Didn't shed those 5 extra winter pounds in time for sundress season? Neither did we! But chin up -- it is possible to lose them still, simply by getting dressed in the morning! Follow our easy tips for dressing slimmer and you'll be rocking a little summer frock -- and looking and feeling amazing -- within minutes.
• Create Strong Foundations
First things first: before we even get to clothes let's address undergarments. Choose them well and they'll shave 5 - 10 pounds off your frame by lifting you up and sucking you in all around. It's a no-brainer! Make sure you've got an assortment of well-fitting bras and supportive shapewear on hand that will work for a range of outfits and occasions.
Sam Saboura, stylist, author, tv personality and makeover expert extraordinaire, tells StyleList, "You would never build a house without starting with a great foundation and the same thing goes for your body and your style. When I work with a client I love to set the tone with the proper foundation garments, primarily a slimmer -- or a girdle, if you will -- because that's going to highlight the small part of your waist, hide all those bumps and bulges and really smooth you out to make your clothes look amazing."
Yummie Tummie shapewear creator Heather Thomson suggests wearing a bustless slip under dresses. "A good slip is the passport into your closet," she says. "Worn under any dress, your figure will look flawless. Rock those curves, girl, and show off that hourglass figure." Another slimming option are the longer bike short styles, which work well under pants or skirts.
• Become a Fitness Guru
No, not a workout maven (although that's good too). We mean a fashion fit expert: make sure your clothes fit to a tee! Close-fitting -- not tight -- clothing that skims the body's shape is generally more flattering for all sizes and types.
"A lot of women have this misconception when they feel uncomfortable about their body, they want to cover it up with tons of clothing," says Saboura. But, in general, adding extra volume is a big Don't. "A lot of women have really great curves but they hide them behind their clothes. But what you need to do is highlight the assets and show off your best features."
You can start with pieces that work well on your body, then tweak as necessary for a perfect fit, according to stylist and fashion expert Lindsay Albanese. "Start off with clothing that accentuates your favorite feature," she tells StyleList. And if you have a difficult-to-fit shape, "an affordable tailor in the area -- maybe one at your cleaner's -- should be on speed-dial."
Saboura suggests adding figure-hugging details: "If you're curvy you want to look for jackets that have princess seams or little darts under your bust to find that natural curve for you. You can always add those darts and seams to any jacket or shirt that you have if you have a good tailor."
• Create Diversionary Tactics
Use accessories, interesting necklines, patterns and bright color to attract attention away from bulges and towards whatever part of your body you want to emphasize, be it your decolletage, waistline or pretty face!
Say you're more bottom-heavy -- you can keep all the attention on your amazing upper half by sporting a brightly colored or patterned cardigan or top, according to Charla Krupp, style expert and author of "How to Never Look Fat Again." She tells StyleList. "You want all the color, the jazz, the fun fabric and the pattern on top," to draw the eye upward, while toning down the bottom half.
Strategically baring skin is a great diversionary tactic too. Have great shoulders? Go with a one-shouldered dress or top. V-necks and u-necks highlight the decolletage. Three-quarter-length sleeves show off slender forearms, and knee-length pencil skirts streamline the lower body and showcase toned calves.
"When I look for a dress, I look at 3 places on the body: the neckline, the small part of the arms and the legs. Showing skin in the right places is going to show off those curves and make you look longer and leaner," says Saboura.
A wide or colorful belt will emphasize your waistline and hourglass shape, drawing the eye away from a heavy bust or larger hips. And a beautiful, sparkling brooch on a lapel, a dramatic red lip or kohl-rimmed eye will keep attention away from a pot-belly or chunky upper arms.
Graphic effects can play tricks on the eye to help shape the body and minimize bulk. Color-blocking, smaller-scale prints and vertical and diagonal stripes all work this effect. Case in point: reality star Whitney Port recently donned a strategically color-blocked dress that had a magical, waist-minimizing effect.
This season's color blocking can be miraculous for whittling inches off your frame if you go with one long vertical block of color down the center of your body, with darker pieces on the sides.
Sailor stripes may be all the rage these days but they're not necessarily the most flattering pattern. For a slimming effect, go for vertical or diagonal stripes instead. "Vertical lines are always a good choice because they streamline your figure," Albanese confirms.
And all-over, small-scale pattern works great too. Saboura recommends them: "One diffused pattern tricks the eye into taking in the shape of your body in one overall consistent shape. It will disguise the distracting bumps and bulges."
• Achieve Balance
If you're top- or bottom-heavy the best thing you can do is balance out your silhouette by adding a little (just a little!) volume to your smaller half.
"You really want to balance the proportion of your upper body to your lower body," says Saboura. "Busty girls can look for v-necks and scoop necks when it comes to a flattering neckline. It'll minimize your shoulders and your bust." For the opposite situation, the expert advises, "When it comes to bottoms, boot-cut jeans and pencil skirts are always winners. And I encourage women to add a touch of volume to the upper half to balance the curves and fullness of their lower half. Cardigans and little jackets are great for this. And for summer there are lots of lightweight, draped tops that will add a little bit of volume without overwhelming your frame."
And, Saboura adds, full-figured women should "Consider accessories that are in line with the size of their frame. Think about how curvy you are and balance your body with medium-size accessories like purses, belts and jewelry. A big, chunky heel balances the fullness of your frame and your curves." This point was recently a hot topic: see the uproar created by 'The Sartorialist' after he commented on a woman's chunky-shoe choice being complementary to her full figure.
For more excellent tips on dressing slimmer, check out Sam Saboura's series of "My Body My Style" videos, exclusively on StyleList.