They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Never was a truer word spoken, especially when it comes to slimming. If you, like me, find yourself almost at the end of another year in which you resolved to turn yourself into Angelina Jolie but find instead that you are still dumpy old you, then don't stress. Cheat instead. Here's how..
Clever layering is one of the easiest and, crucially, most comfortable ways of disguising that extra bit of weight. It breaks up your silhouette and allows you to experiment with different colours and textures. A long cami over a pair of trousers, for example, looks fantastic with a shorter jacket or chiffon top. American brand Eileen Fisher is particularly adept at this.
2. Highlight the good bits with colour
Wear darks or patterns on the fattest bits, colours on the rest. So if you have a fat tummy, avoid bright or light block colour tops and go for black or navy or even a small-scale pattern. Try to avoid top-to-toe black: nothing says “fat girl” more (I should know, I’m the worst offender), plus you look like a waitress. Navy is a very good alternative if it suits you, and it looks incredibly chic with neutral tones or bright colours.
3. Watch your back
If you’re carrying a bit of extra weight, chances are you tend to avoid mirrors. But you really do need to check your rear view when buying clothes, since often things that look great from the front have a habit of pulling in all the wrong places at the back. If so called “bra cleavage” is your problem (those pads of fat that spill over your bra strap), invest in a “back smoothing” bra .
4. Get a proper bra
This is imperative. Big girls tend to have big bosoms to match. Finding the correct support is the difference between looking voluptuous and giving the impression that you have two stomachs. I recently discovered the most brilliant bra at M&S: it’s called “Youthful Lift” , and it really is a superb piece of bosom engineering.
5. Buy the right size
There’s wishful thinking; and there are clothes that fit. If you are overweight and you wear a size too small, you will simply look fat. It will pull and pinch in all the wrong places, and people will pity you. Just buy the right size. It may cause a momentary pang, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run. And if you do, by some miracle, one day achieve your perfect weight, then you’ll have the immense pleasure of giving all your large sizes to charity.
6. Accessorise well
Bags, shoes, scarves: they are the fat girl’s friend. If you are buying clothes primarily to suit your shape (and therefore find your choice limited), this is how you stay on trend. Last year’s trusty stomach/thigh skimming dress; this year’s pattern or colour in a scarf.
7. Make an effort with your make up
Overweight girls tend to have one advantage over their skinny minnie sisters: they have good, plump skin. Your face is your fortune: don’t squander it. Besides, nothing draws attention away from a big bottom better than a fabulous shade of lippy.
8. Embrace the asymmetric trend
Irregular hemlines have long been a staple of brands such as such as Masai, Oska, Barbara Speer, Mary Portas, House of Fraser’s Label Lab - none of which are aimed specifically at big girls, but which nevertheless seem to fit and flatter better than most. They look really fabulous on larger women - something about the way they seem to counterbalance one’s size - as do bubble shapes. Sahara London has the most fabulous selection of this kind of clothing. This boutique is a complete gem - and in case you’re worried it might be a bit frumpy, there’s a branch on Chiltern Street, currently the trendiest location on the entire planet.
9. Choose tailoring or fabrics that flatter
Nothing wrong with a soft silhouette, just make sure it fits in all the right places. If you are big around the middle, for example, you want a v-neck that nips in under the bosom. If you have saddlebags, make sure the thing is the right length so it doesn’t pull. Also, never wear anything shiny. If you’re carrying an extra bit of weight, all shiny fabrics are out of bounds. If you want silk, choose the matt variety. As for metallics, don’t even think about it. No one looks good dressed as Quality Street. Ditto padding or quilting - you don’t need extra pillows.
10. Emphasise your most narrow point
We all have one. For me, it’s my ankles, so I always try to show them off, whether by wearing cropped trousers (very on trend right now) or skirts that skim my calves. A wedge heel or a slightly chunky shoe will also make your ankles look even thinner. Avoid at all costs flats (only really skinny girls like Audrey Hepburn ever look really good in flats); instead, make sure you have a bit of a heel, preferably not a kitten or a stiletto. If it’s a dress you’re wearing, choose carefully according to your shape. Apples like me should avoid any kind of waisting; an empire line that pulls in under the bust and skims the rest is best. For pears, show off your tiny torso in classic wrap dresses.