Waist Management: Dress to Slim Your Middle

How to find skirts, sweaters, and dresses that make your waist look small.

By Kim Johnson Gross
Full skirts skim your middle, while V-necks balance out hips.

Wrap Dresses and Tops: Diane von Furstenberg claims, "I never had a waist and certainly don’t have one now." But the wrap dress she created in 1973 is still going strong, because it’s a great body-flatterer: The deep V-neck elongates the neck and torso and shows some skin, while the wrap enhances the bustline (whether you’re AA or D) and creates a defined waist without bulky fabric. Her riotous signature prints detract from any lumps or bumps. Wrap tops work well over pants or slim skirts like pencil or trumpet styles.

Bias-Cut Dresses: These show off curves without hugging the waist. The fabric shouldn’t be too thick, stiff, or clingy — soft fabrics with drape will move as gracefully as you do. An empire cut hugs the thinnest part of your upper body, just under your breasts. This style can enhance a smaller chest while skimming over your waist, but it’s not flattering for the generously endowed.

The Right Belt: Skinny belts (an inch or less) in supple leather or suede, ribbon ties at the waist, or self-belt wraps are the best bet for chunky torsos. Wear wider, gutsier belts over long ribbed sweaters with narrow flat-fronts or jeans. Skip bulky bathrobe-style belted jackets.

Originally published in MORE magazine, November 2005.

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