How Not to Look Fat: Holiday Dressing

    December may be the most festive month of the year, but it can also be the toughest on your waist -- and your wardrobe. Since few of us spend much time in ruffles and flourishes, the question is how to put together figure-flattering looks for all those get-togethers without having to break your (already fragile) bank account. The trick? Scout store racks for a few pieces that will enhance your body and your existing wardrobe. And don't just think in terms of ho-ho-ho. Skip the head-to-toe reds and greens in favor of looks that will work all year long. For the quickest holiday style, pair your basics with festive heels, sequins or the stunning faux jewels that seem too over-the-top the rest of the year. Now, you're ready to shine. To see how easy it is, check out these five women and their flattering takes on holiday style.

    Liz Liner

    Mary, a designer in her 20s, is no shrinking violet, but this pink sequinned halter dress makes her stand out for all the wrong reasons. The silhouette doesn't suit her shorter waist, and the dark tights are too heavy for such a delicate dress, dragging down the overall look.

    Liz Liner

    This kicky black satin bubble skirt is festive enough for holiday parties and chic enough for any special event the rest of the year. The black belt defines Mary's waist, while the satin shell and chic black-and-white necklace perfectly proportion her figure. We swept up her hair for that final Audrey Hepburn tweak.

    Liz Liner

    With its empire cut, this lush green top is also better suited to Mary's proportions. Just as important, the blouse's festive color and sparkling trim mean that she needs nothing more than a sophisticated black skirt or pant to look holiday-ready.

    Liz Liner

    Lisa is also enthusiastic about taking fashion risks, but her mix of patterns -- a leaf-print satin blouse, heavily embroidered pants -- evoke living room upholstery more than holiday cheer. The idea is to stand out from your surroundings, not blend into them.

    Liz Liner

    Even at the holidays, tastefully understated pieces are always in style. Lisa's V-neck velvet top plunges just enough to reveal a bit of her va-va-voom, but sits high enough to contain her larger bosom. The to-the-knee stretch satin skirt also makes the most of her terrific curves while keeping her looking silky smooth and perfectly proportioned.

    Liz Liner

    Swap the short skirt for flowing, wide-legged pants, and the result is just as chic. For holiday parties, opt for a festive fabric, such as black velvet, that can show off curves like Lisa's.

    Liz Liner

    Kat is enviously tall and trim, but, like many women in their silver years, she says she's been losing her waist. The generous top and baggy pants may hide her mid-section, but they hardly flatter it. Nor does the red-and-black color combo (too predicable at Christmas-time) or the too-dainty necklace (which lacks oomph).

    Liz Liner

    Is this the same Kat? Look how sassy she looks once we've traded her regulation black office pants for sheer black palazzos and her boxy top for a waist-defining wrap blouse. There's little doubt that this sexy grandmother's outfit will turn heads when she walks into a room.

    Liz Liner

    No, you don't have to be 25 to wear jeans to a holiday party. We put Kat in black washed-denim jeans, a sparkly tank and a sequin-trimmed wrap top, all finished off with sexy little heels. The result: Ab-fab Kat gained a waist and lost a few decades,

    Liz Liner