In some ways, the “real woman” has never been so celebrated as now, with many brands breaking the beauty mould with real-body campaigns and policies. Think of the no-airbrush movement adopted by names like Aerie or ASOS featuring plus-sized girls (and guys) on its shopping pages.
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Challenging size-zero standards and democratizing size and shape means that real women – including the short-and-curvy, the tall-but-not-modelesque, and the curvy-and-proud – feel more comfortable, accepted and less under pressure. But if perfection is no longer is equated with being skinny, real women still face real issues when it comes to how to dress. They still want to look slimmer, sleeker, more urbane and elegant. This takes some definite know-how and experience with styling.
Read on for 9 smart style tips for us real girls that will play to our strengths and make us look great.
1. LINES AND SHAPES
You want your first impression to be BAM-worthy, and it’s all about creating lines and shapes that draw the eye. One great trick is to wear tops and bottoms of one color – such as a blazer and trousers in red, offset by a black silk top – creating an uninterrupted, unbroken line that makes one look taller and leaner, drawing the eye away from the middle of the body. Also, create an hourglass shape by wearing bodycon dresses of the right fabrics like jersey and fine cotton, along with shapewear.
2. THE RULE OF THE HEM
Hems, and knowing where they should be on your body, can help elongate the frame. A knee-length skirt, for instance, should sit just at or under the knee, never around the biggest part of the calf. The hem of jeans should hit you at the ankle, or (even better) an inch or two below. If you’re not of an absolute average height, buy clothes, especially pants, from retailers that give length options, from short to tall, as hems and inseams are made accordingly. Hems are tough to get absolutely perfect, though. The best thing to do if you’re truly clueless about this one is to find a tailor with a good eye, cozy up to them, and learn as you go.
3. SAY ‘NO’ TO OVERSIZED CLOTHES
Don’t add volume by going for oversized if you’re a bigger girl. Instead, opt for clothes that are body-skimming (note: not tight) and show off shape. A giant T-shirt dress is a no-go, but a maxi and even a kaftan that skims the curves and has some definition at the waist are cool. If you want an easy silhouette, be smart about pairing. A loose shirt or tunic paired with tighter trousers or jeans is fine, and works to your advantage.
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4. MIND THE SHOES
It’s a head-to-toe thing, and what you put on your feet matters. Pointy tips and low heels can help slenderize the frame, whether you’re wearing a skirt or a pair of pants. If you’ve got shorter legs, a low vamp (where the top of a shoe ends on the top of your foot) on your shoe also helps when wearing heels. Try to find a shoe with a vamp that ends at the top of your toes, rather than halfway up your foot. Again, it’s about elongation of the leg and entire frame. Shoes styles with low vamps include ballet flats and pumps. High-vamp shoes include mary janes and loafers.
5. HOW NOW, ACCESSORIES?
Long chains, not chokers, are the way to go, especially if you’ve got the classic apple shape and short neck. You want to create long, unbroken lines along your body. Not feeling the jewellery? Throw on a long scarf helps for the same effect.
6. YES TO LAYERS
Contrary to popular belief, layering doesn’t necessarily add volume. Instead, it can help with body definition. Wearing a tank top and a pretty cardigan instead of a one-piece T-shirt can help accentuate your shape.
7. EMBRACE THE HIGH WAIST
High-waisted jeans are your friend. They help tuck in folds and flab, and minimize muffin tops because they end at the slimmest part of the waist. Make sure they’re long, ending at the ankle or below, following the rule of the Hemline.
8. CONTOUR POWER
Make it work with make-up. Shadows and light are a trick of the fashion trade, and a contour kit from wallet-friendly NYX and Sephora can help create the look of sharper cheekbones and a smaller nose. Newbies, choose a shade of powder or cream that’s about two shades darker than your own skin and hollow-out cheeks and the sides of your nose. Check out various vloggers for tips and tricks. @hudabeauty is a good one, while Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty has some great tutorials. RiRi dropped a 10-minute beauty tutorial for Vogue.com in early May that has some impressive contouring action.
9. PONY TRICK
When it comes to hair, it’s all about bringing out bone structure. Pull hair away from the face in styles like a high, softly teased ponytail. Opt for cuts that give long, soft layers and movement, since stick-straight hair tends to make the face look wider.
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