Ever wonder how celebrities always manage to look so pulled together, whether they’re walking the red carpet or running to get coffee? No, they weren’t just born that way. They have a secret weapon: stylists who are armed with an arsenal of pointers and solutions for helping them look their best. But you don’t have to be an A-lister to get the inside scoop on how to look fabulous. We asked stylists for their best advice on chic dressing, so that you can look like you were styled by the pros—even if the only event you’re dressing for is another day at the office.
1. Find a pair of heels that you love. “Wear a shoe with a heel—even if it’s a small one,” says Gail Ambeau, a fashion designer and stylist in Jackson, Mississippi, who hosts the “Fashion Forward” segment on Conversations LIVE! Radio. The higher the heel, the slimmer you’ll look, because it elongates your legs and forces you to throw your shoulders back—creating killer posture—as you walk. Noelle Cellini, a personal stylist with My Best Foot Forward in Chicago, looks for heels with a platform. These comfortable styles hold your arch at a more gentle angle and give an extra bit of support at the balls of your feet.
2. Create your ideal shape. Yes, clothes alone can help you do that. If you have wide hips, give the impression of a smaller waist by finding a dress or top that wraps where you’re the slimmest, suggests Cellini. Try on several sizes and styles to find something that falls at a flattering angle. Clothes shouldn’t pull or cling to you; instead, they should skim your body. Women with wide shoulders will benefit from V-neck shirts. “The deeper the V, the narrower your shoulders will look,” says Ambeau. By exposing a sliver of skin below your neck, this style subtly draws the eye downward, giving the illusion of a more vertical silhouette.
(Photo by Shutterstock.)
3. Downplay your flaws. If you aren’t crazy about your legs, don’t draw attention to them by wearing light-colored pants or jeans with sanding or whiskering, says Cellini. Pale colors and details will immediately attract the eye. Also avoid cargo-style pants with pockets on the thighs, which add bulk where legs are often the thickest. To minimize a tummy bulge, look for tops and shirts with a wide band at the waist, suggests Kami Gray, television and film wardrobe stylist in Portland, Oregon, and author of The Denim Diet. She likes Alternative’s Eco-Heather Short-Sleeve Deep V-Neck Hoodie ($38; AlternativeApparel.com), which has a wide panel that effectively conceals your stomach.
4. Don’t be intimidated by shapewear. Today’s shapewear is much more body-friendly than older versions, promises Gray. No more pinching hooks and straps, or binding fabrics that leave you blue in the face. Take the time to find pieces that work with your body and your budget. Gray recommends the Underwire Long Leg Bodysuit by Body Wrap ($80; BareNecessities.com) to create a smoothing effect under dresses and pants, and the Yummie Tummie brand of tanks for midsection control. Check out Target’s ASSETS line (a low-cost line designed by the makers of Spanx). When trying on, if something feels a little too tight at the store, it’ll feel 100 times tighter after four hours at a cocktail party. Choose a larger size that will still hold you in for maximum comfort. (Photo courtesy of BareNeccessities.com.)
5. Check out unexpected stores for great finds. For fun, trendy items—like scarves or chunky jewelry—head to the juniors department. You’ll find plenty of stylish accessories for a lot less than you would in the women’s department. Because the menswear look is hot, Tracey Vest, the fashion consultant for online shopping resource ShopforClothes.com, based in Las Vegas, suggests heading to the men’s department for oversize button-downs, T-shirts and sweaters. Since menswear tends to be boxy and not fitted, pair these tops with leggings or skinny pants and belt the waist to create a feminine look. For DIY accessories, like ribbon-tie necklaces, pick up supplies, including pearly beads and pretty ribbon, at a crafts store to make your own.
6. Stock up at end-of-season sales. No matter what will be trendy next fall, you’ll always need basic black T-shirts, which you’ll find on sale now, says Vest. Look for other winter staples, like wool pants, sweaters and outerwear at deep discounts, too.
7. Follow trends—to a point. Of course you don’t want to look frumpy, but there’s no reason to buy stylish clothes if they don’t flatter your figure or aren’t age-appropriate. Short skirts are hot right now, but if you aren’t a teenager they can be difficult. To find one that works with your figure, look for styles that are only a few inches above the knee. “Make sure that it covers the widest part of your thighs,” says Ambeau, “and wear skin-tone heels to give your legs length.” (Photo by Shutterstock.)
8. Spend where it counts. Don’t skimp on great-fitting staples that you’ll wear for years, urges Debbie Wright, a fashion and lifestyle consultant in Connecticut. Invest in hardworking closet staples like black pants, a white blouse and a black pencil skirt. “These items are the foundation of any wardrobe,” says Wright. Because they can be styled to look great for variety of different occasions, they should fit your body perfectly.
9. Shop for your size. Many women buy clothes that are just too big, hoping to hide their flaws, says Wright. In reality, loose-fitting clothing actually makes women appear larger, not smaller, because it deprives them of a shape. So don’t hide behind miles of fabric. Instead, look for tops that skim your shape but don’t billow, such as jackets with cinched waists. If you’re buying something that contains Lycra—especially jeans—opt for a size that’s a little too tight in the dressing room. It’ll stretch to fit your body perfectly, whereas a bigger size (the one that fit like a glove at the store) will sag after a few weeks.
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