Dress To Flatter Your Figure at Any Age or Weight

A wise fashion editor once proclaimed that looking good at any weight is more a matter of style than fashion. So, while fashion trends may come and go with the seasons, a personal style that works for you will keep you looking good – even when you’re carrying extra weight.


Paula Reed knows what she’s talking about. While serving as style director at Grazia, the United Kingdom’s highly influential glossy fashion weekly, she authored Style Clinic (HarperCollins), a book chock-full of flashy photographs of well-dressed celebrities and jam-packed with easy-to-digest nuggets of advice on how to look fabulous all the time, at any age, and for any occasion.


“First things first: know what is fabulous for you,” Paula once told me. “Try on the clothes that make you feel really good. How does your body look inside them? Work out what it is about your body that makes those clothes look so good.

“What are you always complimented on? Maybe it’s your beautiful neck and shoulders, great cleavage, good legs, graceful arms or great butt. This is what you should accentuate. Never hide these attributes … unless the weather turns nasty.”


Paula wants women of all shapes and sizes to play to their strengths.


“Find out what colors light up your face, bring out the color of your eyes, and flatter your hair and wear them all the time,” she said.


With timeless tips and practical advice, Paula stressed that you don’t have to have a big budget, a whole new wardrobe, or the latest fad to look great.


Paula has simple advice for those of us carrying around extra pounds.

“Don’t dress in a tent,” she said. “Sure our first impulse is to cover up. But it’s important to get some shape in there.

“I have a fantastically curvaceous friend who has embraced her shape via the old coat-bag-shoes trick. You wear a simple layer underneath, then find an amazing pair of shoes.

“Floppy clothes with no structure will make you look bigger than you are.”


Paula said fashion changes seasonally and is disposable whereas style is lasting and becomes part of your personality.


Paula’s take on how to find the best fit


In the changing room, make sure shirts and jackets don’t pinch across the back of your arms and shoulders. But don’t overdo it. Tailored clothes that are too loose are as powerful a figure killer as those that pinch.


If you’re small, you look overwhelmed. If you’re not small, you look bigger than you are. A garment is tailored to perfection for you if it skims, never squeezes, the body. The right size will minimize, but even a gentle squeeze will make you look bigger than you are.


Never forget: body shapers do a good job of lifting and smoothing. Don’t be afraid to use them to achieve that perfect fit. But always work within the limits of the Lycra. If you ask too much of your control panties, you’ll have bulges where nature never intended them to be.


Universal Style Truth: No matter what your shape, start with the best hairdresser you can find. A great haircut in a style that really suits you erases years, pounds, and stress in one sitting.


For most women, prints look better on relaxed styles rather than stretch or sharply tailored styles. Those who are very toned can go for a little stretch or structure, but don’t ask a big print to give too much. Those tea roses don’t look so good when spread over an ample hip.


Large florals, bright geometrics, and tropical prints generally look better on the bottom half with an understated and solid color for the top. It’s a great look on almost anyone, but it’s heaven-sent for those with an ample bust.


The darker the print’s background, the slimmer the look. Very boyish figures can handle busy patterns and prints on the top half, as long as they keep the shape simple and balance the effect with a solid-colored bottom half. Pear-shaped women can also go for a print on the top half to draw the eye away from their hips.


Some ethnic prints are big and great fun. Some look like you bought them at a tourist bazaar. Be wary of the pitfalls and you’ll know what’s right when you put it on.


Full-figured women look best in a print on a fabric that has fluidity. Avoid too much volume, which adds bulk. But as long as it moves, it can look great.


Animal prints look best if the print looks like the animal it’s meant to represent. For example: turquoise and navy are a great color combination. But a turquoise and navy zebra stripe is overwhelming.



John McGran has been writing about health and weight loss for several national companies since 2000. He brings his knowledge of diets — and his passion for dropping pounds — to Meal Plan Map because he believes it is the future of smart, stress-free eating and improved health.


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