Slimming fashion 101

Sara Macho

Fashion tricks of the trade hide imperfections

Fluttering dresses of filmy floral-printed fabrics look to be a strong trend for next spring. They were on display at the Dallas Apparel Mart in Dallas.

Credit: Beth Rankin

High-waist pants, shapeless blouses and too-small shirts — everyone has seen these women walking through the mall. Women make many mistakes dressing themselves in an attempt to follow a trend or in their own ignorance.

Dressing for your body type is all about creating an optical illusion, said Nancy Stanforth, associate professor of fashion merchandising.

“You want the eyes to move up and down, not left to right,” Stanforth said.

With the right outfit, women of all shapes and sizes can wear the latest trends, said Akima Muhammad, junior fashion merchandising major.

With all the new styles this season, don’t get caught up in fashion faux paux. There are many fashion tricks of the trade to emphasize good features and hide imperfections.

Colors, patterns, prints and accessories can all help to create a slenderizing look.

Any dark color can create a sleek, slender shape.

“The classic slenderizing color is black,” Stanforth said. “Dark colors reflect less light, therefore helping the body to appear smaller.”

Another trick to looking slimmer is wearing all one color.

“If the top and bottom are one color, the eye can follow the body all the way down without getting caught up in any other imperfection,” said Barbara Chidsey, instructor of fashion design and merchandising.

Certain prints can also trick the eye into seeing a slender shape.

Among the most figure-flattering prints is the vertical pin-stripe suit, Stanforth said.

To avoid drawing attention to an unflattering area of the body, avoid over-flowered and plaid prints, which force the eye to focus on one body part, Chidsey said.

Stanforth said avoid busy prints because it makes the eye travel around you, rather than up and down.

According to a recent article in Glamour magazine, titled, “102 Ways to Dress Your Body Better,” there are ways to fake a perfect body.

V-neck style shirts are not only slimming, but draw subtle attention to the bust. Boatneck shirts help to broaden narrow shoulders. If all else fails, accessories can also help.

Alison Nichols, accessories editor at Glamour, wrote that carrying a larger-sized handbag can help camouflage a larger frame.

Though there are tricks to appearing smaller, designers may be helping shoppers to create optical illusions this spring season.

Stanforth said designers are more forgiving and are creating styles suitable for many body types.

“The new flared skirts are designed specifically for women who are not tall and slightly overweight,” she said. “It’s about your personal sense of style.”

Stanforth also added there are presently fewer rules with fashion.

“In the past, individuals couldn’t wear white after Labor Day and older women couldn’t wear jeans. Now it’s all about having fun with your clothes,” Stanforth said.

Katie Wolfrum, sophomore fashion design major, said there are many new styles this spring that are flattering for any body type.

Wide-legged gaucho pants and bright pastel colors are good for all shapes, Wolfrum said.

Tunic tops, longer halter shirts and bright colors such as turquoise and lime are “very hot” this season, Muhammad said.

“Designers are creating pants with lower waist-lines and showing less revealing clothing,” she said.

Stanforth said 2005 is the year of color.

“Stores are showing bright, very feminine clothing. The most popular colors are pinks, peach, yellow and shades of green,” she said.

Some trends from last spring and summer are still appropriate for this season.

“Pink is still a very popular color, along with skirts and low-ride pants,” Chidsey said. “A new trend though is a slim pant leg.”

Short jean skirts, knee-length linen skirts and bright T-shirts are also still in style, said Wolfrum.

According to an article on, titled, “Spring 2005 Fashion Trends,” knee-length skirts, hip-length jackets and bright, metallic colors are gaining popularity.

Muhammad said this spring, clothes are being designed to hide cleavage and create the illusion of a slimmer waistline.

“This spring, fashion is breaking the mold,” she said. “There are better styles now for women size eight to 14.”

Fashion is all about emphasizing good features, Stanforth said.

“Since humans are drawn to bright colors, wear luminous colors on where you want people to look,” she said.

Though there are many new, figure-flattering styles available for spring, women may still find themselves afraid to wear them.

“Find a trend you love and wear a not-so-extreme version of it,” Stanforth said. “It’s all about guiding people’s eyes and emphasizing your good points.”

For women who have a larger frame, wearing new styles is still doable.

“Even if you’re heavier, you can still wear these styles,” Chidsey said. “You just need to find what you’re comfortable in.”

Contact features reporter Sara Macho at [email protected].