Style advice for women with real bodies
Tall, but not model-esque
Sure, height has its advantages, but it seems like fashion advice for tall women is almost always geared toward those who are pencil-thin. A few extra inches don't magically remove flab, and they can cause parts of a piece to fall where they shouldn't—such as a dress with a waist that hits nowhere near your natural waist. "I'm an advocate for the A-line dress, which will make your legs look great," says Davidson. "Because it's fitted at the bodice and flares out at the waist, it gives definition to a lot of length, and breaks up the body a little more." A good A-line dress should be narrowest at your natural waist—just below your ribs. It's the spot where, when you do the "I'm A Little Teapot" dance, the handle would go. Chalk of the Town Dress, $87.99.
Blouses gape at the bust
There are few things more classic than a good blouse, but finding one that fits can be quite a challenge. If you’re busty or have a large rib cage or broad shoulders, they often gape in the front. “I always suggest women should size up and reinforce the buttons to avoid any mishaps,” says Davidson. “You can easily do this at home.” Then, if the blouse is a little too well, blousy, roll up the sleeves to make them more slouchy, unbutton the bottom button, and tie at the waist. Arts and Rafts Top, $34.99.
Jeans fit in the legs, but not the waist
You're in the fitting room at the mall, sliding on a new pair of skinnies and loving the way they hug your calves...until you attempt to button the waist. For those who carry weight around their middle, this scenario is all too familiar. Here's the good news: The problem can be solved with high-waisted denim—and no, you won't be wearing the dreaded mom-jeans. "I have a pair of awesome, skinny-ankle, high-waisted jeans," says Davidson. "They define your waist, but also make your legs look super-long by moving where your torso is cut. It draws the eye upward, so it looks like your leg is starting a lot higher than it actually is." Add a blousy top or a long cardigan for a look that's flattering and stylish. Blank NYC Fly-Rise Jeans, $77.99.
Black bathing suits get boring fast
Since you show more of your body by the water than anywhere else, it's tempting to stick to dark hues. However, looking good is more about cut than color. "None of this low-rise, string bikini business," says Davidson. "It doesn't work on anyone who's not a size two." Try an of-the-moment retro two-piece, which will cover your hips, stopping at the smallest part of your waist. A matching demi-top offers bra-like coverage for large busts, and removable padding for those looking to enhance. Tankinis can work as well, so long as yours isn't too long. "The top should hit about two inches above the bottom," says Davidson. "Ones that are loose in the front but tie in the back can mask your stomach." Highway One My Heart Swimsuit Bottom, $87.99; Top, $59.99.
Accessories can look bulky
The add-a-belt tip is a common one—and for good reason. The key is choosing one that accentuates your waistline in the most flattering manner, whether you're cinching it over a blouse or a dress. "A thin belt is a great option for larger sizes, especially if you also add a cardigan," says Davidson. "If it hits at your hip, it will still show off and define your waistline." Another great option is the ever-distracting statement necklace, which can hide a funky neckline. Scarves, which can be tied in a seemingly limitless number of ways, are also excellent, but don't try to wear one as a belt. The large amount of fabric can be overwhelming. In Love with Lively Belt, $29.99.
Peplums never look quite right
There are two schools of thought when it comes to this trend—that they're slimming because of their ability to hide, or that they only add bulk. But experts maintain that only those that fall in the wrong place pack on the pounds. "One that's too short can make you look extra-hippy," says Davidson, who's partial to peplums on A-line skirts paired with tucked in tops. A good one should end right above your hip, and be about two to three inches long. Another option? A peplum top over a pencil skirt or high-waisted skinny pant can provide optimal definition. New Girl Courage Top in Blue Stripes, $37.99.
Dresses with waists just don't zip
You're thrilled that your BFF is getting married, but walking down the aisle means squeezing your way into another inflexible dress that, despite your hardest tugs, won't zip all the way up. "Not everybody is perfectly proportionate," says Davidson, who suggests picking the size that fits the largest part of your body—say, your rib-cage—and then having any looser areas tailored. If you're in charge of the wardrobe selection, do your friends a favor and opt for a halter. “It defines the shoulder, but if it has a tie, you have a little more say in how it's going to fit," says Davidson. "Super-tight isn’t going to work on most people." Object of My Collection Dress, $82.99.
Armholes pinch and gape
If you have broad shoulders, that seemingly impossible-to-get-rid-of underarm fat, or a larger bust, thicker-strap tanks and dresses can prove problematic. Sizing up can work, but some clothes have the same armhole whether you grab a 4 or a 14. Finding one that fits is a matter of trial and error and, unfortunately, sometimes you have to force yourself to move on. But keep searching for one that's cut right, and don't fall for a cap-sleeve. "Cap-sleeves are the enemy," says Davidson. "They cut you off in a weird place, making arms look bigger than they actually are." Sunny State Dress, $59.99.