Unless you’re a total masochist, you probably look forward to going on a diet about as much as you do to going back to work after a two-week vacation. But in both cases, sometimes you’ve just got to suck it up … or do you? It’s a given that there’s no substitute for losing weight the hard way, by eating healthfully, restricting your food intake, and ramping up your exercise routine. But in a pinch—say, if you receive an unexpected invitation to a fabulous party just two days away, and you don’t have enough time to chase away the chub the old-fashioned way—there are all kinds of shortcuts you can take to at least look thinner, even if the scale won’t budge. From dressing to flatter your form to distracting your admirers with eye-catching accessories to simply standing up straight, these appearance- and confidence-boosting tips will help you not only look great on the outside, but feel great on the inside as well.
Take Stock of What You’re Working With
If you’re not feeling your best about your physical appearance, the last thing you probably want to do is get naked and take a good long look in the mirror. But that’s exactly what personal-image experts recommend—because if you’re not intimately familiar with your body’s shape and proportions, you’ll never learn how to best present it to the outside world. As celebrity stylist Laura Siebold explained to WebMD.com, “You have to look past the extra pounds and focus on your overall body shape, the proportion between your top half and bottom half, and details of your basic bone structure, such as the width of your shoulders, the length of your neck, [and] the width of your hip bones.”
Passion for Fashion
Once you’ve got a good sense of your own unique form, it’s time for the fun part: picking out clothes! According to Siebold, if your top and your bottom are disproportionate, the trick is to minimize the larger half while directing people’s attention to the smaller half. If you’re bottom-heavy, for example, draw the eye upward by wearing a full skirt or wide-legs pants in a dark color, paired with a fitted V-neck top in a bright hue. If you’re heavier on top, choose a looser-fitting blouse with a scoop neck and concentrate on accentuating your sexy hips or your great legs with a pencil skirt or tighter-fitting pants.
InStyle.com offers the following helpful hints for dressing slim and trim:
- Wear skinny high heels with pointy toes. Shoes with a tapered toe and a two-inch-plus stiletto heel give legs a longer, leaner appearance.
- Match your shoe color to your leg color. Wearing neutral-hued shoes with bare legs in warm weather and opaque tights with black pumps in cold weather elongates the legs.
- Balance your proportions with strategic necklines. A V-shaped neckline draws attention away from a bulky midsection and gives the impression of a longer, thinner torso. Wider V-necklines are ideal for balancing out wide hips and thighs.
- Invest in shapewear. Spanx and other body-sculpting pieces smooth bulges, provide support, and can make any outfit look streamlined.
- Dress monochromatically. Wearing tops and bottoms of the same color—especially a dark color—will ensure that your body appears as one unbroken vertical line, and therefore taller and thinner. To further elongate your figure, tailor pant hemlines so they almost touch the floor, leaving a slight gap for the tops of your shoes to peek out through. To minimize a larger stomach or backside, stick with pants cut at or slightly below your natural waist.
- Use jewelry strategically. To de-emphasize heavy upper arms, wear stacks of bangles on your wrists or eye-catching cocktail rings. To downplay a thick midsection, make your neck and chest more noticeable with dramatic chandelier earrings or a bib necklace. And to lengthen a short neck or distract from wide hips, wear long necklaces that attract the eye front and center.
- Keep denim simple. Dark, unembellished jeans—particular boot-cut and straight-leg varieties—are the most slimming; extra adornments (such as grommets or jewels) give the illusion of bulk.
- Wear a blazer over jeans. A straight-fit jacket with narrow lapels softens curves and bulges; sport a jacket open over a V-neck tank top for an extra-sleek look.
- Choose underwear that fits your body. Many women wear the wrong bra cup and band size for years because they’ve never taken the time to be professionally fitted. The proper size will provide lift and shape under your tops, thereby elongating your upper body. Too-tight underwear not only creates visible panty lines but also makes your bottom half look thicker; either select panties that provide truly full coverage, or smooth out your rear view with seamless thongs.
- Pick slimming fabrics. Thick fabrics, such as flannel, wide-wale corduroy, leather, mohair, crushed velvet, and brocade, are not your friends. Instead, opt for materials that softly follow your curves and won’t add volume, like cotton, denim, and silk—or, better yet, purchase jersey, cashmere, or spandex blends known for their shaping and slimming properties.
Size Does Matter
No matter whether you squeeze yourself into too-small clothes or hide your body under shapeless garments, the end result is the same: it makes you look heavier than you actually are. Because all clothing manufacturers’ sizing practices vary slightly, don’t rely on the number on a garment’s tag to tell you what fits so much as you do on the way the item actually looks on your body and plays up your assets. A good rule of thumb is that there should be approximately one finger’s width of space between your skin and the fabric.
Beyond the Basics
Certainly, a well-thought-out wardrobe can work wonders, but it’s not everything. These three additional tactics will prove equally helpful in your quest to achieve a slimmer silhouette:
- Get a tan. Just as wearing dark colors is known to produce a slimming effect, so, too, is darker skin. Whether you prefer self-tanning lotion, a spray tan, or good old-fashioned sunbathing (with the proper SPF, of course), you can’t go wrong with tan legs and an elegant pair of neutral heels.
- Improve your posture. Most people have a natural tendency to slouch, but if you make a commitment to conditioning yourself to sit and stand up straight, you’ll be rewarded by looking three to five pounds thinner instantly. When sitting in a chair, rest your hands on the arms; this will automatically pull your shoulders back and convey the impression of an hourglass figure. While standing, straighten your shoulders and hips, keep your chin parallel to the ground, and suck in your abdomen.
- Wear your hair up. To make your face look thinner, accentuate your bone structure, and lengthen your neck, pull your hair off your face into a high ponytail or a bun, then tease your tresses slightly at the crown.
“Have You Lost Weight?”
It’s a simple formula, really: if you know your body, make smart apparel choices that complement your physical features, and project an aura of confidence, don’t be surprised if you find yourself fielding a battery of flattering comments about how svelte you’ve gotten. Just remember, no one needs to know that you haven’t been on a hardcore diet for the past few weeks. If someone remarks on how slim you look, don’t demur; instead, give yourself permission to bask in the glow of her compliment—and don’t forget to say thank you.