FEEL-GOOD FLATTERY With the average size today a 14-16, the rule of thumb should be to simply buy clothes that make you feel good and flatter your shape.
‘I love this dress because it makes me look fat’, said no woman … ever! I actually dislike the term ‘plus size’ as it seems to indicate a ‘them’ and ‘us’ attitude, buy for the purpose of the piece, however, I will continue to use it. as sizes 16 to 28 are generally considered to be ‘pluses’ in the fashion industry.
Plus-size fashion causes some concern among health professionals as it (arguably) encourages the idea that being overweight is okay.
Back in the size-zero obsessed noughties, we were mesmerised as we observed models parading catwalks looking like bags of bones. In 2010, Debenhams introduced size 16 models, and their sales increased by over 40 percent.
The fact is, the average size today is 14-16. Mind you, size varies hugely from store to store and even among brand lines. And even though we are well aware of this, we still get a secret thrill whenever we fit into a size lower than we expected.
Ultimately, the rule of thumb should just be buy clothes that make you feel good and flatter your shape. While it’s hugely important to love our bodies, thighs, muffin tops and bellies, we always want to show them to the world at large. Camouflage is key! Here are a few tips.
The magic of monochrome
This just means wearing the same colour top to bottom, with varying shades (e.g. navy and light blue) as it elongates the body. Single-colour top-to-bottom dressing might be flattering, but it can be somewhat boring, so introduce a splash of colour with accessories or scarves.
Also, when it comes to accessories, V-shaped necklines work best when you want your body to look thinner and longer. Small busts look better with delicate pieces of jewellery.
Strike a balance
One of the chief causes for looking bigger than you need to is skewed proportions – when the proportions of your clothes are out of sync with your body proportions. How does your top half relate to the bottom half? Are you top heavy or bottom heavy? Where is your waist? Are you short or long waisted? By knowing what body shape you have, you’ll know where to place accessories, enhance the right parts, and make any prominent body bits less obvious.
I always recommend petite-size jackets for short-waisted women, for example. This is well worth trying, as petite is based on proportion rather than size or weight.
If you have heavier legs, avoid garments that end on the thickest part as it brings attention to this area and can visually make you look stumpy.
Buy the right size
Don’t buy anything too tight or too baggy, while it may be tempting to hide in tents, it will do you no favours visually. Also, buy for the size you are now.
Don’t buy for the size you’re going to be when you lose a few pounds. Big mistake!
What lies beneath
Body shapers work like magic on lumps and bumps, they’re not called ‘magic knickers’ for nothing! You might just need some tummy toning underwear, if the midriff is a problem try a bodysuit, most boutiques now carry a great selection of breathable, comfortable shapewear so it’s well worth checking out, especially if you want to look and feel great in something.
So learn to embrace your curves by knowing what works for you. The key to looking great is to emphasise your assets while playing down the bits you might want to hide. Remember that local boutiques always carry a wonderful array of sizes and their staff will be happy to help you find styles that flatter your figure.
There are also many online specialist shops. I really like tempted.ie, as there is a video on the website that gives great examples of what to wear. Other online options include simplybe.ie and curvylady.ie.
Maggie Gibbons is an Image/Style Consultant based in Louisburgh. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.