Just like the food you put in your body, the clothes you put on your body can also add pounds. Here’s how to dress slimmer and still get in on the season’s best fashion trends
Aha. No matter how fit we are or how healthy we eat, the clothes we wear can add pounds. But with some skilful choices, they can also subtract pounds. For tips, I decided to start by mining the brain of Lisa Tant, who is never shy about sharing her expertise. The former editor of Flare magazine is now vice-president and fashion editor at Holt Renfrew.
Says Tant: “I like to think of dressing thinner as really being about dressing your best self, and understanding where you want to draw the eye to.” Tant, a fit size 10 who says she dresses around “big boobs, big bum,” is enthusiastic about big-scale colourful patterns. This might seem counterintuitive, but stay with her: “An overall busy pattern can be surprisingly flattering in a shift dress or pencil skirt–as long as its silhouette is body-skimming.”
Skimming is a word that keeps coming up in our chat; to Tant, a close but not tight fit is essential if you’re looking to dress in a way that flatters. “I don’t wear anything too tight, or too voluminous,” says Tant, who is five foot six inches. One of her other rules is to buy clothes only if they are made with a fabric that offers a bit of stretch, especially in a pant or skirt.
“A printed shift dress is a staple in my wardrobe because the eye doesn’t rest in one particular area,” Tant says. When it comes to separates, while the spring runways were rife with arty print mash-ups, she stands by a cleaner approach: With a busy-pattern skirt, wear something simple and solid on top.
Tant sings the slimming praises of optical-illusion panelling, in the mode of the Stella McCartney dress made famous on the red carpet by Kate Winslet.
It keeps coming out in all price points and versions; the dark colour is placed “where you want to recede.”
I mention shapewear: For or against? “Bring it on!” says Tant. In every season but summer, she depends on shapewear to help give a nice smooth line, and is partial to high-waisted versions.
What about pastels, another hot trend? “I don’t wear any light colour below my waist,” says Lisa firmly. “No-o-o.” But she’d dip into the sorbet trend with a pink or cream long “boyfriend”-style blazer, and a dark tuxedo trouser with a white or pastel stripe down the side. She cites those by Vince and Stella McCartney. “And I will do the monochromatic look, in head-to-toe dark rich colours like cobalt blue or red–I’m not a fashion wallflower!”
While Tant talks about what you can wear more than what you can’t (which I like), she does have a pretty strong caveat against metallics. If you’re looking to dress slimmer, “wear metallic and shine as a flourish detail at the neckline or hemline, but keep it away from the midsection,” she says. And don’t even think about a metallic bathing suit.
The classic look never fails
“I’m not about all the trends; I choose only the ones that flatter my body,” says Tant, who considers a pencil skirt another wardrobe staple–a current favourite is her Pink Tartan with a flare hem, “which gives the skirt a bit of a swing.” Her default outfit for achieving a slim silhouette is a straight-cut pant, a V-neck sweater that covers her hips (lightweight in summer) and elegant three-inch classic heels with a pointed toe (“single-sole” in fashion-speak). “I believe they contribute to a slimmer look,” says Tant. “Platforms can add weight to your overall look.
“As a way to update, I keep my eyes open for a new colour for the sweater and concentrate on great accessories,” says Tant, naming Alexis Bittar, Marni and Alan Anderson as accessory labels she depends on to kick up a look. She loves a colourful beaded necklace close to the face, but lately is getting into the trend of a long pendant necklace that hits the midsection, since that elongates the neck.
Lara Molebash, the U.S.-based senior trend analyst for Target stores, also sees long necklaces as a good buy. “A pendant draws the eye down, lengthening your torso and making you look slimmer,” she says.
For an easy, flattering silhouette, she puts her money on T-shirt dresses from Target’s Mossimo Black line. “They come in beautiful drapey, woven fabric with some seriously gorgeous prints and patterns,” she says. “Most people would say you should belt this to give your waist some definition, but I’d disagree. With this silhouette, belting creates weird fabric-gathering as you move, and can make you end up looking kind of sloppy and bigger. Instead, I would pair it with a great heel and a long necklace.” As a general styling tip for this outfit, “if you have long hair, wear it down,” says Molebash.
It’s all in the crop
If you want to look slimmer, stick with an ankle-length pant as opposed to trying this season’s more exaggerated, shorter crop. “I love my Mossimo Black stretch ankle pants,” says Molebash. “They sit just below the waist and have a slightly wider waistband that not only make them comfortable, but really flattering when tucking in a pretty blouse.”
For super-stretchy, she says Mossimo “Ponte” pants are the ultimate in stretch and comfort; “they feel like you’re wearing a tailored sweatpant” but hold their shape throughout the day.
With ankle-cropped pants, skirts and dresses, Molebash advises wearing shoes that expose the top of your foot. Even better, choose a pointed toe in a colour close to your skin tone. “This trick lengthens the leg, making you look taller and slimmer. And you don’t have to be toppling over in sky-high heels; kitten heels are actually trending and are quite comfortable.”
Like Tant, Molebash feels monochromatic dressing in general is another great way to look more svelte. “Wearing one colour head to toe is the most flattering on any figure.”
Molebash, who is five foot five inches tall, says, “I dress to highlight my legs. Although I’m not the tallest, I have pretty good legs, so skinny jeans and short skirts are staples in my closet. I try to camouflage my midsection. I also dress to make sure I have a defined waist and chest.”
If your trouble area is your stomach, wear tops that drape from the chest or just under it and that don’t hug your midsection. The “nonchalant front tuck” (where you take the front right or left of a T-shirt, give it a loose twist and tuck it into the top of your pants) is another great trick that can camouflage and draw the midsection in, creating a leaner look. “V-necks and wrap silhouettes also help elongate the mid to upper part of the body,” adds Molebash. And she’s adamant about this: “No crop tops.”