Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tips On How To (Flatteringly) Dress Your Curvy Figure

“Write a post on how to flatteringly dress your curves.”

Someone requested such a post a long time ago. I always like input on what you like to read on Lipstick & Gelato, so though it has taken me some time to get around to it, such a post is here. To start, let's define our terms:

Curvy means: a figure that is not able to be labeled “boyish,” “slight,” “lanky,” or “narrow.” Hourglass, diamond, and pear shapes fit this category. Curvy girls usually have generous hips, butt and bust and in most curvy-girls the hips-to-waist ratio is quite bottom-heavy.
Curvy does not mean: plus size. It can mean plus-size but it is not limited to plus size. As a 12/14 myself, I'm riding that line between mainstream sizes and plus sizes. Petite women are also often accurately labeled “curvy.” Curvy is a description, not a size, and refers more to bone structure than padding.

All right. Got our definitions? If you identify as a curvy girl, read on! Though not claiming to be an expert on the matter, I have been in possession of a curvy body for the last 23 ½ years so I think I have a right to present an opinion on the subject.

Choose the Right Jeans –
Can't. Harp. Enough. On. This. I realize of course that you have the right to wear whatever the blazes you want, but since we are talking how to dress a curvy body flatteringly, listen to me on this: we can rock skinny jeans. We can rock flare jeans. We can rock cigarette-leg pants.
    - I don't prefer: boyfriend jeans, straight-leg jeans, and wide-leg jeans. Sure curvy-girls can wear them, but they don't make the most of our curves as such. They sort of mask them/apologize for them.
    - Watch the rise: take a look at where your natural waistline falls and buy jeans with a rise accordingly (rise refers to the length of the jeans' crotch). I have a high waist so high-waisted jeans are my favorite. Low-rise jeans (for me) are a hideous proposal. Mid-rise give me a completely unnecessary muffin top because they fall a couple inches below my natural waistline which means that they make a false waist and a natural waist and who wants two waists? High-rise jeans sit just right on my natural waistline.
    - Spend the money: properly-fitting jeans are worth the purchase-money. I ordered jeans from ASOS Curve recently (review coming soon) and have been thrilled with how I feel. They're jeans created expressly for those of us in possession of a rear-end. It's glorious.

Create Contrast –
Contrast colors, textures, and shapes. If I wear a pair of skinny jeans, I like to contrast the fit with a looser, more flowing top tucked in or clean, looser lines left un-tucked. If I wear a fitted top, I pair it with an A-line or pencil skirt, or flare jeans. If I wear a flowing dress, I pair it with a structured jacket. If I wear a structured dress, I break it up with a belt, a fun pair of shoes, or interesting jewelry. Contrary to...logic?...wearing tighter, more form-fitting clothing isn't always the best way to celebrate your curves. When you buy a properly-fitting garment it should be comfortable, not restricting. If you have to size-up, don't let the number bother you: remember that you'll love the piece more if it doesn't cut in, ride up, or wriggle down. Also, those swinging, skimming cuts can be just as flattering as something that hugs your curves. Experiment with shapes and silhouettes – if you never wear anything fitted, try a body-con dress. If you have always squeezed yourself into things that don't properly fit, try expanding your repertoire with some gentle, free-form blouses or a swing-dress or skater-skirt. By trial, you'll be able to see what looks best on your own body.

-  God Bless the Curves –
Don't apologize for the fact that you have a butt and a bust and a nice waist. Nothing you're going to wear is going to mask the fact (sorry) and if you're hiding behind shapeless nothing and drab colors, you're doing no one a favor. We are obviously not out to objectify ourselves here, but do not be ashamed of the fact that you're blessed with a womanly shape. Dress it with honor and glory, not as something to shut away under a canvas tent. Have fun with styles you think you “can't” wear and if you later decide that, yeah, you really can't wear it as well as you wish, then try something else. Know what makes you feel confident and wear it happily! Sure, you might have big calves – does that mean you shouldn't wear high-heels? Of course not. Wear them (unless you've just sprained your ankle). We can rock those skinny jeans just as well as people with a thigh-gap. We can kill it in a maxi-dress or a sleeveless shirt. A-line and skater skirts are our piece de resistance. There are certain garments in my closet that I know I rock. There are certain things that make me feel, no matter when I choose to wear them, like a powerful, stylish, confident woman. Know the things that make you feel that way and keep them close. For you, it might be a particular designer, a certain pair of jeans, a favorite graphic tee, or a perfectly-cut black blazer. Identify these pieces and wear the heck out of them.

Choose Your Undergarments Wisely –
The top comment I have for this section is this: GO TO A DEPARTMENT STORE TO GET FITTED FOR A BRA. And by “department store” I don't mean Victoria's Secret. I can't say enough bad about the poor fit and durability of their bras, not to mention their idiotic stance on nursing mothers and their objectifying, brazen, porn-filled ad campaigns. I went to J.C. Penney for a fitting and, though it might be uncomfortable to some, you'll be rewarded for the trouble with bras that actually fit. And when a bra properly fits, it solves so many clothing-fitting problems from the way blouses fall to whether or not you can wear a button-down. A word may be entered here on underwear as well – as boring as briefs or “granny pants” are, they provide a smooth line from waist to rear that bikini, boy-shorts, or low-rise styles do not. It's obviously up to you what sort of panties you choose, but don't underestimate the power of a classic, smooth pair of briefs under a body-con dress. I've come across this piece of advice in at least one book by professional stylists/actors and if skinny, model-esque people swear by it, you know its worth a second look. People without muffin tops talking about disguising waist-line discrepancies? Sign me up...

A photo posted by Rachel Heffington (@lipstickandgelato) on

Be Conscious of Your Posture  -
Though each one should be conscious of her posture, this is an especially effective technique when you're a curvy girl. Learning to walk gracefully, to stand tall, and to sit upright keeps your curves looking like curves and not like lumps. If you like to wear high heels but aren't good at walking in them, practice. If you tend to slouch whenever you're sitting, incorporate some core-strengthening exercises into your morning routine. Stretch and increase flexibility, and when you're walking, walk like you mean it and not like you're shuffling from Point A to Point B. Standing tall, looking people in the eye, smiling, and walking with purpose are all ways to exude the confidence you are beginning to feel! I love to see people moving intentionally. It's a weird thing that can get a person on my good side.

A photo posted by Rachel Heffington (@lipstickandgelato) on

- Find Your Personal Flair - 
When you know your style, you're set to conquer the world. When your closet is full of things you've chosen personally and know look good on you, your closet will be flattering. I think the most important part of dressing your curvy body flatteringly is to know what looks you like and do not like and to pare down your wardrobe accordingly. I've said this before and I mean it: if you don't totally love something, don't buy it. If you aren't convinced it looks good on you, hold out for something you will actually want to wear. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't experiment (see a couple points above) but it does mean that, in the world of fashion, the road to dressing your figure in a flattering way runs alongside the road of personal style. When you love what you're wearing, your body tends to love you back. Most times. There are, of course, exceptions to this idea.

I hope this post helps those of you who asked for tips on flatteringly dressing a curvy body! You are a beautiful, elegant creation and your body isn't something to be ashamed of or hidden or discounted as “not as great as the other body types.” Make friends with your curves and appreciate them. There were padded jeans invented for people who weren't blessed with your booty. Other women get all sorts of surgeries to achieve your bust-waist-hip measurements. Other women lament the fact that their hip-bones show in some dresses. There will always be things we dislike about our bodies – that's just the way of an imperfect world. But once your learn to love your body the way it is – to take it with all its many good points with a smile – you'll be well on your way to rockin' those curves like a 1950's film star.


  1. This is so helpful! I consistently fight with finding the pair of jeans that fit me in all places, I have never thought of buying them for a custom online store, I will definitely look into it!

  2. Great post! Properly fitting clothes are so important, and tricky to find. I've found, though, that if it doesn't fit well, I am not comfortable, don't feel pretty, and avoid the item. No matter how nice it looks on the hanger. I loved your points about personal flair and posture, too!

    1. Isn't fit where the turning point can be?

  3. Lovely post! That red blazer looks fantastic on you :-)

  4. Posture is a big one, for all ladies :)

  5. These are all great tips, I`m hourglass myself.



My StatCounter