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Tired of dieting? Let your clothes do it for you | Off the Cuff


Last updated 5/31/2019 at Noon

Guess what popped up online when I Googled “how to dress to look slimmer?”

Fully expecting tips on how clothing items could do the trick, I was shocked at the barrage of tummy-training waists, firm-control full slips, slimming torsettes, shapewear rompers, waist cinchers, thigh shapers and slimmers, and hourglass body shapers, all aimed at the female market.

My computer screen was filled.

Shapewear websites promised “your dream shape today,” and “feel good and look good no matter ... .”

No matter what? No matter how many cookies I ate last night, or how many portions of pasta I helped myself to? Please excuse my bluntness, but don’t those shapewear products just move things around? In my mind, those cookies gotta go somewhere. At least that is my experience.

I recently asked an anonymous customer how she felt about women dressing to look slimmer vs. dieting. She responded by saying women in general should be more accepting of their bodies, and that hiding behind mumus only made them look bigger. Hmm?

Again, not the response I expected, but there was something fundamental and intuitive in her response. She wished me luck in writing this article and trying to change such ingrained social attitudes.

Was I trying to change attitudes?

I had never thought about it on such a grand scale, but I do believe we are all beautiful in our own way, and acceptance of that premise would certainly free up a lot of energy for use in other areas of our lives. That idea I definitely do want to pass on.

Back to the original question. Sans slimmers and shapers, how do we achieve a slimmer look simply by using clothing items? That is, of course, if we want to. After all, we do all wear clothes.

The answer lies in proportion and line, each playing a critical role in the overall visual effect. Equally as critical (and fundamental) IS learning to own and embrace the body we have – curves, bust lines, upper arms, thighs, tummies, hips and necks, to name the biggies.

  • Discover long, open-front cardigans. A trend right now, they do tend to lengthen any torso by creating the illusion of more length.
  • Use color to create a long line. No matter how you achieve them, long, vertical lines are always slimming. Dressing all in one color from head to toe is a perfect example, and dark colors do slim.
  • Fit is critical. Mumus can make a woman look bigger. Clothes that are too small can have the same effect. Don’t squeeze into too-tight clothes.
  • Proportion is key. Oversized pieces on both top and bottom will make you look ... oversized. Balance a wide leg pant with a shorter fitted top and a fitted pant with a longer (fingertip length) looser top. Avoid hemlines or color changes that cut off at your fullest parts.
  • Create a longer, leaner look with V-necklines and long necklaces.
  • Be aware of fabric. In general, softer fabrics drape more than the heavier,
  • bulkier ones that can add pounds, but are too soft and can be clingy.
  • Finally, invest in underwear that fits well. No one needs added bulges and lines.

Most importantly, do learn to love and accept the body you have. Then, if you like, enhance it with clothes you enjoy wearing.

Having dressed women for over 40 years, I know it is possible for any woman to look slimmer or heavier depending on the clothes she wears. Dressing to enhance ourselves is all about optical illusion.

Now you see it, now you don’t.

Off the Cuff is a monthly casual review of fashion styles, attitudes and trends by Jenny Murphy, owner of Sound Styles in Edmonds.


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