I’ve been asking my email subscribers what their biggest frustration is when it comes to their style and wardrobes and, sadly, the most common responses I’ve had is that they don’t like what they see in the mirror and they wish they were slimmer.
I can’t tell you how sad this makes me as I know there is another woman reflected in that mirror, one who has a great waist, or a fabulous pair of legs, or a great bust, or wonderful shoulders…I could go on, there are SO many great qualities about your shape but for various reasons YOU can’t see them.
Focusing on your size, wishing you were slimmer and spending time hiding the parts of your body that you’re not happy with isn’t going to help. What will help, is recognizing that you have some wonderful assets, and focusing on dressing to suit your shape and size correctly, in clothes that fit you well. In fact, this is the most flattering way to dress and often, when someone feels more positive about their appearance, some of those things they want to change, like losing weight, follow naturally behind.
I realize that me telling you that you do have a wonderful shape and telling you to look for your good qualities, rather than focusing on what you consider to be the bag and ugly, is probably going to fall on deaf ears...and I'm sure that a few of will have read this far and muttered something along the lines of “Seriously, Niki, you want me to just tell myself that I look good and think that’ll fix everything?” But I am determined that you will see the beautiful woman that all your friends and family see when they look at you so I have complied a list of 20 different things you can do to look instantly slimmer without loosing any weight.
And while some of them will require you to acknowledge that you DO have some good points, and others will require an open mind, most of them are simple styling tricks that you can adopt straight away, that will work straight away. I know they will because these tips are tried and tested by me and my clients, and I have their tears (happy ones!) and gratitude as a constant reminder.
Wearing clothes that fit, flatter and suit you really can be life changing and this is what motivates me to continue sharing the styling tips and tricks I've learned over the past 12 years as a personal stylist! So please, scroll on down, pick a few of the points below to focus on, and start learning to love your reflection!
20 styling hacks that will make you look instantly slimmer
buy the correct size clothing
Clothes that are too small will make you look bigger than you are, but more than that, each time you squeeze into clothing that is too small it makes you feel bigger than you are and this just sends the wrong messages to your brain telling you that you’re not your perfect size and need to lose weight. Dress for the size you are now, it is far more flattering and you will FEEL better.
Similarly, clothes that are too big for you will also make you look bigger than you are as they hide your shape. It also has the added disadvantage of sending messages to your brain telling you that you’ve got room to spare so you will be less likely to think twice before reaching for the comfort food.
check the fit of your clothing
This is similar to tip one, however, even if you are wearing the correct size clothing, it doesn't' guarantee that the fit will be correct. Some key points to check are: sleeve length, body length, leg length and rise and waistline position. I've written an entire article about getting the correct fit in clothing, you can see that here. You can also download my fit checklist below, for free:
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choose a flattering length
Wearing clothes in the correct length is SO important, and I’m not just talking about the length of trousers/pants and skirts here I’m talking body and sleeve lengths, too.
If your arms aren’t your best assets don’t choose a top with sleeves that hit where they are widest, choose a sleeve that highlights a narrower point such as a bracelet length.
And if you’re busty, please avoid a sleeve length that ends inline with your bust as this will make you look larger.
When it comes to jackets and tops, make sure their hem doesn’t cut you across the widest part of your hips as this won’t be flattering at all.
And for legs, in general, the most flattering length is one that finishes at ankle length or just below the knee as these tend to be the narrowest part of the leg. The key with all of these is to make sure the hems don’t highlight your widest point.
focus on highlighting your best bits, rather than hiding what you don't like
I always ask new clients to share at least two things that they like about their body and their shape, and while I can instantly identify their assets, it almost always takes a little encouraging from me before they’re able to identify one or two points themselves.
I know it’s not an easy thing to do, especially since many of us have spent years focusing on covering up the things we don’t like about our bodies, but if you want to start dressing in the most flattering (and most slimming) way then it is vital that you identify what you like about your shape, change your mindset, and focus on celebrating these and showing them off.
If you’re struggling to identify what your assets are why not ask a friend or loved one? I bet they can reel of a list in a matter of seconds!
get the foundations right
Wearing the correct underwear is crucial to looking a size smaller.
Let’s talk bra’s first – I’ve revealed fabulous waists on clients just by putting them in the correct sized bra, so if you’re not sure if you’re wearing the right size…in fact scrap that, even if you think you’re in the right size go and get fitted by a specialist. Many department stores offer a free bra fitting service so you really have no excuse.
I also recommend heading over to this post I wrote that shares 5 signs that you’re wearing the wrong bra size.
Now lets tackle knickers/panties – make sure they’re the right size and aren’t digging in too much. Skimpy underwear offers little to no support and low slung hipster styles can cause the old muffin top – different body shapes need different styles so choose carefully. And just as different body types have different requirements, so to do different clothing styles and fabrics. And finally, if you like the way support underwear fits your curves, don’t save them for best. If they make you feel confident, wear them more often.
use colour blocking to your advantage
I’ve mentioned color blocking and it’s magical effects in many an article, but I feel the need to mention it again as it is a fantastic way to look slimmer!
Light colors highlight and dark ones hide, so if the blocks of colour are in the right place they can narrow and elongate a torso, narrow hips, highlight a waist, and slim a large bust. It works for all garments, even swimwear!
utilize the slimming effects of layering
As with color blocking, layering has the ability to lengthen and narrow. It can also be used to highlight or hide.
For example, in this outfit below I’ve layered a cropped turtleneck over a long-line button up to highlight my waist and narrow my hips a little.
opt for tailoring and clothing with structure
Structured pieces that hold you in and define your curves will be far more flattering than looser, shapeless styles.
use accessories to appear slimmer
Ooh, this is a good one. Some clever styling with the right accessories can do wonders for your shape!
A long necklace will break up the line across your bust and draw the eye down.
A long necklace with a pendent on it can help give a little structure to loose tops that might otherwise hang from your bust in a rather unflattering way.
A belt can highlight a waist or add definition to a shape without a waist.
And heel will elongate and narrow the leg, as will a pointy toe!
choose a slimming heel type
If you carry your weight on your bottom half then a spindly heel (specially a kitten or mid height one) can look like it’s being squashed and thus emphasizes your size. A better option would be to choose a block heel like this.
wear high rise jeans, pants and skirts
A high rise is quite possibly the most flattering rise. All of my jeans are a high rise and I will never go back to a lower rise…no matter what the trends dictate.
Low to mid rises have a tendency to dig in and create a ‘muffin top’, where as a high rise will hold you in and emphasize your waist! They are also SO much more comfortable.
choose slimming fabrics
Shiny fabrics and thin stretchy fabrics have a tendency to highlight every lump and bump and are extremely unforgiving, so if you want to look slimmer steer clear of these unfriendly fabrics. Instead, opt for thicker fabrics with more structure, these will hold you in and highlight your curves, which is far more flattering and slimming.
dress head to toe in one hue
And guess what? It doesn’t have to be black!
Choose a color you love, that suits you, and go monochromatic. Wearing one color, head to toe, creates one clean line that elongates and slims.
match the color of your footwear, to the tights or pants you're wearing
Matching your footwear color to the color of your tights, or trousers, is a great way to elongate and slim your legs, especially if the shoes have a heel and pointy toe!
contrast clothing proportions for a slimming effect
Avoid wearing loose clothes top and bottom, the same goes for tighter fitting clothing. It’s far more flattering to contrast the two. For example, if I’m wearing skinny jeans I like to balance them with a looser style top, and if I’m wearing a looser style of jeans or pants then I’ll often team them with a tighter top.
tuck things in!
I know you might resist this one, but tucking tops in (fully, or with a mini half tuck) can do wonders for your shape! It can create and enhance a waistline (even if you don't have one), it can elongate your legs, and it can narrow wide hips. It is my number one trick for dressing slimmer!
The first image below illustrates how a full tuck can highlight your waist and the second shows you how a half tuck can narrow your hips!
pay attention to the details
The right details can be slimming, but wear the wrong ones and they’ll add bulk. If you’re busty, large pockets that sit on your bust are going to add bulk, and if you carry your weight on your hips, I recommend steering clear of trousers/pants that have pockets on the hip. However, at the same time, details can work to your advantage – I’ll use pockets on the back of jeans as an example:
- Small pockets can make a bottom look larger
- Pockets that sit low down can make a bottom look ‘saggy’
- Pockets that sit far apart can make your bottom look wider and
- A style that has no pockets can make you look bigger.
dress to suit your shape
Dressing to suit your shape is the most flattering way to dress. Once you understand your shape and how to balance the proportions you can use clothing to highlight your best assets and disguise the qualities you’re not so happy with. I’m a classic pear shape, I carry my weight on my bottom half, and have a neat top half, so I will often pull outfits together that draw attention away from my bottom half and up to my top half. I also like to wear clothes that highlight my waist. Even if you don’t know what shape you are (and I will help you with this at a later date), try to understand your proportions and how best to balance
Want to know what your shape is?
Take my free body-shape quiz!
dress to suit you and your style identity
I know there is a ton of outfit inspiration at our finger tips these days, but try not to carbon copy a look. Use the inspiration as just that, inspiration, and tweak it so it works for you, it will be the most flattering outfit and a flattering outfit is the most slimming! And that brings me nicely onto my next tip.
wear clothes that make you feel good!
Ultimately, if you wear outfits that you enjoy wearing, that make you feel confident, you will care less about your size and shape. So my advice is to spend time filling your wardrobe with clothes you enjoy wearing, so you can easily put together outfits that make you look and feel amazing.