How to Dress to Flatter a Full-Figured Body

By Kathryn Walsh

Hiding your body under layers of shapeless fabric makes you seem ashamed of your curves, while dressing to flatter your shape makes you seem confident and sexy. You'll look slimmer in clothes that fit properly. So, toss what's shapeless, begin to embrace colors, patterns and trends that are not just for thin figures and prepare to be noticed for all the right reasons.

Studio Portrait of a Smiling Woman Sitting on a Rug
credit: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
Your clothes should show you off, not hide you.

Start With the Undergarments

The right undergarments will smooth the bumps you don't like, hike up the parts that are drooping and cinch in the places you wish were thinner. If you have the wrong ones, though, your undergarments will create unsightly bulges and lines. A properly fitting bra is a full-figured woman's best friend and greatest asset and can seem to slim 10 pounds off her frame. Get a professional bra fitting at a lingerie shop to make sure you have the right size and the right amount of support, then stock up on seamless underwear and body-shaping garments. Try any shaping garment on before you buy it; it should smooth you out without making you feel like a sausage stuffed in casing.

Draw Attention to Your Assets

In spite of her perceived flaws, every woman has at least a few attractive physical assets. For most women, the narrowest part is just under the bust. Draw attention to this area by wearing a dress with an empire waist, or by wearing a blazer or belt that nips in at this spot. The fabric should float away from your body beneath this point to camouflage a round stomach. If you have shapely legs, wear a skirt that falls above the knee and pair it with heels. If you're proud of your derriere, wear a fitted skirt or tight pants with a blousy top. Draw attention to your face with chunky necklaces and earrings and V-necked blouses.

Choose Color Strategically

Bright colors tell the world that you feel great and want to be seen, so you shouldn't shy away from them. Generally speaking, deep, rich colors will slim you more than light shades that showcase flaws. Opt for jewel tones and wear darker colors on the half of your body you'd like to make look slimmer. If you're pear-shaped, pair a slim black or navy skirt with a bright patterned blouse. If you want to minimize a large bust, wear a wrap top in a dark color on top and a patterned skirt or pants on the bottom.

Use a Tailor

A skilled tailor is even more important for a full-figured person than for a model. Your body might curve and bend in places that ready-made clothing won't suit. For example, if you have a narrow waist but wide hips, store-bought pants and skirts will gap and droop at the waistband. A shirt that's large enough for your bust might be too wide at the shoulder. Buy pieces that fit the largest areas of your body, then take them to a local seamstress or tailor to have them fitted to your exact proportions. The extra money you'll spend will make each piece look like a million bucks.