Ask Alexis: Full-Figured and Fabulous

A fabulous reader and former co-worker recently asked me for options for plus size figures. 

My advice? No matter what size you are, buy items that fit your body and your lifestyle.  Clothes that are too tight or too loose are unflattering, no matter where you fall on the scale.  Play up the features you love: a tiny waist, to-die-for legs, and elegant neck or lovely shoulders.  If you need shapewear to help smooth your silhouette, by all means go for it.  And be sure your bra fits!  Take advantage of the complimentary fittings offered at Victoria’s Secret and buy underpinnings that support your curves. 

Draped and flowy maxi dresses are fine but don’t be afraid to show your curves! Try belting them to emphasize your waist.  If you have a classic coke-bottle shape, work a pencil skirt, or look for classic sheath dresses (also known as wiggle dresses) a la Mad Men’s Joan Holloway or Marilyn Monroe.  These dresses celebrate a fuller figure; check out Monif C’s Whitley” dress.  I advise against box pleats, bows or bulky pockets at the hip; sometimes they can add more visual weight to your look.  I suggest opting for softer pleats and gathering, as well as ruching.  Ruching is great because it camouflages problem areas and can create an hourglass figure.

When buying denim, make sure the hem falls long enough to cover about half of your shoes’ heel, and try fabrics with a touch of stretch.  Looking for a pair made to flatter curves? Check out Cj by Cookie Johnson (founded by Magic Johnsons’ wife and Hunstville native Cookie Johnson), which “offers more room in the thighs and derriere and comes up a bit higher in the back than most lines.”  Watch for waistbands that gap on pants; if something fits perfectly  in the rear and leg, have the waist taken in by a tailor.  Looking for flattering leggings? Try  ReDress NYC’s “teggings”: the hybrid tights+leggings boast a “stretchy, wearable fit” and “can be worn all day without slipping or sliding.”  And they’d be super cute under the retailer’s Cozumel Chevron tunic.  Want to emphasize your neckline?  Look for v-necks; they play up your decolletage beautifully. 

Check the length of your blouses; they should fall at your hip line.  Blazers continue to be chic for Spring, but make sure you aren’t selecting jackets that are boxy or shapeless; they add pounds!  Check the darts and seaming and be sure the jackets have more of a fitted shape.  Or try an open draped cardigan over a tank: with a necklace and jeans, you’re ready to go.

If you feel unsure about a stiletto heel, try a platform or wedge, like this one from Torrid (they also have cute clothes!).  Shoes should fit comfortably;  your feet shouldn’t bulge or strain against any straps.  No matter what size you are, you should be able to stride or sashay with confidence.  I also suggest opting for belts; they can create the illusion of a waist if you’re “straight up and down” like me, or to accentuate a small one.  And don’t skimp on jewelry: draw the eye to a bold statement necklace, cuff bracelet or earrings (but not all of the above simultaneously). 

Hands down some of the cutest pieces I’ve seen thus far are Monif C.’s convertible dresses.  They don’t compromise fabric choice or silhouette and although they range from $195 to $235, the designer promises “infinite possibilities” in terms of styling the dress.  Monif C. also invites you to sign up for their monthly $100 gift certificate giveaway!  The figure-flaunting dresses come in a rainbow of colors and are in a word, glamorous.    I also love ASOS Curve, which offers  well-tailored, trend-conscious pieces. 

Finally, check out fab designer Isaac Mizrahi’s tips HERE.  No matter what your size or price point, you shouldn’t have to settle for subpar style.

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