Does it surprise you to learn that shoes can help you look thinner? We all know they can make you look taller by wearing high heels, but there is more to it than that.
Many of today’s popular shoes don’t stop at the top of the foot. Some come up to the ankle with lacing or straps. Some boots even go over the top of the knee.
- An important consideration when choosing the right shoe for an outfit is the length of the skirt, dress, or pants to be worn with it. If the hemline falls to the knee, a higher rise of the shoe or boot on the foot works.
But if the hemline falls mid-calf, it is best to keep the top of the shoe as close to the toes as possible. Or wear a boot that rises above the hemline. This gives the appearance of more leg.
However, ankle pants can be worn with a shoe that laces or straps up to the ankle. The effect is that of showing off the shoe without seeming to have cut off the leg.
- Another consideration is color. To make your legs seem longer, choose a nude color shoe. Dark colors stop the eye.
A case to illustrate both of these considerations is a woman who wore a dark dress to an event. The dress length was mid-calf. The dress was beautiful and fit her slightly overweight figure well. The problem was the length of the dress and her shoes. The hemline of the dress stopped at the widest part of her leg. As we’ve previously discussed, this was not the best option for her. The shoes she chose matched the color of the dress and laced up to just above her ankle. Her fair skin against the dark colors of the dress and shoes made her legs look stubby. This was not the effect she wanted.
She could have still worn the dress if she had chosen a nude pump for the shoe. Or, she could have worn the shoes if the dress was either shorter, at knee length, or longer, at ankle length.
The next time you get dressed, pay attention to your shoes. You want your legs to look long and sleek. Do your shoes help create this effect?
Stripes get a post all their own. This is one area of strategic dressing we all think we understand. But do we? My observations suggest we don’t.
Just as pattern is affected by bold color contrast vs subtle color contrast, so are stripes.
- Skinny Stripes can be either positive or negative, depending on the level of color contrast and the direction they run on the piece of clothing. The ideal for minimizing is to utilize low contrast, thin vertical stripes.
- Wide Stripes will accent whatever wardrobe piece on which they appear. They will also accent whatever direction in which they travel. Even subtle, vertical wide stripes make one seem wider.
- Zig-zag Stripes might seem a fun way to fool the eye. They do fool the eye–right into thinking the fabric is large. The more often the eye must stop or change direction, the more wide the appearance. Horizontal zig-zag stripes are the worst offenders.
- Diagonal Stripes can be your friend, even in a high contrast color combination. This is especially true if the diagonal stops at the center of your body, with a matching diagonal on the opposite side. This creates a center vertical line, with the eye traveling downward.
Now you may see stripes in a whole new light. Hopefully, you’ll have some fun searching for just the right stripes to add pizzazz to your wardrobe.
Color changes everything.
Just as the dominant color of an outfit and the points on your body where color changes are important, so too is the pattern of the colors.
Pattern may be one of the most overlooked elements of strategic dressing. Maybe that’s because most women don’t know how to make pattern work for them. Or maybe women don’t realize the positive potential of pattern–or the potential disaster of pattern.
- Bold Patterns might seem synonymous with large patterns. But when I say “bold” I mean “high contrast”. A mini-print can be bold if the colors are high contrast. These are the prints you want to avoid if your goal is to minimize your size. A bold pattern causes the eye to roam around, searching for a place to land. Larger eye movements in any direction other than up and down create width.
- Subtle Patterns are those with low color contrast. They can be as simple as a sheen on a matte fabric, or one shade deeper or lighter than the background fabric. They can also be varying colors, as long as the intensity of the colors is even. A pastel pink pattern on a soft lavender fabric, or even a pale blue pattern on a blush pink fabric can be considered subtle. The colors are equal intensity and read as similar to the eye. A subtle pattern will allow the eye to rest, thus not moving in a wide pattern.
- Mini-Prints can be either bold or subtle. It is not the mini-print that makes you seem slim. It is the subtle color contrast. Yes, you can wear a mini-print. Just be aware of the colors.
- Large Patterns can also be either bold or subtle. The same rule applies as with mini-prints. Take into consideration the color contrast in the pattern. A barely-there large pattern is a safe choice.
Are you beginning to get the hang of dressing to look your best? All the points interplay with each other. We must take into consideration all aspects from cut to color and all of color’s influences each time we put an outfit together. But when we do–wowee! The effect can be dramatic.
So hang in there. You can do this.
Color is one of my favorite wardrobe accessories. It is also one of the least well-understood elements of dressing to look thinner.
Do you believe that black is the only color that might help you minimize your size? You’re not alone. Most women I speak with about color in their wardrobes believe it, too.
But did you know there are other colors that can create the illusion of less body mass? The secret is in the way colors absorb light. Black absorbs a lot of light. But there are some others to try.
- Red absorbs the same amount of light as black. At least, the right shade of red does. True, lipstick red is the winner here. The more yellow undertones a red has, the less light it absorbs. Conversely, the more blue undertones, the more light a red will absorb.
How does one know which reds have yellow undertones, and which have blue? Think about fruit. A strawberry is a lighter version of red. It has some yellow/peachy tones. A cherry is darker red, with more blue.
You can see where this is leading. Darker colors absorb more light.
- Dark or Navy Blue is another good choice. Even though Royal Blue has some yellow in it, this is still a good, slimming color because it’s dark.
- Purple works as well. Again, keep to the deeper, darker shades.
- Pine Green or Teal are other good choices.
Interestingly, brown is not a light-absorbing color. Most browns contain too much yellow.
So don’t be afraid of color. It can be your new best friend.
Line is the third strategy for dressing to look thinner. You want the person who sees you to look up and down. When their eyes travel in this manner, the psychological effect is that you appear taller and thinner.
The goal is to create either a straight or a Y-shape vertical line down the center of your body.
- Single-Breasted Jackets create a strong center vertical line. A jacket or sweater with a center zipper will also create this effect.
- Cardigan Sweaters with only the center buttons fastened will create a Y-shape. Wearing a cardigan this way will also create the illusion of a smaller waist. Just be sure not to stretch it so tight it wrinkles and bulges. (See Part 1.)
- A camisole or other top the same color as your skirt or pants, worn under a contrasting jacket will make you look taller and thinner. This technique creates a center column of color for the viewer’s eye to travel.
- A jacket or sweater and pants/skirt in the same color with a contrast color top underneath. Again, the viewer will see one swath of color from the floor (with pants) to your shoulders. You will look taller.
- Untucked Tops and blouses lengthen the appearance of your body. Tunic tops can do this too. *A word of caution for shorter women: beware of a too-long tunic. (See Part 2.) Also, be aware of the overall shape a tunic top gives you. If you’re curvy, this can be a large box. (See Part 2.)
Next time, we’ll discuss color.