Whether you’re statuesque, petite, plus size, or simply average, most women want to know the secrets to whittling their waistlines without going on a diet. And while your shapewear can easily give the illusion of a tinier midsection, there are many other fashionable options readily available to make you look slimmer with minimal effort.
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“A flattering belt is, of course, a great way to ‘mark’ the waist, but even without belts, women can use fashion to make their waists smaller,” explains Sharon Graubard, SVP of Creative Services at trend forecasting site Stylesight. “We’re also seeing the return of Dior’s 1947 "New Look," which was all about small, natural shoulders, a slim-fitting top, and a full, voluminous skirt that hits around mid-calf. Hourglass or belted jackets are part of this look.”
Whether you indulged in too much Halloween candy or you’re swimming in never-ending layers to stay warm during those suddenly brisk afternoons, you can still show off a beautifully seductive, runway-ready figure this holiday season. Several stylists gave us their secrets on how to hide a dreaded bulge while looking and feeling your very best:
Invest in High-Waisted Pieces
High-waisted garments, including jeans, leggings and skirts, are all the rage among the stars — and with good reason. “These pieces tend to sit at the best spot on your waist and cinch in your waist, causing it to look smaller,” says celebrity stylist Ali Levine. “They’re not only great to make your waist look smaller, but they’ll also help you keep up with the fashion trends for the fall and winter months.” To avoid appearing frumpy, make sure you wear your correct size by getting a fitting. And to really elongate your appearance, add heels to make your legs appear longer and leaner.
Don’t Hibernate in Your Wardrobe
There’s no denying that the freezing winter months will make you want to hibernate under layers of wool, but this can easily make you appear up to several pounds heavier. What to do? “When wearing bulky clothing, like a sweater, always wear it true to size to fit your figure,” says celebrity stylist Anthony Henderson. “Never wear several thick layers unless you’re going to Alaska. When the weather is slightly warmer, wear several thin layers instead.” When it comes to your coat, look for one that features a belt to better cinch your waist, creating an hourglass figure without compromising on warmth. “Burberry does it best when it comes to rocking a fabulous look for the fall and winter with a smaller waistline,” says Henderson.
Create a Shape
“Wearing a ton of layers in the cold winter months can often make you feel like you have no shape,” emphasizes New York City-based stylist Sara Cooper. “A great trick is by layering it over high-waisted bottoms." As an alternative to jeans, Cooper recommends a shimmery skirt in a golden hue, which can be worn day or night. “It would work amazingly well with a tucked in t-shirt and an oversized cardigan, ” she adds. To stay extra warm, add opaque tights, and try heeled booties for extra length.
Draw Attention Elsewhere
If you really want to create a trimmer midsection, don’t be afraid to take attention away from your waist. Stylists insist that sometimes showing off your waist with a belt, especially a wide one, can draw unwanted attention to the area as it could appear too bulky with the wrong outfit. However, have all eyes on you by making a bold, chic statement instead. “Wearing a bejeweled neck sweater or detailed-collar neck blouse will keep the eye drawn upward and naturally make the waist blend in beautifully with the rest of your body,” explains fashion expert Hilary Kennedy. To add sparkle this holiday season, Kennedy suggests rocking a killer pair of rhinestone chandelier earrings.
Show Off Flattering Stripes
“When it comes to cinching your waist for winter, sometimes all you need is the right optical illusion, explains Rain Blanken, fashion expert for About.com. “Wearing vertical lines over your midsection can actually reduce the appearance of your waistline. This includes vertical-striped prints, as well as the lines created by hanging scarves and sweaters.” What to avoid? Blanken says to stay away from horizontal lines, especially on tops and sweaters, which are notorious for making any figure appear wider.
Wear the Right Belt
The right belt can create an hourglass figure, but it all depends on the type, as well as the outfit itself. Graubard recommends a corselet, which is a wider belt specifically designed to cinch in the midsection, running between 3-6 inches in width. A corselet can also be worn over a dress or coat. “For those with straighter figures, try a slim leather belt that matches your apparel, such as a gray belt over a gray sweater,” she states. “The newest belts to look out for are simple, often without any visible closure, or with a smooth metal buckle for a clean minimalist look. Narrow belts can be styled over dresses, sweaters, coats, and jackets.”
Look for Panel Sides
A dress that gives you a slimmer figure? This is no fashion myth, but rather a super stylish reality that’s on trend and flatters everyone. “The most fashionable way to create a smaller waist is to wear clothing that has black or navy panel sides,” explains model and fashion expert Jaimie Hilfiger. “It will create a beautiful illusion for your waist. Stella McCartney started this trend a few seasons ago and her dresses sold out immediately. Everyone from celebrities to the average working woman are still wearing this look and it continues to be sought after.”
Wrap it Up
There’s a reason why designer Diane Von Furstenberg’s classic wrap dress never goes out of style. “Any woman can wear the easy wrap dress — and dresses that accent the middle are a good way to make the waist look smaller,” says Graubard. Stylists say the wrap dress is a coveted fashion trick to make any star’s midsection appear tinier. One featuring a fun pattern will also take attention away from the areas you’re looking to conceal. To ensure that your dress won’t show every lump and bump, make sure it’s the right size and the fabric is high quality — anything thin and flimsy will reveal unwanted lumps and bumps, which is why many stick to the DVF original!
Try a Retro Look
Another dress that can instantly trim inches? The classic fit and flare gown. “These are dresses with a slim top that slopes into a gently flared skirt,” explains Graubard. “It’s often seamed at the waist to achieve its signature shape.”
To make your waist appear smaller, you can also add on a belt, but take caution. “Sometimes a thicker belt will make your waist look larger, so be sure to pick the best width for your body type,” warns Levine. To find out whether a skinny or wider belt will suit your dress, simply snap a photo of yourself modeling both. You’ll then be able to determine which one you believe flatters the most. And if you need a second (or third) opinion, send both images to your closest friends before making a grand debut.
“Take a tip from the pageant girls — a neutral heel is your best friend when creating the illusion of a smaller waist,” explains Kennedy. “The closer the shoe's color is to your natural leg or hosiery tone, the longer and leaner your body will look. And the leaner you look, the smaller your waist will appear. This works well with dresses, pencil skirts, mini skirts, and even cropped pants. It even works with swimwear if you’re going on vacation and want to throw on a pair of heels with your cover-up!”
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