Being comfortable with your curves is the key to looking great, and I have so much admiration for voluptuous women who wear what they want regardless of the fashion ‘rules’ (who wrote them anyway?). They are the women we should be looking up to. But the truth is many of us still have confidence issues and would kill to look a few pounds slimmer, hide the lumps and bumps or conceal the bits we don’t like very much. Whether it’s your tum, bum, boobs or thighs that you struggle to dress, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with admitting you have bits you’re not so happy with. Until you have the confidence to say “to hell with it, I’m gorgeous!” dressing to flatter is key to feeling good about yourself.
However, hiding it not an option! So throw away those shapeless sacks and work with what you’ve got instead…
1. Belt it!
If you’ve got a big bum and big boobs, chances are you’ve got a killer waist to go with them. So don’t hide it. Bigger women – especially those of a certain age – seem to be inexplicably obsessed with low-slung hip belts. This has to stop! Accentuate the narrowest part, your natural waist, instead. If you’re a 12 – 18, you can go with a wider belt, perhaps an elasticated number or something with a big buckle. If you’re larger, try something narrower, and don’t fasten it too tight. Remember you need to be able to breathe!
2. Go opaque
My less-than-secret weapon for feeling great is a good pair of black or very dark coloured opaque tights with a semi-matte finish. We all know black is slimming, and nothing makes your legs look better than some great opaques with a pair of killer heels. They also smooth bumps and conceal thread veins, cellulite and ‘corned beef’ legs. Some of the heavier deniers can even have a shapewear-like effect.
The best in the business for lasting power are Wolford’s Velvet DeLuxe. If you can’t afford their £18 price tag, Accessorize do a 90 denier pair for £6 that are a dead ringer on a budget. Also look at brands like Falke, Tabio and Cette, as well as good old Spanx. And remember, tights are so super-cool now so you can wear them pretty much year-round. Look at tights fans like Zooey Deschanel, Gwyneth Paltrow and Leona Lewis for proof!
3. Go tailored
If I had £1 for every bigger woman I’ve seen drowning herself in shapeless layers of clothing, I’d be a very rich woman. As tempting as it is to throw on a baggy t-shirt under a man’s shirt and scarf and hide your lumps and bumps, you’ll look much better if that t-shirt is long, v-necked and semi-fitted, and the shirt is a blouse cut to fit a woman with a waist (you have a waist, remember?!) I’m not suggesting you suddenly shoehorn yourself into skintight bodycon (unless you want to!) but remember the more bulk you add in shapeless layers, the bigger you’ll look all over. Pick things that subtly nip you in, and you’re onto a winner.
4. Stop camping it up if you’ve got a chest!
Trapeze and A-line dresses (ones that flare out from the neck or above the bust) work brilliantly on women with small boobs, big thighs or round tummies because they skim those areas brilliantly, but they’re the worst possible choice for anyone over a C cup. There’s nothing worse than a tent-like dress with a spindly pair of legs poking out. You’ll get ‘shelf boob’ and you’ll hide all those amazing curves, and what’s the point of that? You’d be far better off with a good heavy jersey wrap dress with a deep v-neck, or something that hugs the waist, perhaps with a darker panel or belt. Just stick a spanx slip or cami underneath to cover those annoying high-rise D+ bras.
5. Fake it!
I don’t advocate sun-worshiping, but a tan does give you confidence, and bronzed skin can make you look healthier and more radiant. So if you’re fair to medium skinned and conscious of how fair your skin is, why not get a fake tan if you’ve got a big event where you want to look your best? Professional spray tanners can even use the airbrush to ‘sculpt’ your body, adding extra shading to the cleavage, the collarbone, the sides of the stomach etc. This is hard to copy at home but you could try tanning all over on day one, then topping up on the ‘shaded’ bits with a mixture dilluted with moisturiser on day two. I also use a gradual tanning moisturiser throughout Spring, Summer and early Autumn when I’ve got my arms and legs out. It really makes a difference, but you’re less likely to go streaky in the heat.
6. Balance out big hips.
The key to hiding ‘childbearing’ hips is balance. Avoid wearing skinny jeans with short tops (go for longer tunic styles), throw out those hip belts and instead try bootcut trousers or flares teamed with long, fitted or body-skimming tops. Skirts with knee high boots (especially ruched or slouchy to add bulk to the calves to balance out the upper thighs) or dresses with detail on the shoulders also work to even out your proportions. Big shoulders are back in fashion at the moment and they’re a great way of balancing out your hips.
7. Buy the right size.
Ladies, many of us wish we fit into a size 8. But let’s face it, most of us don’t. Most of us don’t fit into a 10 or 12 either, and it’s about time we admitted it. Measure your hips, waist and chest (at the widest part) and compare it to the size charts of the shops you most frequently shop at. Try that size if you’re not wearing it already, you’ll probably find it’s a much nicer fit. One of the worst things a woman can do is try to squeeze into something that’s too small (or drown in something too big)…and I speak from experience here because I’ve done both. But it’s time we learned. Try things on, and only buy things that fit perfectly. Chuck them out when they don’t fit any more. Don’t hang onto stuff that you’ll never wear. Sell it on eBay and buy something else!
8. Get the right undies.
I will never stop rambling on about the importance of being fitted for a good bra. You’ve probably read countless times that 80% of us are wearing the wrong bra size. Stop just assuming you’re one of the other 20%! Get measured! Weight loss, weight gain, the fact you were last measured in M&S when you were 14…all of these contribute to the fact we’re all clueless when it comes to cup size. I promise you that a trip to Bravissimo will give you a new lease of life. In the right bra your clothes will fit better, your boobs will look twice as perky, and your straps will stop falling down all the time. On a side note, stop buying knickers that are too small, too. Go up a size, don’t be ashamed to be a 16 (or 18, or 20, or 32…) if that’s what feels most comfortable!
9. Get a new ‘do
I think part of feeling confident is about having a whole look that feels young, fresh and stylish. So many big girls (myself included) have a tendency to hang on to their hair for dear life, hiding behind waist-length locks that are desperately in need of a tidy up. So if you want a new lease of life, consider a new hairdo. A shorter, choppier cut will lighten up your hair and give it more body (long hair is full of weight that makes it look flat). I’m all about the big hair – it looks fun! so whip out the big velcro rollers, invest in some heavy duty hairspray, and have fun!
10. Get active
Big Girls Browse is all about looking good whatever your shape, so I’m not going to preach at anyone to lose weight (unless they want to). It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but now I realise that life doesn’t end when your dress size goes up.
That said, so many voluptuous women have been knocked down so many times they eventually give up and hide away. And that’s a crying shame, because nothing beats the radiance a woman has from being active, going out, doing stuff and living her life to the full. So stick two fingers up to the haters, put on your favourite outfit and go and DO SOMETHING!