31 Simple Ways to Dress Your Thinnest

Losing weight the hard way is admirable, but eh, the easy way is fine, too. Here, we explore a few optical illusions that make pounds disappear, like using color-blocking to camouflage your belly bulge or wearing nude shoes to make your legs look longer. This doesn’t mean you should toss your shapewear; on the contrary, we’re smitten with the new crop of hot-weather versions. But when it comes to slimming, not all clothes are created equal. So until you can Photoshop your frame for everyday life, let us help you look as if you did.

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The Dress that Slims Every Body!

Sleek Fabric This miracle material is soft to the touch, has enough integrity to hold you in and trav-els day to night wrinkle free. Yes, it’s that good.


The Wrap Reduces “The crossover neckline breaks up the width of the torso,” notes Kamali, “and the shirring at the hip is a great tummy disguiser.”


Frock Star It’s a beauty from Norma Kamali—find it with one click here.


Perfect Length At-the-knee is universally slenderizing (and age appropriate). A trimming trick? The lower half tapers slightly to the knee—a tulip effect that prunes hips and thighs. 


Kamalikulture polyester blend dress, $96; zappos​.com. Sizes up to XL. R.J. Graziano resin necklace, $75; 212-685-1248.

Gisel Florez

You, Only Thinner

Our advice? Accentuate the best of you and camouflage the rest of you. Here, how to downsize your bulkiest body parts:


Body-Minimizing Sleeveless Coat A solid torso shrinks what’s underneath. Karen Kane linen jacket, $178; karen​kane​.com. Sizes up to XL. Boden cotton top, $44; bodenusa.com. Sizes up to 18.


Show-a-Little-Shape Belt Controlling volume is key, even if the cinch is subtle. Meredith Wendell leather belt, $205; scoopnyc.com. Sequin enamel bangles, $32 each; 212-398-7363. Michael Michael Kors canvas tote, $198; michaelkors.com.


Leg-Narrowing Ankle Pants It’s the tapered hem that does it. French Connection cotton blend trousers, $108; usa​.frenchconnection.com. Isabel Toledo for Payless raffia flats, $45; payless.com. >>

Gisel Florez

Slimming Pickings

Belly-hiding blouse Where’s the beef? Hard to tell with an optical-illusion print. L.L.Bean Signature silk blouse, $149; llbeansignature​.com. Sizes up to 16. Napier bead necklaces, $28 each; Belk, 866-235-5443.


Middle-Whittling Pencil Skirt The high waist accents the narrowest point of your middle. WD.NY polyester and satin skirt, $48; 212-395-9309. Sizes up to XL. Lauren by Ralph Lauren leather shopper, $248; lord​andtaylor​.com. Elie Tahari patent leather pumps, $248; elie​tahari​.com.

Gisele Florez

Wise Words

"I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.”


- Mae West

Achieve Insta-Control

Summer special: nude shapewear that works under white.

Nearly Nude spandex and nylon slip, $68; nearlynude​underwear​.com. Sizes up to XL.

Rear View

New and improved. All the suck, none of the sweat.


ASSETS BY SARA BLAKELY nylon and spandex shorts, $24; spanx.com. Sizes up to 1X.

Gisel Florez

Create an Hourglass

The shirt’s sides nip you in. Hello, tummy tuck!


Worthington rayon and leathertop, $18; jcp.com. Sizes up to XL.

Gisel Florez

Shrink Your Thighs

Vertical lines help, as do the blocks of black on either side.

White House Black Market cotton blend skirt, $118; whbm.com.

Gisel Florez

Mask a Midsection

The cream and white diverts the eye; the dark area disappears.

Dressbarn polyester blend dress, $60; dressbarn.com. Sizes up to 24.

Gisel Florez

Slenderize Upper Arms

Flutter sleeves cover pesky triceps-area real estate.


WD.NY polyester and cotton tunic, $48; 212-395-9309 for stores. Sizes up to XL.

Gisel Florez

Booty Balancer

A bigger bag will make your backside look smaller by comparison. Seriously.

Milly canvas tote, $295; nordstrom.com.

Gisel Florez

Leg Extender

Here, the comfort of a wedge with the slimming effect of a stiletto. You’re welcome!

Banana Republic leather wedges, $120; banana​republic.com.  

Gisel Florez

Get Built-In Belly Control

These pants flatten your pooch, thanks to a wide, stretchy waistband.

Karen Kane cotton blend denim, $79; karenkane.com. Sizes up to 16.

Gisel Florez

Smooth Your Tummy

Pants with pleats accentuate the stomach; flat fronts like these do not.

J. McLaughlin cotton blend pants, $155; jmclaughlin.com. Sizes up to 14.

Gisel Florez

Stand Taller, Even in Flats

The cropped length—no socks, please—makes for longer-looking legs.

Worthington sateen pants, $25; jcp​.com. Sizes up to 18.

Gisel Florez

Whittle the Middle

This style hits your natural waist, where you’re thinnest.

81 Poppies cotton pants, $220; 81poppies​.com. Sizes up to 12.

Gisel Florez

Belt It

It’s adjustable, so wear it at your narrowest point (or Empire style).


YUL TAYLOR leather belt, $125; craigtaylor.com.

Gisel Florez

Shoe Clue

L.K. Bennett patent leather pumps, $285; 312-374-0958. 

Courtesy of L.K. Bennett

Skinny Strap

Charles David patent leather pumps, $185; charlesdavid.com.

Courtesy of Charles David

Nude Hue

Charles David patent leather peep toes, $195; charlesdavid.com.

Courtesy of Charles David

Sultry Snakeskin

Vince Camuto snakeskin sandals, $118; vincecamuto.com

Gisel Florez

Instant Polish

Coye Nokes patent leather wedges, $275; coyenokes.com.

Courtesy of Coye Nokes

Celebrity Thinspiration: Queen Latifah

She proves that curvy gals can look good in white, so employ her smart slenderizing tricks: structured fabrics and tailored silhouettes (the blazer is genius).

Jim Smeal/Beii Images

Celebrity Thinspiration: Meryl Streep

A monochromatic look is always slimming, even in a bold hue. (What does you no favors: head-to-toe pastel.) Streep is also helped by her small waist, here accented by a wide belt. Psst: Peep toes make big feet look a size smaller than they are. Just sayin’. 

David Fisher/Rex USA

Celebrity Thinspiration: Kate Winslet

Her plus: wearing the khaki-color blazer over the black dress, which optically shaves the midsection. Her minus: the skirt is a wee bit too short. Yes, very cute—but a longer (to the knee) length would create a taller look. 


Best Bets by Body Shape: Top Heavy

Not perfectly proportioned? Neither are we. Here's how to fake it:


Dos Tailored blazers (look for versions in cotton knit this season), plunging V-necks, low-rise pants (with big back pockets), long necklaces.

Don’ts Overly detailed tops (ruffles, ties, pockets), chokers, wide-leg slacks. 


Best Bets by Body Shape: Middle Heavy

Dos Wrap styles (tops and dresses), classic button-down shirts, skinny-leg pants and square, structured bags.

Don’ts Cropped jackets, Empire waists, big, slouchy handbags.  

Zone Creative/istock.com

Best Bets by Body Shape: Bottom Heavy

Dos Try A-line skirts, bootleg pants and maxi dresses (prints offer extra camouflaging).

Don’ts Blousy tops, wide-cuff pants, chiffon skirts. 


Big Fat Skinny: Truths and Lies

LIE: Wearing loose, large clothes will make your body look smaller.

TRUTH: Big clothes create a balloon silhouette, making your body appear larger than it is.


LIE: You must be tiny to wear white, especially on the bottom.

TRUTH: White works for all shapes, but if you’re curvy, it’s best to choose fabrics that are more structured than soft and clingy. Beckham's tailored trousers, left, are particularly flattering.


LIE: Head-to-toe black makes everyone look thin.

TRUTH: Monochromatic dressing is a time-tested slimmer, but you’re not limited to black. Any non-pastel will do the trick.

Courtesy of Lovelyish.com

A Plus-Size Model's Slimming Tricks

Designer Aimee Cheshire is a former model who got fed up with the limited styles that most retailers offer plus-size women. Her solution: creating Madison Plus (madisonplus.com), a line of clothes and accessories that’s now three years old. So when it comes to dressing your jigglier bits, she has know-how to share:


    Get your clothes tailored     A good seamstress can make alterations exactly where you need them most. Hem skirts and dresses to fall at the slimmest part of your leg (which is never midcalf). Hem wide-leg pants a little on the long side, to lengthen the leg.


    Adjust your purse strap     Don’t let your bag hit you at the widest part of your body (for many, the hips); that will only add girth. Instead, let it fall to waist height or just above. Either buy bags with adjustable straps or let a trained tailor or shoe repairman create a permanent fix.


    Take        advantage of slimming styles Pen cil skirts, wrap dresses and one-button blazers are flattering on just about everyone.


Play with the proportions Loose, full clothes on top and bottom will drown your figure. Pair one piece that’s generously cut with a snugger mate—for example, wide-leg pants with a fitted shirt, or skinny jeans with a tunic top.


Try peplums, this season’s trend The ladylike style both accentuates the waist and covers that pesky tummy pooch.

Kari Hansbarger for madisonplus.com

What Not to Wear, Ever

 Pleats They add volume in all the wrong places. Want texture? Try tweed.


2. Ruffles Too poufy. Floral prints (small, please) are equally feminine.


Bulky knits Even in dark hues they add pounds. We like soft layers.

 Horizontal stripes If you love this classic pattern, find it in accessories. (Sorry, Anna.)

 Capped sleeves Makes even thin arms look chunky. Choose anything else.


Age-defying celebrities give the scoop on what keeps them looking beautiful.


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Originally published in the May 2012 issue

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Banana Republic Wedges.......... NOT on their website. Not nice.

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