POSTED ON APRIL 30, 2008:
Working Five to Ten
Don't keep your body in hiding this summer but if you must, do it right
Is it happening around you too? That sudden realization that everyone you know is suddenly weight conscience. Are co-workers bragging about their time spent at the gym before coming into work, even though it's only 8am and it seems too impossibly early to have accomplished anything?
Are friends bragging about their new apartment complexes, not because they come with a washer/dryer or all bills paid, but because it has a gym? Are family members analyzing restaurant menus or creating intricate grocery lists in the attempt to avoid high caloric intake? Have you joined the cult and made similar lifestyle adjustments?
Bi-annually we all are inspired to get into a fitness frenzy. The first wave starts, naturally, on that day of crazy promises, January 1st. Collectively, we all feel obligated to come up with this resolution as a way to start the year off by bettering ourselves physically, but we quickly realize that the cold winter mornings are better spent in a warm bed, and no one can tell our exact body shape underneath heavy clothes anyways.
So, who cares if we actually stick to this fitness and/or diet plan? The weeks leading up to summer are the second health and fitness scare. Unlike the New Year's resolution, this one is a wake up call, probably one that began with an "oh expletive!" as you realized you needed to buy a swimsuit or a pair of shorts. People will see your body this time of the year. They will know there's been a lackadaisical approach to the fitness regimen.
May has crept upon us and we've entered those rushed final hours. Summer might seem ages away, but really it's only a few weeks until the unofficial kick off of summer--Memorial Day arrives. That day, sorry to say, is a lake/pool/not-a-lot-of-clothes day.
This body-morphing event coincides rather nicely with another body element. Fashion has taken a brief backseat. Stores are in the middle of changing out spring to summer clothing. And it's good because if you are trying to trim the fat and the inches then there's really no point in investing in new frocks anyways.
What you need is to be able to wear the clothes you currently have in flattering ways. Until you actually make it to your weightloss goal, you must fake it. That's why a person needs the tips to look taller, svelter and overall better. So, whether you're looking for a way to mask those last five to 10 pounds you haven't sweated off quite yet or just a way to look five to 10 pounds less without sweating at all, here are a few ways your clothes can create body optical illusions.
I will begin at the top (i.e. your head) and work my way down (i.e. your feet). So you've got a fat head. Uh...that might actually be more of a putdown than an actual affliction. The big head complexities stem from people whose heads are disproportionate to their bodies, what is scientifically referred to as the lollipop syndrome. It's tragic that the only clothing cure is to wear fun shoes so that people aren't drawn to staring at your enormous noggin.
On to the torso. Oh God help us as we try to cover the imperfections on this section of our body. First thing is to have the correct undergarments. Ladies, get yourself to a shop that sells bras and have yourself fitted. Wearing an ill fitting bra can add rolls you don't want or drag your breasts down so low you'll look much larger than you actually are. The process is not as embarrassing as it may seem; a trained professional will measure you very modestly to find the right fitted bra. A correctly fitted bra will put your boobs back in their biological spot, making your torso look thinner. In addition, the correct support you'll have in regards to your back will give you better posture that makes a woman look elongated and leaner.
What you wear on top of that accurately sized bra should be form fitting. This does not mean meandering through your closet searching for items with spandex woven in with the cotton. In fact, these types of fabrics are the last things you'd want to be modeling when you're trying to hide imperfections--the thin cotton mixed with the stretch fabric tends to be clingy.
Instead, look for shirts that have a fabric heavy enough to lie away from the body, but aren't oversized. Oversized t-shirts are a neon flashing sign that you are hiding something; they make you look larger than you really are. When in doubt between clingy and baggy, opt for tops that have built in seaming. Darts near the breasts or empire waists accentuate the flattering aspects of a figure and then drape away from the waist, giving you great coverage for abs still suffering from love handles.
Below the Belt
The muffin top is a good transition to the bottom half of your body. This section of the body is just as fun to dress as the torso in that it's not fun at all. Invest in a great modern day creation, Spanx. Forget sucking in your stomach! Spanx can do it for you! Even the generic versions of this product smooth down any areas and curb any wiggling. These are great for under skirts and dresses, but many versions now can be worn with virtually anything. Except for when you're trying to feel/look sexy. Crafty name or not, these are still just girdles.
As for other steps to follow below the belt, don't wear white anything--jeans, skirts and shorts, whatever. Black, as we all know, is very slimming, and white is its polar opposite. That particular shade, once it hits your hips, tends to make everything look wider and bigger. And while everyone may be coveting a larger ass, this is not what you had in mind. Nix the white and nix anything with bold pockets. Flap pockets on the tush, slant pockets on the hips or pockets on the thighs are a no-go. These embellishments are as useless as they are unflattering. The back flap pockets are adding volume and protrusion. The slant pockets tend to pucker out and add imaginary volume to the hips and thigh pockets. Also be aware that any pants that come in at the knee and then drop out (like a boot cut or flared pant leg) give your legs an hourglass appearance. Girls and guys covet the hourglass figure, but from head-to-toe, not belly button to ankle.
As for the ankle, nothing should ever go around it. When choosing shoes, you need to steer clear of the ankle-strapped sandal or stiletto. Ankle straps cut off the leg at the ankle, which gives the appearance of having a shorter leg. Shorter legs look stockier. To make your legs look longer (even if they aren't) makes you look taller (even if you're not), and therefore thinner. Pumps, especially those with a pointed toe, make you taller and extend the line of the leg until you reach your toes. The heel will also make you walk straighter and taller. Nude-shaded heels, as bizarre and/or unflattering as they may sound, are also a good resource because they also give the illusion of having gams that go on for days. These shaded shoes are also a good accessory because they match everything.
A good accessory that doesn't fit in well when trying to mask a larger physique is a small purse. A tiny purse tucked under your arm makes you look colossal in size. If you carry a bag close to your body, choose one in relation to your body size or larger. This is the standard for most accessories, from earrings and rings to necklaces. These accessories prove for once that bigger is better by making features appear daintier while also drawing attention to those articles and not the softer spots on your body.
Don't feel bad the next time you choose pasta over pilates. You have the leverage to let your outfit do the work for you.
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