Just like you don't have to be chunky to rock a chunky knit sweater, you needn't be skinny to wear skinny jeans. The key is crafting a balanced look to avoid an unfortunate bowling pin effect (narrow on top, oversized at the bottom.) Start with a tunic that fits close to the body and hits past the widest part of your thighs. You could also go with a top like a button-down oxford, says LA-based celeb stylist Nicole Chavez (she dresses Catherine Zeta-Jones and Scarlett Johansson). Next, pay attention to shoes, which can make or break this look. Tuck skinny jeans into a chunkier boot to counterbalance hips (a ballet flat will just draw attention to the tapered ankle, making thighs and hips seem even wider in comparison) or choose a high heel or wedge: "The higher the heel, the longer your leg looks, the thinner your thighs look," Chavez says. Her fall go-to look: A fabulous trench coat topping a simple white tee, skinny jeans, and chocolate or black riding boots.
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New Body, New Style
Tennis has bulked up my thighs. Can I still wear skinny jeans?
I've been stress eating and have gained 10 pounds.
When you've packed on a few, often your first inclination is to go baggy. Step away from the oversize sweatshirt! Stylist Chavez says loose, formless clothes will only make you look larger. Keep tops and bottoms tailored, opting for materials with more structure, such as jersey or stretch cotton (avoid satin); add a belt for definition. One weight-gain wardrobe staple: a fabulous little black dress that complements your body type and plays up your best asset while camouflaging the rest. Chavez says pear-shapes should choose an A-line style. Self-conscious about your arms? Look for a LBD with a 3/4-length sleeve. Hourglass types should look for a stronger shoulder (via pad or ruffle) to balance curves.
And remember: black isn't the sole slimming hue. Fantastic fall colors include eggplant, charcoal gray, navy, and burgundy. Stick with darker colors, adding a pop via a bright heel or a leopard-print bag. And invest in some shapewear or a high-power panty. "You'll feel snug, lose an inch or two, and carry yourself better," Chavez says.
Yoga has toned my arms. How can I show them off?
Bare 'em! But beware: Not all sleeveless tops are created equal, says Bridgette Raes, author of Style Rx: Dressing the Body You Have to Create the Body You Want. Show off your vinyasa victory with a cut that flatters, like a racerback, spaghetti straps, or a tank with armholes cut a bit closer to the neck. "If a sleeveless top comes out too far on the shoulder, it can look boxy, square, and dowdy," she warns. Halters or strapless styles can also work in the warmer autumn months, but be careful: While they're great for square or broad-shouldered women (they narrow the upper body), Raes calls halters "the kiss of death if you're bottom-heavy," creating an unflattering triangular shape.
Don't have Kelly Ripa arms yet? You can still go bare. A top with sheer fabric sleeves or a camisole with a lacy overlay (popular this fall) lend a more conservative peekaboo effect.
I lost 10 pounds! But I've forgotten how to dress "thin."
Losing weight can be a liberating feeling. Unfortunately, says style expert Raes, many women are so psyched to show off their newly slim physique that they sometimes ditch their old, dumpy clothes for too-tight or overly revealing outfits. Instead, highlight your newfound waistline with a beautiful belt, which can dress you up without requiring a completely revamped wardrobe. Because belting your torso automatically enlarges your chest, larger-breasted women should keep a belt to no more than 2 inches wide. Petite? Avoid thick belts in contrasting colors, which will visually cut you in half; for the same reason, long-torsoed figures can get away with a thicker belt in a different color.
If you've been trying to shed those pounds for years, beware the tendency to start wearing clothes that have hung in your closet since college. "Times and trends change, so something from college might not look so hot," Raes says. Instead, buy a few new things that are flattering and fit.
How can I disguise a muffin top?
Stylist Raes wants you to know that muffin tops are Not Your Fault—they're often manufactured monstrosities, the unfortunate result of low-rise jeans that cut women off at their natural curves. She suggests shopping for a higher-waisted jean, though not a "mom jean," she says."You do not need to tuck your boobs into your pants." Instead look for a modern popular brand that is 1 to 3 inches below the belly button for a nice mix of comfort and coverage.
Top those bottoms with a ruched-side shirt—the subtle gathering at the waist distracts the eye and disguises a muffin top. Wrap tops work, too, as will a shaped jacket that flares a bit at the hem, says stylist Chavez. Suck it all in with a seamless shaping undergarment. Chavez says every woman should own three: A tank top-style slip for dresses, a high-power bike short that meets the bra for longer or more fitted skirts, and a high-waisted thong for tummy control beneath shorter skirts.
Kathryn Gamble Lozier
My toned rear looks big in pants.
Bring up the rear with larger, wider, longer pockets placed near the center seam on the back of slacks. "Eyes are drawn to pockets and these makes your rump look thinner," says San Francisco-based stylist Katie Rice Jones. (For the same reason, small pockets placed closer to the side seams widen your rear view.) Stick with darker colors in pants and jeans, avoiding bleach treatments on the backside, and look for a white, gray, or gold contrast stitching, which acts like slimming pinstripes. A back panel chevron—an upside-down triangular fabric panel situated at the waist that points toward the floor—will also minimize your booty, Rice Jones says. Another trick: Choose pants that fit your hips/butt/thighs and have a tailor nip them in at the waist.
Kathryn Gamble Lozier
How do I dress after a mastectomy?
Ruffles continue to be a hot trend and a few strategically placed waves can create the illusion of fullness, as will details like gathering at the neckline. A higher neckline always makes the chest appear fuller (boat necks and turtlenecks are your new best friends), says Rice Jones. You could try a thick belt at the waist or a top with an empire seam at the bra line.
Rice Jones also suggests layering essential fall pieces, such as a tee under a collegiate cardigan that has contrast piping to draw the eyes towards the neckline and away from the actual chest. Or consider a shorter "microjacket," which resembles a traditional two-button blazer but has a more fitted silhouette, darting, and an oversize lapel. Scarves remain popular, too, adding visual interest while de-emphasizing the chest. Not sure about colors? "Anything purple is good for fall; lavender is universally flattering."
I've toned my calves but now my ankles look big!
You can't really exercise away thick ankles, but you can dress to minimize them. For starters, do not, under any circumstances, wear ankle-strap shoes, warns stylist Raes. They automatically shorten and enlarge calves. Instead, your best bet for fall is a neutral, nude heel that lengthens the line of the leg; celebrities use this tip all the time for seemingly mile-long gams.
If you're not loving the nude shoe look, look for styles with a pointier toe: A square or rounded toe will shorten the foot, making the calf look bigger in comparison. You can also pair heels or boots with matching tights—always an attractive autumn mainstay. The monochromatic coloring will lengthen your legs, visually slimming your ankles. Into trendy shoe booties? These can be hard for a gal with cankles to pull off. Do what Raes herself did: Take them to your cobbler and have them stretched for a few days to a week so they aren't strangling your ankles.