Simple styling teqhniques that will make unflattering clothes look better on you

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May 31, 2023

I’ve developed a powerful set of simple styling techniques over the past 12 years, that I consistently use to improve the look of my clients (and my own) less flattering clothes, and I’m sharing my most used techniques, below!

Scroll down, or click the links below to see some simple ways to improve the look of:

Start enjoying wearing those clothes you like, but that don't fit or flatter you, rather than leaving them hanging un-worn in your closet!

Text layed over an image of a women saying how to make unflattering clothes more flattering



1/  If a top is an unflattering length, or is too long, you can make it look better by:

  • Loosely tuck the front of the top into your waist band.  You can tuck it in to one side, the front, or all the way round.  Play around and see what looks best on you!
  • Tie a knot in the top to give it some shape and shorten it
  • And sometimes you can belt it, this works especially well with jackets and coats!

This sweater is very square and it draws a line right across my widest point (my hips and thighs) which makes me look more bottom heavy. By tucking it in at the front I can break up that unflattering line and make the sweater work better for me!

2/  If a top is too big, or is hiding your shape and making you look larger than you are, you can improve it by:

  • Layering a jacket or long line vest over the top to give the top more shape, and to narrow your torso a little
  • Layer a heavy pendent necklace over the top to add a little shape to the top.  The necklace will also mimic a V neckline, so will help to draw the eye in and down to narrow you
  • Belt it to create shape
  • And, again, you can tie a knot in the top to give it some shape, this works really well with loose fabric

This top is super loose and shapeless, but by tying a knot in the side I can tighten it and create more shape. I've also cuffed the sleeves they looked too long on me

This jacket hits me at my widest also doesn't have a lot of shape, but by adding a belt to the waist I can shorten it slightly, and give it shape.

3/  If the neckline of a top is unflattering, there are a few of things you can do to make it more flattering:

  • Wear it back to front! 
  • Layer a scarf over the top to change the shape of the neckline
  • Layer a different shaped neckline underneath
  • And if it has buttons that are pulling across your bust, or that make you feel frumpy, undo them to just below the bust, and layer a light weight camisole underneath if it's too revealing
  • If it's making your bust look smaller, add a little extra weigh by layering multiple necklaces.  Or layer a scarf over the top

I love layering a t shirt under this to change the neckline

4/ If the sleeves are the wrong length (for example, sometimes a sleeve that ends inline with your bust can look really unflattering), try these simple fixes:

  • Cuff or roll the sleeve to a more flattering length
  • Layer a longer sleeve underneath it, or a shorter on over the top to change the sleeve length

The sleeve on this faux fur jacket are a little too short and make the whole jacket look like it's too small, but by layering a leather jacket that has the correct length sleeve, under it, it makes the faux fur coat sleeves look longer!


1/  If the length of your pants or jeans is unflattering you can improve it by:

  • Cuffing, rolling, or turn them up until they're a more flattering length
  • If they're too long cut them to a better length and leave the edge frayed.  
  • If they're too short, unpick the hem and let it down...laving the raw hem as a feature
  • Tuck them into long boots and know one will know!

Let the hem down if your jeans are too short

2/  If your jeans are a bit tight across the tummy and you're getting a little muffin top, try these simple styling tricks:

  • Wear them with a loose light weight top, loosely tucked in.  By tucking the loose top in, you're able to hide your tummy a little without hiding your waist.  It's much more flattering than covering everything up in a loose oversized top
  • Wear them with a top that has a little peplum and a some clever ruching to create shape and disguise the tummy area like THIS.  Bonus points if it's a print as that does a great job of keeping the eye moving.
  • Or layer a tailored jacket or long-line vest over the top to narrow your torso and create shape

This peplum top subtly disguises my tummy area without adding too much bulk, and the longline vest helps to narrow my torso and create a little shape.

3/  If your favorite jeans are a little too tight or loose across the thighs and bottom play around with layering to disguise the fact they don't fit well:

  • Wear them with a long-line vest or cardigan over the top
  • Layer them under your favorite dress

These jeans are a little bit too tight for me around the waist, but I love the shade of blue, and I like how well they fit me everywhere else, so I tend to wear them under dresses like this


If a dress is too large for you, you can often improve it by:

  • Belting it at the waist
  • Wearing a top over it and knotting the top to shorten and tighten it at the waist
  • Tie a knot in the dress itself, to cinch it in and create more shape for both the dress and you

The waistline of this dress sits a bit too high for me, so I wear it with a wide belt to lower it a little

If the waistline of a dress doesn't sit in line with your waist:

  • Layer a belt over the dress's waistband to bring it more inline with your own waist.  Note that the belt will need to be wider than the waist band in order to hide it

If the length is wrong for you:

  • Tie a knot in the hem to lift it
  • Belt it at the waist and pull the dress up and over it a little to lift it. This only works if you need to lift it a little bit, otherwise you'll have too much excess fabric adding bulk around your middle
  • Cut it and turn it into a top
  • Or, if it's a shirt dress, undo all the buttons and wear it as a long line vest instead

This dress is too short for me so I like to wear it open over jeans and a cami


If a skirt is too long, you have two options (other than sewing it shorter or wearing it with heels):

  • Tie a knot in the hem to shorten it
  • If the shape allows - wear it as a strapless dress buy lifting it up over your bust and wrapping a belt over the top of it to keep it in place.  Midi and maxi length skirts work best for this

Tying a knot in the hem of a skirt will shorten it and add a little shape

If a skirt it too short:

  • Consider wearing it as a top.  As with the last suggestion, bring it up and over your bust and use a belt to keep it in place

If a skirt is catching you at the hips:

  • Sometimes a tight slip worn underneath will give you a little extra room and will help the fabric move more freely

And if a skirt is a little bit shapeless:

  • You can often add some shape by tying some of the excess fabric in a knot to cinch it in

And there you have it!  Those are some of my favorite ways to improve the look and fit of clothes that don't flatter you.  

If you have lots of unworn clothes hanging in your closet, I highly recommend you pull them from your wardrobe and play around with some of the techniques I just showed you, to see if you can make them look better on you.  You'll be amazed at how many of those clothes you've not been wearing (because they 'don't look quite right')  do actually work for you!  

If you want some guidance with that, check out this post it will help you de clutter your closet and make outfits with your unworn clothes.


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this post shares the process I go through to help my clients de clutter their closet, rediscover what they have, and make new outftis with their old clothes

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Hi, I'm Niki

author and personal stylist

Over the past 18 years I’ve freed thousands of women from the frustration of disappointing outfits, by showing them how to dress to make the most of their shape, and helping them build a closet that's easy to use and fun to wear.  My blog shares the tried and true tips and knowledge I've developed, to help you stop wasting money on disappointing clothes, and build a closet you enjoy wearing.

You can find out more about Niki here

And you can get in touch with Niki here