1. Buy new underwear
Seriously, anything you wear will look 10 times better if extra fleshy bits are not being squeezed or overflowing your bra and underwear. Living in cozy, comfy sweats has weaned us off true shapewear (maybe for life?), but do your body and clothes a favor and get an updated T-shirt bra. No need to give up comfort. By creating as much space as possible between your chest and waist you get a longer, more toned torso instantly. Grab some seamless, high-cut microfiber briefs like the Auden Women’s Bonded Micro Briefs ($5, target.com), but make sure they are in your new size.
PHOTO BY: ADRIAN EDWARDS/GC IMAGES; RODIN ECKENROTH/GETTY IMAGES; DIA DIPASUPIL/GETTY IMAGES(Left to right) Vanessa Williams (left) and Mary Steenburgen (center) are wearing V-neck dresses while Phylicia Rashad sports a boatneck blouse.
2. Choose a V-neck
I’ve said it before: The inverted triangle of a V-neck strengthens your shoulder line and lengthens your neck and torso. Wider Vs balance broad hips and thighs; deeper Vs give a generous chest separation and lift (just don’t go too low, no cleavage necessary). Wrap dresses and crossover tops also have this neckline. No Vs in your closet? Simply unbutton all your shirts and blouses to a V, but be sure to yank the sides open for a true V — not a sliver. Next best neckline? A boatneck offers similar shoulder-broadening and neck-stretching benefits to the upper body.
PHOTO BY: STEVE JENNINGS/GETTY IMAGES; ARUN NEVADER/GETTY IMAGESOprah Winfrey (left) and Kathy Ireland in pantsuits.
3. Wear one color head to toe
For the sleekest look — whether you’re a size 12 or 18, M, XL or 2X — keep your tops and bottoms in the same color group and intensity (in other words, a near match). You’re going for minimal contrast. For example, don a navy tee and dark wash blue jeans, a light blue hoodie and light wash jeans, or hoodie and leggings in black. No need to resist mixing seasonal items day or night, either. Your tonal outfit will get a lot more interesting if you mix in prints and textures, too — for example, wear a green floral silk blouse with your olive cargos and a heathery green cardigan. Pantsuits, of course, are a win. Dig ’em out!
PHOTO BY: H&MA H&M Ribbed Jersey Bodysuit worn by a model (left) and the clothing item by itself (center); H&M+ Ribbed Jersey Bodysuit (right)
4. Use bodysuits and swing tanks as smoothers
The last thing we want to reveal in public is back fat, muffin tops or a less-than-toned midriff. A simple black-sleeved bodysuit will create the slim, taut line you want and allow you to tuck in a top without the usual bulge creating excess to stuff into the waistband. They make great flab blasters, too, when layered under all close-to-the-body clothes.
PHOTO BY: AXELLE/BAUER-GRIFFIN/FILMMAGIC; ALBERT L. ORTEGA/GETTY IMAGESAlfre Woodard (left) and Virginia Madsen
5. Stick to no-waist dresses for belly camouflage
Tummy bulge is a front-and-center attention seeker. Don’t let it grab the spotlight. Any dress that does not have a belt — a shift, fit and flare, empire, raised waist, trapeze — is going to be more body-friendly to you now than separate tops and bottoms since there’s no break at the waist. One-piece dresses glide over curves and balance body proportions, so you look more “even,” too.
PHOTO BY: SUPERGA; ZAPPOS; EMMA MCINTYRE/GETTY IMAGES FOR SIRIUSXM(Clockwise from bottom left) Ugg Jass; Superga 2790 Acotw Platform Sneaker; Kristin Davis wearing high-rise jeans
6. Add some height
While hardly anyone is racing to go back to wearing high heels or pumps (another probably forever here), any shoe with elevation — a wedge, platform sneaker or even a low block heel, kitten heel, mule or clog — will make legs look longer. A pair that sit at your natural waist — a high rise, not a super-high rise — is what you want.
PHOTO BY: VIVIEN KILLILEA/GETTY IMAGES FOR IMAGINE LA; ANGELA WEISS/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES; RACHEL MURRAY/GETTY IMAGES FOR MAKERS(Left to right) Queen Latifah, Bette Midler and Katie Couric
7. Only put volume where you need it most
Some of us don’t gain weight evenly all over our bodies. The extra pounds go to our top or bottom. Are you a below-the-waist gainer whose extra pounds settle on hips, thighs and derriere? Or does your “extra” always go straight to your breasts and midriff? If you’re a bottom gainer, ditch the skinny jeans, knits and pencil skirts. Instead choose full A-line skirts and dresses as well as wide-leg pants … always with a fitted top. If you’re a top gainer, forget tight tees and slim-fit button-downs and pair puff sleeve tops, dropped-shoulder sweaters and oversized shirts with slim bottoms. It’s all about playing with proportions.
PHOTO BY: TIBRINA HOBSON/GETTY IMAGES; VIVIEN KILLILEA/GETTY IMAGES FOR SCAD ATVFEST 2020Morgan Fairchild (left) and Kim Cattrall
8. Pair your plain black pants with a statement top
And vice versa! This is a twist on tip No. 7. Our trusty basic black pants, skirts and tops can still be supporting players in a dress-slim game plan. Black is a super-power color when it comes to making anything look smaller — wear it where you want to diminish. And pair it with an eye-catching bright or print blouse or shirt. Don’t own any? Wrap on a light statement scarf for the same effect.
PHOTO BY: AMANDA EDWARDS/GETTY IMAGES; PRESLEY ANN/GETTY IMAGES FOR CHAMPAGNE BOLLINGER; JACOPO RAULE/GETTY IMAGES(Left to right) Marcia Gay Harden, Angelica Huston and Angela Bassett
9. Suggest a waist
So long as belly bulge isn’t your big concern, adding a belt is the best way to get sense of shape — even if your weight gain is giving your torso a boxy look. If you like the ease of looser, more relaxed clothes (a major pandemic-driven trend we love!) such as oversized shirts and utility pants and tiered trapeze dresses, then continue. Just add a belt at or just above your waist to indicate that yes, there is a body under there after all. Sling it on over any dress, popover shirt or even a long cardigan. You don’t need a small waist, just enough indentation between your bust and hips. A jumpsuit, of course, is one dress-slim belt solution that makes things easy.
PHOTO BY: RAYMOND HALL/GC IMAGES; EDWARD BERTHELOT/GETTY IMAGES; DANIELE VENTURELLI/GETTY IMAGES(Left to right) Sheryl Crow, Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Huppert
10. Bust out a blazer
We used to count on a blazer as the ultimate confidence booster to hide extra pounds. Guess what? The sharp-tailored lines still work to firm up our shape — fast. No need to buy anything. We’re the generation that has a stash in our closet ready to go! They’re trendy (again!) now in long, oversized versions as well as more classic fits, so don’t worry about looking retro. Add a blazer to your favorite ankle pants, jeans or leggings and over any jumpsuit or midi dress.
PHOTO BY: RAYMOND HALL/GC IMAGES; CINDY ORD/GETTY IMAGES FOR TORY BURCHJulianne Moore (left) and Lucy Liu
11. Show off your narrow wrists and ankles
Your forearms and ankles are always going to be your trimmest parts of your body, no matter what you weigh. Show them off! This means swapping long sleeves, pants and maxi skirts for shorter ones — ankle-cropped pants and jeans; three-quarter, elbow or pushed-up sleeves; and skirts no longer than mid-calf midi. By drawing the eye to the extremities, you create new focal points. Emphasize them with a stack of bracelets or a statement shoe.