The warmer it gets, the fewer clothes women wear. Yet they still obviously want to make their bodies look their best. As folks head to Memorial Day parties to kick off summer, we asked local stylists Elizabeth Bean Smith and Meredith Piccin to weigh in on figure flattery-and some common problems women complain about.
"I want to hide my flabby upper arms!"
The Problem: Women are hard on their arms! As women age, many times the confidence level of wearing sleeveless tops or blouses like they had once before no longer feels appropriate or comfortable. We have many clients who have fantastic arms, but fall into the category of no longer wanting to show them.
The Mistake: One mistake that is commonly made when trying to avoid showing the upper arm, is purchasing a short-sleeved shirt that is too tight around the arms and actually draws more attention to the problem area. Women can make the same mistake by wearing even a long-sleeved blouse that is pulling at the middle of the back and the top of the arms. This is a like a neon sign flashing at the problem area.
The Solution: Three-quartered sleeves are a fabulous alternative to the tank or short-sleeved tee. They conceal the under-arm bulge. The sleeves end right past the elbow, making the entire arm look thinner. The tunic-style top with sleeves is also so chic. Very classy.
"I'm not sure what to show or hide of my knees and legs."
The Problem: Women want to wear shorts, but don't know the appropriate length for their body type.
The Mistake: Giving up shorts entirely, because they haven't found a length that is appropriate! We often hear a woman say that she won't wear shorts anymore because they are too short (and they fear looking like their daughters).
The Solution: The city short, or Bermuda, is a popular cut because it's not as short as shorts and yet not a Capri-length either. We love this short because it can cover problem areas, such as flabby thighs. This is often the perfect solution for a casual night out with a breezy tunic and a fabulous wedge. When a woman is very petite, we recommend a shorter short. A shorter short will actually lengthen the legs. Choose a short that has a 5-inch inseam. This doesn't bare all, but does add length.
"How do I find a dress that's right for my body?"
The Problem: Finding dress styles that are practical and comfortable, without adding a lot of weight to one's shape.
The Mistake: Wearing a dress purely for comfort without paying attention to how it's making your body look.
The Solution: Really understanding the body. If a woman has an hour-glass shape (smaller waist than shoulder and hip measurement), she should try a dress that is more fitted or belted at the waist. This will better show off her natural assets. If a woman has a pear-shaped body (fuller at hips and bottom, smaller up top), she should choose a dress that has an A-frame look to it. An empire waist is nice. This balances out the body. If a woman has an apple-shaped body (weight is carried around the middle, without a well-defined waist), she should try a babydoll dress or an empire-waist style dress. Someone who is "boyish" (there is little definition between the bust, waist and hip measurement) should try a fitted sheath.
Kristy Eckert is editor of Capital Style.