There are few things worse that pulling out a dress you haven't worn in a while and finding out that it no longer fits -- especially if you're about to head out the door and don't have time for real alterations. Don't panic, though. With a few simple tricks, the right tools and a little ingenuity, you may be able to get your dress to fit at the last minute.
Tape It Up
Double-sided tape is the best tool to have on a hand when you have a dress that doesn't fit. As its name implies, the tape has adhesive on both sides so you can use it to discretely make alternations to your dress at the last minute. If the dress is too long, use the tape to create a custom hemline without sewing so you don't trip on the material. You can also use the tape to keep your dress's straps in place if they're loose and keep falling off your shoulders. Double-sided tape can also keep you covered up if the dress's neckline is too loose and exposes more cleavage than you'd like.
If your shirt or sheath dress is a bit too loose, it can make you look shapeless and boxy. Adding a belt to your dress is an easy way to get it to fit in a hurry. A belt helps cinch the dress and create a waistline so it has a flattering fit and shows off your curves. If you don't want to draw attention to the belt, choose a skinny style in a shade that matches the dress. However, if you want to make a bold style statement, opt for a wide belt in a color that contrasts with the dress.
Go for Layers
Another way to remedy a dress that's a bit too big at the last minute is to pair it with layering pieces. Wearing a fitted blazer or jacket over the dress can almost function like a belt -- it helps define the waist and cinches the dress so it appears to fit better. You can also wear a jacket or cardigan over a sleeveless dress that's large on top to hide arm holes that gape and expose your bra. If your dress is a too tight on top, disguise it by wearing a jacket or blouse over it.
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Layering the dress over other pieces can help if your dress is a bit loose. If you have a sweater dress that's too big, wear a collared button-down or blouse underneath it so it hangs better and hugs your body a bit closer. You can try a similar look with a sundress -- wear a tee shirt beneath it if it's large on top and the straps tend to fall off your shoulders.
Slip on Shapewear
If you find out at the last minute that the dress you're planning to wear is a too tight, you're not necessarily out of luck -- the right shapewear can often make a big difference in how a dress fits. It's usually made of Lycra spandex that's tight enough to really suck you in and slim you down. Shapewear is available in a variety of styles, so it's a good idea to have several different options in your wardrobe to fit different styles of dresses. If your dress is tight on top, a bodysuit or camisole style piece works well. For a dress that's tight across the stomach, go with a body suit or high-waisted pair of briefs or pants. If your dress is tight all over, look for a slip style that goes to your knees or a body suit that features pants on the bottom.
Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on BobVila.com, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.