Part of my job as a personal stylist is to research brands, fits, and styles so that I am able to make appropriate recommendations to my clients. During one of my recent retail research outings, I headed to Loft, Ann Taylor's cooler, younger sister and hit the racks to find the best stuff in the store.
The Best Dresses
Flowerbed Flutter Swing Dress, $89.50 / Plus Sizes Here
First up, this Flowerbed Flutter Swing Dress is insanely comfortable. I recommend this one for women with small hips, large busts, and/or apple shapes. The dress is cut roomy through the middle and tight in the hip area. I recommend sizing up.
Loft Lace Flutter Dress, $98
Next in line, we have the perfect little wedding guest dress for under $100. Just add silver strappy sandals and statement earrings. This lace style works well on hourglass, pear, and athletic body types. The bust area is best suited for someone with a D cup or smaller. It is available in petite and runs true to size.
Loft Floral Knot Dress, $69.50
Our final, flirty dress is going places. Rendered in supremely comfortable stretch rayon fabric with a flattering tie-waist, this one can go from work to weekend, brunch to board room quite easily. Works well on hourglass, pear, and athletic body types. I recommend for those who are D cup or smaller. This dress runs true to size.
The Best Pants
Loft Fluid Sailor Pants, $69.50 / Plus Sizes Here
Moving on to pants, I discovered this adorable sailor style. Pair with a striped Breton tee and red sandals for a chic, summer look. I recommend these for apple shapes, women who are bigger on the top, and athletically built women. Size down in these as they run large. Also available in petite, though this silhouette works best on women who are 5'6" or taller.
Loft Modern Unpicked Button Fly Skinny Jeans, $79.50 / Plus Sizes Here
I have featured the blue version of these jeans on the blog before. Available now in black, these high rise jeans work beautifully on my clients who are apple shaped or bigger on the top. They run true to size.
The Best Tops
Loft Shimmer Petal Sleeve Tee, $34.50
For those with very casual wardrobe needs, I am always on the hunt for t-shirts with that little something extra. May I present this super soft petal tee. I recommend this one for women with narrow shoulders. Pair with white jeans and beige sandals for a casual chic look. It runs true to size.
Loft Lacy Shirred Split Tee, $49.50
Another entry in the casual chic department, this lacy top is the only white blouse you'll need this summer. It's lined, shaped well, and incredibly comfortable. Pair with light wash jeans and blush sandals for a sophisticated weekend look. Runs true to size.
Loft Zebra Vintage Soft Tee, $29.50 / Plus Sizes Here
I once had a client who wanted t-shirts that looked "done". She wanted tops that would help her look put together without a lot of accessories or completer pieces. For her, we ended up purchasing several tops by Lucky. This cute graphic tee makes me think of her. This Zebra scoop neck tee will look great on pretty much everyone. It runs true to size.
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#1 Vamp it up in V-Necks
Classic v necklines are universally flattering. The space at the top elongates the body, creating a taller (and therefore slimmer) appearance. The flash of skin also brings the eye up to one's face and away from any bulges below.
#2 Wear Low Vamp Heels
The vamp of a shoe is where the top of the shoe ends on your foot. A lower vamp that exposes more foot area gives the illusion that your legs are longer. A heel adds height. Of course, not everyone can or chooses to wear heels. In this case, a flat with a low vamp and pointed toe will do. Either way, bonus points if the shoe matches the tone of your legs or pants.
#3 Sport a Low-contrast Outfit
Similar to my first two suggestions, a low contrast look creates a taller silhouette. It doesn't have to be the same exact color from head to toe. Hues and tones that are similar work just as well. It is important that your shoes match the tone of your pants (or legs if wearing a skirt) to create an effective monochromatic look.
#4 Define Your Waist
This tip may go against your instincts when you're feeling a little fluffier than usual. In my experience, most women run to leggings and flowy tops in an attempt to "hide" any problem areas. Do not do this. I repeat, do not do this. You won't find "pair black pants with an oversized schmatta and call it a day" anywhere on this list. Any hint of shape is lost and you end up looking larger than you really are. A top or dress with a defined waist will show off the smallest part of you, giving you a leaner appearance. The top does not have to be tight, but it needs to have a shape. Adding a blazer with a nipped in waist also creates a slimming effect.
#5 Enjoy Scallop Hems
Scallop hemlines on dresses, shorts, and skirts can be extremely flattering. Since the wave-like pattern flows more softly than a straight line, it doesn't break up the body quite as much.
#6 Find Full Length Pants
While ankle and capri pants are all the rage (and sometimes all you can find), you are essentially giving up that height below the ankle when you wear them. Pants and jeans that go all the way down to the ankle are more flattering. If you are petite like me, you can save a trip to the tailor by purchasing the cropped or ankle version of straight size pants. They will be full length on us. If you are under 140 pounds, you can also try shopping the children’s department. You’ll be surprised to find you can wear a child’s L or XL most of the time.
#7 Embrace a Maxi Dress
If you're tall enough (5'6" or above), a maxi dress can be a wonderful, slimming garment. Keep in mind you want a dress with a shape that is more like a column than a tent. If you're wearing a maxi skirt, follow the low-contrast rule and pair the skirt with something similar on top.
#8 Make that Denim High Rise
I'm a huge fan of high rise jeans. The higher, the better. They lock in my tummy and when they inevitably slide down during the day, I'm not exposing anything. For the most flattering jeans, go for a plain, dark wash. Avoid whiskers, flap pockets, or embellishments. If you are larger in the middle, you might find high rise jeans don't fit well. If this is the case for you, I suggest going with mid rise jeans. Avoid low cut jeans at all costs.
#9 Rock a Heavy Pendant Necklace
Long pendant necklaces serve two purposes. Like many other suggestions on this list, the long line of the necklace elongates the lines of the body. Second, a heavy necklace will indent light fabric, which can be especially useful when wearing a loose top. It creates shape.
#10 Play with Patterns and Prints
This tip is especially useful if you are hiding lumps and bumps in the tummy and back areas. Prints and patterns confuse the eye, so the focus is off those trouble areas and on to a pretty face, long legs, or whichever area you choose to highlight.
If you're overwhelmed with an onslaught of information and don't know where to start, or you don't have the time to track down the most flattering clothing, I am here for you! I offer one on one personal styling services in San Diego and Orange County. Even if you're not local, I can style you virtually.
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I'm a personal fashion stylist, writer, and entrepreneur in San Diego. I help women organize their closets, define their style, and shop with intention. My style blog features practical fashion advice for women everywhere. Addicted to blazers since 2004.