Model Whitney Thompson looks sleek in a structured white top and black pants at a New York art exhibition.

How to Flatter Your Plus-Size Figure

by Whitney DeGroat

Dressing a plus-size body can be tricky; it's hard to sort through fashion magazines' ever-changing style tips without slinking off in shame to Potato Sack City. Banish the baggy clothes and start shopping for clothes that look sleek and stylish on your fabulously full figure.

1. Start With Shapewear

A good outfit starts with a good foundation. Find shapewear that smooths any lumps and bumps, and works underneath several different types of outfits. A long-line bra will support your bust while smoothing out any lumps around your midsection, and a high-waisted boy-short style will hold in your tummy. Once your figure is held into place, the clothing you wear on top of it will look chic and effortless.

2. Tops of the World

You may feel tempted to cover up completely, but showing a bit of skin is actually more flattering for a fuller figure. Nix high necklines in favor of scoop or deep V-neck styles. A scoop neckline opens up the chest and neck, slimming your upper half, while a deep V-neck visually lengthens your body. Steer clear of baggy tops, as they'll make you look bigger. Instead, opt for fitted, but not clingy, tops with a bit of stretch. Three-quarter length sleeves will streamline your arms, and details on sleeves (such as cuffs and slits) are flattering.

3. Rock(ing) Bottom

Skirts are flattering on a fuller figure, especially those of the A-line variety -- your best hemline hovering just above or below the knee. An A-line or trumpet shape elegantly skims over the body, smoothing the hips and thighs, while the hemline around the knee lengthens your legs. Choose a similar hemline when sporting shorts. A high-waisted pencil skirt also works well for this body type, as a high waist tucks in the tummy, and the slim shape hugs the hips and lengthens the body. Partial to pants? Go for wide-legged styles, which will flow gently along your frame.

4. Color Me Flattered

Dark colors are generally flattering on fuller figures. That being said, there's no need to shroud yourself in black. Play with prints and colors of various types. Use color as a tool, placing dark colors on areas you'd like to recede, and accentuating other areas with light and bright colors. When styling with patterns, smaller is better; small prints won't overwhelm your figure the way large ones can. You can wear horizontal strips, but keep them small and closely spaced, preferably with at least one dark shade.

5. Shoe Savvy

High heels will elongate your frame, and are thus flattering for your body type. If you have wide feet, go for wide heels; but flee the temptation of skinny heels, which can make your feet look wider. Choose boots that are either low or high, steering clear of mid-calf boots that accentuate the widest part of the leg. High-heeled booties make legs look longer, as they show more skin (and their leg-lengthening powers work with tights as well); and knee-high boots look sleek on full legs.

Photo Credits

  • Rob Loud/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images