Well I am finally, blessedly over that beast of a cold.  It settled in my lungs and I couldn't speak five words together without coughing for five minutes. Brutal.  Many decongestant pills later, I'm finally nearly my normal sassy self again. I'm avoiding reclaiming my house and working on a fun blog post instead.
Today is the second part of a question submitted to Ask Image Interpreters. Definitely check out Plus Size Answer Part 1, where I covered the top 3 items I would suggest buying to flatter a plus size figure. Today we're going to cover a few more tips and address some "myths" about plus size dressing.

On the Yahoo Style channel a few weeks ago, a plus-sized stylist did a piece on "Debunking Plus Size Myths."  Here are some of the myths she talked about and my opinion of her answers.
  • "Myth 1 - Skinny Jeans are for Skinny Girls." The stylist said, "it's all about proportion" and any plus-size gal can wear skinny jeans if she pairs it with volume on the top. I totally disagree! As I showed in part 1, pants that taper in to the ankles, which skinny jeans and leggings do, create an ice cream cone effect. You end up looking like a big V, with the widest parts of you being the focal point. I agree with Stacy & Clinton from What Not To Wear when they advise women looking to camouflage wider torsos to choose pants and jeans that fall straight down from the widest part of their hips. It's elongating and slimming.
  • "Myth 2 - Avoid form fitting clothes." I agree- this is a myth. Clothes that fit your form in the right way are much more flattering than clothes that fit like a tent. Remember - skim don't squeeze. One of the best ways to use this "fit to flatter" rule is by creating a waist.
Let's look at some examples.

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No waist...
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...waist!!
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No waist...
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...waist!!
See what I mean?  The clothes skim and create a flattering shape at the right spot.
(The above pictures also extol the virtues of a V-neckline over a rounded one.)
  • "Myth 3 - Avoid Prints and Patterns." I agree with the stylist that prints can be very useful in both camouflage tactics and drawing the eye where you want it to go. Observe.
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This top is fabulous! With the print on top and a nice dark jean on bottom, all the attention is focused on her lovely face and narrower waist. The top is seriously working overtime to create a long and lean look; it has a V-neckline, it creates a waist with the tie, it skims the hips without going too low, and the half-sleeves show off narrow forearms. 
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Per Stacy & Clinton, keeping prints in proportion with your size helps you avoid looking like a curtain or couch.  The diagonal swirling paisleys and bright border draw the eye to the narrowest parts of the body and down to the legs. The sleeve-length is great, not cutting her across the widest part of her upper arm.
  • "Myth 4 - Only Dress Monochromatically." The stylist countered this myth by showing how color-blocking can be slimming. I prefer creating a column of color. And I want you to check out this "Using a Column of Color" post by one of my favorite image consultants, Imogen Lamport. Rather than dressing in only one color, you create a column of color, either on the outside or inside of the body.  The column is elongating and slimming while the accent pieces maintain visual interest.
So, dear C., I hope these two posts have given you renewed hope for a flattering wardrobe. I'd love to see some pictures of new looks you try out!
Stay tuned this week for a review of sample sale sights, a maternity themed Ask Image Interpreters, and our first question submitted by a man!
All the pictures in this post are from ideeli.com, one of the great sample-sale sights I'll be reviewing.
 
 
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Q: I am 5' 5" and 200 pounds. I have been living in jeans and t-shirts for 18 years. I want to make a change but I don't know what looks good on me. I can't afford to buy a whole new wardrobe, so I would need to add it piece by piece. I also hate to iron, so I am always looking for 50/50 poly/cotton blend shirts. Is there any hope for me? - C

A: Dearest C - How loudly can I say, "I'VE BEEN THERE!!" In fact, until last year, I was a little heavier than you.  Then I found this, and lost 85 pounds. But before that, I spent 20 years working to flatter a plus size shape. I could write a book about what did and didn't work for me. And yes, there are PLENTY of options beyond jeans and t-shirts. In the interest of clear, concise blog posts, instead of a lengthy novel, I will dole this advice out in a series.  Today, I'll hit on which items I think are your best places to start. And I'll share a few helpful links with you of other resources for brilliant advice.

Now, everybody carries their weight differently.  I tended to carry mine somewhat evenly all over, but with a frustratingly larger portion around my hips. But a few general rules definitely apply to any woman trying to flatter a fuller frame. Let's look at those rules.

1. Highlight your smallest/narrowest area.

For me, that area was the high waist; above my belly button and below my bust.  The absolutely MOST flattering item I ever wore was a wrap dress. Such as this.
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ideeli.com
It perfectly highlighted the narrowest part of my body, the v-neckline lengthened and slimmed and brought attention up to my face. And below the waist ties, it skimmed and floated over my worst trouble spots. If I could recommend ANYTHING, it would be to immediately go out and invest in a couple matte jersey wrap dresses. As a nice bonus, they adjust with your weight. At my heaviest, I put a camisole under them and tied them a little more loosely. As I lost weight, I ditched the camisole and cinched them tighter.
(The matte jersey is also perfect because it's iron free!)

Try to get TRUE wrap dresses. Meaning, the dress opens fully, not a faux wrap dress that is sewn shut, has a v-neckline but the waist ties don't do much. These can sometimes work fine, but they don't have very much "adjustability."

Here are a couple other dress options that would also flatter in a similar way...
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ideeli.com
Don't be afraid of belts, as pictured below. They can do a lot to highlight, draw attention to where you want it, and lengthen. Just look how long she looks from the belt down! Longer = Leaner. Just don't cinch too tight. You want to avoid the tied-sausage look.
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ideeli.com
Our next guideline is...

2. Skim, don't squeeze.

And my next suggestion for you is a pair of wide-leg black trousers. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to iron these, but it'll be worth it! (Actually, take them out of the dryer when they're still a titch damp and hang them by the ankles.  The weight of the top of the pants will help them dry straight and you may be able to avoid the iron completely.)

Take a look at the trousers vs the leggings. It's the perfect illustration of why skim instead of squeeze is so flattering.
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Nordstrom
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Nordstrom
Even with the heels and the most flattering picture they could conjure, there's just no denying the drastic difference. The hips and thighs in the trousers looks SO much leaner. No squeezed sausage. 
Choose trousers that fall straight down from the widest part of your hips. If the waist gaps, have it tailored. That small adjustment is rather inexpensive.

The final guideline for the day is...

3. Too much volume amplifies, instead of camouflages.
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ideeli.com
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ideeli.com
Technically, both tops skim.  The black detail in A and print in B are both flattering.  But the extreme volume of the bottom blouse is overwhelming.  This is the same model and look how much wider she looks in the bottom picture?  They even had to pull back a bit in the photo.
So my final suggestion for the day is to look for tops with interesting detail to step up a notch from your t-shirts.  I loved jersey knit tops like the pink one, with an empire waist without too much pleating or gathering below (didn't want to look pregnant.)

We'll tackle some plus-size style myths in the next post.  And I'd like to direct you to Inside Out Style for some more great information on how to flatter your figure. Click the name back there and I've directed you straight to her section on plus-size fashion. Imogen is a fantastic image consultant out of Australia.