Friday, September 11, 2015

Staying Chic When You're between Sizes: Part 3

"Fat pants" are not for the chic, but fortunately there are alternatives for dressing well between sizes.

Hello again! Welcome to the third and final installment of my long-delayed series on how to dress well at any size. More than two whole years ago (!) I wrote the second installment on what I hoped would become a mini-series on "Staying Chic When You're between Sizes." This series is intended to address those of us who sometimes struggle to maintain appearances and dress well when we are in a period of physical transition, whether from weight gain, weight loss, exercise (or lack of), and/or maternity.

The first post (linked here) discussed the importance of fit: it is never chic to squeeze into something that one has clearly outgrown, or perhaps had never fit in to, to begin with! The second post discussed how important it is to be acquainted with a good tailor or seamstress. (Really, it's unfortunate that the only time most people use alternation services is when they're being fitted for wedding attire!)

Although the two-year time lapse between this series is really inexcusable, I have finally decided to share some observations on clothing pieces that I find are universally flattering. Regardless of one's size or shape, some style staples really do look good on anyone. Here are four pieces that seem to not only flatter all body types, but even better, these are versatile fashion pieces that never go out of style.

Patterned dresses. A great dress can be easy and wonderful: an entire outfit in just one piece! Sadly, many women seem to lack the body-confidence to wear a dress while feeling self-assured. This is tragic because dresses can be for everyone, not just those with "the perfect body." This is where the patterned or printed dress comes in. Patterns camouflage bulges or trouble areas and create visual interest that can distract from a variety of flaws. (And I mean "flaw" to include anything from a splotch of spilled coffee, to a less-than-toned "problem area"!) Also important: patterns hide stains, which is especially great for new moms (or so I hear).

Longer tops. Personally, I find tops that reach to the mid-hip or tunic-length blouses to be a very flattering and also comfortable style. Long tops create a smoother line from one's waist to hips, and for short-waisted people like myself, this creates a sleeker silhouette than a blouse that stops just at the hips. Those kind of "normal" tops just seem to cut me right in half at the widest point of my midsection-- no thanks! Furthermore, it is hard to feel confident and stylish if you are worried about your belly or "love handles" creeping out of your shirt, not to mention the unsightly gap between the back of one's pants and top that can occur when bending forward... Yikes! A longer top can solve all of these faux pas. Also, for the budget-conscious (aren't we all?), the added length in a top gives the wearer a bit more wiggle room, literally, when it comes to growing in to or out-growing a top during a time of physical transition. That's why so many maternity tops are tunic-length: they can grow (or shrink) with you.

Nude heels. These are a relatively new addition to my style must-haves, but I can't see myself without them now! Aside from being a versatile, stylish neutral that can pair with almost anything, a great pair of heels in a nude color can elongate one's legs. For pants or dresses with a tricky length or cut (like a tea-length dress, or ankle pants), wearing nude heels can help to ensure that your feet don't look they're awkwardly chopped off or that your legs look stubby; furthermore, the contrast of a dark shoe against paler skin can draw unwanted attention to shapeless ankles (cankles!), so a nude heel helps to visually smooth things together.

Scarves. This is a fantastic, wondrous fashion accessory that will always fit! It doesn't get much more magical than one size fits all! Additionally, they can be used for both practical and stylish purposes: to keep warm, to maintain modesty, to create variations on similar looks or styles... The virtues of a lovely scarf or shawl cannot be understated. Additionally, scarves can draw attention to one's face and hair, and they can be used to cover any upper body areas that one might be self-conscious about.

I found an excellent video on YouTube (shared below) demonstrating how scarves can be worn to create alternate looks and many outfits, and best of all, these can be worn at any size.

(My personal favorite is the DIY-Infinity in box 23! Plus, the music in the video is rather fun.)

What matters most is that you feel comfortable! It can be challenging to feel confident with how you look when you're dissatisfied with your weight or size, but finding clothes that make you feel comfortable and beautiful can help you to feel more chic at any size! Best of all, some of these styles, like scarves, tunics, and shoes, can be worn through a period of physical transition. These are just some of my favorite styles and looks that I find beautiful on all people, and not just in magazine pages! What are some of your go-to pieces when you are between sizes?

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