How To Dress When Overweight

How to Dress Well when You’re Overweight

Three Parts:Building a Strong WardrobeBefore You Go ShoppingShopping for ClothingCommunity Q&A

Being overweight doesn’t mean you can’t look fabulous! There are plenty of plus-size people who dress very well. All it takes is a little know-how, the right wardrobe pieces, and a healthy dose of confidence.

Quick Summary

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If you’re overweight and you want to build a strong wardrobe, use light colors to draw people’s eyes to areas you like while camouflaging your least favorite attributes with dark colors. Stick to small prints, since large prints can make you look bigger, and choose diagonal and vertical stripes over unflattering horizontal stripes. You can also wear well-fitting, supportive undergarments under your outfit to prevent unflattering lines or bulges!

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Part 1

Building a Strong Wardrobe

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    Know the basics of how to accentuate or hide certain areas of your body. The colors, cut and patterns you wear can draw people’s eyes toward or away from your figure. Here are some basics:

    • Dark colors hide, while light colors highlight. So if you like your waist, wear a light belt over a dark shirt. If you want to hide your bottom half, wear dark pants and a lighter top.
    • Big patterns will make you look bigger, while small patterns can make you look smaller.
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    • Avoid horizontal stripes. Stripes are okay on plus size clothing if they are diagonal or vertical. If you want to look larger in the bust area, horizontal stripes will enhance the bustline.
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    • Don’t put ruffles on anything you want to look smaller; do put them on areas you want to emphasize. This means that anyone looking at you will be attracted to the area of emphasis
    • Wear ruched or gathered fabric on areas you want to make look smaller. For instance, you might see a one-piece swimsuit with ruched panels over the belly.
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    • Know what colors look good on you. A flattering color can make your skin tone glow, while the wrong one can make you look sallow and washed-out.
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    Wear well-fitting undergarments. It’s true that your underclothes are the foundation of your look – it’s hard to look good when you’re wearing flimsy underwear that doesn’t support you sufficiently.

    • Buy a bra that fits (women). Not only will a good bra help lift your figure and make you look younger, it’ll help you avoid backaches. If you’re not sure what your size is, visit a department store such as Nordstrom or Dillard’s (US) for a fitting. Do notgo to Victoria’s Secret – chances are you’ll need an uncommon size, and they carry a narrow range of sizes.
    • To lose a bit of girth around your hips and thighs, wear low-legged, high-waisted underwear in a firm, supportive cotton.
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    • Make sure you have sufficient coverage. Underwear that’s too small is not underwear you should buy. If you can’t find the right size at your mall or local stores, look online.
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    Find fits and textiles that will flatter your bottom half. If you tend to carry your weight in your hips and legs (that is, you’re “pear-shaped”), pay extra attention to these tips:

    • Seek out tailored skirts and trousers. Avoid flared pants and wide-leg trousers.
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    • Avoid shapeless garments, like broomstick skirts and “one-size” dresses. Instead, find something with a nipped waist.
    • If you’re looking for a skirt, you can’t go wrong with an A-line cut. Avoid pencil skirts as this shapes and outlines your hips and waist. However, skirts such as skater skirts would really bring out the beauty in every individual .
    • Buy at least one pair of well-fitting jeans. Skinny or straight-leg jeans in a dark wash look great.
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    • Be very careful with leggings. For some women, a long shirt or dress with leggings is a slimming and fashionable look. However, if you have larger hips, thighs, or bottom, it can look awful.
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    Dress to flatter your top half. Depending on your body type, this could be the difficult or easy part. If you tend to carry your weight around your stomach and shoulders (or you’re “apple-shaped”), these tips can help:

    • Choose shaped T-shirts and dresses over “straight T” shirts and un-tailored dresses. They should be fitted closely to your natural waist and shoulders.
    • For men, wear tailored shirts. Pay extra attention to making sure the neck and wrists are fitted.
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    • For women, skip spaghetti-strap or halter tops. You’ll want your shirt to cover your bra straps, and they might be wide.
    • Wear full-length cardigans and jackets – don’t opt for cropped lengths.
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    • If you like your forearms, wear a three-quarters sleeve. If you dislike your arms, wear full sleeves or short sleeves – breaking up your arms in the middle with a sleeve will look even more unflattering.
    • If you’re wearing skinny jeans or leggings, try a tunic-style top that’s a bit flowing. Wearing a top that’s not fitting is fine as long as your bottom half looks tailored and well-fitted.
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    • Button-down shirts must fit properly across the bust and stomach. That means there’s no pulling of the fabric at the button. If it does, the shirt does not fit.
    • Sometimes fashion will have the oddball thing that works. Although the fashion guidelines are worth checking, understand that occasionally an item will flatter even if it’s “not supposed to.” While these are guidelines, understand that sometimes an item will not follow the rules and if it looks good on you, break the rules.
      • For example: A great shirt with a large print that somehow works.
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    Accessorize and match! Beautiful and unusual accessories not only make your wardrobe more versatile, but are blind to weight gains or losses.

    • Larger women can pull off large, bold jewelry that would overwhelm smaller-framed women. Teeny earrings and pendants may get lost on you, however.
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    • A big handbag bag can help make you look smaller, as it does not look tiny next to you.
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    • Two or three chunky bangles will make a plump wrist appear slender. Wearing long dangly earrings elongates the neck.
    • Good boots, such as “equestrian-style” boots can cause the illusion of a slender calf. A good pair of boots makes wearing a skirts or pants a positive joy.
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    • If you have heavy legs and ankles, avoid delicate or flimsy footwear; it will make it look as if you are about to fall over, or sink into the floor. A wedge heel, on the other hand, looks marvellous, however stout your legs are.
    • Last but not the least, be confident in how you look- you are you for a reason and no one can take that away from you.
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    Wear something tight around the bust and loose on the stomach or wear an oversized cute loose shirt.
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    Wear denim shorts in the summer. The longer the shorts the less leg you see.

Part 2

Before You Go Shopping

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    Get into the right frame of mind. Shopping for clothes can be a frustrating experience for bigger individuals, but going in with a sour attitude will not yield good results. A few small mental shifts can make all the difference in how you look, and (best of all) they’re absolutely free. Cultivate your confidence in these areas:

    • Stop paying attention to sizing tags. Especially in the US, clothing sizes can be extremely arbitrary and not standard from designer to designer. Don’t focus on maintaining a certain size, and then find yourself heartbroken when the garment that fits you is bigger than that. Instead, focus on finding clothes that fit. If it helps, cut the sizing tags off all your clothing.
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    • Spend time taking care of yourself. You are worthy of attention, and you deserve to feel your best. Schedule time each day for grooming, and don’t break the appointment. Telling yourself it’s OK to look sloppy because you’re already overweight is the worst thing you can do. Pay attention to your skin, hair, fingernails and toenails, body hair (optional) and makeup (optional).
    • Accept your body as it is for today. You might have long-term goals for changing your body, but chances are they won’t happen overnight. Instead of obsessing over what your physique is not, appreciate what it is for just this day. Remember, you only get one body – be nice to it!
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    Wear clothing with confidence. Whatever you put on, make sure you’re wearing the garments, and not vice versa. If you struggle with confidence, try these things:

    • Don’t buy “tent” clothing. Clothes that are too big might seem like they’re doing you a favor by hiding your body, but they’re actually communicating a lack of confidence. Instead, buy what fits and rely on colors, patterns and embellishments to draw the eye away from your flaws (see more on that below).
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    • Practice good posture. The way you carry your body can make all the difference in how your clothes look. Keep your chin up high, your shoulders back, your spine straight, and your hips centered over your feet. When you walk, don’t shuffle and barely lift your feet off the ground – instead, practice the sort of “gliding” walk that beauty queens learn, that doesn’t cause your body to bounce up and down very much. You can practice this with the old balance-a-book-on-your-head trick.
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    • Fashion is supposed to make you feel good–if it does not make you happy, do not buy it. Clothes are not supposed to make you feel bad about yourself. They are supposed to provide comfort, protection, modesty, and aesthetic pleasure. If it isn’t happening, that’s not fashionable for you.
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    Know your measurements. Putting a measuring tape around yourself might seem like your worst nightmare, but you have to know your size if you’re going to dress well. Try to remove yourself from the situation as much as possible, and recognize that these are just arbitrary numbers – they’re not measurements of who you are as a person.

    • Buy a soft measuring tape, which can be folded into a coil. Seamstresses and tailors use these. Or, if you’re short on cash, ask if you can have your measurements taken at your dry cleaner’s.
    • Take the measurements for your neck, bust and underbust (for women), waist, hips, and thighs.
    • Write down your measurements. Keep this information handy whenever you’re shopping, so that you’ll know exactly what you need.
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    Get a good seamstress or tailor. Sometimes your size just isn’t fitted well “off the rack”. You may have an ample bosom but a skinny waist, for instance, and so most clothing that fits your bosom swallows your waist. Instead of walking around in clothes that don’t flatter, bring them to a professional to alter to your size. Ask your dry cleaner for a recommendation.

Part 3

Shopping for Clothing

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    Make shopping a positive experience. If you dread going shopping because it forces you to focus on your size, try to turn it around and make it a fun event. Take an upbeat friend with you, or go in with the attitude that nothing can get you down today. See the employees as people who care about clothing and would be excited to help you look your best. If someone proves you wrong, move on to the next salesperson.
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    Focus on quality over quantity. Instead of buying numerous sloppy, frumpy pieces of clothing that don’t flatter you, invest in a few well-made items that you love and will last awhile.

    • Don’t just cruise the clearance racks. Sales are fine if you see something you’d buy anyway for a great price, but don’t make them the exclusive focus of your shopping. Think about it this way: A few high-quality items that make you feel amazing and last for 3 or 4 years are ultimately a better value than 10 or 15 items from the clearance rack that wear out quickly and make you feel less than your best.
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    Buy age-appropriate clothing. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If someone 20 years younger or 20 years older than you would also be shopping in this department, then readjust. You don’t want to look like you are trying to dress like your teenaged daughter, but you also don’t want to buy clothes that age you.

    • If you’re unsure, look around at the other customers – are they about the same age as you?
    • Remember that this is a guideline, but not a hard and fast rule. There are many stores that offer clothing appropriate to all adults. And some items for young adults may be entirely appropriate for older adults, too- and vice versa.
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    Look at your potential purchases from different angles. Sit down in front of the dressing-room mirror. Many overweight women do not realize that what looks good standing up may be disastrous sitting down. Does your skirt ride up and show a lumpy thigh? Can you wave to a friend across the room without straining at your sleeve? If there is the least chance that you will feel uncomfortable, find an alternative: there’s nothing worse than the suspicion that any sudden movements will split your seams.
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