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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dressing to Look Slim

When new clients come to Ambience for styling advice, they almost always ask: “how can I dress to look slimmer?”  It’s inevitable.

We firmly believe that effective styling is not about “looking skinny” – it’s about dressing to look your best.  It’s about discovering the clothes that most suit your physique and accentuate your assets.  The right styling will make you will stand taller, look leaner and, mostly importantly, feel fabulous.

The high heel is one of the oldest tricks in the book.  The additional height elongates the body for a long, lean shape.  Take it one step further with a skinny heel or a stiletto a pointed toe to create an even longer silhouette.

Not a fan of heels?    Ballet flats and riding boots can create a sleek, elegant look as well and can be paired with a dress, skirt or skinnies.

The right shoe color can make a difference as well.  Match your shoes to your tights or wear a skin-colored hue with bare legs, and you will instantly create an unbroken visual line that makes legs look longer.  Celebs use this trick on just about every red carpet – nude pumps are everywhere!

Women who worry about their weight often choose large, shapeless pieces, thinking the excess fabric will hide their perceived flaws.  As our head stylist, Grace, points out, “No, all that extra fabric just adds bulk. You don’t want to hide the body or make it thicker with fabric.”  Grace is also quick to add, “Clothes should skim the body, not cling or pinch. That’s the secret to looking slim.” 
How do you find clothes that skim?  It starts with choosing the right size. 

A few tips:
  • Don’t wishful shop (i.e. buy the size you aspire to be).  Squeezing into a smaller size will only create bulges that will only make you look larger than you are.
  • Size may vary depending on the designer or the cut.  Someone who wears a 10 in trousers may wear an 8 in dresses and a small in jackets.  Size is relative.  It’s about fit, not the number on the tag.
  • A tailor can be your best friend.  Buy slightly larger and have a professional adjust the piece to fit you perfectly.  
  • If you really struggle with finding the right pieces or just don’t know where to start, meet with a respected stylist.  Sometimes it takes a second pair of eyes to identify what pieces work best.
Grace is also quick to note, “You know, I want to make it clear that we aren’t saying a flat “no” to volume.  There are times volume works!  For example, a voluminous tunic can be surprisingly flattering with the right belt to accentuate the waist.  It creates a very becoming, casual chic look that can be paired with everything from sandals or flats to heels.  The right tunic and belt combo can make you look fantastic.”

You need to invest in underwear that fits.  Too-small panties will create strange bulges and a poorly fitted bra will neither shape nor lift but it will create odd lumps on your back and under arms.  The result is both uncomfortable and unflattering.  This is an easy fix: go see a specialist.  Most upscale lingerie shops will discretely and accurately help you determine your correct cup and band width size. 

Shapewear has come a long way too.  Long gone are the mid-century girdles and “grannie panties.”.  Today’s shapewear can be effective, comfortable and even sexy. 

A few tips:
  • Always try on shapewear before you purchase. 
  • Bring a few different pieces of clothing in the dressing room with you to test over the under garment.
  • Do the sit and bend test.  If can’t sit or bend comfortably in your shapewear, you won’t be able to live comfortably in it either.


Finding a perfect pair of pants, trousers or jeans is one of life’s biggest challenges… but well worth the effort.  If you are self-conscious about your lower body, we recommend a dark wash.  Choose pants that skim or hug without pinching the waist.  Forego embellishments or busy details – although a classic pinstripe can work nicely – and look for straight leg, bootcut and trouser styles.  (The trouser is back in a big way this year!)  Pair your pants with a  blouse or no button blazer for a flattering look.  And just because you are curvy doesn’t mean skinnies are off limits!  Anyone can wear skinny jeans if styled right.  An oversized top and a fitted blazer that nips in at the waist, for example, will work great with skinnies.

Some fabrics are just easier to wear than others.  “Flat” materials like cotton, silk and even denim don’t add bulk.  Some fabrics “skim” the body better than others, such as jersey, cashmere or anything featuring a bit of spandex.  Structured fabrics can also conceal areas you don’t want too much hugging.


There are certain cuts that will just work for your specific body.  Whenever you find a piece that just gets it just right, take time to examine why.  Is it the length?  The draping?  The way the waist hits?  Maybe the fabric is structured, or the pattern size just works perfectly.  Make a mental note and commit it to memory.  It will make it easier to spot other pieces to love in the future.

There are a few styles that are great for certain insecurities.  For example, a V-neckline is great go-to
if you’ve got a bust and you worry about your hips or thighs.

Another simple but effective trick is a monochromatic outfit.  It doesn’t matter if its white, black or neon blue – as long as the color suits you!  Dressing in a single color from head to toe creates an uninterrupted vertical line.  You’ll look thin, tall, and chic.  (Celebrities use this trick all the time.)

Accessories can make all the difference.  Vertical pieces like scarves or a long necklace can elongate the neck, while bangles and cocktail rings will draw the eye down the arm.  Play with belts, both thick and thin belts can have a lovely effect depending on what they are paired with.  Another easy trick is pulling hair up and away from your face, which will accentuate you bone structure and add a little height.

We know this is a tricky area to navigate, and that’s why we’re here! Finding a flattering piece really is so personal that Grace does it best when she can see you and your assets; that way, we know what to accentuate! Many women feel certain areas of their body are negative, while an outsider views it as beautiful. 

If you want personalized “dressing to look thinner” advice, send us an email with a few pictures of you in an everyday outfit! We’ll feature you on the blog with our tips to flatter your body!

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