Dress away the pounds
By Stephanie Tweito Jacob
Think diet and exercise are the only things affecting how slim you look? What you wear can add or subtract pounds too -- really! "Clothes can make a 100 percent difference in how thin you look," says Charla Krupp, author of the best-seller How to Never Look Fat Again. The secret is to know which cuts, styles and colors work in your favor.
"Think of your wardrobe like food," says Krupp. "Clothes are either high-fat or low-fat. And the four major ingredients that make a piece of clothing high-fat or not are fit, fabric, shape and color."
Two general rules for shopping: Look for items that fit well -- not too big or too tight -- in slimming colors like navy and charcoal. And avoid fabrics that add bulk, like plush velvet. Follow these additional tips to adjust your wardrobe based on your own individual shape -- and get ready to hear, "Wow! Did you lose weight?" Here's how to do that:
1. Trim your tummy.
For many women, even regular sessions of crunches aren't enough to flatten what Krupp calls a "Buddha belly." Here's how to achieve the flat-abs look with your wardrobe:
Do: Start with the right underwear. These basics are 50 percent of the game, says Krupp. A high-waist, bike-short style panty -- especially shapewear -- will protect you against the dreaded "muffin top" effect of your tummy spilling over your waistband.
Next, reach for empire-waist dresses (where the waistline falls just below your bust). This draws attention away from your midsection. Another option: pair longer, hip-length tunics or peasant-style tops with slim, straight-leg pants or jeans. The key is to keep either your top or your bottom flowy or loose -- not both.
Don't: Wear prints. Stick with dark, solid colors to stay looking slim. And avoid tops that fall at your waistline, since they will draw attention to the problem area.
2. Disguise un-toned arms.
Many women -- even those who are otherwise fit -- might want to keep their arms under wraps to avoid showing off extra weight, says Krupp.
Do: Wear fitted jackets and cardigans in medium-weight fabrics with three-quarter-length sleeves over simple, tailored tops and dresses. Your jackets should have some shape to the sleeves and cut in a bit at the waist.
Don't: Go for loose, puffy sleeves that say, "Look right here!"
3. Slim your backside.
When your booty looks great, you're bound to feel more confident. Get the look you want with these rules.
Do: Invest in a pair of boot-cut or straight-leg jeans in a dark wash. They should have plain back pockets that are large and placed close together.
Don't: Wear baggy or skinny-leg styles. When buying both skirts and pants, steer clear of prints and light colors, as well as tops that end at the fullest point of your rear end. Instead, go for lightweight cardigans and tunics that fall just below your bottom.
4. Downplay a large bust.
If you've got it but you don't necessarily want to flaunt it, here's how to make the least of your bust.
Do: Get a bra fitting. This is one of the fastest ways to look thinner, says Krupp (up to 80 percent of women wear the wrong size). Plus, a properly fitted bra will instantly make your torso look leaner.
Don't: Reach for turtlenecks (they draw attention right to the middle of your chest) or dresses with pockets. Tucking in your tops is another no-no -- it shortens your torso, making your bust look larger.
Stephanie Tweito Jacob is a freelance writer who specializes in beauty, fashion and health. She has held editorial positions at Allure, More and O, The Oprah Magazine.
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