Dear Kathi,

Help! I lack any sort of fashion sense. I am lost about knowing how to dress now that I’ve gained weight. I would like to feel more confident & feel that I would be treated better by others if I looked more put together.

I would like to update my wardrobe and find clothes that flatter. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Anon > San Diego

Dear Anon,

Most people who gain weight experience the same sense of uneasiness with their image. Frequently they also fall into the habit of buying clothes that are two sizes too big, the idea being that wearing oversize clothing will camouflage their extra large body underneath. This tactic actually has the opposite effect! Never fear. There are some tricks of the trade that you can painlessly employ to boost your image.

First let’s attack the oversize clothes strategy: wearing clothes that are too big for you makes you appear larger than you really are, not smaller. Embrace the size that you are at this moment and wear clothes that actually fit. Choose clothes that skim your body shape and emphasize your natural curves. “Skim,” never “cling.” (Don’t sport bulges.) At the same time choose clothes that follow your natural body shape. A great secret weapon is a close fitting top/sweater underneath a larger shirt or shirt jacket.

Shirt jackets are worth their weight in gold. A shirt jacket is a very structured blouse with vertical seaming, sometimes princess cut and often with empire seams under the breast line. It hides the bulges underneath and at the same time offers tailored lines for a more “put together” look.

One-button structured blazers provide the same effect. Buy a jacket with a button that hits you at your natural waistline. This immediately enhances your waist by bringing in the lines at your natural narrow point. Even if yours is a larger waistline than you prefer, this will provide the illusion of a nice curvy shape.

We all have one body part that is our best feature. We need to emphasize that part of our body. If it is a nice neckline, wear scoop neck blouses. If your legs are like a tall drink of water, show them off! For crystal blue eyes, bring the focus to your face.

Proper color, clothing cuts, and accessories and will focus attention on your best asset. Wear the brighter colors by the feature you wish to highlight and darker colors in the other areas. People’s eyes are automatically drawn to brighter colors, so their focus will be lead to to that area. You can do the same thing with accessories. If possible, wear interesting jewelry and scarves in the area that you wish to attract attention.

In counterpoint, do not showcase or accessorize areas that you wish to hide. There is nothing worse than seeing leg bulges under mini skirts or scoop necks where there are excessive wrinkles or sleeveless tops with large wobbly underarms. I’m sure you’ve noticed the most current faux pas: very tight light colored slacks with metallic designs directly over the widest area of the body. You get the drift.

In summary, pay attention to your best asset and please wear clothes that fit. Don’t try to hide under a tent. You will only emphasize your weight gain. Have fun and remember, looking good and put together is as much related to confidence as it is to true good looks. If that were not the case, many of us would be in BIG trouble!
Thanks for writing and don’t hesitate to write with any other specific questions.

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San Diego Professional Organizer