Figure Challenge

Like me, I am sure many of you would like to camouflage or highlight different parts of your figure so that your clothes flatter your body and you look and feel confident. I am only 5’ 2” so I am always trying to figure out how I can look taller!! My 13 year-old son is almost 5’ 9” and I need all the help I can get! My clients really struggle with figuring out what works and what doesn’t too so I have gone ahead and created a number of recommendations that optimize various parts of your body so that you will always look and feel your absolute best. I hope you find them helpful and please feel free to share your ideas on what’s worked for you.

If you are petite try narrow, straight-legged pants that fall to the bottom of the heel and give the illusion of height. Wearing a top and bottom in the same color draws the eye up and down. Think of it as a column of color. Longer length jackets or sweaters that flow will also give the illusion of height. Pants or skirts with high waistbands make legs look longer. At all costs avoid pants that hit mid cafe!! And if your feet can tolerate heels I say wear them!!! I love a great wedge or platform!

For all the tall women I envy, avoid clothes with vertical lines, such as pinstripe suits. Don't wear one color from top to toe. Low waisted, boot cut or straight leg pants are great for long legs. Opt for low kitten heels or a low wedge rather than flat shoes.

Balance out your beautiful broad shoulders by opting for bootleg style pants and fluted skirts that widen at the bottom of the garment. Wrap-around tops are very flattering if you've got wide shoulders. Avoid halter-neck and spaghetti strap styles.

Camouflage your narrow shoulders by wearing trouser suits with long jackets. They will disguise the narrowness of your shoulders by balancing out the difference between the shoulders and the lower half. Discreet shoulder pads will bulk things out a little. (I’m not talking 80’s style- just small pads) Wear a sexy halter-neck or slash-necked top to give your shoulders width.

If you are well endowed make sure that you wear a bra that fits you properly and creates a smooth line beneath your clothes. This is a MUST!! The right bra will lift your bust, give definition to your waist and simply make ALL your tops look and fit better. Take a trip to Nordstrom and get a professional bra fitting-it will make a HUGE difference! Avoid tight waisted or box jackets. They make your bust appear larger. Instead, chose fitted jackets that skim the figure rather than hug it. Long jackets with a single button are a good option. V-necks are great because they break up the expanse of your chest. Avoid chunky knit tops and skip wearing long pendant necklaces.

If you are on the smaller side always wear a bra! High-necked tops or roll-necks accentuate your bust. Delicate tops with spaghetti straps are the way to go. Sleeveless, round-necked tops that show off your arms are also a great option. Wearing a lighter colored top and darker bottom half will definitely enhance the girls!

If you have some junk in the trunk you’ll want to avoid lighter colors on your bottom; darker colors are always more slimming. Pants with pleats and other details, such as pockets or pinstripes are not flattering and avoid horizontal stripes. As far as jeans go make sure the back pockets are on the larger side. Small pockets will make a large derriere look even bigger.

For that tummy that just won’t go try flat-fronted trousers and skirts with side or back zippers. Low-waisted pants make the stomach look smaller. Don't wear anything that's gathered at the waist. Wear soft, forgiving fabrics that don't cling to the tummy. Wrap-around tops or tops with rouching create folds across the tummy and detract from any other rippling in that area. Avoid belted jackets and coats.

For those with a wide and straight waist try A-line skirts for slimming a wide waistline. Wear tops that are fitted under the bust to give definition. Avoid shapeless dresses and high-waisted pants. Select pants that site below the waist. There are so many options now you’re sure to find the perfect fit. Princess seaming in shirts and jackets can give the illusion of a waist.

If you have full thighs find pleated pants that are cut for the fuller thigh so that the pant falls from the full point of the thigh without pulling. Don’t peg or taper the pants but keep the look of the leg straight. (This means-NO CAPRI PANTS!!) Flared A-line skirts and dresses are the most flattering.

I hope these recommendations will help you look and feel you absolute best. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Margaret Batting - Professional Development Consultant, Executive Coach, Brand Strategist and Keynote Speaker, Servicing Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Beyond
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