10 Plus-Size Fashion Tips with a Body-Positive Attitude

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Inclusive sizing offers even more options for curvy shapes

As a fashion editor, stylist and personal shopper, I’ve seen a real shift in women’s approach to their bodies and clothes. Decades of dieting and struggling to fit into a specific size are fading away. “I want to look 10 pounds thinner” has been replaced by “I want to look amazing!”

While I don’t dress the following celebs or know their exact sizes, in the spirit of body positivity, I present these curvy and fashionable women as style inspiration. Here are 10 tips for embracing the frame you’re in.

1. Give your body, psyche and wardrobe a boost

Opening your closet and getting dressed should be an elevating experience, not a frustrating part of your day. Start by donating your old “I’ll lose the extra pounds someday” clothes and boxy, unstylish items ASAP. Then start adding new pieces that put a smile on your face and make you excited to get dressed and say “Yes!” to your next evite.

2. Dress to elongate your body

Weight is a horizontal thing: It adds width at the bust, waist, hips and thighs. Height and leg and arm length, however, do not vary, no matter how much the scale fluctuates. Whatever your height, you’ll get a more flattering overall look by creating the illusion of a longer, taller silhouette. You can do this several ways: by dressing in one color from head to toe; wearing jeans with a higher rise (if you’re a belt-and-waist person); showing your ankles and wrists in 3/4-sleeve tops, ankle-cropped pants or midis instead of full-length pants and maxis; and wearing a shoe with some elevation, like a chunky lug or platform sole, a low block or kitten heel, and/or tapered, pointy-ish (not toe-cramming pointy) shoes.

3. Show off your shape

Don’t hide those curves in oversize, shapeless pieces — highlight them. The only thing fashionable, body-hugging dresses, bodysuits and knits that skim your shape require is the right underclothes (see tip number 9) and a confident attitude.

4. Define your waist

Many bodacious women forgo belts and tucked-in tops after menopause due to weight gain at the belly. But a belt can be a shape maker. If you have an hourglass-shaped torso or a thicker midsection that has lost its indent, a belt quickly confirms that bosom, midriff and belly are not one solid unit. Shirtdresses, wrap dresses, fit-and-flare-style dresses, jumpsuits, paper-bag-waist pants and belted pants make the point. Though many styles come with their own “cinchers,” consider splurging on a few special belts to personalize your wardrobe.

5. Or wear dresses and tunics that flow

Add a few one-piece, belt-free dresses with an A-line shape or a loose, straight silhouette to your closet. With no break at the waist, these styles skim right over the middle. Long, untucked shirts that pair easily with flat-front elastic-waist pants and jeans are another waist-breaking option.

6. Work with your personal proportions

Shop and dress to flatter your shape. You may feel better in a plus bottom but wear a regular-size top or vice versa. Grab a tape measure and determine your bust, waist and hip size in inches. Size charts are a major feature on most plus-size and size-inclusive clothing sites and can differ from brand to brand. Instead of grabbing your “typical” size when shopping online, match your inches to the retailer to find your best size option.

7. Opt for relaxed pieces

There’s more to the plus-size fashion boom than expanded sizes. Athleisure clothes like joggers, oversize hi-low tees and cozy sweats have taught women with curvy bodies to appreciate, layer and pair comfy looser clothes and longer skirt and dress lengths. This new ease is also showing up in roomy wide-leg pants and jeans with elastic waists, spacious tunics and hi-low tops, midi dresses, and generously cut sweaters and cardigans. Make these your staples.

8. Add jackets and cardigans

Toppers like structured blazers, long cardigans and dusters are essential for women of every size. The firm shape or sweeping lines (depending on which you choose) provide reassuring firmness or coverage on days when you’re just not in body-positive mode. Adding a second or third piece makes your day.

9. Wear bras that lift and support

Many women are tossing the shapewear along with body negativity. But this doesn’t mean you should hang out in do-nothing bralettes and lacy bikini panties. Bras that lift your chest and seamless undies that give your clothes a smooth line are essential regardless of size. Choose sleek modern support bras to elevate your chest and gain visual inches of torso. Your bust should “sit” about midway between your elbow and shoulder whether you’re wearing a blazer, dress, fitted sweater or tunic top.

10. Make more of a fashion statement

Many women hide their bodies in clothes that are nondescript and boring. It’s time to flaunt your style. You can still vary proportions, match tops and bottoms, and wear the volume where you need it most. Yes, all are classic “dress-slim” tactics, but they also happen to be stylish fashion moves, so no need to stop. Buy that blazer in hot pink and that coat in purple instead of black; go for that sequined hoodie and winter white jumpsuit. The only person you need to impress is yourself.

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