bright scarf flatters and draws attention upwards."

Try these tips for styles to favour, and ones to avoid:

Styles to favour …

  • Vertical lines to lengthen your silhouette. This can be achieved with long necklaces and scarves, as well as the right fabric pattern or texture.
  • A single colour. "Monotone dressing creates an unbroken line on the body, which is slimming," says Laurie. "Stick to clean and classic lines."
  • Darker shades. "Black is always flattering," she adds. "But if you like colour, team a flattering coloured top with a dark bottom."
  • Long line, single-breasted flowing jackets that end below, not at, your widest point (for example, your bottom or hips).
  • V-necks. These make your neck look longer, unlike polo necks.
  • Discreet shoulder pads. "A wider shoulder line on top balances out the pear shape on the bottom," says image consultant Gale Hayman, author of How Do I Look? (Random House)
  • Heels. They increase height and lengthen the leg. Stick to reasonably substantial shoes (not stilettos) to balance bulk elsewhere.
  • Big, bold accessories (earrings, bangles, rings, bags). These make your face and hands look smaller.
  • Hairstyles that balance your face. Extra volume helps compensate for fullness.

Styles to avoid …

  • Horizontal lines and patterns. These increase the perception of width.
  • Fussy details. Bows, buttons, ruffles and busy patterns simply draw attention to trouble spots.
  • Pleated trousers. "Well-fitting flat-front trousers are more flattering," advises Laurie Bliss.
  • Stiff fabrics (like linens and tweeds): These tend to drop in a straight line from your widest point. Softly draping fabrics, such as knits, are far more forgiving. Steer clear of stretch fabrics that hug every bulge.

Finally, don't forget that the quickest way to look slimmer is to simply stand up straight. Imagine there is a string through the top of your head drawing you upwards, and your neck will lengthen, your shoulders pull back and stomach suck in. And keep your chin up!

Playing down problems  
  Have a least-favourite feature you want your fashion choices to hide? Consult our chart.
Thick Waist Silhouette-flattering A-lines should drape and suggest a waistline," advises Gale Hayman. "Large waists can wear belts, but they should be narrow and not buckled too tight."
Large Tummy A full skirt, belted at the waistline, will draw the eye away from a big stomach," Gale adds.
Heavy Legs Hemlines to the upper calf flatter the legs, particularly when teamed with pumps or slingbacks," says Bliss. "Avoid ankle straps or other straps that 'cut' the leg line." Dark hose make legs look slender. Avoid wide legs and cuffs on trousers; straight or tapered styles are more flattering.
Big Bust A tailored look is best. Don’t draw attention to the area with chest pockets, brooches, etc.
Broad Hips Avoid tops that end at the hip. Long jackets and A-line skirts divert attention to other areas.