Former lifestyle contributor for The Today Show, Oprah, ET, Extra, Crook & Chase, Hard Copy, People Magazine, In Style, TV Guide, Redbook, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, and more
Former top NY stylist to Revlon, Clairon, Avon, Black Velvet, Wrangler, Monet; Fmr National Spokesperson for major companies including Playtex, Pearle Vision, Suave, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, etc.
Leah says there are a few basics that can enhance the appearance of just about everyone. 1) Most important: The more you stick to one color, the less you break up the body. Monochromatic dressing is the favorite trick of virtually every fashion editor, designer, and stylist she knows. Why? Because it makes everybody look slimmer and taller instantly. Plus, it’s always elegant, and it’s an extremely easy way to dress. You have to wonder why more women outside the fashion industry don’t take advantage of it. Technically, dressing this way is wearing one color – any color- from head to toe (although you can fudge a bit), and it works for two main reasons. Number one, color is the first thing most people notice about an outfit. Even someone who is clueless about fashion and rarely notices what anybody is wearing will notice color. And number two, dressing in one color produces a strong unbroken line that elongates the body. Put these two facts together and you’ve got a very powerful fashion tool. Use texture to add interest to monchromes: While talking color, we’re in no way limiting texture. You can incorporate as many different textures into an outfit as you like – within reason, of course. You’d be surprised at the extra pizzazz and sophistication you can get. Even if all colors were identical, the variation in textures – ribbing, knits, tweeds, etc - would give the outfit a rich, interesting dimension and relief from sameness.
Other basics: 2) Stay away from anything too shiny because it reflects light and makes you look bigger. That’s one reason why a white SUV looks bigger than a black SUV, Leah says. You can have a little shine, but not too much. Darker or muted colors are more slimming. On days when you want to look slimmer, wear darker.
3) Avoid really big prints. The bigger the print, the bigger you look. 4) Look for a style that creates a vertical as opposed to a horizontal outline for your body. For example, a V-neck on a sweater elongates your neck. 5) Never wear anything too tight or too big. Too tight, you look like a sausage. Too big, you look like you are hiding. Clothes should skim, not cling. Garments that skim and contour your body give you a nice slim look. “Garments that cling to you make you look fatter,” Leah says. “I can’t stress this one enough. Tight clothing can make even a model sprout budges.”
Skirts are most slimming when they fall close to the body, and are longer than they are wide. This makes for maximum elongation. You’re in dangerous territory when a skirt is so short that it looks more square than rectangular. Although A-lines can help conceal bulges, they are style risks since they can come across as dull and matronly. Consider trumpet skirts instead. Floor-length skirts will make you look shorter. They tend to anchor you to the ground like a fire hydrant. The length is less risky in lightweight fluid fabrics, but as a rule, ankle length is as long as anyone should ever go – except with evening gowns. The wider the pant leg, the softer and more fluid the fabric should be – and the longer the length. No wide stiff palazzos. Narrow pants can be worn shorter. Most slacks are most slenderizing when they are straight and long.
In general, keep detailing small. No huge buttons, collars, pockets, flower pins, etc. Keep items in proportion – a larger person can wear larger accessories, etc, than a smaller person. Keep things simple. Don’t do a lot of ruffles, appliques, etc. The simpler the better; a cleaner line makes you look slimmer.
For the most part men don’t have to deal with accessories like women do because they don’t wear them. But in general, the Lighter or Darker rule apply to men. Too big or too small is a no-no. Men’s clothing is simpler so they don’t have the array of choices as women do. Do watch out for the big belt buckle over an ample belly.
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